Ultracast is a Canadian based company that specialises in 1/35 British/Commonwealth figures, accessories and decal sets. The emphasis here is on the Canadian side, but these figures are perfectly useable as British or other Commonwealth tankers. They also produce a range of 1/48 aircraft, and other figures and kits too. (see web site for further details)
I have been a fan of Ultracast figures since I started modelling again and found their web site. Looking in the review section I noticed a lack of reviews on their excellent British/Commonwealth tankers and thought I would remedy that, with the first of a series of reviews on the figures and figure sets.
This is a 3 figure set, comprising one complete figure (commander) and two ¼ figures, a driver and gunner, depicting an Allied British/Commonwealth tank crew in Italy or North West Europe in 1944.
The set comes in a sealed zip bag complete with a cardboard backing, outlining details of the set on the front. A good coloured picture is provided on the inside of the card for painting reference. The set was sculpted by Kevin McLaughlin and on the back of the card are the contact details for the company, and instructions on fitting and assembly of the figures.
Cast in a light cream resin the detail is crisp and sharp, and I could find no faults with the casting process. As an added bonus you get a selection of 5 heads for the 3 figures.
Figure 1 (Commander): This figure comes as a whole figure with arms and head as separate items. The figure is posed in a standing position with the right leg slightly forward of the left and the upper body tilted very slightly forward. Kitted out in the 1944 pattern summer denim overalls and belt, he wears no 37 pattern gear or side arm.
In the picture he is depicted as wearing a standard tankers beret complete with radio headphones. Of the 5 heads supplied with the set, two are with berets, badges, and headphones. Both have interesting faces, one with the mouth slightly open obviously speaking into a microphone and one with a slightly sterner expression. The choice is yours.
Of interest and a nice change is the summer denim overall he is wearing. From the references I have seen this would appear to be a very good representation of the garment. All the pockets are present and in the correct place with nice detail which should allow him to be painted up very nicely indeed. The lower leg fastenings, belt and buckle are also well defined and the overall is shown open at the neck. On his feet he is wearing standard boots, again with good detail.
Both his left and right arms come as separate items and show the rolled up sleeves of the denim suit. The right arm is bent at the elbow and holds a microphone into which he is speaking whilst the left arm, also bent at the elbow, is designed to hold the left ear piece of the head set.
The body will require removal from the pour stub as will both arms and the head. A little clean up of flash will be needed between his legs, and some light sanding where the stubs have been removed, but this should be an easy job with a sharp knife and an emery board.
¼ fig 2 & 3 (Driver and Gunner): These two figures are for use as the driver/gunner of the tank. Both have ¼ bodies without hands and only the head needs added. Both are wearing the denim overall again with good detail on what is cast and both have 37 pattern belts with a good representation of the brasses and rear buckles.
Of the remaining heads 2 are shown wearing the standard tankers beret with badge and the 3rd a tankers helmet with goggles perched on the front. Again the choice will be yours as to which head to use, but all are well cast and have interesting faces. Normal precautions should be taken when working with resin and a good sharp X-acto blade and file/board will be needed to tidy then up.
An excellent set of tankers depicted in an often neglected order of dress. From the picture provided I would say these were modelled with a Sherman tank in mind, although they may well prove suitable for other Allied tanks too.
The use of the denim overall in the uniform style is a very welcome addition in the small but growing bank of British/Commonwealth tankers available. This order of dress was issued to armoured troops in 1944 and these figures could be modelled in either Italy or NWE as desired.
The casting is first class and this crew should require little clean up before painting up well.
Personally I am not a fan of ¼ figures as I always think it is a missed opportunity, especially with the low number of British/Commonwealth troops available, that they did not come with complete bodies. That said it does reduce the cost of the set compared to a full figure set and they are more than fit for purpose even as ¼ men, but the driver/gunner obviously have their limitations.
Highs: Great detail and casting have produced a very useable set of 1/35 tankers. The provision for 5 heads for 3 figures gives good choice of finish and a few heads for the spares box too.Lows: The missed opportunity of two additional complete driver/gunner figures that I might have been able to use in trucks or elsewhere, but that is only a personal preference. Verdict: Highly recommended.
About Alan McNeilly (AlanL) FROM: ENGLAND - EAST ANGLIA, UNITED KINGDOM
Greying slightly, but young at heart. I've been teaching adults off and on for most of my life. Left the services in 85 and first started modelling in about 87 for a few years. Then I had a long spell when I didn't build anything (too busy) and really just got started again during the summer of ...