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18Sep/180

Bolt Action British 8th Army Commonwealth Infantry

As already mentioned with the review of the Afrika Korps box, the Western Desert supplement is supported by two new infantry kits, and here is the second one, the British 8th Army Commonwealth infantry kit.

Bolt Action - British 8th Army Commonwealth Infantry

As these were prepared at the same time, we had the chance to see the 3-Ups at this year's Salute in April 2018. The Africa campaign is something special to many wargamers, especially those with relatives, who fought in that battle. The duel between Montgomery and Rommel is often connected with some kind of chivalry, a mutual respect between both opponents. Surely glorified to some degree, as war is war, but still a somewhat special part of World War 2 and therefore of special interest for many people.

Similar to the Afrika Korps box, who was released 1973 (!) by Airfix, the 8th army plastic kit was even around earlier than this, in the 1960s, so for some of the veterans in our rows, these were among the first toy soldiers they to play battles on the living room floors or kitchen tables. Thus reminding many wargamers to their first memories of this hobby.

So who was the British Eight Army? They were a field army formation of the British Army and fought in the Mediterranean campaigns of Africa and Italy. They drafted units from all over the Commonwealth and (former) colonies like Australia, Canada, New Zealand and British India. The formation went the first time into action as an Army as part of Operation Crusader, in the siege of Tobruk in 1941 and their first encounter of Rommel's tank force. From August 1942 until the surrender of the Afrika Korps in May 1943 Bernard "Monty" Montgomery commanded the British Eight Army, including the second Battle of El Alamein, which was a turning point in the Western Desert Campaign. Montgomery took over command, after his predecessor William Gott was killed in an air crash.

The plastic kit by Warlord Games of the British Eight Army covers 30 miniatures for 26 GBP. It comes with bases, an instruction leaflet and a decal sheet. For this review I used a sample sprue, so I'm limited to the contents of one sprue, but that's enough to get a proper impression of the kit.

Casting of the sprue is good and is properly filled with lots and lots of parts. There are a few mould lines, but as these sprues come from the first runs, that might get better during the further production run. As this is a Commonwealth Infantry box it covers a huge amount of heads, for Indian (Sikh, Punjabi and Yusufzai) and Scottish Highlander soldiers. The former ANZAC troops can be build using the regular British helmets. And to round it up there are quite a lot of different weapons, with the Lee Enfield rifle, Thompson submachine gun, Bren gun LMG, Boys anti-tank rifle, Webley pistol and 2-inch mortar in each sprue.

Bolt Action - British 8th Army Commonwealth Infantry Bolt Action - British 8th Army Commonwealth Infantry

We have six bodies to start with. The laying down pose has similar to the German one, two different right legs for a bit more variety. There is one kneeling position and four upright standing, walking or running poses.

Bolt Action - British 8th Army Commonwealth Infantry Bolt Action - British 8th Army Commonwealth Infantry

The laying down body is for the special weapons. You can choose from Bren gun LMG, Boys anti-tank rifle and the 2-inch mortar, similar to the Perry Miniatures kit.

Bolt Action - British 8th Army Commonwealth Infantry Bolt Action - British 8th Army Commonwealth Infantry

The NCO receives a pistol and whistle, with the two others carrying rifles and one with a pick-axe in his right hand.

Bolt Action - British 8th Army Commonwealth Infantry Bolt Action - British 8th Army Commonwealth Infantry

Another Bren gun LMG and Thompson SMG for the two remaining 8th army soldiers.

Bolt Action - British 8th Army Commonwealth Infantry Bolt Action - British 8th Army Commonwealth Infantry

As mentioned earlier in this review, there are a lot of different heads to choose from. A total of 25 (the 4 times 6 seen in this picture and a head with an officers cap). I tried to use as many different heads as possible to show you how the different head gears work with the miniatures.

Bolt Action - British 8th Army Commonwealth Infantry Bolt Action - British 8th Army Commonwealth Infantry Bolt Action - British 8th Army Commonwealth Infantry

The last step is the personal equipment of the soldiers, covering the back packs and some additional gear.

Bolt Action - British 8th Army Commonwealth Infantry Bolt Action - British 8th Army Commonwealth Infantry

Of course with this kit, the comparison with the other 8th army plastic kit, done by Perry Miniatures, is of special interest. You can see both are 28mm scale, but with quite different proportions. Warlord goes for Bolt Action with the heroic scale and the Perrys keep their range in true scale. And just see the difference in size / length of the boys anti-tank rifle.

Bolt Action - British 8th Army Commonwealth Infantry Bolt Action - British 8th Army Commonwealth Infantry Bolt Action - British 8th Army Commonwealth Infantry

And the assembled 8th army soldiers split into the British gear and those of the Commonwealth troops.

Bolt Action - British 8th Army Commonwealth Infantry Bolt Action - British 8th Army Commonwealth Infantry
Bolt Action - British 8th Army Commonwealth Infantry Bolt Action - British 8th Army Commonwealth Infantry

Conclusion
Similar to the Afrika Korps boxed set, this kit would have to withstand the high expectations and the competition. On weapon options this kit is on the eye level with the Perrys. Head options are more diverse for the Commonwealth troops but lack the SAS heads that the Perrys include. The rolled up sleeves would be a good source to convert Chindits in combination with the regular British plastic infantry kit. As are the heads of the Sikh heads for British Indian troops for Konflikt 47. Unfortunately Warlord does not offer any SAS heads to convert these into LRDG (yet).

Other than that, it is a well-made kit with a lot of options. Due to the smaller range of British plastic kits (you have the rather old Infantry and Commando kit, the Airborne and this one, which are not very modular with eachother due to the uniform), there are not that many parts inter-changeable, beside the heads. If you're not clearly a fan of one of the scales, true or heroic scale, the choice between the Perry or the Warlord kit is more a less a matter of taste. But the Perrys are the sure price leader at 20 GBP of a kit of 38, even if you add the 9 GBP for one of the head upgrades for Sikh or Australian slouch hats, compared to the 26 GBP for 30 miniatures by Warlord Games.

Still, a proper kit and a good starting point for a Desert Army to begin with. Warlord Games offers these sprues as part of a new 8th Army starter kit along with some vehicles and weapon teams as well.

Bolt Action is a brand of Warlord Games.

The reviewed product item was provided by the manufacturer.

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