by: Russ Amott [ ]
It is a well established fact that everybody needs to eat. Sometimes meals are regularly established, and sometimes you grab a bite as and where you can. Dragon models have released a new figure set of three German soldiers getting a quick meal, with an included anti-tank gun, the 3.7cm PAK 36. This gun was designed in 1930 and through cooperative agreement with the Soviet Union was produced by the Soviets. A lightweight, quick firing 45mm gun was added by the Soviets to replace the lighter 37mm gun, with the resulting gun being adopted in 1937. The figures are dressed in winter clothing and the setting is the Eastern front in early WWII.
The kit comes in a smaller, top opening box with box art provided by Ron Volstead. Inside the box are four sprues in gray styene. One sprue holds the three figures and their kit with the other three holding parts for the PAK 36 anti tank gun.
The quality of the molding is generally good, with nice detail on the gun parts and the figures. The gun molds are older and on my sample both the 3.7cm and 45mm barrels supplied (two part barrels) are slightly warped. In fact, the entire sprue seems bent in a gentle curve. The other parts look to be fine. Complete breeches are provided for the two different guns. There are some cooling lines present but they have not affected the gun parts. The gun shield does have some ejector pin marks on the inner surface that need to be removed. One open case of ammunition is included for the 3.7cm gun. Inclusion of the 45mm barrel is a nice addition as it increases the options for the modeler.
The figures are newer and have good detail. The heads have softer detail but are still quite serviceable. Each figure is made up of two separate legs, torso, separate arms and head, plus multi-part overcoats and separate collars and hats. One figure has separate gloves to put into a pocket. A set of gloves is also provided to be placed on the ground, molded flat. For the two standing figures, this means a separate full front and lower half, and for the kneeling figure a four part lower half. This allows better detail and appearance but did cause me some difficulty in assembly. Also, there are cooling lines on the figures that have resulted in creases on the torsos. They go through the detail and will need attention to fill.
The accessories provided include open mess kits and water bottles with cups that are molded hollowed out, two bayonets/can openers, a can, loaf of bread and two spoons. The mess kits and cups could stand for a little more work to open them up more, but it is a good start. Unfortunately there is no other gear provided for the figures, so rifles, helmets and anything else they would have used will need to be sourced from the spares box.
The instructions include a paint callout with colors for GS Creos and Mr Color aqueous hobby color and Model Master enamel paint. The instructions are in foldout pamphlet style. They are of the older photograph type, showing a picture of the actual assembly, but the images are very dark and have little contrast, making them difficult to read and follow. Painting instructions for the gun are provided, and profiles of the assembled gun with the 3.7cm barrel both with and without the Stielgranate 41 HEAT charge in place are shown, along with the 4.5cm PAK 184(r). The figures are shown as cad drawings, assembled, with lines indicating placement of parts. No color paint guide is provided with them but thanks to Ron Volstead, the box art provides a good reference source to use.
The figure parts are marked A, B and C for each figure. Following what I thought to be a logical order, I assembled the legs first, and then added the lower rear section of the overcoat so I would know where to place the torso. Following this the front of the overcoat was placed. Fit was fair, but any effort to improve the fit of the torso to the legs threw off the fit of the overcoat parts. With the overcoat fit being off a bit, the arm join was expanded and left large flat areas exposed. As a result there were significant gaps to file and fill. In addition, the shoulder tabs are molded right on the joint of the torso to the front overcoat section. On the first figure there was still enough detail to see it. On the second, fit was poor enough that I ended up having to remove the blobs that were the tabs. I replaced these with small paper tabs. The second figure also needed thinning of the torso as there was too much area exposed at the arm join. I used Perfect Plastic Putty because it is water soluble. I applied it with their brand syringe as some of the points to fill were fairly narrow and to prevent smearing excess filler around.
On the kneeling figure I worked my way around from left to right. I had to let each section set a bit as they kept moving around when I tried to attach the following section. I would suggest starting with the right side first (raised knee) as this was the most difficult to position. Even the cad drawing shows the coat floating over the knee, and if it is off just a bit, it really sticks up. I ended up sanding it down considerably and extending it with a piece of paper. I lost the edge seam detail but it covered the otherwise huge gap. Also, the fit of each coat section left deep gaps and indented seams that I needed to fill. Fit of the torso to the lower half resulted in much more sanding and filling. I applied a quick coat of paint to check for gaps and holes, did some more fixing, and then did a quick paint job to check again. While there are some touch ups that are still needed, the major problems are now covered and the figures are getting into shape.
I haven't assembled the PAK 36 as of yet, but having built it in the past, it should go together well. The only problem I see with it is fixing the gun barrel. As mentioned above, this kit allows the modeler to assemble either the 3.7cm gun or the 45mm gun, and place the included Stielgranate 41 in the muzzle of the 3.7cm gun barrel.
When this kit was first announced there were many positive comments about how original it was. No one is pointing, looking through binoculars or holding a map. It was just three ordinary guys in the cold eating a quick meal. The figures are very generic and can be used in a very wide variety of settings. Having assembled the figures I still believe it is a very nice and welcome release, but one that will require effort and patience. On other kits Dragon models throws in full sprues from which only one or two parts will be used. It has always surprised me that they can be so stingy when it comes to something as simple as providing a basic weapons sprue with rifles and helmets, or a few extra cases or rounds for the gun. In this case, fit issues and lack of basic accessories (pictured in the box art) take this release from great to good.