Italian WWII tank crews so far have never been available in styrene, apart from the figures contained in Tamiyaís old M13/40 and Semovente kits, which are no longer up to todayís standards. With the new releases of Italian armor in the last few years (mainly Italeri and Bronco), itís good to see an affordable alternative to resin figures to bring some life to these tanks.
Italian armored crews were issued with blue overalls, a special black leather tankerís helmet with neck guard, and a black leather overcoat. The Italian tropical uniform was essentially the same as the regular uniform, but made from a light khaki drill. The same applies for the tankerís overalls.
Italian officers were issued a black lather jacket of a different cut, which can most easily be distinguished by the lapels and the five-pointed star on the lapel marking the rank of an officer.
Italian troops of all ranks were also issued with a peaked side cap (the ďbustinaĒ) in the standard Italian Army gray-green. On the front peak was the arm-of-service badge, and on the left side of the peak, the rank insignia
Rank insignia was also carried on the upper arm for non-commissioned ranks, and on the sleeve for officers.
Other equipment included a black leather bandolier with two pouches to which a black leather pistol holster was attached.
MiniArt's kit contains two small sprues packaged in a plastic bag and a small piece of paper that shows the parts numbers. Personally I prefer to have the part numbers on the sprue but this really is no big issue. Assembly and painting instructions are on the back of the side-opening box.
The molding is good and no pin marks are evident. There is, however, a substantial amount of flash on some of the parts, which cleans up well with some care. During transport, one torso was broken off the sprue, but no damage done.
The set contains 5 figures, three standing and two sitting. All figures are broken-up in the standard fashion, with torso, separate legs, arms, head and headgear, as well as separate equipment. All of them are in relaxed poses and seem to be waiting for something to happen. None of them is obviously meant to be standing in a hatch, though figure D is probably meant to be sitting on top of a tank with his feet dangling into a hatch.
Figure A is of a tanker standing in a relaxed waiting pose. He is wearing the black tankerís overcoat atop a khaki overall. He has the tankerís helmet and boots with black leather breeches.
The parts are well-cast, with the overcoat having separate parts for the lower portion covering the thighs. The head is a full head and the helmet is hollowed out. The neck guard is a finely-molded separate part. The right arm has a rank insignia of an NCO molded-on; there is, however, no decal. The face is well-molded with a mustache; however, the eyes are somewhat indistinct (I would presume he is squinting in the sunlight).
Figure B is an officer standing with his hands in his overcoat's pockets. He is wearing the standard leather officerís coat and standard Italian grey-green trousers with the band along the side of the legs identifying him as an officer. He is wearing boots with black leather breeches. Under the coat, he has the standard army uniform with tie. His headgear is the bustina
. He also has the standard officerís gear in brown leather, including the pistol pouch.
Again, the parts are very well-cast and have some really fine detail, such as the rank insignia of a Lieutenant on the sleeves. The bustina
is well represented, down to the arm of service badge on the front. The head is well-cast with slight depressions for the eyes. The upper lip looks a bit strange however; heís either chewing on his lip or has a mustache on one side only?
Figure C is standing and wears a blue overall with bustina
. His equipment consists of the bandolier and pistol holster and goggles. He also has his glove stuffed in the left thigh pocket. Contrary to the box art, this figure has a mustache and looks a bit older.
This was the figure where the torso broke off of the sprue, and I chose him randomly to build for this review. The fit of the parts was very good; however, quite a bit of clean-up was needed here, as this was the figure with the most flash. A little bit of work will be needed to get an even continuance for the bandolier, but this is nothing out of the ordinary with styrene figures. The pouches of the bandolier are fitted separately, and unfortunately are standard items, which are not formed to fit the contour of the upper body of this particular figure, so some work will be needed there (see picture).
A nice touch to mention is the separate part for the gloves sticking out of the pocket (not fitted in the attached pictures, as I will paint them separately). Care has to be taken when attaching the bustina
, or you will end up with a step in the forehead like my figure did (note, this is due to my incompetence, not MiniArtís).
As with the previously reviewed Japanese Tank Crew
, a general remark concerns the contact/glue surface of the legs. This is hollowed out, making it quite difficult to get a good bond. I prefer the full surface.
Figure D is sitting, holding on to something with his hands. It would have been good at least to have an idea from the box art what tank heís meant for; no obvious solution came to mind. He is clad in a khaki overall and equipped with the bandolier and pistol holster. He is also wearing the tankerís helmet with goggles and has the neck guard turned upward, presumably for better ventilation. The figure is fairly standard, and there is nothing special to note regarding the parts.
Figure E is the second sitting figure, and is in pretty much the same layout and equipment as figure D. The main difference is that he has his hands in a relaxed pose on his lap, which makes him universally useful. Of special note is that he is bearded, a feature well-represented on the part. He also has the chin strap of his helmet open, which accounts for two more separate parts that are very finely-molded.
This is a very good set and itís about time someone released a decent set of Italian tankers in styrene. These will be perfect for anyone wanting to add a figure for scale effect, though some more conversion work will be needed for those wanting to tell a story with them, as there is no interaction between the five figures.