The Renault AG1 car was produced from 1905 through to 1921 and while I cannot find information on how many were built I do know that there where many different variants. It is my understanding that the engine cowling was a common feature of all the variants and so I suspect that ICM has more versions of this vehicle in the wings if demand is there. This vehicle had a two cylinder engine with a top speed of around 25 MPH.
The Renault AG1 car appears to have been the vehicle of choice when it came to taxis in France and specifically Paris and it is this aspect that this release from ICM represents. On September 6th 1914 approximately 1,500 taxis assembled and transported between 5,000 and 7,000 French troops (depending on who you believe) to the front to face the Germans and halt their advance. My research suggests that 5 soldiers and the driver were supposed to be the numbers riding each taxi and that meant standing on the running boards. This action resulted in the Renault AG1 taxi obtaining the title of ĎTaxi de la Marneí. ICM has married up their French Infantry on the March with their release of the Renault AG1 in order to replicate this historic event from World War 1.
Packaging and Parts
This offering from ICM is packaged in the usual way of a flip top cardboard tray and an additional card lid with all of the artwork on it; this approach means that the model has a very good chance of reaching you in the condition it was meant to regardless of how it is sent. Inside of the box you will find two re-sealable plastic bags, one containing two tan sprues for the figures, the other contains the parts for the taxi and also two other bags with the tyres and the clear parts. There are also two sheets of paper and an instruction booklet covering assembly of the product.
This version of the Renault AG1 is a four seater, two in the spacious enclosed rear cab and two on the front seat one of whom would of course be the driver. This vehicle is a soft topped version of the Renault AG1 and from checks against online images of preserved examples and period photographs it looks to have been well replicated in this release from ICM in 1/35th scale.
This offering from ICM has a chassis made of 4 main parts that are assembled at the start of the instructions that is then cemented to the running boards and mudguards. I suggest that this be considered a single step as it will help to ensure that the chassis is square. The mudguards have nice raised detail that will help make adding the pin line detailing during the painting. The chassis being moulded in parts has allowed a nice level of detail to be added and pleasingly the parts would seem to be free of ejector pin marks. The same cannot be said of the running boards and mudguards where there are some very deep ejector pin marks on the underside that will need to be tackled.
ICM has as usual tackled the engine of the Renault and while I was unable to find pictorial reference it does look nice. Due to the fact that this is a 2 cylinder engine I have to believe it is an accurate representation of the engine. Unfortunately it does not appear that the engine and other detail provided here will easily be seen or displayed on the finished model. If you do wish to do the work needed to display this aspect of the model then some wire and a little work should provide a little gem. ICM has also provided the radiator which is behind rather than in front of the engine with the relevant plumbing also provided. The transmission is another nicely provided detail that with the exhaust creates a very nice level of detail as regards the mechanical aspects of the model. I believe the engine cowling could be raised from the front and hinged at the rear and then held in place by a rod; I have found an image to support that belief and then others show the hood split.
The front leaf springs are moulded as part of the chassis that with a little work to clean the mould seams will look good. The rear leaf springs are moulded separately and again a little work on the mould seams will raise the level of the finish. The steering mechanism is locked in a forward position only and that is an aspect I donít like as I always feel that with the wheels turned a model looks more visually pleasing. The wheels have wooden spokes provided that would not look at of place on a horse coach, these are then finished with tyres provided in vinyl by ICM. The rear axle and differential looks good which due to being easily seen is a good aspect of the model.
The body work of the model has been tackled well and while in several parts care will result in a pleasing finish I believe. The inner surfaces do seem to have a number of ejector pin marks that will need to be tackled and while they donít all need filling best practice says otherwise. The doors of the rear cab could be left open if desired with the interior detail being of a standard to allow that without much in the way of work. There is a problem with the model that is not an issue with accuracy. This vehicle has a soft topped version of the vehicle, but ICM has provided a figure laying on the roof which I do not feel would work on a canvas roof. While seeking images I found the scene that ICM has decided to replicate and they have done a good job with one exception; the vehicle in the picture has a hard top which is supported by a window frame at the front. The image does show the figures provided in pretty much the poses provided plus at least another 3 figures.
The soft roof panels have been well tackled with a good level of detail representing the metal frame work of the support structures. The lights have been well tackled that with some work I believe it would be possible to add LEDís to them, but my research indicated that tail lights only were used during the event of getting the French Army to the front.
The model is shown finished in a red livery which is supported by photographs; I have also found images of the vehicle finished in a green livery should you so decide. ICM has provided decals for the model including 3 alternate sets of registration plates. There are three other decals provided on the sheet but I am at a loss as to what they represent.
One of the sprues is from the WW1 French weapons and equipment set released back in 2014 and I have to say that the moulds are holding up very well judging from the quality of this sprue. If you take a look at the list below you will see that you have a huge number of options available to you as a modeller in both weapons and equipment. The contents break down as follows:
- 1 x Hotchkiss Mle 1909 machine guns
- 1 x Chauchat CSRG Mle 1915 machine guns
- 1 x Chauchat magazines
- 1 x Chauchat magazine pouch (right)
- 1 x Chauchat magazine pouch (left)
- 3 x Lebel-Berthier Mle 1916 rifle OF-15 grenade
- 3 x Label Mle 1886/93 rifle with bayonet
- 9 x Lebel ammunition pouch
- 1 x Ruby pistol holster
- 1 x Ruby pistol
- 3 x F-1 grenade
- 3 x Lebel rifle bayonets in scabbard
- 3 x Lebel bayonet scabbards
- 1 x axe in case
- 1 x sickle in case
- 1 x wire cutters in case
- 1 x wire cutters
- 3 x small shovel in case
- 3 x ARS respirator canister
- 3 x M2 respirator canister
- 1 x mess tin (big)
- 1 x basin
- 3 x mess tin small
- 1 x coffee mill
- 3 x mug
- 1 x canteens
- 3 x canteens
- 1 x binocular
- 1 x binocular cases
- 4 x Adrian M1915 steel helmets
- 15 x equipment fastening small strap
Moving onto the figures and an aspect of models that ICM excels at being one of the best injection moulded plastic figure producers in the market at this time. The mouldings are clean with very little work required as regards clean up, you have to look very hard to even see the seam lines. I also like that the parts for each of the figures is in its own area of the sprue.
The uniform of the three French soldiers has been well replicated and being red trousers with blue jackets is accurate for the start of World War 1. The boots are well done on the upper surfaces, but no tread detail is present. The soft peaked cap is provided for the figures, but these could be replaced if preferred with the steel helmets included in the equipment set.
The faces have been very nicely done with the moustache on each face being very well done; those modellers who are particularly good and painting faces will be pleased with the detail present. The hands of the figures are also well done and I particularly like the figure provided holding a flag. I would consider removing the flag portion and replacing it with foil in order to improve its scale look.
The civilian driver is appropriately dressed for the period and I understand has been designed to fit this taxi released by ICM, with that said civilian drivers in this scale are hard to find and so will be useful in other settings. The clothing used here would I feel make the figure of use for the turn of the century into the 1940ís which is a big plus.
This is a nice offering from ICM bringing the figures and taxi together in a single purchase. I do feel that the prone figure will need to be altered or done away with as it cannot be shown lying on the roof as designed. The detail is of a high standard with ICM doing a lot of work to get the accuracy right in the look of the finished set. I would look at obtaining a set of the other French infantry from the same period and modifying some of them as riders.