Some models just capture the look and feel of a period perfectly. The classic German motorcycle sidecar combo may have been a bloody silly contraption, but it’s just so iconic it’s great fun to have on the table.
My German forces in 28mm are pretty complete, but recently I’ve been working on some partisans, so will be looking at staging some different kinds of fights. Partisan attacks on roads and convoys were pretty common, and so the Germans will need some more softskins and light vehicles.
A few people do them in metal, but this is the Rubicon plastic kit. It’s not the cheapest option out there, but I managed to pick one up (from Caliver Books, oddly) for about £12 incl P&P which ain’t too bad really.
Regular readers will know I’m generally very complimentary about Rubicon kits, and this is up to their usual standards of quality. If I was to have one criticism of it, it’s that it leans more towards a modeller’s kit than a wargaming one? What do I mean by that? Well, usually the Rubicon kits are very practical, and include lots of sensible little features that make the kit easier to build and durable on the tabletop. This one is fiddlier than normal.
Ok, it’s physically a small model, but there were an awful lot of parts that were separate for no apparent reason. FOr example, the bipods for the MG34 or MG42 machine guns were a separate piece, even though all they’ll ever do is sit under the barrel folded up.
However, some other bits are a nice touch. You get two different sets of handlebars: one with the rider’s hands attached, and one without. So if you’re building it to sit empty (diorama? Jump Off Point?) it looks good and if you want riders then you get ones with hands that grip the handlbars properly (because you just know if it was separate it would never quite look right.
All up though, the kit isn’t excessively fiddly, and you’ll have it built in an hour or so, just don’t expect it to be a 20 minute build.
Rubicon kits are renowned for their options. Besides the choice of riders or not, you can choose between two different styles of panier, MG34 or MG42 MGs, and you get a canvas cover for the sidecar. A nice touch is that the kit includes an extra fat chunk of plastic to strengthen the join between the bike and sidecar for tabletop durability. I’ve taken that a step further and mounted the whole thing on a penny, mostly because that’ll stick it down safely in my magnetised boxes.
There are actually two versions of this kit, one with crew in desert uniform and one in temperate. It’s the same bike sprue in both, but you get a different crew sprue. To be honest, the crew figures aren’t as good as the bike. Rubicon have only been doing human figures for a little while and they look like digital sculpts. They’re ok, but detail on them is a bit soft. For example the rifles have no bolt handle and are generally quite flat and featureless. On the plus side, the poses are good and they look quite natural on the bike.
There’s a very comprehensive decal sheet with insignia for all sorts of units in both white and black.
I’ve painted it grey as the troops are in long boots. I’m told the order to paint everything yellow from early ’43 wasn’t strictly enforced for softskins, and rear echelon units of the type that would be tangling with partisans were slower to update their gear than front-line units.