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Forces of Valor - German PanzerGrenadier Regiment –Normandy 1944 (83096) _________(EXT)

 

Manufacturer Forces of Valor
Scale 1/72
Set Code 83096
Year 2005
No. of Figures 5
No. of Poses 5
Additional Items 1 check point hut; 1wooden anti-infantry obstacle; 2 barrels
Aspect Tall
Material Soft Plastic / Hard Plastic
Colour Green
Flash Level Intermediate
Glue-ability Excellent (Super-glue Gel)
Conversion-ability Difficult
Optimal Period 1943-1945

 Review   

In a period when time is very precious, some companies oriented to make available finished model kits, assembled, painted, and ready for display. However, the pre-painted 1/72 plastic figure sector is not so developed as the vehicle one, only few companies, namely Forces of Valour (FoV), Caesar, and Blitz72 offering several such sets on 1/72 WWII Germans. At all these companies the factory painting does not impress at all, for little more pretentious modellers the figures not only require cleaning of flash, but also more details and even colour changes.

As mentioned, FoV delivers two pre-painted sets on WWII Germans, the first, titled “German PanzerGrenadier Regiment–Normandy 1944”, constituting the topic of the present review, and “German SS Cavalry Division” which in spite its pompous name, puts forward a single horse with rider, the three remaining soldiers being dismounted and having nothing in common with cavalry. Likewise, except these figures, some FoV’s armoured vehicles accommodate one crewman, but those cases are really few.

The five figures designed by the company to embody Panzer Grenadiers in Normandy are accompanied by several diorama accessories, two barrels, a check point hut, and a wooden anti-infantry obstacle, generally holding barbwire. Taking into account the poses, clearly in the mist of the combat, such accessories do not find the ideal place here. Nevertheless, this is a tradition of the company and certainly most hobbyists who purchase the set will find utilizations to those extras. The barrels are not remarkable but fair and lots of anti-infantry obstacles are available in Italeri’s ”Battlefield Accessories (6049)” and ”Bunker and Accessories”, so perhaps the check point hut remains the most useful. Italeri’s “Battlefield Buildings” delivers a similar one while Hasegawa’s “Check Point” comprises another but different in shape, all those items fairly combing in a diorama.

Concerning the factory painting, the shade of the uniforms, dark green, might pass as reed green and it is quite satisfactory till the point when a smock is painted with the same colour, an unacceptable error. However, this is not the only bad  thing, extremely funny is depicted the gas cape pouch of the crouched soldier, it looks like the painters have searched a lot for finding the strangest and weirdest colour, completely inappropriate and unrealistic for WWII German Army. Moreover, helmets, gaiters, and gas mask containers are painted with the same colour spread on uniforms and all the soldiers are shinny, so if not repainting them, at least a matt varnish is recommended.

As usual at FoV, this is a multi-media kit, with accessories cast in hard plastic and figures in soft one, very close to rubber and to the material employed by Pegasus Hobbies and HaT in some of their multi-part sets. Because of the material, the weapons arrive in odd shapes, bent and the best solution for further repositions is soaking in hot water and immediately after trying to make those straight again. However, the operation is quite useless while all weapons are rather poor, both under-scaled and often with strange shapes. Based on these factors, much better would be completely replacing these with Preiser, Dragon, or Caesar offers, available in huge amount as separate items inside various figure sets. A quality, perhaps the single, of the rubber-plastic is taking super glue extremely fine, the adhesive making a very strong bond between this material and hard plastic, so placing new arsenal in the hands of the figures raises no problem.

On the other hand, an important draw-back of the rubber-plastic, maybe the most annoying, is influencing the characteristics of enamel, no matter how matt, well stirred, and shaken colours are, on the product there will get a glossy appearance. Even matt varnish spread with brush gives no result, so it seems the material is allergic to brush, the only choice for obtaining a matt and nice looking product consisting in spraying the varnish with an air-brush, the figs accompanying the present review being repainted and benefitting by such treatment. Obviously, not the same thing happens on the hard plastic accessories of the kit, the material does not cast any bad influence on enamel and might be painted and eventually varnished in the standard manner, with the clear mention that matt varnish is not necessary. Trying to take out the factory painting is much too difficult, advisable would be paining directly over it while the initial layer of paint is quite thin and does not cover the small details.

Packed in an attractive box having a front clear plastic window through which entire content can be seen, in the background there is supplied a scene of a town or village in ruin, the soldiers running between tones of debris. The manufacturer offers on the back of the box a catalogue in miniature with their 1/72 products, so the interested persons find useful information for further purchases.

Even if coming as single pieces, these toy-soldiers look like initially designed as multi-part and assembled by factory in a later stage. This representative feature brought a key contribution in achieving convincing poses, dynamic, and pleasing the eye although the arms of the crouched soldier were not put in the most proper position as well as a couple of helmets. Moreover, not only weapons but also gear seem following the same multi-part line and the result is really great, gear hanging extremely natural and in diverse positions, definitely some of the best hypostases encountered in Braille Scale WWII Germans. Accuracy of gear is more than satisfactory, only the bread bags emerging quite small and straight shaped but fortunately, most of those are hidden by equipment pieces.

Not the same thing can be said about the uniforms, it is truly hard to identify the tunics, either as M43 or camouflage smocks, both being wrongly shaped, a compete mess and as it has been already indicated, the factory painted all as regular tunics. At some figures, such as the one with MG ammunition boxes, it is clear he has the M43 tunic while the pockets are perceived but at the running soldier with MP40, nothing obstruct to view the front placquet and the specific cuffs of a camouflage smock. Still, a mistake rests in the front closure which entirely opens while in reality had the opening till the button belly, the garment item being a pull-over one. Moreover, the MG gunner’s tunic has chest pockets, it opens till the end but the cuffs are those appropriate for a smock. To the others, both due to the adopted stances or straps, a clear identification is impossible, their tunics combining elements of M43 tunics and smocks. For instance, the NCO has sleeves specific to tunics but no front pockets and his tunic buttons down, while the tunic of the crouched figure has the same characteristics but cuffs appropriate for smocks. Concerning trousers it is easier, those can be reproduced either as camouflage or regular and the footwear is suitable for the referred period, all having ankle boots and gaiters. Headgear consists in steel helmets, only one figure, perhaps the NCO, receiving M43 cap and a nice touch to this figure is keeping the helmet in front, on the right hand side.

Due to all mixtures and inadvertences at tunics, possibly best would be following the factory advance as M43 uniforms, except the running soldier with MP40 to which is mandatory painting his upper garment as camouflage smock. Another choice, maybe even better, would be depicting all tunics in camouflage, but in order to avoid complications, in a pattern suitable both for smocks and M43 tunics. Obviously, either Wehrmacht or Waffen SS camouflage schemes work on these army-men which can be perfectly placed in warm environments, though fit to temperate ones, too. An exceedingly pleasant fact is all wear the tunics loose and the shirts are neatly noticed, enhancing the naturalness of these plastic soldiers.

FOV chose to represent their Panzer Grenadiers in full action, four standing and one crouched and as previously highlighted, with few reserves most of the poses actually might be appraised as fine ones. The crouched figure fires off his rifle and was endowed with “Y” straps, bread bag, canteen, mess-tin, gas mask container with gas cape pouch rolled around, shovel and Kar98K ammo pouches. In addition, he has got on the left hip, near the shovel, a pistol holster, which is fair even if he does not embody either an officer or specialised trooper. It is known soldiers’ desire to be well armed in combat and occasionally reference images reveal riflemen armed both with Kar98K and pistols. He kneels and fires the weapon in an attractive manner, not affected by flatness as the great majority of similar poses often arrive.

The soldier dressed in camouflage smock runs holding in the right hand a MP40 and having no “Y” straps, he adjusted around the belt two ammunition pouches, bread bag, canteen, mess-tin, and shovel. His ammo pouches stay little strange while those are pushed too much on the sides and do not angle enough, but overall, the fig does not look bad. 

An attractive proposal comes from the manufacturer in terms of the MG34 team, depicting it in an unconventional manner. The standing gunner fires or prepares to fire the weapon from the hip and only MG34 could be fired from such position, eventually in semi-automatic fire mode. This is certainly an unusual pose and in the scale only Pegasus Hobbies has prepared a similar pose within “German Paratroopers”. In addition, the gunner is very correctly equipped with pistol in holster on the left hip, on the right having the MG tool kit pouch. The rest of his gear rest in bread-bag, canteen, mess-tin, shovel, and gas mask container with a gas cape pouch hanging incredibly natural. The MG itself is poor but at least is fed by the 50 round drum magazine, so the soldier has appropriate ammo for firing off his weapon, not like in quite many other sets where the gunner is in a firing pose but the weapon has no ammunition. On account its perfect accuracy and unusual stance, this figure certainly deserves a better weapon and in case using a MG from Dragon, Preiser or Caesar, attention should be paid to the ammunition, few 50 round drum magazine being available in Preiser’s “Advancing Grenadiers with MG”. Excellent 1/72 scale 7.62 mm photo-etch ammunition belts, the caliber of MG34 and MG42, are manufactured by OKB Grigorov. The finished MG gunner, as illustrated by the images enclosed in the present review, received a Dragon MG34 fed by an OKB Grigorov MG ammo belt.

The loader runs, probably rushing to bring more ammunition for the MG, and his clear identification is established based on the two 300 round MG ammunition boxes he holds. No weapon is available for him, but he has two Kar98K ammunition pouches which is fair, loaders of light MGs being endowed by KStN with rifles even if in theory they had to carry 500 rounds grouped in four drum magazines and 300 boxed rounds.  He is the most completely geared, with bread bag, canteen, mess-tin, shovel, Zeltbahn, blanket, and gas mask container but without gas cape pouch.

The section is commanded by an NCO armed with what tries to emerge as a Gewehr43, the shape and length of the weapon being wrong, but the assessment is supported by the pouches visible on the left hand side, looking like the model designated for that rifle. Separate Gewehr43 are at hand exclusively on Dragon sprues of weapons, so if having one of those kits, there is not a big issue replacing his ugly firing arm with an excellent one. The right hand side ammo pouches are not perceptible while the army-man put over them his steel helmet, wearing on the head the M43 cap. This item, corroborated with the lack of “Y” straps and the pose with the right hand up in the air urging his comrades to follow him represent clues for establishing his little higher rank. As gear, he has got bread bag, canteen, mess-tin, gas mask container with gas cape pouch, and shovel. Although officers and NCOs waving hands are in great amounts in 1/72 scale, the dynamic of the present figure proves to be very fine. 

As underlined in the first part of the review, the level of details is average and few upper garments confront with serious accuracy issues. Folds and creases are on the satisfactory side and occasionally, buttons, collar boards, gear straps, and other similar niceties are detected. In spite receiving acceptable facial details and well balanced bodies, the palms emerge quite big in comparison with the heads but not too much disturbing. Oversized palms are a common mistake at dedicated figure manufacturers, so we cannot be too severe with a company releasing only few such tenders. All these toy-soldiers are on bases but removing them from the stands is very simple, the material opposing almost no resistance to the modeling knife.

Though targeting the Late War period and perhaps one of the most famous battle which marked the course of WWII, these troopers wearing specific items can easily work and collaborate not only with soldiers similarly dressed in M43 or camouflage uniforms but also with those putting on Early style items, with marching boots and M36 uniforms. Practically there are hundreds of sets on the matter, but in terms of size of bodies, namely tall ones, ideal matches would be figs from IMEX’s “German Troops”, Italeri’s “Anti Tank Teams” as well as various Zvezda, Preiser, Pegasus Hobbies, Revell, Dragon sets, and obviously, FoV’s “German SS Cavalry Division”.

Mainly addressing to people having no time to paint their models and without many pretentions in terms of painting, Fov’s “German PanzerGrenadier Regiment–Normandy 1944” has a certain value for gamers and diorama builders, both the figs and accompanying accessories can find various utilisations. With some transformations, especially weapons swapping, and of course, new painting, these toy-soldiers can get a satisfactory appearance and the poses are quite appealing and gear hang very natural. Nevertheless, the price that should be paid for taking five soldiers and few accessories is restrictive and unfortunately for many clients, they must give extra money for an unsatisfactory, quite poor, and even funny painting work.    

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