Articles

Hecker&Goros - Deutschland 1939-45 U-Boot Crew (KSHG 202) _________(EXT)

 

Manufacturer Hecker&Goros
Scale 1/72
Set Code (KSHG 202)
Year Unknown
No. of Figures 4
No. of Poses 4
Additional Items None
Size Tall
Material Pewter (Zinn)
Colour Gray
Flash Level Low
Glue-ability Excellent (Super Glue Gel)
Convert-ability Difficult
Optimal Period 1939 – 1945

 

Review 

After fabulously depicting within “U-Boot Crew f. Revell U-Boot VIIC (KSHG200)” three representatives of one of the most respected and appreciated German weapon, Hecker&Goros continued to dedicate to U-Boot Waffe more 1/72 figure sets. As the sole pewter (zinn) manufacturer still working with this material, the company respects the tradition of the ancient manufacturers, issuing their figures in different scales though lists them as 1/72. Possessing a comprehensive offer on Kriegsmarine, in the true 1/72 scale there are only few Hecker&Goros sets, the above mentioned and “Deutschland 1939-45 U-Boot Crew(KSHG202)”, here reviewed, emerging as the best examples, with full content in the correct 1/72 scale, most of the others being out-of-scale and assessed as 1/70 or bigger.

Since immemorial times, people used to play and collect toy-soldiers made of different materials, but generally such products were very expensive and afforded only by the upper classes. Pewter is a metal alloy humans use to cast artefacts, dishes and other objects even from the Bronze Age and perhaps due to its price, malleability, and low melting point was selected by German manufacturers when they launched in the XIX-th century cheap zinn miniatures, practically marking the beginning of figure collecting hobby for the masses. Acknowledged for not following an universal-accepted scale, the ancestors of this activity provided minis in various sizes, the same habit being encountered at Hecker&Goros, occasionally inside the same kit, maybe in an attempt of keeping alive the old way. Certainly this is not the best approach considering in the XXI-th century figures generally respect standardised scales, diorama builders preferring miniatures with the same size and collectors also might have some restrains for obvious mixed sizes. For many decades pewter has been replaced by the hobby with the more accessible plastic, resin, and white metal, the material being appraised as dangerous for children because of its lead component, too. Nevertheless, bearing in mind the impressive number of plastic, resin and white metal makers focused on 1/72 WWII German Army issues, it is more than good having one marketing 1/72 miniatures in pewter, at least from the traditional point of view. Naturally, hobbyists must not worry about this material if they do not use to chew their models.

The first Hecker&Goros set proposed three hands for Revell’s U-Boat VIIC but “Deutschland 1939-45 U-Boot Crew” brings four, the full content of the two sets perfectly working for any U-Boat type and Kriegsmarine vessel. Likewise, they finely match from the size and gear points of view with the rest of characters made available on the matter by Revell, Warriors, CMK, and Andrea. The kit comes in a sealed transparent plastic bag attached to a piece of paper including the artwork, title, and other data. Metal figs cast as single pieces do not necessitate special shelter, so the package might be appraised as appropriate and giving the customers the chance to get a picture on what they buy since the shop. Painting guidelines ensures the artwork by introducing the four figures arranged in line, though the image itself is not of good quality.

Kriegsmarine in general and U-Boat crewmen in particular are famous for the variety of their standard clothes, for the permissive regime of dressing allowed on board as well as for their facial hair. In this regard, together with the standard items of garment issued by depots such as battledress, leather clothes, reefer jackets etc often could be seen civil ones alone or mixed with military pieces. In the right 1/72 scale it could be identified Hecker&Goros’ preoccupation for portraying crewmen in the conning tower or deck of a U-Boat sailing in Atlantic Ocean or in other cold seas. If the “U-Boot Crew f. Revell U-Boot VIIC” set puts forward figures dressed in reefer and leather deck jackets as well as foul-weather attire, this time we receive both types of standard leather jackets issued for Kriegsmarine, almost identical with those used by Kaiserliche Marine. Two seamen with M34 overseas caps have got the leather protective clothes, the jacket being the well-known Engine section type, another comes in deck leather clothes and the officer wears bordjacke and leather trousers, with the mention that his jacket was generally made of denim and occasionally of leather.

The short leather jacket and matching trousers are often recognised as engine section outfit but the same models were available for some specialised deck and bridge personnel, too. A difference between those, although not mandatory - exceptions being many times encountered, could be done by the dissimilar colours, the garment for engine section being issued in black while the one for deck and bridge crew was in gray leather. In fact Hecker&Goros painter has chosen to underline here it is about deck personnel by painting in the artwork those leather pieces of clothing in gray. One of the figures dressed like that waves two signalling flags, perhaps in the attempt to communicate something either to a vessel, U-Boat or to harbour. His comrade stays at attention, maybe waiting for new orders in front of an officer. Immediately noticed are his protective gloves, very necessary when carrying out specific tasks on the sea or in harbour. Likewise, this guy shows off with his excellent sculptured full beard and under jacket it could be seen either a scarf or a pullover.  

A deck look-out or watch officer is identified after his sou’wester hat, and indeed, he is appropriately dressed and equipped for fulfilling his duty in adverse conditions. While he did not put on the foul-weather cape, it seems the environment is not very hostile yet. He wears the leather attire for deck personnel formed by a double–breasted three-quarter-length reefer jacket and leather trousers, under the sou’wester hat being visible the waterproof toque. On chest he holds with both hands the 10X50 binoculars and the related strap comes out perfectly carved, with some parts passing under the jacket collar. Likewise, a masterpiece in terms of accuracy and crafting is the special safety belt he worn, belt which was clipped onto mounts on the bridge, a very necessary item in heavy waters because it grant protection against a furious sea. At its turn, this figure proposes a full beard and a beautifully shaped scarf.

Possibly listening to report of the soldier at attention, the included officer adopts a very relaxed stance, with both hands crossed on the chest. He wears a bordjacke, perhaps reconditioned British denim battledress blouse model 37, this being the single captured model used on large scale by Kriegsmarine. Here the jacket is assessed like that after the shape of waist-belt and buckle as well as based on the artwork which highlights its British provenience, showing it painted in brown denim. Nevertheless, the close similitude of the German and British battledress blouse and the fact that chest pockets are hidden by officer’s arms makes a clear identification impossible, so it could be of German origins, too. Furthermore, as formerly mentioned, this jacket can be painted either as made of denim or leather and accordingly painted in brown, gray, green or black leather. Except bordjacke, the officer has got leather trousers, ankle boots, and on the head he put a peaked cap. Just like most of his subordinates, he is bearded but due to the light details of his facial hair, this can be painted either as a full or a two-day beard.

It is well-known that plenty of hobbyists focused on land scenes try finding resources either for increasing the number of soldiers or for depicting particular scenes in sets aiming at Kriegsmarine topics. These resources often contain figures wearing attire fitting to various ground units, some of them impossible to be found in the tenders dedicated to land topics. A good example on the mater lies in the engine section leather jacket, frequently encountered at various Waffen SS Panzer divisions and here we receive not one, but two figures wearing it. Of course, the soldier with flags is more intricate to use on mainland, but the one at attention is really suitable, with or without head removal, although first variant would be more advocated. For ground uses, painting in black their leather attire would be more proper as Panzer crews in case of switching their initial destination. However, some gray versions of this jacket reached Panzer troops, as well. The same applies for the jacket of the miniature with sou’wester cap but his head definitely should be replaced with one wearing something appropriate for the continent. His trousers permit painting as regular ones, not only the cut but also because the jacket covers a good part of those, especially the upper area where characteristic features make possible identification. At its turn, the jacket consents to various interpretations such as made of leather or wool of either military or civil production, the model in case being worn from Kaiser’s time till nowadays. As regards the officer, he can be enrolled without modifications in a land unit, especially Panzer while similar models of his jacket were issued in leather and quite regularly worn by armoured officers and certain NCOs. Except leather trousers, those can be painted as drill ones due to their larger cut. Earlier disclosed, his light beard allows depiction as a two-day one, huge number of reference images and movies showing WWII German soldiers, including Panzer troops, with such beards.

A particularity of this set is the number of bearded figures, with a single exception, all the rest getting their facial hair shaped in various models. This is a more than realistic approach while on U-Boats as well as on many Kriegsmarine vessels the beard regime and general look of the seamen was really tolerant. That approach had as straight result the apparition of army-men with facial hair and sometimes bizarrely dressed, even U-Boat commanders wearing civil or mixed attire. Anyway, it should be stressed that civil clothes were not only from personal sources, but also from captures and most important, officially delivered by Army depots to Kreigsmarine personnel. Nevertheless, this is not a characteristic of the present set, all garment items being military. Concerning beards on U-Boats, due to the poor conditions on board, including just two toilets from which one was used to store supplies, low light to preserve batteries, etc the crew let their beards grow, but normally beards were removed after missions. A counterexample comes from commander of U-515 Kplt. Werner Henke, who did not permit beards on his boat.

On the other hand, facial hair within WWII German Army ground units is a fascinating issue and in spite common perception, there exist numerous proofs undoubtedly attesting that beards, goattees and moustaches could be encountered in all units. Certainly, facial hair at land units was not a rule, but an exception. Still, it looks like there were not general regulations fully enforced regarding beards and moustaches, the decision being let at commander level. Usually, it was the custom after long marches or combats, the German soldier should have shaved off with the first occasion. Most of the time beards and moustaches were forbidden due to various problems generated by facial hair such as hygiene (lice), gas mask would not have properly worked, facial surgery interventions would have been hampered and required special procedures, and also in close combat, beards would have given the enemy something additional to pull of. However, despite those disadvantages, in some units, except the well-known Kreigsmarine case, Gebirgsjager often had beards. The situation was really serious and beside common sources of information like images and movies shot in the period, the apparition of poems and songs praising the Gebirgsjager “wild” look as well as caricatures and jokes on their beards simply highlights the dimension of the problem. Another well-known case of facial hair within WWII German Army was represented by Fallschirmjager, especially those in Mediterranean operational theatre. Even before WWII, in Italy goattees were extremely in vogue and from their Italian allies, the German Fallschirmjager adopted the fashion of goattees. The idea is supported by huge numbers of references emphasising the wide spread of facial hair at Fallschirmjager, including famous photos and documentaries showing some with goattees taking part at Gran Sasso or Monte Cassino missions.  

Nevertheless, as it has been pointed out, exceptions could be encountered in all WWII German units, information sources from the period revealing Infantry, Artillery, Luftwaffe soldiers and officers with facial hair. Another more than interesting aspect that should be strongly emphasised is that many beards, goattees, and moustaches appear trimmed, a key feature underlining both that it was not an occasional beard and the army-man in case had the necessary time and tools for shaving himself.

Likewise, if carefully studying the images of the period, especially of soldiers involved in long time operations, it will be observed that many of them are unshaved and have got short facial hair, evident even in shots taken from distance. Of course, that would have been normal, such soldiers had not time to lose with shaving and there were plenty of battles involving combat actions and missions prolonging over more days without interruption. Additionally, it is in the human nature some men to get a visible beard if not shaved daily, and definitely army-men had not always the necessary time or tools to do it, so another element for sustaining the possibility of facial hair within WWII German Army. From all the German units, the rarest soldiers with beards were Panzer and Sturmartillery troops while in case of a hit, their facial hair would have flared up extremely easy and could provoke serious injuries. Still, exceptions are known for such units, much more frequent with two-day beards although sporadically, full beards are revealed, too.

Absolutely, the above supplied information do not intend to promote the idea that within WWII German Army facial hair was a common presence, the greatest amount of references clearly showing shaved soldiers. These data wish to merely point out that exceptions were encountered more or less frequent in various land units and not restricted to the broadly acknowledged Kriegsmarine case. Modelling often aims at exceptions and not at general rule, for instance there are a lot of manufacturers supplying vehicle kits or aftermarket parts for depicting a certain WIWII German vehicle in a particular environment, though many times that one was unique or existed in few copies. The same principle should apply to 1/72 WWII German land figures, but until now no manufacturer supplied in any set a mini with beard. For this reason, the single source for acquiring such heads is Kreigsmarine figure sets, the same sets offering plenty of interesting items of clothing used by ground units, again not available in tenders dedicated to them. A Kriegsmarine figure with beard dressed in leather clothes, overall, pullover etc might be deployed as a ground unit, but best for diminishing the much too Navy appearance would be replacing the head with facial hair with one without. For this surgery there are plentiful of spare heads available in figure sets issued by Preiser, Dragon, CMKor other companies. While most of them register an impressive sculpture, it would by a shame to bin the bearded heads, those would definitely look interesting in some conversion projects involving miniatures dressed in land uniforms but with full bears and goattees. Furthermore, several such heads are ideal to portray famous WWII German characters, proper examples giving Gebirgsjaer General Julius Alfred "Papa" Ringel, General Theodor Scherer, Waffen SS Colonel Karl Ullrich, Waffen SS Colonel Hans Waldmüller,Waffen SS Major Gerhard Bremer or even the Panzer Ace Kurt Knispel – maybe the greatest tank aces of all time.

Though not doing many things, the poses seem inspired some photos of the period and are excellent for their purpose, also benefitting by the brilliant sculpture of attire, gear and body parts. Accurately shaped, clothes put forward plenty of small details such as buttons, pocket flaps, creases, straps, stitches etc. Likewise, the safety belt worn by the figure with sou’wester hat emerges as a work-of-art, where except the crisp characteristic features of the clips, there are easily distinguished the adjusting holes. The 10X50 binoculars are excellent transposed in the scale but the signaling flags, in spite folding natural, appear quite thick. Maybe the solution of casting those like that was chosen in order to prevent potential breakage, and the most exigent modellers might want to replace the flags. This can be done pretty easy for the one held in the right hand up in the air, for the other operation not being so simple, but still possible.

The overall cast of the figures is awesome, almost flash-less and without any excess of metal, the material also recording the great efforts deployed by the sculptor for achieving such highly-detailed miniatures. Of course, pewter is a metal and working with figs made of this material requires the same stages applied to white metal. The existent flash is immediately removed, of course, the next step being priming the figures otherwise paints will not easily stick and any minor touch could affect the work. After primer dries, enamel, acrylics and artistic oils will properly adhere on the material, also the artistic efforts resisting at light handling. On account these soldiers are intended to take positions on a U-Boat, bases are not supplied, but the figures stands quite good even without supplementary devices. Still, for avoiding additional worries, after settling their positions on the diorama or boat, gluing them there will be proper.

Launched in the tall side of 1/72, the four minis perfectly work with their colleagues from Hecker&Goros’ “U-Boot Crew f. Revell U-Boot VIIC” as well as with related products proposed by Revell, Warriors, CMK, and Andrea, all ideally interacting and fitting from key criteria such as size of bodies, gear, and level of sculpture. Furthermore, these submariners moved to ground units will match well near soldiers wearing temperate or winter clothes, available in great numbers in various mass production and cottage industry tenders as well as with figures dressed in Panzer uniforms.  In this regard, ideal companions give CMK, El Viejo Dragon, Preiser, Dragon, MIG Productions, and Miniaturas Alemany.  

Due to price and theme, “Deutschland 1939-45 U-Boot Crew addresses to diorama builders and collectors, but occasionally some wargamers might find in it a good solution while the miniatures are cast as single pieces, and the material works on wargaming table. Although forwarding only few true 1/72 scale figures, taking into account all the qualities of Hecker&Goros miniatures, rather we have a limited offer in the scale than none coming from this company. Likewise, bearing in mind they are made of pewter (zinn), these figures might have an increased collecting value, unpainted strongly remembering about the old way of casting toy-soldiers.    

 

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