Vulcan scale models has given us a few good kits in their short existence, now we have for scrutiny the 1/35 Zundapp K800 motorcycle kit to have a look at. This bike was used by Germany during the Second World War for liaison and communication duties, mostly behind the front line. Of all of Zundapp’s bikes this model has remained much sought-after by collectors, which is why I thought we should have a look. This review will be in three parts – decals, figure and engine assembly are first, then rear and chassis assembly and next paint and then weathering and placing in a diorama.
First things first, the kit comes in a small well-presented box with nice artwork on the cover. It contains three styrene sprues and three Photo Etch sprues including decals and of course instructions. The instructions are on white glossy paper and do go somewhat out of the way to try and explain how some of the trickier smaller parts go together (much needed as things like the wheels are a major headache if you aren't in the know). Anyway, they are clear and well thought out with colour calls in Tamiya/Mr. Colour and LifeColour paints. There are two marking choices here, one for the Eastern front in Panzer Grey and the other for Africa in Dark Yellow. The decal sheet gives registration plates but no unit badges. It looks clear and in register – time will tell when we apply this later though – this will come in the third part of this in depth look.
Let's get to the bike and the sprues themselves. They are in grey and with a little flash to clean up in some areas. There are no sink marks to be seen, but one or two ejector pin marks which aren't much of a biggie to fix. The kit's detail and complexity is probably better than white box Tamiya stuff, but not quite like the finesse of Dragon, which sounds like a happy medium to me! Most of the parts are on one large sprue with the two smaller sprues being the engine and the rider. The engine is separate so they can produce other variants of the Zundapp family (we have seen this already with the smaller K500 release from Vulcan) and it is handy if you want to spray the engine with an airbrush without removing the pieces from the sprues. More on the engine later, let's have a quick look at the figure.
The bike-riding figure comes in a single sprue by himself and is realistic enough. I am a bit spoiled, and I would have liked two head choices but the face he has is ok by me. On the instructions it says that the rider has goggles on, and on inspection goggles are included – but they look more like solid glasses than clear goggles – ill be not including them! The option to have these moulded in clear would have been handy, especially if I was doing an "Afrika" rider. Otherwise the figure is anatomically correct (and a little thin which is good - as from pictures it seems most people were a little thinner back then!
As I mentioned before the engine is on a separate sprue and goes together pretty easily; however, it has one thing I really dislike on engine blocks, a seam line which goes ACROSS the vents. This is always an annoying clean up, so maybe Vulcan can mould these on the other axis instead, so you have no seam marks where the plastic meets in the middle? Little notches help with the assembly of the small parts. They are put on in a certain way to only allow you to fit them together correctly. A little clean up is needed and a bit of work opening the tolerance on the holes.
There are often too many connections of the sprue to the kit which leave you with no option on such small pieces but to get rid of the surface detail to try to eradicate the plastic scarring to the pieces. This is evident on bits like the sump which I had to sand smooth to make it look decent. Sprue C (the engine) Also suffers from a funny thing. A lot of the detail of the pieces is on the opposite side to the numbers, meaning you have to turn everything around to double check before you snip them off. Not a big deal but more steps needed, and that means more time wasted. Despite the niggles, it is pretty good as a representation of the real thing. Some pic below of the sub-assembly and the real thing.
The wheels are the first step on the instructions, and these are in theory a delightful combination. In practice though they do take some fiddly work to get perfect. The wheel spokes are in an excellent metal, one each on the two frets and they are pre-bent to the right angle. Other companies give you a bending template; its good that this one comes prepared. The wheels go together in layers, and the instruction sheet goes out of its way to show you how to do it. Helpful, and boy I needed it. As the guide spokes to fit the tire parts together in each row were out of place on the last one, leaving me with a bit of work to do to make them all fit together and still look like a tyre. If you don’t clasp the layers together, you may get a wobbly 'ol wheel! You should clean up everything very well before you attempt this. I did, and my first tyre attempt still looked a bit hollow in the middle. I would recommend Tamiya extra thin cement and some clasps to hold the layers of this onion of a tyre together!
The front tyre goes on handlebars, which have been reshaped for this kit. These are now of the correct form and shape (unlike the previous K500 kit) and go together pretty well after some clean up of flash. The forks capture the wheel nicely, and the mudguard frame tops it all off for a nice front fork assembly. Included is a positionable headlight that unfortunately could have been the second part of the clear sprue, as it has no headlight glass. Not a biggie though.
Coming next week, Part 2 will cover the rear and chassis assembly. Part 3 will see the painting, weathering, and placing of the model in a diorama. Coming after that will be the MiniArt Riverbank section, reviewed and painted up. Stay tuned – Happy modelling to you all!!
Many thanks to Model Wholesale UK for the review sample used here.