When you are searching the internet for reference pictures of the German Sd.Kfz. 553 Ausf. Vierfüßler KaiserKäfer, you needn’t be surprised if you don’t find any. The reason is simple. This machine only has only existed in the imagination of the designers of this new kit from the Chinese modelling company Modelcollect.
The Sd.Kfz. 553 Ausf. Vierfüßler KaiserKäfer is part of the Modelcollect series Fist of War. As stated on the box, the concept of this series is based on an alternative timeline in which the end of WWII is delayed by two years, during which hypothetical new weapons came to development. One of these were to have been multi-legged artillery or so-called ‘walking tanks’. The Fist of War series has been dated during the Second World War, but due to its high science-fiction value, you can also use some models in this series for dioramas in the very future.
The Fist of War series has first been developed in the 1:72 scale, as an continuation of the extensive range of ‘paper panzers’ that Modelcollect has released so far. Now, the Sd.Kfz. 553 Ausf. Vierfüßler KaiserKäfer is one of the first First of War models in the 1:35 scale, although new models are being released at an incredibly fast rate.
Since its start in 2012, Modelcollect quickly has gained a reputation of good quality models, that are pretty straightforward to build. This kit is no exception to the rule. Moreover, this kit is nicely balanced. You could call the design of this fantasy vehicle almost elegant.
The construction of the kit starts with the main body and the two guns. These are based on the famous 75 mm German PAK 40 anti-tank gun, but in a configuration with an autoloader. These guns are also the main drawback of the kit. The guns consist of two halves which have to be glued together, after which you will need to conceal the joint. If you don’t want to venture into this tedious job, luckily you will find impeccable aluminium PAK 40 barrels on the aftermarket.
Also the autoloaders are made of two halves. Here, the joints are even more difficult to remove, especially on the cooling louvers of the system. This could have been avoided by making these as a single piece.
The gun system is followed by the cockpit. The kit comes with a full and detailed interior. Very nice are the radio and the instrument panels. Moreover, you have the possibility to keep the large cockpit cover opened. In this way, you can fully enjoy the paint job of the interior. The commander’s hatch is nothing else than that a German Panther tank.
More possibilities come with the four legs. Short and long cylinders give you the choice how to position the legs. You can have your model crawl up an uneven heap of rubble, stay low of raise high on its legs. This is a nice feature, as this offers numerous possibilities to integrate your model in an attractive diorama. Unfortunately, here also you will need to sand away some joints.
As for painting instructions, you have the choice between a two-tone green scheme and a regular German three-tone scheme. Markings are German black and white crosses and a generic set of white figures with black outline. No one however obliges you to follow these schemes. With an imaginary vehicle as this ‘four legger’, you can feel free to choose for a more brightly coloured paint scheme.
A nice and pleasant-to-build kit, both suitable for beginning and more experienced modellers.