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Tracks&Troops - WW2 German Nashorn SPG crew – winter (TTF001) _________(EXT)

  

Manufacturer Tracks&Troops
Scale 1/72
Set Code TTF001
Year 2011
No. of Figures 3
No. of Poses 3
Additional Items None
Size Medium
Material Resin
Colour Gray
Flash Level Low
Glue-ability Excellent (Super Glue Gel)
Convert-ability Medium
Optimal Period 1943 - 1945

 

Review 

Tracks&Troops (T&T) is one of the most famous and well-known on-line shop, specialized not only in Braille Scale mass-production sets, but also having an immense, most surely one of the largest offer of cottage industry products, from figures and vehicles to aftermarket items, accessories and decals. Likewise, some of the T&T members also enjoy reenacting, so when the company took the decision to issue a set of figures, expectations were very high. The first set marketed under T&T logo is “WW2 German Nashorn SPG crew – winter”, a kit fully attesting the perfect knowledge of the 1/72 existing tenders as well as impressive data on WWII Germans. In fact, each and every pose, piece of garment and accessory transmit these facts, pleasing the eye of any viewer, connoisseur or not. Sculpting and casting fully match with the impressive assortment of garment selected for these minis, succeeding to create a brilliant product, covering key gaps in the field and totally catching the true appearance of the WWII German soldiers in winter.

Sd.Kfz. 164 Hornisse or Nashorn entered in service in 1943 at Kursk and it was a self-propelled gun (SPG) tank destroyer developed on the Panzer IV chassis and armed with 8.8 mm PaK 43 cannon.  It featured an open fighting compartment and had crew of four, driver, gunner, loader and vehicle commander. Bering in mind that the driver could not be seen if the hatch was closed, the T&T set limited in depicting the three soldiers from the opened fighting compartment. Issued to heavy antitank battalions such vehicles could be operated either by Panzer or Sturm Artillery crews, the same attire being worn by both troops. Practically, the only distinction is made by how the Panzer wrapper dressed by one crewman is going to be painted, black for Panzer or feldgrau for Sturm Artillery, so the modeller has to decide in which unit he wants to enrol these figures. Another option is a camouflage pattern, in this case only the Waffenfarbe of shoulder boards, partially covered here by the suspenders, establishing the unit but at 1/72 pink and red thin lines of Waffenfarbe are quite similar.

In the 1/72 scale there exist few Nashorns, launched by Revell and Dragon, all highly detailed but unfortunately, without crew. That is really annoying, particularly bearing in mind the open fighting compartment, without personnel to operate it the vehicle appears desolated. It is the merit of T&T for granting the chance of populating any of those Nashorns with a highly detailed crew, fully compatible with the vehicles. Moreover, not only Nashorns, but also many other vehicles with open fighting compartments may profit by them, the hobbyist has simply to replace the 88 mm round held by one of the figures with one appropriate for the vehicle gun in order to get a perfect winter crew. Likewise, not only guns mounted in vehicles, but also ground based ones can benefit by the services of this excellent crew. By not adding to these minis the provided weapons and gear, they can be easily turned into ideals POWs, plenty of images of the period showing WWII German prisoners dressed exactly like them, the stances also facilitating such interpretation.      

Commercialised in a small sealed plastic bag allowing viewing the content, the kit did not receive any artwork, just a small tag with the names of the set and manufacturer. The title is more than descriptive for what the figures wish to portray, the complete crewmen of a Nashorn open fighting compartment in the middle of a hash winter. The composing parts of the troopers come on three slots but no assembly guide is ensured. Nevertheless, instructions would be somehow useless, since the manufacturer solved the issue numbering with similar letters, on the slots, how the parts should be grouped. Assembly is fast and easy, in fact the modeller having to put together only the heads, arms and several items of equipment. The pieces excellent match in places and superglue gel is the most recommended adhesive for sticking resin parts.

The first winter spent on the Eastern Front was an unpleasant experience for the WWII German Army, transformed in a real tragedy with thousands of soldiers freezing to death due to inappropriate winter garment. The condition of the German soldier was even made worse after Hitler’s dull order of not sending winter equipment to the army engaged on the front in Russia, an order having as direct result the death of other thousands of army-men. Bearing in mind those fact findings as well as that the standard Early War main German winter item, M34/36 greatcoat or its variants, was totally ineffective against Russian winter with temperatures usually going to minus 30°C, the German troopers were forced to find various alternatives for avoiding freezing to death. The most common solutions rested in putting on different items of clothing one over other as well as undressing their enemies and worn their warm clothes, sometimes even without removing the Red Army symbols. Nevertheless, in desperate circumstances and for survival, other more radical alternatives were adopted, including hunting animals for tailoring fur clothes or even sacrificing animals found in German service, splitting their stomachs and entering inside in searching warm. Such things make a brief description on the disastrous and desperate situation of the German soldier on the Eastern Front, and only refer to his fight with “cold” enemy, leaving aside the numerous Red Army attacks he had to confront with. Certainly it would have been very difficult to proper perform in fight after spending few nights in a foxhole or trench, freezing in a poor M36 greatcoat.  Aware of the serious need of appropriate winter cloths, the German High Command ordered and since 1942 had entered in service various specialised winter garment items such as parkas and padded trousers, fur anoraks and caps, Luftwaffe ground personnel quilted jackets and trousers etc. On the other hand, the army standard specialised winter clothes did not put a stop to the habit of using tailor made or captured attire, plenty of times those being utilised together with the new designed items of clothing. Such situation brilliantly succeeds to catch the first T&T figure kit, where standard army attire combine with tailor made ones for recreating a most than genuine appearance of the German soldiers. 

Travelling during winter in an open fighting compartment of a vehicle that could reach 42 km/h surely was not a pleasure and most of the references shot in the period show crews of such vehicles muffled as they could do best. Special items of garment encountered in “WW2 German Nashorn SPG crew – winter” are the winter warm vest and the winter warm jacket, both made of rabbit or other small animal furs and generally worn with the fur inside for more warm as well as the standard padded trousers, item entered in service in 1942. Those trousers, often reversible came with one side white and the other mouse gray, feldgrau or with Wehrmacht or Waffen SS camouflage patterns and had separate suspenders. Nonetheless, padded trousers are pretty common in the scale, but the way of wearing them, with suspenders over jackets, making possible viewing all their details such as buttons and pockets is really uncommon in the scale in spite the fact that wearing is 100 percent correct, thousands of images attesting it. Likewise, special remarks should receive the headgear put forward here and almost impossible to find in 1/72 until now. It is about the German fur cap, headgear inspired by the Russian ushanka and the M43 cap with fur improvements, both items being also extremely popular within the WWII German Army. Last but not least, the heavy winter mittens worn by these crewmen have to be highlighted, also intensively met in reality but hard to spot in the scale. Their length is just the right one as well as thickness and the additional trigger finger featured by many models of mittens. In fact, each and every item of clothing is perfectly represented, with correct number of buttons, stitches, fur or other characteristic features. Furthermore, those clothes provide the hobbyist the chance to paint them in various colours while some others such as trousers, parka, Panzer wrapper and mittens might be depicted in numerous Wehrmacht and Waffen SS camouflage patterns. Due to their attire, is hard but not quite impossible, to deploy these soldiers in periods other than winter or early spring or late autumn. Most certainly, summer is quite a prohibitive season for them. As regards the front, the garment evokes the Eastern Front, but they would not look odd in any operational area starting with the 1943 winter.   

The first mini of concern is definitely effortlessly recognized as the loader after the 88 mm round held in hands. The projectile itself emerges as a masterpiece in the field, with a very accurate shape. The loader is dressed in parka with the hood over the steel helmet, padded trousers and the most interesting item, a winter warm vest over parka. In addition, it seems that under the helmet the army-man decided to put on a toque, a most usual practice of the WWII German soldiers during winter, toques being a wide-spread winter item, wrapping the face and neck for increased protection against freezing temperatures.  He shoes marching/jack boots and taking into account his activity, wears mittens in both hands. The vest is extremely well sculptured, buttons and stitches impressing the viewer from the first glance. Being shorter than the item below, the vest allows perceiving the bottom part of the parka and its specific two front pockets. At its turn, the parka folds a little, just to let noticed a small part of the tunic under it. The hood naturally creases on the helmet, but on the back has an unneeded snout. However, there is no problem, the undesired part can be immediately removed and the hood recovers its normal appearance.

Next reviewed crewman is perhaps the most conventional dressed, wearing Panzer wrapper and below it a wool pull-over whose collar comes out of the tunic, padded trousers with the suspenders over the tunic and he also received marching/jack boots and mittens. Not only the way of wearing trousers, but also his fur cap are of special interest. The cap itself is another perfect realization, showing very clear specific details such asfold down side ear lugs, front and back panels as well as eagle insignia. Likewise, fur is awesomely crafted, proving one more time sculptor’s impressive ability of managing on small spaces. Considering that he has no items in hands or on him as well as his pose, with arms down, he might be apprised as the Nashorn gunner. As previously stated, this is the figure who might establish if the crew belongs to Panzer or Sturm Artillery, in accordance how his tunic and its shoulder boards would be painted by the modeller. In spite the army-man does nothing, just holds down his hands, it is still an impressive mini fully suitable in a vehicle or on the ground.             

An attractive item of clothing, namely the rabbit fur winter jacket, is proposed by the third figure of the kit. Like the fur vest of his comrade, the jacket is splendid represented, buttons, shape and most important, stitches making easy its classification. Around his neck he has a scarf and trousers are worn over the jacket with the suspenders flowing around hips. Just as the others, he shoes marching/jack boots but his cap is perhaps one of the most exciting WWII German headgear in 1/72 scale, really unique. It is a winter M43 cap with fur, a standard item in the WWII German soldier/NCO winter attire. This is the single mini of the set having belt and to which it should be added personal gear and weapon, namely a pistol holster at belt and binoculars in the right hand. He clearly does not look through binoculars, perhaps he has just finished or prepare to start surveying the enemy movements. A nice touch is the manner of displaying the mittens, the army-man wearing only the left one, hand in which he holds also the right mitten. It is a more than realistic approach because with the right hand he operates the binoculars, the thickness of the mitten hampering him in accurate do it. There are no restrictions for the location of the pistol holster, WWII Germans wearing it in many places, so a lot of options at hand. Pistol was the personal weapon of both Panzer and Sturm Artillery crews, so nothing special here, but binoculars in his hand is a major clue in assessing this person as the vehicle commander. The pistol holster does not impress too much, DML or Preiser ones appearing superior, but binoculars emerge as an extremely fine piece of work.

When set in position in an open fighting compartment, no matter Nashorn or others, this crew immediately animate any vehicle, succeeding to instantly grab the attention. At the moment, all the members adopt quite still poses, which make believe they are preparing for combat and not right in the middle of it.

Reiterated several times along the present review, the level of details imposes high stakes in the field of sculpture, not only garment items being extremely detailed and accurate, including fur, creases and particular features, but also anatomy. Facial expressions are exceedingly lively, eyes, noses, moths, ears and hair being wonderful carved. Although most of them wear mittens, they still succeed to grab the objects in a more than credible manner. Encompassed by the medium side of 1/72, human natural proportions are fully respected and there are not differences between the sizes of the figures. 

The excellent mould released the minis almost flash-less and without air-bubbles and except the nose on the back of the hood, no other excess of material is discovered. Nevertheless, the multi-part advance proves one more time its advantages in creating clean figures. The resin deployed for casting the product is of prime quality, not brittle at all, in fact borrowing some attributes of plastic as being quite elastic. Concerning painting, the material raises no difficulty, offering the perfect base for enamel, acrylics and artistic oils which are nearly assimilated by the material with their initial properties. Furthermore, on resin painter’s work will resist to hash handling, long lasting in time, too. 

Concerning proper adhesive for resin, cyanoacrylate, primarily superglue gel, achieves a strong and durable bond between the parts, capable to resist at powerful shocks. Likewise, this adhesive succeeds to link on resin in the same parameters hard plastic, so a perfect occasion for adding supplementary gear and weapons to these figures. Of course, it is an optional and not mandatory operation, the minis in their standard approach really not needing extra items. Still, the best match in terms of gear size does DML followed by Preiser items, accessible in plenty kits of those companies supplying separate sprues with gear and weapons. Being created for taking place in a vehicle, no base is delivered for these crewmen, though all are standing. However, due to number of figures, material and price, the set clearly address to diorama builders and collectors, target groups that generally have nothing to do with bases and preferring to depict their toy-soldiers in natural environments than on stands. Still, these figures would appear more than great in a wargaming vehicle, too, particularly if the gamer would like to present an out of ordinary, but fully authentic crew.

Although in the medium side of 1/72, this T&T product wonderful matches not only with those in the same category, but also with larger figures. Panzer or Sturm Artillery crews dressed in winter are not so common, few offers in the field putting forward MIG Productions in “German Winter Tank Crew”, “German Winter Tank Crew At Rest” and “German Winter Artillery Crew”, Miniaturas Alemany in “German Assault Gun Crew”, and Warriors in “SS Winter Tank Crew”. From all of these, the present reviewed crew fits the best with MIG Productions and Miniaturas Alemany’s releases in the field. In addition, ideal companions, both in terms of size and unusual clothes, proposes Juweela in a complex range of sets with figures designed for winter. In addition, the vehicle of this crew might be surrounded in a wonderful manner by soldiers equipped for cold seasons, especially those from Revell’s “German Infantry” Italeri’s “German Elite Troops” and “WWII PAK 40 AT Gun with Servants”, Caesar’s “German Infantry with Winter Gear”, Esci’s “Nebelwerfer 41”, Pegasus Hobbies’ “Germans in Berlin 1945”, Warriors’ “German Grenadiers Walking Set 1 & Set 2” as well as “German Tank Riders Set 1 & Set 2”, Miniatures Alemany’s “Stug III Ausf.B with Assault Troops”, but the list of compatible comrades does not restrict to the mentioned sets.

New companies starting involving in the 1/72 WWII German figures domain are more then needed, particularly when those benefit by such specialised staff with complex knowledge and information as T&T possesses. The incentive of joining the field and the new ideas brought by the manufacturer should be much appreciated and a large part of 1/72 WWII German fans hardly wait to see new sets issued under this more than credible logo. Although including here just three minis, the diversity of winter garment proposed is really striking, no figure wearing the same clothes. In addition, most of those pieces of garment emerge as unique depictions in the scale, in spite intense use during WWII. Likewise, the attention paid even to the smallest detail as well as the ability of sculptor in recreating those increase with much the charm of the set. Certainly, T&T’s “WW2 German Nashorn SPG crew – winter” is a 2011 living proof of how many gaps are still existent in terms of 1/72 WWII Germans and how many blank spaces still wait to be covered.

 

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