ICM has paired up two of their kit offerings in order to provide the modeller with a more complete package, on this occasion they have matched their French Tank Crew with their FCM 36. This does make for quite a nice combination that the modeller could display in a peacetime setting where the vehicle is on show or in the field with the crew getting ready to eat or some such. The two children in the offering make for nice figures to use in the setting or for later depending on your choices.
The FCM36 is a diminutive little tank, and so I was surprised to find the lower hull supplied in multiple parts. With that said, it has allowed ICM to provide some nice moulded on detail. My one concern is the sides of the lower hull, which if not cleaned up correctly, or carefully placed could be off set. However, if you follow the instructions the front and rear of the lower hull, where it is angled, should enable you to get the sides correctly placed and orientated. While on the subject of the underside of the hull, I am very pleased with the effort that ICM have put into the detail provided.
The upper hull is a straight forward addition to the kit with most of the detail moulded on. Except for some very small hinge attachments which will probably make the myopic among us swear!!! The louvered engine access panels, are provided separately, and add a nice touch. The drivers hatch, can be displayed open or closed, but with no interior present consideration will need to be given into how to fill the space. The last article of note is the exhaust which is a very visible part on this kit. My only disappointment here is that the vent on the exhaust has not been moulded open, despite having been moulded in two parts. A plus side to this being moulded in two halves does mean that the modeller does have easy access to open these aspects themselves.
All of the wheels and drives on this model, are fairly simple in their design. Other than the small size of the road wheels, I can see no issues with the attachment of these parts. The drive wheels itself, does have some very nice detail on it. My only reference on this tank, is via on-line images only and everything I have seen thus far appears to match on-line reference. However it does need to be remembered, that these are preserved vehicles and may not be 100% accurate. The only aspect that I do not like, are the vinyl rubber tracks even though they appear to be accurate, vinyl rubber has become a bit of a bug bear with me. I do however appreciate, the ICM has provided a close up of the track links in order that you can accurately orientate their direction.
The turret of this model is very small, and I would imagine not the most pleasant place to be in peacetime, let alone war. The machine and main gun, has been well tackled and provided full length (including the breech end). The machine gun will require its muzzle to be drilled for accuracy. Hatches are provided separately for the turret, and this includes handles, which is pleasing to see. This particular vehicle has a large chain stowed on both the front and rear of the model, and ICM has provided this as individual plastic links. My gut says; use these links to find a suitable chain, as I can see them being a pain to use in plastic.
ICM has provided two finishing options for this model, which are:
FCM36, 7thBCC, Chemery, France, May 14th, 1940
FCM36, 4thBCC, France, June 10th , 1940
One of the things that can be said for French tanks is that they have very visually appealing camouflages applied and also colourful decals, in this case hearts. The two finishing options are very different in their appearance, and I personally find both options appeal to me. An examination of the decal sheet shows decals that are nicely thin, and so should not present any issues when applied to the model.
The figures provided consist of three tank crew, and two children. Tank crew uniform in the French military during WWII, are ecliptic at best, with them wearing anything from wellington boots and coveralls, to full officers uniform and leather jackets. Head wear was basically a steel helmet. The helmet was steel with a leather liner and front bump guard, and had a distinctive knight’s helmet with crossed cannons emblem. In this release we are presented with what I believe to be 1officer and 2 lower ranks.
The officer is in an upright position, pointing something out to one of the children. This figure is wearing a beret, with a badge on the front that has a crossed item on the front- it could be cannons, but I cannot see a knight’s helmet. The person I believe to be a suitable driver, he is wearing loose fitting trousers or coveralls, a black leather jacket (the reason I mention a black leather jacket, is because there was 2 types. One in black leather and one in brown. The black classed as the M20 and the brown the M35), he has the belt with a pistol holder attached to it, which is accurate. However, the helmet does not have the metal badge on the front, and the leather neck guard is not present in the examples I have found. There is also a ridge running over the top of the helmet running front to back, which would be indicative of a WWI French helmet, and at the very least this ridge needs to be removed. The last soldier, is wearing trousers with pullover, and beret, the stance is relaxed, a badge is indicated to be present on his beret in the instruction, but I cannot see it on the sprue.
The children provided are I believe one under ten and one a little over 10 judging by their size. They are both wearing shorts, one is wearing a jumper over his shirt, and holding a beret. The other is wearing a jacket over a nondescript top, this time wearing a beret. The facial features are of a very high standard, from an injection moulded offering, with the officer figure having a well defined moustache. The hands and finger detail, is again very good and I see no issues with this figure set at all. The moulding quality is high, with minimal connection points between sprue and parts and I am pleased to say that the point of connection is small. The figures have well defined areas that the parts are laid out in which makes finding the pieces you are looking for easy.
The FCM36 is a little covered subject that is a great addition to ICM’s range. Looking at the model, everything appears as it should when compared to on-line reference. With the only critique I personally have being the vinyl rubber tracks. But this is what ICM always provides and they are reasonable for the material used. The figures are well tackled but, unusually for ICM there does appear to be at least one issue in the form of the helmet in the figure I referred to as the driver. I do like that the children are suitably scaled, and so realistic. So this release is a mixed blessing.