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Retrokit FR - German tank crew on the vehicle (72818) _________(EXT)

 

Manufacturer Retrokit FR
Scale 1/72
Set Code R72818
Year Unknown
No. of Figures 4
No. of Poses 4
Additional Items None
Size Medium
Material Resin
Colour Light Green
Flash Level Low
Glue-ability Excellent (Super Glue Gel)
Convert-ability Difficult
Optimal Period 1941 – 1945

 

Review 

After depicting anAfrika Korps tank crew, relaxed”, the regular continental Panzer troops came into the attention of Retrokit who has issued this time the crew on the vehicle and has increased the number of figures from three to four. Although two of them are not full figures, one missing the ankles and feet and another being just a bust that is still a step forward. However, the new crew also might be taken as relaxed, during a shot break while their poses better fit on a stopped vehicle than one marching at full speed. All of them excellent can take positions on a Panzer or other armoured vehicle with hatches and in some extent could depict the crew of a moving vehicle at a low speed. At is well-known, most of WWII German Panzers had a crew of five, but the kit portrays only four, leading to the conclusion that the driver is in its location driving or preparing to start the engine. In fact, the poses better evoke a crew set for rest or ready to enter in the vehicle and move on their way. No matter what they are going to do, definitely the poses are extremely well achieved, very suitable for a Panzer crew and it seems the sculptor has got inspiration from reference images.

Except the realistic stances, the kit proposes also something appealing in terms of Panzer attire, respectively theM41 HBT Panzer tunic, worn here by the two full figures. Trousers miss the large pocket on the left thigh, so those may be assessed as regular Panzer or first pattern HBT Panzer trousers but not M41 HBT Panzer trousers.  Entered in service in 1941 as a substitute of the first version of HBT Panzer uniform, the tunic was easily recognized after its large front pocket on the left side. Provided in reed green or mouse gray colours for Panzer units and feldgrau for Sturm Artillery, both trousers and tunic could record various camouflage patterns, belonging both to Wehrmacht and Waffen SS. Created for summer as a replacement of the classical black wool Panzer wrapper as well as for working purposes, the attire was sometimes worn in cold periods, over the standard Panzer uniform. Supplied at the beginning only to Wehrmacht units, due to its advantages, the M41 HBT Panzer uniform was valued by Waffen SS and saw service together with those soldiers, too.

Figures wearing such items of garment were hard to find in the 1/72 scale, for a very long period ESCI’s Panzer IV Ausf. G kit ensuring the single figure dressed like that. Luckily, during the last years, several offers have started to reach the market, and except Retrokit’s set, Dragon in “German Panzer crew & Panther G Early – “Achtung Jabo” France 1944”, CMK in “German armourers for Tiger I” and Orion in “German Panzer Crew - Set 4” offered troopers wearing the M41 HBT Panzer uniform.

German tank crew on the vehicle” comes in stores packed in a small sealed plastic bag, without artwork, only a sticker including the title, name and little other information. The content is fully revealed by its package, two slots, each incorporating the parts necessary to assemble two figures. There is no guidance for putting together the minis, but how to do it is pretty clear while the parts for each figure are grouped. The operation goes smooth, parts fitting in their locations very fine and implies just arms assembly, modeller’s only care being how to fit the arms in normal positions at shoulders. Obviously, the perfect adhesive for resin is superglue gel while it makes a strong liaison between the pieces and grants few seconds for further readjustments.

Except the two figures dressed in M41 HBT Panzer uniform, we also get one in the standard Panzer uniform and another which seems wearing an overall, the identification being a little difficult bearing in mind that is put on a bust, only a small part being visible. The mix of attire is fully compatible with the general appearance of a Panzer crew and the present one looks like being designed for warm periods, on account of the rolled up sleeves of one of its members as well as the unbuttoned up uniforms of all of them. Likewise, Normandy or other Late War summer fronts are possible destinations for the crew while three members have M43 caps.

The small bust wearing overall and M43 cap should be placed only in a hatch and depending of the tank, he can occupy various positions within the crew. If the driver is already at his post, perhaps this soldier is appropriate for the other lower hull hatch, as a radio operator preparing to get in/out of his place. With the right hand he tries finding something in the chest pocket, maybe the pack of cigarettes or other things. Nevertheless, the bust might find other hatches, either in the turret or on the left or right side turret hatches in case he is allocated to a Panzer IV. Nevertheless, for preventing accidental falls in the vehicle, it would be proper gluing the figure to the hatch boarder.

The other mini clearly designed for a hatch while he misses the end part of legs, most surely embodies the commander. Dressed in Panzer wrapper, he keeps down both arms, a little in front, as holding his balance by the hatch. Set as desired by the sculptor, a large part of the body will come out of the hatch, a realistic approach but a little more complicated to achieve while most vehicles in the scale does not feature inner devices for attaching figures to them. In this regard, for best fit, it would be proper gluing the palms and a part of the body inside the turret to the vehicle. Except his authoritarian appearance, perhaps ordering the crew to start moving, another detail will immediately capture the attention of the hobbyist. This is one of the very few figures of Braille Scale showing the complete system of radio communication device used in most cases by Panzer crews and consisting in headphones, throat microphone, and control switch housing as well as related wires. All of these are clearly represented on the figure, including the network formed by the wires, an excellent realisation in the field. The model from here is the B type and  was used since the outset of war in almost all WWII German armoured vehicles like Panzers, StuGs, self propelled guns, tank destroyers etc.

The last two figures, not only share the M41 HBT Panzer tunics, but also are full ones, with all body parts in places.  Both sitting are to be used on the vehicle and can easily assume the gunner and loader tasks or even other roles within the Panzer. The poses are extremely natural and most surely, inspired by images of the period. One of them, with M34 cap, adopts a very relaxed stance, while the other, wearing M43 cap, points something in the distance and his facial expression leave the impression that he spot something and inform his comrades about.

Rather than crew on the vehicle, the kit would have been better made reference to a crew at attention after spotting an enemy airplane, at a time they were halted for a break. All poses are extremely suitable for reproducing such a scene, the crewman pointing in the distance would have just noticed an enemy airplane and is announcing his colleagues, the commander is yelling orders to the crewmen for entering in the vehicle and run for cover, the bust is on the way of fulfilling the order while the last figure is still too surprised and had not time to react yet. So, except the brilliant Dragon’s German Panzer crew & Panther G Early – “Achtung Jabo” France 1944” depicting such a scene, diorama builders have also to consider Retrokit set for a picture portraying the reactions of a Panzer crew after spotting an enemy fighter-bombers plane, the most fearful opponent against which heavy tanks had almost no alternative than run for cover.

The set is nicely carved, the level of details on uniforms and bodies being pretty high and capable to satisfy most of the modellers. A figure wears a wrist watch, a nice touch to any mini with rolled up sleeves but not so often encountered in Braille Scale. Garment items put forward enough characteristics such as authentic creases, buttons and accurately shaped and sized front chest pocket. Although not a mistake, shoulder boards are displayed on the M41 HBT Panzer tunics here, too. In fact, all the 1/72 figures wearing this tunic, no matter their producer, come with shoulder boards. This contradicts the regulations in force, forbidding any insignia on such uniform, but many times the owner of the tunic infringed those and added shoulder boards. Anyway, the hobbyist whishing to delete them can do it in a matter of seconds.

Anatomy is really great, with normal human proportions and noteworthy facial expressions, enhanced by the open months and supported by proper eyes, eye-brows and noses. Palms benefit by in scale and finely carved fingers but a small remark should refer to the palm of the figure pointing something with it. Only after taking photos and in a very powerful light come out that the figure used at this review might miss the finger with which he pointed. In deed, it is possible and normal to do it with the entire palm as well, but there is an extremely small circle, impossible to be perceived by human eyes, attesting the finger could break during transport.

Figures record a small amount of thin film and flash while undesired material is impossible to be found here. Cast it the usual Retrokit light green resin, this is of a good quality, not easily breakable despite the small transport accident few lines above highlighted. Easily paintable with enamel, acrylics and artistic oils, the resin finely accepts any of those and succeeds keeping them as there were painted by the modeller even after serious touches.

In the medium side of 1/72, the size and garment of the crew make them perfect for using in conjunction with Warriors, Caesar, CMK’s “German armourers for Tiger I” and several ESCI Panzer troops. In some extent, they might go pretty fine also with other Panzer crews issued in the tall side of the scale by Preiser, Dragon, Orion, CMK, El Viejo Dragon, Miniaturas Alemany etc.

The fair price, lower than other resin kits, the not so fragile material, and the poses in which the crew arrives recommend the set for some wagames though the content is clearly designed for static modellers and collectors. The attractive attire and the lifelike poses, suitable for a large number of scenarios used individual or together with soldiers from other sets turn the present crew into an important option within the pretty wide range of WWII German Panzer troops produced by mass and cottage industry. 

  

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