Articles

Retrokit FR - Afrika Korps tank crew, relaxed (72817) _________(EXT)

 

Manufacturer Retrokit FR
Scale 1/72
Set Code R72817
Year Unknown
No. of Figures 3
No. of Poses 3
Additional Items None
Size Medium
Material Resin
Colour Light Green
Flash Level Medium
Glue-ability Excellent (Super Glue Gel)
Convert-ability Difficult
Optimal Period 1943 – 1945

 

Review 

Rommel’s spearhead, the Panzer units fully contributed at the key achievements of “Desert Fox” in the first part of the Africa campaign and kept fighting for covering the retreat of their comrades even when less than ten tanks were functional. Two divisions, 15th and 21st Panzer Divisions covered by glory on the black continent, admired and respected by their opponents. After the end of the African adventure, although completely destroyed, both divisions were rebuilt and met again their adversaries, 15th Panzer Division under the name 15th Panzergrenadier Division in Italy and 21st Panzer Division in Normandy.

Obviously, 1/72 Afrika Korps Panzer crews have not benefitted by the same attention than their continental homologues, MIG Productions’ “Afrika Korps tank crew” and Retrokit’s “Afrika Korps tank crew, relaxed” being some of the fewest interpretations on the matter. In fact, it is quite normal while the attire of Panzer units enrolled in Afrika Korps had nothing special than the garment issued to the infantry fighting in Africa, the same tropical uniform being shared. Obviously, the Panzer uniform in Africa had nothing to do with the classic Panzer wrapper used by continental troops, the appearance of those units totally diverging than their friends fighting on the Eastern and Western fronts.

Some hobbyists prefer limiting to the conflict on the continent and might fear that because their uniform, Afrika Korps figures are useless for the European continent. Except few items such as high lace-up boots and shorts, which by the way, could be encountered quite often on Mediterranean operational theatre in countries like Greece and Italy, the tropical tunic looks very close to the M43 tunic. The differences between the two tunics are almost impossible to be perceived in the 1/72 scale and the same applies to the long trousers. So, no fear to paint a tropical uniform in the classical feldgrau and rush the Afrika Korps soldier, especially if he has got long trousers, on the Eastern or Western front. 

Marketed in a small sealed plastic bag and not benefitting by any artwork, just a paper tag with the name of the producer, set, and code, the buyer can view the content since the acquisition, the package fortunately allowing this. Inside there are perceived three multi-part figures, the pieces for each figure being emplaced on individual slots. It is a good decision while no assembly instructions are supplied, so the parts cannot be mixed up.  

The three figures proposed try covering as much as possible the appearance of Afrika Korps tank crew, all wearing dissimilar items of clothing. One figure dresses long trousers and tunic, another preferred shorts, tunic and overseas cap and the last put on him just the shirt, long trousers and tropical cap that could easy go as M43 model. As regards footwear, all of them voted for ankle boots and the guy with shorts also wears long socks. As previously pointed out, such attire is appropriate not only for Africa, but also continental troops, but definitely not Panzer units. Painted in feldgrau, these figures can act as excellent infantrymen during a break, close or not to a motorised or horse-drawn vehicle as well as in various other locations in a warm summer day. For a more continental look, the single complication brought the shorts, if the mini is not used in the Mediterranean front, then the modeller should scratch-build him a pair of long trousers. There are several appropriate methods and substances for this, perhaps increasing the length of his shorts with epoxy putty being one of the easiest.

As title underlines, the crewmen are in relaxed stances,none armed and perhaps having a chat or a briefing session in a very calm area, two of them standing and one sitting. The trooper with long pants stands and holds one hand at the waist while with the other he brushes his hair. Somehow, the pose of this figure and some details of his uniform reminds a little about the old Matchbox officer available in the “SdKfz. 232 Radio Car” kit, but with different head and no belt and pistol. The other standing mini, dressed in shirt with sleeves rolled up, prefers drinking a cup of coffee held in the right hand. On his tropical cap he keeps the goggles, a very useful item at motorized troops in Africa as well as in other dusty areas. Some interesting details appear at this figure around the neck and along the chest, it looks like he did not take off the throat microphone and its wires but misses the switch. The pose and some details of this soldier emerge pretty familiar, looking close to the standing crewman of ESCI’s Panzer IV, but with shirt instead of wrapper and a cup substituting the binoculars. The sitting crewman in shorts points with his finger something on a map-board held in the left hand, maybe informing his comrades the next direction of attack or the last movements of the enemy. The map board offers the great opportunity to try fixing a Minimali, Mid or Unicorn map, although the maneuver is quite tricky due to the pose of the finger, just on the board. He also has binoculars on the chest and on his back there is crafted the lens cover, an item scarcely represented in Braille Scale.

Bearing in mind their designation, the army-men can be mounted either in/on a vehicle, or simply on the ground, the seat figure needing a chair, box, wall, tree-trunk or other supplementary device to take a sit. Likewise, the figures interact between them very well although not doing special things they fully match with the manufacturer’s intention clearly stated in the title.

The details are satisfactory, but not impressive for a resin kit, leaving room for a better work. Still, the clothes propose few nice small details and fair creases while anatomy is also reasonable, with distinguishable fingers but the palms of the standing guy in tunic seems a little over-scaled in comparison with his head. At their turn, faces would not impress the viewer, except the bare-head guy whose facial details are really great as well as his hair. Some slight differences are recorded between the sizes of these figures, but those do not contradict the ones encountered in real life, so not a problem at all.

Some thin film and flash lines are discovered and immediately removed while resin acts the best as such operations. Neither excess of material nor air bubbles could be identified on the minis, the material emerging as a good one and not very brittle. As usual, resin outstanding responds to any kind of paint, assimilating it in the material and holding it for a long time after heavy handling.

Finding themselves in the medium side of 1/72 and on account of their attire and size of the heads, these figs perfectly match with Revell’s “Africa Corps” as well as other figures wearing similar garment, particularly shirts, available in many Preiser and Revell kits. Likewise, they fit quite fine near other sets issued on Afrika Korps topics such as Airfix’s “Afrika Koprs”, ESCI’s “Africa Corps Soldiers” or Caesar’s “WWII German Afrika Korps”, a little more intricate being an appropriate match with the large figures such as Italeri’s “DAK Infantry” or “WWII German Motorcycles”. Furthermore, it should be emphasized that if they are going to be painted as continental troops, there are plenty of figure kits suitable to accompany this crew.

As most of the resin kits, the present one addresses more to diorama builders and collectors than wargamers. Still, its price is cheaper than those generally asked for resin sets, so a potential solution for wargaming table, too. The merit of Retrokit’s “Afrika Korps tank crew, relaxed” is being one of the fewest covering the subject, although solutions in the field might be improvised with the support of various Afrika Korps figures or continental ones dressed in shirts, underwear or stripped to the top. On the other hand, as specified several times along the review, this Retrokit crew can pretty easy change its destination to a continental one, especially if the modeler succeeds to endow the figure in shorts with long trousers.

 

Historical Accuracy 10
Anatomy 8
Poses Quality 9
Details Quality 8
Mould Quality 9
Sculpture 8
Recommendation/Utility 8
Reviewer’s Opinion 8