This time on Goonhammer Historicals Lupe takes another look at the extensive 12mm World War 2 line from Victrix, this time looking at the humble Sherman tank, a mainstay of the war.
I make no secret that I’ve been a huge fan of the Victrix 12m WW2 range to date, which I think is some of the best sculpting and production of miniatures in small scales full stop. The fact it’s all in hard plastic is the cherry on top, and brings the world of sub-15mm miniatures bang up to date with incredibly fine detail and huge volume for your money.
But when they announced they were releasing a M4A1 Sherman kit, I was pretty confused. You see, there are pretty big holes in the range still (they built a lot of tanks in the Second World War) and we actually already have two Sherman kits – one for the M4A3 Sherman 75mm, and one for the Sherman Firefly (the up-gunned variant with the enormous 17-pdr cannon). So a third Sherman kit, which there are still key tanks completely missing, felt like an odd choice.
Getting my hands on the kit, some of my confusion evaporated – this is a distinct and material improvement over the old kit in many ways. And yet not all of it, because there are some odd decisions at play here. Let’s dive into the kit itself, and then look at it compared to the previous ones.
The M4A1 Sherman
The only Sherman to be produced in significant numbers with a cast hull as opposed to a welded one, the M4A1 is presented in this kit in two variants. One is designed to represent the earlier version produced in 1942 and 1943 which had the standard 75mm turret gun, while the other is the later version with the larger 76mm cannon which helped it take on more armoured targets. They’ve provided not just two guns, but also two hulls, one with additional armour plates for more protection, a common feature of the later version.
This does mean however that instead of the standard complement of 6 tanks that can be built identically (or with an option on each sprue for different turrets) this is actually a pack with 3 75mm and 3 76mm Shermans. It’s an odd decision because it means that you don’t actually get enough of either to field a historical paper unit (which would have been in fives) but also it’s still a lot of tanks for smaller games.
This strange choice aside, this kit is very nice indeed. It’s smooth, crisp, with only small mould lines to clean, and lots of detail. There’s an option on every sprue for a tank commander, and the fact there are two different sculpts here means you have two different tank commander sculpts. This is a great addition, as is the nice complement of stowage you can add to the finished tank. This was one of my requests when I reviewed the earlier vehicles and it’s nice to see it as standard now.
The sculpting is, as ever, exquisite, and it is absurdly easy to assemble. I think if you wanted to do these on a production line you could probably knock one tank out every couple of minutes, which is absurd. The turret has a pin which means it doesn’t need to be glued (though the pins here are a little looser than on some other vehicles, so be careful with those turrets and their tendency to fly off with too strong a breeze).
Comparing the Kits
So how does this line up to the older kits? Well, put simply it’s a massive improvement. The casting is cleaner, the sculpting is more detailed, there are good stowage options and the build is, if anything, even easier. It also avoids the odd striations that these kits sometimes have, and there are none of the odd little dips and voids that we’ve seen on a couple of the tanks in the past – the M4A1 is absolutely pristine.
That said, the older Sherman kits still absolutely hold up. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them. They’re not as refined as this new one, but they’re still probably the best small scale miniatures depicting those variants.
The M4A3 itself is as easy to assemble as the M4A1, but the different hulls give them a very different feel, with the straight edges and sharp corners making them feel much more aggressive somehow. They have good details and a small amount of available stowage, but there are a few issues, particular slight puckering on the hulls on one side on many of the sprues, and some odd striations on the turret just above the gun mount. Despite these minor flaws they remain great kits. The Firefly is basically identical, just with a different gun and slightly different turret.
To summarise: why haven’t you bought some tiny tanks yet? You’re really running out of excuses. You can pick them up from the Victrix website. There are Nazis that need killing.
Questions, comments, suggestions? Contact@goonhammer.com or leave a comment below