Tuesday, September 4

Alpine Miniatures 35144: 1/35th German Motorcyclist Set Review

Alpine Miniatures has sent us their latest figure combo of two individuals that make a small set – the  1/35th German Motorcyclist Set  look a great match for your new sidecar diorama – but do the set match up to the others with the high standard we are used to from Alpine ? Let’s examine what comes in the box and build the figures to show you what we think of them.
In the lovely little plastic box we receive two figures, both cast in grey resin with  separate arms, equipment and the trademark of Alpine Miniatures – two heads apiece.

These two heads are the same face but with  a slightly different choice of headgear in that one of the helmets of each has a helmet cover and the other is “nude” with just the tin showing..
A word about the resin on offer - The resin in these figures is a very pale grey (really hard to photograph so sorry about the quality on offer on some shots here - but the resin is very easy to work) It is also is bubble free, not really covered with release agent or impurities and in some cases the parts are attached to a casting block, or in the torso, removed from the block and a tiny amount of extra material. This extra material is removed in a cinch and is placed in sensible places that will not see you deleting any of the excellent detail whilst you are doing it. Some smart engineering by Alpine and a welcome feature that is often expected but not often given with all figure makers.
Another feature of both the riders is their protective coat that they have on. The Motorcyclist’s Protective Coat or “Kradmantel” is a rubberised long coat that was very popular with not just motorcyclist troops but many soldiers of the German army due to it’s rugged wearing qualities, stylish appearance and functionality.
The coat has a unique buttoning system designed to wrap and secure the bottom tail skirt portion around the wearer’s legs. The buttoning system consists of button holes to the bottom edge of each side of the reverse tail skirt vent and to either side of the front closure with the corresponding buttons positioned on each side of the front skirt and on the interior hip pocket bags. The reverse tail skirt was designed to wrap around the wearers legs and fastens to the buttons on the front of the tail skirt sides. The front opening was intended to wrap around the wearers legs and fastens to the buttons on the interior pocket bags. The design not only protected the wearer but keeps the tail skirt from interfering with the motorcycles operation.

This coat is seen on here on both of these troops really ruffled but not overly baggy like I have seen on another set on the market (also a resin two set offering) the coat on these two motorcyclists bends and has the same shape as the rider’s body language. It doesn’t have a “balloon on a stick” appearance which I have seen before. The legs are buttoned up on both of the soldiers, this unusual configuration for a jacket will make your riders stand way out from your other Wehrmacht soldiers in your diorama. A really interesting choice and equally well executed here.

There are other similar properties to each of these soldiers but we will take you through them individually in case you choose to buy them individually.

This figure – like it’s stable mate in the box is sculpted by Roddy MacDougall - and I am impressed already. Like I said about the resin the detail is very fine here in this figure, I’ll take you thru him part by part.
This motorcycle rider looks to be pretty well protected from the elements – his long full body fully lined suit has large pockets for his big thick Motorcyclists/Dispatch rider’s gauntlets (Handschuhe) which are made from leather and canvas along with his lined boots are which are tucked over his long coat which I spoke about earlier.

The coat’s bottom buttons are together to cover up the rider’s legs and keep the coat out of the chain and not to mention the mud! The coat itself is subtly detailed and has several indentations which the parts like the M38 gas mask canister on his chest (this even shows you how to align it according to the indentations.) The soldier’s Kar .98 shoulder-slung rifle also has an indentation to securely and positively locate the rifle over the rider’s shoulder.  
The “seat” or ass of the rider is hollowed out to make sure he sits on and not on top of the bike. As always – and I almost grow tired of writing this in reviews from these guys – excellent engineering of the figure by the team at Alpine. The sculpting on the coat from the belt which drapes over the folds of the coat right thru to the turned up and buttoned up legs just shows you the quality you would come to expect is again on offer here. I will stop gushing when everyone starts to think as logically as these guys seem to do.
The rifle and the gas canister come on a casting block which is very easy to remove, and importantly does not delete any detail as the joining points are at places of which you can remove the resin easily and without losing any of the sculpts quality. More smart engineering at work
The figure of course comes with the choice of two heads, one bearing the German standard helm and the other with the same helmet covered with a camo covering. Both heads have a scarf warmly wrapped around the neck further tipping the viewer off to the temperature outside whilst riding! This rider has some squared off goggles on both head choices and as for the facial figures themselves they are of the most delicate and detailed you can find in 1/35th scale. This rider has a straight forward removal at the neck for the head from the casting block – no tricky V-shaped neck here which is a good thing.

This second rider (or passenger in a sidecar) – is again sculpted by Roddy MacDougall and is positioned in a neutral stance standing up this time and is the companion of the rider of the bike. He looks to be the messenger here because of the “Meldetasche” map pouch he is carrying – I suppose he is the dude who runs in salutes and gives the message in an urgent manner! This map pack comes on a smaller casting block along with a Kar.98 rifle and an M38 gas canister just like his companion, and just like the other rider these are attached in an easily removable position which leaves you with no real danger of deleting detail when removing them from the block. (When you are on a good thing stick to it)
Wearing an M-40 steel helmet for both of his head choices but this time with slightly different rounded goggles and one of his helmets with a cover and one without as in the other rider. This rider’s face has a slightly pudgier looking face with a slightly longer nose visible - his expression looks like he has a stare onto the distance going on.
As like his Kameraden this dispatch man has again the all-in-one Motorcyclist’s Protective Coat or “Kradmantel” with inward and pointing downwards  large pockets while the trouser legs are again buttoned up but this time sensibly into the boots. This is particularly noticeable on this soldier as he is standing upright and not leaning on anything.
One thing I must bring to your attention Is the arms of this figure. The arms come on a small casting block again easily removable from the insides saving surface detail. The smart and impressive figure of this soldier is the arm joints fit into the torso in a way that the large seam of the coat are the places where the joins are made-  you can see in these pcs below how they meet and you should look later on how these look when painted – seamless.

This rider carries and M-38 gas mask as well as ammo pouches on his waist belt for his Kar.98 which is holstered on his shoulder (again with indentations in the coat to positively locate it into position simply and easily. His gloves are fully fingered and not mittens like the first soldier but I think just heavy gloves of which I am not sure of the type as they are tucked mostly inside the large jacket.

Sculptures by Roddy MacDougall / Boxart by Man-Jin Kim

First of all credit must go out to Mr MacDougal for again sculpting two figures who look almost the same but have their own different personal effects which set these two apart. The goggles, the slight change in equipment, the belt around the second figure giving his similar coveralls a different look and things like having one soldier’s collar up and the other down.
These very subtle differences make the individual stand out in an army of motorcycle dispatch riders who were issued pretty similar gear. It draws the eye and keeps your interest as you look for changes. Certainly no carbon copies of each other on offer here.
I have stuck these two figures in a familiar pose on one of my BWM 1/35th scale bikes and they are right on in scale and sit down nicely on the bike – from all angles even unpainted these look great.
On looking around the internets I have seen another very similar set by another manufacturer ( no names) which has two figures with almost the same poses and in really similar gear which is understandable as there were things called uniforms in WWII. I am sure this – being a new product is a later release – but gee I would be a bit put out if I had bought that one – the faces, the detail in the rider’s clothing and the smaller details are all done so well here it would leave me distraught if I had the wrong set. I almost feel if Alpine did know about this other figure set they might have thought “I can do this better” – and they thought right.
Credit as well must go to the very talented Man-Jin Kim who again has brought these figures to life in this set – it must be noted that these figures fits on Zundapp KS750 and BMW R75  motorcycles that of course it isn’t included in the set.
Thank to Alpine Miniatures for the chance to review and build this set – they are great and I have about 5 sidecar bikes this crew will be resting on very soon!
Below are the pictures of this set from the Alpine site – painted immaculately by Man-Jin Kim – I am very jealous of his skill.