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Plastic Soldier - Late War German Infantry Heavy Weapons (WW2020005) _________(BRF)

 

Manufacturer The Plastic Soldier Company
Scale 1/72
Set Code WW2020005
Year 2012
No. of Figures 42
No. of Poses 15
Additional Items 1 Panzerschreck ammunition box
Size Tall
Material Hard Plastic
Colour White
Flash Level Average
Glue-ability Excellent (Polly-cement)
Convert-ability Medium
Optimal Period 1943 – 1945

Review 

After releasing a first set targeting the Late War German infantrymen, Plastic Soldier has improved their offer in the 1/72 scale with a new set aiming to complete the former. Of course, the intense use of heavy weapons by WWII German infantry made necessary the apparition of a set incorporating such weapons, especially taking into account that the previous did not feature any mortar, MG or other heavy arms, limiting only to rifles, MPs and MG in light role. The company opted for an interesting approach, quite unique in the field, most of the times producers rather including heavy weapons in the same box, together with the riflemen. However, in Preiser, Armourfast, Pegasus Hobbies, Zvezda catalogues there are available special sets targeting a particular weapon like mortar or MG.

The package is great, the front artwork showing the painted versions of the figs set on wargaming bases while on the back the target groups receive a painting guide exemplified with the MG42 team as well as a list of what the set includes. Likewise, a clear plastic window permits the customer to better assess in the shop what is comprised and the quality of the figures. Except the three identical sprues, the manufacturer makes available inside an instruction sheet for assembling the minis.  

What is innovative at Plastic Soldier tender is putting forward inside “Late War German Infantry Heavy Weapons” a sufficient quantity of such weapons, covering the most representative infantry support weapons. In this regard, there are provided three identical sprues, each fitting in one Granatwerfer 34 (81.4 mm - medium mortar), one Granatwerfer 42 (120 mm - heavy mortar), one MG42 on tripod, two RPzB54, and two Panzerfaust 60m or 100m. A strange aspect is that no personal weapon is supplied though all of these soldiers have Kar98K ammunition pouches, a single figure also receiving a pistol in holster. The huge presence of Kar98K ammo pouches and the lack of pistol holsters raise an accuracy issue while MG and 81 mm mortar crewmen as well as Panzerschreck gunners where considered specialised troopers being endowed with pistols as personal weapons. Nonetheless, in special circumstances privates or NCOs armed with Kar98K could operate heavy weapons, but here the fact that all figures possess rifle ammunition pouches when only the 120 mm crewmen should contradicts the reality from the field. Equipment is generally fair, some receiving full pack, others only few items of gear, but it is impossible not to remark that bayonets switched positions with canteens and are worn on right side while in general those were set together with the entrenching tool on the left and canteens on the right. In fact, Plastic Soldier persisted with this mistake that is more visible inside their previous set targeting WWII German infantry because there the soldiers received shovels, clearly longer and larger than a bayonet.

Concerning the heavy weapons, those come with serious accuracy problems and rough details, the mortars being appropriate exclusively for wargaming. The bipods are very thick, the barrels are too short and need drilling, the sights and other devices are simply suggested or missing and the base plates are too small and poorly depicted. Likewise the MG42 is too short and thicker than normal, the tripod has got solid legs and miss plenty details such as telescopic sight and a second pad. At their turn, the RPzB 54s are reduced representations of the original ones, the shield being again too thick, omitting all details, and barrels require drilling. Still, a nice touch of the Panzerschreck operated by the crouched figure is the addition of the carrying strap. Perhaps the fairer, but of course the easiest to sculpt, are the Panzerfausts, both of them raising less question marks. 

The soldiers fit the title, wearing Late War attire, with M43 uniforms, ankle boots, gaiters, steel helmets covered by camouflage cloths or M43 caps, the items of garment allowing painting either in feldgrau or in various camouflage patterns.  

In spite the multi-part approach, the great majority of figures arrive in flat positions, most of them being also quite bizarre. Definitely the gold medal for weirdness goes to the 120 mm mortar crewman carrying an ammunition box, his pose rather depicts a passenger in the airport rushing to catch the plane and pulling the trolly after him than a soldier on the battle-field. Except this guy, as the artwork of the box reveals, the GrW42 gets other three crewmen, one covering the ears with the palms for diminishing the noise, the gunner weaving a projectile in the air in the left hand and holding another in the right as well as a squad leader in the so common pose with the left hand up in the air, perhaps preparing to order the crew to open fire. The pose is rigid but somehow is saved by the right hand, the squad leader taking a look at his wrist watch for coordinating with other units. Such stance is captivating while until now in mass-production 1/72 WWII German Army sets a similar one was not available. Maybe the figure and action was inspired by Airfix’s British Paratrooper commander, but certainly that was superior in terms of naturalness in spite its age. Maybe the best in the 120 mm mortar team is the soldier protecting his hearing with the palms but his sport-man colleague playing with two GrW42 projectiles as those would have weight nothing as well as the traveller with the trolly might be saved either by better repositioning the limbs or simply converting them. Likewise, if the squad leader belongs to a 120 mm mortar, then he should wear MP ammunition pouches and not Kar98K ones.

With reference to the smaller mortar crew, there are supplied three members which can be considered enough bearing in mind that in the organisation schemes of infantry platoons endowed with 81 mm mortars the weapon was operated by three crewmen. Normally, a seven or eight member crew was the most common formula for such weapon in specialised platoons, but here we talk about a mortar in an infantry platoon, so the composition offered by Plastic Soldier is fully covered by KStN. Two soldiers hold projectiles in hands while the third does nothing in that moment, simply watching how his colleagues perform their job. The arms of the troopers with projectiles have to be set by the modeller and there could be achieved plausible stances, the one of the crewman with a single projectile emerging unconventional but attractive.

A set dedicated to heavy infantry weapons could not skip one WWII German Army symbols, the legendary and multifunctional MG42 obviously, depicted in the heavy role on the Lafette tripod. Indeed, as heavy MG it was operated by thee member team, gunner, loader and ammunition bearer, all being portrayed by Plastic Soldier. The gunner, which comes in two halves, has the MG and tripod linked to one of the halves and after putting together, the figure evoke quite nice a soldier firing the deadly weapon. The loader also emerges fair but both the ammo belt he holds and its related container are over-scaled. With the mouth open, the ammunition bearer or even a NCO yells some guidelines to the gunner, pointing with the right hand the direction where the gunner should fire. Though not having pistol holsters, overall the team looks fine, but the weapon and tripod have got issues, at least for static modellers. Taking into consideration the scarce offer on 1/72 MGs in heavy role, with some work and the help of a rich spare box the soldiers, weapon, and stand can be transformed into an acceptable model for dioramas.  

Another plus point of the set is the inclusion of a complete RPzB 54 team, the set introducing both the gunner and loader. Inside sets where are encountered Panzerschrecks most often manufacturers limit only to the gunner. In mass production Hasegawa supplies a loader for their rocket launcher prone crew but complete teams emerge in some garage industry offers like the brilliant CMK’s “German soldiers with Panzerschreck”. The Plastic Soldier gunner fires the weapon from the often met crouched position and the loader holds the next round with both hands. Both figs are really flat but fortunately, like in Hasegawa kit, there is ensured a Panzerschreck opened ammunition box, an useful item that can be displayed in conjunction with these figs or others in order to complete a rocket launcher team by using a soldier with Panzerschreck and a converted figure dealing with the ammunition box.

Except the organised teams, the set puts forward three solitary miniatures, one advancing with a RPzB54 and two with Panzerfausts 60m or 100m, based on the size of the warhead. All of them feature major inadvertences, the soldier with Panzerschreck being in an awkward stance, the standing figure with Panzerfaust curving a lot to the back and keeping the end of the weapon extremely odd and the same does the crouched figure which prepares to fire it. If he does the mistake to fire it in that moment, certainly he will suffer serious injures by the back flame, both arm and chest being destroyed. Furthermore, the weapon is armed but the firing mechanism is to close to the warhead. This stance seems more appropriate to portray a soldier firing a MP than a Panzerfaust, perhaps such a weapon was initially allocated to the figure but later replaced with a Panzerfaust for matching the general purpose of the set. 

What is fun here is observing the contrast between the impressive level of small details available on uniforms and gear, including even buckles of “Y” straps, with the simplified version of the heavy weapons. Anatomy gets in trouble because of over-scaled heads, also the shape of several being affected by the mould and most of them nearly miss necks. In the tall side of the 1/72 scale, the bodies do not emerge too big and fit quite fine with Caesar’s “German Infantry-Late War”, Italeri, Pegasus Hobbies, and TQD Casting figs available in various sets as well as many resin tenders, and of course the inter-linked set on Late War infantry. To replace the heads with Dragon and Preiser ones could be the first thought of a diorama builder but for most wargamers and collectors the given heads might not disturb too much. Bearing in mind the product is made of hard plastic, not only Dragon and Preiser heads, but also gear and weapons of those producers might be easily employed for conversion and correction purposes, especially considering the box multiplies the same pose by three times.

Flash is in the average side and excess of plastic can be encountered just at the handle of the GrW42 ammo box. Parts excellent go in position and in less than 15 minutes a sprue can be completed. Being cast in hard plastic, the miniatures are cleaned fast of flash and also paints adhere very fine.

The company made a good impression with the first set on WWII Germans and the second was hardly waited to cover some existent gaps but unfortunately failed in its mission, appearing poorer and continuing the mistakes of the first. Still, the new set includes some good things and not only wargamers and collectors might be interested in, but also static modellers and conversion fans. Of course, the representatives of the last mentioned groups will want to replace at least the mortars, Pegasus Hobbies “German Mortar Teams” providing excellent 81 and 120 mm mortars while a Preiser or Dragon MG42 or 34 can take the place of the rough Plastic Soldier MG. Clearly “Late War German Infantry Heavy Weapons” emerges as an offer requiring extra work and rich spare parts box, but this is one of the pleasures of modelling and the end-result can be great, the figures certainly having high potential.

Historical Accuracy 8
Anatomy 8
Poses Quality 8
Details Quality 8
Mould Quality 10
Sculpture 8
Recommendation/Utility 8
Reviewer’s Opinion 8