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Mike

Benz Patent-Motorwagen 1886 with Mrs Benz & Sons (24041) 1:24

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Benz Patent-Motorwagen 1886 with Mrs Benz & Sons (24041)

1:24 ICM via Hannants

 

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We’ve been addicted to petroleum for over a century now, but in the late 1800s the predominant power source was still steam, although that just used another form of fossil fuel.  When Karl Benz applied for a patent for his Motorwagen in 1885, it became the first petrol-powered production vehicle that was designed from the outset to use this method of propulsion.  When you look at its three-wheel design it appears to have been the product of the mating between a horse carriage, a bicycle and a grandfather clock, with a little bit of chaise longue thrown in for good measure.  A rear-mounted engine with a solitary cylinder, two seats without any weather protection and a kind of tiller for steering doesn’t really gel with our understanding of what represents a car now, but they had to start somewhere. There were only 25 made, but the precedent had been set and travelling at 16kmh was found to be quite fun and started us down the long road to becoming petrol-heads, much to our environment’s distress.

 

The Kit

This is a reboxing of a brand-new tooling of this important vehicle, reviewed here, and although it’s way out of my usual wheel-house I’m already smitten with it, even more so now that it has a set of figures with it to create a human scale.  There is one main sprue for the majority of the parts, with three smaller sprues in the same grey styrene for the wheels and a jig to complete the spokes on a Photo-Etched fret, which is secreted within a thick card envelope, plus of course the new figure sprue.  The instruction booklet has been printed in an olde-worlde style, and a replica of the patent application is also included on thick card in case you wanted to use it as a base or backdrop.

 

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The bicycle car has spoked wheels that would normally give most modellers conniptions, but ICM have really pushed the boat out in terms of the engineering that should allow you to create a model that looks pretty realistic if you follow the instructions carefully.  The supplied jig is mind-blowing both in its simplicity and cleverness that every time I examine it, it has me smiling.

 

Construction begins with the subframe and suspension, which looks more like a carriage than a chassis.  Leaf-springs support the main axle beneath the slatted foot well, and an additional frame is applied to the rear with a set of three small pulley-wheel parts fit on a bar and form a transfer point for the drive-belt that’s added later, with a choice of two styles for the centre section.  At the very rear of the chassis is a stub-axle that mounts a huge flywheel made up from two parts to create a rim, then the single-cylindered engine is built, bearing more than a passing resemblance to an air compressor that you might have under your desk somewhere.  There are a few colour choices called out along the way, and the finished assembly is then mounted on the cross-rail, overhanging the flywheel.  Various small ancillary parts are added to the engine “compartment”, another drive pulley is mounted perpendicular to the large flywheel, then the two are joined by the drive band, which you can make up from the two straps on the sprue, or by creating your own that fully wraps around the pulleys for a more realistic look.  A toolbox is added next to the engine, then fuel and radiator tanks are built and installed along with their hosing.  There is a surrounding frame for the seat added to the small upstands on the chassis, which holds the moulded upholstered cushions to which the framed back and side-rests are fixed, with extra padding attached to the back and arms before it is inserted and glued in place.

 

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This picture above shows both wheel types on one side.  The larger wheel is actually built on the opposite side of the jig.

 

Now the PE fun begins!  The power that has been transferred to an axle under the foot well is sent to the wheels by a bike-style chain, which is layered up from three PE parts that form the rings as well as the links, with one assembly per side.  Next comes the really clever part.  Each of the pneumatic tyres are moulded within a circular sprue runner, which has four towers hanging down.  These towers fit into corresponding holes in the jig, with a small one for the front wheel and larger one for the outside, all on the same jig.  This allows the modeller to keep the tyre stationary while locating the little eyes on the ends of the spokes into the pips on the inside rim of the tyre.  It also sets the correct dish to the wheels when you add the temporary centre boss during construction.  You create two of these assemblies per tyre, cut them from their sprues once complete, then glue them together with a hub sandwiched between them just like a modern bike wheel.  You carry out that task thrice, two large, one small and it would be well worth painting the spokes beforehand.  The main wheels slot straight onto the axle, while the front wheel is clamped in place by a two-part yoke, much like a set of forks on a bike.

 

In order to steer the vehicle, the tiller is made up from a few parts and slots into the footwell floor, with a small step added to the right front corner of the well to ease access.  A steering linkage joins the fork and tiller together, a small wheel pokes out of the footwell, possibly a fuel valve? I don’t know, as I’m not quite that knowledgeable on the subject.  The final part is a long brake lever, which is probably intended to make up for the lack of servo assistance by using leverage.

 

The figures are newly tooled for this kit, and consist of Mrs Benz in a flowing dress and shawl, plus her two sons that are assisting or hindering, depending on your point of view!  Each figure is made with some hollow parts, with the torso made of two parts that incorporates coat tails for added realism for the boys, and a flowing shawl draped around Mrs Benz’s head and shoulders.  You’ll have to hollow out her voluminous cuffs for extra detail if you’d like, but the sculpting is excellent as we’ve come to expect from ICM, especially in the details of Mrs Benz’s ornate dress.  To avoid confusion, there is a separate colour guide chart on the instruction sheet that accompanies the kit, or Mrs Benz would end up with a gloss black or copper shawl!  That confused me briefly, I have to admit.

 

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Markings

There are no decals in the box, as there isn’t enough of a vehicle for anything other than paint.  The colours for each part are called out in boxed letters as the build progresses, and that’s a very good idea for such a stripped-down framework with parts strapped to it.  The codes refer back to a chart on the front of the booklet that gives Revell and Tamiya codes plus the colour names in English and Ukrainian, with a separate chart for the figures.

 

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Conclusion

Another totally left-field hit from my point of view, as it’s detailed, very cool and even more endearing with the addition of the figures.  If you’d asked me previously if I would ever build a car from 1886 I’d have said no way.  Now I am seriously considering it, although if you gave me a full size one to drive I’d need a few beers to drive anything that doesn’t float but is steered with a tiller.

 

Extremely highly recommended.

 

Available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd.

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Review sample courtesy of

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It's truly a great kit! Take care with the spokes on the main wheels, though. I realised too late that the hub didn't get contact with the spokes when I put the two wheel halves together.

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