German Afrika Korps

ESCI 1:72 Scale Figure Review

German Afrika Korps, 1:72 ESCI P-206.

ESCI released the 1:72 scale German Afrika Korps in 1983, ten years after Airfix set the industry standard with its own Afrika Korps figure set. In fact, ESCI‘s figure set shows some attempts to fill the gaps in the range of its outstanding predecessor. There are engineers with anti-tank mines and flamethrowers, as well as two heavy 8 cm mortars that were previously missing. Unfortunately, this set continues a mistake that partially ruined ESCI‘s German Soldiers: all the riflemen are armed with the wrong rifle!


Figures in 11 Poses – 25 mm equal 180 cm Height

  • Officer with Pistole 08, firing (2)
  • NCO with Binoculars, signaling (2)
  • NCO with MP 40, kneeling, signaling (3)
  • NCO with MP 40, kneeling, firing (3)
  • NCO with MP 40, during morning stretching (3)
  • NCO with MP 40, running (5)
  • NCO with MP 40, throwing Stick Grenade 24 (5)
  • Engineer NCO with MP 40, carrying mine (2)
  • Engineer with Flamethrower 35, kneeling (2)
  • Mortar Team with 8 cm Heavy Mortar
    • Gunner No. 2 with 8 cm Shell at s.GrW 8 cm, standing (2)
  • Machine Gunner No. 1 with MG 34 and Drum Magazine, prone, firing
  • Schütze with Rifle 98, standing (5)
  • Schütze with Rifle 98, standing, firing (5)
  • Schütze with Rifle 98, kneeling, firing (5)
  • Schütze with Rifle 98, prone, throwing Stick Grenade 24 (3)


Good choice of subject, these German Afrika Korps miniatures are a welcome addition to the existing Afrika Korps from Airfix.

German Afrika Korps, 1:72 ESCI P-206.

Fifteen different poses, but 36 % of the figures are unfortunately worthless, because they are incorrectly armed with the obsolete Gewehr 98 rifle. It was unfortunate for ESCI, that the two sets of German infantry appeared so soon after each other, otherwise the error might have been discovered and corrected with the Afrika Korps. As it is, it took until 1989 for ESCI to finally produce German Paratroops with the standard rifle of the German Wehrmacht, the Karabiner 98k.

The set contains far too many NCOs armed with the MP 38/40 submachine gun. A possible correction is to convert some of the NCOs to Fallschirmjägers with M38 steel helmets, because the German airborne forces also armed a number of rank and file with MP 38/40 SMGs.

German Afrika Korps, 1:72 ESCI P-206.

The figures are well crafted and technically well implemented. Artistically, however, they cannot hold a candle to their outstanding comrades from Airfix. For example, the two running NCOs are modeled as amblers to avoid undercuts. In both figures, the upper body is unnaturally twisted to the left and the left arm is deliberately not placed in front of the body, where it actually belongs when the right leg is in front. Airfix has implemented the running figure pose in its Afrikakorps without such tricks, simply anatomically correctly, and the difference is obvious.

The NCO with the stick grenade 24 is throwing it like a girl, from the wrist. This tragic pose is also due to the fact that the figure is meant to come out of the mould without undercuts and as frontally as possible. All that effort just to make sure the mould line does not run over the bridge of the nose and mouth?! ESCI would have been better advised to simply eliminate such a ridiculous pose from the set, rather than cast in plastic this grandiose failure of the sculptor and his mould makers.

The folds in the clothing appear artificial and unusually symmetrical, not natural. This defect is particularly noticeable in the rolled-up sleeves, the material of which is draped around the upper arm in the form of two sausages. The M40 tropical shorts of the two standing riflemen are somehow reminiscent of corrugated iron, with semicircular, perfectly cylindrical folds on the trouser legs.

The way the tropical blouse is worn, with the sleeves rolled up, seems rather questionable. When original photos of the Afrika Korps show sleeves rolled up above the elbows, the officers and soldiers in question are only wearing the tropical shirt. This author cannot remember an occasion during his own service when the sleeves of the Bundeswehr combat jacket were rolled up. The relatively stiff material of a tropical blouse does not allow it to be rolled up multiple times.

German Afrika Korps, 1:72 ESCI P-206.

The weapons in this set are much too large, a typical ESCI error. Correcting this is almost impossible. Not even the 98 rifle can be shortened to make it usable as a 98k carbine. ESCI‘s interpretation of the 8 cm heavy mortar is a miracle of technology: naturally erect, the mortar can bear any physical force, even without a bipod. If ESCI had patented this invention back then, the company might be in business as a leading manufacturer of anti-gravity weapon systems today.

The standard cartridge pouch for three MP 40 box magazines in this set varies in size from figure to figure, and none of the NCOs has two of them. The NCO with binoculars is not carrying any ammunition at all, neither for the MP 40 nor for the Kar. 98k. He is completely unarmed, and he waves as friendly as a German tourist in Giza, who has his eyes firmly on the 18 m buffet in the resort hotel.

The machine gunner is missing a sidearm; the officer, on the other hand, carries his 08 pistol like a cowboy, in a holster on his right hip, with the handle pointed back. Instead of aiming, the machine gunner just looks at the ground apathetically. His left hand is not supporting the butt of the machine gun, as is standard practise; the man simply has not yet arrived in Africa mentally.

Noticeable mould lines need to be removed before painting. The figures we have were made from a light green plastic that is quite close to the reed green of the tropical uniform. The figures are therefore suitable for speedpainting, where the colour of the plastic is retained as the uniform colour.

ESCI‘s Afrikakorps provides a number of usable poses that can be included in Airfix‘s Afrikakorps, even if the artistic quality of the figures does not come close to that of Airfix.

German Miniatures of World-War Two