have been building a deserved reputation for coming out with some very imaginative sets. This set is no exception bringing out what is only the second Vickers MG team in plastic (DML being the other).
The box art is based on a photograph of a Vickers MG in action at El Alamein Available on the Imperial War Museum website:
THE BRITISH ARMY IN NORTH AFRICA 1942© IWM (E 14569)
However apart from the gunner and the gun the contents do not match the cover.
Contained in a re-sealable plastic bag the kit comes on two sprues. One sprue contains the figures: the gunner, his number two, a rifleman with a choice of leg sets and two dead Germans. The other sprues is the previously released British Infantry Weapons WW II Era reviewed for Armorama by Stefan Halter:
British Infantry Weapons review
This is a bit of a bargain since what you get is almost two kits in one box. I wonít review the infantry weapons apart from the two marked for use in this set- the Vickers and the SMLE mk. III with fixed bayonet. The weapons set also comes with six British helmets- three of which are needed for this set.
Vickers Machine Gun:
The machine gun comes in two parts Ė the gun itself with the cross piece molded in place and the hand grips. The cross piece is moulded as a solid piece-this means you canít elevate or depress the MG. The detail on the MG itself is poor with the fluting on the water jacket being very shallow and attachment point for the hose at the front. The muzzle cover was miscast in my set with the two sides being out of alignment with each other. I checked the Vickers in the Infantry weapons set I bought previously and it is also miscast. I canít make out whether the one in Stefanís review is miscast also but he doesnít mention it in the text. Maybe I was just very unlucky to get two miscast ones. Itís quite a simple shape however and not beyond the abilities of any modeller to scratch a replacement.
You get two tripods, one set higher than the other. Both are rather simplified with not much detail. The high one was warped and broke when I was removing it from the sprue Ėthat is why it looks a bit wonky in the photos. The condenser can comes in three parts- the body of the can, the top and the handle. The handle is very thick and should be thinned down. There are protruding knockout marks on the body which have to be sliced off before the top will fit. There is no hose provided so youíll have to make your own from stretched sprue or wire. My information is that these cans were standard two gallon tins so if you have a spare aftermarket one you could use that. The ammunition box comes with a length of ammunition belt to attach to the gun and two lids; one flat and one folded open in the middle. Only one ammo box is provided and it would have been good to see more. There were sink marks on both sides of the ammo box in the Vickers set but not on the ammo box from the weapons set I bought separately.
The two German figures are provided with Kar 98 Ks on the figure sprue and the British Commonwealth/British figures Lee Enfield Mk IIIs are on the weapons sprue. The instructions call for one of the bayonets from the figure sprue to be added to one of the rifles. The detail is roughly the same as any other rifle available in plastic with the exception of the DML gen 2 weapons.
Figures in General:
All of the figures come in five parts: -head, upper torso, arms and legs. On all five there is quite a bit of clean up to remove seam lines but no more than on any other plastic figure. Fit is quite good but I would recommend building the Vickers gun first and building the crew around it to get the arms at the right height. The moulded helmet straps are not very convincing on any of the figures, and I have tried to carve some detail on them- alternatively you could overlay them with some tape or foil. The hand and faces are quite good on all the figures.
I built the gunner before I built the gun- big mistake as now his hands are too high. So make the gun first and position the hands to fit the grips. The hands are moulded closed so you would have to carve part of the handles of the MG away to make it seem as if he is gripping them. He wears the standard issue Khaki Drill Shirt and Shorts, together with long woolen socks and leather ankle boots with cloth puttees. His 37 pattern webbing is okay with the rear buckles in the right place but the braces/straps show a buckle in place very high up near the top of his breast pocket and no brace attachment to the belt. Apart from the helmet there is no equipment called for in the instructions for this figure, but there is a holstered pistol provided on the sprue. I donít recognize the holster type and Iím not sure the pistol grip should stick out like that but I am open to correction.
The number two is in a reclining pose which looks a little awkward and not at all like the figure on the box art-what you can see of him. He is lying on his right side leaning on his elbow with his left hand raised guiding the ammo belt. Like the Gunner he is wearing the Khaki Drill Shirt and Shorts, together with long woolen socks and leather ankle boots with cloth puttees. His shirt, however, has long sleeves whereas the issue shirt had short sleeves. From period memoirs it seems that soldiers were fond of wearing captured kit and since in the desert it was much of the same colour it didnít matter very much. He is provided with universal pouches, an entrenching tool, water bottle, small pack and a long bayonet with a separate scabbard. The strap for the small pack is moulded in place on the figure but I could find no way to attach the pack without adding extensions to the strap.
This is an odd figure to include since he would have made more sense in the earlier Masterbox 8th Army set and indeed he was shown in the first Armorama news story for that set. There are two leg sets provided which make two poses possible. The first shows him running with the rifle raised to his shoulder. While very dynamic itís not very realistic, as while it is not impossible to fire a Lee Enfield like that you are never going to hit what youíre aiming at. The second set of legs gives him a standing pose which makes more sense. His 37 pattern webbing equipment is well done with universal pouches, an entrenching tool, water bottle, large pack and a long bayonet with a separate scabbard. I didnít put all the equipment on as I wanted to swap the leg sets around to show the both poses. I also left the large pack off as there were no supporting straps shown on the figure.
Dead German Number One:
This figure lies face down and is wearing the tropical uniform with short gaiters and boots, he is nicely posed. Iím not sure how widely used the short gaiters were in North Africa but the figure can be used for the Tunisian campaign as well Sicily and Italy. Actually thereís no reason the uniform canít be painted up as the field grey or even the SS pea pattern to use the figure in a European context. The figureís proportions look good and the pose is convincing.
Dead German Number Two:
This figure lies face up wearing the tropical uniform with high lace up tropical boots and the sleeves of his tunic rolled up.
This is an interesting set of figures with some shortcomings. The Vickers gun lacks detail. The British helmets are too small and should be replaced. The standing British rifleman is a good figure but an odd addition to the MG team and an NCO commander figure might have been a better choice.