Recently a friendof mine was pondering about some plans for Egyptian / Middle Eastern terrain. How useful it is for most periods betwenn the Crusades and Modern Warfare and what interesting games we could play with Bolt Action, the upcoming Black Ops ruleset, SAGA or even Song of Drums and Shakos for Napoleonic skirmishes.
So guess what... That gave me the final push towards the plastic Desert Rats by Alan and Michael Perry. The box comes with 38 figures which should more or less be enough for a Bolt Action platoon. Of course the twins made a couple of very nice metal sets in addition but for the beginning I wanted to keep things small. (frequent readers might guess that this intent has probably a rather short lifespan...)
Anyway the figures have the usual high quality of Perry miniatures. The anatomic composition is wonderful and the poses look vivid and natural. Some of the faces could have been worked out deeper but that's my usual problem with Perry plastics. They leave a lot of artistic freedom to the painter which makes it very difficult for a me to outline the facial features. All other details are worked out very well and present themselves crisp and clean.
As usual the casting quality is very good. As far as I know the Desert Rats are cast by Renedra who proves again to be a top notch company for plastic molding. Assembling the boys is rather easy. The leaflet gives vital information for the right combination of arms they seem to fit on more or less every body. The only tricky part are the helmets which have to be cut from the sprue very carefully to leave the brim undamaged.
For the start I assembled three laboratory rats to test different colour combinations. Once more I consulted skilled and helpful Mark Hargreaves whose blog 'Over open Sights' should be well known by most of you. On this very blog I saw a couple of Desert Rats in his usual splendid style and wanted to lean my humble work against his splendid pieces of art. As usual this kind fellow gave me some precious advice and I adhere to most of them:
So I used Vallejo 'Desert Yellow' as base colour for the trousers, 'German Camouflage Beige' for the webbing and 'Iraqui Sand' for the helmets. With the shirts I experimented a bit. After I read that the uniform pieces bleached out rather unevenly and that some British troops temporarily used petrol to clean their stuff I thought this could be a good chance to break the uniformity of the Desert Rats. Thus I painted the three shirts in three different shades of greyish beige colours: 'Iraqui Sand', 'Stone Grey' and 'Beige'.
Currently I'm not sure which colour to employ most. Unfortunately until now I didn't get a chance to examine some original pieces of WW2 desert uniform. My last visit of the Imperial War Museum is ages back and I don't remember the correct shape of the pieces there. But judging from my personal taste I tend to 'Iraqui Sand'. It gives a subtle shift of colours without breaking the greyish sand colour scheme.
What do you think? Which colour is most appropriate?
In case that you want to have a look at other interpretations of those Desert Rats and visit either Mark's blog (linked above) or go to Raffa 'Archiduque's gallery. He's presenting some really great figures there.