Improving the Dragon Kubelwagen
1/6 scale # 75003
by Mario Covalski © 2011 Modeler Site
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Action figure collecting is one of the most popular hobbies in the world. Figures made out of different plastic materials based on TV sci-fi series, sci-fi movies (for instance GI Joe action figures) and facts from real life such as the representation of different war scenarios. Soldier figures are commonly made in 1/6 scale, they’re represented with military uniforms made from genuine fabric and the weapons that real soldiers use to have, vehicles included.
A few years ago, Dragon apparently discovered that they could start with action figures, representing in 1/6 scale all the subjects and so the series of vehicles were born, the first was the Kubelwagen type 82.
The aim of this article it to lead the reader through the experience of building this model adding as many details as possible.
This kit has not been thought for regular modelers of 1/35 scale military vehicles. It’s very big (my workbench was full and the box measures 60cm long) and that is the only reason why it’s justified that a modeler wants to build it, otherwise one would have chosen the Revell 1/9 or the Tamiya 1/16.
Now, I’ll get into the pros and cons of the kit
The instruction manual is pretty much a joke from some Dragon engineer. If it was thought for inexperienced modelers…it will take you hours to understand what to do. Most of the steps have mistakes or instructions written in the wrong order. Luckily, I had read some reviews found in the Internet which allowed me to find out a lot of details not shown in the instructions. Later, I’ll extend and report about several mistakes.
The proportions are good and I have no doubt it was “copied” from any 1/35 or 1/16 kit; but even being oriented to action figures, the simplification of certain parts seems ridiculous for this scale.
Among all the lacks and errors, the most important and impossible to solve (unless you are a master modeler) is the lack of engine, with just an outline on the chassis representing only the part that would be visible from the bottom.
I’m a car model builder and though the lack of engine is something common for those who build military vehicles, for me any 1/6 scale model should have a representation of the engine especially when the hood is molded as a separate panel and the walls of the engine compartment are provided. What for?. Besides a hinged hood would be great.
The suspension is a bad joke, is not movable besides of not matching the real one especially regarding the front suspension, anyway once built, it’s not so visible.
The pivoting windshield is sui generis and completely erroneous. I don’t understand the difference between making it well or bad, on the other hand the windshield and frame are cast as a single piece of clear plastic which should be masked to be painted, a difficult task for many model builders. The most recent kits of this line such as the Schwimmwagen #75013 windshield and frame are provided separately. The windshield wipers are not provided as separate parts.
The seats: other masterpiece of the science fiction, 15 hours of work spent so that it matches the reference pictures.
The decals are adhesive stickers!! and though they are available in aftermarket, are not easy to find because are not produced by the conventional manufacturers but by those who are devoted to action figures. My model will not have them.
The lack of accessories is notorious as Revell do (ex Esci) with their 1/9 kit, it doesn’t provide a MG-42, jerrycans etc. It’s true that they are sold already built under the Cyber Hobby brand, including a radio car set (huge in that epoch and was placed taking nearly half of the rear seat)…but the MG-42 mount could have been provided.
The folded top cloth is also a nice touch already finished with all sewing… good for Dragon!!, but the mechanism was designed to not be operable and the only thing you can do is to see the beautiful cloth folded…a few extra plastic parts would have given points in favor to this kit.
The headlights don’t have optics in the interior.
The floorboard grids are molded into the plastic floor pan, in this scale the manufacturer could have supplied real wood.
I left for the end the most dark and weakest point of this kit, the wheels The soft vinyl tyres are well molded, however as everybody knows in contact with the polystyrene, both polymers react damaging the plastic which soften in the contact places. Modelers use to paint the plastic which acts as a barrier coat with the vinyl…when both parts are supplied separately. But Dragon had the excellent idea of saving room in the box and provide the vinyl tires already placed; thanks for nothing. As expected the tires are “melt” on the contact area (and this is how I received both kits I purchased).
This meant extra work since I don’t think Dragon will send me new ones. The wheels themselves come molded in only one piece detailed in a way that allows a decent work on them but the wrong use of the incompatible materials makes our heart stop when we see them first.
I could follow with the list but actually, the lack of details or minor mistakes are not cons and I’ll speak about them later on.
High quality plastic, resistant and easy to work with.
The most outstanding point of this kit is obviously its size. If it weren’t in 1/6 scale, it would be disposable. What attracted my attention was the body in only one piece. Still I remember the work it took me to join all the body parts and adjust the doors when I built the Esci in 1/9 scale, here the body is solid and well molded free of flashes but with few mold lines which could have not been removed getting a good final result though.
Proportions are correct, although I didn’t take exhaustive measures, you don’t need too much just to see it to know that it’s a good Kubel.
The kit provides not many parts and this is an advantage when you go ahead with the construction and have more time to devote to detailing.
The folded cloth top is provided already finished and good quality with the right color. Who wants to sew?
The doors are a dream, can be easily built, open and close beautifully with their handles, something not usual in scale models.
There is a mix of excellent points and missing or mistaken ones, but the basic things are well; except for the missing engine, everything can be improved.
The suspensions are fixed, nevertheless many modelers have converted their models to RC getting excellent results.
The steerable front wheels are connected to the steering wheel, it’s solid and works very well.
Construction is funny, and the big size makes the tasks relaxed and amusing.
Painting this model could seem a con due to its size, however, my experience has demonstrated that, when we speak about matt finishing, it’s easier to work with big models than with small ones. Applying different airbrushing techniques is here easier than on a Kubel 8cm long.
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