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Esci

Set 207

British 8th Army Soldiers

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released 1983
Contents 50 figures
Poses 15 poses
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Brown, Light Tan
Average Height 23 mm (= 1.66 m)

Review

All of the first few sets of figures from Esci were concerned with World War II, and having covered the basic troops of the major participants in the first batch of releases, they moved on to include the Desert War with this set and that for the AfrikaKorps. The set is called 'British 8th Army', although the soldiers of many allied nations fought in the Eighth Army, and since they mostly wore British uniforms and used British kit, these figures could equally pass for many of those other troops too.

This set follows the pattern typical of most Esci sets which has been established right from the start. There are 15 poses, all of which are good but without being particularly exciting or imaginative. Esci poses tend to be a little wooden compared to some other manufacturers, and this set is no different. However all the important ones are here so there is no real room for complaint about the choices made. The large number of prone poses is accurate, as men would often have to lie flat in a desert frequently lacking any natural cover. Many men carry rifles, but there are also some Thompson submachine guns and a couple of Brens, so a decent array of weapons too. The most eye-catching pose is probably the piper, which was to appear in several sets on this subject, though it is not the most useful of the poses on offer, particularly for wargamers. The figure of a man with bayonet pointed downward (end of second row) is a classic Esci pose, but not one we like as it does not look natural. In reality bayonet fights were rare in the desert, and in any case the rifle is being held awkwardly here. Quite what the second man in the last row is supposed to be doing we can only guess, though there are many possibilities, so there are a couple of less useful poses here, but most are fine.

All are wearing the uniform commonly associated with these troops - khaki drill shirt and shorts plus socks, short gaiters and boots, and a steel helmet of course. In fact a much greater diversity would have been seen, particularly when the weather was not as blisteringly hot as some imagine it to be at all times, so while nothing is actually wrong with the uniform here, the lack of variety is just a little dull. The men wear 37-pattern webbing, which is the most common form to be found on such men, and has been quite well done, with most having water bottle, bayonet scabbard and in some cases the small pack worn on the back in Battle Order. The weaponry is all appropriate for the conflict to, so no problems there.

The level of detail and the quality of sculpting are both excellent, as we would come to expect from Esci, and there is virtually no flash on any figure. Little tricks like having the prone Bren gunner in the act of replacing a magazine means no unwanted extra plastic needs to be removed, so we can enjoy these great pieces straight out of the box.

Here we have another thoroughly workmanlike set from Esci, scoring well in all departments without generating much excitement. The poses in particular are generally useful but won't set the pulse racing, but the sculpting is lovely and there are no mistakes with accuracy. This set has seen service in boxes by other companies more recently, but still stands up well to comparison with sets made much later by others.


Ratings

Historical Accuracy 10
Pose Quality 8
Pose Number 9
Sculpting 10
Mould 10

Further Reading
Books
"British Infantry Equipments (2) 1908-2000" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.108) - Mike Chappell - 9781855328396
"Desert Rat 1940-43" - Osprey (Warrior Series No.160) - Tim Moreman - 9781849085014
"Infantry Weapons of World War II" - David & Charles - Jan Suermont - 9780715319253
"Khaki Drill & Jungle Green" - Crowood - Martin Brayley - 9781847971098
"Montgomery's Desert Army" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.66) - John Wilkinson-Latham - 9780850452501
"The British Army 1939-45 (2) Middle East & Mediterranean" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.368) - Martin Brayley - 9781841762371
"The Thompson Submachine Gun" - Osprey (Weapon Series No.1) - Martin Pegler - 9781849081498
"Tropical Uniforms" - Wessex Military (British Soldier in the 20th Century Series No.6) - Mike Chappell - 9781870498050
"World War II Infantry" - Windrow & Greene (Europa Militaria Series No.2) - Laurent Mirouze - 9781872004150

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