Crossing The Rubicon

Wanted to use that phrase for ages! However this has nothing to do with either Julius Caesar or Romans in general its actually a reflection on our first attempts at the Rubicon WWII 1/56 plastic kits and a comparison to their most obvious competitor Warlord.

For some time now we’ve been moaning to ourselves that we’ve got way too much armoured stuff and not enough soft skinned stuff, so purchases have been made at Warlord and Rubicon to address the balance. Selling off some of the armour at Derby helped fund the kits so we didn’t have to dig too deep!

Our first (and only so far, but….) foray was the Maultier half track cargo truck mainly because it looks a bit different from the traditional Opel Blitz which we’d just built from the Warlord range anyway and will be referred to in this post.

IMG_20171112_144849  Much like an Airfix kit (for those who remember those heady days!), the kit comes on several plastic sprues  plus the cab on its own, all bagged up with clear printed instructions and enough decals for several trucks. At first my heart sank when looking at the little pieces of plastic and their frames (bad memories of Airfix) but in fact this is deceptive because as I worked my way through the instructions (and I can’t emphasise enough how clear these were) it became apparent that not all the parts are needed for a single build as the kit caters for an early war version and a mid/late war version along with options for the canvas top, the cab roof stowage, spare wheel and the headlights; in fact I reckon there is enough left over to make a destroyed version as a bit of on table clutter – bonus!

Keen eyed observers will have noted that the grammatical tense in this piece has changed from plural to single. This is because although WE made the decision got stuck with building it – just wanted to say that (listens to smallest violin in the world playing in background).

Working through the build the numbered parts were easily identifiable from the numbering and illustrations in the instructions and the step by step guide made sense (like IKEA only better). When it came to the options it was clear what you could have and what you needed to do – I in fact screwed up with the rear panels but this was absolutely down to me not reading properly I don’t think Rubicon could have done anything more other than perhaps a large sign saying “hey stupid engage brain at this point!”. That said the error wasn’t terminal and the finished article is none the worse for it.

At a certain point in the build you do need to pause and paint a little bit; this is when it comes to putting the crew on the cab interior seats, bitter experience from the Warlord build showed that painting through the windshield is frustrating at best and in the Rubicon build potentially even more frustrating as there is the option to fit an actual windshield – I didn’t. What I don’t get however is the need to have separate heads for the two crew members and a separate arms & steering wheel assembly for the driver, the Warlord kit suffers from the same separate head idea for it’s one crew member. What is gained from this? The head will only go on in one facing and it’s not like there are different versions of the head, the steering wheel & arms idea seems equally redundant; one piece casting please.

Once you’ve painted the crew and stuck them in then the build can continue although there’s not much else to do; the cab slots into place easily and then it’s the more fiddly pieces like the headlights, searchlight and fender stowage. Of all these it’s the lights that are the most frustrating they are very small and difficult to hold and glue in place and although there is a defined slot for them on the kit it is still a pig to do, in fact I lost the searchlight on the floor somewhere. The Warlord kit suffers from the same problem made worse by the lack of definition on the fenders for the headlights to sit into; in both cases the models would benefit from the lights being part of the mould, probably the amount of undercutting required on the master is the reason why not?

After that it’s the painting and basing stage which is very much down to the individual so nothing from us on that. One thing to note however, this is an all plastic kit so if you are used to the die cast models or in more recent times the Warlord part resin part metal kits the Rubicon piece can feel a bit light. To some extent this is masked once you base it but for those who prefer their vehicles to be ‘wheels on the ground’ be careful.

What I did do along side this build however was the German Stowage Set which was great fun.

1508063461634 (1)    The set includes; tool boxes, barrels plus pumps, fuel cans, ammo boxes, spare tracks, spare sprocket wheels, canvas bags & rolls, in fact all the stuff we used to painstakingly scratch build.

Two sprues worth of plastic to assemble or just simply glue onto existing models, I managed to add some more clutter to our existing vehicles and then made up a variety of platens on card to fit into the back of trucks like this one we’ve just made or to sit as clutter in a game.

Well worth buying, particularly for those who aren’t quite so good at the scratch building thing (like me!) and I’m pretty sure there is an american set as well – see the website.

All in all very satisfied with the Rubicon kit and its ease gave me the confidence to tackle the next one which is currently sitting under the work bench so no excuses now. Also the range is fantastic both in armoured vehicles but also in the more humble but far more useful soft-skins.

Now at the beginning of this post I referred to the Warlord Open Blitz. In theory this is a more simple build having less parts and being made of part resin/part metal but in our experience it wasn’t which was a shame as we’ve had Warlord products before and been reasonably satisfied. For us the problem was that despite less parts it still needed instructions and the website reference wasn’t much use. The separate heads and fiddly lights we’ve already mentioned but in the main build there were two problems. The front end of the truck just didn’t butt up to the cab properly and a fair amount of filing had to be done and this wasn’t flash I was filing away. The metal doors just don’t fit the the cab profile, you can do what you like they just don’t fit. If you are a dab hand with green stuff or whatever then you can fill the gap but a prime attraction of these kits is their simplicity and appeal to those of us who want a vehicle that can get on table pretty quickly with minimal fuss. The question I asked myself was why separate doors?

Conclusion? Well given the price similarity I would go for the Rubicon range, they fit together well, there is diversity within the kit itself, loads of decals for different theatres of war and they seem to have an authenticity which I can’t quite define.

Till next time; enjoy your gaming.

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