While Germany had little interest in Africa in 1940, Hitler felt he could not see his ally Mussolini flounder in his military adventures, and so in early 1941 German soldiers began arriving in Libya. This must have been a considerable surprise to them, and without a recent history of possessions in such southerly parts there was much to learn about living and fighting in a desert environment. Yet adapt they did, and over the next two years they fought well against an experienced and often better-resourced enemy before eventual defeat in May 1943, when the Afrikakorps ceased to exist.
The first thing that strikes you about this set is the very generous number of poses. 28 poses is a good haul by any standards, although it must be said that many are almost identical to another in the set but differ only in the headgear. There are a lot of riflemen advancing, plus the usual firing poses, and some NCOs and officers carrying submachine guns. The only other major weapon here is the MG34 light machine gun, which is represented by three teams using it prone and three more moving forward with it on the shoulder. The latter gives us some really useful figures carrying ammunition forward, but both types of team are well done, and they are the major feature differentiating this set from others on the same subject. There are no exotic poses here – men eating or digging – so if all you want is men in action then you get a lot of them here.
That limited diversity extends to the uniforms too. Everyone here wears the usual four-pocket tunic and long trousers with short boots, and it is only the headgear that can vary – either the steel helmet or the peaked field cap. This is perfectly authentic of course, and has been quite well done here. The officers, identified by their weapons, are dressed no differently, which is fine. Equipment too is pretty standard and follows the usual checklist for any German soldier of the time, including bread bag, water bottle (often two, which was common in the desert), gas mask canister and entrenching tool. Some of those carrying machine gun ammunition also carry a spare barrel for the weapon, which is good to see.
These were originally metal figures made by Adler Miniatures, so the style is not what we are used to in plastics, with rather larger heads and a slightly less elegant general appearance. The faces in particular are rather odd with very deep-set eyes, and some of the ammunition pouches seem a bit too large. Our attention was swiftly drawn to the rifles, which must be the standard Kar98 carbine, but look much too short. In fact they are 14mm long, which equals 101cm, so not a great deal shorter than the real length of 111cm, but a bit fatter than is ideal, so do not look good to us. The metal heritage of these figures is also shown by the many undercuts, meaning there are no large areas of excess plastic, but these do have quite a bit of flash in places, especially between the legs on some, and with this type of figure another problem is areas where the mould has not fully filled, leaving a shiny smooth surface where there should be detail. This is also a problem with the entrenching tools, which in many cases here have a handle missing in large part where the plastic has not reached. Detail is good in many places, but less so in some, so for example the boots are plain, not appearing to be the usual desert boots usually worn by such men.
We were pleased to see some nice touches like grenades carried by some, and the goggles on others, but we are not fans of the style of these figures, or the process that makes them, since it is not faultless in filling the mould. The poses may not have a great deal of depth given the number on offer, but all are perfectly useable, and the coverage of MG34 teams is certainly impressive. The only assembly is to add the separate bipod to the machine guns, but otherwise the undercutting makes for some good, well-rounded figures. So while we prefer some other offerings on this subject, this set certainly has something to offer.