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Orion - German WW2 Panzer Soldiers Basic Set1 (ORI72045) _________(EXT)

Manufacturer Orion
Scale 1/72
Set Code ORI72045
Year 2012
No. of Figures 52
No. of Poses 13
Additional Items None
Size Tall
Material Soft Plastic
Colour Tan
Flash Level Low
Glue-ability Average (Super Glue Gel)
Convert-ability Difficult
Optimal Period 1939 – 1945 (with some exceptions)

Review 

Acknowledged as a very interesting soft plastic figures maker, with two sets on WWII Germans released in 2006-2007, one portraying Paratroopers and the other Volksstrum 1945, both incorporating few novel poses but generally not much impressing with sculpture or cast, in 2011 Orion has surprised the entire hobby community by issuing a series of premium quality resin sets targeting Panzer soldiers. Subtitled “Basic Sets”, the initial series of four sets, all launched in the same time, was increased by adding three new ones in the first months of 2012. Master sculptured by Boris Knokhov who succeeded to carve even the smallest details, those sets have brought in the 1/72 scale the most truthful image of Panzer troopers. Having as starting point reference images shot during WWII, the toy-soldiers come in extremely natural stances and dressed in fascinating combinations of items of clothing, many of those previously not encountered in the scale, filling in key gaps in terms of 1/72 WWII Panzer troopers.    

The first four resin Panzer Soldiers Basic Sets comprised three figures, while the other three included four miniatures, according to the information stated in each artworks of these last mentioned sets, one toy-soldier being offered free of charge by the producer. Still, the so-called bonus figures have already been seen in the scale, delivered inside the prior four sets. Besides the commercial strategy applied by the manufacturer, the reason of duplicating the troopers also rests in sculptor’s lobby for his masterwork not to be diminished by casting mistakes, especially considering those were insignificant and imposed uncomplicated solutions. Nevertheless, it should be greatly esteemed Orion’s full availability in solving the issues in the attempt of reaching perfection and the few minor casting errors emerged on the figures in case have been solved by the maker, the new releases being granted as bonus inside the following three Basic sets. Rarely such move towards have been met in the scale, comparable endeavours being carried out by Pegasus Hobbies for “Waffen SS Set 1” and “German Mortar Teams”, or Odemars in “The Last Defenders of Berlin”.

However, during summer 2012 Orion has continued to astonish the target groups by launching under the name “German WWII Panzer Soldiers (Basic Set 1)” a soft plastic tender marking a magnificent and unusual incentive, transposing in a mass-production set a part of the figures supplied before by the resin line of the company. Such approach sets out as a true premiere in the field of 1/72 WWII Germans, the producer making available at an extremely accessible price for every hobbyist, no matter the group he belongs, outstanding figures previously issued in small resin sets tackling the most avid collectors and diorama builders. If for any of the three or four figure Basic resin sets the customer had to pay around 12 Euro, for the soft plastic edition, comprising four identical sprues, each accommodating thirteen poses, only around 10 Euro are charged. This is really sensational, and the producer should be much admired and appreciated for opening the gates to everybody, giving the chance of owing top-notch miniatures, initially reserved to rich persons wanting to renounce to a considerable sum for just three figs. At present, an exclusivist category of miniatures move to all interested persons, reaching even the wargaming table for a truly spectacular emergence. Most of diorama builders which were tempted but had some reserves in buying the resin sets will have no hesitations in purchasing their much cheaper soft plastic adaptations. Certainly, the resin line will remain in place for hobbyists affording buying expensive miniatures or wishing to waste less time for cleaning the minis.

Practically, there are almost no differences between the two types of minis, the producer succeeding to cast in an excellent manner the soft plastic army-men, the great majority of details emerging on equal foot at both the resin and soft plastic products. When it was the case, the plastic correspondents of the resin figs duplicate the revisited versions, so nothing to complain on the matter. Indubitably, the plastic ones have a couple of draw-backs, namely a little larger amount of flash and noticeable seam lines affecting the faces of several crewmen, so more attention has to be paid for getting rid of those, of course without damaging too much the stunning facial details. In addition, the most serious issue raises the soft plastic deployed by Orion, the material having the undesired propensity of producing fluffs when trying removing flash and seam lines. Cleaning the resin versions is a true pleasure, but the soft plastic ones will give little head-aches and will involve longer time and patience. Nevertheless, it has to be strongly emphasised that at the first glance, and comparing with other soft plastic tenders, these miniatures look quite free of flash and seam lines, many gamers and collectors having the possibility to almost immediately start paining the troopers without spending much moments with surplus removal. The exigent modeller will strive getting out the best of these figs and for this reason he will have to allocate more time in order to attain excellent results that are very possible with some effort. Definitely, a wiser decision would have been issuing the product in hard plastic, a material from where the unwanted extras are easier eliminated. If it had not been the fluffing tendency when making a cut, the entire tidiness operation would have lasted just around a quarter of hour.

Orion introduced bases as a distinct feature for the soft plastic Panzer crews, the resin homologues, mainly dedicated to static model builders, evidently coming without. Intending to response to the needs of all persons carrying out activities in the field, the manufacturer decided to emplace most of the soft plastic militaries on bases, being well-known wargamers and some collectors’ preferences for figures on stands. Although there are portrayed Panzer army-men, several are for ground utilisations, so bases might work for those. On the other hand, based figs mounted on tanks are not good looking, the additional stand not only covering details of the vehicle, but also conferring an unnatural and unrealistic general appearance both to the personnel and machine. A couple of seated miniatures, planned to be displayed in various locations on the vehicle were delivered without stands but a little odd is the choice of basing crewmen clearly designed for hatch emplacements. Not only for them, but also for the rest, the stands can be immediately eradicated with simple cuts under soldiers’ boots, the material not opposing any resistance at this surgery intervention which leaves unaffected the properly shaped footwear.

All the seven resin sets sent representatives to the larger soft plastic relative, the manufacturer choosing from each of those a single, a couple, or all three poses in order to release the thirteen plastic miniatures compilation. The criteria for selection are unknown, but it seems the producer took in consideration the interaction between some figures as well as to gather closely linked poses in terms of garment, able to depict a compete four of five Panzer member crew. For instance, for the first case might work the trooper with projectile in hands and the other bending in front looking like trying to grab the ammo while for the second case can be highlighted the soldiers in working attire or those dressed in Panzer wrappers but with different models of trousers.  

Such a remarkable set could receive only a perfect box and the manufacturer accomplished to furnish a marvellous package and extremely informative, one of the best ever developed in 1/72 scale, setting the standard not only in terms of figures but also concerning how should look a plastic figure box. Both main sides feature characteristics specific to artworks, so it is really impossible determining which is front and back of the box. One side introduces the unpainted versions of all poses incorporated by the set, inside a top quality photo that fully attests the brilliant and extremely accurate sculpture, revealing striking items of garment and superlative details available on these figures. In order to recreate this artwork, the company appealed to the images of the masters utilised for the resin line and got together in the same picture the poses selected for the soft plastic set, this again emphasising the close relation with the resin precursors.

Bearing in mind the set addresses to all people involved in the hobby as well as the unusual appearance of the soldiers, it has correctly been appraised as necessary offering a very exact painting guide. In this purpose, the other side of the box provides colour drawings of all figures in identical stances with the miniatures, one of the troopers being edited in a much larger format on the left of the image. It must be pointed out the drawings are extremely precise and exceptionally depict the original colours of the items of garment worn by the real Panzer soldiers that served as models for 1/72 transposition, as earlier highlighted, all these figures being inspired by known and not so known photos shot during WWII. In fact, it is more than normal to be like that while the author of the drawings is the same as the creator of the figures, Boris Knokhov accurately painting the clothes, including even small details such as collar boards, Iron Cross ribbons etc. Taking into account these fact-findings, the reviewer’s recommendation is following without any reservation the painting instructions, the end result being uncommon comparing with other Panzer soldiers encountered until now in 1/72 scale, but fully respecting history accuracy. In general, most of mass-production and cottage industry artworks on Panzer soldiers present those in the classic black jacket, second pattern M41 HBT Panzer uniform or pea-dot camouflage items of clothing. Practically, it is for the first time when a manufacturer shows odd but well documented combinations of items of garment such as regular infantry trousers mixed with black Panzer wrappers, M43 tunic with second pattern M41 HBT Panzer trousers, drill tunic over Panzer uniform etc. 

An interesting facet of the package is the image on the backbone, repeating the main one with drawn figures but arranged on a single row and showing the true height of each 1/72 toy-soldier, so modeller can check the compatibility with other miniatures without opening the box. On the opposite side, the busts of a couple of soldiers emerge, one of them with the very early Panzer beret that will not be encountered at any of the figures from inside, perhaps it is a brief preview on a couple of poses belonging to a potential soft plastic Basic Set 2.              

After opening the box, the magnificent thirteen poses of the set, each multiplied on four identical sprues, will reveal in all their splendour. Modellers will be charmed not only by the life-like appearance, but also by the marvellous sculpture, featuring attractive items of clothing and remarkable amount of small details. A very good approach is fixing the figures on the sprues in a single point, respectively from the reverse of bases, so nothing affects heads or body parts as there is the situation encountered on the sprues of many other plastic toy-soldier sets.

With Panzer Soldiers Set 1 the manufacturer succeeded to bring in the scale the most genuine image of such soldiers, especially in the Late part of WWII when shortage on uniforms had a direct impact on the appearance of the German soldiers, no matter the units they activated. In case of Panzer troopers, the iconic image in the fancy black uniform was far behind, the initial items of clothing being completed or replaced with what was at hand. Definitely Orion’s brings in the scale the largest diversity and most fascinating items of garment ever met in a set dedicated to WWII Germans, covering both common and uncommon attire. Except the famous Panzer trousers and wrappers, we have the great opportunity to meet drill tunics, standard and tailor-made coveralls, second pattern 1941 HBT Panzer trousers, M40 feldgrau trousers, M33 and M43 HBT working pants, and M43 tunic. Most of the times, below the top garment there are clearly noticed perfectly shaped shirts, including one with collars over the Panzer wrapper or coming out at the waist at a soldier bending in front, small refinements bringing a further plus of realism.

As carrying on their activity in close relation with the vehicles, the presence of working attire is not surprising, but extremely welcomed, such items of garment being intensively worn by Panzer troopers not only when performing maintenance duties, but also in combat. As reference materials completely sustain, especially crewmen of heavy tanks like Tiger and Panther, very exposed to breakages, preferred to wear even on the battlefield items of clothing designed for maintenance. According to regulations, the WWII German soldier received either a work or fatigue suit together with the uniform, the work attire being issued in a huge number of shapes, cuts, and colours. The army-men carrying out heavy tasks like maintenance got work suits and obviously, for Panzer troopers, coveralls were very ordinary and could be worn straight or over uniform.

Head gear and footwear propose a large assortment as well, officer peak cap, M34 overseas cap, M43 cap and bare headed army-men being available, while footwear is represented by ankle and marching/jack boots. Not all the toy-soldiers received belts and pistols as the personal weapon of the Panzer trooper, six of them having belts but only four with pistol holsters attached, three different models of holsters being identified here, so another rich range of a pretty small item. The lack of pistols should not be regarded as a fault, repeatedly Panzer crewmen performing most of their tasks without pistols, all references in the filed clearly sustaining this idea.

In addition, as stressed few lines above, the attractive combinations of pieces of garment put on by these soldiers represent another strong and charming plus point of the set. Due to the way they are dressed, the present tankers are principally projected for scenes happened in warm or temperate climates, most of them for the Late Part of WWII, especially those wearing second pattern 1941 HBT trousers, M43 tunic, M43 HBT working pants, and M43 cap. The items of garment provide the modeller a large liberty in selecting the colours he wishes to reproduce, not only those recommended by the box artwork. Based on the fact the set gives several similar sprues, corroborated with the great assortment of items of clothing, the hobbyist can take the opportunity to paint the figures from another sprue in more unusual colours, an aspect fully working primarily here, where diversity is at its home. In this regard, wrappers fit to be painted not only in the classic black, but also in camouflage and Feldgrau as for Assault artillery, as made of leather or even white, very rare tailor made white Panzer wrappers being used not for parade or winter camouflage as it might be appropriate at the beginning, but in combat during summer. Furthermore, various shades of gray, green, black are proper for the working uniforms, as well as blue or camouflage patterns for the coverall, lots of such items of garment being issued like that for Panzer soldiers. At their turn, the M43 tunic and all models of trousers can be painted in camouflage schemes and it should be drawn the attention that the soldiers from here dressed in wrappers belong to Wehrmacht and not Waffen SS due to the cut of the jackets and the breast eagles visible at most of them. Though there were slight differences between Heer and Waffen SS Panzer wrappers, in the 1/72 scale those are hard to spot and in case the modeller wishes to paint the jackets in Waffen SS camouflage patterns, then the breast eagle must be removed with a blade from the chest and eventually painted a new one on the left arm.

Most of the times, during combat, tankers are inside the vehicle without being seen from outside, and evidently, a set targeting Panzer crews has a limited area and generally focuses on troopers in relaxed stances, carrying out maintenance activities, or for hatch emplacements. The same topics are addressed by Orion in their plastic set, and in spite being cast as single pieces, the shape of all these minis is tremendously real, many of them being in a wide range of tranquil stances, including several with hands deep in their pockets, a very natural gesture not only at soldiers doing nothing, but also in civil life. Still, a couple carry out maintenance activities and few others are designed for hatches.  

Each of these top figures deserve a brief paragraph and there will be described in the order given on the sprue starting with the easiest figure to recognise, namely the officer. However, it should be underlined that, as indicated in the opening part of the review, at the bonus figures offered in the last three resin sets, the manufacturer corrected the small casting mistakes encountered at the first editions, obviously, the soft plastic correspondents being issued based on the revisited versions, so nothing to complain on the matter. It is also the case of the officer, he has starred for the first time in Basic Set 2 but missed the end part of the index he points with, so it has been reissued in the correct manner in Basic Set 5, and then here. Pointing with his finger to something, the stance is revealed by several reference images, in particular by a series of photos taken in the same moment where the officer gave guidelines to a crew during maintenance activities. His position is immediately identified due to the peak cap, and definitely it is about a very skilful officer taking into consideration the Iron Cross ribbons, Panzer Assault Badge, and Wound Badge set on the left side of the wrapper. Dressed in standard Panzer uniform and shoeing boots, he also took with him the pistol on the right hip. An interesting aspect is that it seems he holds a piece of paper, handkerchief or glove in right hand which with he points and has got the Panzer tie, an item occasionally worn not only at parades or in the early stages of WWII, but also sporadically seen on Normandy frontline and in others areas. In a calm but authoritarian attitude he fits to various roles both in combat or back line.  

The sprue next displays a soldier walking with his both hands deep in the trousers pockets, reassembling a pretty well-known photo where in the back-ground there are seen some Panzers on a train platform. Earlier encountered in Set 4, this is the figure picked by the company as an emblem of the soft plastic edition and illustrated in the largest format in the artwork. The trooper wears the standard Panzer wrapper and according both to the artwork and the original reference image, M40 feldgrau trousers and M34 feldgrau overseas cap, items specific to other ground units but not Panzer. He has got belt but no pistol holster and shoe boots and because the position of legs, this absolute miniature might be interpreted as either walking or staying still.

Third in the upper row emerges a figure from the resin sets launched in 2012, respectively Set 5, and he embodies an interesting Panzer soldier due to his coverall, an intensively item of garment used by Panzer soldiers, but scarcely illustrated within 1/72 sets dedicated to WWII German armoured troopers. Over twenty distinct models of coveralls, officially delivered by army depots, tailor made, of civil origins or even captured were worn by Panzer soldiers, and the model put on by this army-man looks like the standard one. Bare headed, with left in the pocket and the right rested on something pretty tall such as a vehicle part, building or fence, he adopts a tremendous natural stance and it is normal to be like that while the 1/72 figure precisely transpose in the scale the pose taken by a Panther crew member, perhaps even the commander. Another nice detail is the pistol holster worn in front on the left hand side, underlining it is about an army-man in mission, in the close proximity of the battle field.

Perhaps the most atypical for the 1/72 scale but very common in reality, is the one originating in Set 6 and which preferred to perform in the blouse of the M33 HBT drill uniform, M40 feldgrau trousers and marching/jack boots. If he would not have the M34 overseas cap painted in black in the artwork, then there has not been any clue indicating he activates within Panzer army. Photos of tankers dressed like that are in abundance and the M33 HBT drill jacket was intensively used by such army-men, almost on par with the legendary Panzer wrapper. Likewise, all WWII German units where there were carried on maintenance activities are fine for him, obviously painting the head cover in other colours but not black. Looking to the left and with both hands deep in the pockets of the blouse, there are several reference images showing quite similar Panzer crewmen. Definitely, a master sculpting achievement represents the way the pockets shape around the hands from inside.

One of the seated figures comes next in the sequence, and he adopts an extremely common position, staring straight, with legs crossed and arms resting on the body. Dressed in Panzer wrapper, the artwork shows him as wearing M33 HBT working pants but certainly those can be painted in black as well, a precise trousers identification being little hampered because it is a seated pose. He also has got Iron Cross ribbon, Panzer Assault Badge, M34 overseas cap, belt without pistol, and ankle boots, so a quite classical appearance of a Panzer crewman.

Certainly the most interesting miniature of the whole kit is the one bareheaded, dressed in a coverall, and with both hands inside the pockets of his trousers, laying against a vehicle, but he can do the same thing against a building, fence, chair, tree, pile of ammunition boxes etc. The version of the coverall worn by this soldier is definitely the most exciting and unusual, unique in the 1/72 scale, and rarely met in reality, too. The trooper emerging in the reference image from where the sculptor got inspired put on him an extremely controversial model, namely a field converted coverall tailored from a shortened HBT M43 tunic and trousers joined through a band. For further increasing the strange appearance, to the trousers the tailor added extra front pockets from another M43 tunic. Of particular interest is that there had not been removed the infantry collar and shoulder boards as well as the breast eagle from the original tunic, but the soldier adjusted a Panzer Assault Badge. According to the testimonies of combatants, it seems that very uncommon model was created by a rear-front tailor unit and delivered exclusively to s.Pz-Abt 502 troopers. The genuine aspect of this garment piece is enhanced by the shoulder boards, breast eagle, badge, and exact number of buttons the sculptor skilfully transferred on the 1/72 model, exactly like those fixed on the real coverall. Regulations forbid insignia on working clothes but a huge amount of filmed and photographed references reveal often infringements of those norms. Especially here, where it is dressed an atypical tailor made coverall with infantry insignia, for showing the membership to Panzer units,  the soldier disobeyed the regulations and felt the need to add the Panzer Assault Badge. It is well-known that shoulder boards on working clothes appear as a frequent small mistake at various manufacturers, but surely not applicable in this case. Moreover, it should be much praised sculptor’s brilliant idea of depicting a truly uncommon category of coveralls, and it can be painted either as illustrated in the artwork which copies the unique appearance of the coverall of the soldier taken as model, with trousers more worn than the top, or all garment in the same feldgrau colour. In this regard, in the photo from where the pose and attire were inspired, there are other two comrades wearing the same tailor-made coverall, but tops and trousers have an identical level of wearing. Boris Knokhov took the decision to put on the 1/72 fig the left arm Obergefreiter’s “V” shaped rank chevron and the Iron Cross ribbon that did not appear on the top of the original army-man transposed in the scale, but on his colleague’s who stays right behind him. The head of the real soldier was covered by a M34 overseas cap, but his 1/72 version comes bare-headed, the sculptor duplicating another head of a trooper appearing in a different reference image which was dressed in the same model of coverall. Bearing in mind these facts, here emerges the great opportunity of making an extremely simple but of great impact conversion, merely replacing the head with one having M34 overseas cap, painting white infantry collar boards and not reproducing the Iron Cross ribbon and the rank chevron on the left arm, will be attained an astonishing conversion, fully matching the pose and attire adopted by an existing soldier.

Last on the first row of the sprue was emplaced a figure designed for hatch, originally incorporated within Set 1 of the resin series and reissued as bonus in Set 7, where there was revised the slightly smaller head mistake featured by the first edition. Dressed in Panzer wrapper, his trousers are painted in the artwork in feldgrau, but black would not be wrong, as well. He has got Iron Cross ribbon, M34 overseas cap, ankle boots, and no item of equipment or gear. With arms crossed on the chest that in standard approach would rest on the cupola edge, this is a really useful figure because the closed legs allow him sneaking through very narrow openings. Likewise, the stance facilitates setting him in various places, keeping his arms on something else or laying against a vehicle or other stuff. The general look of this figure not only reassemble a common stance often shown by images with Panzer soldiers, but also a similar miniature previously issued by Preiser in “German Tank Crew”. It is more than possible the same reference image to be used by both sculptors, being acknowledged Preiser bases their figures on materials shot in that period as well.

The second row starts with a tanker dressed in the same way as the figure above described, in Panzer wrapper, M33 HBT army pants, and ankle boots, but he is bareheaded and obviously, his pose is totally different. Bending in front and reaching out his left hand, he looks like being mounted on the vehicle and trying helping another colleague from the ground to load ammunition inside the Panzer. With little imagination, this soldier might be asked to do something else, for instance calling somebody from the tank, propping his left hand on the hatch. A very nice and more than realistic touch, so scarcely encountered in the scale until now, is the wrapper raised a little because of the stance, enough for letting be perceived the shirt.

In the sequence comes the fig occupying a larger part of the spure and at first glance he pops out a little bizarre but really eye-catching when set in the position. The right leg is raised a little as resting on a wheel, track, or other vehicle part and a very close inspection it can be said that the resin version shows him smoking an almost finished cigarette. In the plastic interpretation the small cigarette misses or is difficult to be identified, so it is not very clear what he does, he either almost ended smoking or coughs and covers his mouth with the right hand, both tremendous natural hypostases. Bareheaded and with ankle boots, the soldier put on only a HBT high collar working jacket with rolled up sleeves, which can also be taken as a shirt, and a pair of M43 HBT working pants, fine outfit bearing in mind the season the figure is designed for. However, his clothes fit to be painted in a multitude of colours and him to depict not only Panzer but also other units. With no gear, not even the belt, the figure will positively impress the collectors with the premium authenticity of his trousers, in the upper part being extremely visible the tabs and the two front buttons. This mini formerly issued in resin Set 7, because the position of legs, he cannot be displayed as walking, being exclusively limited to rest his left leg on something, except vehicle parts, objects such as ammo boxes, rocks, and logs representing viable options, too.

The single trooper with M43 cap is instantly recognised and for the first time the mini was introduced by resin Set 6, where he appears as bonus, basically representing a completely revisited version of a figure forwarded by Set 2. He bends a little in a very relaxed attitude, with the left in the hip and the right in front, as propped on the turret or other parts of a vehicle. Designed having in mind a Panther turret, he can be easily used in conjunction with another armoured vehicle. He wears the standard Panzer uniform, shoe boots and fastened a belt with pistol holster. This army-man has the Panzer Assault Badge and the ribbon of the Iron Cross on the left hand side, so another skilful crewman.  As for many of his comrades, there are more options for emplacements where he can rest the right arm, not mandatory mounted on an armoured vehicle. 

 If the other seated soldier has the legs crossed, the second, proposed by resin Set 7, keeps his hands crossed and looks to the right and not straight. He choose to do his duty in an interesting combination, Panzer wrapper with second pattern of M41 HBT Panzer trousers, easily identified after the large pocket on the left thigh and the two flapped rear pockets. Intended to be set on a Panther turret he can take place in various areas of any vehicle. Strictly in order to attain a genuine appearance and not from other reasons, the left leg which enters in direct contact with the vehicle was sculptured plain in that area. However, when the tanker is disposed in position, that zone cannot be noticed at all. He also received Iron Cross ribbon, Panzer Assault Badge, M34 overseas cap, ankle boots, and no belt or other items of gear.   

The single figure of the set holding a projectile in his hands was encountered inside resin Set 4, together with the one chosen as the emblem of the set and displayed in the larger format in the artwork. The trooper greatly interacts with the team-mate located the first on the second row for exemplifying a pretty dynamic scene. He seems staying on the ground, trying handing over a projectile to his comrade situated on the vehicle. Such action is extremely often illustrated by authentic images and the figure was also inspired a lot by one of those. In addition, this army-man has another attention-grabbing combination of items of clothing, over his wrapper he added a drill tunic in the attempt of protecting his black jacket while being involved in a not very clean activity such as loading projectiles inside the vehicle. M34 overseas cap and ankle boots completes the excellent general appearance put in valour by the unbuttoned drill tunic which naturally folds and also lets to be perceived a part of his wrapper, including the ribbon of the Iron Cross as well as the shirt. The projectile is held in the appropriate manner and accurate both in shape and length for an 8.8 cm cannon like the one mounted on the famous Tiger I. The way of keeping the projectile turns him into a figure suitable to act as loader for a cannon mounted in an open top armoured vehicle, Nashorns setting out as a proper location for him because of the size of the round though the length might be little different, this projectile being designed aiming at exclusively the Tiger I gun.  

Last soldier on the sprue has also his roots in resin Set 7, practically meaning the whole content of Set 7, together with the bonus figure, was cast in soft plastic as well. Designed for hatches, most recommended the commander one, this tanker is extremely interesting both by pose which imitates a well-known one and by attire. He combined the second pattern 1941 HBT trousers with a feldgrau M43 tunic, a item not so usual at Panzer troops, but still appearing in plenty of reference materials. The M34 overseas cap painted in black in the artwork stresses the membership to Panzer troops, otherwise this soldier would match any unit making use of armoured vehicles such as Assault Artillery, Panzer Grenadier, Signal etc. He is the possessor of an Iron Cross in conformity with the ribbon fixed at the third button and still has on the tunic the Panzer Grenadier or Infantry collar and shoulder boards which obviously can be painted by modellers as belonging to other units. This is the single figure of the set who received communication equipment and he has got a complete one, not only headphones, but also switch housing model “B” and related wires while the throat microphone is mostly hidden by the collar of the tunic. The headphones are set in an interesting position and with the right hand he arranges those while the left is used to hold something around the hatch for better maintaining his balance. The palm excellent grabs a handle or the cupola edge, the miniature fitting well into a larger hatch such as one of a Tiger or Panther. When emplaced in the hatch, the trousers cannot be perceived, but what is above the hatch really impresses, including the excellent face details. The army-man, which easily might embody a Panzer commander, had the pistol hanging in an interesting holster on the left side of the belt and as stated, he can be painted as belonging to a wide array of WWII German units. Nevertheless, it should be pointed out that this time a mould error emerge on the plastic figure, the left headphone recording a small inadvertence comparing with the resin version.      

In spite the small scale, the sculptor put at work all skills and did not trim down any effort in bringing full details on these figures, most of the times perfectly illustrating those appearing at a particular soldier exactly like in the reference image, including facial expressions, creases, number and sizes of buttons and the list on the topic is really endless, every time when looking at these perfect figs, it is virtually impossible not discovering another tiny particularity, previously passed unnoticed. Since the beginning, anatomy amazes through ideal proportions and remarkable sculptured faces, eyes, eye-brows, noses, mouths, ears, and hair, giving to the plastic soldiers a real look, often similar with the ones adopted by the original soldiers which served as models for the author. Sizes of limbs and heads fully respect the normal human proportions and also the palms, not even a hair over-scaled and with stunningly shaped fingers, marvellously bending when needed. The bodies stay still or move in terrifically life-like stances, faithfully copying those taken by the true soldiers when they were photographed. As regards attire, all pieces of garment duplicate with impressive accuracy the genuine ones and feature brilliantly carved small niceties such as uniform insignia, collar and shoulder boards, correct number of buttons, pocket flaps, and tabs, reliable creases, and stitches. At their turn, belts make a strong impression with the magnificently carved buckles of different models and the same applies to the three types of pistol holsters encountered here.

As pointed out in the first part of the review, moulding and casting is of fine quality, almost not existing discrepancies between the initial resin figures and their soft plastic versions, except a slighter higher amount of flash and seam lines, in few cases passing on the middle of the faces and impinging the awesome work done there by the sculptor. Excess of material entirely misses and the single main inconvenient is represented by Orion’s soft plastic which does not make easy the cleaning operation, having the inclination of producing fluffs, so more attention and time have to be allocated. Anyway, the material greatly accepts enamel, acrylics, and artistic oils, not influencing the original properties of the colours utilised and finely maintaining those even after heavy handling, a major feature especially bearing in mind the set addresses to wargamers, too.   

Though all the figures composing this set qualify for inclusion in the tall side of 1/72, a slight difference between them can be identified, exactly like in real life and contradicting with nothing the human diversity. The appearance is also influenced by the garments worn but undoubtedly all these tankers can stay together in the same place without any restrictions. Likewise, taking into account the huge number of 1/72 armoured vehicles delivered by their producers without accompanying soldiers, corroborated with the fact that most of filmed and photographed references depict the crew together with the vehicle, Panzer troopers are of great interest for all hobbyists no matter they are gamers, collectors or static diorama builders. In spite aware of the importance, the mass-production manufacturers did not rush to launch such sets, at present only Caesar with “WWII German Panzer Crews” and Orion with this set delivering troopers in soft plastic while Preiser in “WWII German Tank Crew 39-45” and “German Tank Crew”, Dragon in “German Panzer crew & Panther G Early – “Achtung Jabo” France 1944”, and Ykreol in “German Soldiers” cast Panzer army-men in hard plastic. Nevertheless, the cottage industry puts forward a quite comprehensive offer related to Panzer troopers, El Viejo Dragon, Miniatures Alemany, TQD Castings, CMK, MIG Productions, Warriors, Zebrano, Track&Troops and obviously again Orion, making available some highly detailed miniatures both in resin and white metal. Due to their size the Orion toy-soldiers here analysed perfectly match with almost all the rest of Panzer crewmen issued by the just highlighted mass production and niche industry reps, only Caesar ones being a little smaller.

Supplying fifty-two minis in thirteen distinct stances, the set certainly will satisfy not only the war-gamers, but also the diorama builders, which have at hand enough resources for carrying out eventual conversions. Evidently, alterations would have been much facilitated if the product had been cast in hard plastic, but even so, manoeuvres for bringing diversity and increase the number of distinct poses in collection are possible. The soft plastic deployed by Orion, despite its fluffing predisposition, is pretty glue-able, super glue gel giving quite satisfactory results, the hard and soft plastic pieces bonded with this kind of adhesive resisting to handling and medium shocks. Bearing in mind the more than attractive items of garment and the large number of identical poses in a set, those operations are highly advocated. Still, not all conversions are facile because the figs are cast in soft plastic, as single pieces, many times without belts and with arms modelled on the bodies. In order to bring variety, except painting the clothes in dissimilar colours, the easiest method is replacing heads, but in the same purpose, when possible, some other tricks such as changing arms or adding pistol holsters or other items of gear offer fine results, too. For highlighting the conversion opportunities, some photos accompanying the present review show as well modifications carried on each of the standard poses but on the matter there are plenty of other choices, according to the modeller’s needs, references, and spare parts. Regarding heads and arms, good selections might be found inside the set by mixing those between poses, other alternatives for both body parts and gear putting forward various Preiser and Dragon figure sets. With reference to gear, the area of selection is pretty limited, obviously the most usual being pistol holsters while the pistol represented the personal weapon of most Panzer soldiers. In addition, binoculars, flash-lights, MP40 ammo pouches or even other items might be added by a hobbyist trying to create new and eye-catching poses in his collection, the same Preiser and Dragons figure kits incorporating numerous separate spures abounding in equipment and weapons.                            

Charming with their simplicity, extremely natural poses, incredibly sculptured small details, top accuracy in terms of items of garment, “German WWII Panzer Soldiers (Basic Set 1)” delivers ideal crewmen for the huge amount of Panzers and armoured vehicles populating without personnel the 1/72 scale. In addition, the set might be straightforwardly assessed as a complex and completely detailed guide on WWII German Panzer attire, the unorthodox but fully authentic approach to such garment items making a strong impression over the viewer. True soldiers came out from their photos to begin a new life in plastic for the great satisfaction of collectors, gamers, and diorama builders, those which have previously expressed regrets the resin sets where too expensive, now having at hand the possibility to purchase the same figs, as well as others, at a more than attractive price. They will get in return toy-soldiers of quite similar quality with the resin ones, but paying less than they would have had to give for a single resin thee or four figure set. Likewise, it is immediately noticed the set features as subtitle Basic Set 1, expressing manufacturer’s intention of releasing on the topic at least Set 2 in the future. Corroborating this with the fact that eight figures available inside the seven resin sets did not find their place in the first soft plastic set, Orion is already in possession of the backbone of the potential continuation and plastic Basic Set 2 might be not so far.     

Boris Knokhov’s brilliant knowledge on WWII German soldiers as well as his obsessive care and incredible skills for reproducing each and every detail, no matter size, brought a key contribution to the achievement of a marvelous figure set, perhaps one of the best mass production soft plastic tenders ever produced, packed in a box proposing the ultimate artworks. Definitely, the manufacturer should receive all credit and gratitude for taking the exceptional decision of making available for everybody inside a soft plastic set their top-notch resin miniatures at almost on par quality but at a much cheaper price. All attributes revealed along the present review promote Orion’s German WWII Panzer Soldiers (Basic Set 1)” as a milestone in the field of plastic toy-soldiers and imposes it as the figure set of year 2012, at least in terms of WWII Germans if not otherwise.   

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