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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Bolt Action - Review: Rubicon Models Hetzer

By Bryan

Rubicon Models have released a 1/56 scale plastic Hetzer tank hunter in their latest wave of new kits. Here, I'll be unboxing this little beast and giving you an overview of this kit, as well as a couple of painted examples of how mine turned out.

Here you see the contents of the box. It's pretty packed for what is actually a small vehicle. The reason for this is that Rubicon recognizing that a strength of plastic kits over resin, is that they can be assembled with variant parts to represent many options. In this case the options are the three production variants (early, middle and late) as well as the Flammpanzer (flamethrower armed) variant. All had visual differences, and this kit gives you the parts to choose which one you want to make.

This sprue has one of the two track variants as well as one of the two rear hull variants. The three Hetzer production series are not that different looking overall, and it's the small details and exhaust set-up that's the main visual difference you notice. Even so, Rubicon offers these options in this kit, so you can really make your Hetzer accurate for the army you have in mind.

Here you see the main hull and the second track variant. The kit fit together really well, with hardly any cleaning needed, just a scalpel to shave off the points where the parts were joined to the sprue. The detail is really nice and crisp and the plastic hard so the detail is not rounded or soft. I didn't have any troubles with delicate parts breaking as I clipped them off the sprue. The only one that took care was the pintle MG34.

The third sprue has most of the smaller details and accessories like spare track links and digging tools. Very cool little details.

Here you can see the finished Hetzer. I have chosen mine to be for my Royal Hungarian army in 1944-45. The Hetzer was not only used by Germany's army but also supplied to Hungary and stolen by Czech Partisans in the final months of the war.

What's great is that the decal sheet included, includes these options. You get all the German insignia, but what really impressed me was the research that was put into the more obscure options.

You can see in the images above and below that this Hetzer's crew has named her "Marika". This was common practice among Hungarian crews to name them using traditional girls names. The Rubicon guys have researched this well enough to include two such names as options on the decal sheet. These are based off actual photos of wrecked Hetzers on the Hungarian plain in 1945. Great stuff. There is also decal options to cover the ones the Czech resistance fighters captured and turned against the Germans. Really characterful and well researched.

A rear view showing the details on the rear hull. There are two variants for the rear hull and the exhaust set-up to allow for the different production variants to be built with this kit.

As seems standard with Rubicon kits the assembly instructions are really clear and easy to follow, with the kits designed with the gamer in mind.  This was put to the test as I managed to assemble both kits only half paying attention, as I watched the latest episodes of The Walking Dead, and didn't stuff anything up. Rubicon kits seem to be gamer proof!

The Rubicon Hetzer does not include crew figures, which may be my only negative point. I know the Rubicon guys are working on crew for future kits, which is great to see.

I made my crew from a mixture of miniatures. The Commander is a modified Mad Bob Miniatures Hungarian tank crewman. The infantryman on the rear deck is a Warlord Games plastic winter Russian, with a German head. I've added the mustaches to give that iconic Hungarian look.

I tried to create a narrative, almost like a small diorama, with the way the crew was put together. I imagine the Hetzer is in it's main role, supporting the infantry, and one of them is pointing out targets as he lies on the rear deck.

Stowage is not included in this kit, however Rubicon does make a German stowage accessories set, which is a great addition to your Axis vehicles. Saying that, this Hetzer kit does include plenty of spare tracks and a set of tools to add some stowage.

I have chosen to base my vehicles, I know that's not to everyone's taste but I like the look as it ties my armies vehicles and infantry together. I simply use a piece of plasticard cut to size and add texture using poly-filla from a hardware store smeared over it.

Mokus and Marika, ready to defend the Hungarian homeland from the Soviet onslaught.

Overall I am very impressed by this kit. It is a well designed kit, which was quick and easy to assemble. The sculpting is sharp and robust for gaming. I would have liked to see crew and possibly stowage included in the set, but I understand that space on sprues can be an issue. And crew can be fairly easily made using a few spare plastic figures we all seem to have. I really enjoyed painting these small by deadly tank hunters and these will make a great addition to any German (or Hungarian!) Bolt Action platoon. I give the Rubicon Models Hetzer 4.5 out of 5 tank tracks.

If you have any questions on the kit ask me on the forum:

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