There has been for many years a great gap in the available range of British and Commonwealth figures in 1/35 scale plastic. These last few years, and particularly the last 18 months, has seen a very welcome range of additional figure types coming from the plastic injection manufactures. MiniArt
have done a lot to close that gap with their recent releases of a British and Commonwealth Jeep Crew, British and Commonwealth Tank crew and their British and Commonwealth Armoured Crew, all of which I reviewed here on site:
British Jeep Crew
British Tank Crew
British Armoured Car Crew
I was delighted when they announced a forthcoming set of Royal Engineers and both delighted and surprised when it became apparent that these were to be troops for North West Europe, as the previous sets had been focused mainly on the Mediterranean Theatre of Operations. So letís hope for more developments in both areas of operations. This is a brief look then at Set 35083 British Royal Engineers, or Sappers to you and me.
The set comes packed in the standard bright boxes used by MiniArt for their figures. The front box art depicts the contents and manufactures details, kit number, etc., whilst the reverse shows the build sequence of the figures, and a picture of the built troops. At the bottom is a paint guide for the most suitable colours.
The figures are on 2 small frames, each containing the parts for 2 figures. Also included in the box is a small paper diagram depicting the parts on each frame. The figures are moulded in light grey plastic and the parts seem free from any major amounts of flash. The set consists of 66 parts.
Frame 1- Figures A and B:
depicts an engineer in an upright walking position leaning slightly forward probing for mines with a mine prod. The figure consists of 15 parts, with separate arms, legs, head, upper torso and helmet. The parts are well produced, free from any damage and only have the normal seam lined to be removed. The figure is dressed in Battle Dress Serge 39/40 pattern, the blouse having the pleated pockets, and the remainder of the uniform looking correct with the necessary pockets and cuff detail on the Battle Dress. The basic webbing is also moulded to the top torso in the form of a 37 pattern belt and shoulder straps. The brasses are nicely done and across the front are the cross straps: one for the respirator case to hang from and the other meant to represent the rifle sling as the rifle is depicted shown slung around across the back with the sling going over the chest. This second strap I donít like much as it will have to be replaced anyway to connect to the rifle and would have been best left off in my opinion. It also looks a little broad for a rifle sling, whereas the one for the respirator looks better proportioned. It was good to see the inclusion of the shoulder straps for the small back pack and these have the appropriate buckles which are nice to see. To finish off the dress, the soldier wears anklets and ammo boots.
The head displays the face of a youngish man, clean shaven with a look of concentration on his face. The helmet chin strap is moulded to the face and the helmet looks like a mark II with camouflage netting and some scrim which looks the part.
To complete this figure you get left and right ammo pouches, small digging tool, a water bottle, No 4 rifle, small back pack with a ground sheet tucked into the top, the mine prod and a respirator case. These items are nicely done. My only reservation is the size of the respirator case and the pouches look a little too square, but should be adequate.
depicts a standing soldier, bent forward slightly at the waist, spade in hand in the act of digging. The make up of this figure and order of dress is as per figure A above, the only difference being his right hand comes as a separate item.
The head is a separate item showing the face of a mature soldier with a moustache and the chin strap for the helmet is also moulded to the face. The helmet looks like a Mk II with camouflage netting and some scrim and looks nicely done.
To complete this figure you get left and right ammo pouches, small digging tool, a water bottle, No 4 rifle, small back pack with a ground sheet tucked into the top in a slightly different way to figure A, a respirator case and a shovel. These items are nicely done and comments on the respirator case apply here too. Also for figure B you get a mug to add to the back of his back pack.
Overall Comments on Figures A & B:
The uniforms have nice folds and detail and the poses look natural to me. The body proportions look good for 1/35 scale and these e two should build up well and give you good useable figures. The only thing I donít like about them is the rifle sling across the chest, it looks a bit thick and is unnecessary as a sling is easily added. It is nice to see different styles of back packs for the figures and I am delighted that the buckles for the packs are properly presented an area that often gets overlooked in British figures.
The range of equipment is well done and overall these are two grand troops that should build up really well.
Frame 2- Figures C and D:
depicts a kneeling soldier in the act of lifting a mine. The make up of the figure parts is as per figure A & B and the uniform detail is the same.
The head is nicely done with a slight grimace on the face and again the chin strap is moulded to the face. The head also supports a Mk II helmet with netting and scrim.
Basic equipment details are as per figs A & B, this engineer also has a mug to add to his pack and additional equipment to that mentioned above is the inclusion of a small sign board on a post and the two part mine. Iím not clear on what type of mine this is meant to be but it has a flat pressure plate on top!
depicts a standing engineer, sweeping for mines with a Mk III Polish mine detector. The figure is made up in the same way as A, B & C and dressed in a similar fashion to them, too. The only difference being that the collar of the BD appears open and the upper torso lacks the rifle sling strap. Also moulded onto the upper torso are what I think are the leads to the head phones, which again I would tend to remove and replace with some replacement wire.
The head has a good face with an appropriate expression and also sports a Mk II camouflage and scrim helmet.
Basic equipment is as per the other engineers, less the No 4 rifle, only this time you get the Mine Detector back pack, two part handle and counter weight (Note: The handle is moulded as one piece). The detail on the handle looks quite good with the operating box fixed to the shaft and the rings marked on the pole. The detecting plate has the correct fittings and small bolts around the edge. To add to this you get a set of individual headphones and cable for the sweeper. The amplifier and battery were carried in a small back pack and this looks correct form the few pictures Iíve seen. Some cabling is provided for the detector, but you may just wish to replace that with wire.
Overall Comments on Figures C & D:
Again both figures have nice uniform detail with good creases and folds, and the poses look quite natural to me. The mine I shall have to identify, but the mine detector looks to be a fair representation of the real thing. I had initially thought the pack might have been too thin depth wise, but then I suppose it depends on how much other stuff gets crammed in.
Like the rifle strap, I am not particularly keen on the moulded on cable for the head phones but replacing that will be individual choice.
I like this set a lot. With the exception of the slightly large respirator cases, these figures are well thought out, have excellent detail for 1/35 scale plastic figures and should build up really well.
Like the moulded on rifle slings I am not keen on the moulded on cabling for the headphones but this may suit others.
No decals are provided for the mine board or the uniforms which is a pity, as uniform details like that tends to add a lot to the finished build.
All the figures have natural looking poses and where individuality can be modelled in it has been in the form of the heads with/without moustache, additional mugs for some, alternative looking back packs.
There should also be good potential to re-work these figures thereby adding to the possible range of finishes. The ammo pouches are not the best Iíve seen but by no means the worst and should be perfectly acceptable.
As with re-working the figures there is good potential for the use of this set and I look forward to many interesting dioramas where modellers have incorporated these chaps into the scheme.