Articles

Minitoysoldier - Erich von Manstein Type 1_________(EXT)

 

Manufacturer Minitoysoldier
Scale 1/72
Set Code -
Year 2014
No. of Figures 1
No. of Poses 1
Additional Items None
Size Small
Material Soft Plastic
Colour Gray
Flash Level Low
Glue-ability Excellent (Superglue)
Conversion-ability Difficult
Optimal Period 1939  - 1945

 

Review

In the field of 1/72 WWII Germans, providing bonus figures has started to become a more applied method for attracting hobbyists, such miniatures being offered free of charge inside commercialised sets or by forums and e-shops. These exclusivist figurines have certain valour from the collecting and modelling points of view, except those included in regular sets, the other bonus toy-soldiers being sculptured in a limited number for promoting a business or forum and are sent as gifts to most active clients or members. One e-shop distinguishing with a rich offer of free figures is Minitoysoldier, and it is normal to be like that while it is inter-linked with the famous toy-soldier manufacturer Caesar, being located in the same country, Taiwan.  Designing, importing, and retailing a multitude of miniatures from famous brands, as well as owing a facility for producing figs and model kits, the declared goal of the company is broadcasting toy-soldier and wargame hobby and contributing to charity and marketing miniatures in new fields. It is Minitoysoldier’s belief collecting figs and kits is a noble hobby, fulfilling history knowledge and creating mini-worlds by delicate and fine products while wargame, playing on a table top face to face with friends, represents a social and convivial activity loved by hobbyists all over the world.

At the moment, the firm has seven characters in their 1/72 catalogue of free figures, most of them embodying famous generals of WWII such as Patton, Eisenhower, Montgomery, and von Manstein as well as a German infantry-man at attention. In addition, stressing the close connection with the well-known manufacturer Caesar, the illustrious Roman commander who lent his name to the Taiwanese producer is also available as a free miniature, mounted on his horse and wearing armour as prepared for battle. Customers can get without paying any of these collectable minis when purchasing from Minitoysoldier e-shop, and in conformity with the free figure policy drafted by the company, having as main criterion the total value of the order, there can be requested one to nine bonus figures. An excellent thing is the client chooses which bonus figs he wants to be shipped to him, obviously depending on the availability of those, instantly checked straight on the website. 

During the years, Caesar has gained wold recognition as the manufacturer with the richest catalogue on WWII German Army, the related products addressing to all categories of hobbyists. Collectors, gamers, and diorama builders easily find appropriate answers for their search inside the impressive tender proposed on the topic by the company. Cast in soft or hard plastic, the WWII Germans issued by Caesar distinguish through fine sculpture and high accuracy, also covering a multitude of units, weapons, and items of garment. Such characteristics are quite normal bearing in mind there are over 1000 1/72 WWII German toy-soldiers in distinct poses created by this most prolific producer. Furthermore, a line of pre-painted minis is proposed for hobbyists having no time or patience to paint their troops. The large majority of Caesar figures are a hair smaller than most of their comrades cast by other makers and might be included in the small/medium size of 1/72 scale, but there are several creators producing miniatures with the same proportions as well. 

Taking into account the broad register of Caesar’s 1/72 WWII German Army units, it is normal that the associated Minitoysoldier to make a move in the field and three of their free figures target that army. An out-of-ordinary, but more than attractive approach is registered in terms of Generalfeldmarschall Erich von Manstein, the company deciding to reproduce the illustrious commander in two hypostases, titled Type 1 and Type 2, the first one being subject matter of the present review. It should be pointed out that none of the other generals presented as free figs benefit by similar treatment, thing highlighting again which topic represents the main interest of Caesar and Ministoysoldier now. 

Born in Berlin in 1889 in a Prussian aristocrat family as Fritz Erich Georg Eduard von Lewinski, the one who became one of the greatest military commanders in the history of mankind was the tenth son of Artillery General Eduard von Lewinski and Helene von Sperling. His mother’s younger sister and her husband, General Georg von Manstein were unable to have children, so they asked von Lewinski to let them adopt Erich. Considering they had already ten sons, von Lewinski agreed, so Erich moved to very close relatives of his natural parents, also getting von Manstein as surname. Both von Lewinski and von Manstein noble families had long military traditions and throughout the centuries have been providing a huge number of personalities for Germany. 

Receiving an upper-class education, Erich von Manstein followed the tradition of his natural and adoptive families, joining the army at a young age. During WW I he fought on Western and Eastern Fronts, ending the war as a captain. Between the two world wars he remained in the army and contributed to the reorganization of the German military forces under the terrible conditions imposed by the Great Powers. After the death of President Hindenburg, which was also connected with von Manstein, being his uncle, the Nazi Party took the power and the Army received top priority. Von Manstein continued to occupy various positions and his name is closely linked to the famous Sturmgeschütz (StuG), the development of the self-propelled assault gun being proposed by von Manstein for providing heavy direct-fire support to infantry. The StuGs proved to be some of the most successful and cost-effective weapons and became the most produced armoured fighting vehicle by Germany in WWII, issued in a multitude of models since 1936 till 1945. 

The outset of WWII found von Manstein as Chief of Staff to Gerd von Rundstedt's Army Group South and he had a key contribution in drafting the operational plan for Poland invasion. In addition, it was von Manstein idea to change the initial tactic of the attack of France, proposing and drafting the plan for an offensive through Ardennes and a second push outflanking the Maginot Line. Adopted by Hitler in spite the opposition of other generals, it has remained in history known as Manstein Plan, the proposed actions, a classical Blitzkrieg example, directly leading to the achievement of an impressive victory, Low Countries and France surrendering in few weeks. Likewise, von Manstein was a main supporter of the need of invading Britain, also working to the related plans for the operation code named Seelöwe, postponed and never implemented due to Hitler’s hesitations in invading UK and Luftwaffe’s failure in winning supremacy over the Royal Air Force in the so called Battle of Britain. 

However, not only the victories on the Western Front imposed von Manstein in the gallery of all time brilliant commanders, but also his name is indissolubly linked to the most famous battles on the hash Eastern Front, his personality and master plans bringing a key contribution to the WWII German Army achievements. Involved since the beginning of Operation Barbarossa, von Manstein commanded his units, through others, in Battles for Crimea, Sevastopol, Leningrad, Stalingrad, Harkov, Kursk, and Dnieper. Playing a major role and proving his military genius in all those fierce fights, most of those known nowadays as some of the most important battles in the history, it would be necessary lots of pages only to merely mention the direct contributions brought by von Manstein. Still, it has to be strongly emphasised if Hitler would have followed von Manstein plans and advices, also supported by other key generals, perhaps the world map would have been another at present. Winning few of the above mentioned battles and applying the proposed strategies would have facilitated the Final Victory of WWII German Army on the Eastern Front or at least to much delay the advance of the Red Army to Berlin.   

Despite his fragile and tensioned relation established with Hitler and the disrespect he had for the Fuhrer, with the famous saying “Prussian field marshals do not mutiny”, von Manstein refused to join the 20 July 1944 plot organised by Colonel von Stauffenberg and other high-ranking officers aiming at assassinating Hitler. He did not betray either Hitler, in his quality of Supreme Commander of the Army or his comrades involved in the plot and his refusal has not to be condemned and should be analysed taking into account the aristocratic and military education von Manstein had. 

One of the very few high-ranking German commanders who had the courage to contradict with Hitler over strategies in front of other people and also trying to persuade the Fuhrer to reorganise the high command and let his generals make more of the military decisions, in March 1944, after receiving the Swords of the Knight's Cross in Hitler’s Berghof, he was dismissed from office and did not receive any other command during WWII. Moving in various places, he was arrested by British on26 August 1945, while he received treatment for his right eye problems in a hospital in Heiligenhafen. 

During Nuremberg trials, von Manstein strongly defended the Wehrmacht and its commanders, pledging for a clean Wehrmacht, not responsible for war crimes, inside an impressive testimony of 132 pages written together with General Siegfried Westphal as well as in all his oral interventions. Not accused during Nuremberg trial, under the Soviet Union pressure, in July 1948 the British had to start prosecuting von Manstein and few other senior officers which had been held in custody by them since the end of the war. Taking place in Hamburg from 23 August to 19 December 1949, during the trial, von Manstein was charged with seventeen war crimes activities, three committed in Poland and the rest in USSR. He was found guilty at nine of those charges and sentenced to 18 years imprisonment on 24th February 1950. However, in court he permanently sustained that he did not know about any genocide taking place in territories under his control. Perceived in Britain and Germany as a political decision rather than a correct one, and following the pressures exercised by various media and personalities, the punishment was commuted to 12 years of detention in February 1950. Still, after three years of imprisonment, on 6th May 1953 he was freed for medical reasons but also due to the pressure exercised by his supporters, including Winston Churchill. 

After his release, von Manstein became a military advisor for the West Germany in 1950’s, having a direct and expert contribution in the reorganization of that army in a very sensitive and tensioned period. In addition, in 1955 he published his war memoires titled Verlorene Siege, translated in English as Lost Victories, a book extremely critical to Hitler's leadership and focusing strictly on the military aspects of the war, since 1939 till 1944 when von Manstein was dismissed from the office. Regarded by many historians as one of the best book of WWII memoirs on the German side, essential for better understanding the conditions and circumstances of that war, the book together with the testimony during Nuremberg trial, brought an input of foremost importance to the myth of a "clean Wehrmacht", respectively German armed forces were not culpable for the atrocities of the Holocaust. Moreover, in 1958 there was published the second book written by von Manstein, Aus einem Soldatenleben (A Soldier's Life), targeting the period 1897-1939. Erich von Manstein died after a stroke attack on 11th June 1973, at the age of 85.and was buried with full military honours, hundreds of WWII veterans assisting the funerals. 

Married in 1920 with Jutta Sibylle von Loesch, the couple had three children: a daughter, Gisela and two sons, Gero and Rüdiger. Serving as a lieutenant in the 18th Panzer Grenadier Division, Gero died on the battlefield at the age of 20, in the northern sector of the Eastern Front, at Lake Ilmen on 29 October 1942. Buried in Russia, he is mentioned on von Manstein gravestone, father being seriously affected by the death of his beloved son. 

Feared and highly esteemed by all his opponents, with a remarkable strategic vison and capacity to improvise and come with the proper answer no matter the circumstances, Generalfeldmarschall Erich von Manstein continued in a noteworthy manner the military tradition of his families. His plans, strategies, and actions marked in a certain manner the modern Germany history and also could have changed the course of world history if followed by Hitler. Author and directly implementing from the field his offensive and defensive tactics, von Manstein always cared of his units and his strategies had played a vital role in saving numerous German soldier lives, the cult surrounding his name being completely justified. 

After few paragraphs regarding von Manstein’s life and activity, paying a really small tribute to one of the most important personalities in the history, we shall return to his 1/72 replica proposed by Minitoysolidier in von Manstein Type 1. Since the very first glance there is noticed the identicalness with Caesar miniatures in terms of sculpture, size, and base, also the material in which is cast being the same soft plastic utilized by Caesar for their figure sets. 

From the multitude of images and films immortalizing von Manstein during WWII, Minitoysoldier decided to depict him in a fairly unknown one, as holding a map or a document in the right hand and pointing with the index of the left hand on it. A photo showing von Manstain looking over a map together with Panzer General Erich Brandenberger was taken in June 1941, but the stance is different than the one proposed here in plastic. WWII German officers are easily recognized after the specific peak cap, and a special characteristic of von Manstein was that he much preferred the regular M34 overseas cap. Practically, the great majority of filmed or photographed materials of the period reveal him wearing that cap or the M43 one, both allocated to low rank army-men but occasionally put on by officers. It is really hard finding images with von Manstein wearing the officer peak cap, especially on the battlefield, and the manufacturer took in consideration that aspect, bringing in Braille Scale a von Manstein in officer’s M36 service tunic, breeches, and with M34 cap and officer long boots, similar with cavalry ones and assessed by officers as more elegant than the regular marching/jack boots. According to regulations, the WWII German officers had to purchase the uniforms on their own expenses and those could be either from military depots or tailor-made, with the straight result of a large variation in materials, colours, and cut. The officer’s M36 service tunic had almost the same design as the regular one but could be identified after the turned up French cuffs, also noticed at this figure. Likewise, the officers, no matter the branch of service, preferred even in the first line officer service breeches, and together with the officer boots became a distinct mark for the WWII German high ranked army-men. Obviously, von Manstein should have access to the finest tailors and made his military attire in the finest materials, the colour references showing his uniforms in various shades of green and gray. 

Although awarded with lots of medals and distinctions, images taken on the frontline present von Manstein wearing just an Iron Cross at the tunic collar and an Iron Cross ribbon at the third front button. The producer limited to depict the Iron Cross, but the mentioned ribbon can be simply suggested by hobbyist through painting. In the same manner should be reproduced the General stripes up on each leg as well as the uniform insignia and cap waffenfarbe soutache specific to von Manstein. Occasionally, in the field he had a pistol, but this time he skipped the weapon, putting just the belt. 

Concerning sculpture and level of detail, these are mostly assessed as nice, the tunic featuring correct collar and shoulder boards, pocket flaps, buttons in scale, breast eagle, as well as a fair amount of creases. Moreover, on the cap are noticeable the soutache and the eagle while the breeches accurately duplicate that model of trousers. Anatomy is well-balanced, only the palms looking a little over-scaled, but this is a characteristic of Caesar figs. Still, the fault does not influence too much the overall aspect due to the positions of palms, somehow covered by the map. Obviously, when trying to portray a particular character, especially in Braille Scale, facial details are of foremost importance and the sculptor has succeeded to induce a von Manstein appearance in spite the very small available place. Eyes, eye-brows, nose, mouth, chin, cheeks are properly and sharply carved but the mini is a little too bangle-eared than the real character. Hair is nicely done and it should be painted in white to rightfully reassemble von Manstein. The held map or document emerges thicker than normal and can be interpreted as a folder, painting the reverse in the suitable manner. Modellers have the liberty to choose what to paint on the upper side, either a map or a document, but definitely for the first option, it would be easier and finer to adjust a printed map rather than drawing it. 

Generally, mould and cast look satisfactory in terms of flash and small details, but the often repeated Caesar mistake of excess of plastic in contact areas is noticed here as well, reiterating the fact that Minitoysoldier used the same plant. On the topic, between the map/document, hands and body there is some material that would have nothing to do there, being almost impossible to remove it, too. Fortunately, thanks to the way the pose stays, the unwanted material is not so evident. Likewise, being cast in the soft plastic common to Caesar, when starting removing the flash some fluffs may appear and also the chemistry of the material influences the paintwork, giving to enamel a shiny appearance no matter how matt and well prepared the paint is. Matt varnish from various manufacturers does not provide sensational results on it, but at least can diminish a little the shine. On the other hand, the good things with this kind of soft plastic are finely accepting super glue and holding extremely well the paint, which resist to intensive handling. This von Manstein arrives on the standard Caesar base, but for deployment in a diorama or on other bases, the original one can be immediately removed with two simple cuts under the soles. 

A plus point of this figure is that he can embody the famous commander or a regular NCO or private in case the hobbyist has nothing to do in his scenario with a Field Marshall. The problem is simply solved, not reproducing the specific von Manstein cloth insignia and painting the hair in another colour, the miniature will be turned into an excellent infantry, artillery or signal NCO or private. 

In the small/medium side of 1/72 scale, this von Manstein can find within Caesar catalogue hundreds of soldiers in unique poses and similarly dressed to command. Moreover, the same sets put forward miniatures suitable to become members in von Manstein’s high-quarter for modellers intending to recreate an accurate and eye-catching picture. However, it is not only Caesar the sole company with figs in the small side of 1/72, HaT and Esci having toy-soldiers in close sizes. 

WWII German commanders definitely represent an interesting subject, and several noteworthy characters of that period have been transposed in the 1/72 scale until now. Another mass-production von Manstein is available within the out-of-production Odemars’ “WW2 German Commanders”, a soft plastic set featuring fourteen key personalities from all units. There the glorious Field Marshall is easily recognised after the M34 cap and crossed hands at the back, an often adopted stance by him as numerous references highlight. 

Minitoysoldier effort of making available as a free figure the immortal von Mansten in two distinct stances pays a small tribute and recognition to the extraordinary achievements of this illustruous WWII German commander. Voted in various media as the best WWII German Field Marshall, the brilliant tactician, whose strategies are even nowadays studied in military academies might have changed the course of history and the nowadays world map if his plans had been approved and applied by Hitler. Likewise, Minitoysoldier’s approach is extremely welcome because the sculptor succeeded to catch in a satisfactory extent the facial details of the famous character in spite the small scale. Furthermore, von Manstein Type 1 and 2 can represent a road opener, maybe at a particular moment we shall see under Caesar logo a set including these, the free Patton, Eisenhower, Montgomery and several new minis depicting WWII legendary generals. In addition, the two von Mansein may be the first step to a future Caesar set, exclusively portraying WWII key German commanders, their huge offer on the matter fully justifying the appearance of such a set.

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