Thursday 26 April 2012

Hong Kong Plastic Trucks.

A box of plastic trucks.
Once upon a time in NZ, it was possible to purchase cheap sets of  20mm plastic soldiers. These sets were often clones of Airfix figures, and were generally manufactured in Hong Kong. Some of these sets came with accessories, and one of the more common accessories was a plastic truck. These were crudely made, lacking a great deal of detail, but they were available cheaply, and in quantity.

Basic model truck. This one has been painted Olive Drab, and had card put in the cab.
Naturally, such a resource would not go ignored by truck hungry Command Decision players. Each truck could be treated as a light truck, and thus carry a ton of supplies (usually ammunition), or a stand of personnel. Suddenly these trucks were valuable, even desirable, and fleets of them were acquired by the players I knew. A quick paint job - grey for Germans, and Olive Drab for the Allies - and some card placed in the cab so the floor could no longer be seen, and these trucks did their duty in numerous games.

Some trucks had more detail. Here is one painted dark grey in axis service.
Eventually these trucks were replaced in service by better models, or larger vehicles, and were consigned to storage boxes. Some time ago I acquired the truck holdings of two CD players, and have embarked on a refurbishment project with them. While not the best example of a WW2 light truck, they are a much better example of trucks made in the postwar period, and they are available in quantity. I am starting with the better detailed vehicles, and will work my way through to the less detailed ones.
A soon to be light flak truck.

The more detailed ones often have etching on their decks to represent planking, and will generally have the outline of a turntable mount on the deck too. With this in mind, I have started the creation of a light flak truck for use in Harad. The gun is a hodgepodge of  parts from the bits back - a broken Hasegawa 37mm flak gun, and the barrel from an Airfix Pak 40 from the "German armoured car that wasn't" kit.
Close up of the AA gun.
Looking at that gun makes me think fondly of CD2, where autocannons got +1 versus personnel stands, rather than CD3's vast range of penalties - which render autocannons ineffective at attacking personnel - but that's a rant for another day.

The first step in the process is to base the vehicle. Then check to see if it needs the cab 'floor' replaced, and then paint. With the better detailed trucks, I won't have to build up out of plastic card the rear chassis for the deck to sit on and for the axles to be connected to. One of the most glaring flaws of the less detailed trucks is the simplistic way they deal with the rear wheel assemblies.

Two of the better trucks. The sand coloured one used to be grey.

I used the dark grey as an undercoat, and painted sand over iot, and then gave it a brown wash.

The finished vehicle.
So while these trucks won't be the best ones on any table, the plan is to bring them up to a suitable standard where I can use them as vehicles for games in Harad. My plan is to also paint some of them up in civilian paint schemes, for use as impressed vehicles, or  even as actual civilian vehicles. Despite their adoption into many CD WW2 armies, I have always felt these trucks had more of  a late 1950s -1960s feel to them. That being said, they are generic enough to pass muster for a wide range of periods, with WW2 being the lower end of the time scale.


  1. Lovely work Brian.

    I remember these kits only too well.They always reminded me of the International (Australia) C1800.

    Model on!

  2. Of course, I am one who has a dozen of these vehicles, picked up for a song and dance at a swap meet many years ago, and now serving as a vehicle pool for my WW2 Russians. I didn't do much with mine; green cab, brown tilts, and s cardboard floor to the cab...

    I really ought to put my cardboard Zis Trucks on the production line.

    I tend to differ from Brian's assessment that these plastic vehicles should be classed as light trucks: for mine they are mediums. My Zis (GAZ AA) trucks, being noticeably smaller, are more in the nature of your light, 1/2-ton truck.

    Be that as it may: being the shape they were, the GAZ/Zis vehicles are easy to make out of cardboard and waste, and can be done in light or heavier versions with the addition of rear axles (6x4).


  3. I wish that cheap models were so abundent and easy to get as they used to be. though a bit old fashioned for my modern games the rebels would be ok with a couple of these

  4. I have a load of these (mostly bought in Mallorca) and very useful they are!