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Friday, October 25, 2013

Bolt Action - Review: Perry Miniatures Desert Rats

Recently I was given the opportunity to review the Perry Miniatures Desert Rats Boxed Set, courtesy of Architects of War.  This boxed set contains 38 Hard Plastic figures in 28mm suitable to represent British and Commonwealth Infantry in the North African Theater between the years 1940 – 1943.  Of course, all that information is printed on the box and if you are like me, you are more interested in what was actually on the inside of the box.

(This article comes to you from none other than Andrew "Nemesis Andy" Gould. - Judson)

Once I opened the box I was greeted by several sprues of very nicely sculpted miniatures, complete with bases for all the figures.  My first impression was that the figures appeared a little small for 28mm.  The scale is more in keeping with a realistic scale as opposed the more heroic scale that I have experienced with Warlords Games plastic kits.  Each of the 3 main sprues contained 12 varied poses for the main infantry, so with a little forethought in assembly you could avoid direct duplicates.  If you don’t like to put that much thought into putting models together you would still only end up with 3 of each pose in the entire platoon. 

There are enough miniatures with options to build an entire historical platoon complete with support weapons.  The support weapons that are included were a light mortar team or a .55in Boys anti-tank rifle team.  There are also a couple of Bren light machine guns to outfit your platoon with.  In addition to the three main sprues, there was a separate, 2-figure command sprue that can be used to build a Lieutenant and a radio operator.  That last one is handy, as I am looking forward to fielding the free artillery observer that the British get as one of their special rules.  

As a side note, an extra command sprue was included in the box I got to review, so I actually ended up with 40 models.  The box contains all the bases needed for the miniatures including several large square bases for the weapons teams. The round single figure bases included were smaller than those typically included in 28mm plastic kits, but they are perfectly fine, and if my model collection wasn’t already mounted on the larger bases I might actually prefer the smaller size.

Putting the figures together was pretty much what you would expect from a multi-part kit.  The models come with the legs, torsos and heads as one piece which speeds up assembly, but does limit the variety of poses you can get.  I found this to be fine as there are enough poses to create up to a 12-man squad without any duplicates in it.  The weapons were fixed to the hands so there wasn’t that extra step in gluing the rifle into the hands.  Several of the rifles also had both arms attached which made it far less fiddly then trying to line up both arms with the rifle then keeping the whole mess lined up while you wait for the glue to dry.   The sprues came with loads of extra bits on them so you could personalize the miniatures if you wanted to add the extra detail.  The extra bits included; pouches, shovels, picks, bayonets, extra rifles and most interesting spare heads.  

 The torsos of the figures all come with a head designed to have the standard British “soup bowl” helmet glued on, but the sprues also include enough bearded heads wearing a headdress, or cap comforter, for you to build your models as members of the SAS, LRDG, or maybe even any other Commonwealth fighter, depending on your painting ability. I even spotted one that looked suspiciously like a heavily bearded Lachlan. I chose to model mine with the standard British helmet. (Thereby avoiding painting bear suit onesies. - J)  

The figures are easy to put together, but an assembly sheet is included to help even the least experienced modeler with assembling the weapons teams, and some of the less obvious arm combinations.  On the other side of the assembly instructions is a Historical diagram of the typical Platoon Organization.  I found this both informative and helpful in deciding how many of each weapon and team I should put together since my early/mid war history knowledge is lacking, especially in the North African theater.

Of note here, I chose not to use the included bases, and mounted mine on bases that matched the other WW2 models in my collection.  I also prefer the looks of a round base for my weapon teams and mounted these on large fender washers instead of the square team bases as well.

The models paint-up easy, and since the historical platoon organization guide was in color I used this as a guide for which colors to use.  I decided to start by painting up one of the 10-man rifle section from the platoon organization chart that included a Corporal with an SMG, a Bren gunner, and 8 riflemen.  

There is a lot of detail on the models and you could paint these to a very high standard if you wanted to put in the time.  I used a quick painting technique for mine and produced a good table top standard in very little time.  When painting them up, I really started to appreciate how much detail was sculpted on to each model.  I particularly like the inclusion of rifle slings on the rifles.

My initial misgivings about the scale turned out to be groundless as once the models were assembled and based up they fit in nicely with the other models in my collection.  Overall I was very impressed with this kit and would highly recommend it for anyone looking for Commonwealth soldiers in the North African Theater.   The box is a very good value for the money and the quality of the miniatures is excellent.  The next step will be getting the rest of my platoon painted so I can get some battles in against my long-time friend and new Afrika Korps Commander Joe Foland. 

(Now come chat with Nemesis Andy and the rest about all things Perry Miniatures and North Africa on the forum! - J)

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