Articles

First to Fight - German Infantry 1939 (PL1939-016)_________(EXT)

Manufacturer First to Fight
Scale 1/72
Set Code PL1939-016
Year 2014
No. of Figures 24
No. of Poses 8
Additional Items None
Size Small
Material Soft Plastic/Hard Plastic
Colour Gray
Flash Level High
Glue-ability Excellent (Super Glue Gel)
Convert-ability Difficult
Optimal Period 1939 - 1945

 

Review 

 

Identifying new strategies for promoting and bringing closer to the target groups products are main goals of any manufacturer, especially in a very crowded market as the 1/72 WWII German Army is. Since the very beginning, the fairly new established Polish company First-to-Fight (FtF) has come with some innovative ideas for selling their 1/72 miniatures, both in terms of package and commercialization. 

Moreover, the maker envisaged a long-term and well defined strategy in terms of WWII German soldiers, exclusively focused on the very early period of the war, more precisely the Poland invasion. Trying to cover a broad range of aspects, after the issue of the most common set, dedicated to infantry, several specialised ones reached the market in quite a short period of time, WWII German commanders, heavy support weapons as well as PaK35/36 and le.IG18 cannons with related crews being delivered in less than two years. 

In the last period, producers of various things, sometimes from dying industries as CD and printed books, oriented to a new kind of commerce by associating with newspaper and magazine publishers for selling their merchandise together, in order to make those more tempting for customers. A special place within this kind of business has the toy industry, numerous gadgets, including kits and die-cast kits, being available in large quantities at newspaper’s kiosks. 

Aware by the potential of such market, FtF approached it and registered a premiere, being for the first time when 1/72 WWII German figures are sold in newspaper’s kiosks. However, this is available only in Poland, in the rest of the countries their sets being found in regular hobby or e-shops. 

A fresh thing and a point of attraction is the package FtF uses to trade their sets, a sealed transparent plastic-bag holding together a magazine and the box, this modality becoming the standard of the company. For the WWII German infantry set the front artwork shows more soldiers in combat and after opening the box, customers will find out the artist wanted to make a fairly correct introduction of the poses the set consists in. The plastic soldiers are arranged on a double sprue which is multiplied for three times, the box practically accommodating 24 figures in eight poses. All of them are cast as single pieces, thus no assembly is required. On the other side of the box, a comprehensive painting guide is presented, appropriate for recreating the Early War look of the German soldiers by using Vallejo colours.

The FtF adventure in the field of WW2 Germans has started with No. 16 of the “September 1939” magazine, dedicated to the most common unit, the infantry, somehow normal considering the next moves of the company and the targeted subject. Inside the magazine hobbyists have access to information and lots of reference images and photos with the unpainted and painted figs. In addition, the painting guide available on the box is repeated again inside but in a larger version, next to it being placed photos and data regarding different firing weapons used by the WWII German soldiers when invading Poland. Unfortunately, everything is written in Polish, but even if not knowing that language, at least the customer can entertain with the numerous photos.  Nevertheless, a bilingual version of the magazine, in Polish and English, would have been better, but this still remains an unfulfilled desire within the following sets, too.  

In terms of equipment, throughout its collection, FtF is devoted to the very early appearance of WWII German soldiers, defined by the absence of the famous “Y” straps, introduced after 1939, marching/jack boots, M36 uniforms, and steel helmets. Nevertheless, for later deployments, the lack of the straps is not a key aspect, the troopers not wearing all the time that accessory and also the M36 uniform and marching/jack boots continued to be supplied throughout the whole war, hence the figures might take positions in any scenario, even in a 1945 one. 

The infantrymen provided by FtF in their first set are dressed as above described and furhtermore, all have helmets with straps for holding camouflage cloth or foliage. For highlighting the Early War aspect, trousers might be painted in lighter gray and the tunics in Feldgrau, but for utilizations after 1942, the pants must have the same colour as the tunics. Three of these fighters have rolled up sleeves, consequently they can go only in scenes taking place in warm environments. 

The fire-power of the unit rests in six Kar98K, and one MG34, all soldiers receiving the appropriate ammo pouches for their rifles while the MG gunner has got pistol in holster and his loader no personal weapon except a grenade stuck in front under the belt. FtF distinguishes with the excellent setting of the back gear, the items credibly hanging on their army-men. Here they carry most of the items composing the standard equipment, all having bread bags, mess-tins, and gas mask containers with gas cape pouches while Zeltbahns, canteens, and shovels with or without bayonets are distributed to most of them. Of note is that all wear the gas cape pouch in front, on the chest, fixed on the gas mask container strap, in full accordance with the regulations in force during the Early War period. 

The poses imagined by FtF for their infantrymen bring nothing new in the field, but they may pass as satisfactory, most of those being inspired by reference images. With one exception, the rest are in the mist of combat, five soldiers standing and three being crouched. However, fairly similar stances are already found in a better quality within Revell/Preiser, Zvezda, Caesar, and Pegasus Hobbies offers. 

The only figure not implied in direct combat is a bare-headed marching soldier, holding his rifle in hands and his helmet hanging at the belt.  Other two standing comrades are in fighting stances, one firing off his Kar98K and another advancing, with bayonet fixed at his rifle. Though intending to portray a dynamic pose, this miniature looks quite flat, much better is his comrade firing off the rifle, at least from profile. 

As usual in infantry sets, also the present one provides a two member MG34 team formed by gunner and loader, here firing off the weapon from standing position, presumably the loader serving as rest for the weapon. However, it is a deja-vu assembly, Pegasus Hobbies making available an excellent one few years ago while Revell/Preiser Armoured Infantry set shows a similar team but crouched. Even if the FtF artwork reveals the loader holding the bipod, the plastic mini has two MG ammo boxes in his hands, thus being impossible for him to do what the artwork indicates. Theoretically, the MG34 loaders were armed with Kar98K as personal weapon, but this one has got only the related ammunition pouches. With a grenade stuck under belt, the pose looks very close to one previously delivered by Revell/Preiser in “Armoured Infantry”. The gunner appears odd while his bipod is folded under the barrel and in spite his fighting appearance, any viewer will wonder what he does while no ammunition belt or drum magazine are attached to his weapon. Funny is has around his neck a MG ammo belt, but that is not inserted in the weapon.Still, the modeler might quite easy repair this mini, using an unfolded bipod and an ammunition belt or drum magazine from his spare parts box. Likewise, it also should be identified a place for this soldier to prop his weapon on, a fence, wall, or trench coming out as some proper locations. A plus of the miniature is the pistol in holster, the side-weapon of the WWII German MG gunners. 

The crouched figures are more interesting than the standing partners, one of them holding his Kar98K with both hands and looking down, maybe preparing to load the rifle, and another throwing a grenade with the right hand and having his Kar98K in the other hand. Inspired by an image of a soldier portrayed in a propaganda poster from the period, the pose is quite known in 1/72 scale, more manufacturers reproducing it in a superior manner. The miniature has a problem with his legs, and also his arms are thick, this aspect being further enhanced by the rolled-up sleeves of the tunic. The third crouched figure is the most common and the less attractive, featuring a soldier firing off his Kar98K, but this arrives very flat.   

Generally, FtF miniatures, including the here reviewed ones, do not astonish with their sculpture, but it should be acknowledged the accurate Early War look. Anatomically correct, most of the times the facial details raise some problems both in terms of sharpness and cleanness, seam lines usually crossing their faces. Palms have some issues, fingers being not so crisply done. Though the sculptor strived to add numerous specific small elements on uniforms and gear as pocket flaps, shoulder and collar boards, buttons, buckles, straps, creases etc, the FtF figs establish a strange and not tempting connection with the viewer.  More factors contribute to that, such as the significant level of flash, seam lines, and excess of material, as well as the pretty odd look of some poses. 

Mould and cast can be definitely improved and when the cleaning work is initiated, the hobbyist will unpleasantly notice this kind of plastic produces fluffs, the whole operation being difficult and quite frustrating.  A distinct mark of FtF figs are the very thick bases they are set on and due to the ugly look of those devices, most modellers might want to free the troopers out from there. The intervention is fast and easy, a simple cut under the soles solving the problem, the plastic not opposing any resistance. 

These 1/72 WWII Germans, as well as all the following FtF ones, are cast as single pieces and made of a rubberized dark gray plastic, quite similar but still different than the Caesar, HaT, and Pegasus Hobbies ones. An important feature is enamel has not the tendency to get a glossy appearance on this material, which is also very glue-able, cyanoacrylate making a really strong bond, the gel formula being recommended for potential conversions. Painting these figs is not the most pleasant thing considering the plastic they are made of, enamel, acrylics, and artistic oils not adhering in perfect conditions, but still acceptable. 

FtF issues their army-men in the small/medium side of 1/72 scale and hundreds of WWII Germans similarly dressed and equipped are available. Taking into account the size, these minis can excellent stay near comrades proposed by Caesar, Airfix, HaT, or Esci. Anyway, these are just few examples, numerous producers having in their catalogues associated toy-soldiers. Still, bearing in mind all FtF Germans look like being created by the same sculptor, corroborated with the Early War appearance enhanced by the lack of “Y” straps,  it should be stressed the excellent compatibility established throughout the entire catalogue of the manufacturer in the field.  

Mainly addressing to gamers and collectors, the FtF figs and obviously, their German Infantry, might attract some diorama builders thanks to the Early War appearance. With some supplementary work in terms of cleaning and painting, the troopers can get a fairly satisfactory appearance, although much better solders in similar stances are offered by different 1/72 makers. However, in the following sets FtF has done considerable efforts for covering various gaps in the field of 1/72 WWII Germans, much more interesting tenders reaching the market under this label.   


Historical Accuracy 9
Anatomy 7
Poses Quality 6
Details Quality 7
Mould Quality 7
Sculpture 6
Recommendation/Utility 7
Reviewer’s Opinion 7