Wednesday, March 9

Preview: British Tank Commander Set (2 figures) from Alpine Miniatures in 1/35th scale

Fans often call for more soldiers from the Allied side of WWII to be made available to the market, so now Alpine Miniatures is offering two new figures of British tankers in 1/35th scale, well, this is their chance to take notice. We look at both of these figures as singles & as a set, painted & unpainted, with their original clothing & equipment, in our preview...

Alpine Miniatures has a pair of new British tankers from the WWII era sculpted in 1/35th scale. These two figures are sold as a set or as individuals, and they are available after March 15. We will look at them in bare resin, and then painted up, but first, we will look at the main feature of both of these tankers, the "Pixie Suit" and other gear of the tankers...

Canadians standing next to their Sherman during a lull in a combined armour and artillery exercise, England, 5-10 June 1943.
The British Tanker & his gear:
Highly trained, well drilled and well equipped (for the most part) British tankers were the black beret of the Royal Armoured Corps and in wintertime as these soldiers are depicted the "Tank Crew Oversuit" which was nicknamed by British Soldiers the "Pixie suit".

A recreator in WWII and Post WWII-era gear...
Introduced in July 1943 as a replacement for previous assorted uniforms and oilskin clothing worn by the Tank crew to keep warm and dry. Commonly known as a tank suit or Pixie suit it was a one-piece coverall that is lined with a removable hood. They were made to fit loosely and a normal battle dress could be worn underneath in extreme cold and a vest with shorts in warmer weather. The tank suit was made of a very heavy cotton in khaki colour with 2 full length zips from neck to ankle for easy access and brace straps to hold up the suit when arms were removed for heavy work like track bashing.
This suit can be used by post-WWII soldiers as these two men of the 8th King's Royal Irish Hussars in Korea with a picture of the racehorse "Alycidon", after whom they have named their Centurion tank.
These uniforms could be good for empire tankers of the same period, as this Canadian soldier shows in his Pixie suit standing atop a stalled tank amid flooding in the Netherlands, in 1945.
The M1942 Royal Tank Corps (RTC) beret -  British tankers were the first to wear the beret in British service as a uniform item. Its origins date back to 1922 when the Colonel Commandant of the RTC, General Sir Hugh Elles, recommended the adoption of a headdress similar in form to that worn by French troops of the 70th Chasseurs Alpins whom he had observed training with the Tank Corps in 1918. Approved in 1924 the black beret was a very practical item when worn within the close confines of the tank. The beret, over time, attained a near 'elite' status, as it was subsequently adopted by other 'specialist' branches of the Service, notably airborne troops, SAS, Army and Royal Marine Commandos.
The other head choice is the RTC Helmet with the wireless set headset over it. The wireless “cans” set is a Bakelite headset with a rigid headpiece, adjustable earpieces and web straps. Similar in shape to the dispatch rider’s and Mk III Airborne helmets, the three differ only in their liners. The RAC helmet used the same type of liner as the Mk II general service helmet.

British Tank Commander #1
From Alpine Miniatures
Figure set No #35296 
1/35th scale
The figure comes with two different head choices.
Sculpture by Taesung Harmms
Boxart by Dr. Jin Kim
The first figure of the British Tank Commander is seen sitting on top of the turret of his tank with his elbow resting on the cupola hatch while the other holds the RT comms device in his right hand. You can see some of the details here in bare resin as the kit comes (albeit unassembled).
Looking from directly in front, you can see more of the sculpting details afforded by its creator Taesung Harmms on this figure. The woollen ribbed collar underneath his pixie suit, the pencil holders underneath the pocket are visible. While the layers of the suit, the badge on his beret, the folds in his thick pants and the seams on his pixie suit.
When you look at the figure painted, this time by the very talented Dr. Jin Kim, you see even more detail pop out. The collar sports the wool lining, with a harness of straps sewn into the garment. Even the wrinkling in the leather shoes that might not be seen inside the tank all stands out.
Viewed from the rear, you can see the stitching on the Pixie suit (which got its name from the large detachable hood based on the name for the hooded toddler garment popular in the early 1950s) is very evident, the thick seams sewn into the heavy-duty cotton canvas as well as the pockets in the legs and the button up tabs on the bottom of the legs. Every detail is replicated very well...
You can see he fits on to to the cupola of a Sherman very well here. He sure looks the part...

British Tank Commander #2
From Alpine Miniatures
Figure set No #35297 
1/35th scale
The figure comes with two different head choices.
Sculpture by Taesung Harmms
Boxart by Dr. Jin Kim
The second commander in this selection is also sculpted by Taesung Harmms, and as you can see by the constructed, but unpainted version, the RTC Helmet with the wireless set headset underneath it. The 3/4 body of this figure will sit on a pedestal underneath the turret so he sits with his elbows rested on the turret roof. Leaning forward as you would in body language, his face is notably different to his comrade, with more of a pointed and angular nose and chin than his other tanker.
You can see with the second headgear choice inset between these two tankers the black RTC beret again. The hands of this man are not holding anything but are clasped, with his ribbed woollen gloves a treat to paint no doubt. 
Seen below painted up by the box artist Dr. Jin Kim, you can see both head choices a pretty similar comparison, and I can't tell you which I like better to be honest. The hard helmeted version is with the R/T cans and the beret is more of a non-operational tanker with his cans on. One might think he would be more of a tanker in a stationary tank or at the rear. A smart choice to offer the modeller.
The more introverted body language offers a counterpoint to his comrade, while the stitching, folds in the canvas suit and the details of his face, his rolled scarf and the stitching in his gear is just as impressive.
Here he is sitting in the roof of his Cromwell looking all the image of a British tanker fighting both the Jerries and the winter during WWII. I do think he could be used as a 1950's-era cold-war tanker also.

British Tank Commander Set (2 figures)
From Alpine Miniatures
Figure set No #35298 
1/35th scale
The figure set of two figures comes with two different head choices each.
Sculpture by Taesung Harmms
Boxart by Dr. Jin Kim
These tankers are also sold as a set at a slightly cheaper price for your own squadron. They do suit each other in look and equipment so they can be used in the same diorama or in different scenes, it is up to you. I cannot tell which I like better, they both have some excellent qualities to them.
These two figures are sold as a set or as individuals, and they are available after March 15.

You can see more of Alpine's figures on the Alpine Miniatures website. 
FYI Postage within the US from their site is free!