by: Darren Baker [ ]
British armour in World War 2 has seen a lot of attention lately and seen some excellent kits hit the market, but tank crews have not really kept pace with only MiniArt springing to mind as a company covering this aspect in any major way. Well Gecko Models has thrown their hat in the ring with the release of a six figure set of early war British tank crew figures. These figures are not for the same area of conflict and are split into two areas of deployment; so take a look inside and see what is on offer from Gecko Models.
This offering from Gecko Models is very well protected being inside a flip top cardboard box with an end opening carton over that, the result is a visually pleasing product that is superbly protected both on the shelf and in the post. The sprues inside are packed in a sealed plastic bag and so even if a piece should come loose it should be in the bag. Lastly there is a fold out instruction and painting guide for the figures.
What Gecko Models has supplied us with here are three figures for an armoured unit in a hot climate such as India, Burma or North Africa; the other three figures are set up for the home front or Europe during the early stages of WW2 and the phoney war prior to Germany moving west. The figures are broken down in the usual manner of separate arms and legs, torso and head. A nice touch is that Gecko Models has supplied separate heads for the European tank crew members allowing the use of the leather helmet or a beret, and all of the European crew and commander of the hot climate crew have a Webley side arms provided; The Webley revolver saw nearly 80 years of service with the British Army.
Hot Climate Crew
These figures are wearing the typical khaki shorts and shirts that were seen throughout the conflict in North Africa and have the correct pocket style and placement on both clothing items. The joint is hidden by the standard issue British belt which has a hessian look to it and was in service even in the 1980ís, but I am unsure about today. The sleeves of the shirts are folded up not rolled and have a good appearance. The boots, puttees and socks are well depicted on these figures with careful painting letting the moulded detail pop. As said earlier the commander has a Webley revolver that is holstered and binoculars are supplied with this figure.
The faces are of a good standard with all of the needed facial details represented. The hands are also reasonable but will require careful cleanup due to prominent mould seams being present. The mould seams generally are minor but there are one or two other heavy lines in places which is a shame to see on a new release, but I suppose it could also be due to early productions/test runs. I did find some flow lines on the torsoís of two of the figures and these have left fine recessed lines that will need to be addressed, these are fine and I picked them up under magnification so may not be an issue for all. I like the casual stances depicted in these figures by Gecko Models with one having a brew and the other leaning in a relaxed posture in addition to the commander having a look see. Another aspect I appreciate is the effort put in by Gecko Models to replicate the tank corps badge on the berets.
These crew members are wearing one piece coveralls in black with the ubiquitous standard issue belt again hiding the joint at the waist. The Webley pistol issued to each of these crew members is hung from the belt with a leg strap. These three crew members are supplied with alternate heads wearing either a beret or early leather tank helmet which was based on a minerís helmet. I would always use the heads with the beret as the helmet was usually only worn during training.
The faces are of a reasonable quality and again have the needed detail present. The hands are again nice but need a careful clean up due to the mould seams which are again on the heavy side. A nice touch with these three figures is that Gecko Models has supplied alternate poses for them with map reading seeming to be the lesson of the day. I again like the relaxed poses these figures have and they will look good in both pre war and early war armoured vehicles.
The figures are pleasing on the whole, but I do feel they are a little let down by the instructions. The painting and assembly is well covered but the drawings are weak; the result being that I wish they had used the box artwork for the instructions as they are far superior in quality.
If you are looking for a crew for an early piece of British armour then this set is very worthy of consideration regardless of which climate setting you are looking for a crew for. Detail generally is good with the hot climate crew being my favourite offering in this product due to the stances that have a lot of appeal in my opinion; the detail in some areas is a little on the soft side. The clean up required is more than I expected to find, but it is the instructions that I consider as the weak spot in this offering.