The announcement of the AFV Club Churchill Mk III caused great excitement within the Allied Modelling world being the first new 1/35 plastic injection Churchill for what.......30 years?
Hobby Fan were quick off the mark and have already produced a 3 figure crew to compliment the kit, entitled British Churchill Tank Crew Alamein. This set of figures have been welcomed by the Allied modelling community and should provide some very useful additions to the MTO arena.
The set comes in a very stylish, highly presentable sturdy cardboard box. On the front is a picture of the 3 crew posing in the AFV club Churchill and inserted is a smaller picture of the 3 individual figures. The box is finished in a Red/Black combination that is very attractive. On the box bottom are the words 'Ultimate Professionalism High Quality'.
OK, lets take a look inside; the figures come individually packaged in zip plastic bags, contained within a further slightly larger zip bag and wrapped in bubble wrap. There were no rattles when I shook the box which is always a good sign, so they were well protected and travelled without any damage I can see so far.
The first thing I liked about this set, is that they are full figures and not ľ or ĺ ones as is sometimes the case with tank crews.
Cast in a light cream/yellowish resin, I could find only one small air bubble located on the edge of the seated figures right short bottoms that would need to be filled. The resin feels quite hard and has a slightly brittle look about it.
The figures are dressed in a variety of clothes and the set consists of a commander, gunner/radio operator and seated driver/mg gunner.
Depicted for use in the LHS turret hatch, he is wearing a KD shirt and trousers with a 37 pattern belt and pistol holder on his LHS. No ammo pouch for the pistol is included on the belt, nor buckles on the back of the belt. The butt protruding from the holster seems more square shaped than round. The shirt has good detail and appears quite accurate from the pictures Iíve seen. The KD trousers were manufactured in a number of locations and there appears to have been a number of slightly different styles, for example: some with side pockets and some with none. The trousers represented here have a hip pocket and small Field Dressing pocket and no side pockets. The figures upper torso is bent slightly forward, as can been seen in the pictures.
Both arms and head come as separate items. Both arms have rolled up shirt sleeves and the right hand is holding a microphone whilst the left is designed to support the figure leaning forward on the turret.
The head comes complete with beret and headset attached and is quite detailed. His expression is somewhat pained, almost worried looking. Overall the figure should need minimal clean up and should give a good representation when painted up.
The Gunner/Radio Operator
The second figure is dressed similarly to the first in KD shirt and trousers with 37 pattern belt, again with the pistol ion the LHS. In this figure there is a small ammo pouch above the pistol holster. The torso is very slightly bent forward at the top.
His right arm is bent at the elbow to sit on the turret hatch and his left had holds with I believe is a pipe, although the stem is a little short. On his head he, too, is wearing a beret and a set of head phones. His facial expression is more relaxed than that of the commanders, looks to me like he is enjoying his pipe!
Both the Commander and Gunner/Radio Op will need some wiring attached to the various parts of the radio equipment, but should both build and paint up very well.
The Driver/Machine Gunner
This figure is depicted as sitting outside the machine gunners hatch, although I imagine that could equally be the drivers hatch.
He is wearing a KD shirt and shorts with hose, putties and ammo boots, also a 37 pattern belt. There is no distinctive V on the putties but the ends do seem to end in the right direction, although even under the looking glass itís hard to tell.
Again head and arms are separate, his arms having the rolled up KD shirt sleeves as per the other 2 figures in the set. On his head he wears a beret and his expression gives me the impression of someone who is relaxed and pleased at what he sees!!
There is some excess flash behind his knees that will need cleaning up and the small hole in the bottom of his shorts, but he should build and paint up into a very acceptable figure.
This was my first experience of HobbyFan figures and I am quite pleased at what I saw. Although designed for the forthcoming Churchill I can see these chaps popping up in a variety of desert vehicles and they would not be out of place in Sicily or Italy either.
The detail and casting is crisp and clear, the angle of the top of the commanders holster has maybe a little too much of an upward curve and it is a pity they missed the buckles on the back of the 37 pattern belts.
With minimal clean up, these figures will provide very acceptable and welcome additions to the limited range of British/Commonwealth desert tankers currently available. With a change of head they could easily be used in other rolls such as infantry, artillerymen etc.
Highs: A set of tankers specific for the Churchill tank will be welcome by many. There is flexibility in their use, and given the wide variety of desert uniforms they will be useful in the MTO theatre of operations. These are well cast with good clear detail. Lows: The lack of buckles on the back of the 37 pattern belts is an omission that should not have happened. Cost may be an issue for some.Verdict: I'm not sure if the poses work well together! The commander seems more business like, whilst the other 2 crew are clearly taking a break and enjoying the scene, but there is enough for the basis of a good crew and should be very useable. Recommended.
About Alan McNeilly (AlanL) FROM: ENGLAND - EAST ANGLIA, UNITED KINGDOM
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 ...