by: Andras [ ]
ICM has released the model of the very first production automobile, the Benz-Patent Motorwagen, and this fact is, frankly, awesome. They went about designing a very good kit representing Benzís creation, and this edition also has a figure of Herr Benzís wife and two teenage boys. I did not understand the significance of the figures until I dug myself deeper into the story of this vehicle. If you are a car enthusiast or a German you probably do not need a reminder: the wife of Mr Benz actually undertook a hundred kilometer journey for marketing purposes once the vehicle was ready. (She also took part in developing the vehicle AND financed it, so she was not just a pretty face behind the wheel. Or, rather, behind that thingy they used for steering the vehicle instead of a wheel.) The following links have some interesting information on the vehicle and on this historical journey
Although it has to be mentioned that the photo of the actual vehicle that was used for this historic journey differs from the model in quite a lot of details - see the following link: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0c/Motorwagen_Serienversion.jpg
If you want an absolutely accurate model of the journey, it does not seem to be a very difficult conversion, but if this is not something you want to undertake, I am certain Mrs Benz took her sons for a ride other times, too.
The model comes in a typical ICM box: a white cardboard box with a folding top with a separate thin cover displaying the box art.
It is quite a small kit: there is some PE provided (for the sprockets and chains and for the spokes of the wheels), and three sprues (plus one for the figures). The largest sprue has everything but the wheels, and two small sprues have the wheel rims. You also get a rig for wheel assembly, and a large PE fret with the drive chains and spokes. The whole model can be assembled over a couple of hours.
The figures are really well designed, and the detail is good; since I am not much of a figure painter I will leave them for later, as I want to do them justice.
The instructions are well-designed and easy to follow. One part where I made a mistake was the assembly of the V-belt and its wheels; the instructions were not clear on the importance of the correct orientation of the wheels (more on that a bit later.) Now that I know how the assembly works, it is obvious, but this is obviously hind-sight from my part; when you build the model, make sure you pay attention.
The parts are well-moulded in grey plastic; I found very little flash. Everything is crisp and well-defined. The frame of the vehicle was reproduced using only two large parts, the moulding is quite clever. Accuracy is especially important in a vehicle like this as the slightest deviations in assembling the main frame will result in further misalignments. I have to say the engineering of this model is impressive. Care needs to be taken in the first step, when assembling the two halves of the frame, but once the glue is set, all other parts will fall into place.
The other smart piece of engineering are the wheels: the spokes are provided as PE parts (not surprisingly). I was a bit apprehensive about this feature as a previous attempt with a different kit using PE spokes ended up in disaster, but I was pleasantly surprised. The necessary bend in the middle of the wheel is introduced using a smart little template also provided with the kit. You place one half of the rim (with its sprue) into it, place the PE spokes over it, push the middle down using a plastic part provided for this very purpose simulating the axis of the wheel, and glue the spokes to the rim in this position. This way you introduce the necessary bend of the spokes with ease. Repeating the same procedure with the other half of the rim and gluing the two together you will end up with a perfect set of wheels. I needed to use a little putty where the two halves of the rim met, but this was not a big deal at all.
The engine and the large flywheel are also simple affairs; this model really made me interested in how this single piston, two stroke engine worked (unfortunately so far I found nothing online). The one thing I would mention about the assembly is the V-belt. It is provided in a four-part affair: the two wheels, and two straight sections. When you glue the wheels in place, make sure you orient them properly. The parts of the belt that touch them are moulded onto the wheels, so they have to be positioned just right for the whole assembly to look good.
Painting was done using Tamiya paints (and some oils) for the non-metallic parts, and AK Interactiveís True metal range (copper, gold, old bronze, steel and gunmetal) for the metallic parts.
Overall, this is a very unique model, which can be assembled reasonably quickly. It does require some experience with model building, and working with PE, but not much; all in all it is a cool little kit and a very interesting subject. I really enjoyed working on it, and encourage anyone who has a slight interest in automobiles or technology to build one.