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Revell - German Paratroopers (02500) _________(EXT)

 

Manufacturer Revell
Scale 1/72
Set Code 02500
Year 1989
No. of Figures 44
No. of Poses 12
Additional Items 2 Waffenhalter, 2 RZ-20 parachute (sculptured on bases)
Size Tall/Small
Material Soft Plastic
Colour Green
Flash Level High
Glue-ability Poor (Superglue Gel)
Conversion-ability Difficult
Optimal Period 1939 - 1945

Review

“German Paratroopers” represents the first set issued by Revell in the field of figures and this fact is extremely obvious, the lack of experience being ample reflected. However, the company has quickly learnt its lessons and the following sets arrived much upgraded. A big disillusion for that period was that in spite the key role played by Fallschirmjagers in WWII battles, the 1/72 scale replicas were too poor, far from their notoriety. When Revell had taken the decision to launch a 1/72 WWII German Paratrooper set, there was not any soft plastic offer on the topic, but that fact-finding does not excuse the manufacturer for the major mistakes committed. A previous release in soft plastic was done by Airfix in 1976 with their famous “German Paratroops” but that set is not counted here while it belongs to 1/76 scale. Likewise, another legendary German manufacturer, Preiser, inaugurated their 1/72 figure range with “German Paratroopers, Pilots and Ground Crew”, a hard plastic kit featuring very poor miniatures. In the same year with Revell, the Italian ESCI came with the soft plastic “German Paratroopers – Green Devils” that is much above Revell’s interpretation in terms of sculpture and anatomy. In the subsequent decades more plastic, resin, and white metal sets targeting the subject reached the market, Dragon, Zvezda, and Pegasus Hobbies, finally breaking the curse cast over 1/72 plastic FJs with their outstanding sets.  

For their deference, Revell strived approaching the topic from two perspectives, in conformity with the role of Fallschirmjager during WWII, both as paratroopers in stricto sensu and as Elite infantry, a task fulfilled particularly after Crete campaign where the heavy losses determined Hitler to forbid further large scale airborne missions except those receiving his personal authorisation. Even nowadays, Revell’s proposal stands as the most comprehensive, the following mass production sets focusing mainly on the infantry job, roughly ignoring the other side. 

Revell decided to pack the product in a side-open box, continuously multiplied for all their figure line then. Inside customers find a single large folded sprue accommodating this time 44 toy-soldiers in 12 distinct poses, two identical drop containers (Abwurfbehalter‏) and related bases as well as two similar bases with parachutes directly sculptured on those. Onto the bases should be snapped the figures releasing their chutes after landing while in the others must be arranged the Abwurfbehalters and the correspondent crouched figs, for permanent sticking being advocated super glue gel. Modellers not needing the designed stands can easily remove the pins and move the miniatures in various places, but obviously the parachute and its lines are impossible to be extracted from the base. In this light, hobbyists have at least three alternatives, to fix the trooper in its designated place, to remove just the canopy and scratch-build the lines or to use the soldier in conjunction with a parachute available in the spare box, a good choice being encountered within Airfix’s “British Paratroops”. I have implemented the last solution, with Airfix's canopy and scratch-built lines and it can be visualised in some of the images accompanying the present review.

A nice artwork makes a preview of the content, presenting in an attractive manner a vast airborne mission, in front being six paratroopers in close stances with those met inside and a part of an Abwurfbehalter. In the back-ground lots of comrades prepare to land and other two start equipping from a drop container. Although not very clear, the environment, with lots of trees looking like olive-trees strongly reminds about Crete. The soldiers wear both gray and camouflage jump smocks which is not very correct for the referred area, the gray smocks being used on the front-line only in the first months of WWII and quickly replaced with olive green and camouflage smocks. Moreover, trousers are blue-gray, replicating the same mistake of the Airfix artwork, in reality Fallschirmjager dedicated trousers should have been feldgrau. A pleasant surprise comes from the back of the box, utilised by Revell in a brilliant manner for delivering comprehensive and useful information, this good custom, introduced for the first time with WWII German Paratrooper set, following to be encountered on all their 1/72 figure sets boxes. Now hobbyists receive broad painting guidelines, two poses, one dressed in gray and the other in camouflage smock, being deployed as samples for offering clear instructions. Except the reiteration of blue-gray trousers, the rest of the indications are accurate and can be followed without hesitation. Likewise, a chart with the Revell colours recommended for painting the toy-soldiers is offered as well as the items requiring assembly, two black and white drawings showing how the final models should look like. An excellent incentive rests in supplying a size reference, an image of a figure in the true 1/72 dimensions being posted in order the clients to get a better picture related to the size of the miniatures. The manufacturer assessed as the best to fulfil such task the NCO pointing with his hand, and indeed it is the perfect choice while that soldier stands straight.  

The same sprue of figures has been redirected by Revell for their “Panther and DT Fallschirmjager” kit, the artwork illustrating the vehicle accompanied by five soldiers. Even if the portrayed FJs have close stances with the miniatures available inside, perhaps in order to better interact with the vehicle, the author painted a couple as wearing Type III jump smocks and some have got Dulkengelb helmets and tropical trousers, underlining that the action is placed in Italy, maybe having in mind the legendary Monte Cassino battle, one of the most impressive successes of WWII Fallschirmjagers. Concerning the Type III smocks, this is totally untruth while all Revell paras wear Type II smocks, so the artwork might lead in a wrong direction the buyers. Furthermore, the very early Type I boots, with their side lace system, surely neither match with the late Type III smocks nor with the tropical uniform. Even now I clearly remember that almost 20 years ago I bought the standard set and after that the kit with FJs & Panther. Although I recognised the stances in the artwork, I still purchased the kit, stupidly hoping that maybe the manufacturer made several modifications at smocks, using the same basic poses but dressing them differently, something commonly implementing by Caesar at present. I had to buy the box both because in that period information in the field and internet were almost inexistent in my country and the box could not be opened in the store. Of course, I was extremely disappointed seeing that no change or correction had been done by Revell, so from that moment I understood the policy of Revell and other manufacturers issuing similar tenders. I may say that at the end of the day, it was a useful experience.                      

The uniform worn by Revell’s paratroopers characterise the unit, respectively jump smock, nick-named “bone-sack”, trousers, jump boots and all, except the radio operator with M34 overseas cap, have got Fallschirmjager M38 helmet, a modified version of the M35 regular steel helmet but rimless and with a four point chinstrap. Five of the figures covered the helmets with camouflage cloth, but here all the heads wearing those helmets are severely affected by the mould, faces and helmets recording odd shapes. Perhaps the less ruined is the head of the trooper with parachute, for his luck he looks down, so he escaped not so damaged. Generally, under smocks was worn the blue-gray Luftwaffe Flight blouse and a small part of it is visible at these figs, too.

The WWII jump smock, designed for Fallschirmjager as a safety garment to be dressed over equipment for preventing the fouling of parachute lines, was developed in three models, the earliest, a multi-zipper “step-in” light gray smock being deployed in combat only in first months of war and then during training. Issued starting with Holland campaign, Type II was also a “step in” smock and recorded more variations in terms of colours and field converted or standard made external pockets. The first Type II missed external pockets, but later on, field converted zippered ones, followed by standard four zippered and flapped pockets, started to appear. Type II kept to be delivered until the end of war both in the earlier olive green and splinter camouflage pattern. As just mentioned, Type I and II were “step in” and similar in shape while Type III could open all and had a system of snaps allowing the bottom to be fastened around legs for forming the “shorts” when needed. According to the shape and details noticed on the Revell jump smocks, these are Type II and contrasts a little with the very Early War appearance emphasised by the footwear.

Fallschirmjager trousers were feldgrau and can be spotted in the 1/72 scale after the larger cut and the small flap of the pocket set on the right knee for the gravity knife designed to cut the parachute lines. No Revell paratrooper features that pocket, a mistake noticed in almost all prior and after Braille Scale FJ sets, so the manufacturer should not be blamed too much for its error. Moreover, after Battle of Crete when WWII German paratroopers started to be transformed into Elite infantry, regular trousers and other items of clothing and gear specific to Heer started to be intensively utilised by FJs. Likewise, lots of missions where paratroopers were involved took place in Mediterranean countries and Africa, so very common was to meet them wearing under smocks the Luftwaffe tropical uniform and helmets painted in Dulkengelb.

Two models of specialised high jump boots had been delivered, the very early Type I, recognised after the side lace system and rubber soles, being quickly replaced by Type II boots, with central laces and soles occasionally made by rubber due to material shortage. On all Revell’s paratroopers, the bizarre side lace system is perceptible, so hypothetically, these figures are primary intended for the first months of WWII. In order to properly embody Fallschirmjager for the rest of the war, a simple manoeuvre is necessary, namely getting rid of the side lace system in the same way is proceeded with flash. While laces on 1/72 figs are hard to spot on such models of boots, especially if these are weathered, the surgery intervention and the lack of laces will remain unperceived. The rolled up sleeves of few soldiers indicate this set mainly aims warm seasons. Nevertheless, due to the thickness of the garment, corroborated with the fact that the jump smock was an all season garment, the rest of the unit might be moved to colder periods as well. The first impression is the sculptor wanted to reproduce an Early War campaign but if removing the side lace system, the figures can be deployed throughout the whole war because both uniform and weapons continued to be utilised until 1945. In addition, during Crete, the Type I boots had been already replaced and such footwear certainly do not match well with camouflage smocks as presented in the artwork although isolated cases could appear.

The Revell troopers are dissimilarly and lightly equipped, with more or less items of gear. There are seen canteens, bread bags, mess-tins, bayonets, shovels and some of them wear „Y” straps, the appropriately M40 pattern allocated to mounted and paratrooper units. The ammunition pouches are rightfully depicted and in accordance with the weapon in use, three of the figs with Kar98K featuring the Patronenbandulier, specific Kar98K ammunition pouches developed only for Fallschirmjager.

The arsenal of the set is the common one, without specific weapons such as FG-42, but definitely it is a fair approach considering these paratroopers target the first part of war. The figs have received four Kar98K, three MP38/40, one MG34 and eleven have also pistol holsters, the commander holding his P08 in the right hand. It should not be surprising the large number of pistols, such weapon, at least at theoretical level, being issued to most Fallschirmjagers. Because of the WWII German model of parachute, inspired by the Italian „Salvatore” type, the FJs had to jump without large firing weapons, for this reason being introduced in their standard equipment the pistol, as the only firing weapon available in the air. Besides those, the set brings in the Abwurfbehalter, a drop container utilised for supplying equipment for the landed paras.

While Fallschirmjagers jumped without weapon and gear, those were parachuted separately in special metal or wood drop-containers, WWII Germans developing more models. Revell focuses on the most frequent deployed container, the metal Abwurfbehalter 700 (kg). Such containers were primary designated to troopers under fire and had an internal towing arm and two wheels that could be set in positions for facilitating the transport in other locations. In general the containers were painted in different colours and had labels and symbols for indicating the content for the FJs seeking specialised items.

Revell delivers their Abwurfbehalter quite simplified and as just dropped, without towing arm and wheels. The container is opened and inside there are spotted one Kar98K, two bandoleers and regular Kar98K ammo pouches as well as a package with other rounds and two MG ammunition boxes. According to the included stuff, it is about an Abwurfbehalter with armament and obviously, under each item should be more but those cannot be perceived. The sculpture of both container and content does not amaze but the device is extremely welcome taking into consideration Revell’s Abwurfbehalter sets out as an unique choice in 1/72 mass-production tender, also in cottage industry catalogues similar items being very hard to find.

As the back of the box reveals, both the Abwurfbehalter and one crouched para should be snapped onto a base for recreating an eye-catching assembly depicting a soldier picking up his equipment and Kar98K. He had not time for getting the bandoller and gear yet, having only the pistol and a rifle in his hands. Nevertheless, the figure can be used in other purposes as well, the way of keeping the weapon hiding the lack of ammunition that might be presumed as present inside regular infantry pouches attached to the belt. It is also excellent the manufacturer sculptured the container with only one Kar98K, highlighting in this way that one missing from its location is already held by the trooper. 

In terms of parachutes, the WWII Germans developed several models, the first, RZ1, being copied after a civil airline model but because some accidents following static lines malfunctions, in 1940 was replaced by RZ16 parachute. In 1941 an upgraded model, RZ20, appeared for the first time in Crete and stayed in service until 1945. Very similar with its predecessor, that model benefitted by an improved harness with four quick release buckles that allowed a fast removal of the parachute after landing, definitely a key issue for Fallschirmjager. To the end of war, the RZ36 delta canopy and single quick-release buckle fit in the center of the chest was utilised in limited numbers during the Battle for Ardennes.

Most of the WWII German parachutes had common parts and all featured the deployment bag, accommodating the folded canopy and schroud lines, placed in a parachute outer cover with four flaps secured with a securing pin attached to a 9 meter static line, fastened by a ring to the deployment bag as well. The static line was attached to a 6 meter static cord inside the plane and automatically released the canopy, pulling the bag away from the pack and taking the deployment bag which was fixed to the end of the static line. The deployment bag flapped behind the plane while the outer cover remained on harness to which was secured via D rings. The harness was made of webbing and rested in a belt with a large buckle in front, two braces, two thigh straps, and a strap across the top of the chest.

Another assembly illustrated on the back of the box is the Fallschirmjager getting rid of his RZ-20 parachute and a nice touch is the opened outer cover as well as the harness pretty visible and set in correct places. It should not wonder the fact this soldier has no pistol on him while when jumping, the pistols were kept inside the built-in flare pistol holsters stitched into the back of the jump smock. The figure received knee pads, an extremely needed item bearing in mind the way of landing. The WWII Fallschirmjager had almost no control in the air over his parachute, the double-carry lines, attached at one point, functioning as one and so the soldier spun after deployment of the parachute. The jump was executed horizontally in a crucifix position and required the soldier to land in feet and hands, keeping the feet and knees together, with knees bent and protected by knee pads. In spite the measures taken, the shock of landing was very powerful and ankle and wrist injuries were a daily routine even if the FJs were instructed to tie tight the boots and strap the ankles as well.

The entire atmosphere recreated by the set leads to the impression the paratroopers have just landed in an area under heavy fire and they rush or have already started the combat. As regards the rest of the poses, most are plausible, but quite common, in total the set incorporating seven standing figures, three crouched and two prone. It should be strongly emphasised that three of the miniatures, namely the grenade-thrower and the advancing soldiers are visibly smaller than their comrades, not only the bodies and heads, but also weapons and gear being much smaller. Still, they might qualify in the small side of the 1/72 scale while their colleagues would go to the medium/tall side. In order the reader to easily identify the smaller figs as well as another with serious flattened problems, I painted them dressed in olive green jump smocks, the rest of the unit, that might pass as normal, receiving the camouflaged ones.

In some common combat stances arrive the prone soldiers and the one crouched pretty nice, firing off his Kar98K. The prone soldiers can embody a MG34 team, the gunner shooting with a weapon fed by the 50 round drum magazine while his comrade fires off a Kar98K. The MG does not impress too much with its barrel details but it is accurate in size and also the bipod and drum magazine are good enough.    

The officer is immediately spotted, with the pistol in the right hand and waving the left in the air, encouraging the subordinates to follow him or signalling the attack. He also received binoculars on chest, map case hung by a strap and steel helmet. No matter it is about a common stance, perhaps this is one of the best miniatures the set puts forward, with a pro for the pistol that has a very thin but in scale barrel which also perfectly resist to shocks. Another standing figure, maybe his NCO points with the left hand to a potential objective while in the right keeps his rifle with the muzzle down. He also has got canteen, bandoleer, a grenade under belt, and pistol holster.  

The radio operator is a useful mini, despite the fact that he emerges quite flat and the device he handles is extremely thin, completely inaccurate from this point of view and with a much too thick antenna. According to the shape and details on the front panel, it might be the well-known Torn.fu.d2, one of the most spread WWII German portable transceivers, having a 3 km communication range and utilised by paratrooper and other units. Fairly good are the details on the panel showing dials, plugs, knobs, and switches but on reverse lacks both the carrying straps and the pad for body protection. Moreover, side and top details completely miss as well as the battery pack that generated extra power for the radio. A plus-point of this figure is the wires clearly represented and even if not hanging very natural, their presence is more than welcome. The operator has the right hand on a switch and in the left holds the microphone close to his mouth. Headphones are set in position over the M34 cap while to the belt are adjourned the steel helmet, canteen, and pistol holster. 

Concerning body size, as previously stressed, Revell made several serious mistakes. Next to the three figs visibly smaller stays a fourth one, completely flattened by the mould. That mini might be assessed as embodying a very fat soldier, even obese, a rarely encountered thing, almost impossible within Fallschirmjager units. Similarly, his head is squashed and huge, so it must be changed in case the modeller chooses to keep the figure rather then binning it. Unfortunately, this is exactly the soldier emplaced in the centre of the artwork, firing his MP38/40. The same flattened trouble is encountered on most of the figs, only few getting out from the mould without being affected.

Leaving aside the described four figs with issues, the rest the bodies are well balanced but most faces come poorly detailed and occasionally lack facial characteristics. There are discrepancies between the sizes of weapons, the small figs getting smaller ones while “fatty’s” MP38/40 is noticeable bigger. Likewise, the same ratio is maintained in terms of equipment, obviously the smaller figs having smaller gear while “fatty” received huge items. Most of the details on garment are not so crisp, the pocket flaps and other niceties not impressing with their sculpture, better represented being few creases on attire. Along the years a huge problem for lots of manufacturers has raised the M38 rimless Fallschirmjager helmet and Revell has completely failed in properly depict it, on their figures many helmets having quite odd shapes, especially those covered by camouflage cloth. Neither weapons nor gear attracts with the quality of sculpture or level of details, but these are not really disgusting, only a couple of Kar98K shoulder stocks receiving weird shapes. Except the prone figures, all the others arrive on bases or must be snapped onto special stands. Modellers wishing to set the miniatures in other places and do not need bases, can extremely easy get rid of those, some simple cuts under soles quickly solving the problem.

Flash and seam lines are in abundance, but with some efforts those can be diminished to a reasonable percent. Excess of plastic appear in some amounts, particularly at the barrel of the Kar98K belonging to the soldier with rolled up sleeves as well as along the chest and between the MP38/40 and body of the running trooper. Although it is about soft plastic, we encounter a good one, without tendencies of producing fluffs and hosting enamel, acrylics, and artistic oils in an excellent manner, maintaining the painting effort for long time and despite heavy handling, too.

Due to adopted stances and soft plastic utilised, these figures are not ideal for conversion purposes. Still, nothing is impossible and hobbyists can make some attempts with super glue gel, fixing additional gear, heads, and arms. The adhesive can provide fair results and the bond is capable to resist to medium shocks. Primary addressing gamers, the set can offer several good pieces for diorama builders as well.   

According to their sizes, Revell’s FJs should be divided in two categories, the three smaller figs combining well with Preiser’s "German Paratroopers, Pilots and Ground Crew" and Caesar’s “German Paratroopers”. On the other hand, the taller ones, which constitutes the great majority in the set, can be deployed in the same place with ESCI’s “German Paratrooper”, Orion’s “German Paratroopers”, Pegasus Hobbies’ “German Fallschirmjager”, Zvezda’s “German Paratroopers 1939-1942”, Dragon’s “3 Fallschirmjäger Div. & Pz.VI KingTiger – Ardennes 1944 Part 1 and Part 2”, MIG Production’s “German Fallschirmjager”, and CMK’s “Fallschirmjäger WWII” as well as with the slightly taller Italeri’s “German Paratroops (Tropical Uniform)”.

Revell’s “German Paratroopers” definitely is not an extraordinary set, but has got a special place in the history of hobby, marking the entrance on the 1/72 figure market of a company that has succeeded to create milestone sets along the years. Likewise, it provides several fair miniatures for an Elite unit, participating at important WWII battles and which had received a poor representation in the 1/72 scale for a very long period. One strong point of the tender rests in making available few really interesting groups as the soldier with parachute and the one with Abwurfbehalter, even now such stuff is hard to get in Braille Scale. Furthermore, Revell’s offer gives a most important solution for those searching very Early War paratroopers while these figs possess an almost unique detail in 1/72 scale, the Type I jump boots with their strange lace system.

  

Historical Accuracy 8
Anatomy 4
Poses Quality 8
Details Quality 6
Mould Quality 7
Sculpture 4
Recommendation/Utility 8
Reviewer’s Opinion 6