Articles

Plastic Soldier - Late War German Infantry 1943-1945 (WW2020003) _________(BRF)

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Manufacturer The Plastic Soldier Company
Scale 1/72
Set Code WW2020003
Year 2010
No. of Figures 54
No. of Poses 18
Additional Items Optional Heads
Size Tall
Material Hard Plastic
Colour Gray
Flash Level Low
Glue-ability Excellent (Polly-cement)
Convert-ability Medium
Optimal Period 1943 – 1945

 

Review 

New companies appearing on the market and targeting 1/72 WIII Germans can bring only joy to the impressive number of wargamers, collectors, and diorama builders carrying out diverse activities in the field. Of course, it is even better when the set in case surprises with something and just like this has done Plastic Soldier with their “Late War German Infantry 1943-1945”. Indeed, if not dressed in camouflage or winter attire, most of the sets in the scale refear to the smart dressed Early War troops with M36 tunics and marching/jack boots. The not so fancy Late War Germans do not benefit by too much attention from mass production companies, Caesar in “German Infantry - Late War” providing the single set on the matter. Nevertheless, figures dressed in M43 tunics and with ankle boots are available in small amounts in various other kits, but in direct comparison with the Early troops, their number is really insignificant. Issuing a Late War German Infantry tender, the manufacturer proved good knowledge of the market, of the existing gaps as well as of hobbyists’ needs.

A good set is sometimes recognised after its package and the Plastic Soldier box is perhaps one of the best, answering to many expectations. The large box accommodating the three sprues of the kit and an assembly sheet proposes as front artwork a nice image of a German unit in combat, occupying position between ruins. Most of the illustrated soldiers are going to be found inside, in close or similar stances although the central one is missing as well as any captured weapon. The back of the box prepares a pleasant surprise, reminding about the old Airfix boxes through its clear plastic window allowing the viewer to have a first contact with content. Indeed, a manufacturer has to be very confident in is product for adopting such approach and I wonder how many kits would have remained on the shop shelf if the customer had the possibility to see what was inside. Likewise, on the back there are supplied a painting guide and an example of painted soldier on both sides as well as a brief description of what the set proposes. Moreover, inside the box we receive the instructions on how to put together the minis requiring assembly and hints for better painting the plastic army-men.

As previously stated, the kit rests in three identical sprues, each accommodating the necessary parts for getting eighteen minis and some optional heads. Ten of the eighteen figures imply assembly, but the process is not complicated and does not take much time, generally referring to arms, palms and heads.

The soldiers are appropriately dressed for Late War, all wearing M43 uniforms, ankle boots with gaiters and steel helmets, most covered by camouflage cloths except the radio operator who has got an M43 cap. In addition, four of the optional heads have also M43 caps. Their uniform is suitable to be painted not only in the classical feldgrau, but also in various camouflage patterns, particularly Waffen SS pea dot.  

What distinguishes the preset set from others is the incredible level of small details available everywhere, stressing both the great knowledge on WWII German topics and the impressive sculpturing abilities. If Caesar succeeded to reproduce the adjusting holes of the “Y” straps, Plastic Soldier pushes even further the provocation, depicting not only those, but even the adjusting holes of the much smaller mess tin strap. Indeed, an unbelievable performance and that is not all, buckles are wonderful done, even if a little over-scaled, practically like the adjusting holes of the straps. However, the slight over-scaled issue should not diminish with all the outstanding effort and passion for details. Rest of gear is also remarkably carved, these troopers also featuring the late type of bread-bag, smaller than the common ones. Still, a fault is recorded at shovel display, instead of being on the left hip is on the right one, quite strange for a set depicting with high accuracy the WWII German Late War uniform and gear. Regarding weapons, as the box mentions, there are incorporated two light MG42 supported by soldiers armed with Kar98K and MP40 but amazingly is the lack of Late War personal weapons such as StG44 and  Gewehr43.                

Some poses are original, others are much known and several appear quite flat even weird, the grenade thrower definitely occupying the first position in how bizarre such a figure should be modelled. Extremely useful in the inclusion of a radio operator as well as of an advancing MG team formed by gunner and loader, easily identified after the two MG ammunition boxes held and the belt worn round the neck. The gunner keeps the MG on the right shoulder in an often depicted pose by reference images, but the folded bipod is wrongly modelled, not under the barrel as should it be, but on each side of it. The other MG team advertised by the box is in action, in the classical position with the loader feeding the weapon. Interesting poses are a crouched rifleman not firing the weapon as well as a running guy while firing off his Kar98K. The NCOs, one standing and the other crouched, are armed with MP40 and both signals something with the left hand. The crouched NCO is quite odd, the arm being extremely straight, the mini looking like having no volume. Particularly flat are also the crouched and standing soldiers firing off Kar98K. 

Related to poses, a special paragraph should receive the front-line medic or stretcher-bearer, the incentive of providing such a figure having to be highly praised and admired. The mini reiterates the proper information in term of WWII German equipment as well as full awareness of market needs. Te presence of troopers with medical knowledge was mandatory in almost each WWII German platoon, and to those should be added the specialised medical units. So, a huge number of medical personnel saw action in the field but until now such a trooper has never been portrayed, the matter emerging as one of the most serious gaps in the field of WWII Germans. Plastic Soldier is brilliant fulfilling the self-assumed task, succeeding to create an excellent medic/stretcher-bearer. In an advancing but not rushing stance, the figure received appropriate gear such as the two front medical pouches and the medical back-pack. Furthermore, his membership to a medical unit is marked by a Red Cross armband and a vest with a large version of the same cross worn over tunic. Of course, both the armband and vest must be painted white with red crosses, fact ease by the impressive abilities of the sculptor who depicted the crosses on both items as well as on the back-pack. The most common way of attesting a medical trooper was done with armband and occasionally a red cross in a white circle painted on the helmet. Nonetheless, images of the period show the white vest with huge front and back red crosses, especially worn during intense front-line activity. As highlighted, the figure is simply perfect, the only missing thing being a pistol holster, though non-combatants, such troopers were endowed by KStN with pistols. The item can be immediately added, Dragon or Preiser holsters finding an ideal place here.

What distinguish this set except the outstanding small details are the little over-scaled heads of all figures as well as the optional ones. It should be pointed out and emphasised that though in the tall side of the 1/72 scale the bodies does not suffer of gigantism, greatly matching, through others, Caesar’s “German Infantry-Late War”, Italeri, and TQD Casting figs available in various sets as well as most resin offers. This is an excellent thing because an exigent modeller can remove the original heads, replacing them with Dragon and Preiser heads available in large amounts. The big heads issue is regrettably while facial and camouflage cloths details are marvellous. However, the given heads are not so big and some modellers, especially wargamers and collectors can live with the problem.

Likewise, taking profit the product is cast in hard plastic, Dragon and Preiser gear and weapons can be utilised for conversion purposes, a highly encouraged process especially bearing in mind the set includes three sprues of similar figures. As earlier stated, gear set by producer on these troopers is wonderfully detailed, but in order to bring diversity, some items might be replaced with Dragon and Preiser stuff. Considering the size of figures, perhaps more advocated would be those made available by the first mentioned maker.

The Plastic Soldier Company has entered in force on the 1/72 WWII Germans market and has succeeded from the first attempt to impress all target groups, including the static modeller builders though the box labels that the set was created for “Gamer and Collector”. The attention granted even to the smallest detail and the extraordinary achievements in this regard are impossible not to impress any viewer. Furthermore, the set puts forward an unique trooper, namely the medic/stretcher-bearer, it is for the first time in 1/72 scale when accessories such as medical back-pack and pouches are available, so a major plus-point for the company which has already announced its intention to produce a new set aiming WWII German infantry support pack, a hardly waited tender that might cover other key gaps.

 

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