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Zebrano - German Tank Crew, 1944 (Z72012) _________(EXT)

Manufacturer Zebrano
Scale 1/72
Set Code Z72012
Year ?
No. of Figures 4
No. of Poses 4
Additional Items None
Size Medium
Material Resin
Colour Gray
Flash Level Medium
Glue-ability Excellent (Super Glue Gel)
Convert-ability Difficult
Optimal Period 1943 – 1945 

Review 

The long list of 1/72 WWII German figure manufacturers features several producers, especially niche ones, enclosing in their catalogues one or two sets in the field. As the best sold topic, issuing at least one such set is an understandable market strategy and thanks to their effort, the offer is often enriched with fine miniatures on matters of top interest or covering existing gaps. Panzer crews sets out as a highly requested subject, bearing in mind most kit manufacturers do not supply figures within the boxes and mass-production companies do not submit enough related soldier sets in plastic. Taking profit of these fact-finings, many garage makers have oriented and succeeded to put forward attractive tenders, one such company being Zebrano which proposes a four figure resin set, representing practically their single interpretation over 1/72 WWII Germans. Nevertheless, the Byelorussian firm is better known not because of this set, but for their 1/72 Russian armour based on PST models, for their conversion kits as well as for the larger scale figurines.

Commercialised under the title “German Tank Crew 1944” inside a roomy cardboard box, the four resin troopers are one part and do not require assembly, the hobbyist having just to detach them from the slots. The poses are well animated and look like being initially multi-part and put together in the factory. It is not necessary opening the box to observe what is inside, the printed artwork gathering in a photo the entire unit.

However, due to a totally uninspired and inaccurate paint work, the miniatures do not attract too much in the supplied image that not only does an injustice to the remarkable job of the sculptor, but also provides completely wrong guidelines for painting. Although the title highlights the period 1944, the painter did not pay any attention either to this clue or to the carefully carved details available on the attire. With one exception of a light gray shirt, in the artwork all crewmen are depicted with black attire, but in reality a single figure, the one with binoculars fits to such interpretation, the rest of his comrades wearing items of clothing that had never been issued in black.

The officer, immediately spotted after the peak cap, dresses a M41 HBT Panzer wrapper according to the large breast pocket, and perhaps working trousers, assessed like that because no pockets specific to Panzer pants are visible. In the artwork both items of garment are black, but the wrapper should be reed green or mouse gray and the trousers also in various shades of green or gray. As all the entire crew, the officer has got ankle boots and no weapon though he put on the leather belt. A proper thing at his wrapper is the complete absence of collar and shoulder boards, as a working garment, the M41 HBT Panzer uniform usually not featured such insignia. However, this officer could not refrain and added the Wehrmacht eagle on the right and the Panzer Assault Badge and Wound Badge on the left side of the chest.

The sole figure suitable to be painted in the well-known Panzer black uniform wears a M43 cap and received binoculars as well as a pistol in holster. Even if most of the chest is covered by the position of the arms and hands holding the binoculars, at least a small part of the breast pocket of the M41 HBT tunic should have been noticed, so definitely the wrapper is the standard Panzer model as well as the pants due to the location and flaps of the front and rear pockets. Of course, his attire might be painted in feldgrau, in this way making him a Sturm Artillery representative.

Both soldiers implied in the activity of loading ammunition wear shirts and M41 HBT Panzer trousers, indubitably recognised after the large pocket on the left thigh and the front and rear flapped pockets. The shirts are the model with two breast pockets and with shoulder boards, but this does not raise any special issue while there are lots of reference images showing WWII German soldiers in shirts and with shoulder and even collar boards. A wide selection of colours can be introduced here as well, both in terms of pants and shirts, but under no circumstances the ones proposed by the artwork, with black trousers and one black shirt. On account what they do, it is normal to perform in shirts and the sharply modelled suspenders with braided ends added to the guy waiting to receive the projectile are certainly a nice touch. Likewise, gloves would have been a suitable accessory for the performed activity and both troopers seem wearing the five finger model but forgotten to be illustrated in the artwork, too.

Based on how the soldiers are dressed, they clear address to a warm environment, not particularly for year 1944, but also earlier. The M41 HBT uniform entered in service in 1941 while the M43 cap appeared later, so the appropriate period might be apprised 1943 to 1945. If painting the three army-men different than in the artwork, in conformity with what they dress, there is no problem for them joining both Panzer and Sturm Artillery units. Though initially issued to Wehrmacht, the M41 HBT Panzer uniform became very popular for its functionality and was worn by Waffen SS as well. On the wrapper of the soldier with binoculars there is clearly noticed the breast eagle, but if removing that detail and paint the eagle on the left arm, all the crewmembers can be allocated without any concern to an armoured vehicle in Waffen SS service.

Besides the paintwork inadvertences, the figs are also unhappy placed in the picture, better would have been to set together the two troopers in shirts that are clearly interacting, one prepared to hand over a quite nicely shaped 7.5 cm projectile to his comrade ready to get it, bending in front and reaching out the hands for grabbing the round. Not very dynamic because of the soldier that is still keeping the shell close to chest, a normal position before handing it over to his partner, the two soldiers succeed to recreate in a pretty realistic manner an extremely common and often repeated scene, loading the vehicle with ammunition being one of the main duties of an armoured vehicle crew, repeatedly caught on films an photos of the period. Likewise, the activity is fairly known in 1/72 scale, Preiser, CMK, Orion, and Miniaturas Allemany already portraying it but with figs in dissimilar stances and attire, thus Zebrano’s version emerges very valuable.

The unit can be allocated to one or more vehicles, according to the modellers’ needs and intentions, but bearing in mind the size of the projectile, which looks appropriate for a 7.5 cm cannon, Panzer IV or other vehicles armed with similar guns would be advocated. While the two guys carry out the loading activity, the other two colleagues can excellent take position in the hatches or simply stay on or near the vehicle. However, the officer looks like being designed for a hatch, with legs close that could sneak through smaller openings, and holding something around with the right hand while with the left searches for cigarettes, lighter or other things inside the breast pocket. The miniature fits for outside utilisatons, but he needs to find something, like turret or handle to keep his right palm on. Another solution might be easily applied, simply cutting his right arm and readjusting the angle for staying close to the body will provide a tanker able to occupy any position around or on the vehicle. The pose is nice and attractive, figures with hands in breast pockets scarcely being encountered in the 1/72 scale.

As regards the combatant with binoculars there are no restrictions in terms of placement, he can stay in a hatch, on the vehicle or near it. Though having nothing to do with that figure, the pose slightly remembers about the old Esci’s crewman supplied insidePanzer III, StuG, and Elephant kits. Nonetheless, Zebrano’s interpretation is superior, much more natural and detailed as well as without any excess of material. Obviously, the updated to nowadays standards mini might represent a pleasant surprise for the fans of the popular Esci old version. 

At a very close examination a couple of heads might appear a hair too big but definitely nothing disturbing, the overall anatomical proportions being correct, including the palms with very well defined fingers. Of note are the facial details with crisply carved eyes, eye-brows, noses, mouths, ears, cheeks, and chins. Hair is properly sculptured as well, not only the one of the bare-head fig but also of his comrades. Attire arrives appropriately and finely detailed, including small particulars such as buttons, pocket flaps, shoulder and collar boards etc. However, it should be acknowledged that some niceties as the pocket flaps of the Panzer trousers or the pistol holster closing strap are slightly too enhanced but this approach eases the paintwork on such tiny miniatures. In addition, few creases, particularly on a couple of pairs of trousers could have been sharper, but again, not a special problem from this.

Mould and cast are all right, the figs being delivered quite clean, with the level of flash and seam lines maintained low. Furthermore, material in excess miss and a more than pleasant surprise is the total absence of air-bubbles, being well-known resin figures, including those launched by prestigious manufacturers, often record such faults. In a certain manner, the initial multi-part tactic facilitated to obtain a greater final look even if the figs arrive on the market as one piece, factory assembled. On a resin product painting is a pleasure, not only the fine details easing the work, but also the material perfectly accommodating enamel, acrylics, and artistic oils, retaining the artistic effort without previous special treatment and in spite heavy handling.

In the medium size of the scale, these soldiers excellent interact with both shorter and taller Panzer crewmen wearing fine weather clothes and issued in plastic, resin or metal by Preiser, Orion, Dragon, Caesar, Esci/Italeri, D-Day, CMK, El Viejo Dragon etc. Eventual completions suitable for Panzer troops as pistol holsters, binoculars or map cases, available in large quantities inside numerous hard plastic sets proposed by Preiser, Dragon or Caesar, can be immediately added with cyanoacrylate which makes a very strong and reliable bond. Of course, in case owning more sets and if wanting to make conversions, the same adhesive will be utilised for heads and limbs swapping. From the factory the figures are delivered on some thick and round slots but due to the shape and neat cast, particular collectors might wish to keep them as bases. If not in that side, little attention should be paid when detaching the figs from the slots in order not to break or cut too much from the sole, most advocated being a thin, flexible, and sharp tool.

Though representing Zebrano’s single set in the field of 1/72 WWII Germans, this attempt underlines the huge potential of the company and should be praised and regarded as a very interesting and useful tender, adding to the broad inventory of Panzer troopers comrades finely sculptured and natural, as well as featuring rarer depicted items of garment in Braille Scale. On the other hand, the painter completely failed to show in the artwork the attractive combinations of clothes these crewmen dress and that in a certain manner could stimulate potential clients. Still, modellers should not be tricked by the artwork and have to consider this excellent set at its true value, appropriately and accurately finishing these first-rate soldiers, in full compliance with what they truly wear.

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