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Waterloo 1815 – WWII German Cavalry (Set 1) (025) _________(EXT)

Manufacturer Waterloo1815
Scale 1/72
Set Code 025
Year 2012
No. of Figures/Horses 12/6
No. of Poses/Horses 6/3
Additional Items 1 Torn.Fu.b1 Radio and Battery Packs
Size Tall
Material Soft Plastic
Colour Tan
Flash Level High
Glue-ability Medium
Convert-ability Difficult
Optimal Period 1939 -1945

Review 

Taking into account the new developments on the 1/72 market, it seems the curse cast on WWII German paratroopers has moved over the cavalry of that army. In spite few attempts of mass-production companies on the matter, until now none has properly succeeded to depict that unit as they deserve, horses in general, and those of the cavalry in particular, playing a major role within the complex mechanism of WWII German Army. Having horses on each and every front in impressive amounts, that army was the one deploying the largest number of animals during a war in the history of mankind. Utilised as drought animals, pulling cannons, wagons, carts, and field kitchens, the WWII German army had also established numerous cavalry units, mostly operating in rough terrains such as East Front, mountains, and forests. It is certainly a paradox, but definitely a reality that the most mechanised army relied so much on a primitive mean of transportation, for instance statistics pointing out that 80% from the ground transport of WWII German Army was done with animals.   

The active service since the outset till the end of WWII emphasise the great importance attached by the decision making bodies to such units, the WWII German Cavalry mainly carrying out reconnaissance missions, attacks against advancing or retreating enemy, fast interventions for filling the gaps in the front lines or occupy key objectives as well as anti-partisan activities. Within Wehrmacht and Waffen SS there were settled a multitude of Cavalry divisions, regiments, corps and brigades, two of the most well-known units being the 8th SS Cavalry Division (Florian Geyer) and 22nd SS-Freiwilligen Kavallerie Division (Maria Theresia).

In 1/72 scale, the over 1,100,000 horses allocated each year are extremely poorly echoed inside several transport, artillery, and cavalry sets. In terms of WWII German cavalry, HaT, FoV, and the new arrival Waterloo1815, provide miniatures in plastic while in resin CMK and Modelltrans offer their two figure sets. Likewise, neither mass production nor cottage industry sets spoil the collectors, gamers, and diorama builders with a sufficient number of riders and horses. Many expectations have been put in Waterloo1815’s “WWII German cavalry (Set1)”, a tender launched in 2012 but also this has failed in making justice, recording several more or less important issues.

Although targeting cavalry, Waterloo 1815’s offer supplies only three complete horse and rider assembles plus other three dismounted figures, so quite a low number of representatives of the main subject. Still, the title mentions this is the first set, so maybe its continuation will deliver more WWII German cavalry-men to Braille Scale.

A proper introduction of the miniatures is first done by the artwork, showing in almost similar stances all the six army-men and the three horses of the set. Few slight differences are found between the image and the real content, the most noticeable being the lack of any swords and the “cross” of the radio antenna as well as the rider with the map has got a bare head and not one with helmet. The back of the box accustoms the buyer with Waterloo 1815’ catalogue and incorporates a zoom on the front artwork. Inside the box the client will find two identical sprues, each enclosing six figures, three horses, and one radio. 

The sculptor put on all the army-men uniforms appropriate for the Early War period, but in full accordance with what such units had worn. In this respect, they dress M36 tunics, breeches, and riding boots, headgear being diverse, three getting steel helmets, one M34 overseas cap, one officer peaked cap, and another is bare-headed. Breeches and riding boots were issued to cavalry but often officers of various branches were equally dressed, apprising cavalry items as more stylish. Specialised trousers of mounted personnel, the breeches had the seat and crotch reinforced with a leather panel, later replaced by field-grey wool one due to leather shortage. A nice touch to these minis would be painting the inner side of the trousers as reinforced with leather. Dedicated riding boots (Reitstiefel) were supplied, recording minor changes than the regular marching/jack boots such as narrower and higher leg as well as a small, extended, leather crescent at the heel for securing the spurs in the proper position. According to regulations, mounted troopers had to wear spurs on their boots, the most widespread being the M31 type. Based on attire and the rolled up sleeves of a couple of soldiers, it is clear the intention of releasing troopers for a warm period and the breast eagles emphasise it is about a Wehrmacht unit. In addition, even if they are dressed in Early War garment, the figs can be utilised without fear throughout the war. The absence of swords, though one is illustrated in the artwork, raises no accuracy problem while immediately after the beginning of war, the item was completely removed from the WWII German cavalry endowment.

With this set, Waterloo 1815 has strived to portray several of the most common duties of WWII German cavalry, all three riders being employed in a reconnaissance mission while two of their dismounted comrades carry out signal activities and a single one is in the mist of combat, firing off a Panzerbüchse (PzB)39. Since the very being, despite the limited number of poses, the set pleasantly surprises the viewer with a remarkable quantity of novelties and useful items within the broad offer of 1/72 WWII German soldiers. Thanks to company’s efforts, the interested parties get for the first time in soft plastic an anti-tank rifle and a flare pistol as well as the first Torn.Fu.b1 radio together with its battery. Such things stress Waterloo 1815’s excellent knowledge of the market, as well as the desire of filling in key gaps. Until now, in mass production only Preiser puts forward a PzB39 inside their masterpiece “Advancing Grenadiers with MG” while flare pistols come just in Preiser’s “German Tank Crews” and Zvezda’s “WWII German HQ”.

On the other hand, the set brings also few quite disagreeable surprises such as several moulding errors and very tall figures, still usable next to tall miniatures like Atlantic and Italeri. Although there are few exceptions from sets produced in other countries, it seems such size is mostly enjoyed by Italian manufacturers. Still, not only this characteristic, but also the colour and consistence of the plastic, style of sculpture and moulding strongly remind about the new Italeri figures, revealing a strong relation between the two makers. Nevertheless, human anatomy records sufficient differences but certainly the dimensions of equipment and weapons were universal. In the present set, the few weapons are pretty similar in size with the one often encountered at other 1/72 companies, but various items of equipment are fairly big while heads, especially those with steel helmets, are huge. Luckily, these soldiers are not heavily equipped, even some have almost nothing, so a solution that might improve the general perception and make them work better with other 1/72 miniatures is getting rid of the provided heads, mainly the ones with enormous steel helmets, changing those with more in scale heads. A renowned trick for diminishing the size of helmets is painting them as covered by camouflage cloth, but here this tactic does not work at all.

As regards the dismounted soldiers, these are historically correct, most of the tasks carried out by WWII German Cavalry being done not on horses, which represented just a mean of transportation. Two figures are prone and one crouched, portraying three distinct activities, namely combat, recon, and signal

The single figure of the set directly involved in combat is the crouched trooper firing off a PzB39, the anti-tank weapon of the cavalry in the first part of the war, but also used by infantry, paratrooper, and other units. Manufactured in around 40,000 pieces, due to the increase of armour thickness, that anti-tank rifle became outdated and was later replaced by the more efficient Panzerfausts and Panzerschrecks. Inspired after a Russian model, PzB39 was a single-shot rifle, firing Patrone318 which was capable to penetrate a 30mm plate of steel at a range of 100m. In order to ease the loading operation and make more accessible the rounds for the gunner, two 10 rounds cartridge-holding cases were disposed on each side of the weapon. Waterloo 1815’s anti-tank rifle looks like a nice endeavour, the weapon showing various characteristics but missing the just mentioned cartridge-holding cases. The soldier is lightly geared, with “Y” straps, gas mask container, canteen, bayonet, and Kar98K ammunition pouches, the pose arriving quite fair for a soldier preparing to fire a PzB39.

A further nicer stance offers the crouched soldier, employing the flare gun held in the right hand, signalling something to the units on the front. Releasing such a trooper, the manufacturer completed a major gap, just a couple of flare guns being available in two very rare multi-part hard-plastic kits, respectively Preiser’s “German Tank Crews”  and Zvezda’s “WWII German HQ”, the last kit being commercialised exclusively in the board-games of the company without appearing separately in the Mini-Box series. According to his equipment, resting in Y” straps, Kar98K ammunition pouches, steel helmet, backpack, mess-tin, and canteen, the figure embodies either a soldier or NCO. The pose is genuine, with the right arm up firing the gun and looking up after the rocket. Moreover, plus-points reiterating sculptor’s excellent knowledge on WWII German equipment, are the flare gun holster, visible on the front left hand side as well as the projectile case, on the other side. Although the above indicated Preiser and Zvezda figures make use of flare pistols, none of them have the corresponding holster and ammunition case, so here it is for the first time when modellers can see such items in 1/72 scale. Thanks to a proper sculpture, the flare pistol is identified as the short barrel 27 mm type, entered in service in 1928 but maintained till the end of the conflict and that could fire over forty types of flares with different purposes. Furthermore, the gear is also eye-catching, especially his backpack (Tornister M39) with blanket rolled around and mess-tin fastened in the middle. Such backpacks are again unusual in the scale, only Prieser supplying the hobby with a similar item, as a separate piece on their equipment sprues as well as on a couple of figure sprues, so the happy possessors of most of Preiser sets might have Tornister M39 in great quantities. 

The prone radio operator comes in a very relaxed stance, strongly remaining about a soldier from a quite well-known photo. Without any gear or weapons, he props his left elbow in the ground, holding a notebook in his hands. He has got M34 overseas cap and headphones set in position but neither microphone nor wires are delivered. At least wires can be effortlessly added by scratch-building some from metal or plastic.

Issued in 1936 as field service pack set, Torn.Fu.b1 was a portable radio set including transmitter and receiver as well as a battery pack and was utilised by, but not restricted to, Infantry, Panzergrenadier, Cavalry, Paratrooper, Signal units and was also mounted in various vehicles. The crew for this radio was formed by two men, armed with Kar98K, one carrying the transmitter and receiver pack and his comrade the battery. Various standard configurations for antennas were used with Torn.Fu.b1, including rod, cross, and wire ones. While the top loaded cross antenna was very conspicuous, especially in open field, provoking heavy casualties, the crews started to use more and more the wire antenna.

One piece of resistance of the kit is certainly the Torn.Fu.b1 set, differently approached by Waterloo 1815 and making available for the first time in Braille Scale not only the radio, but also its battery. In full accordance with the practice illustrated by plenty of references, the radio is set over the battery, making from this assemble one of the most accurate, though mass production companies such as ESCI, Revell, Orion, Pegasus Hobbies, Zvezda, previously supplied the hobby with various radio models. In addition, the present Torn.Fu.b1 shows an extremely accurate and fine front panel with various dials, plugs, knobs, switches, and tags, all correctly emplaced and shaped, practically the manufacturer achieving to represent each and every detail on the panel. In this light, there are very visible even the letters “E” and “S”, a remarkable realization restating the great research work carried out before making available the set and the outstanding abilities of the team. The rod antenna, not loaded for the moment, is also correct even if in the artwork appears featuring the cross type. Various models of antenna were displayed by Torn.Fu.b1 and either adding the above mentioned “cross” or completely changing it are facile operations, wires made of melted sprue or metal are good choices for representing an upgraded version. In spite being highly detailed on the front and on sides, no details are provided on the back of the radio and battery case. For this reason, hobbyists should consider emplacing the radio next to a fence, wall, in a trench, etc, in this way hiding its back where should be at least the carrying straps and a cushion for protecting carrier’s back.

Practically, with only three dismounted figures, Waterloo 1815 succeeds to introduce three more than attractive items for all 1/72 WWII German figure collectors, which undeniably sets out as a remarkable performance. In addition, due to the similarity of equipment, weapons, and uniforms between various units and while the trousers of these dismounted figures do not appear extremely clear as breeches and the length of the boots is not disturbing, they might be easily enrolled where else, not only just in Cavalry. For stating the membership to a particular branch, the modeller has the choice to paint the shoulder and collar boards with the appropriate waffenfarbe, gold yellow for Cavalry, white for Infantry, grass green for Panzergreandier, lemon yellow for Signal etc. However, in case of allocating them to Cavalry, it should not be forgotten to paint spurs for these dismounted troopers, because the sculptor omitted to add those. In spite the fact most of activities fulfilled by WWII German cavalry were done dismounted, in such a set, targeting the precise cavalry topic, it would have been proper receiving the horses of these cavalry-men as well.                  

Concerning the mounted soldiers, as the rest of manufacturers targeting WWII German riders, also here the spurs, stirrups and related straps are sculptured directly on the boots. However, this time the spurs are not very sharp but might become more evident after painting these. No system to secure the riders in their saddles is provided, but they get in places quite well. Anyway, for better fixation and movement of the miniatures without any concern, particularly in gaming, the army-men must be permanently stuck in their saddles with super glue.

An equal part of dismounted and mounted figures are offered, the three riders embodying an officer, a NCO, and a private. The officer is instantly recognised after his peak cap, supervising the enemy through binoculars while in the left hand he holds the reins. Armed only with pistol in holster, with a map case on the left hip and without “Y” straps, the miniature truthfully pictures a WWII German cavalry officer. Another nicety of the set rests in dressing the army-man with a M36 officer service tunic, with almost the same design as the regular one but easily differentiated after the turned up French cuffs and eventually, number of buttons.  While officers and certain NCOs had to purchase their uniforms on their own expenses, either from military depots or tailor-made, that had as direct result a large variation in materials, colours, and cut in terms of their attire. However, the beauty of the figurine is affected by some mould errors, the face being united with the binoculars, the two parts ugly blending and featuring some undesired excess of plastic as well as reiterating the limits of the one piece approach. Furthermore, the same applies for the normal distance that should remain when the arm is bent, the space being filled by plastic, too. Nevertheless, bearing in mind that almost his entire face is covered by the binoculars, making not so evident the size, this figure might keep its head after trying to remove as much as possible the unwanted material.  

Based on his MP38/40, binoculars, map in hand, and attitude, the bareheaded figure might be appraised as the NCO of the unit. He is extremely lightly geared, only with ammunition pouches for his weapon and holds in the left hand a map and the right up in the air, as preparing to give an order. Few things, mostly inaccuracies, immediately grab the attention, such as the small pouch for MP maintenance tools stitched to the right hand side ammunition pouch while it should have been on the left hand one as well as an dreadful mould mistake, completely deforming the arm in the map area. Moreover, the wrist watch is worn on the right and not on the left hand as most people do, but this is possible, exceptions existing even nowadays. In order to hide the mould fault, apart cleaning as much as possible the existent excess of plastic, adding a printed map over the plastic one is a much recommended manoeuvre.

The single rider with steel helmet and Kar98K is clearly a private, having as equipment “Y” straps, ammunition pouches, canteen, gas mask container, and bayonet. The soldier is on the move, holding the reins with the right hand and the left properly bending according to what he does. With him, the mould was rather merciful, except a small amount of excess of material under the shoulder stock of the rifle, no other things affect the quality of the figure.

Within such sets, horses are always a subject of great interest and Waterloo 1815 does not disappoint on the matter, bringing in the 1/72 scale several great animals, in fact introducing three bright new stallions in distinct stances. One of the horses stays still, another might either stay still or advance at pace while the third is advancing at slow trout. These saddle horses appear extremely natural in what they do, excellent proportioned and with sharp muscles, manes, and tails as well as brilliant head details, with sharp ears, eyes, noses, and mouths, most being kept shut on account the horses do not special efforts at the moment. A problem that should receive enough attention is the excess of plastic existing in the upper part of front and back legs of the horses. The undesired surplus is not impossible to be removed but requires more time and efforts, being mandatory a surgery in order to restore the gorgeous anatomy of these animals.  

All stallions are equally geared, with blankets beneath the M25 saddles and featuring in front the M34 left Pferdegepack (horseshoe pack) with horseshoes, nails, brush and other items for horse and right Reitergepack (rider pack) with soldier’s personal stuff. Each saddle has behind another rolled blanket or Zeltbahn and the still horse has got a feed bag around the neck, a scarcely encountered item in Braille Scale, Valliant previously releasing a similar bag for the horse from “WWII German IF8 Infantry Cart” kit. It is extremely familiar the practice of WWII German riders of hanging various items of gear to their saddles or packs, and the cavalry-men from here also does it, one horse having a steel helmet and the others canteens arranged on the left hand side, below rear of the saddle. These items practically determine, at least at theoretical level, the horse allocation per figures, obviously in the saddle of the one with helmet taking position the bare headed NCO while the other two can be occupied either by the officer or the private. Considering the officer looks though binoculars, it would be proper to do it from a stopped horse, so the one with feed bag around the neck is more recommended. Furthermore, the same approach is advocated by the artwork, clearly revealing the officer on that horse. The last stallion will go to the private, greatly supporting the move made by its rider. Nonetheless, any cavalry-men can take any horse, disregarding the above highlighted setting, but remembering that for better fixation, the riders should be glued in their saddles. Another hint can be eliminating the giant helmet and canteens from the saddles, replacing those with some more in scale items provided by Preiser, Dragon, or Caesar. Normally, the replacements might not be identical, other items such as map cases, shovels, mess tins can be set in various locations, below the saddle or even on the M34 left and right packs. The existence of reins effectively contributes to the general appearance of the horses, and the sculptor stunning arranged those in positions, even if a short prolongation, in order to reach the palms of the riders should be painted on the M34 pack. The thickness and shape of reins is perfect, not at all over-scaled and with an insignificant excess of plastic close to the mouths. Most of the other manufacturers either confronted with serious issues on the matter or avoided getting into trouble, refraining adding reins to their horses. The standard head harness is on display on the stallions, recording all important pieces such as crownpiece, browband, cavesson, nose band or throatlatch, appropriately located and with small elements as rings and adjusting buckles.   

Diverging from the figures, the size of animals is really not disturbing taking into consideration the huge variety of horse sizes and that here the hooves, heads or other body parts are not at all over-scaled. The dimensions of these animals, assessed as a tall breed like Hanover, Andalusian etc is fully compatible with the etalon recognised in the 1/72 scale, namely the one from Revell/Preiser’s “German Artillery”, but also matches horses released in the scale by various companies. 

As regards human anatomy, the figures are well balanced and taking profit by the quite much space at his disposal, the sculptor recreated vivid facial expressions, with crisp eyes, eye-brows, noses, mouths, ears, and hair. Likewise, with the exception of the left palm of the rider with map, the other fingers are finely modelled, all in place and naturally arranged. By replacing the heads with smaller ones, the palms might emerge slightly over-scaled, but the discrepancy is insignificant if employing heads like Zvezda, Pegasus Hobbies, Dragon or most of Preiser ones. Fine details as collar and shoulder boards, buttons and creases abound on the uniforms and on a couple of tunics breast eagles are very evident.

Cast and mould of these one piece miniatures give few headaches to hobbyists, excess of plastic and some cast errors affecting the miniatures, but at least flash and seam lines are maintained at a low level. Made of soft but fairly sturdy plastic, the material reminds about Italeri’s SSM and it is glue-able only with super glue gel which ensures a very strong bond, greatly sticking hard and soft plastic as well as resin parts. This is a noteworthy propensity while head and equipment substitutions or completions are intensively promoted. In addition, this plastic properly answers to enamel, acrylics, and artistic oils, durable integrating and retaining the artistic endeavor despite intensive handling. Both figures and horses reach the market on bases and it might be the case some hobbyists, especially diorama builders, to want removing the supplied stands. The exercise is uncomplicated and achievable with any tool, the most intricate and involving supplementary efforts and a thin blade being the prone figure, the base prolonging along his whole body.        

Sets in 1/72 scale exclusively targeting and putting forward cavalry horses are in plastic HaT's "German Mounted Infantry" and FOV's "German SS Cavalry Division" while in resin come CMK’s “Wehrmacht Mounted Infantry" and ModellTrans’ “Floryan Geyer 8 SS Cav.Div.”. Besides these, few cavalry horses might be encountered within various soft plastic sets, respectively in Revell's "German Artillery" and in Odemars/Ykreol's "Bosnian Infantry" and Ykreol's “Project R.F.Z.(Set1)”. Likewise, draught horses are included again by Revell’s “German Artillery” as well as by HaT’s "WWII German Horse Drawn Multi Purpose Vehicle", Minaturas Alemany’s "German Field Kitchen with Soldiers", TP Models’ "Fahnenschmiedwagen Hf.1/13" and "Schwerer Feldwagen Hf.2", and Valliant’s “WWII German IF8 Infantry Cart”. Obviously, Waterloo 1815’s ideally match with cavalry-men dressed for Early War period such as those proposed by Revell, HaT and FoV, the resin sets enclosing only riders in camouflage smocks. Moreover, they can excellent accompany the horse drawn vehicles for a more than realistic image of the WWII German army. Few times mentioned along the present review, Waterloo 1815’s weapons are compatible with lots of firing arms available in the scale and the lack of gear as well as other heads make the figs fit well next to infantry-men issued in the tall side of the scale by Italeri, Pegasus Hobbies, Dragon, etc.

Excellent for gaming and collecting, “WWII German Cavalry” not only treats an exciting subject, but also brings in the scale enough niceties for getting the attention of diorama builders as well. With some corrections and modifications, these miniatures might satisfy even more pretentious modellers. While the horses are duplicated one time, the copies can be easily employed to serve riders with less detailed horses such as HaT’s or those riding drought horses like Revell’s. With pluses and minuses, Waterloo 1815’s first attempt on WWII German Cavalry emerges as a fine effort, showing the potential of the company, now target groups simply looking forward for its continuation, better with less tall figs. 

Historical Accuracy 9
Anatomy 7
Poses Quality 8
Details Quality 8
Mould Quality 7
Sculpture 8
Recommendation/Utility 9
Reviewer’s Opinion 8