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Caesar - German 75 mm leIG18 Infantry Gun with Crews (7201) _________(EXT)

Manufacturer Caesar
Scale 1/72
Set Code CM7201
Year 2015
No. of Figures 7
No. of Poses 7
Additional Items 1 le.IG18, ammunition box, spare projectile
Size Small
Material Soft Plastic (Figures) / Hard Plastic (Cannon)
Colour Gray
Flash Level Intermediate
Glue-ability Excellent (Polly-cement/hard plastic & super-glue gel/soft plastic parts )
Convert-ability Medium
Optimal Period 1939 - 1945

 

 

Review

As one of the most active producers of WWII German soldiers in 1/72 scale, the Taiwanese company Caesar not only covers various aspects in the field, but also makes pleasant surprises to the interested collectors, gamers, and diorama builders. Besides the acclaimed regular soft-plastic sets, this manufacturer has diversified its tender in a remarkable manner by applying a multitude of marketing strategies and offering multi-part hard plastic or pre-painted figures within several series. The impressive Caesar catalogue lists hundreds of miniatures and inside it, the interested customers might find, sneaked between the common and ample advertised regular boxes, some not so notorious, kind of special or limited soft-plastic sets. Furthermore, the 1/72 WWII German figure collection proposed by this maker features few poses accessible only inside different vehicle kits or pre-painted sets.

Starting with and acquiring world recognition for their toy-soldier sets, along the years Caesar has added to their striking WWII German Army inventory a significant amount of hard-plastic vehicle and cannon kits that are generally characterised by accuracy and proper proportions and details. As an acknowledgement of its main vocation, all Caesar kits enclose at least one figure, thus adding value to and making more tempting those tenders. If the vehicle range is fairly broad, in terms of cannons, until now Caesar has put forward just two types, operated by infantrymen, namely the heavy field gun SIG33 and the light le.IG18.

Caesar’s “WWII German SIG 33 Infantry Heavy Field Cannon with Crew”, with weapon and its eight figures made of hard plastic, was promoted and commercialised in the normal way, but not the same situation is registered in terms of the other cannon kit, “WWII German 75 mm le.IG18 with Crews”. Theoretically integrated within Caesar’s “70th WWII Ending Anniversary” series launched in November 2015, this tender is really distinct, revealing few unique characteristics and being mostly unknown, at least at the date when the present review has been published.

It should be emphasised the fine quality of the work carried out by Caesar is recognised not only by customers, but also by various illustrious sculptors or other 1/72 figure producers and materialised in the establishment of some durable cooperation relations. A good example is the collaboration between Caesar and Pegasus Hobbies having as end-result the appearance of an outstanding 1/72 le.IG18 cannon, perhaps one of the best models that can be purchased on the market. For the first time this gun has starred in 2008 within the famous Pegasus Hobbies’ "German 75 mm le IG18 Infantry Gun with Crew", a multi-media offer consisting in a cannon cast in hard-plastic and another soft plastic sprue hosting two distinct four member crews, one with soldiers in camouflage smocks and one with troopers dressed in M36 uniforms as well as few related accessories as Kar98K rifles and ammo boxes. In addition, the hard plastic cannon sprue accommodates another opened ammunition box and a le.IG18 projectile.

Some hobbyists might not be aware that the highly praised Pegasus Hobbies le.IG18 gun was jointly created with Caesar and commissioned to its plant. Having at hand such a valuable resource, after seven years since the first issue, the Taiwanese company has brought again into the attention of the public this le.IG18 model, but manned by a totally different crew.

Maybe due to contractual provisions or common understandings between the two eminent makers, Caesar had to let a period of time to pass before commercialising in its own name the le.IG18 cannon, more restrictions possibly being enforced, too. Thus, “WWII German 75 mm le.IG18 with Crews” reached the market as a special limited edition only at the end of 2015. Like Pegasus Hobbies’ kit, this is a multi-media offer, the cannon being of hard-plastic and the accompanying crewmen, which practically represent the novel contribution fetched exclusively by Caesar, cast in soft-plastic. Notable is that for their le.IG18, the Taiwanese maker has proposed a complete team formed by seven members, all soldiers wearing the M36 uniforms and arriving in fresh and attractive stances, most of those having their roots in a not so advertised WWII image with a le.IG18 in action.

Caesar quite oddly featured under no. CM7201 the le.IG18 as the first kit of the Military Series, but at the beginning of 2016 this is still listed as “upcoming” on the official web-site of the producer, being also announced as a “future release” in various e-shops. However, on several internet specialised sites the kit has already been presented and in few e-shops it can be even purchased. Of course, the vehicle and SIG33 kits belong to the same Military Series and are registered with subsequent numbers, being available for many years while CM7201 keeps maintaining the “upcoming” status. On the other hand, an explanation on the delay in its appearance might be a small casting error, few bayonets featured by some soldiers arriving little damaged. Being known Caesar’s continuous search for perfection, possibly the manufacturer took the decision to wait until it corrects the fault, postponing the official launch of this kit and not making it available to the general public in the same time with the five figure sets dedicated to the “70th WWII Ending Anniversary” series issued in November 2015. Bearing in mind the just mentioned problems, corroborated with how this le.IG18 kit can be purchased from few e-shops, it might lead to the possibility that the included figs are just test-shots and sold just to cover some expenses.

The first versions of Caesar’s “WWII German 75 mm le.IG18 with Crews” that could be purchased did not benefit by a regular box, being delivered in a large plastic bag holding other bags with the cannon and figures as well as the assembly instructions and a printed small paper with an image of what it might be the future artwork of the box. Six soldiers manning the le.IG18 are seen in the picture but their poses are not so close to the plastic miniatures. In general artworks portray soldiers in more natural and attractive stances, but here it seems the figs are even better than the drawn crew, though those army-men are nice looking, too. This is an exciting aspect, and in addition, the plastic team consists in seven troopers while the artwork shows just six. Another point of interest, reiterating the inter-connection between the two le.IG18 models is the fact that Caesar simply copied the assembly instructions from Pegasus Hobbies and furthermore, the text available on both the back of the box and on the first page of the guide of their kit appears now slightly rephrased in order to correspond to the realities of the model proposed by the Taiwanese manufacturer. Even the opening motto "Ready! Aim! Fire! Attack the enemy with your new German 75mm IG18 from Pegasus Hobbies!” is identically kept, only the name being changed into Caesar. For some more fun, recommended is to read both texts in parallel, these being available within the two related reviews published on this website as well as in one of the images here included.

"German 75 mm le IG18 Infantry Gun with Crews" incorporates one cannon and fourteen crewmen in seven poses, three of those with separate arms requiring assembly. Even if there are no guidelines for putting together the figures, the intended allocation of arms cannot be confounded, the one with a notebook and the other holding a pen following to be attached to the mini with MP38/40, the ones with the rifle going to the prone soldier, and the left arm holding nothing, obviously departing to the crouched fig missing the left arm. The assembly is smooth and the limbs excellent fit in their locations, the arms having a peg for better guidance. Nevertheless, little attention has to be paid at shoulders for naturally angle the arms and a drop of super-glue is needed for permanently sticking them.

If for the SIG33 kit Caesar delivered the gun with a single crew, the incentive of duplicating the soldiers within the le.IG18 set is applauded, especially bearing in mind we talk about a limited offer. Having at disposal more figures and taking profit by the glue-ability of Caesar soft-plastic as well as due to poses suitability for conversions, hobbyists have the occasion to practice their skills in the field. In this light, useful parts can be obtained not only from various Caesar or Preiser hard-plastic sets, but also swapping limbs and heads between different Caesar soft-plastic minis is a noteworthy modality for increasing diversity in the collections twice, both for the le.IG18 crewmen and for their comrades from which the parts were taken. Of course, considering the way the miniatures are dressed, most advocated would be Caesar sets with figs in M36 or M43 uniforms, and the tender in the field is definitely broad. Based on the poses of these le.IG18 men the modeller can obtain more than eye-catching new ones, particularly some depicting crouched soldiers holding nothing in their hands and staying still, rather than waving weapons or hands in the air. In spite being really useful, such stances are fairly hard to find in the scale, plastic soldiers makers usually orienting to troopers in the mist of combat, running or firing off their weapons. Moreover, both the standard and the eventual conversions can take positions not only near the le.IG18, but also to operate different cannons, mortars, other weapons or simply performs as infantrymen, the locations for them being endless and they might even embody tank riders or trench fighters.

The le.IG18 cannon, supplied by both mentioned companies, was in-depth commented and analysed on the occasion of the review done for "German 75 mm le IG18 Infantry Gun with Crew" by Pegasus Hobbies. That review has been uploaded on this web-site for some years and in order not to duplicate information, the interested parties are kindly requested to visit it for a comprehensive description of the weapon. Still, it should be restated the excellent quality of this le.IG18 cannon and that having such a jewel in its own orchard, Caesar’s efforts for finding a normal exploitation for it are perfectly understood. Probably, for giving emphasises to the close link between the two guns, Caesar has maintained the title initially utilised by Pegasus Hobbies, introducing just a single element of distinction, putting at plural the term “Crews” while Pegasus Hobbies has it at singular. Nevertheless, the plural is justified for both kits, the US producer proposing two distinct crews while the Taiwanese manufacturer includes twice the same crew, practically the Caesar kit consisting in one gun and fourteen figures in seven poses. It must be pointed out that the only change to the hard-plastic spure of the cannon is the name swapping from Pegasus Hobbies into Caesar. That sprue features just the spoken wheels suitable for weapons drawn by horses and for the vehicle-towed version of the gun, Pegasus Hobbies offered the correspondent metal disc wheels with rubber tyres on the soft-plastic sprue with figures. While Caesar kit does not include such wheels, their model can be built only as a horse-drawn cannon, but the weapon was towed by various vehicles or horse-drawn, norms enforcing a six horse team in that purpose.

KStN imposed that a le.IG18 to be manned by a seven member team and Caesar paid enhanced attention to all related details, being wonderful we receive the complete crew. Although in 1/72 scale there are lots of kits focused on cannons accompanied by crewmen, scarcely the producers supply the full team as provided for by regulations. The crew of a le.IG18 was composed by commander, armed with pistol, gunner, loader, three ammunition handler, and driver/horse leader, all having Kar98K as personal weapon.

Mostly inspired by an image taken in the period, the poses proposed by Caesar for handling the le.IG18 are tremendously lifelike and perfectly interact with the cannon, fully compatible for assuming the roles allocated to each within the team. The manufacturer had the brilliant idea of creating few crewmen holding nothing in their hands and in suitable stances for properly interact with various components of the cannon. This opens the gates for multiple choices in arranging the soldiers around the gun, the loader and gunner roles fitting to be taken by several figs.

Determining the positions is not complicated and some are suitable for carrying out different duties around the gun, depending on hobbyist’s needs and imagination. Although at the first glance it might look a little strange and not many modellers would have selected such arrangement especially for the loader, practically the setting proposed in the images with the standard poses accompanying this review is in full compliance with the original locations of the soldiers as appearing in the photo that served as inspiration for the sculptor. Inside that image, the commander, gunner, loader, and two ammunition handlers clearly appear, a couple of steel helmets being visible in front of the cannon, on the right side, too. Those army-men could represent the rest of team, respectively the third ammunition handler and the driver. Numerous films and photos shot in the period reveal small guns crew-members with rifles in hands, prepared to defend their main weapon against enemy’s infantry, and here we get such thing, a prone soldier loading the weapon being supplied, too.

Caesar has dressed all its le.IG18 crewmen in M36 uniforms, marching/jack boots, and except one figure, the rest have got steel helmets. Although their look addresses more to the early period of war, they can be easily deployed throughout the entire period of the conflict, a distinct note making the soldier with M43 cap, which suits only for the late stage. Nevertheless, by replacing his head with one with steel helmet or M34 cap, he is turned into a trooper covering both the early and late stages of WWII. Due to their garment, these figs fit in warm or temperate climates, but some WWII images occasionally show le.IG18 crewmen in M36 tunics fighting in winter environments. All these miniatures received the famous “Y” straps and apart the commander, who has MP38/40 ammo pouches, the others wear Kar98K ammunition pouches, in full compliance with KStN that allocated rifles for the le.IG18 crewmen. The available gear on them is fairly light and consist in few items, a normal approach taking into account they have to handle a gun and often the real soldiers laid down the equipment for not hampering their moves.

From these crewmen, in a certain manner, the easiest to spot is the gun commander, bent in front a little and prepared to write something in the notebook held in the left hand while in the right he has the writing tool. An extra clue revealing his higher rank is the MP38/40 kept on the back. Generally, regulations provided for a le.IG18 to be commanded by an NCO armed with pistol but sub-machine gun was possible as well. Obviously, his gear could be similar with the one of the crewmen, and the present NCO has got canteen, gas mask container, bayonet or only bayonet frog, as well as correctly shaped, placed, and angled ammunition pouches for his personal weapon. Such pose is really useful and attractive and in spite the technical difficulties, the manufacturer succeeded to excellent reproduce how a pen looks between fingers. The most critic persons might consider the writing tool a micron thicker, but among thousands models of pens, definitely there were thicker ones. If really appraised as necessary, the pen could be effortlessly made slimmer though such intervention is not mandatory at all, the pen proportions not disturbing the eye with anything. The miniature portrays quite fair the original commander from the photo, but that one was not so bent in front and without MP38/40.

As regards the regular crewmen, the gunner is also immediately recognized after his stance, another distinct sign being the M43 cap. In the reference photo that soldier had M34 cap, but otherwise, the pose is almost identical. Even if quite complicated, the sculptor brilliantly managed to design this miniature, very persuasive and fully matching the location and tasks performed. With the left hand arranging something at the sight mechanism and with the right on the traverse hand-wheel, his right leg is little raised for better staying on the carriage. On the other hand, in the original image the soldier had a bayonet, but due to a casting error, the figure arrives only with the end part of the weapon. That should be interpreted as flash and removed accordingly, eventually the modellers having the option of adding a proper bayonet, Caesar, Preiser, and Dragon featuring lots on their sprues with equipment. Different than the real gunner, his 1/72 replica received a gas-mask container.

The loader’s pose is in full compliance with the portrayed soldier, looking back and with the arm straight, waiting the ammunition handler to deliver him the next round. Except the Kar98K on the back, the miniature also got a gas-mask container and a nicely shaped bayonet, but the original shows no firing weapon. Such pose for a loader is not so usual, either in reference photos or in the hobby, but it is completely covered by the historical image. It is more than nice the manufacturer considered bringing in something new and should be congratulated for this wonderful incentive.

Theoretically, at the end of the carriage must be placed the crouched figure holding his arms straight, depicting one ammunition handler of the team that pressed his weight on the spade for conferring increased stability and accuracy to the gun. Such practice is frequently seen in filmed and photographed materials of the period with le.IG18 cannons in action, often one soldier ling heavy on the carriage. Most part of the trooper the miniature reproduces is visible in the image but he has no rifle while the 1/72 soldier received rifle and gas-mask container. Likewise, thanks to sculptor's abilities, the figure is capable to recreate the effort in a very convincing manner, the hands ideally reaching the carriage and all his body showing a natural move.

Apart the commander who usually stayed next to the gunner, the three last mentioned figures establish more or less contacts with the cannon. In addition, other two soldiers had to take care about the ammunition and Caesar also considers those, as well as the seventh member of the crew who acted as driver or horse leader. The most evident ammunition handler is the standing figure holding a projectile in the right hand and a cartridge in the left, preparing to hand over the next round to the loader. A soldier in a very similar stance is seen in the original photo and this definitely represents a plus-point for the creator of the set, who caught the exact moves and depicted a very life-like and rare image of the interaction between loader and ammunition handler. The miniature portraying that army-man has gas-mask container and bayonet that is slightly affected by the cast.

In the reference image selected as inspiration source, two other helmets are visible in front of the cannon, on the right hand side, but that is all, so no guidelines for copying them in 1/72 scale. Thus, the two figures envisaged to complete the crew are one crouched who might act as an ammunition handler, and one prone who can be the driver. The crouched soldier has got a Kar98K on his back, gas-mask container, bread-bag, and canteen, and stretches out his right arm. The hard-plastic spare projectile and the ammunition box available on the gun sprue can be used in conjunction with this pose and maybe that was sculptor’s intention, to recreate the whole itinerary of a projectile, from the box to the breech, depicting the whole human chain carrying out that work. This figure may handle over projectiles from the ammo box to the standing ammunition handler, who, at his turn, gives the round to the loader. Except such role, hobbyists can identify for this miniature a multitude of tasks to fulfil. The prone fig, assessed as the driver, holds the Kar98K in his hands and looks like loading it, ready to protect the cannon and his comrades against enemy infantry. In this purpose, he should be set in front of the gun, no matter the side. As most of his team-mates, he is lightly geared, with bread-bag, canteen, and gas-mask container.

After setting in positions the crewmen, modellers obtain an impressive image of a le.IG18 crew in action, fully accurate, dynamic, and original. All miniatures that have to establish a connection with the weapon do it in a remarkable way and also in compliance with the reference image utilized as guidance for crafting the poses.

The sculpture is in the custom line of Caesar, the figurines featuring a great amount of small details and generally, correct anatomical proportions. The faces show nice characteristics, with crisply carved eyes, eye-brows, noses, mouths, and ears. The size of the palms is little too big, but not annoying and have got fine fingers. The items of garment strike with the properly sized tiny details as buttons, collar and shoulder boards, pocket flaps, stitches, as well as fairly fine creases. Still, the tunics are a hair too long and the boots received a thick appearance, but not in such measure to affect the overall look of the miniatures. Except some of the bayonets, gear and the sub-machine gun are reasonably reproduced as well as the rifles, even if the very critical eye could apprise those weapons should have been slightly better in terms of shape.

Mould and cast could be little improved for this set, apart the error at some of the bayonets that has been highlighted few times within the review, a couple of figs coming not ideally aligned. Fortunately, the fault is minor and does not affect important parts, being quickly fixed by eliminating the resulted distance with a sharp blade, exactly like with flash. Seam lines and flash are present in normal amounts and excess of material is pretty low, all these being effortlessly removed, the plastic deployed by Caesar here not producing fluffs. Additionally, the material is very glue-able, brilliant accepting cyanoacrylate, super-glue gel making a very powerful bond between parts made of the same soft-plastic, hard-plastic, and resin. While at painting this soft-plastic has the tendency of giving a shiny look to some matt enamel paints, recommended is to wash the figures before, preventing, or at least diminishing, such unwanted propensity. In the same purpose, a matt varnish after finishing painting could be useful, too. Only the two standing figures received bases, but in a certain manner, all the rest that are crouched or prone do not need stands, having an excellent balance. Additionally, the bases might have hampered their fabulous interaction with the cannon, and for a more realistic appearance, also the standing miniatures can be immediately detached from their stands and glued directly in the diorama or other larger bases accommodating the gun and the whole crew.

Concerning integration in the same diorama with other figures, these le.IG18 crewmen outstandingly collaborate with troopers issued in the small/medium size of the 1/72 scale, eventually dressed in M36 or M43 uniforms as some FtF, HaT, Esci and Airfix sets offer. However, the best relation is established with other Caesar figs and the list proposed in the field is really remarkable. The soft-plastic “WWII German Army”, “WWII Late War German Army”, “WWII German Soldiers with Tank Riders”, “German Army Combat Team One and Two”, “German Army Sturmpioniere”, “WWII German Infantry Marching” and the hard-plastic “WWII German Infantry 1943” forward lots of infantrymen dressed in M36 or M43 uniforms, and most important, featuring the same size of gear and weapons as well as sculpture style. Moreover, Caesar proposes few other artillery crews, except the already indicated hard-plastic SIG33 ones, another set on the matter, with soldiers in M36 uniforms being “WWII German Artillery/Howitzer Crews”. These crewmen coming from different sets can be combined or converted in order to cover more types of cannons, impressively reproducing WWII German artillerists in 1/72 scale.

Even if the cannon is already known from the Pegasus Hobbies’ kit, its new deployment with a totally different crew is highly welcomed, especially bearing in mind the close correspondence of the stances with the ones adopted by real soldiers, as shown by an image taken during WWII. Moreover, the interesting poses of the crewmen as well as the fact that Caesar portrays the complete seven member team of a le.IG18 cannon increase the charm of the kit. In the same time, the fine sculpture and the useful support that they can grant to other infantrymen made available by the same manufacturer have to be taken into consideration, too. The duplication of all poses sets out as a solid base for conversions, thus increasing the number of soldiers appropriate to handle other cannons or to perform as simple infantrymen. At present listed as “upcoming” even on the official website of the maker and quite hard to find on the market, the fans of 1/72 WWII German Army and of Caesar broad line of related figures should try getting this limited edition kit, the "German 75 mm le IG18 Infantry Gun with Crews" rewarding all the efforts carried out in this regard. 

Historical Accuracy 10
Anatomy 9
Poses Quality 10
Details Quality 9
Mould Quality 8
Sculpture 9
Recommendation/Utility 10
Reviewer’s Opinion 9