In-Box Review
Tankers in Denims
British/Empire Tank Crew –Italy/NW Europe 1944
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by: Alan McNeilly [ ALANL ]

Ultracast is a Canadian based company that specialises in 1/35 British/Commonwealth figures, accessories and decal sets. The emphasis here is on the Canadian side, but these figures are perfectly useable as British or other Commonwealth tankers. They also produce a range of 1/48 aircraft, and other figures and kits too. (see web site for further details)

I have been a fan of Ultracast figures since I started modelling again and found their web site. Looking in the review section I noticed a lack of reviews on their excellent British/Commonwealth tankers and thought I would remedy that, with the first of a series of reviews on the figures and figure sets.
The Set
This is a 3 figure set, comprising one complete figure (commander) and two ¼ figures, a driver and gunner, depicting an Allied British/Commonwealth tank crew in Italy or North West Europe in 1944.

The set comes in a sealed zip bag complete with a cardboard backing, outlining details of the set on the front. A good coloured picture is provided on the inside of the card for painting reference. The set was sculpted by Kevin McLaughlin and on the back of the card are the contact details for the company, and instructions on fitting and assembly of the figures.

Cast in a light cream resin the detail is crisp and sharp, and I could find no faults with the casting process. As an added bonus you get a selection of 5 heads for the 3 figures.

Figure 1 (Commander):
This figure comes as a whole figure with arms and head as separate items. The figure is posed in a standing position with the right leg slightly forward of the left and the upper body tilted very slightly forward. Kitted out in the 1944 pattern summer denim overalls and belt, he wears no 37 pattern gear or side arm.

In the picture he is depicted as wearing a standard tankers beret complete with radio headphones. Of the 5 heads supplied with the set, two are with berets, badges, and headphones. Both have interesting faces, one with the mouth slightly open obviously speaking into a microphone and one with a slightly sterner expression. The choice is yours.

Of interest and a nice change is the summer denim overall he is wearing. From the references I have seen this would appear to be a very good representation of the garment. All the pockets are present and in the correct place with nice detail which should allow him to be painted up very nicely indeed. The lower leg fastenings, belt and buckle are also well defined and the overall is shown open at the neck.
On his feet he is wearing standard boots, again with good detail.

Both his left and right arms come as separate items and show the rolled up sleeves of the denim suit. The right arm is bent at the elbow and holds a microphone into which he is speaking whilst the left arm, also bent at the elbow, is designed to hold the left ear piece of the head set.

The body will require removal from the pour stub as will both arms and the head. A little clean up of flash will be needed between his legs, and some light sanding where the stubs have been removed, but this should be an easy job with a sharp knife and an emery board.

¼ fig 2 & 3 (Driver and Gunner):
These two figures are for use as the driver/gunner of the tank. Both have ¼ bodies without hands and only the head needs added. Both are wearing the denim overall again with good detail on what is cast and both have 37 pattern belts with a good representation of the brasses and rear buckles.

Of the remaining heads 2 are shown wearing the standard tankers beret with badge and the 3rd a tankers helmet with goggles perched on the front. Again the choice will be yours as to which head to use, but all are well cast and have interesting faces.
Normal precautions should be taken when working with resin and a good sharp X-acto blade and file/board will be needed to tidy then up.
An excellent set of tankers depicted in an often neglected order of dress. From the picture provided I would say these were modelled with a Sherman tank in mind, although they may well prove suitable for other Allied tanks too.

The use of the denim overall in the uniform style is a very welcome addition in the small but growing bank of British/Commonwealth tankers available. This order of dress was issued to armoured troops in 1944 and these figures could be modelled in either Italy or NWE as desired.

The casting is first class and this crew should require little clean up before painting up well.

Personally I am not a fan of ¼ figures as I always think it is a missed opportunity, especially with the low number of British/Commonwealth troops available, that they did not come with complete bodies. That said it does reduce the cost of the set compared to a full figure set and they are more than fit for purpose even as ¼ men, but the driver/gunner obviously have their limitations.
Highs: Great detail and casting have produced a very useable set of 1/35 tankers. The provision for 5 heads for 3 figures gives good choice of finish and a few heads for the spares box too.
Lows: The missed opportunity of two additional complete driver/gunner figures that I might have been able to use in trucks or elsewhere, but that is only a personal preference.
Verdict: Highly recommended.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: 35043
  Suggested Retail: CD 29.95
  PUBLISHED: Dec 24, 2008
  NATIONALITY: United Kingdom

About Alan McNeilly (AlanL)

Greying slightly, but young at heart. I've been teaching adults off and on for most of my life. Left the services in 85 and first started modelling in about 87 for a few years. Then I had a long spell when I didn't build anything (too busy) and really just got started again during the summer of ...

Copyright ©2021 text by Alan McNeilly [ ALANL ]. All rights reserved.


Alan, Thanks for taking the time out to review items from your personal stash - this is what Kitmaker's all about Great review, and I'll definitely be looking at a few Ultracast and Resicast figures in the new year. Merry Christmas mate! Rudi
DEC 23, 2008 - 06:46 PM
Thanks for the review Alan, well written and informative as usual. Ultracast figures look extremely detailed, as do their head-sets.
DEC 23, 2008 - 06:49 PM
H Rudi and Chas, Thanks guys. I like Kevin's figures, they always seem very natural and as well as scuplting himself he uses other sculpters I like. He has a small but growing number of really useful figures and all the individuals and sets I've looked at and used have been first class. The extra heads are a nice touch. Cheers and Merry Christmas guys. Al
DEC 24, 2008 - 01:52 AM
Hey Al, Another great review !!! Must have missed this one over the Christmas holidays. My only "complaint" I have about some of Ultracast's figures is that I wish they would include forearms and hands for their driver and assistant driver half figures. If they were just the shoulders and the head, I probably wouldn't care. But when you get them with their hands lopped off, they just seem kinda incomplete. Maybe something that they could address in any future releases. Cheers jjumbo
JAN 08, 2009 - 01:29 PM
Morning John, Yes, I'm not a big fan of 1/4 figures although I can see they have their uses, but full bodies just add more scope for usage. Glad you found the review useful. Cheers Al
JAN 08, 2009 - 06:20 PM
Evening Al !!! Yeah, these 1/2 or 1/4 figures limit their usage !!! The nice thing about having the arms included is you can pose them outside of hatches, leaning on their elbows. A perfect example of this is Ultracast's Commonwealth Tank Crew, North Africa 1941-43: If they had included the arms and hands, perhaps in different positions, the set would be a bit more versatile. Not that I'm complaining, I have several of these sets in my stash that will eventually populate all the Stuarts, Lees, Grants, Matildas and Valentines in my stash !!! Cheers jjumbo
JAN 08, 2009 - 07:12 PM
Hi John, You really should do a review on these, you have the pics already Al
JAN 09, 2009 - 03:26 AM

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