Articles

Mantis - WWII German Officers Late War (72002) _________(EXT)

Manufacturer Mantis
Scale 1/72
Set Code 72002
Year 2013
No. of Figures 3
No. of Poses 3
Additional Items None
Size Medium
Material Resin
Colour Light Gray
Flash Level Low
Glue-ability Excellent (Super Glue Gel)
Convert-ability Difficult
Optimal Period 1943 – 1945

 

Review   

For a long period the single 1/72 figure set on WWII German Army made in Poland has been the white-metal Mirrage Hobby’s “German Infantry Marching 1940”, featuring ten troopers of a fair, but not impressive quality. However, after 2010 it could be noticed few Polish mass-production and cottage industry representatives have started to grant enhanced attention to the topic. Although not proposing an extensive list of sets, at least the Polish resin makers of 1/72 WWII Germans, respectively Miniatures Mantis and D-Day Miniatures, distinguish thorough a marvellous work, making available perhaps some of the best figs that can be purchased in the field. Both companies manifest a certain preference for officers, most of their sets approaching the topic from various perspectives. Mantis lists in their catalogue two such offers, principally targeting the cold seasons, but commissioned to different sculptors.

“WWII German Officers (Late War)” by Mantis emerges as a very pleasant surprise and modellers accustomed with Orion’s outstanding resin line might notice from the first glance some similitudes between the figurines belonging to the two labels. Indeed, the impression is correct, Orion’s Panzer soldiers and Mantis’ Waffen SS officers share the same sculptor, in the person of Boris Knokhov, one of the best 1/72 figure architect, his work definitely being characterised by super attention to any detail, no matter how small it is, top accuracy, and life-like poses, most of the times inspired by reference images. 

The package of the set definitely respects the price charged, the three figures being commercialised in an elegant blue box, in front having a sticker with the main artwork while on reverse an infantry obstacle with barbed wire and the emblem of the maker. Anyway, the artwork represents the piece of attraction, illustrating the painted version of the three soldiers, a work done byMan Jin Kim, as the written information on the left hand side of the image lets the client know. The painting is impressive, one of the best ever seen on 1/72 figures and this artwork will charm any customer, also providing top guidelines for finishing the miniatures. It seems here Mantis succeeded to combine the work of one of the most appreciated 1/72 figure sculptors with the paintwork of one of the most esteemed miniature painters in order to obtain the ultimate artwork, a successful attempt that certainly will please hobbyists’ eye and attract new customers.

However, there are several distinctions between the miniatures created by Boris Knokhov for the two companies, while for the Russian one the Panzer soldiers depict Wehrmacht and are dressed for summer, those for Mantis embody Waffen SS army-men and are equipped for colder environments. In addition, the size of these miniatures are little smaller than Orion’s due to Mantis’s management desire for the respective dimensions.  

Even if the title generically mentions Waffen SS officers, practically the set puts forward at least two Panzer men, while the third, wearing the 1942 winter suit, could portray a Panzer or any other ground unit commander, either Wehrmacht or Waffen SS. Furthermore, in the artwork the officer cap has pink waffenfarbe, detail emphasising he belongs to Panzer Army. It is well-known the preference of WWII German tankers for the 1942 winter suit, allowing better movement inside an armoured vehicle than other items of garment designed for cold periods and utilised by WWII German army. Such predilection is clearly highlighted by lots of films and pictures taken in the period, including some of famous Panzer soldiers as Otto Carius, the illustrious Panzer ace and second in the top, with over 150 knocked-out tanks. With the left hand deep in the pocket and the right hanging in an extremely natural manner, at a better examination, between the fingers of this figure can be spotted an almost finished cigarette. As a person beneficially obsessed by reality, the sculptor paid attention to the correspondence between the size of the cigarette and the fingers, so this comes out extremely small. While in the artwork the minis emerge much larger than their real 1/72 size, obviously the cigarette is easier observed there.  

This 1/72 figure quite much remembers about a pose taken by Otto Carius in a well-known image, standing in front of his Tiger I, even if he wears a M34 cap and not an officer cap like the miniature. Despite numerous attempts of WWII German officials to enrol Carius in Waffen SS, the eminent Panzer commander always remained in Wehrmacht and the interested hobbyists can easily paint the M42 suit in Heer camouflage patterns. Passed away on January 24, 2015 at the venerable age of 92, he is the author of the excellent book “Tigers in the Mud” and after the war opened and worked almost until the end in his pharmacy “Tiger-Apotheke” in Herschweiler-Pettersheim/Germany. This legendary gentleman, also a fan of model-kits, will remain an example of honesty and courage, 1/72 modellers wanting to pay homage to Carius finding in this Mantis miniature a reliable base to build on. 

Apart the officer in 1942 winter suit, his other two comrades could only belong to Waffen SS due to the specific clothes they wear. One puts on the U-Boot leather suit, delivered to those crews but popular among Panzer troops, especially after a large stock of leather was confiscated by the Germans from Italy in 1943 and such attire reached Waffen SS. The miniature was created having in mind a series of images taken in Ardennes with SS Sturmbannfuhrer Werner Postchke, commander of the SS Panzer-Regiment 1 "Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler". Practically, here the sculptor combined more stances and details adopted by Postchke in two images for achieving a new pose. In one of those photos, though being slightly hidden by a comrade, it seems he stayed in a similar position as featured by the miniature, the sculptor taking the torch, the binoculars hung on the chest and the left hand covering the item from another image where Postchke was running. He is armed with pistol in holster and nice touches are the torch below the binoculars and the leather case protecting the back lens, clearly identified on the strap, details reiterating the increased attention granted by the sculptor to accuracy. The slightly larger palms are in accordance with the reference image and the interpretation from the artwork, the officer protecting his palms with five finger leather gloves. The painter of the figs displayed in the artwork chose to finish these gloves in a light gray colour, as made of fine leather, maybe deer or similar animals. Still, nothing restrains the hobbyists to change the colour, various shades of brown and black being more than appropriate, too.

The impression is the third officer of the set also emerges in the above mentioned image with Postchke staying still, but he is mostly covered by his commander, only a part of his black wrapper, the left arm as well as the camouflage trousers, and M43 cap being visible. In order to highlight the cold environment, below the wrapper it is clearly noticed a knitted pullover, a very useful item for keeping warm. It was not unusual Panzer troopers to wear just that jacket both in summer and winter, plenty of photos and videos showing them only in their Panzer uniform in hash environments with lot of snow around. In fact, nothing is out of ordinary bearing in mind the classic Panzer attire was designed based on a skiing outfit in fashion in 1934. However, an attractive aspect of this figure is that his Panzer wrapper has the SS cut, different than the regular Wehrmacht one. Elements for distinguishing the two tunics, especially in small scales, provide the collar shape, larger and with pointed ends on Wehrmacht tunics and smaller and with rounded tips on Waffen SS as well as with the seam down the middle of the back for Wehrmacht wrapper and none on Waffen SS. Moreover, the Wehrmacht version wrapped more and the front edge was cut back diagonally while the Waffen-SS type did not wrap so much and was cut straight down. A feature for fast differentiating the two tunics relies in the position of the eagle, breast right side for Wehrmacht and left arm for SS. Obviously, this wrapper sets out as a high point of attraction, not only due to the scarce presence of the respective garment in the 1/72 scale, but also considering it is the first such tunic sculptured by Boris Knokhov. Under his signature, the 1/72 Waffen SS Panzer wrapper is top accurate and fully detailed, receiving the true shape of the collar and the front closure of the SS tunic as well as no seam down the middle of the back. The officer displayed on the left hand side of the jacket a Panzer Assault badge and the artwork indicates a cuff title on the left sleeve. At a careful study, this can be spotted on the figure as well, so wise would be trying to reproduce it when painting the mini. The cuff title was most probably the "Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler" one, taking into account the pose is inspired by a soldier belonging to that elite division.  As the rest of his comrades, this officer received pistol in holster, hung by a beautifully carved officer belt, where we can fairly easy identify the adjusting holes. The artwork highlight he wears five finger leather gloves, but the fine size of his palms makes the figure suitable to be painted without. 

If the peak cap of the man in winter suit clearly attests the higher rank, the other two figurines rather can be finished as privates or NCOs than officers. Nevertheless, as thousands of photos and films shot in the period emphasise, WWII German officers, including Field Marshals like von Mastein, often used M34 or M43 caps than the standard peak cap, so there is no issue here. However, for stressing it is about officers, a proper intervention would be painting white shoulder boards with pink waffenfarbe and at least the crown edge of both the M34 and M43 caps with white, for representing the interwoven silver/aluminium braiding piping, the same approach being correctly advocated by the artwork, too. 

As most of Panzer soldiers designed by Boris Knokhov, also these ones are not very dynamic, but the perfect sculpture and top accuracy, corroborated with the fact such soldiers did not do many things around the vehicle when captured in images or videos, make his work extremely valuable. Of course, these three officers can be set together as in the artwork, as chatting, or utilised separately, either on the ground or mounted on an armoured vehicle.  

Smaller than most of the WWII German tankers proposed by other companies, and even if the head of the officer in leather suit looks slightly smaller than his comrades’, the anatomy of these army-men passes as fabulous and with fine proportions. In spite the little available space, the sculptor succeeded to recreate excellent heads which received outstanding eyes, eye-brows, noses, mouths, cheeks, chins, ears, and hair. Palms are really remarkable, though most of those are covered by gloves, fingers are extremely well shaped and immediately identifiable. An impressive achievement on the topic is the palm of the officer in M42 winter suit, at a more attentive study there can be seen not only the almost finished cigarette between his fingers, but also the thin bones of his hand. Likewise, belts and pistol holsters are incredibly sculptured, even the adjusting holes of belts being visible and in scale while the holsters are for different pistols as P38 and 7.65 mm, the top flaps, secure straps, and extra magazine pockets charming the viewers.

Encompassed by the medium side of 1/72 scale, these Mantis officers find lots of Panzer comrades, great companions in terms of size being the figures issued on the matter by Caesar, Esci/Italeri, Kami de Koro Koro, Zebrano, but all these are dressed in wrappers or attire mainly dedicated to fine environments. For cold seasons, perhaps some of the best team members are the miniatures available in Tracks&Troops’ “WW2 German Nashorn SPG crew – winter” and Warriors’ “WWII SS Winter Tank Crew”. Obviously, Panzer crews are very popular and Orion, Preiser, Dragon, D-Day, Miniaturas Allemany, CMK, El Viejo Dragon, MIG Productions etc. submit replicas of those soldiers in all kinds of attire, but little taller. However, with wise emplacements, the Mantis figs might be deployed on the same diorama with taller companions, too. Though these officers can take place either on the ground or mounted on a vehicle, as for the great majority of resin products, no bases are delivered. Still, they have a good balance, sufficient for checking how they will occupy the positions allocated by diorama builders. They also address to gamers, the not fragile resin, no assembly requirements, and poses without sensitive parts representing appreciated properties in the field. 

Impeccably sculpted by Boris Knokhov, Mantis’ “WWII German Officers (Late War)” are rather pure art than toy-soldiers and the modellers searching for ultimate 1/72 miniatures, certainly should consider and include on the list of priorities this set. Albeitlittle expensive, the magnificent quality rewards and penny paid, delighting the owner with perfect accuracy and top-notch fine small details. It is also a great pleasure seeing winter clothes skilfully recreated in 1/72 scale by one of the best sculptors and furthermore, most of the attire aim at Waffen SS, rarer encountered in the scale. The product represents a must-have for hobbyists wanting to bring a human touch to their vehicles but these figures have a huge potential, perfectly fitting in a multitude of locations. For all its superb qualities, the set surely distinguishes as highly recommended, also reiterating the incredible skills of one of the most appreciated Braille Scale figure creators. 

 

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