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In-Box Review
Trabant Kūbel
Trabant 601 Tramp Kūbel
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Originally published on:
RailRoad Modeling

The Trabant Kūbel was a cut-down jeep version of the Trabant 601 Tramp. The convertible Tramp variant was built for the Nationale Volksarmee (NVA), the armed forces of the Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR, or East Germany) and border guards, and also used by other Communist Bloc countries and satellites.

The Trabant is an automobile that was produced by former East German auto maker VEB Sachsenring Automobilwerke Zwickau in Zwickau, Sachsen. It was the most common vehicle in East Germany, and was also exported to countries both inside and outside the communist bloc.[1]

The Trabant 601 was the third and most produced model of the Trabant series. VEB Sachsenring Automobilwerke in Zwickau manufactured the P601 from 1964 until 1990. From 1978, the Tramp was produced, the civilian version of the Trabant 601 Tramp, which had been designed for the NVA.[2]

The Trabant was a steel monocoque design with roof, bootlid/trunklid, bonnet/hood, bumpers/fenders and doors in Duroplast, a form of plastic containing resin strengthened by wool or cotton. This helped the DDR to avoid expensive steel imports. The Trabant was the second car to use Duroplast, after the "pre-Trabant" P70 (Zwickau) model (19541959). The duroplast was made of recycled material, cotton waste from Soviet Union and phenol resins from the East German dye industry, making the Trabant the first car with a body made of recycled material.[3]

A llama raising friend once described llamas as looking like a horse assembled by committee. Llamas move cross-country well, and can carry useful loads. Such is Trabant's Kūbel. With its rounded 1950's-stylish front and the angular utilitarian rear, a Trabant Kūbel is an aesthetic showpiece of central committee design--bizarre (much like the Ford Aztec)! And as such it possesses a certain charm.

Herpa Trabant Kūbel

The model is fully assembled and packed in a light plastic form-fitted tray, surrounded by Herpa's signature red paper label, and secured in a light plastic box with opening ends. Though the plastic is flexible and the packaging appears quite flimsy, the Kūbel did survive the perilous international postal journey, arriving in a crushed box unscathed!

The molding is flawless. The front and rear bumpers are thin molded rod. The model is molded in the dark olive of the NVA (tan for border guards). The hubs and tires are molded in color. The headlights appear to be clear lenses, chrome disks mimic other lights below them, and the brake lights are colored lenses. Signal lights found below the driving lights are not present on the model.

In color photographs I found of the Kūbel, the seats appear to be a black vinyl. No raised canvas weather top is provided. The stowed top has fine strap tab detail I did not notice until I enlarged my photos!

The windshield, both side mirrors, the steering wheel, and the spare wheel are individually applied. Some parts are out of scale but in HO, these scale parts would require expensive photo-etch to properly produce.

The DDR national insignia on the front quarter panel is sharply printed, not a decal. There are no vehicle numbers, unit markings, nor license plates printed.


Trabant autos were the most numerous vehicle in the Deutsche Demokratische Republik. With clean molding, sharp insignias, and separate applied detail pieces, it is a sharp model. I would appreciate Herpa including an optional raised top, as found with their vehicle line of Minitanks.

Overall this is a neat and well molded model of the Nationale Volksarmee Kūbel -- the NVA's llama!

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on RAILROADMODELING.

[1] Wikipedia
[2] Herpa
[3] Wikipedia

Click here for additional images for this review.

Highs: Clean molding, sharp printed insignias, and separate applied detail pieces. Lenses for lights instead of painted plastic.
Lows: No raised canvas weather top nor unit or vehicle markings.
Verdict: A neat, well molded and detailed model of an important Cold War vehicle, the Nationale Volksarmee Kūbel.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:87
  Mfg. ID: 024440
  Suggested Retail: 12,50 EUR
  Related Link: Herpa Cars & Trucks: Trabant
  PUBLISHED: Sep 13, 2010

About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright 2021 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of ModelGeek. All rights reserved.


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