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Zvezda - German Infantry in Winter Uniforms 1941-1945 (6198) _________(EXT)

 

Manufacturer Zvezda
Scale 1/72
Set Code 6198
Year 2013
No. of Figures 5
No. of Poses 4
Additional Items Wargaming cards, bases and flags
Size Tall
Material Hard Plastic
Colour Gray
Flash Level Low
Glue-ability Excellent (Polly cement)
Conversion-ability Medium
Optimal Period 1939  - 1945

 

Review

The richer the offer on 1/72 WWII German winter soldiers, the better for the large groups of interested parties, and  when the new tender comes from one of the most esteemed manufacturers, then certainly it should be considered with priority. With a very comprehensive catalogue on WWII German Infantry dressed for warm or temperate environments, in the well-known M36 uniform, Zvezda apprised it was time to tackle the same unit but prepared for the winter season. As the main focus of the company is the early and middle stage of WWII, their winter Germans arrive in greatcoats, the standard item of clothing of the WWII German soldier during the first winter spent on the Eastern Front. For their stunning winter collection, Zvezda issued in the same time three mini-boxes depicting infantry, mortar and MG teams. In accordance with the market strategy faithfully applied by this producer, all of them have been incorporated within a board-game titled “World War II: Battle for Moscow 1941”, also being accompanied by a German Winter Headquarter which, at least for the next years, will be encountered only inside the game.

The quality of Zvezda miniatures, combining in a perfect manner the necessary attributes for wargaming and static model builders has been highly praised, and with the winter series, the company strongly reiterates its outstanding capacity of putting forward brilliant toy-soldiers in terms of mould, excellence of poses and top sculpture. It is virtually impossible not to remark from the first glance how natural the greatcoats fold on the bodies and not wonder how the maker succeeded to design them in order to get such magnificent look and without any excess of material. Furthermore, if the hobbyist is little familiarized with images published in Signal and other famous photos, he will notice that few soldiers starring there are now transposed into 1/72 scale, obviously an acclaimed approach, with a key contribution in creating noteworthy figurines.  

The entire winter series is cast in the wonder Zvezda hard plastic, very flexible and allowing bending in a significant manner, the material facilitating incredible performances, definitely the most impressive being here the finger of one miniature. Though theoretically wearing gloves, the finger in case is so thin and in scale, fully compatible with the most well-done and princely resin figs, but now the piece is not breaking even if it takes fairly serious shocks.

As usual, the first set in the winter series is the Infantry without specialised weapons, titled “German Infantry in Winter Uniform 1941-1945” and the two sprues of the kit are packed in the classical Mini-box, introducing in the front artwork soldiers emplaced in a winter scenario, at the outskirts of a Russian village and in close stances that will be encountered inside. On the reverse, gamers, collectors or static modelers receive information on the content, both written and images with the four poses of the set, as well as one featuring the five figs set on the game base and a photo of the game card.

On the sprues, between the parts necessary for putting together the five figures, there are sneaked a special game base and a flag as well as individual bases except for the prone miniature. Of note is that on the game card is now available a photo with three toy-soldiers as illustrated on the box and not a reference image, as Zvezda used to provide for the previous sets belonging to Mini-box series.   

An assembly guide makes clear how the figures have to be put together as well as the options for basing them, either on individual stands or on a collective one, mainly deployed in games. Being a snap fit product, with pin and hole system, as all of “Art of Tactic” products, the manufacturer keeps supplying instructions on how to correctly fit the parts for avoiding pin damages, in this purpose posting a small explanatory picture with the assembly of a figurine from their “German Gebirgsjager 1939-1943” set.

Trusting in a fast victory, the WWII German army went into Russia totally unprepared for facing General Winter, additional problems appearing due to difficulties in logistics and Hitler’s long debated decision of not sending winter gear to the army on the Eastern Front, as a motivation for better fight and win the war before Christmas of 1941. No matter the cause, the truth was thousands of troopers suffered of cold and even the most insignificant village was transformed into a key objective while a shelter could offer protection when -40 °C were registered, the artwork giving emphasises to such idea, too.

Dressed in WWI, the greatcoat remained the main item of garment for winter in the Early Part of WWII and was kept in service till the end in parallel with specialised winter attire issued since 1942. During WWII a large array of greatcoats were available, either standard or tailor-made, M36, M40, and M42 representing the most frequent. The M36 and M40 models are straightforwardly identified after the French cuffs, in the 1/72 scale the main difference between resting in the colour of the collar the modeller chooses to paint, blue/green for the early models or feldgrau for the rest.  

Zvezda’s winter infantrymen received the classical look, in M36 or M40 greatcoats and with marching/jack boots and steel helmets. The company succeeded to obtain a marvellous appearance of the greatcoats, the bottom appropriately folding and accompanying the moves of the wearers, also leaving to be easily perceived the trousers. Toques, wrapping the face and neck, and knitted five finger gloves were ordinary pieces of the WWII German winter garment and it seems all these troopers wear them. Moreover, the sculptor created some incredible and in scale palms, and if the modeller wants, he certainly can paint the soldiers as without gloves or replacing the knitted type as some made of leather, officers and certain NCOs frequently appealing to such items. Another painting option refers to helmets, in winter the WWII German army-men used to give a white wash or paint to their helmets in camouflage purposes. Nevertheless, as the artwork also highlights, the standard colour remained a clear option, for various reasons many soldiers not repainting in white their helmets.

Bearing in mind the way these figures are dressed, corroborated with the fact that greatcoats continued to be issued till the end of war, they can be deployed not only on the Eastern Front, but also on the Western one, including famous battles as Ardennes or Berlin. Furthermore, they might easily embody both Wehrmacht and Waffen SS troopers, for the second ones ideal being to paint the eagle on the left arm. 

All figs received the classical back-gear, with bread-bag, canteen, mess-tin, gas mask container with gas cape pouch rolled around, and Zeltbahn, also three of them having shovels and two bayonets while another has got a pistol holster instead of shovel. Two soldiers are endowed with MP38/40 and their comrades with Kar98K, all carrying the appropriate ammo pouches for the weapon in use.

Two army-men are crouched, one prone, and one standing, all poses adopting extremely natural stances, a normal characteristic considering they are inspired after reference images. Three might embody privates and definitely one of them, due to his personal gear, is either a NCO or a low rank officer.

This NCO or officer is certainly one of the best ever released miniatures within Zvezda 1/72 register, not only the stance, but also the way the manufacturer thrived to cast it astonishing the viewer. The pose, available as a 1/35 figure as well, brings in 1/72 scale an NCO or officer starring in a famous coloured photo shot on the Eastern Front. It comes in a brilliant manner, copying both the entire attitude and most of the gear emerging in the photo. If the stance is virtually identical, few items of equipment differ at the original model than those displayed by Zvezda. At least from what can be seen in the photo, the real soldier had a grenade under the belt in front of the pistol holster which was pushed a little backward, the MP38/40 was kept in a slightly dissimilar manner, and he had no toque and “Y” straps. The Zvezda miniature arrives without binoculars strap and grenade, in that place being the pistol holster, the MP38/40 is on the right shoulder with the muzzle down while it should be on the hip with muzzle up and with the grip close to the ground. In addition, the mini has got toque and “Y” straps for supporting the full gear he carries on the back, just like his comrades. In the original image, the back gear is not perceived, but most surely, NCOs or officers transported only occasionally all the stuff put on him here. Nevertheless, in spite these minor changes, the figure here proposed is a remarkable one, and the finger he points with is unbelievable thin and in scale. Furthermore, the way he holds the binoculars and how he keeps his head, twisted a little to the right, reassemble the real model in a most authentic manner. With few spare parts and scratch-built binoculars strap and a section of the belt, the hobbyist can fairly easy depict on the miniature the equipment as appearing on the real soldier, the hard plastic definitely facilitating the interventions. Both the standard and a conversion on that pose, trying to recreate the true image of the soldier as above highlighted, are featured by some of the images accompanying the present review. On the other hand, it is a pity the manufacturer did not take the decision to reproduce the other private or NCO introduced by the reference image, it would have been a wonderful opportunity to make available on the 1/72 figurine market one of the most well-known WWII German teams on duty on the Eastern Front, monitoring the enemy movements.   

As regards the crouched soldier embodying a grenade thrower, that is also based on a photo from the period and he performed the action in a credible manner, in the other hand holding his MP38/40. He has shovel but lacks the bayonet and the ammunition pouches stay pretty well although the left hand side one misses the related tool pouch stitched to it.

With the prone miniature something new in the field is introduced, at least within mass-production sets being impossible to find a soldier in a similar stance, preparing to load his Kar98K. Keeping his rifle in the left hand, he searches for new bullets in the right hand side ammunition pouch, doing it normal and the head being turned in the right direction, too. The pose is also available in 1/35 scale but little different.

As customary within infantry sets issued by this company for the Art of Tactic game, there are supplied two figures in the same pose, advancing and keeping in front the Kar98K. Additionally to the standard equipment, the soldier received a grenade under the belt. The stance is nice and one of them can be effortlessly converted in order to avoid duplicating the same trooper. Both the hard plastic material and the multi-part approach, with separate arms, facilitate transformations, using either gear, heads, and limbs from other Zvezda figs or similar stuff proposed by various produces like Preiser, Dragon or Caesar. Even the simply arrangement of hands in slightly dissimilar manner, upper or lower keeping the rifle, is quite sufficient, especially if adding a scratch-built sling to the weapon. Moreover, such approach is suggested by the artwork, where at the two standing soldiers in front there is noticed a petite difference in the modality of holding the weapons.

Though wrapped in greatcoats, the figures remark through well-balanced anatomy, while heads and hands, as most visible body parts, charm from the first glance, eyes, eye-brows, noses, and mouths being crisply reproduced. Supposedly in knitted gloves, the palms are not tick at all and might be painted as without gloves, the fingers emerging as a true masterpiece, with a plus for the pointing one. Earlier emphasized, the sculptor has managed in an admirable manner to illustrate the greatcoats, with the appropriate length and the bottom incredible following the moves of e wearers and permitting to be seen the trousers beneath, too. The garment feature normal creases and crisp shoulder boards as well as a number of buttons in front but those on the back tails were not done. Footwear maintains in the perfect line established by Zvezda, abounding in details and with the stitched central, vertical spine to the reverse clearly reproduced. Gear and weapons are nice looking, both in terms of details and the way the equipment is arranged on the bodies.

The fine cast and mould made possible that not only details, including the small ones, to greatly appear, but also the parts requiring assembly to go well in positions, without leaving undesired gaps. Even if the pin and hole system here applied ensure a firm fixation, more recommended would be the use of standard modelling glue (polly-cement) for permanent sticking. Excess of plastic does not exist and flash level is kept to a low amount, immediately removed due to the special attributes of hard plastic. Likewise, the material greatly accepts enamel, acrylics, and artistic oils, without influencing the colours, retaining painter’s work even during extreme handling. Another pleasing propensity of hard plastic is opening the gates for conversions and because the miniatures arrive with separate limbs, the realisation of new and attractive stances is quite facile. Taking into consideration that hard plastic arms in greatcoats, either separated or on full figures, are quite rare, advocated would be mixing arms between the three Zvezda winter sets, eventually slightly modified. In addition, an extra option offers Preiser’s “Military Police. Guards” set, where there are supplied few separate such arms. Soft plastic arms in greatcoats abound in the scale, and a good choice would be those from Pegasus Hobbies’ “Germans in Berlin 1945”, most of the limbs being separate there, too. Of course, for a durable bond, super glue would be the adhesive for fixing soft plastic arms on Zvezda’s bodies. The miniatures snap onto the bases via a pin in the sole or body and stay there very firm. While the product addresses not only to gamers and collectors, but also to static modeller builders that might have nothing to do with the supplied stands, then the pins should be removed, the setting not affecting the remarkable quality of the figurines. 

In terms of 1/72 WWII Germans, in a certain manner the year 2013 was one dedicated to winter clothes, more mass production and cottage industry companies issuing miniatures on the matter that considerably have increased the already existent offer in the field. In the medium/tall side of 1/72 scale, in plastic Revell, Pegasus Hobbies, Strelets-r, and Preiser and in white metal Juwella, TQD Castings, Weathering Factory, and El Viejo Dragon put forward excellent companions wearing greatcoats, fully matching in terms of body, weapon, and gear sizes Zvezda’s troopers. At their turn, Caesar and HaT have soldiers in greatcoats, but those are slightly smaller than the rest. On the other hand, troopers in greatcoats perfectly go together with others dressing specialized winter attire, the list with such army-men being certainly much longer.

In just few years Zvezda has become one of the most productive 1/72 WWII German Army manufacturer and by making available winter soldiers in greatcoats, they add to the inventory an impressive series of figures, a perfect completion and extremely useful for the famous Eastern front and more than suitable for the Western one, too. Furthermore, the company reconfirms its outstanding skills and gets to the top of similar troopers, releasing, at a very affordable price, some of the best toy-soldiers in greatcoats accessible on the 1/72 market, no matter if the counterparts comes from mass production or cottage industry.     

 

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