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ICM 1/35 scale G4 German staff car

Kit:35531 // Scale:1/35 // Price:$51.95
ICM, from Squadron, 877-414-0434
High level of detail
Broken or misshapen parts, many misnumbered; poor tires; thick decals
Injection-molded, 338 parts, decals

The Mercedes-Benz W31 Type G4 six-wheel staff car was chiefly used by high-ranking Nazi party members. ICM appears to have modeled one in the Spanish royal family’s collection, a gift from Adolf Hitler to Gen. Franco in 1939.

ICM’s kit comes with clear windows and light lenses, and dark yellow styrene that seems brittle; many of the delicate parts in my kit were broken or misshapen. Knock-out marks in visible spots, like the backs of the seats, need repair. Several parts are not numbered on the sprues, or the numbers are in the general area of the parts. Careful study is required to obtain the correct part.

The frame is built of several cross members. I strayed from the directions and glued the cross members first, including Part A22 from the engine, without all the details attached. This helped me square the frame. Step 9 has you glue parts E23 and E24 to the frame with the drive shaft inserted between the two in Step 16. But the space between the two parts is not big enough for the drive shaft to pass; I had to cut it in half. Instead, I would leave off E24 until after the drive shaft is installed. I glued both parts C22, as well as C26 and C25, to the frame instead of the rear axle subassembly as shown in the directions. Then I could snap the rear suspension into place after the frame is painted. In Step 16, C55 is really A55. The engine is well detailed and only needs wiring; I left it off to make painting easier.

The tires’ inner inserts are too deep and need to be sanded to get the sidewalls to sit flush. This leaves a nasty seam that needs filler. The directions show rim details absent on the part.

The windshield frame is molded to the bonnet (Part B16). Mine was badly misshapen. After painting, I tried to use the windshield to force the frame back into shape, with limited success.

On the multipart body, I needed filler for the seam between Part B22 and the two side panels (B29 and B27). Continuing to square the body, I glued the doors next; glue the door jambs (parts E46 and E47) to the door panels first. The inside of the front door is wrongly numbered; it should be B12, not B15. Also, Part A28 should be numbered E28.

The fit of the trunk parts A64 and A62 was poor, so I glued A64 to the back of the car and then trimmed it so A62 fit correctly. The bonnet can be closed or left open to show off the engine. I left the radiator off to make painting easier. I glued the steering-wheel shaft (Part E4) to the dashboard, instead of to the frame as shown in the directions, and painted the dashboard and steering wheel separately. 

Drilling out the light receptacles provided better mounting points after the lights were painted. I left the front and rear fenders off the frame to make painting easier. The fit of the two-piece rear fenders was poor and needed filler. 

You have the option of two gray vehicles or three light gray-and-black vehicles. I painted the body with Tamiya AS-2 IJN light gray; the fenders are Tamiya X-1 gloss black. Chrome was hand-painted or airbrushed with Humbrol 191 chrome silver. The box art helps with the painting directions. The seats and leather interior are Humbrol 85 coal black. Since this is a parade vehicle, weathering is limited to the engine and frame.

The decals are a little thick, with excessive carrier film. It took several applications of Solvaset to get them to adhere. Also, my decals were out of register. The gauges are represented on the decal sheet. When the decals were dry, I applied Micro Kristal Klear to represent the glass over the gauges. 

A set of four figures includes two officers, a driver, and a female assistant. All are standing, so you will have to go elsewhere to seat figures in your car. 

This kit looks complicated, but its engineering makes construction fairly smooth. It took me only 29 hours to build. The only big correction I would make would be to replace the tires.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the February 2012 issue of FSM.


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