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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Bolt Action - Review: Black Tree Designs Kradschutzen

By Patch

When I commenced planning my early war, Blitzkrieg, German army, one of the units that drew my attention the most was the motorbike troops - commonly known by the German name of Kradschutzen. These motorbike troops are so iconic to that early war period that I had to base my army around them, and one thing that I had noticed was that I had yet to face an opponent that was using them; certainly I had not seen them in the several tournaments I had attended.

In Bolt Action, they are costly at 15 points per man; and on top of that you can add one LMG and an SMG for the Sergeant and one other. For this price however, you can have the motorbike rule and move 12 inches on an advance and 24 inches on the run, and have the same recce-style rule available to armoured cars with the added bonus of turn on the spot. Further to this, if you have a sidecar, the trooper in the sidecar can fire on an advance. If you put together a six man squad in three motorbike/sidecar combos, you  can effectively have 8 shots (LMG and 2 x SMG) while still mounted. On a 12 inch advance, this infantry squad can now have a range with the LMG of 42 inches and SMG’s of 24 inches - getting you thinking now, isn’t it?

This unit now gives you a fast moving infantry squad able to quickly plug gaps or exploit weaknesses, and unlike vehicles, can take and hold many objectives by dismounting and becoming another regular infantry squad.  Even in the opening phases of a game, the ability to basically run on 24 inches could mean the difference in being first to that juicy terrain usually found in the middle of the table.

So, totally convinced that I needed some, I did a bit of looking around and found that Black Tree Design (BTD) does a number of German motorbikes, and on a recent sale I purchased a motorbike and sidecar, along with six motorbikes with the pillion passenger (on reflection I should have grabbed more sidecars but am in the process of rectifying this with BTD!)

When I received the miniatures I was really happy. The only actual construction involved is putting the handlebars on, and then placing the motorbike riders on the back. For me, this is a big thing, as I have great distaste for putting my miniatures together and generally avoid plastics for that very reason.  For the motorbike with sidecar, it was just a matter of attaching the sidecar to the motorbike where it is supported by three struts. For the record, I did cut the middle strut, as it was getting in the way of the motorcycle rider, but this had zero effect on the overall product.

The miniatures have minimal flash, although the hands on the rider have some big issues. This does let the quality down slightly, but not enough to put me off, and a bit of filing fixed it up. The details on the bikes are crisp and clean and provide for a very nice overall effect.

If you are after these motorbikes to field your own Kradschutzen squad, then I would highly recommend BTD as the go-to manufacturer. Much has been spoken about delivery times with BTD before; but if you order during one of their massive sales then you will just have to wait like the rest of us while they process the orders. Buy outside that, and you may pay a little more, but they will get delivered sooner.

(And that concludes Patch's excellent review of the kradschutzen from Black Tree Design. Have any comments? Share on the forum! - Judson)

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