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Munich Kits - Deutsche Luftwaffe 1943 (FHLW02) _________(EXT)

 

Manufacturer Munich Kits
Scale 1/72
Set Code FHLW02
Year 2014
No. of Figures 3
No. of Poses 3
Additional Items None
Size Tall
Material Resin
Colour Light Gray
Flash Level Low
Glue-ability Excellent (Super Glue Gel)
Convert-ability Difficult
Optimal Period 1943 – 1945

 

Review  

It is always a pleasure seeing new cottage industry manufacturers emerging on the 1/72 WWII German soldiers market, the sentiment feeling even better when the products in case are of top quality. A good example in the field represents Munich Kits, the company issuing their first set on WWII Germans in 2014. As the name clearly suggested, it is a producer from Munich/Germany, and except the excellent figures released, this label features some other interesting particulars, too.

Collectors and diorama builders searching for highly accurate and detailed miniatures have got or at least heard about Hecker&Goros, a German company casting figures in the traditional pewter (zinn) material and distinguishing through an awesome sculpture. Although Munich Kits are made of resin, since the first glace, the connoisseurs of the domain will notice close similitudes in terms of sculpting between these and Hecker&Goros figures. The initial impression is confirmed when turning the package, on the reverse being written Florian Hecker’s name and contact data, obviously the person responsible for the marvellous works made available by both firms. Pretty rare hobbyists have the opportunity to get soldiers sculptured by the same person but cast in different materials, and thanks to Florian Hecker’s Munich Kits, now his style can be admired not only in pewter but also in resin. Perhaps one of the most famous similar cases is brought in the scale by Tony Boustead who sculpted for several white metal makers as TQD Castings, Martello International, and Under Fire Miniatures as well as Caesar’s soft plastic first two sets on WWII Germans. Taking profit by the incredible skills of Boris Knokhov, Orion cast both in resin and soft plastic his outstanding 1/72 Panzer crewmen, but obviously, the situation is little different, being about the same figures in different materials. Nevertheless, the just provided examples are not unique in the scale and from many perspectives, it might be interesting to analyse and compare the work of the same sculptor in different materials.  

A characteristic shared by Hecker&Goros and Munich Kits miniatures is the quite tall size, practically some sets issued by the first mentioned manufacturer being completely useless for the 1/72 scale, emerging as real giants, closer to 1/70 or bigger. However, in Hecker&Goros catalogue there are few offers appropriate for 1/72 scale and though fairly  tall and big, it is great the figs here proposed by Munich Kits comply with the stated 1/72 size. The first and more well-known company benefitting by Florian Hecker’s work is mainly focused on U-Boot crewmen, but even if issuing just a single set on WWII subjects until now, “German Luftwaffe 1943-45”, his new label might target Luftwaffe personnel in the future, lots of such offers being already available for WWI. 

As for Hecker&Goros and many other garage makers, the set incorporates just three figures at a quite expensive price, but the quality is certainly remarkable and justifies the requested amount. Packed in a nice transparent box stapled to a cardboard paper, the main artwork is ensured by a fine image printed on photographic paper and sneaked between, showing a small vignette with the three miniatures. The photo is taken from short distance and the figures appear very clear, the picture giving emphases to their top-notch quality. The paintwork is great and can be followed without hesitations, the same image having the role of assembly guide and suggestion for placing the personnel, helping modellers to better understand what one of them does. Through the clear plastic box the clients can see three highly detailed figs placed on individual slots as well as another holding two arms. Just a single mini has separate arms and assembly represents almost nothing, the parts finely fixing in position with cyanoacrylate, super glue gel being the recommended adhesive.

The kit combines ground and flight Luftwaffe personnel, proposing one pilot and two mechanics, all easy recognisable after sported clothes. The maintenance crew put on overalls and shoe ankle boots, one being bare-head and the other receiving a M34 overseas cap. The one wearing nothing on his head has got a shirt below and impresses with his perfect sculptured hair, fairly curly and long, not quite compliant with regulations. Within the WWII German Army there was in fashion to trim the hair on sides and back and keep it longer on top, sometimes very long, as many images in the period reveal. However, such hair-cuts are mostly observed at persons with straight, not curly hair and the here sculptured hair-cut, together with the pretty bangle-ears and other facial details, somehow reminds about Martin Gore from Depeche Mode, but it might be just an impression. This is the miniature involving assembly and according to the artwork, he is designed to give a helpful hand to the pilot for arranging the parachute outer cover on the back. Bending a little in front in an extremely natural stance, he can be displayed in different places, requested to do something else with his hands or simply gesticulating. As to quote my 7 years old son, this figure, not linked to the pilot or various objects, looks like dancing Gangnam style.

The other mechanic in overall adopts a more passive attitude, limiting only to watch and do nothing, with his right hand deep in the pocket and the left on the hip. Around his neck a beautifully sculptured scarf is spotted and he keeps the M34 cap just on the top of the head, making possible for its creator to add some hair even on the forehead. The guy is fairly fat and different than his comrade who has a belt, he keeps the overall loose, practically representing an excellent opportunity for admiring Florian Hecker’s brilliant work as well as to better understand how a WWII German overall would have appeared.

Overalls were allocated to soldiers carrying out heavy maintenance tasks and often were cut larger in order to be dressed over the uniform or other clothes. During WWII, the German Army utilised around twenty models of overalls, officially delivered by army depots, tailor made, of civil origins or even captured. The model here depicted is the one with a single breast pocket on the right hand side and two large pockets on the trousers. Of course, not only Luftwaffe ground personnel put on such clothes, but also all WWII German soldiers carrying out maintenance duties, as Panzer, U-Boot, and various other soldiers.. Thus, the men in overalls proposed by Munich Kits can excellent take position on a U-Boot or in a harbour, near a Panzer or other vehicle, the possibilities being endless in the field. Considering these overalls are worn loose and the attire seen below, the figures address to warm or temperate environments. In addition, the attire provide lots of options for painting, a broad range of gray, green, black or blue shades being appropriate. 

As regards the featured pilot, he prepares for going in a mission, trying to arrange the parachute outer cover on his back with the support of one of the mechanics. Even if he does not do too much and the pose is not so attractive, thanks to sculptor’s skilful work and excellent knowledge in the field, this miniature represents one of the best examples available in 1/72 scale in terms of RZ20 parachute harness and flight attire. Missing only the flight helmet, for the moment having the officer peak cap, he is fully equipped, wearing the two piece uniform introduced since 1940, commonly known as “Chanel Uniform”. This pilot has got the flight winter leather jacket and flight trousers, scarf around his neck, and shoe Pst3 or Pst4004 flight boots, the upper suede leather and other specific details indicating it is not about the electric model. Likewise, due to the shape of the large pockets on the knees it might be less probable to be the electric version of the flight pants. Because of the tinny size, it is quite unclear if the sculptor wanted to reproduce some of the specific zippers of those pants, or it is just a seam line. Nonetheless, the problem can be simply solved and modellers can effortlessly suggest those zippers by paint.

According to WWII German regulations, pilots flying over waters had to wear a life vest, usually made of rubberised canvas painted in yellow for better visibility and could maintain buoyancy for 24 hours. This pilot also put on the inflatable back-less life vest, perhaps the 10-32-B2 model, but the identification is difficult, most of details being hidden by the parachute harness. It should not be confounded the two part strap between the legs with the parachute harness, that strap belongs to the vest harness and was created for preventing the item to slip upwards. 

However, the most interesting part on this figure is his RZ20 parachute in its outer cover with four flaps and the related harness made of webbing, consisting in a belt with a large buckle in front, two braces, two thigh straps, and a strap across the top of the chest. The RZ20 pattern was first exploited in Create in 1941 and remained in service till the end of war. It was similar to the previous model, RZ16, but received an improved harness, with four quick release buckles, allowing a fast removal of the parachute after landing, an essential thing in an area under fire or inside enemy territory, where pilots trying to get rid of harness could represent easy targets. In spite the small scale, Florian Hecker succeeded in a remarkable manner to recreate all the specific components of the RZ20 release system, perhaps one of the best that can be got in Braille Scale. A fairly intricate item to determine is the round device set at the waist that may represent more things, including a survival compass. 

Despite being a hair larger than normal, the miniatures strike with their fine anatomy, especially with the crisp facial details giving personality to each figure. In this regard, the best are the two mechanics, eyes, eye-brows, noses, mouths, cheeks, chins, ears, and hair being perfectly reproduced and in scale. The pilot, who received a half-opened mouth, has the peak of his cap pushed a little too much over his forehead, but below his eyes are properly done, too. Palms and fingers look good and match the proportions of the bodies, perhaps slightly bigger being the one of the mechanic with M34 cap. The clothes, with their natural creases and excellent small details such as buttons, stitches, pocket flaps and other niceties reiterate and give emphasises to the incredible abilities of the sculptor and his full capacity in appropriately managing even the smallest place. 

Mould and cast are at the same top level with the sculpture, the figures arriving in a qualitative resin, very clean, without flash or excess of material. Few seam lines might be encountered, but those are immediately removed and without head-aches, resin easing such interventions. The same material ideally accepts enamel, acrylics, and artistic oils for durable paintwork, able to resist to heavily handling even without varnish or other special treatments. As the great majority of resin miniatures, also these have not come on stands, leaving to the hobbyist the choice either to glue them directly in the diorama or vignette or on different bases, an operation fast and reliably achieved with cyanoacrylate. Moreover, the pilot and his assistant have a good balance and stand without any support, and eventually, with minor interventions over his soles, also the mechanic with M34 cap might stand by his own.

Along the years, several mass-production and cottage industry makers as Preiser, Hasegawa, Revell, and CMK portrayed the famous Luftwaffe pilots and their ground comrades in various hypostases. Taking into account that Munich Kits soldiers are in the tall side of the scale, they will match best with CMK and eventually Hasegawa figures, a close collaboration with Preiser or Revell pilots and ground-crew being fairly difficult to achieve considering the visible differences in size, the minis issued by the other two well-known German makers entering in the small side of the scale, close to the border between 1/72 and 1/76 scales. On the other hand, there are lots of troopers wearing overalls or drill uniforms and with sizes near the present reviewed soldiers. Pretty good partners are to be found in sets dedicated not only to Luftwaffe, but also Kriegsmarine or Panzer, put forward by CMK, Warriors, Zvezda, Revell, Orion, and of course Hecker&Goros which practically shares the same sculptor. Mainly targeting static modellers, these minis might interest some gamers, the top-quality resin, neither bridle nor fragile, as well as the poses, without many exposed parts, making them suitable in that purpose, too.

As many other niche sets, Munich Kits’ German Luftwaffe 1939-45” is not so known to hobbyists and some causes could be the quite new appearance on the market of this producer, the low number of sets, as well as the difficulty in finding their offer, both in regular and e-shops. As an irony, going especially for this set in one of the largest hobby shops in Munich, although they had quite many sets made by Munich Kits, I did not find it. Thus, the here reviewed set is bought not from Munich, but from a shop much further, Michigan Toy Solider in the US. In a certain manner, the impressive quality rewards all the efforts and the paid price, and hopefully will not remain the singular set created by this label on WWII Germans. 

 

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