35008 CANADIAN/COMMONWEALTH TANK CREW - LATE 1944/45
Reviewed by Brett Green
The recent flood of resin figure releases has still only brought forth a trickle of Commonwealth subjects. Jaguar and Warriors have concentrated primarily on WWII Germany while Yanks have provided some welcome diversion with their US and Soviet figures. While Hornet and other companies have a range of British figures available, they tend to be difficult to find.
Enter Ultracast. I have been drooling over the images on the Ultracast website for some time now. The main subject for salivation was a Canadian/Commonwealth Tank Crew - Late 1944/45. Finally, Ultracast have an Australian distributor and I picked up a selection of their products almost as soon as the boat was unloaded!
This set consists of five heads, two identical headless torsos in "Pixie Suits", and a three-quarter figure with the head moulded on but with separate arms. A colour photograph of a painted figure is included (see above). The resin is completely free of bubbles and pinholes and there is only a tiny amount of flash on a few parts between the casting blocks and the part itself. The casting blocks look quite manageable. The heads are cast onto a single resin block, with a sliver of resin less than 1mm wide and 7mm long connecting each beret to the block. The brave modeller may feel inclined to "snap" these off, but I will probably use a sharp hobby knife. A few swipes with a razor saw will free the rest of the parts.
The sculpting of the parts is just gorgeous. The faces have real personality. They are all squinting into the rain or the wind (there wasn't much sunshine in the cold winter of 1944/45) which is a boon to modellers who hate painting eyes! They all wear the standard Royal Tank Regiment (RTR) beret. One figure is wearing headphones, and one has headphones and goggles. Although all six faces are quite different, there is a distinct family resemblance.
The Pixie Suits are equally good, with clever undercutting below the large collar.
All the parts are crisply cast. The only slightly soft details are the cap badges, and I assume this has been intentional to allow the modeller to choose to model either the Commonwealth or RTR type (the photo shows the Canadian style badge). The cap badge was the only detail difference between the British and the Commonwealth Tank Troops - but even so I have seen pictures of Aussie officers wearing either the RTR badge or the ANZAC Rising Sun badge.
Take your pick of armour subjects - Firefly Vc,
Firefly Ic. M4 Sherman I, Cromwell, Churchill, M5 Stuart - at last there is a superb set
of either British or Canadian tankers for Northern Europe.
SET 35012 COMMONWEALTH TANK CREW NORTH AFRICA 1941-43
Set 35012 comprises five heads, two identical headless torsos with rolled-up sleeves, one torso with turned head, two separate arms and three-quarters of a pair of legs clad in shorts and long socks - only the gaiters and boots are missing. To their credit, Ultracast has not simply used the five heads from set 35008 again. They are totally new.
Most of the comments about Set 35008 also apply here, so I will concentrate on the differences. There are three improvements from the earlier set. First, the heads are connected to the resin casting block at the bottom of their necks, eliminating the risk of damaging the berets. Secondly, the facial variety is greater - these figures do not look like brothers! Finally, the cap badges are cast as crisply as the rest of the figures. This time the badge is the RTR variety. Modellers wanting to depict South African, Australian or New Zealand troops can easily remove the badge if their subject requires it.
One other attribute shared by these figures is that they do not suffer from the "200cm tanker" syndrome. These guys look like they would stand about 50mm, or 175cm (just under 5' 9") - quite respectable for a tanker.
The banner states that this set is intended for the Tamiya Matilda, although these figures will be equally at home in the Tamiya Grant, M4, M3 Stuart or DML Valentine. Also, they may be used to depict Commonwealth troops in tropical areas - British on the Indian sub-continent, Australians in New Guinea, New Zealanders at Guadalcanal just to name a few. Some of these subjects may have been wearing "Jungle Greens", but the cut of the shirt should be substantially similar.
My only complaint about this set is that it does not provide the boots that would complete one full, standing figure.
This minor quibble aside, I can heartily recommend these superb sets to all modellers of British and Commonwealth subjects.
You may view these and other products including excellent photos at Ultracast's Web Site.
Review by Brett Green, April