Articles

MIG Productions - German Winter Riders (MP 72-350) _________(EXT)

Manufacturer El Viejo Dragon
Scale 1/72
Set Code MP72-350
Year Unknown
No. of Figures 3
No. of Poses 3
Additional Items None
Size Tall
Material Resin
Colour Cream
Flash Level Low
Glue-ability Excellent (Super Glue Gel)
Convert-ability Medium
Optimal Period 1943 - 1945

 Review 

Riding tanks or assault artillery vehicles was a large spread custom within WWII German army, attested by lots of video and photographic references introducing armour transporting infantrymen either intro battle or during retreat. Because the need for close protection versus enemy infantry weapons was stringent, especially after the development of powerful individual weapons capable to destroy or damage even the heaviest armoured tank, the crews often took infantry on the vehicle and dismounted them only in the battle, those continuing by foot to accompany the armour. As references highlight, the amount of troopers on a Panzer, StuG or other armoured vehicle varied from a couple to nearly an entire platoon.

The importance of the topic and the interesting appearance of a vehicle with troopers on it did not let indifferent the 1/72 figure producers which dedicated few sets on the matter. According to the items of garment, the tender can be split on summer and winter tank riders, Preiser in “WWII German Infantry Dismounting” and “WWII German Motorised Infantry” as well as HaT in “WWII German Tank Riders” aiming the warm periods while Warriors in “German Tank Riders Set1 and Set 2” as well as MIG Productions in “German Winter Riders”, TQD Castings in “1942-43 Waffen SS Grenadiers Tank Riders/Passengers” and Miniaturas Alemany in “German Panzer Grenadiers” referred to cold environments. Furthermore, there should not be forgotten Dragon’s two sets on Paratroopers riding a Kingtiger and which copy real soldiers appearing in a series of photos taken during Ardennes campaign. Although not committed to the subject, inside different 1/72 figure sets on WWII German Army could be encountered many other toy-soldiers in appropriate stances for embodying tank riders.

In the field, one of the most interesting offer comes from MIG Production’s “German Winter Riders”, a three figure resin kit sold in the classical package of the company formed by a plastic bag pinned to a cardboard having as artwork the assembled and painted version of the minis. Except that photo, no other guidelines for putting together the content are supplied, but certainly, assembly is fast and easy. Parts for each figure are set on individual slots, heads and weapons benefitting by special slots, too. The minis have separate arms, heads, and weapons, and that is all, no other item of gear being provided. It should be pointed out about Kar98Ks and MG that palms are carved directly on the weapons, one involving the left hand and two the right. Corroborating this with the information delivered by the artwork, the modeller will get the picture on how to set the firing arms. However, the suggested positions are not compulsory, few possibilities being available and a nice touch would represent adding scratch-built straps to the rifles. In a matter of minutes the miniatures are ready while pieces go well in places and super glue gel outstanding performs on the top-quality MIG Production resin. Nevertheless, hobbyists wanting to add more equipment or other weapons to these troopers have at hand either sets of the company such as “Eastern Front German Assault Team” or Dragon and Preiser separate gear and firing arms sprues found in tens of sets launched by those manufacturers. There is no reason of concern such accessories are made of hard plastic and the figs are cast in resin, the same super glue gel adhesive creating a tremendously solid bond between hard plastic and resin.

Developed for riding a tank, the three seated soldiers might be displayed in extremely eye-catching poses in various locations on the vehicle. Two troopers wear M42 parkas and matching trousers while their comrade took off the parka but maintained the padded winter trousers, an often encountered appearance at soldiers preparing to enter in combat and that got rid of all items of clothing and gear obstructing them during the fight. In fact, the idea of an imminent assault is enhanced by the lack of equipment from all three soldiers, they retained just the “Y” straps, belts, Kar98K and related ammunition pouches. While they organise for the battle, all have steel helmets and an interesting aspect put forward the footwear, at least one of them shoeing the felt winter boots, inspired by the Russian valenkiafter the first dramatic winter spent on the Eastern Front. The same tragic experience determined the German Command to reconsider the winter attire for their soldiers and in 1942 the padded trousers and parkas were made available for troops. As specialised winter equipment, it had some special features, one of those being the removable hoods but the most representative constituted the reversible characteristic. According to the terrain, the sides of parkas and trousers could be turned off, one always being white and the other issued at the beginning in mouse gray and then in various Waffen SS and Wehrmacht camouflage patterns. Because of the multiple choices offered to modellers in terms of painting, figs in parkas are very welcome, and even if regulations enforced parkas and matching trousers to be returned to depots for reparations in Spring, many times soldiers kept those throughout the whole year. Occasionally, such figures  might be utilised in warmer climates, though here it is a little more difficult, but not impossible, one mini wearing the toque, a circular knitted scarf wrapping the neck and almost all the head, leaving unprotected a tiny part of the face. Moreover, in an attempt to keep warm, the soldier in tunic has got a pullover below or even a toque not arranged in position but worn like a scarf, plenty of photos attesting German army-men with toques just like that. Another problem for placing these soldiers in a finer environment raises the felt winter boots, but those could be painted as regular marching/jack ones while for a closer appearance those should be thinned a little in the upper part, exactly like is proceeded with flash. It is not very clear if these soldiers wear or not the five finger knitted gloves, but the size of palms allows both interpretations despite the artwork showing them as without gloves.

The seated riders are sculptured in clear dissimilar poses, one of them with the left leg under the right one, trying to maintain his balance on the vehicle with the right hand in a very relaxed stance. This is the only one having a grenade under the belt. His comrade with toque sits in the most common position, but the way of keeping the weapon in standard approach looks a little odd, namely with the barrel over the left hand. Those unsatisfied by such depiction, for a more realistic look, should assemble first the right hand, setting the rifle in his lap and then gluing the left one, coming over the Kar98K. Concerning the figure wearing just the tunic, it must be emplaced on an upper point on the vehicle because the pose portrays a soldier sitting with straight legs. Likewise, with minor changes at the angles of the arms, he can easily evoke a soldier jumping from a vehicle, many times such pose being extremely useful due to the dynamism conferred to a particular scene. A nice touch to this mini comes from the helmet chinstrap adjusted over the front visor.     

In spite their apparent simplicity, these figures are highly accurate and impressively detailed, tiny characteristics of the WWII German webbing being meticulously worked and proving the skills of MIG Production sculptors. In this regard, we are able to perceive on the helmets the vents and on the “Y” straps not only the buckles but also the small front rivets as well as on the back the “O” ring and the flat hook. The brilliant sculptured clothes instantaneously pleases the eye with the perfect pockets, flaps, collars, and creases while the hoods fold and stay tremendously natural. Anatomy is of great quality, with fine proportions and human facial expressions put in valour by properly carved eyes, eye-brows, noses, mouths, and ears. Palms impress with the distinguishable fingers and the size gives the modeller the chance to choose painting them with or without gloves.

MIG Production’s resin might be appraised as one of the best, not fragile and able to absorb shocks without breaking. Likewise, it facilitates an outstanding cast, succeeding to capture even the minuscule details brought to the figs by the sculptor. Furthermore, flash is almost missing, excess of resin is completely absent and air-bubbles do not exist, except one or two almost invisible. The material perfectly reacts to enamel, acrylics, and artistic oils, integrating the colours and conserving unchanged the paint-work despite severe touches. Thanks to its resistance by this product can profit static modellers, collectors, and wargamers, tank riders being extremely useful both in dioramas and on the wargaming table.

The six hash winters spent by the German Army during WWII and the key battles that took place in those periods benefitted by the increased attention of various 1/72 manufacturers, resulting a large number of sets putting forward toy-soldiers dressed for the cold seasons. MIG Production figs belong to the tall side of 1/72 scale and except the sets on tank riders mentioned in the first part of the present review, they find plenty of companions in sets like Caesar “German Infantry with Winter Gear”, Dragon “LAH Panzergrenadiers + Sd.Kfz.251/7 Ausf.D, Ardennes 1944”, ESCI “German Soldiers Smoke Units”, Warriors “German Grenadiers Winter Dress Set1 and Set 2”, Pegasus Hobbies “Waffen SS 1943 - Set1” and “Germans in Berlin 1945”, Revell “German Infantry”, Italeri “WWII PAK 40 AT Gun with Servants” and “German Elite Troops” etc.

In the scale, through a series of noteworthy sets, MIG Production has had the great incentive of conferring the modellers the chance to show a tank in winter together with its crew and accompanied by infantry, both riding it and on foot. The inter-linked figures ideally match not only because of the winter attire, but also thanks to a perfect identity of size and sculpturing level.

Of a charming neatness but a highly detailed appearance after a closer study, MIG Production’s tank riders turn out as one of the best 1/72 illustrations of such soldiers. Generally manufacturers use to endow with various items of gear the figs, but references let us know that usually before an assault, the well-trained army-men would have keep only the most necessary things, dropping off the rest. From this point of view as well as the others mentioned along the review, MIG Production should be congratulated for the realistic approach to the tank riders subject.             

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