by: Rick Cooper [ ]
Tamiya is no stranger to re-boxing kits, has recently released a set of Afrika Korps Luftwaffe artillery crewmen. You may remember these figures from the re-box of the North Africa Campaign 88mm Flak gun #35283. That kit re-boxed the venerable Tamiya 88mm and added a new molding of an eight man crew with assorted equipment. This new kit, #35343, takes the two new sprues from that kit of the crew and the accompanying equipment, albeit with a small addition, and now offers them as a separate release.
Letís see what you actually get for your MSRP of $13.50. Included are two sprues cast in the Tamiya tan that most of us are very familiar with. One of the sprues contains the figures while the other holds the equipment.
There are eight figures included, so good value for your money in that respect. Most of the figures are molded with the torso and legs as a single piece, only two have separately molded torso and legs. The figures depict; the battery commander, section chief, five members of the gun crew, and a rangefinder crewman. The commander is standing with a pair of binoculars and pointing (but you already guessed that, am I right?), he wears an M38 soft cap and has a map case and holster hanging from his belt. He is wearing long pants with the large cargo pocket on the left leg and a field jacket. He has some nice detail, pockets, buttons, facial expression and the like but many of the folds and creases of the clothing are a bit soft.
The section chief is wearing the tropical short pants and his shirt has rolled sleeves. He also wears the M38 side cap and is holding a map. This figure has much better defined folds and creases in his clothing but again the detail is clearly on the soft side. A real disappointment was the map that he is holding, it is not on a piece of paper inside the box you will find that instead it is printed on the back of the box. How you are expected to cut out a piece of cardboard and make it appear as a paper map is a bit beyond me.
The five gun operators come in various poses; one wears the side cap and is seated with sleeves rolled up, another in a helmet is lifting a wicker shell case, another helmeted figure with rolled sleeves just did some work with a shovel, one carries an 88mm shell on his shoulder, and the last is standing with a shell that will soon be in the breech of the gun. The last is wearing the oven mitt for artillery shell handlers. Sadly, all of these figures suffer from some very soft detail throughout particularly in regards to the creases in the cloth and the belt. On the good side the facial sculpts are all decent, arguably as good as many of the other current plastic figure manufacturers.
The final figure is the one I constructed for the purposes of the review, the rangefinder crewman. Again, his detail is a bit soft although the fit is very good with very little issue with seams. The molding part lines are all easy to clean up with the back of a good blade and a file or two. The hands are typical Tamiya style; large cupped hands that more closely resemble mittens so a little extra work or replacement would go a long way. This drawback is most pronounced on this particular figure, the rest are a bit better in hand detail.
The equipment sprue is a bit limited but what is included is well done. You end up with 4 of the wicker 88mm cases. These have nice wicker detail on all appropriate sides and include the three shell bases to make it appear as if the cases have the ammunition inside. The rangefinder comes in five pieces enabling you to add the shoulder mount. Besides this you get a rangefinder mount case as well; all of this is very well done. You will also find four 88mm shells that are ready to go as well as another four spent casings although only two of them are hollowed out.
You also get a tripod mounted set of scissors binoculars that is another nice five piece affair. Besides that you will find yourself the proud owner of a mattock, a new addition to the sprue, and a shovel as well as a pair of field glasses. It is hard to tell on the field glasses who the manufacturer is but they appears to be Emil Busch glasses from the early 1941 run based on the thin knurls on the diopter adjustment knobÖIím kidding, Iím kidding! Seriously though they probably ARE from Emil Busch AG if that matters to you. You also get a couple of oddball outrigger stakes that were germane to the 88mm kit that the figures were first released with, not much use unless you have a spare 88mm gun laying around. Besides the mattock mentioned above the other changes to this particular set from the 88mm gun offering is a small section that took the place of some of the shells with the commanderís map case and holster, the final needed helmet, and an odd left arm. The arm is probably a vestigial addition from the earlier Tamiya re-box of the ICM 7.62 Russian anti-tank gun that included this figure set.
Good value with eight full figures plus some nice extra equipment that is very well done. Unfortunately, lots of the detail is pretty soft and not really what I would consider to be state of the art, if you have an extensive figure collection you will find these figures to have a very 1990s look to them. But again, if you are simply looking for a number of figures to crew a gun and donít want to spring for resin or some other more expensive option this set will surely fill the bill for you.