Articles

Millicast - German Volkstrum w/weapons & NCO (FIG059) _________(EXT)

 

Manufacturer Milicast
Scale 1/72
Set Code FIG059
Year Unknown
No. of Figures 5
No. of Poses 5
Additional Items None
Size Tall
Material Resin
Colour Light Green
Flash Level Low
Glue-ability Good (Superglue gel)
Convert-ability Medium
Optimal Period 1943 -1945

 Review 

For the great joy of 1/72 figure collectors, occasionally toy-soldiers labelled as belonging to 1/76 scale are much larger and perfect for 1/72 scale utilisations. In the field of WWII Germans, a well-known case is the 1/76 Matchbox hard plastic army-men accompanying some vehicles, their true size imposing them in medium or even tall side of 1/72. However, those are not quite isolated situations, similar examples coming from few producers, and this time we shall refer to an illustrious resin manufacturer, perhaps one of the best in terms of sculpture and with a rich tender on WWII Germans. It is about Millicast, the famous Scottish company having several 1/72 sets in spite listing them as 1/76, one of those being “German Volkstrum w/weapons & NCO”.

Mass-production and garage industry reps in 1/72 scale such as Pegasus Hobbies, Orion, Odemars, Ykreol, TQD-Castings have rushed to depict the Volksstrum topic, but apart the outstanding and medal-awarded Pegasus Hobbies’ “Germans in Berlin 1945”, the mass-production plastic sets impress only through ideas while sculpture and cast remain rather poor.

Since the first glance, Millicasts’s Volksstrum surprises through the 1/72 size of miniatures, gear, and weapons, also charming with its perfect sculpture and cast. The five figure set is commercialised in a small plastic bag without any artwork or additional protection but the top quality resin, neither brittle nor breakable, make the minis to safely reach clients’ houses, of course, properly packed by the retailer. Two large slots incorporate the five figures, all with separate arms and when putting them together there is no possibility for confusion while the appropriate limbs are emplaced next to the designated bodies. Most arms received pins for better guidance and fixation, the related holes being displayed on the bodies. Still, the system does not work very fine and recommended would be removing the pins, after that assembly going really smooth. As for all resin products, superglue gel achieves best bonds between the parts, the adhesive granting additional seconds for final readjustments, too.

The set offers five non-combat poses on the way, portraying one officer, three Volksstrum members, and one Feldgendarm with StG44. All those dressing greatcoats, including the officer, clearly belong to Volksstrum due to the specific left armband and all possess the Panzerfaust, a reliable anti-tank weapon intensively used in the Late War period and in the Battle for Berlin. According to the warhead shape and size, they received Panzerfaust 60 or 100, an effective weapon capable to destroy or seriously damage even the heaviest enemy tank. Indeed, Panzerfaust turned to be the favourite anti-tank weapon of German tank-hunters and was distributed in huge amounts to civil population or Volksstrum during the battles for Fatherland. The simply method of functioning and firing, made the recoilless weapon, as thousands of reference images attest, to be handled, after a brief instruction session, by children, women, and old-men.

Due to the shortage of tanks and anti-tank cannons, corroborated with the huge number of enemy armour vehicles the army had to fight with, the German Command granted enhanced attention to the development of cheap and efficient anti-tank means for infantry. In this light, since 1943 had started to appear weapons giving the possibility of a single soldier to successfully engage an enemy tank, some of the most-known being Panzerschrecks, Panzerfausts, and various types of mines, grenades, and chargers. Still, the favourite was the unfailing Panzerfaust, a weapon with impressive performances that was light, easy to transport, and could be fired from almost any location. According to tank-hunter statements, they preferred Panzerfaust to the heavier Panzerschreck that implied two soldiers for operating it and was almost impossible to be fired from closed spaces due to the blast and toxic smoke produced. Nevertheless, also those firing Panzerfaust had to pay attention to the back-blast of the weapon that could have two to three meters behind the tube. Lethal accidents occurred and for this reason many Panzerfaust featured a printed warning for taking care at the released fire jet.

The list of Panzerfausts comprised many versions sharing the same characteristics, the only difference primarily resting in the size of the warhead, their names referring to the distance from where those could be fired with proper results. In this regard, there appeared Panzerfaust 30, 60, 100, 150, 250, all based on the Faustpatrone klein 1, easily recognised after its differently shaped warhead.

As already pointed out, the Volksstrum fighters from here have got Panzerfausts 60 or 100, including the officer, which is a quite unorthodox approach to such a pose but in complete accordance with the reality characterising the last stages of WWII. Except one of those minis, the rest possess personal weapons, respectively two captured Mosin Nagant and a pistol in holster for the officer. The troopers are deprived of equipment, limited only to ammunition pouches for those with rifles while the officer received back gear specific to privates such as bread-bag, mess-tin, and canteen. They have got various models of greatcoats and trousers as well as ankle and long boots, headgear being represented by three M43 caps and an officer cap, easing the identification of the rank of the wearer. Due to their attire and weapons, the figures are ideal for Berlin or other clashes that took place in cold periods and in which Volksstrum were involved.

Concerning greatcoats, the officer put on the standard army pattern that could be made of wool or leather in his case. Regulations provided for officers and certain NCOs the obligation to procure their clothes on own resources, either tailor-made or from military depots, so an enormous diversity in terms of colours, cuts, and materials characterise the WWII German Army. His subordinates have got different models of coats, of army or civil origins, so some alternation in terms of colours should be brought in. For instance, the combatant with Mosin Nagant in right hand, although in front his coat looks like the standard army pattern, on the back there is a large horizontal ventilation shoulder yoke. Possible interpretations for this item of garment could be rubberised raincoat or one made of leather. Officers and certain NCO’s were allowed to have some optional uniform items from private purchase, one of them being the rubberized raincoat, introduced in 1937 under the name Wetter mantel. Its line followed the one of the standard greatcoat, but many variations are known bearing in mind that coat was procured from private sources. The other two colleagues in greatcoats wear the same model, clearly different than the army regular type because it has just a single row of buttons. The same alternation is applicable to the trousers, allowing painting not only in Feldgrau or camouflage, but also in civil colours.

A special problem raises the large Volksstrum armband, very visible and limiting the use of the minis to that unit although the weapons, gear, clothes, and head covers make them suitable for regular army, too. Apart from the well-known Volkstrum, Red-Cross, and Feldgendarmerie armbands, several others were issued mainly for non-members of the German Army performing duties for the Army. Modellers wanting to enrol these figures in Wehrmacht or Waffen SS should remove the armband with a sharp tool. Another solution for the just stressed units that leaves intact the minis, might be painting the armband in green, appropriate for Feldgendarmerie, and turning these Volksstrum warriors into military police, the renowned gorget being not mandatory. Military Police tasks were frequently performed by regular soldiers, requested to assist the specialised unit, for such cases wearing on the left arm the green armband with Feldgendarmerie logo, at the end of the mission, the armband being returned to the issuing authority.

All poses with Panzerfausts evoke fighters on the move, maybe going to prepare an ambush for the advancing Russian tanks. They hold the Panzerfausts in dissimilar manners and none is prepared for firing while thesighting lever is not up. The officer strongly reminds about a well-known photo of the period and it is awesome getting his 1/72 variant. The improvised striking force is led by the officer and the stances are greatly selected, perfectly catching the appearance of people knowing that in few minutes they might be dead, the feelings being enhanced by the wonderfully sculptured facial details.

Though the title lists a NCO and makes no reference to military police, the rank in reference could be embodied both by the warrior in rubberised coat and by the representative of Feldgendarmerie, perhaps the second choice being more plausible. The set forwards a magnificent Feldgendarm, the fifth figure clearly carrying out such a duty due to its gorget on the chest and armband on the left. He wears Late War attire formed by M43 tunic, trousers, ankle boots with gaiters, and steel helmet and is armed with a StG44 to which has attached only the left hand side ammunition pouch, on the right hanging a map/dispatch case. The back gear is formed by bread bag, mess-tin, and canteen as well as a pistol in holster and he possesses finely shaped “Y” straps even if those are a little too large. The pose matches the others, displaying an advancing Feldgendarm that could joined the ad-hoc gathering in order to increase the strength of the attack. He holds in front with both hands the StG44, so some attention should be paid when assembling the figure in order the weapon to properly go in the left palm, too. The model and thickness of his clothes certainly allow painting in Feldgrau or various camouflage patterns, the advocated one being Wafen SS Pea Dot but also other Waffen SS or Wehrmacht patterns fit.

Regarding details, these miniatures impose very high standards, the sculptor succeeding to perfectly recreate accurate shapes and tiny details on weapons, gear, and attire. The bodies are well proportioned, with impressively shaped palms and fingers while the facial expressions are simply gorgeous and put in valour by awesomely carved eyes, eye-brows, noses, mouths, cheeks, chins, and ears. Maybe the most striking details are available on the items of garment, faultlessly reproduced till the tiniest details as buttons, pocket flaps, shoulder boards, stitches, belts with extraordinary buckles, rivets and adjusting holes of “Y” straps as well as natural creases, but certainly the list is much longer. Of special note are also the footwear, in various models and with clear strings and soles, as well as the gorget, one of the best of the scale where hobbyists can effortlessly distinguish the eagle in the middle, the two buttons to both the upper tips, banner to the bottom with the "Feldgendarmerie" logo, and the suspension chain. Weapons and gear are sculptured in the same line, abounding in details and even if those on Mosin Nagant are a hair over-scaled, the weapons fit the sizes of similar items available in the 1/72 scale, the closest being those encountered on tall figs.      

The superb mould has facilitated a top-notch cast, miniatures arriving almost flash-less, without any excess of material and even no air-bubble, could be discovered on the reviewed product. One remark aims at the arrangement of a couple of Panzerfausts, those having the warheads fixed on the slots, the setting affecting a little the outstanding work carried out by the sculptor. When detaching the Panzerfausts in case from their places, it is almost impossible not to lose a hair from the specific shape of the warhead. As previously stated, the resin utilised by Millicast is of top quality, one of the best ever encountered, extremely resistant to shocks, quite flexible, and fantastically accepting not only superglue, but also enamel, acrylics, and artistic oils. 

Even if sold as 1/76 figures, these toy-soldiers have nothing to do with that scale and in reality they are in the medium/tall side of 1/72 scale. Because of that, the fighters find plenty of companions both in mass production and cottage industry catalogues. They brilliantly work with minis released or tangent to Volksstrum and highlighted in the first part of the present review as well as with hundreds of 1/72 WWII Germans dedicated to the Late War period or winter season and found in sets released by Dragon, Revell, Preiser, Italeri, Zvezda, Strelets-r, Juwella, Weathering Factory, Miniaturas Alemany etc. If wanting to increase the number of Feldgendarms, figurines transposing in the scale reps of that unit are on disposal in Martello International’s “Halt! Feldgendarme",  Preiser's "Military Police. Guards" and "Home leave", Retrokit FR’s “Feldgendarmes”, Odemars' "Defenders/The Last Defenders of Berlin", Armourfast's "WWII German Zundapp Motorcycle" and "WWII German BMW with Sidecar". 

With this set, Millicast makes a pleasant surprise to 1/72 WWII German figure fans that can take profit by the master work available on miniatures issued by this company mainly focused on 1/76 scale. “German Volksstrum w/weapons & NCO” distinguishes not only through its perfect sculpture, but also through the depicted topic, the large amount of Panzerfausts, and the inclusion of an outstandingly realised Feldgendarm. All its qualities definitely turn the set into an attractive offer for those wanting to illustrate the last dramatic battles of WWII in Germany. In some extent, these Volksstrum fighters might be transformed into regular soldiers, for the moment performing a duty for Feldgendarmerie in conformity with the left armband that should be painted in the appropriate colour. Likewise, while this resin is quite elastic and suffers well powerful shocks, gamers could be interested in purchasing it, if the price is not assessed as prohibited. The faultless set features a fascinating mixture in terms of attire and units and fully promotes Millicast’s notable achievements in the 1/72 scale, also manifested in few sets that are still marketed as 1/76 scale releases. Unfortunately, not labelling the correct scale might cause prejudices both to the company and the hobbyists, on the one hand, the 1/72 potential clients are not aware the figs belong to their scale and on the other hand, the 1/76 fans will be extremely disappointed when seeing some giants impossible to be used together with the other miniatures in their collections. 

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