by: Todd Michalak [ ]
In the years between 1934 and 1960, the United Kingdom produced one-hundred thousand Universal Carriers also known as the Bren Gun Carrier. This was a light armored personnel carrier designed for the transportation of personnel and weapons and was widely used as a machinegun platform. Early on in WWII, the Universal Carrier could carry up to 6 personnel but complimented a crew of three; a driver, commander and machine-gunner typically until 1943 where as there would be additions and subtractions to the size of the crew depending on variant configuration of the carrier itself.
With the introduction of the British Commonwealth Universal Carrier Crew in Winter Uniform 1943-1945 set, RIICH Models adds another selection to its ever growing line of figure sets. Packaged in a small, end opening flat box the British Commonwealth Universal Carrier Crew Winter 43-45 comes with three figures with all the parts broken down onto one sprue.
The figures are laid out to represent the three standard personnel supplied to operate and man the Bren Gun Carrier or Universal Carrier if you will. There is the driver, posed with his hands as grasping the vertical steering wheel of the carrier; the commander in a relaxed pose as if sitting atop the front right pulpit of the carrier and finally the radio operator which would also man the rearward facing machine gun.
The parts for each figure are separated accordingly within the sprue. From what I can tell from the uniforms given to these figures, they are from the New Zealand branch of the armed services. Each of the figures has the option of using a woolen beret with the possible “Onward Badge” on the front or the standard issue Brodie pattern helmet. All three figures appear to have what is called a Jerkin Leather. This is a leather jacket of sorts that was sleeveless for mobility, warmer in the colder weather and gave a level of protection from thorns, branches or even barbed wire to a degree. The pants and boots appear to be regular issue for the British Commonwealth soldiers.
The figures are cleanly cast from a light grey styrene. The features of these figures are defined nicely throughout the entire set. However, there is a touch of flash on one of the faces, a tiny pinhole on one of the boots of the soldiers and some various light mold seams in the standard locations.
In all actuality, the construction was a simple straight forward build; all three figures took a little over a couple hours to construct and I was not rushing. The parts clean up really nice, most times with just the sharp edge of a #11 blade and maybe a scuff with some fine grade sandpaper. The parts glue together quickly and look great afterwards.
I chose to build these figures straight as they laid OOB. I like to drill out the neck, sleeves and various other areas that may need thinning as a personal preference; however, I felt it was good to show the figures assembled as is to give the best representation of how they will look OOB!
I feel the British Commonwealth Universal Carrier Crew in Winter Uniform 1943-1945 set from RIICH Models is a decent figure kit and is a solid buy for what it is intended for, to enhance someone’s diorama or vignette while building a universal carrier type model. Of course the figures could be used in other vehicles if someone so desired. RIICH Models is still new to the game and is certainly achieving wonderful results with their figure sets so far. I would just like to see them go up one more notch with a set that is maybe not so specific to basically one type of build as in this case and their first two sets on the market.
The figures are molded clean and the faces, clothing and miscellaneous items are actually top notch in my book. I am impressed with the way that they assemble as in the easy to clean them up and gluing and the look is crisp. I will say well done to RIICH Models on the development of the set but let’s see where they can go from here!