by: Pat McGrath [ ]
Originally published on:
The battle of France lasted just a little over a month and 10 days before France capitulated, the town of Dunkirk fell, on the 4th of June 1940. Before it fell, however, 140,000 French soldiers left the beaches for England to carry on the fight. Approximately 390,000 French Soldiers died during the fall of France, and over two million of the French army were taken prisoner.
This figure by SKP represents a soldier of the French Army at Dunkirk. He wears the Khaki uniform with single breasted tunic or Vareuse, and the improved Adrian Helmet. His webbing consists of the Y straps, ammo pouches and the large canteen on a separate strap. Instead of the usual puttees, he is equipped with leather leggings as worn by mounted personnel. Around the figure's neck is what seems to be a silk scarf.
I really like the little silver colored box SKP’s figures come in, it gives them the air of a luxury item which is good considering the inexpensive price. There’s a colour photo of the painted figure on the top, but as usual the box art does not do the figure any justice. Inside, the figure is packed in a ziplock bag.
Cast in a blue resin the figure consists of seven parts: the main body including legs, the head, two arms with nice deep sleeve sockets for the wrists, the hands –cast together, an ammo box and the MAS Modèle 36 bolt-action rifle. The detail on the uniform is good and what is visible of the webbing is well detailed.
I cut the pieces from the casting plugs with a razor saw and trimmed with a modelling knife. Care should be taken when trimming the plugs from the arms to ensure a correct fit, and dry fitting is in order.
I found the fitting of the arms and hands tricky. If you fit the arms first, the hands, which are cast together, are too wide to fit into the sleeve sockets. So I glued the left arm in place first then the hands and then the right arm. I don't recommend this sequence because I ended up with a gap where the left arm joined the shoulder.
In retrospect I could have drilled and pinned the arms and hands and then used a slower gel type CA glue, to help me position the arms correctly, instead of the Loctite instant type I did use. I may yet try to seperate the pieces using a debonder and try again.
The head has nice facial detail, with the helmet worn pushed back and the chinstrap under the nose. It fits perfectly into the neck hole and the hollowed out hands. Unfortunately none of the facial detail will be seen because of the figure’s pose.
The rifle is nicely cast although the barrel is so fine mine snapped off when I was removing it from the bag. The box the figure sits on is well cast with good detail although I can’t vouch for its historical accuracy as I don’t have any references on early war French boxes.
I didn't glue the figure to the box as I plan to seat him on a vehicle. I also left the large casting plug attached to the feet to hold onto while painting.
I really like this figure and applaud Skp for their choice of subject matter. It would look perfect posed next to Tamiya’s Renault UE Carrier, or as part of a larger diorama. The fit issues I partly attribute to my own impatience, though an instruction sheet showing a sequence of assembly would be good, and lugs that lock the arms in the correct position would be ideal.