by: Rick Cooper [ ]
Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery once famously said about Erwin Rommel that “he is by no means a superman” or at least an actor playing the part of Montgomery said it. Clearly, our friends at Dragon never got the memo or saw the movie as they have recently released a new 1/35 scale figure set of “Rommel & Staff” set somewhere in the 1942 North African desert. I’m also presuming that everyone reading this has at the very least (and probably quite a bit beyond that) a basic knowledge of who this “Rommel” character was and what he was doing standing about in the desert of North Africa so I will dispense with the history.
What we get in the standard Dragon end flap box is figure set #6723 of “Rommel & Staff; North Africa, 1942” with a photoshopped illustration with the command vehicles in the background. The set consists of two sprues of the light gray plastic, one for all the personal equipment, minus any real weapons, and another with the four figures. The small sprue is labeled “G’ and may be from a previous Gen2 release as it all looks to be very well done.
Let’s cover the small sprue first and save the best for last. The personal equipment included is really more than you will need for four staff officers, so a thumbs up to dragon for including this piece. Four helmets, with rivet detail, as well as four each of the gas mask canisters, bread bags, water bottles, gas capes, binocular cases, and knife/scabbard combinations. Add to that assorted ammo pouches as well as three stick grenades plus three different styles of holster (someone has to go without!) means that your staff should be comfortably weighted down. You also have two P-08 pistols and one pair of binoculars for long range work. Light flash and minimal mold seams will make clean-up on all of these pieces a quick and simple affair.
Now, on to the brains of the outfit. The figure that will probably draw the most interest from the most people is the figure of Rommel himself. His is the figure that is….wait for it……wait for it……wait for it……..POINTING! What else does a German officer do other than point! (Clearly a graduate of the Munich School of Staff Pointing). At any rate, he is doing a great job of pointing and to help bring that out Dragon has molded the figure in a standard four limbs and a torso configuration. The leather coat looks very well done with nice definition, the back of the coat is one entire piece while the front is molded as two pieces to help define the overlap. The collar, along with the trademark checked scarf is molded as a separate piece which is pretty standard nowadays. If you paint up the leather coat and do a halfway decent job on the scarf it should define your figure as Rommel because if you were planning on relying on the head sculpt looking like Rommel, well, not so much. He is wearing the peaked cap and is given a separate blob that is supposed to represent the ever present goggles; you might want to ditch the kit pair for something else.
As to the other figures, well, like Butch Cassidy said, “who are those guys?” Hard to say for sure and Dragon isn’t telling. Cruwell, von Mellenthin, Speidel, Bayerlin, von Thoma, Nehring, you pick your favorites and go with it. They all cut fine figures, all in the conventional parts breakdown of four limbs, head and torso. Besides Rommel there is one other figure with a full length coat in the same three parts plus collar breakdown as the Rommel figure. The other full length coat is the more standard cloth, and as such has a bit more definition in the form of folds and draping than the leather version which is as it should be. The awards, insignia, and decorations that each of the figures sport are also well done and should paint up nicely.
The figure sprue also includes three other binoculars; however, these are not quite as well defined on my sample as the example on the other sprue is. Also, included is the map board and another pair of solidly molded goggles (I would toss’em). The head sculpts are all adequate, save one which has molded on glasses. I had hoped that concept had gone out years ago but Dragon thought they could pull it off on this guy. It didn’t work last century and it still doesn’t work today, so you will need/want to replace at least one head.
The nice thing about all of the figures is that the mold lines appear easy to cleanup and the flash is virtually non-existent as you would expect with a new molding. One last piece to the kit, a small paper map with a sticky back side for the bespectacled figure to hold onto. Dragon has included a couple of pieces of plastic to mount the map onto but it looks like it might give it a bit too much thickness, even for an acetate covered and backed style map. Oddly enough it appears to be a map of central Africa; perhaps that is where they were heading next which helps to explain Rommel’s pointing!
A few small issues with the lack of clear goggles or photo etched glasses are fairly minor and shouldn’t hurt the popularity of this kit. This should be a well received set of figures and with the release of the AEC command vehicle even more so. Perhaps Dragon will be doing “Greif” in the near future? Finally, I don’t want to start a flame war over who was the better general, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the Viscount is rolling in his grave wondering when the set of “Montgomery and Staff” will be released!