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1/72 Valiant WWII German IF8 Infantry Cart (VM005)

 

It is well-known that Valiant figures, although labelled as 1/72, are in reality much taller than normal and totally inappropriate for utilisations near true 1/72 miniatures released by other companies, including those in the tall side of the scale like Italeri or Atlantic. For this reason, Valiant sets on WWII Germans are not even listed on this website, exclusively dedicated to 1/72 miniatures. 

Until now the company has made available a number of sets targeting WWII German Army, namely “Classic German Infantry 1944/45”, “Germans in Normandy 1944”, “German Paratroops”, “German Artillery Crew”, “German le FH 18 Howitzer and Crew”, and “WWII German IF8 Infantry Cart”. Cast in hard plastic and requiring some assembly, these sets do not impress through quality of poses or sculpture, being closer to gaming than static modelling standards. Still, it is regrettable Valiant has decided to launch the products in their own size, thus prohibiting 1/72 collectors to add in their collections new sets on the matter. 

Certainly the most interesting topic proposed by this maker is one appeared in 2011, “WWII German IF8 Infantry Cart” coming out as the single mass-production representation of a vehicle used to transport infantry ammunition and weapons and that could be drawn by horse, dogs, or motor vehicles as well as by one or two troopers. Obviously, the cart and accessories provided by Valiant are much over-scaled, so again completely inadequate for 1/72 fans and would not be analysed within this article. The kit encloses a soldier and a horse, both matching the dimensions of the cart but in some extent, with more or less transformations, those might be deployed in 1/72 scale.

Bearing in mind the huge variety in terms of horse sizes corroborated with the fact that in the 1/72 scale WWII German drought horses are scarcely met, the Valiant one might be successfully employed to serve in the scale, of course, embodying a tall horse breed such as Belgian or Dutch Drought, Andalusian etc. This is the cause the kit is here presented, but although incorporating a figure, because that is out of scale, the review takes into consideration only the horse and lists the present article in Accessories and not in Reviews category.  

The horse arrives split in two parts and assembly is easy but the fit does not amaze, few places requiring sanding with white putty. Anatomy of the horse looks fair and also its head, with proper eyes, nose, mouth, and mane. Harness is very accurate and with lots of details, including clearly perceived buckles and “D” rings. In fact, the here displayed harness might be assessed as one of the most complete and detailed ever encountered on a drought horse encompassed by Braillle Scale, this making even more attractive the animal for 1/72 exploitations. In addition, it proposes a rarely encountered item in Braille Scale, respectively a feed bag around the neck. As all products aiming at gaming, the horse comes on a stand but getting rid of that is a basic intervention achieevable with any modelling knife. Based on its role of pulling an IF8 cart, corroborated with the size of the vehicle, obviously the related bars that should be glued on the harness are much over-scaled for 1/72. Modellers can scratch-build either more in scale bars or traces, in case the horse will be put to pull something, a good choice representing those made of melted hard plastic sprue as shown on the here displayed model. Furthermore, hobbyists can show the horse as transporting a load formed by various ammunition boxes or other baggage, such animals being intensively used by WWII Germans. On the matter, excellent choices would be mortar or infantry gun ammunition containers, stuff available in sufficient amounts inside Preiser’s “8 cm Granatwerfer 34 in combat”, Pegasus Hobbies’ “German 75 mm le IG18 Infantry Gun with Crew” and “German Mortar Teams”.

On account the horse leader supplied by the set is too tall and big for 1/72 scale, hobbyists might try searching for alternatives in the scale. The single option virtually comes from Preiser in “WWII German Infantry riflemen with mortar, lined up”, where a horse leader is enclosed as the eighth figure of the set, but neither mentioned on the box nor shown in the artwork. He adopts an at attention stance and the right arm is shaped for holding the reins of a horse, in 1/87 scale the company providing for the same kit both the animal and the If.9 cart, but only the horse leader reached the 1/72 scale. Combining him with the Valiant horse clearly emerges as a good selection, without an annoying contrast in terms of sizes. While initially the reins where in the hand of the leader, modellers should scratch-build others, again wires from melted hard sprue saving the situation. Getting a horse leader on the move and not staying still is not extremely complicated if converting a Preiser walking soldier, associated poses are in “Advancing Grenadiers with MG 1939-1945” and “WW II German Infantry Advancing”. Surely, not just Preiser miniatures might cover the matter, various valuable figures, with minor transformations, being able to take the reins of the horse.

As regards the figure distributed by the set, as earlier pointed out, he is evidently out of 1/72 scale, not only his height but also the size of equipment and weapon being extremely big in comparison with similar parts in the true scale. Wearing Late War attire, with M43 tunic and trousers, M43 cap, and ankle boots with gaiters, he is armed with Kar98K and has as gear canteen, mess tin, gas mask container, and Kar98K ammunition pouches. Anyway, human anatomy provides an increased diversity in terms of size and some hobbyists might pass over the height issue and intend to use the figure in conjunction with other 1/72 army-men. In order to achieve proper results and avoid evident contrasts, it is mandatory changing the enormous head, gear, and weapon of this soldier. Concerning the head, ideal would be swapping with one belonging to a figure in the tall side of 1/72 such as Italeri, Zvezda, Dragon etc. Likewise, gear and the Kar98K should be completely detached and replaced with Dragon, Preiser or Caesar items from the sprues with spare parts accessible in massive quantities within different figure sets issued by those manufacturers. Setting in the appropriate locations raises no problem while both the spare parts and the Valiant mini are cast in hard plastic, so the classic polly-cement will do an excellent job, with a strong bond and no gaps between. It should be also highlighted Dragon pieces are the best in this purpose while several are a hair larger than Preiser and Caesar. Moreover, the front giant Kar98K ammunition pouches cannot be covered by correct 1/72 ones, so it is suggested hiding the place with larger pouches such as MP40 or StG44, of course replacing the rifle with the one corresponding to the pouches. The soldier featured in the below images suffered plenty of transformations, receiving an Italeri head and all gear and weapon are Dragon. However, it is quite uncertain the figure deserves all the efforts while plenty of WWII Germans are available in the same attire and despite modifications, the figure will keep looking tall and fat in comparison with other true 1/72 comrades. If some of the above described changes are carried out, this trooper, portraying a very tall one, might work hidden between others. 

Drought and pack horses are not a common presence in the 1/72 scale, the total amount of available animals being unable to satisfy the necessary of collectors, gamers, and diorama builders and also far from depicting reality, statistics revealing that 80% of the WWII German land transport was horse-drawn. The most important source for 1/72 horses forwards Revell/Preiser’s “German Artillery” with seven animals on display. In addition, sets incorporating various types of horses in service with WWII German Army, including cavalry, are Force of Valour’s "German SS Cavalry Division", HaT’s "WWII German Mounted Infantry" and "WWII German Horse Drawn Multi Purpose Vehicle", Waterloo 1815’s “WWII German Cavalry (Set 1)”, CMK’s "Wehrmacht Mounted Infantry", Modeltrans’ “Floryan Geyer 8 SS Cav.Div.”, Minaturas Alemany’s "German Field Kitchen with Soldiers", TP Models’ "Fahnenschmiedwagen Hf.1/13" and "Schwerer Feldwagen Hf.2".

The horse had a key role within WWII German Army that employed the greatest number of horses and pack animals in the history of mankind wars. According to statistical data, around 1,100,000 horses served with that army during each year of war and after 1943 the number of horses was even increased due to Allies strategic bombardments of motor vehicle factories. To such fact-finding Valiant intends to give emphasise, both the soldier and the weapons supplied for the cart characterising the Late War period. On the other hand, this horse finds its place in a scene illustrating both the Early and Late stage, its harness being universal throughout the war. Furthermore, the size variation of horse breeds makes the animal appropriate for 1/72 utilisations and as it can be noticed, its overall size does not contrast with horses issued, not just labelled, in the exact 1/72 scale. The Valiant horse definitely sets out as an option that might be considered, though paying quite a large sum of money just for the animal is an approach recommended only for most avid collectors or those despreate looking for a solution for a particular project.