Articles

Italeri - German Elite Troops (6068) _________(EXT)

Manufacturer Italeri
Scale 1/72
Set Code 6068
Year 2006
No. of Figures 48
No. of Poses 16
Additional Items None
Size Tall
Material Soft Plastic
Colour Cream
Flash Level Intermediate
Glue-ability Medium (Super Glue Gel)
Convert-ability Difficult
Optimal Period 1943 - 1945

 

Review 

From the partnership between two of the most well-known producers of figures has resulted at least a very interesting set, combining both the old and new style in the filed of small scale soldiers, even if it is confronting with several critics. In fact, it can be said that the present collection of figures did not result just from the partnership Italeri-Revell, but also an important contribution has been brought by the old Esci sets, from where most of the featured poses were inspired. Indeed, this is one of the main reasons that "German Elite Troops" received many critics, in spite of having important strong points comparing with similar sets.

One of such points may be represented by the plastic used to manufacture it, looking like a combination among soft and hard plastic. Actually, it can be assumed that it is the hardest soft plastic used to manufacture figures in the Braille scale and furthermore, Italeri called it "Superspecial material - Let's Glue It". On the company site it is emphasised the fact that the new material will revolutionize the world of scale soldiers as well the fact that while retaining the mechanical properties of Polyethylene, can be glued using any standard modelling glue, facilitating in this way the extremely difficult conversion of soft plastic figures.

The material has as a minimum, two first visible advantages, namely it accepts extremely well not only paint but also standard modelling glue and especially super glue, making a really strong bond. The last characteristic is of major importance, taking into account there are few parts requiring assembly as well as for another reason that will be lately described.

Encompassed inside its strong points may be assessed the large variation of weapons and cloths, in this regard the set being one of the richest ever produced. Also impressive is the high quality of sculpture details, like facial expressions, weapons and other miscellaneous small details.

Nevertheless, it has its mistakes and it is regretful that such a highly manufactured set includes faults which could easily be avoided. One of the most obvious and criticized is represented by the reverse positioning of canteen with shovel. By regulation, the German soldiers wore the canteen on the right hip and the shovel on the left one. Here the sculptor has overturned their positions at all the figures that wear these items, which is generally and correctly viewed as a mistake. In order to give some credit to the sculptor and not to vehemently accuse him, it should be underlined that exist photos showing German soldiers wearing these objects like there are presented here. In addition, for those who can not accept that it was more than possible to exist and some exceptions, even in a so disciplined army, and want to see these items worn exactly in the same way like in the manual, the soft-hard plastic "Let's Glue It" used to produce the figures provides the opportunity to switch their position without great efforts. But to this issue I shall return few lines below.

Another criticized aspect of "German Elite Troops" is the large number of poses that are quite similar, a well founded remark considering that six figures (grouped on pairs) have an almost similar appearance. Still, there are major differences between them such as weapons and gear. The similitude must not shock at all, bearing in mind that especially in the last period, Revell used this simple applicable method for increasing the number of poses inside a set. In this regard, it definitely distinguishes "German Navy", where again, four poses look approximately the same. Nevertheless, I rather see this method put in practice than to have in the same set, instead of three identical figures, four such soldiers. On the other hand, in this way there are raised the number of poses, fact which really counts both for collectors and wargamers.     

As it was normal, Italeri and Revell art boxes are different, featuring some of the poses in action, but the content of the two sets are identical and furthermore, also the plastic used to create the soldiers and its color is one and the same. The figures come on three identical sprues including 16 poses. Besides dissimilar boxes, the names are also distinct for each producer, Italeri named it "German Elite Troops" (in fact, Waffen SS, but this name is forbidden by law in some countries, so the company adopted the accepted name for this unit) while Revell called it "German Mechanized Infantrymen 1944" (maybe for avoiding confusions considering that they have already a set including Panzer Greandier term).

Regarding the uniforms, it is presented here one of the largest variety met in plastic figures sets. There are reproduced great coats, parkas, smocks, M43 tunics, a mixture of models of trousers as well other attractive garment items like gloves and toques. In this respect, four soldiers wear M42 great coats, four have parkas, two have camouflage smocks M38 and six are dressed in M43 tunics. As it was normal for the reference period, with three exceptions that have the famous long boots, the rest shoe ankle boots with gaiters. Seven figures have their helmets covered by camouflage canvas, while eight wear just the steel helmets. The officer is the only figure without helmet and wears the officer cap. Moreover, at least three soldiers have camouflage gloves and seven wear toques, item that wrap the neck and almost all the head, living uncovered just the face. Both these pieces of clothing are extremely rare encountered at 1/72 and represent a really strongpoint of the set. Likewise, for bringing more diversity to the figures, these items can be painted in different camouflage patterns.

Even if the Revell's title of the set includes the year 1944, almost all of these figures may be used between 1943 and 1945, while some of them could be employed even in earlier periods. Of course, attention must be paid not only at the type of uniform and boots, but also at the weapons, taking into account that some of them like Gewehr43, StG44 and Panzerfaust appeared in 1943 or 1944.

From the first view, the type and thickness of the uniform, as well other garment items like gloves and toques lead to the conclusion that these figures are addressed for cold seasons. Even so, they can take part and in campaigns carried out in warmer periods, like early autumn, late spring or even cold summer dawns.  Another advantage provided by the camouflage uniforms is that soldiers dressed in them can exemplify more obvious both Waffen SS and Wehrmacht troops, the specific camouflage patterns making the difference. Furthermore, parkas, over trousers and even smocks transplant to be painted in white, since these articles were reversible and in general one face was white.

With reference to their gear, most of them have "Y" straps and are pretty light equipped. Frequently are seen gas masks containers, canteens and shovels. Important and very used gear elements non-existing here are bread bags, mess-tins, bayonets attached to the entrenching tools and Zeltbahns. Like it was mentioned, at each figure who has both shovel and canteen, their positioning is otherwise than according to regulations, but for those who really want to fix the fault, "Let's Glue It" offers an important helpful hand in this regard. Hard to repair this mistake is at three figures dressed in great coats because the shovel and its shank are engraved in their great coats, but for the rest of soldiers is quite facile due to the fact that their shovels shanks are not connected to the bodies. Of course, it was much better the sculptor to exempt us from this effort and the present discussion not to take place. In addition, easy to fix the shovel-canteen issue is at the soldier dressed in great coat which fires an MP40. Moreover, its shank is shorter than normal, perhaps a moulding mistake.

What is more to say, it is about the ammo pouches, which in general fit the designated weapon used by each soldier. Problems appear only at all those which are armed with StG44 and have ammo pouches for Gewehr43. I looked over hundreds of pictures from the period and I have never seen a German soldier using StG44 to wear ammo pockets designated for Gewehr43, so I presume this fact as another small and not so important fault of the sculptor.  

The weaponry is extremely diverse, the present set distinguishing not only through the wide range of arms, but also through their sculpture quality and accurateness, some of the best encountered in Braille Scale soft and hard plastic sets related to the German Army.  The soldiers' firepower consists in two Kar98K (one with bayonet attached), four MP40, two Gewehr43 (one with scope), three StG44, one MG34, one MG42, one RPzB 54, one Panzerfaust and one Granatwerfer 34 (medium mortar, 81mm). Stranger enough is that none of these figures have pistols or their holsters, neither the officer nor the specialized troopers possess it, while this weapon was in their standard endowment.

Concerning the poses, as it was pointed out several times along the present review, these are criticized a lot due to their similitude with those encountered in old Esci sets. Certainly, most of them originate in such sets, but also few are inspired from older Revell sets and more important, there are as well several original ones, never encountered in Braille soft plastic sets. All the poses depict soldiers in combat which are pretty realistic and well done with twelve figures standing and four crouching. Another prepared surprise by the manufacturer is that none prone pose is provided.

In the list including figures not often seen in the scale makes distinction the soldier with bayonet attached to Kar 98K. Though there are commentaries stressing that this weapon was not often used during WWII, thousands of reference pictures feature German soldiers with bayonet fixed to their arms. It must not be taken into account not only the classical "attack at bayonet", but also this item was extremely used and useful in town and village combats. Other attractive poses are represented by those who have Gewehr43 due to its rare representation at 1/72, as well the soldier dressed in great coat who fires the MP40. The officer stance is eye-catching and new for the scale. He is dressed in MP43 tunic, officer trousers and cap, long boots and has an MP40, ammo pouches for the weapon, map case and binoculars on his chest. Nothing to comment about these, but odd is that he has not pistol holster, a traditional and according to regulation weapon for officers. The present set includes another interesting detail, namely a clearly identified NCO. He wears M38 camouflage smock, regular trousers, marching boots, helmet and has MP40, ammo pouches and gas mask container. What makes easy to recognize his rank is his map case and binoculars. As it was stressed, the set includes figures handling specialized arms like RPzB 54, Panzerfaust, Granatwerfer 34 or MG34 and MG42.

With reference to the soldiers with anti-tank weapons, both of them are crouched and wear a not common element for their weapons, respectively the MG case. Unfortunately, as it is quite often encountered in 1/72 sets from other manufacturers, the figure with Panzerfaust fires his weapon in the wrong way, aiming with it exactly like with a rifle while he has to shoot from his armpit. Even carved in a classical pose, the soldier with RPzB 54 is outstanding and his weapon is one of the nicest in the scale, very detailed and accurate.

Regarding the machine gunners, it is pleasant to find in the same set both of the most extensively used MGs by Germans. Like in old Esci's "German Soldiers" set, both MGs bipods are propped on different things. In this regard, here the MG34 bipod is fixed on a brick wall while the MG42 bipod is sustained by an ammo box from which one side is missing, probably because of moulding reasons. In addition, it is nice to notice that both MGs are fed by 50 rounds chargers.

As it was mentioned before, the MG servants miss their pistol holsters, but have their MG cases, gas mask containers, canteens and shovels. While one is crouched, the other one stands in a classical Esci position and both the ammo box and the brick wall may be cut off if these objects have no place on a diorama. The operation is required especially in dioramas depicting a scene taking place in a forest or field, where a brick wall has no reasons to appear. Furthermore, the argument of cutting off is sustained and by the fact that both MG bipods are in an out of the ordinary position comparing with the MG barrels. Though the brick wall or the ammo box is kept, it is advisable to be switched in the right shape, which is not hard at all. 

Finally, in relation to the incorporated Granatwerfer 34, it should be mentioned that on the one hand, it is obviously based on Esci mortars ensembles formed by only one servant connected to the base plate of the mortar, but on the other hand, this one is a lot upgraded. The old Esci mortars were bizarre conceived, without bipod, the barrel being sustained just by the air, in a balance known only by the sculptor. Here exactly this huge mistake was corrected, the manufacturer adding a bipod that must be glued to the barrel. In fact, this is this is the single piece that must be bonded and superglue provides great results in this respect. The soldier's pose is again similar with the Esci ones, preparing to launch an accurate reproduced mortar projectile.

Another weird feature of the present set is that in spite of including several figures, more precisely four, which have a StiHg-r 24 under the belt, none of the poses reveal a soldier throwing a grenade. Such a stance is one of the most common used by all makers inside a set related to the German army infantry in WWII, so it is quite surprisingly not to find any here.  As to the uniforms, all the types are perfect from the point of view of accuracy, including plenty of small nicely done details like insignias, buttons and the list may continue. Likewise, on the collars it can be easily painted Wehrmacht or SS ranks and insignia. The anatomy of the figures is fabulous as well the facial details, some of the best in scale, even eyeballs being more than visible!  There are no disproportions between the size of figures, weapons or gear at different poses and flash is in low amounts, uncomplicated to remove while excess of plastic does not exist. Besides these, the weapons represent one of the strengths of the set, not only because the wide offered gamma, covering almost all the most intensive arms used by Germans, but also thanks to the astonishing quality of the engraved details. Like it was specified many times along the review, the "Superspecial material" used for producing the figures receive very well the paint, giving to it a nice matt appearance, accepting as well superglue and even glue used in general at kits. The supporters of figures with bases may be satisfied taking into consideration the fact that all figures have bases while those who want to remove them should know that they will have to put some effort at several crouched poses as a consequence of the hardness of material.   

The present soldiers are perfectly matched, by any point of view such as type and thickness of uniform, size of heads, bodies and gear with those included in sets like Caesar "German Infantry with Winter Gear", Revell "German Infantry", Pegasus Hobbies "Waffen SS - Set 1", Esci "Nebelwerfer 41", Preiser "WW2 German Pak40 Crew" as well with some from Pegasus Hobby "Germans in Berlin 1945". 

Although compatible according to the type of uniform criterion with Armourfast's "German Mortar Team" and "German Machine Gun Team sets, as well with Pegasus Hobies's "Waffen SS Set 2", it is quite difficult to add them up on a small diorama because the size differences of bodies and heads between the just mentioned sets and the present reviewed set will be evident.  Only large dioramas, incorporating figures from various manufacturers are recommended for joining them.  Nevertheless, due to the fact that it is about an extremely insignificant difference, for sure the size issue will not disturb at all the wargamers.

In spite of the several negative comments "German Elite Troops" represent a really first-class set bearing in mind its wide range of uniforms and weapons, great anatomy of figures as well its small details like facial expressions, uniform elements and the list may continue. Furthermore, through the present set, Tigers, JagdPanthers, Pumas and other late WWII German vehicles have great companions and guardians to escort them into combat, being suitable for such missions in almost all seasons. It also have not to be forgotten the substance used to produce these soldiers, the "Superspecial material - Let's Glue It", which provides the truly great opportunity to convert or to correct mistakes at soft plastic figures.

 

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