With the Italians in difficulties in North Africa in 1940 it was decided to send German troops to assist, and the first units of the AfrikaKorps arrived in February 1941. Over the coming months they established an impressive reputation under the inspired leadership of Rommel, and achieved considerable success despite shortages of fuel and all manner of supplies, since the British largely controlled the Mediterranean. The reputation of the AfrikaKorps survives to this day, and many manufacturers have chosen to depict these men, though when originally released this was one of the first, competing with the likes of Airfix. After forty years and more, the question is does the set meet modern standard and expectations, or has it been superseded by later output?
These figures were advertised as 1/76 scale, and they are noticeably smaller than those from other manufacturers. This is made all the more apparent by the very thin bases they have been given, though when mixed in with their slightly larger brothers this should not be too much of a problem.
The numerous poses include many that are standard fare for Matchbox. All of them are appropriate, and most have been well done, though one or two are a little stiff - the man apparently about to throw a grenade does not give the impression of putting any great effort into it. The officer pose is interesting in that it is very similar to the Airfix first type officer, and is more suitable for depicting Rommel himself than an officer leading his men from the front.
The uniform is OK, with the mix of field caps and helmets, trousers and shorts, long boots and short boots that should be expected of such a set. Attention to detail is good, with both the riflemen and machine gunners having the correct ammunition pouches for their weapon, though some have less than the required three pouches on either side. The weapons too are quite well done, with a good mixture being on show. One man fires a heavy machine gun which is mounted on a tripod which has very little width to it, so the gun is likely to topple over while in use. In addition, weapons of this type were always loaded from the left, whereas this one is incorrectly being loaded from the right. Some rifles have bayonets fixed, but in a feature common to Matchbox sets this is extremely short, and looks more ridiculous than menacing. Then there is the mortar, which is exactly the same model as that found in almost all other Matchbox sets. This is a much simplified model whereby the barrel passes through a loop on top of the supports. This makes a firm construction but bears only a slight resemblance to the real thing.
Some of the poses are quite flat, but overall this is not a bad collection of figures. There is virtually no flash, and the detail is fine. The inclusion of a British prisoner is a nice idea, but for the most part this is an unremarkable but adequate effort. Compared to later sets from other manufacturers this set does show its age and leaves much to be desired, but despite that it could still find a use even today.