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MAC Distribution - 37mm Pak38L Gun w/3-Figures (72111) _________(EXT)

 

Manufacturer MAC
Scale 1/72
Set Code 72112
Year 2008
No. of Figures 3
No. of Poses 3
Additional Items 1 PaK35/36; Resin Extra Projectiles
Aspect Small
Material Hard Plastic
Colour Cream
Flash Level Intermediate
Glue-ability Good (polly-cement)
Convert-ability Easy
Optimal Period 1939-1945

 

Review 


In the field of 1/72 WWII German AFVs, MAC Distribution is a well-known company thanks to its numerous model-kits and acknowledged for the great effort put in trying to fill in related serious gaps, being the sole producer in the scale of some representative Wehrmacht vehicles. During the years, this manufacturer previously named AMC Models released two kinds of kits. Despite attractive subjects, in the AMC period, the kits were less detailed, with parts not fitting well and unclear assembly guidelines, but fortunately, soon after the quality of their products have been highly increased. MAC Distribution won the hearts of WWII German AFV fans with excellent series of Opel Blitz (most of them Late War versions), Horch, Einheits-Diesel or Krupp trucks, and in their offer could also be counted the not so well detailed kits, respectively the series of Styer1500, a BergeTiger and a Strumtiger. Furthermore, MAC Distribution also manufactures and sells as individual kits the 20 mm Flak30 and 20 mm Flak38 (single barrel), but both types of guns can be found inside other boxes of the same company, as being mounted or towed by some vehicles, Flak30 on two Horch and Flak38 on two Opel Blitz. Nevertheless, the two just mentioned Flaks are not the single products related to 1/72 WWII German guns in MAC Distribution's catalogue, the company launching two of the most used guns in WWII, more precisely PaK35/36 and PaK38. Even not listed on the internet site of the producer yet, both kits are already available on the market and feature a premiere for their manufacturer through the inclusion of crewmen. Three figures are delivered in each PaK set, but they are just the same, an identical sprue being used twice. However, the possessor of both kits will notice that he can bring little diversity while most arms come separately and may be switched between the figures.

Both MAC's PaK36 and PaK38 sets are short run model kits, and the mould is really extremely short run. Each part of the guns is loaded with plenty of flash and vague details, but when it comes to figures, the shortage of the mould is awfully annoying. The included figures are probably some of the poorest on the 1/72 market, not only full of quite normal issues such as flash and excess of plastic, but also with air bubbles in plastic and deformed body parts. One figure has his head so flattened out that his entire face appears less wide than a Preiser bayonet, he looks as if an evil guy put his head in a screw vice and squeezed. Moreover, on the back of all soldiers, in the pistol holster area, the mould went completely mad, leaving an enormous gap, some arms and palms were also flattened out, and the list of problems is endless. Taking into account these issues, it should be clear that the only available solution for MAC Distribution is binning at least the mould of the figures and try making a better one. The disappointment is bigger because the company distinguishes through high quality products in the last period, and the expectations were high, the target groups hardly waiting to see their first 1/72 figures. Better quality is encountered on the extra ammunition sprues, which were made in resin. When hearing "resin parts" we might get the impression that we are in the presence of an excellent multi-media kit, but when opening it, we get the whole picture of a set with horrible figures.

Perhaps aware by the low quality of their PaK guns, MAC distribution does not list them on their official site even if the kits can be found on the shelves of the stores. This approach somehow reminds about Odemars' "Defenders of Berlin" set and the effort put in by the just mentioned company to improve the product, releasing an upgraded version, "The Last Defenders of Berlin". However, the situations are not similar, Odemars listing on their site both sets, pointing out that the first is addressed only for collectors. We are keen to see the same progress at MAC Distribution and a superior edition of their crew.

Though the PaK38 kit received a lower registration code, the first reviewed will be the "German Pak 36 L", which despite wrongly labelled as "PaK36" evidently aims the familiar PaK35/36. This type of gun manufactured by Rheinmetall was produced in over 15.000 pieces and represented the standard anti-tank weapon of Wehrmacht at the beginning of war. Firing 3.7 cm projectiles, it scored many victories during the Polish campaign, but very soon, against vehicles with thicker armour such as French and British tanks, it appeared obsolete.  The urgent need of more powerful antitank weapons became clear during first stages of Barbarossa plan, when the encounter with the brilliant T34 did not bring any joy to the German soldiers, especially the crewmen of PaK35/36 which were capable to destroy such a tank with their weapon only from very close distance. The best description on the performances of PaK35/36 is revealed by its nickname gained on the front line, the "door knocker". This gun started to be replaced by more powerful canons like PaK38 or PaK40, but the shortage of antitank weapons forced Germany to maintain in service PaK 35/36 till the end of WWII. Inventive as always, the German engineers found a solution for improving its capacity to penetrate thick armour, in 1943 being developed the Stielgranate41. The new weapon was a hollow shaped charge warhead, a rocket thanks to which PaK35/36 could penetrate any armour, from less than 300 meters. Loaded in the muzzle of the gun and fired with a special propellant cartridge, Stielgranate41 gave more hope to the German crewmen of PaK35/36 when engaging an enemy tank from a distance allowing the soldiers to have a small possibility to escape if they miss, because there was not a second chance. Anyway, MAC Distribution does not deliver inside their kit a Stielgranate41, so it has to be searched somewhere else, ACE manufacturing the same gun, not only more detailed, but also including the rocket in case. Except Ace's gun, 1/72 available mass production offers of PaK35/36 comes from Esci/Italeri, HaT and Dragon, the last one being of course the best.

The MAC Distribution kit is sold in their standard 1/72 box, here including a single sprue for the gun, a sprue for figures, two resin sprues with projectiles and the instruction sheet printed on A4 piece of paper. As artwork was selected a classical image of PaK35/36 to which was added the poses of the figures. The assembly guidelines are not always pretty clear and in order to know where some parts should be glued, it is necessary studying either instructions of other manufacturers or reference images. It was previously stated that each part comes with a lot of flash and received in most cases vague details, proper examples constituting the sights or the traversing mechanism with flat and un-detailed hand-wheels. In addition, the modeller who decides to start working this kit will have not only to remove the flash, but also to drill some holes for the barrel and for the end of tubular legs. However the best part of the gun is also the most visible one, respectively the shield, but no leg shield, fold or unfold, is assured. MAC Distribution's interpretation of PaK35/36 looks quite in scale, being comparable in size with offers of various manufacturers recognised for their accurate kits, like Ace for instance.

As normal, the best parts of the kit are those made of resin, the projectiles being finely detailed, but complete useless for a PaK35/36 due to their size. In fact, the same sprues are included also for PaK38 kit, a gun firing 5 cm shells, but even for this one, the projectiles look too big, better fitting to a 7.5 cm PaK40. Two types of projectiles and some fired tubes are incorporated, one sprue holding six rounds while the other brings two rounds and two tubes.

We have finally reached the most important part of the present review, namely the sprue with soldiers and it is no need reiterating the horrible quality of these figures made of the same hard plastic as the gun. However, it should be highlighted there are serious clues indicating that in the initial stage these figures benefit by a proper sculpture, the man who worked them putting in lot of effort, trying to bring something new in the field, such as a soldier with the flap of  the right chest pocket lifted. Nevertheless, for the catastrophically final product that reached the market, it is only the mould to blame. Some limbs are separately delivered, one figure needing both arms and legs to be glued, one both arms and for the last a single arm having to be fixed in its place. The initial designation of arms per figure cannot be confound, both because there are provided instructions in this regard and due to the fact that the separate arms are delivered on the sprue in the same square with the body, exception being made the trunk for which in the forth square, except the legs is also given one arm. All crewmen are dressed in the Early style, with M36 tunics, regular trousers and marching boots. In addition two have on their heads steel helmets, but quite nice is that the bare head figure retains at the belt his helmet. They are lightly equipped, only with belts and two of them have also gas masks with straps around the trunk. At the standing figure and the crouched one with both knees on the ground it looks like being another item of equipment, but the mould ruined them in such manner, that it is impossible an accurate identification. The lack of ammunition pouches is fully covered by the presence of pistol holsters, each of them being armed with a pistol held in its holster. The presence of an arm with binoculars points out the gun commander, in manufacturer's vision this role being played by the standing figure, but this might be replaced by any of his colleagues. Except the standing guy with binoculars, there are incorporated two crouched artillery-men, after gluing their arms one looks like doing something at the gun while the other wave his right arm in the air, ordering fire or signalling other things. Nevertheless, three gunners are enough neither for this small gun, nor for larger ones and in order to complete the crew they should receive enforcements from other sets with figures dress for warm periods, the thickness of the uniforms of these soldiers making them appropriate for such environments. More reference images show just two or three gunners manning this type of gun, but not all the time the photographer could catch in the same photo the entire crew. For PaK35/36 the crew was formed by six, the chief of section being responsible for seeing that all duties are properly performed, all commands executed and all safety precautions observed, the gunner laid the gun, no. 1 loaded and fired the gun, no. 2 and 3 handled the ammunition and no. 4 drove the prime mover.

For sure the details of uniforms were a little better when the mould had been done for the first time, but at present, at least the mould of the figures is good for the trash basket. Several buttons and collar boards survived to deformation, but also awfully undesired things, such as holes, gaps, excess of plastic and flash emerged during the casting process. Few might say that these issues are workable through covering the mistakes using extra gear form different manufacturers. When arriving to anatomy, then here we get no chance except complete replacement, so finally MAC Distribution's WWII German gun crew is capable only to provide a trunk and some legs where the modeller to add gear, weapons, head and arms from Preiser or Dragon. Practically, this is the only way to get something acceptable from this set of figures while a head is seems to be tortured with a screw vice, some arms and palms are awful and there are also a lot of other things that should be hidden. Luckily they were made in hard plastic, so the job is ease a little, but do not expect that you have in front of you a quick task. Excess of plastic, flash, holes in material and huge mould errors find a good place for development here, requiring a lot of time to clean and repair, even if it is about only three figures. Comprised by a standard model kit, the soldiers come un-based and no such device is found in the box. They do not have a good balance and in this regard the crew should be glued either straight on the diorama or attached to scratched bases or even directly linked to the gun. Enclosed in the small to medium size of 1/72 scale, these figures match the best with their colleagues from HaT WWII German guns series, Armourfast Mortar and MG teams, Pegasus Hobbies Waffen SS Set 2 as well as with soldiers from the rich range dedicated by Preiser to WWII Germans and CMK "Wehrmacht Mounted Infantry". More or less, they would also fit with other gunners enclosed in Esci/Italeri "German Guns" or Airfix "Opel Blitz and PaK40". The gun can be used on the one hand with crews taken from the just named sets, but on the other hand, fortunately, better choices are available. In this regard, Pegasus Hobbies' crews from "German le IG18 Infantry Gun with Crew", Preiser's "German PaK40 Crew" or some figures from Italeri's "PaK40 AT gun with servants" represent appropriate solutions for a more dynamic appearance.

MAC Distribution's intention to bring on the market not only two of the most common WWII German anti-tank guns, but also their crews, might be assessed as a not very successful attempt, while neither the weapons nor the figures do a good impression. Released by a company with a rich catalogue of fine products, expectations were very high, but this time the final product is poor, the figures representing the biggest disappointment, mostly because of the extreme short run mould that led to an unpleasant number of rough mutilations. Except the low number of crewmen provided for each gun and unable to cover the necessary required for handling the weapon, another minus is the replication of the same sprue of figures in both kits. PaK35/36 that made the subject of the present review is a little better than its larger brother produced by the same company and more accurate from the size point of view, but features both flash on every part and scarce details in such a manner that makes the Ace similar gun, also short run kit, to look like the top of quality. Anyway, even famous producers of 1/72 figures from nowadays such as Preiser and Revell had a hesitant start, with sets and moulds full of mistakes, so we wish MAC Distribution to join in the next close future these prestigious manufacturers not only in the field of vehicles, because this producer has already succeeded that, but also in the figures domain. Last remark refers to the below chart with marks, mentioning that only the figures were taken into consideration.

 

Historical Accuracy 8
Anatomy 3
Poses Quality 7
Details Quality 3
Mould Quality 1
Sculpture 7
Recommendation/Utility 3
Reviewer’s Opinion 3