Despite the pleadings of modelers, in wish lists on the web for many years, there have been very few 8th Army (Desert Rats) figures in either plastic or resin in 1/35 scale. The Tamiya 8th Army Infantry set and their 25rdr crew are the only plastic 1/35 sets that I recall and they are no way up to todayís standards. That scarcity of 8th Army figures makes this set by Dragon all the more welcome.
The set of four figures are dressed in the tropical uniform of Khaki Drill Shirt and Shorts together with long woollen socks and leather ankle boots with cloth puttees. The set consists of an Officer armed with a pistol, (and a whistle) a kneeling NCO with a Thompson SMG, a kneeling Bren gunner and an advancing rifleman carrying extra pouches for the Bren.
Not everyone will be happy with the poses Ėtrue even in wartime there is a lot of waiting around and beverage drinking in all armies, but soldiers do occasionally see action and this set would look good posed by a burning Pzr III or waiting to advance along a path cleared through a minefield.
The instructions are on the back of the box and inexplicably show the Bren mag mounted backwards. Since the Bren comes with the mag moulded in place this shouldnít be a problem. The box art is reproduced on the back also as a painting guide with colours indicated in the Mr Color and Model Master ranges.
The breakdown of parts is along Dragonís usual lines with each figure made up of five parts- head, upper torso, separate legs and separate arms. The figures are well sculpted with sharp detail, good creases in the uniforms and well defined musculature. The faces are good with only the ears and the cast on helmet straps lacking detail. One small mistake in the uniforms that the sculptor has made is that the figures are all wearing their puttees backwards the V shape should be pointing towards the back and not the front.
Okay I like the figures and I was really excited when I heard the early model Thompson with the fore grip and round magazine would be included but I have to say the weapons are disappointing. The Mk III Lee Enfield and the Thompson are on the main sprue and the detail on the Thompson is very soft with no bolt detail at all while the Lee Enfield looks a little too slight to me. The Bren is fine comes on a separate sprue with two redundant MkIV SMLEs and a Sten from 6605 British Commonwealth Troops (NW Europe 1944.) which will find their place in the spares box.
The officerís pistol is unfortunately cast in his hand and also lacks detail. It would have been a good move on Dragonís part to do the weapons on a separate sprue up to Gen 2 standards which would have modelers buying this set for the weapons alone.
The equipment is quite good with two exceptions. The two flap holsters provided are an odd shape and reminiscent of older leather holsters. The steel helmets look to me more like the mark I helmet than the mark II, with a higher dome and a way too prominent rivet on the top.
The rest of the equipment is well proportioned and the packs have a nice well stuffed look. The officerís map case is a nice addition and something I havenít seen in plastic before.
Only one bayonet and scabbard is included and there are no entrenching tools included with the set which is a pity. The officer also lacks a case for his binoculars.
Despite the few flaws Iím delighted and hope Dragon produce more and better 8th Army sets. Until then Iíll buy more of this set.
Highs: Excellent choice of subject. Crisp casting of figures.Lows: Lack of detail in weapons and some equipment.Verdict: A very welcome set from Dragon with hopefully more on the way.
I served three years in the Irish Army.
Then I studied fine art for five years.
Acted professionally since leaving college (Look me up on IMDB- Pat McGrathIII)
Interested in Allied Armour 1942-45 and German SPGs.
Other interests are figures and Sci Fi models