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In-Box Review
135
German SSys Flatcar
1/35 German SSys Schwerer Plattformwagen
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by: Bill Cross [ BILL_C ]


Originally published on:
Armorama

introduction

The first military use of trains was during the American Civil War when the Confederacy prevailed in the battle of Bull Run/Manassas in 1861 by sending troops overland from the Shenandoah Valley by rail. Since then, military transport has increasingly relied on the rails, not just for logistics, but for concentrating overwhelming forces at the right point on the battlefield. Germany developed an elaborate rail system during the 19th Century, partly for economic development, but always with the possibility in mind of having to fight both France and Russia, her traditional enemies, in a two-front war. Which is what happened in World War I.

With everyone expecting an eventual re-match, during the 1920s and 1930s, the Germans continued to see railroads as strategic tools for making war. The Reichsbahn was anticipating a role carrying men and materiel to the front(s). But after Germany's initial martial successes, increasingly the rails were needed to shift troops, tanks and other fighting vehicles to hot spots as the Wehrmacht sought to stretch its inadequate resources. As the war dragged on, entire divisions were transported by rail to act as mobile "fire brigades." The 1st SS Panzer Division (Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler), for example, went by rail from the Eastern Front to Italy after the Allies knocked Germany's erstwhile partner out of the Axis. After cutting a swath of infamy across the land, LAH was then shipped back to Russia, then to France to blunt the Allied invasion of Normandy, then back to the East.

You get the idea.

As tanks got bigger (and heavier), heavy-duty flatcars had to be developed. One of the most-common was the SSy Schwerer Plattformwagen which could carry most anything up to and including the Panther (but not the heavy Tiger). Dragon has an OOP styrene version of the SSy, a kit I have used to good effect, and Tank Workshop released a resin version a number of years ago. The cars were produced in Cologne, and their descendents are still in use on today's Bundesbahn.

Now L.Z. Models has blown the doors off the SSy with a resin & photo etch version that takes detailing to delightfully crazy levels of accuracy.

the kit

You get a lot for your money:

221 cream-colored resin parts
350 brass PE parts
ABS plastic rounds for handles, etc.
decals for three different cars
mini-CD-ROM with instructions, etc.

the review

I don't think L.Z.'s diabolically-intense mastermind, Libor Zachoval, would be upset with my cautioning readers that this isn't a kit for the novice modeler or train buff. The price IS very competitive with the heavy flatcars of Tank Workshop, but the level of detailing is almost off-the-charts. Unlike most rail cars and locos for the AFV modeler, the bogeys and braking system's levers and cylinders are fully-rendered - to the point where it almost makes you cry realizing they will be only partially-visible when the model is finished.

I'm wondering if I shouldn't mount the finished car on a mirror to show off the underside?

This is a kit for the total railroad/armor/model geek. And I mean that as the highest form of praise! Nothing is "suggested" or simplified, and while you probably don't want to make this your first resin kit, it might be less of a challenge than Libor's box car, since there are no walls to "true-up." In any case, this model is for the builder who demands the ultimate in accuracy, and it delivers.

One thing that makes LZ's kits stand out is they're pretty much self-contained: other than glue and paint, everything you need is included, right down to the 0.2mm brass wire for making springs, and the 0.6mm wire for tying down the air brakes' reservoir. Most other manufacturers require you to supply things like ABS plastic rounds or wire, but that's all included here. In a hobby where kit makers regularly leave out details and accuracy, figuring the after-market companies will deal with the "rivet counters," this is a kit that has all you need to make the most-accurate flatcar on the market. The styrene versions out there just can't compete.

The quality of the resin casting is excellent, as we have come to expect with dedicated manufacturers like LZ. The pieces have very small attachment points, and little of the "hairy" flash you will see only so many limited-run resin kits. The brass shows differing thicknesses, which is a plus in parts this small, though I would have preferred some of the lever parts were rendered a little thicker for sturdiness.

Old fingers are less-nimble.

The construction of the car is handled in a series of sub-assemblies, including the platform & frame, the brake lines & levers, the bogeys and finally, the detailing, including stanchions and stanchion-stowage. The frame fits together with interlocking pins, reducing the chance of a misalignment. The "wood" texture of the platform's slats is realistically rough but not "grainy" the way many manufacturers overdo plastic wood detailing. The trickiest part of the frame will be angling the various support beams, which are supplied uncut, and will require trimming to-length.

The most-complex part of the assembly looks to be the brake-line components, with a series of pressure lines and three control levers with corresponding rods. Then comes the bogeys, which are assembled from frames, wheels and axles. Nearly 40 PE parts make up the brake shoe assemblies, so this is another area that will take time & care, but will return the care with amazingly realistic detail. The bogey's leaf springs are beautifully-rendered without the usual seam lines that make the German predilection for for leaf springs the bane of my armor modeling experience.

A little plastic tubing is called for to handle the brake lines between cars, but which could be handled with electrical insulation or the thicker ABS rounds supplied with the kit. It's not the only down-to-the-smallest-detail provided by the kit, including brackets to store the stanchions, and both a brake release valve & brake switch rod. If I sound like an expert in these abstruse details, it's only because of the careful labeling from the instruction CD-ROM that calls out the various parts.

instructions

Speaking of the instructions, the 30 pages of color photos and careful diagrams are rendered on a CD-ROM PDF file. This decision allows LZ to include a generous supply of color photographs that would be simply too expensive for most small manufacturers if rendered on paper. There is a compromise in "portability," meaning you'll either have to print them out on your own color printer, or else keep a laptop handy on your workbench. In either case, it's a small price to pay for a kit that is so complex and detailed.

conclusion

There are kits that are very good, and some that are exceptional. Then there are kits in a class by themselves. That's how I would describe the railroad creations of LZ Models: if you demand the closest to the real thing you can get in 1/35th scale, this is the kit for you. The styrene Ssy flatcars on the market don't even live on the same planet.

Thanks to L.Z. Models for providing this review sample. Please be sure to say you saw it reviewed here on Armorama when ordering.
SUMMARY
Highs: LZ's usual incredible level of detailing. Delightfully absurd levels of accuracy and detail. A railroad modeler's delight, too.
Lows: Waaay too complex for beginners with nearly 600 parts.
Verdict: Highly-recommended for those who insist on complete accuracy, even if we're a little crazy!
Percentage Rating
95%
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: 35113
  Suggested Retail: 69.95
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Dec 10, 2011
  NATIONALITY: Germany
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 90.08%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 90.09%

Our Thanks to LZ Models!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Bill Cross (bill_c)
FROM: NEW JERSEY, UNITED STATES

Self-proclaimed rivet counter who gleefully builds tanks, planes and has three subs in the stash.

Copyright 2019 text by Bill Cross [ BILL_C ]. All rights reserved.



Comments

WOW! detail doesnt begin to describe it. the pictures of the bottom made me dizzy.
DEC 12, 2011 - 08:32 AM
Pretty nifty! And not a bad price either. Best of all, these cars survived in post-war service so can be used to hold up US and early Bundeswehr armour too. (There are shots of BW M47s being loaded up that I plan to replicate...) Tom
DEC 12, 2011 - 08:37 AM
Glad to see you gents enthused. A small company like LZ needs your support. Libor makes a GREAT product, a one-stop-shopping alternative that doesn't require anything more than glue and paint. Can't say that about most upgrades, so fixing the problems with the old Dragon kit or the new Trumpeter one would mean spending extra dough and having to figure out what's what. The Tank Workshop kits don't have the same level of detail, and cost about the same. And I like the idea of putting a Bundeswehr or NATO tank on one of these. You'd need the 80-ton SSyms three-axle car for a Leopard. Those cars are also still in service, as I saw them parked along a siding outside Berlin last Spring.
DEC 12, 2011 - 09:22 AM
I have done business with Libor since the beginning. I have all of his railroad kits and in my opinion they just keep getting better and better with each new release. He is always ready to answer a question and has always replaced missing and damaged parts without question. His kits while extremely detailed have been going together very well - I have only been building the Russian 20t thus far. If you are into super detailed railcars, etc. LZ Models are at the top of the food chain. Happy Modelling!
DEC 12, 2011 - 09:36 AM
Thanks, Mark, for the testimony. I like companies who stand behind their products. The truth is Libor LOVES what he does, he's not making compromises about quality over profits. As a former train buff (HO scale, but also have my late father's G-scale trains), I'm thrilled to see what he's doing. The upgrade sets for the Trumpy locos are also crazy-good (crazy in the level of detail, good if you like accuracy on kits that have been over-simplified).
DEC 12, 2011 - 09:49 AM
@bill_c - Bill, Ordered! Can't wait to get it, I'll be fitting my current Panther build to it just as you did. BTW you did an excellent job on your Panther / flatcar build. I'll need to find out where I can get the ties and tracks? Libor use to have a test build here on Armorama in the Constructive Comments forum that he did back in October 13, 2011 but it has disappeared, what happened to that posting? ~ Eddy
DEC 14, 2011 - 02:40 AM
Thank you so much. The tracks & ties were included in the kit. They're available occasionally as a separate item, and Trumpeter has sets of tracks that aren't hard to find. I made my own ballast, though, as the styrene version was inferior to the real thing.
DEC 14, 2011 - 02:52 AM
@bill_c - Bill, Thanks for the heads-up on the ties and tracks, I'll need to check for these items on the Internet. I'm building a Panther as my contribution on the Panther Campaign and now I'll be including the flatcar, which alone is a whole separate project! I'll be using your build for reference and inspiration. So much fun so little time . . . ~ Eddy
DEC 15, 2011 - 02:36 AM
Eddy, if you have questions, just PM me.
DEC 15, 2011 - 05:32 AM
   

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