Articles

ESCI - SdKfz.250/3 (8369) _________(EXT)

Manufacturer ESCI
Scale 1/72
Set Code 8369
Year Unknown
No. of Figures 3
No. of Poses 3
Additional Items 1 Sd.kfz 250/3
Size Medium
Material Hard Plastic
Colour Gray
Flash Level Medium
Glue-ability Excellent (Polly-cement)
Convert-ability Easy
Optimal Period 1943 – 1945

Review   

As one of the most productive manufacturers of 1/72 WWII German vehicles, ESCI took measures to satisfy customers not only through good quality for those times but also by providing crewmen for the vehicles. Generally, the kit included one or two figures and one exception on the matter constituted the Sd.kfz 250 range which came with three army-men. Copying the strategy applied for the larger Sd.kfz 251 series, ESCI used the chassis for depicting three variants of Sd.kfz 250 with identical crew for all of them. From the many standard and field converted versions of Sd.kfz 250, ESCI released SdKfz. 250/3 (Command with Radio Frame Antenna), SdKfz. 250/9 (20 mm KwK 38 cannon with coaxial MG), and 250/10 (PaK 35/36). However, from the Sd.Kfz. 250/3 could be easily obtained the initial 250/1 armed with two MGs and on which the next types were created. Detailed reviews on ESCI’s Sd.Kfz. 250 vehicles can be found in many places on the web, this one targeting just the three crewmen. Anyway, it should be pointed out the vehicle is under-scaled and that at present Sd.Kfz. 250/3 and Sd.Kfz. 250/9 are reissued by Italeri.

Sd.Kfz. 250/3 entered in service in 1941 and fought on all fronts, but the variant was made famous in Africa by Erwin Rommel and his GREIF, also possible to achieve thanks to the supplied decals. However, the figs have nothing to do with Afrika Korps, clearly wearing continental uniforms. In fact, these minis feature few interesting aspects, they seem to be scaled-down versions of Tamyia figures and also they belong to different units, one Panzer or Assault Artillery crewman and two infantry-men. Indeed Sd.kfz. 250 was intensively used by all land WWII German units, so the presence of a Panzer soldier in the vehicle raises no accuracy issue.

Basically, the Panzer soldier is the one encountered in the two versions of “Panzerjager IV” launched by ESCI, a not so detailed representation of him also emerging in “Pz. IV Ausf. G”,“SturmPanzer IV Brummbar”, and “Flak Panzer IV Wirbelind”. Definitely this crewman is the most known ESCI figure and its upgraded version provided for the Sd.Kfz.250 vehicles reveals throat microphone, strap to binoculars, as well as an Iron Cross and a Panzer Assault or Wound Badge visible on the left side or the wrapper. Due to those and its binoculars, this is certainly aimed to portray the commander of the vehicle. He wears Panzer uniform, shirt, M43 cap, and ankle boots and in spite having belt, he received no pistol, a minor problem to which Preiser, Dragon, and Caesar possess lots of answers. An interesting aspect represents the throat microphone but the sculptor ignored the wires for both this device and the headphones. Holding the binoculars close to the chest in a location where the switch of the throat microphone stayed, the general aspect is pretty flat, but the way of modelling the legs allows good fit even inside narrow hatches, so no problem to mount him in a vehicle such as Sd.Kfz. 250. While identical uniform were delivered to Panzer and Assault Artillery units, the figure can be painted either in black or Feldgrau as well as in Wehrmacht camouflage patterns due to the breast eagle indicating membership to a Heer unit.

If this miniature is a common presence, not the same can be said about the two infantrymen shared in ESCI’s catalogue only by the Sd.Kfz. 250 series, and as highlighted above, it looks like they are down-scaled versions of Tamyia figures. However, it is more than great having such miniatures, especially in a period when similar poses were almost inexistent in the 1/72 scale. Likewise, an excellent thing is that the minis come with separate arms, fact increasing the natural appearance and facilitating further conversions.

There are several clues like goggles, binoculars, and map/dispatch case pointing out they belong to a reconnaissance patrol, which is more than fine bearing in mind Sd.Kfz.250 was intensively utilised in that purpose. Both of them are dressed in the Early War style, contradicting a little with the M43 cap of their Panzer/Assault Artillery comrade, but again this is not an accuracy matter, such uniforms being provided to troops till the end of war. The two infantrymen wear M36 uniform, marching/jack boots, and steel helmets, one of them not having it on the head in that moment but kept on the waist. To this guy only the right arm must be set in position, the other holding the helmet being already cast with the figure and for this reason the inner side of the helmet is filled by plastic. He has no weapon and equipment is formed by binoculars on the chest, map/dispatch case, bread bag, canteen, and Zeltbahn. His comrade, with both arms separated, was endowed with a Kar98K, ammunition pouches, bread bag, gas mask container, canteen, Zeltbahn, and bayonet, as well as with a pair of goggles worn around the neck. He holds the rifle propped on the ground, an often encountered stance in reference images which also was made available in a superior manner by Preiser inside “Military Police. Guards The German Reich 1939-45” many years after. A plus point for ESCI figure’s rifle is depiction of the Kar98K sling, tied to the weapon and harder to spot at the first glance. The two infantrymen stay still, so extremely useful for many projects considering such figures were rare in the scale when the set came out on the market. Furthermore, they finely interact between them as well as with the Panzer soldier, nicely evoking a briefing session close to the front line. Being made of hard plastic and with separate hands, quite good conversions could be achieved on these bodies, particularly by using Preiser separate arms and heads, plenty of such spare body parts remaining unused in different kit boxes of that manufacturer. The not so attractive form of gear, for example the bread bags are small and in an odd shape, might determine hobbyists to change some, as well as to glue new items or even weapons, particularly to the bare headed trooper.

Nice small details are recognised on uniforms like buttons, shoulder and collar boards, and creases for the two infantry soldiers while those of the Panzer trooper are really impressive, not only the just named ones, but also the breast eagle and the two insignia which really strike. Anatomy is fair with pleasant facial details and perceivable eyes, eye-brows, noses, mouths, and ears. Palms might pass as acceptable with good proportions, the figures entering in the medium side of 1/72. The infantrymen and the Panzer trooper find companions in abundance within sets issued by ESCI or diverse producers such as Preiser, Revell, HaT, Caesar, to enumerate few of them.

The average amount of flash is counterbalanced by some extremely ugly mould marks on the back of the two infantrymen and an insignificant one on the Panzer soldier. The circle showing the place from where the fig was held in the mould completely ruined the Zeltbahn of the trooper with rifle, so the item should be filled in with material or removed and replaced or not with a new one. Luckily for his comrade, though quite large, the mould mark is not so visible because its emplacement between the Zeltbahn and bread bag impedes the view. Also mostly hidden by helmet, under it there is an excess of material impossible to be removed, so the pretentious modellers might wish to replace the helmet, but an easier solution would be painting that amount of plastic as an item of gear. The material not only perfect takes in polly-cement, but also enamel, acrylics, and artistic oils, maintaining the artistic work of the hobbyists in time and after heavy handling.

Even if the vehicle is under-scaled and the soldiers are scaled-down copies of products belonging to a renowned manufacturer of larger figures, ESCI’s Sd.Kfz. 250 range was along the time an important source for hard plastic figures in quite attractive stances. The company brought something useful for Braille Scale, the poses and the overall appearance with certain possibilities for improvements and conversions recommending these army-men to wargamers, collectors, and diorama builders.   

Historical Accuracy 9
Anatomy 8
Poses Quality 8
Details Quality 8
Mould Quality 8
Sculpture 8
Recommendation/Utility 8
Reviewer’s Opinion 8