Articles

ESCI - SdKfz.251/1 APC (8359) _________(EXT)

Manufacturer ESCI
Scale 1/72
Set Code 8002
Year Unknown
No. of Figures 2
No. of Poses 2
Additional Items 1 Sd.kfz 251/1
Size Medium
Material Hard Plastic
Colour Gray
Flash Level Medium
Glue-ability Excellent (Polly-cement)
Convert-ability Easy
Optimal Period 1939 – 1945

 Review   

Sd.kfz 251 was not only one of the most common armoured vehicle of the WWII German army, but also one of the most depicted in the 1/72 scale, major and small manufacturers rushing to represent in the scale the symbol of Panzer-Grenadiers. However, the first 1/72 transposition of the famous half-track was done by legendary ESCI and according to its good custom, the vehicle did not arrive alone, but accompanied by two crewmen. As one of the most functional WWII German vehicle, Sd.kfz 251 had plenty of official and field converted variants, from the long list ESCI releasing not only the standard version SdKfz. 251/1 but also other five, namely SdKfz. 251/10 (Pak 35/36), SdKfz. 251/1 Rocket-Launcher,SdKfz. 251/16 Flamethrower, SdKfz. 251/7c Assault Bridge, SdKfz. 251/8c Ambulance, all on the Ausf.C body. Still, it should be stressed that even the vehicle was different, the two crewmen remained the same for all of those. Due to their age corroborated with the fact that nowadays Italeri has re-boxed part of them, exhaustive reviews of ESCI Sd.kfz 251 and its variants come across on a large number of web-sites, the present one continuing only with the figures.  

In ESCI’s kits, the war-horse of motorised infantry and Panzer Grenadier, but encountered in all WWII German units, received only two army-men even if the number of transported troopers was much larger. For instance, Sd.kfz 251/1, which sets out as the starting point of the series on that vehicle, was designed to accommodate ten troopers as well as commander and driver. The first and standard version of Sdkfz 251 was armed with two MGs, one in front and one at the rear, the manufacturer intention resting in ensuring a gunner for a MG and perhaps the commander of the vehicle. In most variants of Sd.kfz 251 the ESCI crewmen find a place, but in others, as Sd.kfz 251/16 Flamethrower, the figs are useless for operating the weapons.

The ESCI model is the Ausf.C that appeared in 1940, the figs being dressed to fit the period, but both such vehicles and soldiers looking in the same way were still encountered on the front line in Late War. The MG gunner has got M36 tunic, regular trousers, marching/jack boots, and steel helmet, his commander wearing similar clothes, the single dissimilarity resting in breeches instead of regular trousers. Travelling in a vehicle it was normal the soldiers not to carry many items of gear on them, so the gunner has only canteen and gas mask container wile the commander received binoculars and two grenades under belt. A separate MP38/40 is supplied on the sprue, most certainly for the commander though he does not show related ammo pouches. The MG gunner lacks pistol, as personal weapon according to his speciality. Anyway, the lighter the better and benefitting by the empty belts, “Y” straps and the hard plastic material, hobbyists can, if assessing as necessary, to equip the figs as desired, by making use of Preiser, Dragon or Caesar weapons and accessories.

The gunner was aimed to fire one of the two MGs allocated to the vehicle and the finely planned pose, bent in front and with the left holding the shoulder stock and the right somewhere close to the grip might evoke a gunner fulfilling his job. Nevertheless, the stance is not perfect and for improving its appearance, perhaps a modification to the right palm would be appropriate, only twisted to the interior would succeed to catch somehow the grip. The left is hidden by the adopted position and also was cast on the body so transformations would be almost impossible. Bearing in mind the front MG has no ammunition here, but the rear one is fed by the saddle drum magazine, maybe more suitable would be an emplacement to that MG, contrary to the artwork pledging for the front MG.

With a still stance, the commander emerges quite relaxed for a vehicle in combat and an MG gunner working hard at the weapon. He limits to supervise the fire, holding the binoculars in the right hand close to the belt buckle and partially covering the grenades. It is clear not the most advised pose for such a vehicle, but the figure is extremely useful in other purposes, infantrymen staying still being quite hard to spot in terms of 1/72 WWII Germans. Due to its breeches and binoculars, the mini can represent an officer, but his “Y” straps better qualify him for the NCO role.

The sculpture has several good points concerning small details like buttons, collar and shoulder boards, and creases but faces, palms, and fingers are not the best ESCI attempt this time. A trick for hiding the not so well defined steel helmets could be painting those as covered by camouflage cloths. Likewise, binoculars and gas mask container are rough, if not let like that, one solution is removal and replacement with similar parts from Caesar, Dragon or Caesar. The figures may enter in the medium to tall category of 1/72 and fit not only with the rest of soldiers issued on the matter by the same company, but also with other hundreds of minis commercialised by various manufactures, as widely recognised, Early War Germans in M36 uniforms being the most encountered in the scale. Average flash and mould marks displayed on the back of the figs must be removed before starting painting, the material easing the cleaning operation and perfectly accepting enamel, acrylics, and artistic oils. 

Though not the best along the years, ESCI provided perhaps the first most appropriate MG gunner for a weapon installed in an armoured vehicle, granting the modellers the opportunity to reproduce one in the mist of the battle. Likewise, in spite being cast as single pieces, the two army-men confer vast possibilities for conversions, the absence of gear facilitating such work. Obviously, not only equipment and weapons could be fixed on them, but also other heads and limbs. Due to these attributes corroborated with the satisfactory uniforms, the figures are usable not only by wargamers but also by the more exigent static modellers.        

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