Articles

Plastic Soldier - German Halftrack Sdkfz 251/D (WW2V20006) _________(BRF)

Manufacturer The Plastic Soldier Company
Scale 1/72
Set Code WW2V20006
Year 2012
No. of Figures 24
No. of Poses 8
Additional Items 1 Sd.kfz 251 Ausf.D, weapons and gear
Size Medium
Material Hard Plastic
Colour Olive
Flash Level Low/Average
Glue-ability Excellent (Polly-cement)
Convert-ability Medium
Optimal Period 1943 – 1945

 Review 

In spite having just few years since its establishment and a limited number of figure sets and kits on 1/72 WWII Germans, Plastic Soldier has succeeded to represent a name in the hobby due to good quality of products and interesting subjects, trying not only to add new miniatures but also to fill in existent gaps in the field of German infantry. Likewise, the sets issued under this label impress through the effort of ensuring a complete coverage of the depicted topic as well as multiple choices for the hobbyists. Mainly designed for wargaming, each Plastic Soldier tender reveals excellent knowledge on the needs of gamers and what would like to find in a box, a normal thing taking into account the sets are produced by a company owed by Mr. William Townshend, a lifelong wargamer and military history enthusiast, as he is characterized on Plastic Soldier’s website. Nevertheless, the quality of the products as well as the hard plastic material, extremely useful for further conversions and upgrades, make these sets tackling not only wargamers and collectors, but also static modellers, addressing to all target groups activating in the hobby, which in fact represents another declared goal of the manufacturer.

In terms of 1/72 WWII German Army, the world recognition of the company came from their figure sets, namely Late War German Infantry 1943-1945” and“Late War German Infantry Heavy Weapons”. However, the producer has started focusing in releasing ground vehicles for those units and until now has transposed in the scale a couple of the most common armour deployed by WWII Germans, Panzer IV featuring two figures and Sd.kfz 251 eight troopers. The newest arrival in the catalogue of the manufacturer is the legendary Sd.kfz 251, perhaps the most intensively employed armoured half-track within WWII German Army, a symbol of the famous Panzer-Grenadier units but in service with all army branches.

Though Sd.kfz 251 is one of the most encountered vehicles both in reality and in 1/72 scale, mass-production companies like ESCI, Hasegawa, Armourfast, Dragon, Revell making available various versions of the numerous variants released on Sd.kfz 251 chassis, the Plastic Soldier kit sets out as a true mile-stone in proving what should feature a vehicle kit. The manufacturer did not limit in simply providing the necessary parts for putting together two variants of the vehicle, respectively the classical Sd.kfz 251/1 and the command version Sd.Kfz 251/10 armed with 3.7 cm PAK35/36, but also supplies supplementary gear, weapons, and eight figures for the vehicle, including the driver and commander occupying the barely visible front seats. The incentive of giving the possibility to assemble two variants of Sd.kfz 251 is extremely welcome while the box accommodates three identical sprues, each with parts for putting together one variant of the vehicle, eight figures, and additional weapons and equipment.

A very large and high box gives enough space for the three sprues and assembly guide contained but no decal sheet is ensured. Most of the target group reps certainly have in their spare parts box appropriate decals for the vehicles, Dragon, Hasegawa, ESCI, Italeri, Revell etc perfectly working here. The artwork reveals two Sd.kfz 251/1 Ausf.D in action accompanied by several infantry-men while on the back forwards a colour chart for painting the vehicle with Vellejo as well as written information on what the kit includes.

The reviews featured on this web-site usually concentrate only on the figures incorporated in vehicle kits, but due to the novel character of the present kit, some general remarks on its armour might be useful. Plastic Soldier’s Sd.kfz 251 is the late version, Ausf. D, which was a little simplified in terms of construction than its predecessors Ausf. A to C. Bearing in mind the company has already issued a couple of figure sets on Late War WWII Germans, it is normal to reproduce a vehicle best matching with those army-men. As it has been pointed out, two options are granted and modellers can build either Sd.kfz 251/1 by using the MG or Sd.Kfz 251/10 by replacing the front MG with the Pak35/36 cannon, a pin and hole system giving the chance to change those weapons in any moment. All three MGs in the box are MG42 and nicer would have been to receive an MG34, too. While these MGs are thick and not so well-shaped, those wishing to obtain a finer model must search for MGs in other sources, Dragon’s Figure Pro kits or Preiser’s “Advancing Grenadiers with MG 1939-1945”supplying proper choices on the matter. The same situation registers concerning the gun, it misses few pieces, the barrel needs drilling, and shield, even if acceptable detailed, is also thick. Likewise, just the high profile shield is supplied, the latter low-profile shields, much suitable for an Ausf. D, missing. Some reference images show Sd.kfz 251/10 without shield, the modeller having at hand this choice, the same being valid for the MG front shield which in several field conversions emerges attached to the rear MG.

The simplified exterior of the vehicle comes out quite nice for a fast-build model and the tracks are cast on the same piece with the wheels, so assembly is much simplified, but the size of the entire assemble is a hair larger than other similar 1/72 vehicles. As many fast-build kits, also the present hull is accurate in size, practically having identical length and width with the famous Dragon Sd.kfz 251. Likewise, the front wheels are on par with Dragon in terms of size and received acceptable details. Inside, except benches and storage racks, no other details are made available. Regarding the front seats, those came modelled directly on the figures, so if not replaced with other seats, the two crew members should occupy their position. On the sprue the manufacturer delivers few items of soldier equipment often displayed on outside walls in images with the real vehicles as well as accessories for the armour including four jerry-cans, one towing-cable, one rolled canvas, spare tracks, and a tyre. In spite being optional, it is indicated to use those dissimilarly for bringing diversity to the three Sd.Kfz 251 of the box. Furthermore, a rocket launcher RPzB54 is given for outside setting but the weapon could be emplaced also inside or utilised in other projects, its size akin with most of 1/72 replicas recommending it though shield is scarce in details and barrel cast full. Anti-tank weapons were carried by Sd.kfz 251, especially the 10 variant being standard endowed with a PzB39 anti-tank rifle.

Without extra gear and front weapon, putting together the entire vehicle involves only eighteen parts, meaning that in less than 10 minutes the whole Sd.kfz 251 is ready for painting, no matter the variant the hobbyist wishes to depict. The fast and easy assembly is owed to a faultless design and cast, parts excellent going in positions. It must be stressed that for easier change the positions of the figures inside the vehicle during the photo-session for the present review, I have not glued the suprastructure, so in several images might appear some gaps but those are inexistent if permanently fixed in position. In spite the extra gear, these vehicles cannot be compared with Dragon or Revell ones, much more detailed but involving a huge amount of work for gluing over 150 pieces to obtain a single vehicle. Nevertheless, it should not be forgotten the main purpose of Plastic Soldier’s Sd.kfz 251, namely wargaming, but on the other hand, with some work and support of the spare parts box, a static modeller might obtain a pretty good replica.

As regards the crewmen, they clearly match with the Ausf. D variant entered in service in 1943, all the eight troopers wearing Late War uniform, with M38 camouflage smocks, trousers, ankle boots, and gaiters, six of them having steel helmets (five with camouflage cloth) and two wearing M43 caps. The artwork suggests painting the trousers in camouflage patterns and their thickness allows such interpretation as well as the ordinary Feldgrau one. Moreover, the collector can choose to finish the smocks and eventually the trousers in various Waffen SS (except Pea Dot) or Wehrmacht camouflage patterns as well as the more rare white, the same attire being worn both in summer and winter. The utilisation period restricts to 1943 onwards due to the ankle boots and gaiters.

Sd.kfz 251/1 was intended to transport ten troopers plus driver and commander while Sd.Kfz 251/10, which mainly represented the platoon leader vehicle and aimed to provide anti-tank support, had a five member crew. By supplying eight figures, Plastic Soldier ensures enough army-men even for Sd.Kfz 251/1 though it should be highlighted that each one of the two standing figures is specially designed for a particular version, the guide also highlighting it through marking them in green and red. One has got an MG in his hand and the other an over-scaled Pak35/36 projectile, both with separate arms and quite dissimilar gear. It looks like both received the SS dagger after the toddel perceived nearby, the weapon not only attesting the membership to SS at parades but often carried into battle by soldiers enlisted in such units. Of note is the MG gunner has got both Kar98K ammunition pouches and pistol holster on the back in an unusual location, most surely the designer reminded in a latter stage that MG gunners had pistols as personal weapons, and he tried adding such weapon in any available place. Furthermore, in spite firing off his weapon, he does it in vain while no ammunition is in place for the MG. This is a repeated mistake, the ESCI MG gunner acting in the same way, so the modeller has to correct the lack by adding an ammunition belt, OB Grigoriev having some brilliant ones. In standard approach, the one firing off the MG42 must take position in Sd.Kfz 251/1 while the other with a projectile in hands portrays the PAK35/36 loader in a Sd.Kfz 251/10. Emplacing the MG gunner which already has got an MG in hands there will be three MGs but putting the front MG inside the vehicle is more than accurate, this representing the standard endowment of a Sd.kfz 251/1 Ausf.D, the third MG being for outside the vehicle use. Likewise, by swapping the projectile with a Kar98K might be obtained a quite interesting left-handed soldier in an assault stance or by replacing the round with an ammo belt, the figure will turn into a very good loader. Nothing keeps away the hobbyist to display both standing figs in the same vehicle, for instance inside a Sd.Kfz 251/10 the gunner would occupy his standard position and the MG gunner with his weapon set at the rear firing off, for giving a picture of a vehicle in the mist of combat. For further increasing the fire power, more riflemen or other combat standing poses from the two Plastic Soldier figure sets or other sources might be sneaked in Sd.Kfz 251, especially a gunner and a commander for the cannon would be a nice add.

Both standing figures pretty credible fulfil their tasks as well as the four seat members occupying the benches. Two of them hold their Kar98K with both hands, another keeps a MP40 on his knees, and the last has no weapon, but the manufacturer endowed him with a separate Kar98K on the sprue. The weapon is in accordance with the ammunition pouches but much over-scaled and completely unusable, so a candidate for replacement with Dragon or Preiser similar rifles. In order to better sit, items of gear are not shaped on their backs and the related one for three of them is offered separately and can be fixed or not on the outside walls of the vehicle or on the figs. The poses of the two riflemen remind somehow about the old Matchbox’s Sd.kfz 11 and Hasegawa’s Sd.kfz 7 passengers and even if they are in identical poses, a slight dissimilarity is introduced by headgear, one with steel helmet and another with M43 cap. Their comrades planned for benches are in more interesting and not so stiff stances, one looking to the left and the other in a relaxed position with the right resting on the bench.

A plus point of the set represents the driver and the commander for the front seats, a couple of very useful figs considering that no mass-production manufacturer provided for their Sd.kfz 251s such personnel. While there is impossible to see their legs, both are just busts but with detailed palms and facial expressions although only their backs could be perceived when set in position.  For differentiate them, the same approach as for the two passengers with rifles has been adopted, the driver receiving steel helmet and the other, possibly embodying the vehicle commander, M43 cap. As earlier pointed out, for making easy the assembly, the seats and seat backs are sculptured directly on the figures, limiting the use.

An important fact-finding in terms of anatomy should be highlighted, all seated crewmen set apart than their two standing colleagues, slightly taller and with bigger heads but definitely working in the scale. On contrary, in the attempt to better enter in the vehicle, the seated minis are issued in the small/medium side of 1/72 scale and with perfect sized heads. Clearly it would have been greater the company to release all their toy-soldiers in this size, avoiding potential complains on the little too large size of the figs, over-scaled heads and weapons.  

The level of small details on uniforms and gear is fine including even the chest strings of the smocks and also facial expressions, with easily perceived eyes, noses, mouths and ears. Benefiting by the advantages conferred by hard plastic, the two little over-scaled heads of the standing figures might be replaced with Dragon or Preiser ones as well as further equipment or weapons of the same producers could be effortlessly supplemented. Palms are matching the proportions of the bodies and received well defined fingers. Both standing and seated personnel find a huge number of companions in various mass production and cottage industry tenders, very good ones putting forward Pegasus Hobbies in their two Waffen SS sets, Italeri “German Elite Troops” and “WWII PAK 40 AT Gun with Servants”  or even Preiser “8 cm Granatwerfer 34 in combat” and “German PAK40 Crew”.  As stressed on the box, the deployed hard plastic not only fantastically accepts polly-cement, instantly fixing the parts, but also enamels, acrylics, and artistic oils, durable recording and maintaining painter’s artistic effort. In case of not displaying on the vehicle or even on the minis of the present set, the separate gear of the soldiers might be allocated to other figures belonging to the tall side of 1/72 due to its quality and uncommon setting. Cast is excellent and flash percent is low on vehicle but average on the troopers, and no excess of plastic is recorded anywhere.

If not for the Sd.kfz 251 itself, at least the crewmen, particularly the seated ones, deserves the attention of static modellers while those army-men fit in a large number of vehicles and their size is an appropriate one. Of course, the full minis of this category are ideal as tank riders, too and the two busts might find good emplacements inside various other armoured vehicles as drivers or gunners in turrets of Sd.kfz 250/9 or 234/1. The presence in the scale of passengers or tank rider in camouflage smocks with ankle boots and gaiters is really scarce, making available such figures reiterating the repeated efforts carried out by Plastic Soldiers for covering blank spaces of 1/72 WWII Germans as well as the excellent knowledge of the market. Taking profit by the multiple choices offered on the same sprue, a multitude of dissimilar vehicles can be constructed, to an increased diversity bringing a major contribution also the crewmen setting. In this light, it could be straightforwardly achieved a vehicle in combat or, by refraining adding the standing soldier, one simply on the way, with the soldiers staying still on benches. Furthermore, with the three vehicles and their crews from a single box, the modeller or wargamer is able to portray a quite impressive force, so its price is more than correct comparing with the offered stuff.   

Historical Accuracy 9
Anatomy 9
Poses Quality 9
Details Quality 9
Mould Quality 10
Sculpture 9
Recommendation/Utility 10
Reviewer’s Opinion 8