by: Darren Baker [ ]
Bronco Models has become the unofficial home of the British paratrooper when it comes to 1/35th scale offerings. Bronco Models has released several products covering jeep riders and gun crews, and now they have released 2 dedicated figure sets covering the British Paratrooper during World War Two. World War Two is the war into which the Parachute Regiment was born and cut their teeth so to speak, and from their formation they were very much an elite force. Operation Market Garden is likely the most well known Airborne campaign known to most of us and it was a failure as regards its intentions, But the Paratroopers very much earned the respect of the enemy, and the failure of the operation cannot be laid at the feet of those that fought there.
This offering from Bronco Models features four Paratroopers; three of them are foot sloggers and one is riding a pedal cycle. The model is supplied in a thin card end opening container. The box will not be up to protecting the contents through the rigors of the worlds postal services, but is otherwise suitable for the task. Inside the box you will find;
7 grey sprues
2 photo etched frets
1 decal sheet
An instruction booklet
A look over the contents of this product tells me that this is the first complete figure set that I have seen, by this I mean that everything that is needed for the figures is in the box and no scratch building skills or after-market products are needed. All of the parts in the product are free of flash and well moulded. The photo etched frets have been slightly bent during transit from China to the UK, but the damage is not excessive and should be easy to correct.
The photo etch for the pedal cycle provides the option of spokes, chain drive and brake levers, A very nice touch that Bronco Models has offered is the bike wheels have spokes moulded in place for those who are not comfortable using the photo etched parts and Bronco Models has also provided a former to impart the domed effect to photo etched spokes. I really do like that Bronco Models has taken into account that photo etch is not for every modeller and have also supplied the chain and cogs in plastic should that be the case for the modeller concerned. The frame work for the pedal cycle is very fine and will require the modeller to take a lot of care during removal from the sprue, some may complain about this but it is the finest injection moulded pedal cycle that I am aware of to date. The bike can be assembled in a folded configuration or ready to ride and even offers as a bonus a scooter which is included from an earlier release.
There are three weapons sprues included with this product and so providing a good choice as to who has what. The only downside to these weapons is that they have not all been slide moulded and so the barrels will need to be drilled to improve them with the exception of the bren gun. The very big plus is that a photo etched fret supplied with this product supplies the slings for the weapons, I cannot recall any other figure set that has been supplied with photo etched weapons slings straight from the box. The weapons selection breaks down as follows;
3 Bren guns
3 Sten MkIV's
3 SMLE rifles
3 Webley revolvers
3 holstered Webley revolvers
As you would expect from a company that has invested as much effort as Bronco Models into British Airborne Forces the uniform details are spot on. The creases in the uniform are very natural and well refined; I think figure modellers will be especially pleased with the effort put into this aspect as it will provide the perfect canvas for displaying the subtle colour differences they do so well.
The four figures each have their own area on the sprues and so that avoids confusion over which parts are for which figure. The moulds for the figures must be especially good as I cannot detect any seam lines on the moulded parts, the only downside in this respect is that there are a number of moulding nipples that will need to be cleaned up. The hems of the jackets are supplied separately which gives the appearance of a material edge rather than a solid lump of plastic.
The helmets supplied with the figures are all different in so much as the camouflage netting is different; I think this is a really nice touch considering this is not the norm. The helmet straps are supplied for each side of the helmets and these are quite fine and will require care during removal to avoid damage. The boots are nicely detailed on the top and have a nicely replicated in step on the sole, there is no tread replicated on the soles of the boots except in the case of one foot on one figure, but then again this area cannot really be seen in the other cases.
The back packs and ammunition pouches supplied with these figures look very good and I like the fact that these are not all the same configuration when it comes to the back packs. I particularly like the water bottles as the detail is very well replicated. The facial detail is reasonable and once the helmet and straps are applied should be of an adequate standard. The hands are also quite well detailed and with a little work between the fingers should look very good. The figure that is supplied for use with the pedal cycle is supplied with three legs; this allows the modeller to depict the figure riding the bike, about to start peddling or having just stopped peddling.
The decals supplied with these figures are the usual fare from Bronco Models and so you get the non-commissioned officer ranks and the Airborne badges. These decals are a nice inclusion with the set and as I have said before I would like to see more companies take this step with their figure releases. Construction is well covered via the included sheet for the bike and the rear of the carton the parts are supplied in.
This figure release from Bronco Models is in my opinion the first complete figure release from any company of which I am aware. The moulding quality is of a high standard as is the overall detail. Included is the best injected moulded plastic bike offering currently available. This figure set taken as a whole cannot be beat by any other currently available injection moulded plastic figure set; yes there are figures of equal standing and photo etch weapons slings available that are as good, there are a host of companies that supply decals of various types, but no one else has them in the same box I believe.