Zvezda 1/35 Soviet Motorcycle M-72 with Sidecar and Crew
In an interesting twist, when the Soviet Red Army needed a replacement for their TIZ-AM-600 and PMZ-A-750 heavy motorcycles, they chose a German BMW design, the R 71. Of course, this was before the German invasion of the Soviet Union, so the transfer of the design, tooling, and training for the R 71 motorcycle and sidecar went smoothly. Initial production took place at the MMZ factory in Moscow, with plans for additional production in Leningrad and Kharkov. The German invasion changed those plans, with the Kharkov and Leningrad factories moving to Gorkiy and the Moscow factory moving to Irbit. While the motorcycles were produced at both factories, the sidecar was produced only at the Gorkiy factory. The M-72 was produced for quite a few years, with the last one rolling off the Kiev KMZ factory floor in 1964.
To the best of my knowledge, this is the first injection-molded M-72 motorcycle kit to be produced. There is a resin version put out by a Russian company (I think), but it is difficult to find and rather expensive to boot. Molded in a tan plastic, the kit is highly detailed and comes with four figures. A small decal sheet provides markings for a couple different options.
Although a 1/35 scale motorcycle is small, there is plenty of room for detail, and this kit provides plenty of that. The engine, for example, starts out with a three-piece core, which then gets separate cylinders, tanks, transmission housing, and various plumbing bits to turn it into a highly detailed engine. The rest of the kit is similarly well detailed. The frame is split into two halves, which makes it easy to sandwich that engine between, yet interestingly the instructions have you insert the engine after the frame is together. I would suggest doing some test fitting here to see if that is the best way to do this.
The fenders (all three of them) are split in half, which means you have a seam to deal with along the top edge. Likewise, the fuel tank is also split in half, and unlike the easy-to-fix seam on the fenders, cleaning up the seam on the fuel tank will be much more challenging given the detail and cutouts on the tank. The only other real seams that will need to be dealt with in this kit are those on the sidecar, which is made up from two sides, a round nose piece, and two separate rear pieces.
The rest of the construction is really just attaching frames, levers, exhausts, seats, and other bits. One thing of note are the wheels, which are spoked. The kit has these split into halves, which does a good job of representing the spokes as a result. Purists might want to replace them with some thinner wire, for a more scale appearance. Be ready for a lot of work doing that, though.
Once the motorcycle and sidecar is together, the next step is to figure out which set of figures to use. The first version has the sidecar passenger holding a machine gun that is mounted to the nose of the sidecar. The driver has a submachine gun strapped across his chest and is hunched over the handlebars. A dramatic, action-packed duo, to be sure, but what if you want something a bit more sedate? Enter the second set of figures. These have the driver holding a cup and pouring a second drink from a bottle, while the sidecar passenger is playing an accordion.
For the first injection molded M-72 kit, Zvezda has done an outstanding job in representing the vehicle. The kit is packed with a great amount of detail, and when coupled with the creative figure pairings, we have a great all around model kit. My thanks to Dragon USA for the review sample.