Articles

Zvezda - German Headquarters (6133) _________(EXT)

 
Manufacturer Zvezda
Scale 1/72
Set Code 6133
Year 2010
No. of Figures 4
No. of Poses 4
Additional Items 1Torn.Fu.d2 radio
Size Tall
Material Hard Plastic
Colour Gray
Flash Level Low
Glue-ability Excellent (Polly-cement)
Conversion-ability Medium
Optimal Period 1940  - 1945

  

Review

In 2010, a most important hobby kit manufacturer from Russia, Zvezda, launched on the market under the logo “Art of Tactic” an attractive offer in the field of 1/72 figures, materialised in a board-game system, the first, titled “Operation Barbarossa”, featuring more sprues of toy-soldiers, vehicles, airplanes, and various gaming accessories such as rules, boards, cards etc. While the vehicles are issued in the 1/00 scale, the figs arrive in a true 1/72 scale and impress through accuracy and top-notch details as well as excellent mould and cast. Obviously, most of models are multi-part but the method is snap-fit and there are only few parts for each, so putting together either the soldiers or vehicles is extremely simple, even a beginner succeeding to assemble any of those in few minutes.

However, perhaps this board-game would have been passed unobserved as many similar products if Zvezda had not applied another brilliant marketing strategy, making available the large content of the game within the so-called “Mini-Box” series, a box incorporating a single kit and being sold at a really accessible price, in general 2 or 3 Euros having to be paid for it. That clever move succeeded to draw the attention of the target groups over the outstanding products previously gathered within the board-game and the market exploded, thousands of 1/72 WWII figure customers rushing to purchase the impressive new range.

In addition, the deployed hard plastic emerges as another pleasant surprise, combining the properties of hard and soft plastics, very elastic and admirable resisting to shocks and bending, exceptionally and extremely fast gluing, as well as wonderfully receiving enamel, acrylics, and artistic oils, without changing colour properties and maintaining the artistic effort of the hobbyist even after heavy handling. Due to its qualities, this innovative material can be considered as one of the best available in the scale, fully satisfying the needs of both gamers and diorama builders. Nevertheless, in the board-games as well as inside the Mini-Box series, the WWII Germans are cast in three kinds of plastics, two hard and much rarer, a soft one. The two hard plastics are almost identical, the main difference resting in the colour, dark and light gray, and maybe the dark one is a hair more elastic. Available in both colours, the soft one is incredibly glue-able with cyanoacrylate, hard plastic parts and paints greatly fixing on it, too. Anyway, the hard plastic is appraised as superior, facilitating better fixation of parts as well as conversions, and fortunately, that material sets out as the rule in Art of Tactic kits, the soft one representing the exception.    

The outstanding success of “Operation Barbarossa” and its follow ups from the Mini-Box series directly led to the development of new offers, “Battle of Danube” and “Blitzkrieg 1940” games as well as plenty of other kits, mostly cannons and crews delivered exclusivelyin Mini-Boxes as expansion sets, arriving on the shop shelves for the immense satisfaction of the interested parts. In the field of figures, the subjects are both usual and out-of-ordinary, the manufacturer striving to cover blank or insufficiently treated topics. Until now, WWII German, Russian, British, and Romanian soldiers benefitted by Zvezda’s attention and all the figure sets put forward by the just mentioned board-games were also commercialised within the Mini-Box series, except those depicting the Headquarters (HQ) of the first three armies as well as the single figure kit on Romanians. Not supplying the HQs as individual sets might represents a commercial tactic in order to determine hobbyists to purchase a board-game. Taking into consideration the targeted themes, the only HQ appearing in all three games is the German one and this constitutes the subject-matter of the present review.  

Though the front artworks of Art of Tactic board-games illustrate generic scenes, the producer gives complete information on the content on the back of the boxes, including small images of each kit, how many times is duplicated, as well as their titles which are again stressed in the assembly guide.  Almost obviously, there is a single sprue with the related Headquarters and the WWII German one accommodates the necessary parts to put together four figs, one radio, one base, and a wargaming flag. Assembly instructions are supplied on a large common sheet for all the kits of the box, but even if the WWII German Headquarter figures are multi-part, putting them together is really simple, mainly arms being separate and the single crouched mini having the body split in two. Thanks to proper engineering, the snap-fit pieces perfectly and firmly adjust in position, permanently sticking those with specialised adhesive not being compulsory but advisable. WWII German HQ comes in dark gray hard plastic, so gluing can be easily done with polly-cement not only by diorama-builders, but also collectors and wargamers, this preventing the appearance of gaps between parts, ensuring trouble-free movements and painting, too. As all the other kits in Art of Tactic system, the WWII German HQ received a game card, featuring as reference image a couple of officers accompanied by some staff members, one officer monitoring the distance through scissor binoculars.

For the four members of the WWII German HQ, Zvezda settled on portraying two officers, one NCO, and one soldier as radio operator. According to WWII German organisation schemes, not only large army formations, but also smaller like companies listed one officer in charge, and at least the first platoon was led by a lower ranked officer which could replace the company commander if needed. However, one specific feature of the WWII German Army and its remarkable performances based on the fact that all soldiers, including privates, were encouraged to have incentives and trained to take the command if situation imposed such thing. On account the Zvezda kit proposes two officers, the reflected HQ might belong to a regular company, not necessary to a larger formation.

Attire respect the trend encountered in most tenders issued by this manufacturer on WWII Germans, appropriate for the Early Period of WWII but that certainly can be extended till the end of war, the same items of clothing being seen even in the last battle on German soil. All figures shoe the famous marching/jack boots, the officers having the same footwear although many times the upper part of their boots were slightly higher. Officers and certain NCOs had to purchase their uniforms on their own expenses and those could be either from military depots or tailor-made, having as result a large variation in materials, colours, and cut. The officer’s M36 service tunic had almost the same design as the regular one but easily differentiated after the turned up French cuffs. The sculptor did not ignore such fact and the here embodied officers dress the specific tunic, the French cuffs being immediately noticed and reiterating the high accuracy of Zvezda products. Having at disposal a large assortment of pants, the officers, no matter the branch of service, preferred even in the first line officer service breeches, assessing those as more elegant, a distinct mark, and the here embodied ones oriented to such trousers, too. For attesting their rank, they put on officer peaked caps and that head-gear was worn not only in safe areas but also, quite often, on the battlefield. A very fine thing is these officers miss the “Y” straps and have got just belts with pistol holsters, in full accordance with the appearance of higher ranked WWII German army-men.

The subordinates received the standard M36 uniform, marching boots, and one wears the steel helmet while the radio operator removed it for putting the headphones. As equipment both got belts, “Y” straps, bread bags, canteens, gas mask containers with gas cape pouches, entrenching tools with bayonets attached, and the appropriate ammunition pouches for their personal weapons. The standing one is armed with a MP40 kept on the back and due to his weapon and presence near officers, he might be assessed as an NCO. He fixed on the belt only one ammunition pouch on the right hand side but here either a small sculpting mistake has sneaked or the creator wanted to enhance that the soldier inverted the sides on a special purpose known only by him. Normally, that pouch was worn on the left hand side and is straightforwardly identified after the small pocket stitched down to the left side, accommodating a speed loader. If desired, the eventual sculpting fault might be quickly solved by hobbyists, a simple cut removing the small pocket. At his turn, the radio operator adjusted only left hand side ammo pouches for his Kar98K that represented the standard personal weapon of radio crewmen, so he is in full accordance with regulations.

Three figures stand and one is crouched, and due to the selected poses, they admirable manage to fulfil their scope as representatives of a WWII German HQ, recreating a vivid scene happened most surely in the close proximity of the frontline considering officers’ stances and the combat equipped soldiers. One of the officers checks the movement of troops through binoculars and perhaps this is the highest ranked military of the set. Because his attire and pose, the breeches are suitable for being painted with two vertical red stripes positioned on the outside leg seams, showing that we are in the presence of a General. His attitude remembers about one adopted by Feldmarshal Erwin Rommel in Africa and is more than possible that image to be taken as reference by the author when crafting the mini. Putting together the figure is basic, chest and arms being modelled separately and outstanding going in position, binoculars perfectly adjusting to the eyes. A similar assembly approach the manufacturer later adopted for the gun commander of the 88 mm FLAK36/37 but there are multiple differences in terms of poses and gear.

The next officer, moulded as single piece, makes use of a flare gun, perhaps intending to signal something to the units on the front. By selecting to depict such action, Zvezda took a wonderful decision, the figure both showing an innovative stance in the field of 1/72 WWII German officers and covering an almost blank space in mass production tenders, previously only in Preiser’s “German Tank Crews” being available such weapon, and in 2012, Waterloo 1815 brought another flare gun in “WWII German Cavalry Set 1”. The pose of the officer is authentic, with the right arm up firing the gun and looking up after the rocket. In addition, as previously highlighted, this officer has got a pistol holster and though partially covered by the left arm, it is definitely the one of his personal weapon, most probably a P08 Luger on account the shape and diagonally angled closure strap. The holster should not be confounded with one of a flare gun that had a totally different shape. The pistol the officer has in his hand sets out as another Zvezda sculpting masterpiece, highly accurate in both shape and size. It is recognised as the short barrel 27 mm version, entered in service in 1928 but maintained till the end of the conflict and could fire a large array of flares, over forty types with different purposes being available.

The standing soldier with MP40 proposes a hardly spotted pose in the 1/72 WWII German figures tender, he reads something in an opened notebook and follows the lines with the right index while taking a peek to his commander or to the radio operator. The manufacturer goes very far in detailing the mini, even carving several rows on the notebook, easing the work of the hobbyist in drawing those. The end parts of his arms are given separately as a single piece, with both palms already fixed on the notebook, so arrangement in position raises no special issue.

Communication system sets out as a gap Zvezda tries to fill and the WWII German HQ spue has incorporated for the first time their very fine 1/72 edition of Torn.fu.d2 radio which later could be met in another noteworthy set, “German Reconnaissance Team 1939 – 1942”. The device emerged as one of the most used WWII German portable transceivers, with a 3 km communication range and generally operated by a three member crew. Zvezda superbly caught the special features of the radio, particularly its panel, not over-scaling the details in spite the tiny dimensions. There are perceptible various dials, plugs, knobs, switches, and other very small details such as tags and screws, all correctly emplaced and shaped. The antenna looks good but is a hair shorter than the one put on their next Torn.fu.d2, so those not satisfied either by its length or shape might replace it with a scratch built one, straight or with horizontal "X" on top. Torn.fu.d2 had shoulder straps and other characteristics on reverse and sides as well as a handle on top, from those just the pad on the back for body protection during transportation appearing on the model. Anyway, advanced modellers might quite simply recreate such details either from thin metal wires or hard plastic melted sprue, the last material performing better because the radio is cast in hard plastic and the pieces can be more facile emplaced and glued. Merely painting such details on a 1/72 device is a faster and pretty satisfactory method based on the thickness of the real ones.  As often encountered in Braille Scale, this radio misses the special battery generating extra power and those wishing to have a full transceiver set might employ this Torn.fu.d2 and Pegasus Hobbies’ radio in case which might be transformed into a proper battery, the gear being reachable inside “Waffen SS Set 2” and “Germans in Berlin 1945”.

With headphones in position, the operator stays crouched and switches buttons or similar things with both hands. He keeps his Kar98K on the back and misses the related wires for connecting the headphones with the radio. This detail would have been very complicated to cast while the radio is a different piece and a considerable length of the cables would have stayed in the air, far from the body. Nonetheless, it is not intricate to scratch-build the wires from metal or melted sprue, this time advocating the metal ones bearing in mind the thin thickness and the necessity to resist to shocks and uncontrolled touches as well as the possibility to twist those for a genuine form. For metal wires, super glue gel fulfils the job with great results, simply sticking those below the headphones, in a quite protected location ensuring enough space for a very strong bond. By replacing his head with a regular one, the figure might be turned into a great crewman for small infantry cannons like PaK35/36 and le.IG18 or even the 81 mm mortar, all those weapons being transposed in 1/72 scale by Zvezda as well. In such case, his radio will remain without operator and might go to other figs issued by different producers, Pegasus Hobbies, Preiser, Dragon, and Zvezda providing enough solutions matching in this purpose with or without changes. However, it is a pity spoiling the perfect interaction between the radio operator and his device and suggested would be making conversions only in case owing more spures of this set. On the other hand, the operator proposed by the manufacturer within German Reconnaissance Team 1939 – 1942” looks quite close to this one, but with clear dissimilarities such as MP40, the left hand pressing the headphones, different head, and crouching in an altered manner.          

Though on the list of the first sculptured Zvezda’s 1/72 WWII Germans, the minis impress through ideal anatomy and top-notch details on uniforms and gear. Facial details are striking and it is almost a crime that the perfect face of the officer with binoculars is covered by the device he holds in his hands. Practically, the figures are extremely correct from the anatomical point of view, with nothing over-scaled, including palms with ideally sculptured fingers and heads displaying crisp noses, eyes, eyebrows, mouths, and checks. The premium quality of the items of garment is remarked from the first glance, the maker achieving an excellent depiction of the uniform with stitches, buttons, pocket flaps, collar and shoulder boards, French cuffs when it was the case, as well as very natural folds and creases. Footwear makes another pleasant impression, transposing with high accuracy the general appearance of the famous WWII German marching/jack boots, the soles, heels, stitched central, vertical spine to the reverse being without difficulty perceived. Likewise, head gear is irreproachable and on the bare-head hair comes very sharp and hair cut fully corresponds to the one adopted by WWII Germans.

Moulding and casting are impeccable, parts superlatively fit in places and the sculptor’s master work is not affected at all. Likewise, the product arrives quite clean of flash and the existent one together with the few seam lines are immediately taken out, hard plastic wonderfully responding to such interventions. A petite quantity of excess of material appeared where the notebook touches the left arm but is easily eliminated just like flash. Two kinds of bases were developed for the figs, a common one with a larger hole for the wargaming flag, as well as individual ones. Attaching on the bases is achieved through snapping and for outside the bases utilisations, modellers might need to remove the pins from the boots. Because of the adopted stances, with both feet on the ground, these soldiers have a good balance without additional stands, the crouched fig not requiring a base, too.

Belonging to the tall side of 1/72 scale, the personnel of WWII German HQ can command a multitude of troopers similarly dressed issued by Zvezda as well as hundreds of soldiers wearing M36 uniforms launched by different mass-production and cottage industry manufacturers, units dressed like that being a common presence in the 1/72 scale. On account of size of bodies and gear, the HQ members go great with figures listed in Airfix, Esci/Italeri, Pegasus Hobbies, Revell, Dragon, Preiser, TQD Castings, CMK, and many others’ catalogues. Still, it should be reiterated the noteworthy compatibility of Zvezda figs, the maker maintaining the same proportions within the whole tender. The HQ members can be easily increased with various figs edited by the company and fully corresponding in this purpose such as the army-men fromGerman Reconnaissance Team 1939 – 1942” and German Regular Infantry 1936-1943” but the list does not limit to those, with slight conversions plenty of comrades can be turned into veritable HQ personnel.

With the content of their board-games and expansion sets, Zvezda has raised the stake and succeed to impose new standards, at least in the field of 1/72 WWII Germans. Available only in board-games, the WWII German HQ emerges not only as a nice and accurate set, but also as an extremely useful one. After more than two years since the first release and after starring exclusively in board-games, the policy of determining modellers to buy an entire board-game at over 50 Euro just for getting the HQs might come to an end and it would be superb the manufacturer to start releasing the HQ as a 3 Euro Mini-Box kit.

Through many others, ideal for school projects and similar activities, for hobbyists wanting just particular sets from a board-game can purchase it and find various utilisations with the rest, including one promoted in the front artwork, father playing with kid. Indeed, this is a key and attractive aspect of Art of Tactic sets, responding to the needs and expectations of any person entering in contact with the offer, toys matching the standards of exigent diorama builders and vice-versa, and all at extremely affordable prices. Pegasus Hobbies emerges as a precursor of this tendency, launching highly detailed but cheap sets as well as a board-game, but doubtless Zvezda succeeded to push it further and reached perfection on the matter. By supplying an unique content properly answering to most requirements and tastes, Zvezda board-games and Mini-Box products attain another major goal, raising awareness and promoting modelling within young generations, a perfect strategy for ensuring future customers and the future for the hobby.                                                                                                                                      

 

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