Articles

Dragon - 3 Fallschirmjäger Div. & Pz.VI KingTiger – Ardennes 1944 Part 1 (DN7361) _________(BRF)

Manufacturer

Dragon

Scale

1/72

Set Code

ORI7201R

Year

2008

No. of Figures

4

No. of Poses

4

Additional Items

King-Tiger, Weapons, Gear, Optional Heads

Size

Tall

Material

Hard Plastic

Colour

Gray

Flash Level

Low

Glue-ability

Excellent (Polly-cement)

Convert-ability

Easy

Optimal Period

1943 – 1945

 

Review 

After many years of praying, Dragon finally decided to enter in the 1/72 figure business, scaling-down their well-known 1/35 figure sets but diverging than their taller brothers, the smaller ones received also a vehicle apprised by the manufacturer as a “bonus”.  Dragon’s figure range received the subtitle “Figure Pro” and the minis share the same high-quality details like the 1/35 correspondents, an incredible achievement proving the boundaries between the two scales do not exist anymore. Except this, the smaller figures have other advantages, too, such as less money paid, less space required in the house, the possibility of depicting more troopers in the same place as well as a full vehicle for accompanying them.

Before the Figure Pro series, coy steps were done within the 1/72 Maus and E100 kits, the company providing for both vehicles identical two soft plastic crewmen, representing practically the earliest 1/72 Dragon WWII Germans. A highly admired and valued incentive of the manufacturer is basing their figure poses after reference images, copying in deep details the true appearance of the real soldiers. Dragon goes even further, ensuring when it is the case on the figure sprue various pieces of gear or weapons revealed by those images and that cannot be achieved with those available on the separate sprues of armament and equipment.

“3rd Fallschirmjäger Divison + KingTiger Henschel Production - Ardennes 1944 - Part 1” represented the first standard figure set issued in the scale by Dragon, showing the manufacturer’s intentions in the field. As title emphasises, except the soldiers, the company ensures a vehicle that could be used as a base for the minis. Likewise, Dragon pointed out that within Figure Pro Series the accompanying vehicles should be taken as a “bonus” offered by the company. Nevertheless, the price of entire kit is a little higher, but definitely much less than if the vehicle would be purchased as an individual kit.

For both parts of their 1944 Fallschirmjäger in Ardennes the sculptor found inspiration in a well-known series of photos illustrating paratroopers mounted on a Tiger II during a break, of course in Ardennes. They smoke and chat in very relaxed poses, so for the moment the front line is a little far. Indeed, Fallschirmjäger played a major role during that campaign, as well as others, distinguishing through courage and great combat abilities. Starting in force with outstanding success in airborne missions such as Norway, Belgium, and France, bringing an important contribution to Blitzkrieg, during Crete, the campaign involving the largest number of Fallschirmjäger, in spite the final success, they had so great losses that determined Hitler to forbid similar actions. Crete marked the transformation of Fallschirmjäger into elite infantry, but even in the new role they maintain both specific weapons and attire, distinguishing in various battles in Africa, Eastern Front and Normandy but gaining a huge but well-deserved fame after Monte Cassino and Ardennes. However, isolated missions requiring airbone troops continued to be carried out by Fallschirmjägers, an excellent example representing Gran Sasso when under the command of Otto Skorzeny they succeeded to free Mussolini from captivity. Diverging from their opponents, WWII German Army had not specialized units for commando missions, but of course such tasks had to be implemented. Due to their training, the role of commando units was given to Fallschirmjäger and in Ardennes battle they had to fulfill various commando missions, under the leadership of their famous commander Otto Skorzeny. With captured vehicles, weapons and uniforms, Fallschirmjäger with excellent English knowledge had to infiltrate between American lines and to provoke panic and disorder. With some initial success, when they succeeded to establish such a hysteria between the Americans, that if the controlled soldier or officer did not know various specific American things such as who scored most points during a baseball championship could risk to be arrested or even shot, due to lack of resources the success of mission was compromised. Before drafting the plan Hitler promised much more army-men and vehicles, but most of those remained just in the promise phase. Like in other missions, the Fallschirmjäger did not take off their German uniforms and went in the missions with those below the American one. Plenty of them were captured and a large number of motion pictures show their execution although before being captured they fought in their Fallschirmjäger uniforms. Wearing enemy’s uniform it was punished by death in each army and the Fallschirmjägers knew from the very beginning that, but still they prefer to fight and die in their uniforms. Although fighting in the most difficult conditions, they do it without hate and high professionalism, being appreciated and respected by all their opponents.

Returning to Dragon’s kit after an extremely brief trip in WWII Fallschirmjäger history, a large box was created for accommodating the rich content formed by two sprues of figures, two sprues of equipment, two sprues of weapons as well as the sprues of the vehicle, decals and assembly guide. Remarkable is the inclusion of two sprues of figures, weapons, and gear so not only conversions are at home here, but also the kit furnish with plenty of highly detailed items hobbyist’s spare parts box.

The front artwork is formed by two images, one with the Paratroopers in the right corner and another central illustrating the Tiger II. The picture with the soldiers is basically the artwork used by the company for their 1/35 homologues. On the back of the box there are offered a large amount of information, both written and photos of the assembled product and how to put it together without equipment, one presenting the accurate weapons and the last featuring the figure, gear, and weapons sprue. The revealed information allows the client to make a first impression on what he is going to acquire and definitely the promoted things are really impressive. A comprehensive assembly guide is made available inside the box, giving precise instructions both on how to put together and paint the figures and the King Tiger. Likewise, marking and painting of the three companies and command vehicles of sPZAbt501 in Ardennes, to which belonged the Tiger II ridden by the Fallschirmjägers in case, is completely described, being delivered an organizational scheme, too.

As regards the Tiger II, this is the same kit as the one sold individually, featuring a lot of details and numerous marking alternatives. However, the vehicle is not targeted by the here presented review, which will stick only to the figures. Anyway, excellent reviews on Dragon’s King-Tiger Henschel Production are available on many other sites. Nevertheless, particularly for this Figure Pro kit, it should be welcomed company’s inspiration assuring the same type of vehicle as the one appearing in the original images that served as model for the sculptor. 

The figures come on two identical sprues, so except the standard poses proposed by the manufacturer, the hobbyist has at his disposal another for conversions in accordance with his references, needs, or imagination. The multi-part approach with separate busts, legs, arms, and heads as well as weapons and gear turn the set into a paradise for conversion fans and not only. Each sprue of figures includes the parts of putting together the four minis, four optional heads, one Sten Mk2, one knife, one glove, one mess-tin attached to a folded bread-bag and three Fallschirmjäger helmets, one with camouflage cloth and two with foliage nets.

Furthermore, the special sprue of weapons puts forward 4 entrenching tools, 4 shovels, 4 bayonets in sheaths, one binoculars, 4 mess-tins, 4 canteens, 4 gas mask containers, 4 gas mask containers with rolled gas cape pouches, 4 Zeltbahns, 4 bread bags, 4 gas cape pouches, 8 Kar98K ammunition pouches, 4 StG44 ammunition pouches, 4 MP40 ammunition pouches, 2 Gewehr43 ammunition pouches, 2 map cases, 1 MG gunner case, 2 pistols holsters for 9 mm P-08 Parabellum/P-38 Walther, 2 pistols holsters for 7.65 mm Walther, 1 pistol holster for 6.35 mm Sauer. Moreover, one Kar98K bandoleer for the right hand side and another for the left hand side are ensured, but those are not caught in the picture of the spue fit on the box. The explanation is simple, for other kits these bandoleers miss and Dragon photographed such a spure. Fortunately, inside the box we find these items, important here because bandoleers were specially created for Fallschirmjäger as a replacement for the classic Kar98K ammunition pouches, the manufacturer correctly included them in both sets aiming at the WWII German Paratroopers. Of note is that most Dragon items of gear are detailed on both sides even if the efforts on the inner ones would not be seen anymore after gluing the piece in positions. Likewise, the MP40 and StG44 ammunition pouches are on pairs, those for left hand side pouch having the additional small pocket stitched to the left side and the others for the right hand side pouch without small pocket.

At its turn, the sprue with equipment proposes  3 Gewehr43, 3 Kar98K, 1 MG34, 1 MG42, 2 folded and 2 opened bipods for MGs, 1 StG44, 1 MP40 with shoulder stock folded, 1 MP40 with shoulder stock opened, and a Sten Mk2, its side magazine being delivered individually next to it. In addition, on the same sprue but separately there are included 4 standard and 4 Fallschirmjäger steel helmets. 

As earlier pointed out, it is wonderful Dragon took the decision to multiply one time each sprue of figures. The same approach will be recorded for the last time in Fallschirmjäger Set 2, the subsequent Pro Figure kits unfortunately including a single sprue of figures as well as one sprue of gear and another with weapons. Moreover, these sprues completely miss in “German Panzer crew & Panther G Early – “Achtung Jabo” France 1944 (DN7363)” but of course there the Panzer crewmen had nothing to do with most of those things.

The German Paratroopers proposed in Set 1 wear the standard uniform, with Jump smock, paratrooper trousers, ankle boots and steel helmets, perfect accurate uniform matching not only the reference images that had been taken as model, but also numerous others depicting Fallschirmjäger in infantry role. An impressive achievement in terms of sculpting is the pocket of the gravity knife, here is one of the few places where we can see that characteristic feature of the paratroop trousers. Of course, fighting as infantry, many times Fallschirmjäger had worn regular trousers as well as the standard WWII German steel helmet. At least for the helmets, modelllers have at hand such a helmet, so it might be an interesting conversion adding a regular helmet to one or two paratroopers.

The parts requiring assembly nicely go in the designated positions and the poses are fantastic, extremely natural in spite doing really nothing, but it is normal to be just like that considering Dragon used authentic images as models for creating these stances. Approached standard, two troopers sit, one leans against the turret in a very natural appearance and the last stands. Except the standing guy all the rest smoke, holding the cigarettes in hands while with the other hands keep their weapons close to them. According to Dragon’s instructions two must receive Sten Mk2, one an American M1 Carbine and the last should hold an MG42. Putting them like that it is advisable particularly considering that different weapons could be added by the modeller to the figures from the other spure. Furthermore, for the same minis it would be indicated at least to mix the arms and heads, as well as eventually some legs in order to complete several interesting and dissimilar poses. Certainly, for an enhanced diversity, a key contribution would bring different items of gear than those fixed on the standard poses. Transforming these soldiers into ones involved in combat would be quite tricky, particularly the seated minis, but still there are many possibilities and roles for them, not just tank riders. In addition, aiming at conversions, useful are not just Dragon, but also Preiser body parts, weapons and gear, principally on account that this company lists some items uncovered by Dragon and extremely suitable for Fallschirmjäger such as FG42, PzB54, MG ammunition boxes, hand grenades, flash-lights, the larger type of gas-mask containers, M34, M43, and officer visor caps. Definitely, the sprues of weapons and gear proposed by the two manufacturers are complementary and very close in terms of size and level of details. To those could be added the one proposed by Caesar, a little less detailed but including unique items like binoculars case.  

The small details are amazingly sharp for Braille Scale, almost the same as those available on the similar 1/35 figures, and this refers both to details on minis and separate equipment. Attire comes perfect sculptured with authentic shapes, creases, and specific features such as stitches and gravity knife pocket. Anatomy fully respects the normal proportions of the human body except the optional bare heads which emerge a hair over-scaled, but it should be emphasised that the heads designed for receiving helmets are truly in scale. For this reason, advisable would be using the bare heads for conversions on larger figures such as Italeri or Plastic Soldier and in case the modeller wants to emplace a bare head on Dragon Fallschirmjäger, then Preiser heads are ideal in this purpose. Facial details are brilliant modelled with outstanding expressions put in valour by incredibly carved eyes, eye-brows, noses, mouths, ears, and hair-cuts. Fingers are all in place and physically correct grab objects or bend as holding cigarettes that miss because of moulding reasons. Nevertheless, it is quite easy to emplace scratch-built cigarettes between their fingers, the most facile would be those made of melted hard plastic sprue. Gear and weapons are eye-catching, with plenty of small details like straps, buttons, buckles and a special remark must be done concerning Fallschirmjäger helmets. Most of mass-production manufacturers failed to correctly depict this kind of helmet, but Dragon passed over the modelling difficulties of this helmet, achieving the most accurate ones both in terms of shape and size.

As a hard plastic product, everything is durable bond with standard modelling glue (polly-cement) and the material superbly accommodates and retains even after intense handling hobbyist’s painting job, no matter if that is done with enamel, acrylics or artistic oils. Likewise, casting is irreproachable, the product arriving almost flash-less and the multi-part construction hampered the appearance of any excess of plastic.

WWII German paratroopers benefitted by the attention of several mass-production and cottage industry representatives, Preiser, ESCI, Orion, Italeri, Caesar, Zvezda, CMK, and  MIG Productions giving their attempts on those legendary troopers. Dragon’s teder certainly match quite well some of those in terms of size but by far overcomes most concerning level of details, casting, and accuracy. Perhaps the most indicated to accompany them would be Zvezda’s product and obviously, the best companions are their comrades from Part 2, also smoking and riding the tank. In fact, those figures continue the rest of troopers featured by the same reference images used for creating both Parts. Additionally, Pegasus Hobbies is going to launch soon some sets on Fallschirmjäger that might forward excellent colleagues for the Dragon’s ones.

Though not in combat stances, Dragon’s WWII German Paratroopers depict in a brilliant manner the true image of those heroic units whose courage and comrade spirit is still admired nowadays. Corroborating the army-men from the two Parts it can be achieved a most attractive Tiger II ridden by excellent figures, fully switching reality into the 1/72 scale. Moreover, it should be taken into account not only the second sprue of minis opening the gates for conversions, but also the immense quantity of spare weapons and gear put forward by the four sprues supplied in this regard. Mainly designed for diorama builders and collectors, the quality and the numerous resources proposed might sound very tempting for some wargamers, too.    

Hardly waited by fans, the arrival of Dragon in the field of 1/72 WWII Germans was done with style and force, fully revealing the huge potential of the company as well as its immense resources, demonstrated also within the next sets of Figure Pro series that propose some of the best 1/72 figures available on the market. Scaled-down copies of the 1/35 acclaimed Dragon range, the 1/72 minis come with all the fine details featured by their larger brothers, so an extraordinary accomplishment for Braille Scale.

 

Historical Accuracy

10

Anatomy

10

Poses Quality

10

Details Quality

10

Mould Quality

10

Sculpture

10

Recommendation/Utility

10

Reviewer’s Opinion

10