For all the praise Mattel rightfully received for the brilliant Hot Wheels Unimog 1300 castings they released in 2018, it may have been easy to miss the other Unimog that appeared around the same time: Schuco’s amazing 604 Series. Trying not to use too much hyperbole is a skill in writing articles, and I think I might have my work cut out avoiding it with this model. It’s superb.
Schuco’s compact 1/64 line has brought along some wonderful castings from Volkswagen T3s to the beautifully done Mercedes W114/5 “stroke eight” (more on that in the future…). But it was the other Mercedes in their line-up, the one with tarpaulin and steel wheels rather than leather and chrome that caught my eye first.
The Unimog is a vehicle that in one form or another has been around for over 70 years. Originally designed in the aftermath of World War 2 as a self propelled power unit for agriculture and logging, Unimogs quickly established themselves as kings of the rough and have battled terrain in the harshest of environments. From deserts to forests, from heavy industry to military use. They’ve done it all. And they’ll keep doing it. The 406 Series production run lasted 26 years from 1963 to 1989 by which time nearly 40,000 had been produced. It’s this version of the UNIversal MOtor Gerät (see how they named it?) that Schuco chose to replicate.
And I have to say, a working vehicle never looked so good in 1/64. Schuco have done a perfect job of replicating the lines and features of the real 604. For a model that normally retails for around the €10 mark, you get a lot of metal for your money. It’s impressively chunky yet there’s a touch of delicacy that you’d expect from a model costing twice as much. The head and tailights are replicated in perfectly shaped clear plastic instead of a decal or paint. The tyres are moulded in chunky rubber and sit around well detailed wheels. The exhaust is modelled in 2 pieces which is a neat touch. Schuco could have easily cast it blandly into the chassis to cut production costs. But they haven’t. Oh and did I mention the tarpaulin cover comes off? It’s a winner. Stick a Tomica logo on the box and it could have easily been part of the Limited Vintage series.
Schuco have modelled the 604 in 4 different versions. The green seen here, a burgundy version that comes as a construction kit, a German Fire Department rescue vehicle and a brilliant looking “Winterdienst” snow plough. Sadly I don’t posess the other variants at present, but as soon as I do you bet there’ll be some group shots on their way. As for shooting my 604, I decided to put my boots on…
Given its’ workman image, I thought it best to take the Unimog somewhere with a fitting backdrop for photos. The drystone walling, mud and moss of a cold English Lake District winter don’t offer much in the way of brilliant lignting but this is a terrain the Unimog can often be found plying its trade. Local utility companies use them to access and supply remote work sites as normal trucks simply can’t cut it. I’m still learning the ropes in terms of diecast photography but normally my pictures are of the great outdoors so taking these pictures I felt more at home!
This is a model that deserves to be in any collection, and I’m excited to see what else Schuco adds to an already strong line-up. Whatever they have on the horizon, rest assured this won’t be the last time I cover the German brand. One to keep an eye on for sure.