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Bobkit / Heller 53014 "C160 Transall & Commandos"

It is somewhat a surprise how few kits in 1/72 were produced on the topic of the post-war French army. France was involved in numerous crises and post-colonial wars in that period, yet all that is available are four figures from ESCI "NATO Soldiers" set and (post 2000) figures from Caesar mixed set (PLA and French forces). At the moment of writing of this article, there are of course numerous resin kits and the 3D printing market is so developed that one can print almost any figure needed. The set described below is more of a peculiarity but still worth mentioning.

In the 1980s there was a short-lived brand (set up apparently by Heller and Humbrol) named BobKit. Some of their products were unique, and this was the case of the set "Commando", number 53701. This kit originally had an MD-500 helicopter along with vehicles and figures. The same set, minus the helicopter, was also placed in the set 53014 which was a rebox of Heller's C-160 Transall complemented by the Commando set.

Most of the box is, of course, taken by the C-160 aircraft. The vehicles in the set are rudimentary and not really bringing much value to modelers except sentimentality. The jeep is difficult to identify, but is probably a Hotchkiss M201 or similar Ford Mutt of some sort. VAB is a very simple model (two parts plus four wheels) and definitely not on a par with Heller's VAB issued in 1:72. One thing worth mentioning on vehicles part is the truck, a TRM2000. It is probably the only instance of this vehicle modelled in 1:72.

The most important are, of course, the figures. The set contains 10 figures in 5 poses. The first seems to be an officer or a commander, directing the movement of other soldiers. His only attribute are the binoculars and he is wearing a beret while having a helmet attached to the belt, which is not wrong. Then there are two running soldiers, one of them having his sleeves rolled up which is also seen on many photos from the deployments. The fourth pose is a soldier pointing/firing a FAMAS rifle. Lastly there is what seems to be an NCO, also with beret and helmet attached to the belt.

All soldiers are wearing an F1 type of uniform (with lower pockets on jackets), steel F1 helmets and F1 webbing. This dates the set towards 1980s - 1990s, a period during which the French Army or Foreign Legion saw many interventions around the world. All are armed with FAMAS F1 (straight magazine, single finger trigger guard) rifles which is correct. The webbing is missing any attachments - the basic configuration of F1 had at least 5 pouches plus a knife. On the figures we can barely see the belt and yoke. This is a visible drawback of these figures.

The poses are lacking some typical combat engagements but for the 5 poses this selection is reasonable. They will work well with their colleagues from the ESCI set which should further increase their usefulness.

The sculpts are somewhat rudimentary, with less detail on faces and some clothes' folds. The weapons are done very well. This is what one could expect in 1980s and is still a pretty good basis for a diorama or wargaming.

The figures are moulded in hard polystyrene plastic (like Hasegawa sets) that accept plastic glue and sanding very well. There is no flash, although some sanding may be required along the mould's connection lines. In one case, the FAMAS rifle is missing a piece of its upper handguard - clearly a deficit of production process.

The same set of figures appeared in the following kits:

  • Bobkit 53701 "Commando" - with Hughes 500 MD helicopter
  • Heller 52318 "UN Force set" - with Heller's VAB model (much better), Super Puma Helicopter and two Heller's diorama bases. Interestingly, in this kit, an officer and NCO were provided in one copy, meaning the whole set consisted of 8 troops.

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