Articles

Orion - German Paratroopers (72018) _________(EXT)

 

 

Manufacturer Orion
Scale 1/72
Set Code 72018
Year 2006
No. of Figures 24
No. of Poses 12
Additional Items 2 Kettenkrad
Aspect Medium
Material Soft Plastic
Colour Brown
Flash Level High
Glue-ability Poor (Super-glue Gel)
Convert-ability Difficult
Optimal Period 1939 – 1945

 

Review

In spite several attempts of depicting Fallschirmjägers in 1/72 soft and hard plastic sets, not many manufacturers, and here can be mentioned some of the greatest names in the field like Esci, Revell, Preiser has succeeded to represent these famous units which could be found on all fronts along the entire period of WWII. Victorious or bloody airborne operations, infantry units, commando troops with accomplished mission remained in history as examples in the field, those soldiers had earned the reputation of an elite unit, respected by enemies and appreciated by the German leadership of the period.

In many parts Orion's effort overcomes some others, especially through the quality of poses from which a couple can be easily identified in reference pictures. In addition, differing from previous sets related to Fallschirmjägers, here the producer took the decision to include and one of the most used vehicles by them, namely the SdKfz. 2 kleines Kettenkraftrad (Kettenkrad).

There are provided two different sprues, each repeated one time, the first including all the 12 distinct poses while the other is designated to hold the pieces of the Kettenkrad. Such vehicles can be found in the 1/72 scale in mass production plastic kits made available by Hasegawa and Academy, but the one featured here is in soft plastic. It is delivered in nine pieces that match pretty well through the pin and hole system, but for best results and handling, it is advisable those to be fixed with Superglue gel, minus the front part which stays very fine. Except four canisters, other accessories are not given for the vehicle, but two soldiers from the figure sprue are designated to be emplaced on it, the driver and a passenger on the back seat, which theoretically, should accommodate two soldiers. According to various references, the model is pretty in scale and it also matches well with the vehicles in hard plastic of the above mentioned manufacturers, from which only Hasegawa's has a not impressive driver.

In order to proper enter in the vehicle, to the Orion's driver must be cut off a part of his legs while the other soldier designated for the Kettenkrad fits well his place, occupying both seats and leaving no room for other stuff. For saving driver's legs, it can be disposed as if he wants to mount or dismount in the vehicle. Even it is simplified, with no important details, the vehicle fair depicts the original and if it is desired, it can be improved through adding supplementary gear, weapons, ammo boxes, etc.

The vehicle comes without decals and art work of the box is quite common, featuring several Fallschirmjägers in poses that will be found inside while on the other side presents the assembling instructions for the Kettenkrad.

With reference to the figures, all are dressed in Knochensack which is the model from the first part of the war, continued to be worn by the soldiers till the end of it, jumping trousers and boots. Beneath the Knochensack, the Luftwaffe tunic is more or less visible, but at some figures the rank collar tabs are without difficulty detectable. On their heads, except the officer who has a visor cap, all the rest of the figures wear the Fallschirmjäger jumping helmet.

All possess the "Y" straps while the amount of gear varies from pose to pose. Still, there are two items encountered at all figures, namely bred bag and canteen. Gas mask containers, Zeltbahns, mess-tins and shovels without bayonet attached complete the gear of the poses in different amounts. With one exception, the rest with gas mask containers have and its additional strap around their trunks.

A specific item of the German paratroopers worn when they jumped were the knee pads, and here two figures possess these accessories. Having in mind that in general after landing, the knee pads were removed as well that after Crete, Fallschirmjäger Divisions acted more like elite infantry, the proportion of these accessories inside the set is more than proper. Likewise, an extremely pleasant thing is the fact that all the soldiers own a pistol, which according to KStN, was in the standard endowment of Fallschirmjägers, as a specialized unit.

Taking into account their cloths and gear, it can be said they are suitable for any period of WWII (minus the one with Geballte Ladung, appeared in 1943) and can embody Wehrmacht or Waffen SS Fallschirmjägers, the difference being achieved through painting specific camouflage patterns. Furthermore, the Knochensack worn by the figures may be represented and in a single colour such as various shades of gray, green or mustard, so plenty of diversity is available. The thickness of the uniforms makes possible the usage in both warm and cold seasons.

Regarding the weapons of the soldiers, these are the standard ones, used by all the German troops including the Fallschirmjägers, and consist in seven MP40, two Kar98K and one MG34. Although all have pistol holsters, only the officer holds a P-08 Parabellum in his hand. It would be nice to find in a set dedicated to Fallschirmjäger some of their specialized weapons like FG-42 made only and special for them or Eintossflammenwerfer, but it is not the case here. Each figure has the appropriate ammo pouches for his weapon and those with Kar98K wear the Patronenbandulier specific to Fallschirmjägers armed with such a rifle.

Related to poses of the figures, these are lively and fair done, the set maintaining a balanced proportion between combat and advancing soldiers. As it was earlier mentioned, from the twelve poses of the set, two are designated for the use of Kettenkrad, so only ten remain for combat purposes, which is quite a small number for a soft plastic set, particularly coming from a manufacturer well-known for the large amount of different poses that in general are comprised by a set. Except the Kettenkrad crew who is seated, seven are standing, two crouched and one prone. Most of the figures are in common poses, but several are astonishing, hardly found or even unique in 1/72 soft plastic sets related not only to Fallschirmjäger, but also to other German army units.

Absolutely, the list must be started with the soldier using his bayonet, and judging after his pose, he is preparing in silence to put an end to the life of an un-vigilant enemy sentinel. The pose is more than plausible, and emphasises the important role played by Fallschirmjäger as commando troops. His armament is completed by MP40 and is one of the figures wearing knee pads, probably he has just landed in the middle of the night and start playing his role as a quietly killing machine, fulfilling the last part of one of the Fallschirmjäger's ten commandments, "Against an open foe, fight with chivalry, but to a guerilla, extend no quarter". Due to his map case worn on the hip, it may be supposed that he is the NCO of the gruppe.

From the two advancing soldiers with MP40, one has its sources in a famous photo while the other is attention-grabbing because it has a double value, suggesting not only a soldier trying to make him as low as he can while running for cover, but also a firing one.

Another pleasant surprise prepared by Orion is the officer, distinctive in the 1/72 soft plastic area thanks to his pose, equipment and weapons. First of all, he is the only Fallschirmjäger officer in the scale wearing officer visor cap and he has in his hand the pistol, weapon issued both to officers or troopers within Fallschirmjäger units. The last special thing at this figure is his strange pose, sometimes criticized, but still interesting and even possible. The critical remarks not refer to the fact that is pretty rare to see an officer throwing a grenade, but the way how he is doing it unleash controversies. With Parabellum in the left hand and StiHg-r 24 in the other, he is preparing to throw it. The grenade it is very close to his ear and definitely his intention is not to throw very far. In motion, his right hand could reach such a bizarre pose and possibly he is near the wall of a house and wants to throw the deadly weapon inside through the window. If it is so, this would be the normal gesture and not the one encountered in almost all other sets. I really enjoy the pose, on the one hand because it depicts a Fallschirmjäger officer in close combat, and on the other hand for the special way how he is doing it. Also his gear, including Zeltbahn, bread bag, mess tin, canteen and map case emphasize the idea of a first line officer, fighting together with his troopers.

A further wealthy inclusion is the soldier with the Fu-D2 radio, intensively used by paratroopers due to the necessity of keeping contact with the base. This radio operator is in the classical crouching pose, in one hand holding the microphone and with the other pressing the speaker to better hear precious information. A similar pose is met in Revell "German Paratroopers", but the one included here is better at least because his improved device, far superior to Revell's which is a little too thin. Nevertheless, Orion's radio antenna looks short and if it is desired, it can be easily replaced. Small details like buttons and screens are featured on the radio, as well the cord of the speakers, micro and above all, it has and the straps for caring on the back.

Another standard weapon for all German armies in WWII was MG34 and the one reproduced here is on bipod with a gunner in the most frequent pose, prone while firing. No servant for the MG is offered, but the weapon is fed by a 50 rounds charger, so his absence passes unobserved.

Last figure deserving few more lines is the Fallschirmjäger throwing the grenade. Such a pose is almost permanent in 1/72 soft plastic sets, but the presented one is special due to the fact that he does not use a regular grenade, but a Geballte Ladung, weapon formed by a single Stielhandgranate 24 around which there were disposed other six Handgranate 43. Even if it was a semi-official weapon, produced in large quantities, figures with similar grenades are pretty rare in the 1/72 soft plastic, Revell being the company dedicating to it two soldiers in "German Engineers" and "German Infantry". He is in an usual stance, while throwing the Geballte Ladung he holds in the other hand the MP40. In addition, this is the only figure in the set having a spare StiHg-r 24 under his belt.

Regarding soldiers' garment, this is perfectly accurate, with fair detailed Knochensacks and trousers on which in few cases there are visible the special pockets for the knife designated to cut the parachute. As it was earlier stressed, the rank collar tabs are perceptible and can be painted in the appropriate colour, namely yellow. A drawback of the set is the helmet representation, this was sculptured a little too tall and squared, but still it can be easily identified as a specific Fallschirmjäger helmet, which also fit well by size with those met in Esci's set. Moreover, in almost all the cases, the sculptor put just the strap around the face, omitting to carve the other one from the back of the ear which was a characteristic feature of such a helmet. Nevertheless, when the figures are painted, the inconvenient is very simple remediated.

The anatomy is reasonable, still the heads appear a little to large, but the faces are expressively. Meanwhile, the hands have not impressive detailed fingers. Inequalities between size of bodies, weapons or gear at different poses do not exist, but flash is more than present at all figures, the most annoying being that along the faces, where it should be paid enhanced attention in order not to mutilate the soldiers. Excess of plastic is here too, especially in the contact zone between body and weapons. Removing is very hard, sometimes impossible, but luckily, being covered by the weapons it does not ruin the mini. Nevertheless, the one close to the barrel area is effortless eliminated, such a maneuver being highly recommended. The weapons are in scale, the finest of all being the P-08 Parabellum, followed by MP40s and on the last place the Kar98K which is less detailed and with very thick cots. The size of weapons and gear depicted in the set fit good with those included in Esci and Revell's German Paratroopers sets. Likewise, the type of the uniform is the same in all sets, adding here Preiser's "German Paratroopers, Pilots and Ground Crew" and definitely the best mass production ones dedicated to WWII Fallschirmjäger, the outstanding Dragon’s “3 Fallschirmjäger Div. & Pz.VI KingTiger – Ardennes 1944 Part 1 and Part 2” . Between all these sets committed to Fallschirmjägers, a slightly difference is encountered at bodies and heads sizes, and from this point of view the present set matches best with Esci and Revell-(minus two or three poses which are close to 1/76).

The Preiser set is the first one manufactured at 1/72 by this famous producer and fully shows this fact, the figures being a quite poor detailed mixture between 1/76 and 1/72. There are more figures matching 1/72 size, but definitely their heads and weapons must be replaced, a not complicated operation taking into account the extra heads, weapons and gear provided inside other Preiser's sets related to German Army in WWII. Nevertheless, the heads of these Fallschirmjägers will not poseess the specific helmet, but heads with M34 overseas caps, M43 caps or even bare heads are appropriate to be used. Unfortunately, the oldest but good Fallschirmjäger set comes from Airfix, but it is at 1/76 and the figures are noticeably smaller than their comrades at 1/72, so it is impossible to join the rest from the other producers on the same diorama.

All figures, except the Kettenkrad crew, are provided with bases and for those who does not want such things maybe is good to know that can be fast and unproblematic detached from the bases. The soft plastic used for to produce the set accepts very well the paint and do not give any shine to matt colours.

Orion's "German Paratroopers" strives to give a solution to one of the most delicate topics related to 1/72 German Army in WWII, but the answer is far to satisfy the exigencies. Nevertheless, the set is very useful due to its capacity to increase Fallschirmjägers' number in the scale through good figures, some in very attractive poses for the great joy of collectors, diorama fans and wargamers. In addition, the Kettenkrad could represent a major point of attraction, still it would have been better to see more poses or even a 7.5 cm recoilless gun LG 40 with crew instead of a vehicle.

 The Fallschirmjäger seemed to be cursed in this scale for a long period, until Dragon issued their first-class representation in two mass production sets, each having as bonus a King Tiger and an impressive number of separate sprues of weapons and gear. Inspired by a series of photos taken during the Ardennes offensive, the poses are designed to ride the tanks and they are very relaxed. If they are not heavily converted, Dragon’s Fallschirmjägers are not very suitable for combat poses. Both their stances and the multi-part approach might discourage some wargamers, but Pegasus Hobbies has promised two sets on the matter, with lively poses depicting this elite unit in the middle of the fight, within sets fully able to sustain the Fallschirmjäger reputation.

  

Historical Accuracy 9
Anatomy 8
Poses Quality 9
Details Quality 8
Mould Quality 7
Sculpture 7
Recommendation/Utility 10
Reviewer’s Opinion 8