Wishing you a Happy New Year, with joy, health and many models built, I have the great pleasure to post the last review of 2008.
Many thanks for all who watched the photos, had the patience to read the reviews or expressed their opinions or provided excellent pieces of advice for me.
Once more, thank you very much to all.
Set Code: 6099
No. of Figures: 48
No. of Poses: 16
Additional Items: None
Material: Soft Plastic
Flash Level: Intermediate
Glue-ability: Medium (Super Glue Gel)
Optimal Period: 1941-1945
A campaign of the German Army during WWII still fascinating a large number of people is the one carried out in Africa, probably due to the genius of the German commander and the combat skills of the German soldier that reached the crest of the wave there. Based on Mussolini's request, Hitler agreed to give a helpful hand to his ally, the Italian Army, which as usual, encountered problems and in North Africa. On that occasion it was established one of the most well-known WWII German Army Group, Afrika Korps, General Ervin Rommel being appointed as commander. Not only Rommel, who gained the nickname "the Desert Fox", but also the German soldiers who proved again the great ability to adapt even to hostile and previously un-encountered environments as well as their expertise in battles got a special place in the history of WWII. The excitement demonstrated by the topic is also ample reflected in the 1/72 scale, since the early period of the scale, Afrika Korps being brought into attention through a set released by Airfix that even nowadays is voted as one of the most popular sets in Braille Scale. Furthermore, many mass production companies gave special attention to the subject, Atlantic, Esci and Revell launching their 1/72 Africa Corps versions. Bearing in mind the number of sets issued, a new interpretation of the famous unit is a provocation for any manufacturer, but no matter the topic, every product related to WWII Germans is highly welcome and awaited by modellers, wargamers or collectors. Italeri previously focused on the subject, reissuing Esci's "Afrika Corps Soldiers", but definitely the present set is the first own attempt of the company on the matter. Italeri's endeavour may be assessed as not a great success in the field due to several problems, the most representative being inappropriate uniforms, oversized figures and not best selected poses.
From the point of view of those waiting a set with Afrika Korps troops, the content is somehow disappointing since the beginning, because all figures wearing ankle boots feature an annoying detail, trousers over boots while all reference images show the DAK soldiers having the trousers in the boots. The mistake is more surprising on account that there are good models previously created and accurate from this point, either Airfix or Revell's Afrika Korps could have been used as reliable source of inspiration. On the other hand, these soldiers are more than suitable to be used on other fronts than Africa, and both the lack of figures wearing shorts and the small number of fighters wearing tropical boots are causes of happiness for those wishing to deploy these soldiers on Easter or Western fronts.
Compared with 1/72 figures from various manufacturers, these look quite oversized, an even tall soldiers such as Pegasus Hobbies and Caesar appear smaller than the present ones. At the crouched poses the size is not so disturbing, but at the standing figures the difference is obvious. However, two of them are surely in the scale, the officer and the bare headed soldier being pretty smaller than the rest. Wargamers may not be so concerned about the issue, and even diorama builders, with some efforts and inspiration, can mix Italeri's DAK with other troopers coming from diverse producers.
Even at the first glance it is noticed Italeri's effort, inspired by older Esci soldiers, for bringing something new on the market in the field of poses of WWII Germans, with figures that suit in combat though only few fire off their weapons. The poses will be analyzed in detail a little below, but as previously stated, the company did not select and depict well enough the stances, some of them, like the standing MG gunner and the standing figure with cap and rifle close to his belly being rather controversial. Nevertheless, the set incorporates several very attractive poses, for instance, the officer is one of the best appearances ever seen in the scale for a figure with this role. Not only these, but also the great details and other pluses of the set for sure will capture the interest of customers.
The content is delivered on three identical sprues in a box having as artwork a group of soldiers in pretty close poses with those encountered inside. An interesting and useful approach is the emplacement of all included poses on the other side of the box, especially because in most model shops customers are not allowed to open the box. In addition, also on the back there is supplied a relatively complex painting guide.
Though entitled "DAK Infantry", according to the uniforms, the soldiers are much more suitable for the temperate environments provided by the Eastern or Western fronts in the period 1943-1945. Likewise, for an Afrika Korps set, the garment from here is quite monotone, all figures wearing tunics, clearly identified shirts under tunics and except the officer who has breeches, the rest are dressed in regular trousers. Six heads are covered by tropical caps and if the soldiers are used in other parts than Africa, these may be taken as M43 caps, the differences being too slight in the scale. Other nine heads were endowed with steel helmets, but due to their size, which is noticeable bigger than the rest in the scale, it is advisable to be painted as covered by camouflage cloth. One figure wears nothing on his head, but the steel helmet is present on his back. Footwear, and especially the short boots that are predominant here, may refrain the modellers to enrol these figures in Afrika Korps, the trousers being sculptured over the boots and not inside as it should have been normal. The officer has marching boots and other three received tropical boots, the last item requiring few modifications in order to come closer to marching boots if there is an intention for "sending" them on other fronts. In this regard we are lucky, the boots not featuring too many details, simply removing the laces with a blade and painting the trousers longer representing enough efforts for getting the look of regular boots. Furthermore, the tropical tunics were almost the same model as the regular tunics, the difference mainly consisting in colour and material, so no intricacy here to paint these tunics in field gray and obtain some very good M36 continental tunics. Gear is quite simple at all soldiers, and except the officer who is normal to have different items, the troopers were endowed with gas mask container, bread bag and canteen. Neither zeltbahn nor shovel or mess-tin is provided, and some of those would have been better to be encountered, as representative items of the WWII German soldier gear. At their turn "Y" straps are the components making the difference between privates and NCOs or officer in the sculptor's vision, the first receiving while the next lacking this element. A nice touch is the existence of two versions of goggles, four figures wearing them on their helmets. Moreover, all of them possess the appropriate ammunition pouches for the firing weapon in use, but for moulding reasons, several MP40 pouches were pushed too much to the back in a position never seen in reference photos. Pegasus Hobbies announced in few occasions, that several sets, like Gladiators and Russian Infantry are designed to complete the Italeri similar offers. However, it seems that Italeri started to learn something from a company well-known and recognised to produce some of the most accurate and realistic 1/72 figures. A distinguished characteristic of Pegasus Hobbies Braille Scale Germans was straps attached to weapons, and also inside the present DAK set we can find this major detail, increasing a lot the appearance at almost all weapons. Still, Italeri has to grant more attention to the detail, while the straps of the MP40s are not so authentic, those being fixed in other places to the weapon than those suggested here. For a first try, the effort should be highly appreciated, particularly because the straps are not very thick and most of them do not require further adjustments. Another plus point for Italeri is providing to opportunity for seeing for the first time inside mass production sets straps at MGs, both MG34 from here featuring them. The set also brings a premiere in the field of 1/72 Germans, two figures having attached close to bayonet, one probably through "D" ring and other under the belt StiHg-r 24 grenades. These are not so well done, but there are the only items that could be emplaced there. Bayonets are found at the figures armed with Kar98K, but again the sculpture is not very good, the bayonets being too short. Moreover, at the advancing soldier with cap, the bayonet is poor, and it can be better painted as a captured Russian RDG-33 stick grenade, while the shape of the intended bayonet is much closer to the just mentioned type of grenade. Except the potential grenades from the back, more realistic reproductions of StiH-24 grenades are found in the hand of a figure and under the belt of another. Weaponry of the set is completed by ten Kar98K, three MP40, one P38, two MG34 and one Granatwerfer34 (81 mm medium mortar).
The figures come in ten standing and six crouched poses, reminding a lot of older Esci soldiers from where probably the sculptor got some inspiration, but is well-known the close link between ex Esci and Italeri who at present reissues products of one of the pioneering companies of Braille Scale. There is not a revelation noticing the absence of prone soldiers while the tendency was registered to previous sets exclusively created by Italeri like "German Elite Troops" and "Pak 40 Crew". The adversity of some sculptors to such poses was identified also at Caesar, but such an approach is a drawback, while most of the photos showing soldiers in combat, present them in various prone stances. Not only good poses, but also less successful ones are here depicted, in an array suitable for combat, including also the officer who is the only figure who stays still. It is quite interesting Italeri's advance for set aiming fighting soldiers, while from sixteen poses only four perform related actions with their weapons and not simply carrying them like the rest. Warriors firing off their weapons almost completely miss here, but the poses complete very good a battle scene corroborated with offers coming from other manufacturers abounding in soldiers aiming or firing off their armament. Four rifle-men are advancing, holding their weapons in different positions, and from them at least one is more walking than running. This one, bare headed, is a little bit odd because his right arm was sculptured in a quite unnatural position as well as because of the way he wears his helmet, on the back. Nothing bizarre if the helmet was attached to the "Y" straps, but our figure has this item fixed with the strap around the neck. This was more suitable for a cowboy hat than a WWII German soldier, the length of the helmet strap making impossible such an appearance. Another strange figure is a standing rifleman who probably prepares to lift his weapon to the shoulder and fire it off. His legs are extremely weird, very far one from other and truly aberrant. The distance is so large that this figure is more appropriate as a rider than an infantryman. Mounting him on a horse we can get a better soldier, which is in the end a good thing considering the small number of WWII German cavalry representatives in the scale. The set includes a grenade thrower with rifle on the back, a figure in a common pose, not very impressive, but still credible in what he is doing. Another soldier with rifle on the back carries a MG ammunition box in his hands. The pose is pretty interesting and not often seen, but unfortunately his load was much over-scaled. For this reason, it is better to assess it as an ammunition box for Raketen-Panzer-Buchse, a further item pretty rare encountered in the 1/72 scale and the figure to be used for completing a rocket launcher team together with a colleague "borrowed" from Italeri's "German Elite Troops". Two MG34 gunners are delivered, one standing and the other crouched. At the first glance, both lack the ammunition for the weapons, but at a closer look, it seems that at the junction between body and weapon, mixed with excess of plastic, exist some clues that might attest the intention for depicting the 50 rounds drum barrel case. Even if it is or not, the modeller can easily paint there the necessary ammunition for both weapons. On the other hand, the appropriate pistol holsters, as standard personal weapon for MG gunners as well as the MG cases, often carried by such specialised troopers completely miss here. With the standing MG gunner, the sculptor tried to do something new, but the final piece is pretty odd, as well. He looks like wanting to move the MG gun to a further position, but his head is a little too much twisted to the back while his legs are somehow abnormal as it is and his finger on the trigger if the only possible action of him is moving the weapon and not firing it off. The other MG34 gunner is practically the single figure of the set that may clearly fire off his weapon. He does it from the hip, in a style that would make Rambo extremely proud. On the other hand, there are many reference images, some not propaganda, showing German soldiers firing off their weapons from the hip. MG34, the model here portrayed, allowed both single fire and automatic fire mode, and especially on the first one it was more than possible to fire from hip. Furthermore, our MG gunner looks pretty close to a real one from a well-known photo, but that one had the weapon in a slightly dissimilar position as well as the strap around his neck, a thing that could confer more stability when firing from hip. The pose of the MG gunner looks like being inspired from other Esci/Italeri sets, but this time he lacks the stable solid firing position provided for the others such as an ammunition box or a brick wall. In addition, a modification is required for this gunner, the bipod of the weapon being wrongly sculptured from moulding reasons. This has to be twisted to the right position, a manoeuvre that will take only few seconds but will increase the authenticity of the figure.
The heavy armament of the unit is represented by a Granatwerfer34, the base plate and barrel coming together with the servant while the bipod is a separate piece that has to be glued in its place. The servant prepares to insert with the left hand a nice and accurate shaped projectile while in the right hand he keeps the Kar98K, an uncommon stance for a soldier handling a mortar. The crew of the Granatwerfer34 might be completed with other two crouched figures, but these can be used and in some other roles. It is not clear the sculptor's intention if those two soldiers were designed for the mortar or not. The figures in case are a soldier looking through binoculars and another one pointing to something with the left hand. The fighter with binoculars is good to be used as an NCO commanding the mortar crew. Even if he is endowed with a Kar98K, he is proper for this job, according to KStN, many NCOs having as personal weapon Kar98K and not MPs, fact contradicting a little the general opinion from Braille Scale appreciating that NCOs must have MPs. The figure holds the weapon in an out of the ordinary position, the barrel almost touching the ground, but still it is a possible appearance in the synergy of move, avoiding also to prop the weapon with the barrel down in the earth. The other soldier suitable for the mortar points something with the left hand, but this hand also perfectly fits the aiming device of the Granatwerfer34.
The lack of straps, MP40 and tropical boots define in this set the NCOs and two crouched and one standing figures are here like that. The standing NCO wears cap and his pose is not so eye-catching while the two crouched NCOs have steel helmets with goggles attached and also received better poses. Both of them wave their left hands in the air, the one staring straight away having a pretty forced stance, his left arm and legs conferring him a not so realistic look. The other crouched NCO, looking aside, is one of the best figures of the set, all his gestures and the way he holds his MP40 and its strap being very natural. Absolutely sure, the finest appearance of the box is the officer, not only his pose and excellent details, but also the proper 1/72 size bringing a foremost contribution for this assessment. He also wears steel helmet with goggles on it and his gear is simple, but correct, composed just by map case and pistol holster. The charm of the figure is given by his attitude, doing nothing except holding a pistol in the right arm lying along the body. We get very rare in the scale the opportunity to see such a pose, but plenty of reference materials show officers just like that. The details of his uniforms are absolutely gorgeous, creases, collar and shoulder boards, buttons and even the Afrika Korps armband being clearly noticed. The pistol seems to be a little over-scaled, but this inconvenient does not minimize the general appearance of the figure and it should be acknowledged and praised the courage of the manufacturer to depict the officer in this way.
The level of details on uniforms is exceptional, these featuring all the small things that could be depicted in the scale such as breast and cap eagles, collar and shoulder boards, buttons and authentic creases. Furthermore, the effort of the company to come with some of the best uniforms encountered in Braille Scale is enhanced by the stitches of the tunics that can be better remarked on the back of the tunics worn by the figures without "Y" straps. Leaving aside the over-scale issue of most of the figures, anatomy is also excellent and put in valour by amazing facial details and palms with visibly delimitated fingers. The weapons are over-scaled too, but come with fine details and match the size of the figures. Flash is maintained in acceptable limits, but excess of plastic is present at the great majority of troopers. The undesired plastic is formed not only in the well-known place, at the junction of weapons with body, but also at the back of some figures, behind the gas mask container. A good example in this light is the crouched NCO looking aside, and because there is almost impossible to get rid of the excess of plastic, an adequate solution could be painting it as a zeltbahn. Italeri used again their Super Special Material "Let's Glue It", the plastic being quite hard and this characteristic might require more efforts from the modellers wanting to remove the bases that were provided for all the figures. However, this plastic greatly accepts enamel and artistic oils as well as super glue gel which is required for putting together the Granatwerfer34. Taking into consideration the size of the figures, most of them are harder to be mixed with offers coming from other producers. The best comrades could be Forces of Valor's "German SS Cavalry Division", while from the rest of Afrika Korps related sets, probably Atlantic's interpretation would closely match, having in mind that the just mentioned sets include very tall figures. Still, with some labour and inspiration these troopers might be used on the same diorama together with various Afrika Korps soldiers or other German units if it is desired to use them on other fronts.
Due to some inadvertences of uniforms, it might be pointed out that Italeri failed to authentically portray the famous Afika Korps, but the present set incorporates good figures suitable to be deployed either on Western or Eastern fronts starting with 1943, the year when a similar model with the caps here encountered entered in service for the German continental troops. The very tall size of most soldiers is another issue, contributing to the smaller mark granted at Anatomy, but definitely the wargamers will not be disturbed too much by such an inconvenient. On the other hand, the same bigger size allowed the sculptor to add on the figures plenty of small details, and we have the opportunity to identify some of the best reproduced tunics and facial details in mass production sets. Noticeable pluses of the set are the presence of straps at weapons, a characteristic enhancing the authenticity of weapons and the inclusion of one of the best officers from Braille Scale. Even if not impressive, we can assess "D.A.K. Infantry" as a fair set, increasing the number of WWII Germans in the scale for the great satisfaction of wargamers, collectors and even diorama builders.
Historical Accuracy: 8
Poses Quality: 8
Details Quality: 10
Mould Quality: 9
THE MORTAR POTENTIAL TEAM
THE "RIDER" (using a CMK horse)
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