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Built Review
135
Suitcase & Umbrella set
WWII Civilian Suitcase with Umbrella set
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by: Tom Cromwell [ BARKINGDIGGER ]


Originally published on:
Armorama

Introduction

In his book 2 degrees West, Nicholas Crane buys an umbrella and finds within a poem:

“The rain it falleth on the Just
And on the Unjust fella.
But mostly on the Just, because
The Unjust has the Just’s umbrella!”


Bronco has given the 1:35 scale world a handy model of this ubiquitous device along with two types of luggage to help spice up most dioramas that are set between the late 1800s and late 1900s.

Contents

Inside a 6” box I found two small poly bags holding three sprues – two for the luggage and one for the brollies – and a small photo-etched brass fret. There are 13 plastic parts moulded in tan, but oddly the brollies are a slightly different colour to the luggage. Since the two identical luggage sprues are both marked “Ba” and the umbrellas are marked “F” I wonder if they came from other kits and are just being re-brigaded here? The parts make up two identical hard-sided suitcases, two identical attaché cases, a closed umbrella and an open one.

The moulding is sharp, with no flash. Some of the attachment points are a challenge to deal with while avoiding damage to the parts.

Review

Modern steel-framed umbrellas have been with us since the mid-1800s, and by the start of the 20th century they were to be found all over the world. They took a beating after WW2 when collapsible telescopic models were introduced, but the good old walking-stick brolly is still with us whenever it rains. The kit has a one-piece model of a folded-up umbrella, but to my mind the cloth is too “straight”. Sure, it could be in a slip-cover, but I’d have preferred to see a bit more contouring to it. The open brolly is made up of an amazingly thin and detailed casting into which the PE struts are fitted before the plastic handle gets inserted. It would have been better if the PE was stainless (so it resembled chrome), and I’m not sure how long the shaft will survive before I need to replace it with steel rod. (I found it all a bit top-heavy when attaching it to the figure.) There is a very delicate point on top of the brolly that really brings it to life!

I think the plastic shaft may represent wood, since even today the high-end of the market uses wooden sticks to add strength. Metal shafts are cheaper to make, so are more common even in a WW2 timeframe. Be aware of the difficulties the PE struts can cause – they are very soft and tend to bend just by looking at them. I found it best to slip the PE onto the shaft and superglue it before cementing the shaft in place. Only then could I carefully bend down each strut until it touched the canopy where it got superglued. The box art shows a more complicated strut arrangement than we actually get.

The suitcases are hard-siders meant to have bound edges and a leather body. Inside, there should be a cloth lining with pockets on both lid and main body. While typical of the 1930s, they certainly survived in use into the 1980s – in the 1980s I wore out more than one charity-shop bargain in my travels! Since the lids are separate it is possible to pose them open, but aside from the missing lining there is a problem with the latches. The photo-etched latch parts contain both the latch (from the lid) and the lock plate (from the body), which is fine if the case is closed but not if it is open. However, these are truly tiny, so it probably isn’t worth worrying about.

Colours for the suitcases could be very bright – remember the world didn’t get drab until the war started. The raised edges acted as bumpers, so were usually a darker colour like cured leather or rubber.

The attaché cases come as two halves, but the fit is a bit poor and I had to file the joint on all sides. The box art shows a nice raised edge to the flap, but unless you like whittling you won’t get that particular detail. Given that these cases worked by a flap covering an open body they could (and did) expand or even distort depending on contents, but the kit parts are a typical “display model” shape. In particular, the front pockets would often bulge. Ambitious modellers could alter them with a bit of sculpting…

Luggage is always welcome, since civilian objects give a nice contrast to the usual GI stuff. The suitcases may be a bit scale-specific, but the attaché cases could represent bigger bags in 1:48, while the brollies could become café-table awnings with a little surgery to remove the curved handles. All of them would work in 1:32 or 54mm scale.

The one thing that sticks in my mind is that the mouldings seem a bit dated design-wise. The iffy fit of the attaché cases is very 1970s, while the smooth suitcase interior isn’t much better.

My only real gripe is the cost – there seems to be a lot of empty box for what the going rate for this set is. If they doubled the contents it would better justify the price.

Conclusion

This set adds some much-needed life to 1:35 dioramas, even though it is a bit pricey. The open umbrella will certainly become a feature on contest tables for the foreseeable future!
SUMMARY
Highs: Different. Based on real examples. The brolly canopy is fantastic!
Lows: Problematic PE. Some details simplified and “dated”. Overpriced.
Verdict: Worthwhile as added diorama material, but definitely hunt for a good price.
Percentage Rating
80%
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: AB3521
  Suggested Retail: 9.99 USD
  Related Link: DragonUSA Item Page
  PUBLISHED: Jan 14, 2011
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 82.10%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 87.97%

Our Thanks to Dragon USA!
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 Tom Cromwell (barkingdigger)
FROM: ENGLAND - EAST ANGLIA, UNITED KINGDOM

A Yank living overseas on a long-term basis, I've been building tanks since the early '70s. I relish the challenges of older kits (remember when Tamiya was "new"?...) because I love to scratch-build.

Copyright ©2017 text by Tom Cromwell [ BARKINGDIGGER ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of TankRat's. All rights reserved.


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Comments

Thanks for the review Tom. I had a look at this set in my LHS and I think the only really useful piece in it is the open umbrella. As you point out the furled umbrella is too straight - to my mind it looks like an elongated ice lolly The cases are okay-ish but they would be simple enough to make from scratch. It was €8 I think in the LHS and he'd sold a few so I expect to see some in dios at local shows
JAN 15, 2011 - 06:25 PM
I believe the luggage sprues are the same ones that are included in the German Saloon Coach kit. I will have to check to verify. I really like the open umbrella as well, and it looks like it would be pretty easy to modify the closed umbrella to make it look a little less tidy.
JAN 15, 2011 - 09:09 PM
Hi Tom, Thanks for the review. I tend to agree, a bit expensive and I think small leather strapped suitcases would have been better. I'm not sure what the Bronco thinking on the price v content is? When i buy stowage/equipment I look for quality and quanity. Their British Equipment set is currently £5.62 for one spure of equipment. The old Tamiya set is £5.98 and you get 2 spures of pretty decent equipment plus all those bit of bodies to work with. Had the Bronco set contained 2 spuers of equipment I'd probably have bought about 3 or more by now. So far I haven't bough any but I will probably get a set at some point because of the Vickers K Guns and the Thompson. This is one I'll wait for the price to fall on first. 8 euro for one umbrella is a bit much and I agree with Pat it's the most useable item. Al
JAN 16, 2011 - 12:23 AM
If you look at the price of this versus the contents and then look at one of resicasts stowage sets you see that in Bronco's case you're not really getting value for money. One good thing about this set - it's made me want to scratchbuild an Umbrella.
JAN 16, 2011 - 07:28 AM
That comparison with resin sets was exactly what I was thinking when I reviewed it. Having a larger bunch of cases might make the price worthwhile, but then I'd probably want more variety too. Oh, and the fashionable gent posing with the brollie may have started out in Tamiya's ammo-loading crew, but he's embarking on a career in the theatre as soon as I can bash enough other folk to represent his workmates rolling about in laughter! Should make a unique diorama... Tom
JAN 16, 2011 - 11:55 AM
Hi Pat, agreed. I don't really like to knock a new prodouct but for what you get there's not much value there. Al
JAN 16, 2011 - 12:12 PM
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