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ESCI - Panzerjager IV SdKfz. 162 Ausf. F (8056) _________(EXT)

      

Manufacturer ESCI
Scale 1/72
Set Code 8056
Year Unknown
No. of Figures 2
No. of Poses 2
Additional Items None
Size Tall
Material Hard Plastic
Colour Gray
Flash Level Medium
Glue-ability Excellent (Polly-cement)
Convert-ability Medium
Optimal Period 1943 – 1945

Review     

When thinking at ESCI vehicle kits, it is virtually impossible the modellers not to associate those with the figures supplied together as crewmen, a wonderful approach sadly characterising just the older manufacturers and hard to meet at nowadays producers. Although some poses were occasionally repeated in kits, due to ESCI incentive, for many years the minis offered by them provided the only options for 1/72 armour crewmen, properly dressed in the legendary wrappers.

Certainly one of the most common and well-known ESCI poses embodies the Panzer trooper with M43 cap holding binoculars on the chest, practically this figure might be assessed as an emblem of ESCI kits. Though not their best miniature, the manufacturer excessively relied on it and sent the soldier to serve in many vehicles. Moreover, the same pose benefitted by an upgraded version, the changes resting in sharpener facial details on a slightly smaller head and body, throat microphone, strap to binoculars, as well as an Iron Cross and a Panzer Assault or Wound Badge displayed on left side or the wrapper. The initial version could be encountered in “Pz. IV Ausf. G”, “SturmPanzer IV”, and “Flak Panzer IV Wirbelind” while the upgraded one is available in the Sd.Kfz. 250 range as well as in the two variants of “Panzerjager IV” produced by ESCI which practically constitute the subject of the present review. In addition, it should be stressed that another interpretation brought to this figure comes from a garage manufacturer, Retrokit FR in “Afrika Korps tank crew, relaxed”transforming the wrapper in shirt and on the cap sculpturing a pair of goggles.  

According to his pose, binoculars and medals, the mini embodies the commander of the vehicle and except wrapper he has got Panzer trousers, shirt, M43 cap, and ankle boots. Over the wrapper he wears a belt but no pistol holster attached. The figure might deserve a weapon, and the problem is quickly solved with a Preiser, Dragon or Caesar pistol holster. This time the trooper got more complex communication gear, including throat microphone and headphones, but the related wires of the two devices miss as well as the switch housing of the throat microphone. Still, the item might be presumed as hidden by the binoculars held close to the chest in a place where the switch could be found. Not the same assessment works for the wires of the headphones, so for a closer to reality appearance, scratch-built wires, either made of metal or melted hard plastic sprue have to be added and eventually painted the ones of the switch. Holding the binoculars stuck to the chest and corroborated with the fact the figure was cast as single piece, the resulting pose is quite flat, but binoculars of the last version of the mini are better than the previous so the figure might be let like that without trying to replace the binoculars and palm with others from the spare parts box. The legs are pretty close and the soldier enters quite well in hatches, the bent left arm, with the palm on waist preventing accidental falls inside the vehicle. Considering the same attire was delivered both to Panzer and Assault Artillery units, the difference resting in different colours, black for first and feldgrau for second, modellers have at hand more choices to paint the mini, not only the two usual colours but also a wide range of camouflage patterns.  

However, the JagdPanzer IV kit proposes two figures, the above mentioned one and a soldier carrying a canister in the right hand according to the assembly guide delivered in the box. Various artworks the kit received along the years give the impression that we get a second Panzer trooper in wrapper, but in reality, inside we find an infantryman wearing tunic. Anyway, the Late War appearance for better matching “Guderian’s duck” is emphasised by the ankle boots and gaiters. In a period when such footwear was inexistent in the 1/72 scale, the rest of manufacturers sticking just to the emblematic Early War marching/jack boots, ESCI came in front again and delivered the first mass-production Late War infantrymen. Details on the pocket flaps of the tunic are not crystal clear, also covered by “Y” straps, so it may pass as the M43 model. Another innovative approach to this figure rests in separate arms and head cover, a steel helmet and a M43 cap being supplied as separate pieces while for better fixation, the head misses the upper part, exactly like Preiser or Dragon toy-soldiers. After putting together the figure we obtain an army-man supplying the vehicle with the precious gas in one or two canisters. Perhaps one of the accompanying infantrymen was sent to find and bring some gas in order the vehicle continue its movement. The instructions advice the modeller to add in the right hand a canister, but also the left one is appropriate to accommodate a canister handle, so the hobbyist has more options, several canisters being offered on the sprue. Likewise, the mini can be deployed in other environments and it is an extremely useful one both taking into account the scarce presence of such figures in Braille Scale as well as the quite many reference images illustrating the action he carries out. Furthermore, benefitting by the separate arms, the modellers might easily convert and change the destination of this soldier, using different Preiser or Dragon weapons and equipment emerging as an easy and attractive solution. The figure in the images of the present review has got Preiser arms as well as few Preiser and Dragon items of gear.  

The level of sculpture is fair on both miniatures with a plus for the medals, facial details, and attire of the Panzer crewman. The infantry tunic does not impress, some details, particularly the pocket flaps, being vague, but it still has few nice ones such as buttons, collar boards, and creases Anatomy is pretty satisfactory even if the facial expression of the infantryman is not the most successful. Limbs and bodies are well balanced, though there are slight dissimilarities in terms of sizes of the two figures, the Panzer trooper being a little smaller than his infantry colleague.  

This kit exemplifies in an excellent manner the difference between one piece cast and multiple part figures, the Panzer trooper moulded as a single part coming out a quite flat while the infantryman emerges dynamic and natural in his movements. Flash is in a medium amount and both figures lack excess of plastic, which is definitely a very fine thing. On the other hand, the wide spread circle at ESCI figs indicating the place from where they were kept in the mould is present and should be removed in the same manner as it is proceeded with flash. Concerning painting, there is no problem, hard plastic not only greatly accepting enamels, acrylics, and artistic oils, but also holds them in time and after heavy handling.  

Though belonging to different units, these army-men find plenty of companions inside the figure catalogues issued by different companies. The tanker matches quite well with slightly larger Panzer troopers ensured by Preiser, Dragon, Retrokit FR or ESCI, but better goes with those made available by Caesar. As regards the infantryman, a huge number of comrades are waiting for him.  

Proper for wargaming but also suitable for diorama builders especially after few upgrades, the figures supplied in “Panzerjager IV” series earned a special place in the 1/72 WW2 Germans list while one of them changed the optic regarding footwear, the first true Late War soldier finally making his appearance in the scale after many comrades with jack boots marched in front of him.         

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