The German Afrikakorps needs no introduction to most people, and has been well represented in plastic miniatures in the past. In fact it has been done really well, so while some of these sets are no longer easy to obtain it is already a relatively simple task to build an army with what is available. With Caesar’s recent commitment to World War II the forces in North Africa are an obvious element to include in the range however, and so we find ourselves considering a new addition to Rommel’s famous warriors.
Accuracy: 10 out of 10. Caesar have provided some welcome variety in terms of uniform, kit and weaponry, but everything here is authentic. Some have the high laced boots and some ankle boots, some shorts (which were not officially meant to be worn at the front but still were) and some trousers, some steel helmets and some the peaked field cap. The only feature of interest here is the third figure in the second row, who wears the pith helmet and long socks that were a feature of the early days of the Afrikakorps. The pith helmet was quickly replaced, at least for front line duties, but it is nice to see such a figure here.
All the usual kit items are carried, with some variety to add realism. The majority of the men are armed with the MP38 or MP40 submachine gun, while the rest have rifles apart from the prone figure in the bottom row, who is using what is probably an MG34 machine gun, although the detail is not clear enough to discount the MG42 either. All these weapons are correct and everyone has the correct webbing for their weapon, including the MG34 gunner, who has a pistol holster at his belt. Another innovation is the left hand ammunition pouches for the MP38, which include the small pocket for the magazine loading tool, which again has not been modelled before.
Pose quality: 10 out of 10. There is nothing to dislike here, with all the usual poses really well done and looking lifelike. The man crouching and taking a drink is more unusual, and we also liked the man throwing a grenade while kneeling. 12 poses is not a lot these days, and by our rules that gets the set a score of 8 for quantity. More poses would of course have been welcome, and in particular the set lacks anyone to feed the ammunition to the machine gun, although as this has a drum magazine it does at least have a few rounds to use. One further point to make is the submachine gun is very heavily represented here - too heavily in our view, as this weapon would not have outnumbered rifles in this manner. Mixed with other sets this imbalance is diluted but still could be something of a problem.
Sculpting: 9 out of 10. Sculpting is always the most controversial of our scores, with beauty being very firmly in the eye of the beholder. We usually really like Caesar’s sculpting and these are very good again. Lots of well-defined detail and faultless proportions, with the usual use of more complex moulds to achieve a more rounded figure without having to assemble multiple parts. Here the lost point was down to a couple of small things (some slightly off-shape helmets and the pith hat), the unclear detail on the machine gun and, most of all, the right leg of the running figure in the top row, which is entirely without detail and seems to have been completely forgotten once the basic shape was formed.
Mould: 10 out of 10. Again nothing to take points off for here. There is no flash and no excess plastic worthy of the name, which is about all that there is to say on this.
If we still did overall scores for sets then this would get a 9 out of 10, mainly for the small (and one not so small) lapses in sculpting, the somewhat meagre number of poses and also the inappropriate balance of weapons. That is still a good score, and this is certainly a pretty good set. The competition for this subject is mostly of a particularly high standard, and includes one of our all-time favourites (from Airfix), but while these figures bring little that is new they are a worthy addition to the party and should certainly be considered for all those desert campaigns.