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Matchbox - Panzer II Ausf. F (PK81) _________(EXT)

  

Manufacturer Matchbox
Scale 1/72
Set Code PK81
Year Unknown
No. of Figures 2
No. of Poses 2
Additional Items 1 Panzer II Ausf. F (1/76) and diorama base
Size Medium
Material Hard Plastic
Colour Brown
Flash Level Medium
Glue-ability Excellent (Polly-cement)
Convert-ability Difficult
Optimal Period 1941 – 1945

 Review 

Because of mould error, plenty of Matchbox figures attached to various vehicle kits arrived in 1/72 scale though they were designated to accompany 1/76 armour. Such situation is generally encountered at those toy-soldiers taken from the soft plastic figure sets and cast in hard plastic. On the matter, one of the best examples puts forward the two minis of “Panzer II Ausf. F”, they are clear copies of two figures from Matchbox’s 1/76 ”Afrika Corps”. Nevertheless, that was a great thing for 1/72 collectors especially because the product finely match with contemporary sets dedicated to Afrika Korps such as Aifix “Afrika Korps”, Atlantic “German Afrikakorps”, ESCI “Afrika Korps” and “Africa Corps Soldiers” as well as much later Revell “Africa Corps”.

Except the two 1/72 minis, the kit rests in one 1/76 Panzer II and the front wall of a ruined house, all these following to be set on a pretty large base, also provided. Of course, next to the 1/76 vehicle these soldiers will emerge as giants, so in case it is intended to resurrect the scene proposed by Matchbox but in the 1/72 scale, then a Panzer II manufactured by ESCI/Italeri or ACE should be deployed.

The two poses portray infantrymen enrolled in Afrika Korps accompanying the Panzer in the mist of combat, one of them throwing a grenade while his colleague covers him firing off an MP38/40 from the waist. According to the ruin next to them, perhaps they are involved in a street fight in a village, so the producer correctly decided on the figs from the soft plastic kit that includes 17 poses.

Both of them are properly dressed for combat with long trousers and not in shorts, an often encountered mistake in that period inside the Afrika Korps figure sets from Airfix and Atlantic. The minis from here wear tropical tunics, below being pretty clearly noticed the shirts, M43 caps and shoe the laced tropical boots. As gear they have got only gas mask containers and shovels as well as “Y” straps. At the moment the grenade thrower holds no weapon, but at his belt there are placed Kar98K ammunition pouches. Easily it can be assumed he let his weapon down for throwing the grenade furtherer which was a common practice as plenty of reference images sustain. Regarding the poses, those are not quite impressive, the soldier with MP appearing very flat and in an awkward position for firing off the weapon. In addition, he does not wear any ammunition pouch for his weapon and because of the size of MP pouches, those cannot be apprised as hidden by the arms and weapon. The soldier throwing the grenade comes in a more persuasive stance though much better similar figures may be searched in other sets.

On the other hand, these figs might be effortlessly improved with Preiser, Dragon or Caesar weapons and gear. Furthermore, because their heads seem a little too big in comparison with Afrika Korps soldiers made available by most of the manufacturers, an alternative rests in replacing with spare heads found in diverse Preiser and Dragon sets. However, the heads size come closer to those encountered in Atlantic’s “German Afrikakorps”, Esci’s “Afrika Korps”, and Italeri’s “DAK Infantry”, so even from this point of view there are plenty of compatible 1/72 Afrika Korps troopers.

Taking profit they wear long trousers and that the tropical uniform is almost identical with the continental one, these minis can be fast transformed into soldiers fighting on a front in Europe, the only required modification resting in removing the laces of the boots for looking as marching/jack boots. Of course, due to their tropical cap, almost identical as M43 one without transformation, they will be able to fight only in the Late War part.

Sculpture is not at its best value, but still has some good points such as buttons and shoulder boards on tunics as well as pretty visible laces of the tropical boots. On the other hand, anatomy also does not impress, the heads, though matching the proportions of bodies, seem a hair too big but at least facial expressions are quite fine. Hands fit with the heads, so again big size, the most obvious being at the grenade thrower, dimension of the right hand contrasting with the thin size of the stick grenade. For a superior appearance, wise would be substituting the grenade with one made either by Preiser or Caesar. This has been applied in the images accompanying the present review, the standard heads also being swapped with Preiser ones.   

While material in excess is not on display, flash records an average level and can be swept out without trouble as always when working with hard plastic minis. The same material encounters no problem in taking enamel, acrylics, and artistic oils, conserving those in time and after repeated touches. The figures are delivered without individual stands, theoretically having to be glued n the large base together with the ruined wall of the house. Nonetheless, using that base is not mandatory, they can be affixed either on single bases from the spare box or to the groundwork of various dioramas and vignettes.

Not impressing through quality but very useful in early time of the hobby, these miniatures have a more sentimental value than a modelling one. Anyway, Matchbox’s endeavour in supplying figures for their vehicles should be applauded especially by 1/72 scale fans which are the true beneficiaries of these figures. 

Historical Accuracy 8
Anatomy 8
Poses Quality 7
Details Quality 8
Mould Quality 9
Sculpture 7
Recommendation/Utility 7
Reviewer’s Opinion 7