Another review by our esteemed occasional contributor Lee Parnell from Safety Markings blog.
The fully assembled model
One of the things on my ,ever expanding, to do list is to add a second patrol of SdKfz 222 Armoured Cars to my DAK force. Right now I can do a bare bones PanzerSpah force but it’d be nice to have two full strength Patrols to counter Gav’s Daimlers.
The thing that is stopping this is the cost of the Battlefront SdKfz 222. At £7.50 a car it never quite gets high enough up the list. After all, £7.50 will buy me a whole Sherman V which seems like a much better deal when it comes to the literal “bang for the buck!”
However, Zvesda have been putting out an ever growing range of plastics and one of the most recent additions is the SdKfz 222.
So, is it cheap and cheerful? Or just cheap? Let’s find out.
The price is the main attraction with Zvesda. At £3 a pop for a single car before Onslaught Games discount, the Zvesda kit instantly grabs one’s attention.
By comparison. BattleFront charge £7.50 a car, Forged in Battle come in at £5 a car (three for £15), Sktrex charge £6 each and neither Peter Pig or Plastic Soldier Company have the model in their range.
A clear win for Zvesda on this front then!
I sat the assembled model next to one each of the BattleFront SdKfz 222 and 223 armoured cars.
From the front all three models look very similar. The headlights of the Zvesda are smaller and the turret shorter, but both features are probably truer to how it should look
The Zvesda hull is noticeably shorter and truer to the real life 222 IMHO. Other than that, the wheel base and general position relative to the wheels is similar between brands.
Again, length is a noticeable difference
The model compares well in hull height, width, general position of features. The turret was noticeably shorter than the BF one but, comparing to period photos, I’d probably lean to Zvesda being in the right on this one. The Zvesda kit was very similar in wheel base but shorter overall, the discrepancy occurring in the hull length aft of the rear wheel. Again, I’d go with the Zvesda model being more correct as I have always felt the BF one is overly long.
I’d say that the Zvesda 222 could sit alongside the 223 in the same platoon without too much trouble (a necessity as I will discuss later). However, I’d probably steer clear of mixing the 222 from the two manufactures in the same platoon.
Form and Detail
On the face of it, the Zvesda kit looks the part as a 15mm model of a SdKfz 222. All the bumps and lumps are in the right place and look correctly proportioned. The spare wheel and door mounted stowage bins are present, as are minor features like the hull mounted shovel. In general, the detail is crisp with good relief of the mesh wire turret and hull tops, hatches and vision slits. It also continues the somewhat bizarre, but not entirely unwelcome, Zvesda trait of having very intricate chassis detail!
One of my complaints of the early Zvesda kits was that such detail was either not present or very soft. They also tended to be very eccentric in where the detail appeared (Pz I with lavish engine deck detail but poor detail on vision slits. Opel Blitz with great chassis but no panel detail!). The 222 is a massive improvement and one that I feel should be acknowledged as a step in the right direction.
Chassis detail is very good, a Zvesda hallmark. On a recce vehicle this is likely to be seen often!
There are some bugbears. Firstly, the spare wheel lacks any kind of canvas folds or lines. It’s far too smooth and reminds me of my main issue with the trucks (also lacked any detail on the canvas parts). I imagine that, like the trucks, I’ll end in painting in the detail. Thankfully it’s the only part of the kit where this concern can be applied!
The second issue is on the turret. What I can only assume is the pivot point of the main gun is far too far back in the turret. The space behind the wire screen should be empty, as can be seen on this model.
The MG is also a little too thin and worries me that it will break with regular wargame use. I think bulking barrels up is an acceptable deviation from history for wargames purposes!
The mount for the 2cm AA gun sits far too back in the turret
The final issue is with the general construction. The kit is “push-fit” but I feel that far too much emphasis has been placed on this to the detriment of the rest of the model. The way it has been applied to the upper hull makes for a very frustrating construction (I swear one three bits are all contesting the same space at one point!) and can leave unsightly gaps in the model where the three parts of the upper hull meet and where they in turn met with the base plate. On future models I may remove the pegs and just glue the model together rather than using the pegs with glue.
Mind the gap!
Overall, this is an excellent little model and a great step forward for Zvesda. Previous kits had me thinking that the manufacturer were only good for Trucks and other filler units. This kit now has me thinking that future Zvesda kits may be worth looking at (the new Matilda is going to be the next purchase).
I would like to see future kits sacrifice the final look less for the sake of push fit. I would also like to see future kits have more options in them. In Flames of War the 222 rarely takes to the battlefield on its own and will usually have a 221 or 223 as the platoon command vehicle. I see no reason why Zvesda couldn’t have taken a leaf from Plastic Soldier Company’s book and put in the smaller MG turret and bedstead antenna for the 221/223. It would be well worth an extra quid on the box price! Some stowage options wouldn’t have gone amiss either! Thankfully the Zvesda 222 just about works alongside the Battlefront 223 so a composite platoon is doable.
That aside, this is the best 222 kit your going to get for your money and that alone probably makes up for the extra effort its assembly requires.
Onslaught games, over near Hove Station, carry Zvesda models, along with Battle Front and Plastic Soldier Company too. Cheers to Luke for getting this in for me!