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Zvezda - German Infantry 1939-1942 (6105) _________(EXT)

 

 

Manufacturer Zvezda
Scale 1/72
Set Code 6105
Year 2010
No. of Figures 10
No. of Poses 3
Additional Items Wargaming cards, bases and flags
Size Tall
Material Hard Plastic
Colour Gray
Flash Level Low
Glue-ability Excellent (Polly cement)
Conversion-ability Medium
Optimal Period 1939  - 1943

 

Review

With reference to 1/72 figures, during the last years there has been noticed the tendency that both new and long-established mass-production or cottage industry companies to start dedicating enhanced attention to WWII German Army. This is an extremely welcome approach while WWII Germans definitely play a major and essential role in the hobby, not only Russian, British, US and other Allies armies needing opponents, but also the enormous number of WWII German war technology available in the scale simply requiring personnel or troopers to accompany it

When famous manufacturers, world-wide acknowledged for their high-quality merchandise decide making steps towards WWII Germans, this is received with great joy by the massive number of collectors, fans and modellers needing such minis, the topic unquestionable emerging as the most popular in Braille Scale. In this light, Zvezda represents one of the last new comers, a company with a long tradition in the field of plastic soldiers, world-wide esteemed for the accuracy and fine sculpture of their products. Previously aiming ancient, middle-eve or Napoleonic periods, at the end of 2010 Zvezda’s WWII Soviet and German figure sets made their appearance in shops.

Packed in interesting and unusual small boxes as well as available at extremely affordable prices, the kits are a blissful combination for wargaming and static model builders, featuring except figures diverse accessories for wargamers, respectively bases, flags, cards and instructions. These sets reiterates and emphasises the thin line between the two facets of the hobby as well as that manufacturers should not find an excuse for low detailed or odd figures, merely justifying that are dedicated to wargaming. Zvezda’s range of WWII kits released under “Art of Tactic” logo comes to fully confirm that even toy soldiers officially announced as for wargaming purposes can deliver a standard of detailing on par with Preiser, Dragon, Pegasus Hobbies or other companies setting the standard in the field and intensively employed by diorama builders in their works.   

Zvezda took the decision to launch exactly in the same moment two sets on WWII Germans and according to the catalogue numbers, “German Infantry 1939-1942” (6105) might be assessed as the first one, followed by the sister set “German Machinegun MG34 with Crew 1939-42” which received registration number 6106.

Made available in the new kind of box proposed by the manufacturer for its “Art of Tactic” minis, the kit incorporates two identical sprues of figures and accessories as well as two wargaming cards and a leaflet promoting the game. An excellent front artwork depicting three German soldiers very well equipped and in attractive stances for sure sets out as a promise for great stuff inside. The image depicts the soldiers in quite similar, but not identical poses with the provided minis. The back of the box makes a comprehensive introduction on the available content as well as presenting on the right the three poses painted in a good manner and on the left all the fifth figs of the spure, this time unpainted and attached to a wargaming base, as well supplied. Likewise, the units cards and other information are illustrated, indeed perfectly describing the whole content in two languages, Russian and English. Targeting wargamers, as part of the new board game “Art of Tactic”, through their impressive fine details, the toy soldiers put forward by these Zvezda kits surely address not only to the initial group, but also to collectors and diorama builders. In fact, it might be stressed these minis have nothing to do with the common perception of wargaming figures, the extraordinary attention to details, fine anatomy and accuracy being impossible not to satisfy even the most demanding modeller. As already pointed out, since the beginning it seems Zvezda planned to address their “Art of Tactic” figures both to wargamers and static modellers builders. Acknowledging the great potential of the minis, the company posted on the left side of the box “for gamers” while the right side proudly highlighted “for modellers”. Definitely, the affirmation is fully covered and when opening the box, the viewer will remark with satisfaction an extraordinary sculpture, fine proportions of bodies, weapons and gear as well as fabulously detailed uniforms.

Each of the two identical spures takes in five figures in three poses, one base and one flag, all made of hard plastic.  Bearing in mind the main purpose of the figures, namely to portray WWII German infantry in wargames, Zvezda tried depicting the most illustrative postures adopted by such soldiers. In this regard, the manufacturer selected one standing soldier firing off his Kar98K, one marching, and a possible NCO, crouched and firing off his MP40 from shoulder. In spite ample portraying of those stances in large amounts of WWII German army sets, the present ones are a valuable add, not only for matching and supporting the other figures issued within “Art of Tactic”, but also for diorama builders due to brilliant anatomy and details.

All troopers wear M36 tunics, regular trousers, marching/jack boots and steel helmets, so very appropriate attire for the period stamped on the box, 1939 -1942. Nevertheless, these figs can be used without constraint until the end of war, similar garment continuing to be sent to units even in 1945. For sure the most suitable place for these fighters is a warm or temperate environment but the thickness of uniforms allow deployment them in cold climates, too.  Such places would be fitting particularly for the period 1941-1942 when delivering of winter cloths was long delayed due to Hitler’s idiocy. Believing the Russian war would have ended till winter had installed, he gave the dull order that no winter gear to be sent to units fighting on the Eastern front. Instead of increasing units’ moral, the stupid commandment had contrary results and murdered an enormous number of German soldiers.

All integrated figures wear “Y” straps and complex gear composed by bread bag, canteen, gas mask container with gas cape pouch attached, Zeltbahn and mess tin. Shovels are provided for both privates but omitted for the NCO and the bayonet clearly appears only at the soldier firing off the rifle while at his colleague its presence remains unclear, being hidden by the position of left arm. The NCO received a flash light hung by a tunic button and replaced the right hand ammunition pouch with a map case. All items are correctly emplaced on bodies and mess tins are set over Zeltbahn, a possible and right location. Likewise, the gas cape pouches are rolled around the gas mask containers, each secured by a single strap. At the beginning regulations enforced chest as the right place to wear the gas cape pouch and not rolled around the container for fear the straps not damaging the cape. However, in 1942 it was officially accepted, but the pouch had to be fixed to the free end of the sling, extended with that purpose. In most of the cases, reference materials recorded in the period showing back gear of German soldiers clearly attest  the items hanging all around only in accordance with regulations not, but it is not the case here.

Weaponry rests in two Kar98K and one MP40, the army-men receiving the proper ammunition pouches for their weapons. Likewise, the NCO stuck two StiHg-r 24 grenades under the belt and the same did the other soldier in combat, but who limited to a single grenade.

Poses might be tagged as quite common, both privates standing while their superior preferred adopting a crouched position. Regarding the last mentioned figure, who most probably is an NCO, maybe the sculptor wished to offer some clues on the rank, swapping the right hand ammunition pouch with a map case, adding a flashlight and not giving him shovel. With the shoulder stock opened the NCO fires off the MP40 from shoulder. One of the most widespread pose in Braille Scale is crouched soldier firing off the weapon from shoulder, but not many do it with MP40, the great majority being equipped with Kar98K.

Another extremely frequent stance, in fact a “must-have” of all sets targeting WWII German infantry in combat is standing trooper firing off Kar98K from shoulder. The stance has been included also here and certainly does not impress too much, doing it in a rigid attitude, rather matching training or firing squad purposes than combat. Still, in a trench, behind a fence, wall or other cover the figure will look pretty fine even for first line. However, as proved by a reference photo inserted on an upper side of the wargaming card, a real soldier inspired the sculptor in creating the pose.

Definitely the nicest, most useful mini proposed by this Zvezda mini-set represents the advancing trooper. As a huge number of references attests, illustrating endless rows or just few soldiers marching, the action was one of the main duties of soldiers during WWII. In spite this, the subject is poorly treated in 1/72 mass production kits, Caesar has lately started to better consider the issue and put forward few such army-men. On the other hand, Preiser dedicates two exceptional kits on the matter, “German Infantry Advancing” and “Advancing Grenadiers with MG”, both of them perfectly matching with the Zvezda figure in terms of body and gear sizes while Caesar’s ones are a little bit smaller. In a relaxed attitude, carrying his weapon on the back and holding its strap with the right hand, the trooper does not look straight but a little to the left in a very natural stance. Somehow, he reminds about an Airfix’s mini, available in “German Infantry”, but that figure belongs to the 1/76 scale and much inferior in details and stance to Zvezda’s interpretation. 

If not impressing through their stances, the figures strikes through perfect anatomy, high level of sculpture and huge amount of small details, effortlessly perceived from the first glimpse. The garment authentically reproduces both main and tiny characteristics of uniforms for the title quoted period, namely fine shaped pockets and flaps as well as collar and shoulder boards, perfect scaled buttons, stitches and natural creases. A special remark should receive the marching/jack boots, not only their profile and length are ideal, but also those include a stitched central, vertical spine to the reverse. This observation is more important when cleaning the figures of flash, the spine in case should not be confounded with flash and accidentally removed, ruining sculptor’s great effort. The element is a detail in conformity with reality, available on the large majority of the most famous WWII foot-wear but generally disregarded by 1/72 manufacturers. Bodies come out flawlessly balanced with just the right sizes of limbs, palms, and heads.  Furthermore, facial expressions are put in valour by wonderful carved noses, mouths, eyes and eye-brows. Fine in outline, the helmets of the soldiers firing off their weapons emerge a hair oversized, but this refers strictly in direct comparison with DML and Preiser separate helmets. The size of helmets is similar with the one applied by most other companies such as Pegasus Hobbies, Imex, Esci etc, but those figures are also sometimes a little taller. Anyway, nothing is disturbing at Zvezda helmets and as it has just been stated, the size is perfect compatible with the trend in the field. Likewise, gear is finely detailed, completely compatible in size and sculpture level with Preiser or DML offers, also maintaining the same proportions on all the figures issued by Zvezda. The same goes for the firing weapons, which perhaps are some of the best detailed available in the 1/72 scale.

Though cast as single pieces, excess of plastic is impossible to be found here and flash level comes in a very low amount, easy and fast removed due to the special attributes of hard plastic, additionally greatly accepting enamel and artistic oils, maintaining painter’s work even after extreme handling. Bearing in mind that a principal designation for the figures is wargaming and the need of bases of that target group, not one, but two kinds of stands are incorporated. Each mini received an individual base, but all fifth figures together with a wargaming flag might be accommodated by a common base. The option of setting the figures either on one of those bases was let to the wargamer or collector’s choice, in this regard the minis being cast with their soles on a specifically designed slot. As adverted on the front artwork, through the snap fit method the slots perfectly enters in bases, providing a stabile and powerful connection, glue being completely unnecessary. Modellers not wanting any of those bases or similar replacements will have to remove the slots from the soles. The operation is eased by hard plastic, in few minutes the slots can be eliminated and all figs keep a good balance even with no stand.

Certainly, WWII Germans dressed in M36 attire are the most often encountered presence in the 1/72 scale, a huge number of sets issued by various manufacturers depicting soldiers wearing the Early War uniform in plentiful hypostases. Considering both the garment and size of bodies, gear and weapons, the new Zvezda figures are perfectly matching and functional completing the outstanding series of minis issued by Preiser on the matter as well as DML’s 7.5cm PaK 40 w/Gun Crew + 3.7cm PaK 35/36”, El Viejo Dragon’s German Infantry Walking 1939-45”, Esci’s “German Soldiers” Airfix’s “German Infantry” (only the 1/72 poses), IMEX’ “German Troops” and Pegasus Hobbies’ “German Mortar Troops”. If wargamers are not so much disturbed by minor differences in sizes, for diorama builders the issue obviously gain more importance. Still, with some care in setting the figures, except the above pointed ones, Zvezda’s units might join smaller or higher colleagues produced by Caesar, Italeri, Atlantic, TQD Castings/Under Fire Minatures, Miniaturas Alemany etc.

On the other hand, it should be noticed and emphasised the perfect match of all Zvezda minis launched on the topic until now, not existing any difference between size of bodies, gear or weapons between them.

The stances and position of limbs certainly do not facilitate conversions, but fortunately, the hard plastic opens the gates to heads replacements or to adding different weapons and straps in order to confer enough diversity between the figures of a single set. Likewise, gear is almost complete and worn in appropriate locations and its top class recommends keeping it. For these reasons, the modeller has at hand only few items to extra affix such as binoculars, binoculars cases, flash lights or helmets if the heads have been changed with ones wearing nothing or covered by M34 or M43 caps. All such items are available in enormous quantities on separate sprues of gear and weapons included in different Preiser, Dragon and Caesar figure kits.

Zvezda’s approach to 1/72 WWII German army emerged as a nice surprise, not only the noteworthy quality, but also by the way of commercializing the series, in small boxes available at an extremely affordable price, turning them into a very appealing choice. Likewise, although the first set does not let this impression, “Art of Tactic” figs are based on reference images and the minis set out as a reliable source for attractive items, filling in major gaps in the field. In this light, already accessible on the market are MG34 in heavy role, on the best 1/72 tripod as well as a first-rate representation of 20mm FLAK 38 cannon. Moreover, the next announced kits attacks also unusual or even untouched WWII German subjects. Cheaper than a beer, Zvezda’s “Art of Tactic” stuff will definitely bring a chief contribution to the promotion of the hobby between the young kids, an introduction both in figs and assembly supported by the absence of glue. Those kits might symbolize for the new generations what Airfix sets represented for their parents. So fathers, give up to a single beer or even half of it if you take it on a terrace and make your kid and yourself a pleasure, one sprue for you and the other for your son or even daughter. At least you will remain with something lasting much more than a buzz.   

 

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