Articles

El Viejo Dragon - German Panzer Crew (1/72R01) _________(EXT)

 

Manufacturer El Viejo Dragon
Scale 1/72
Set Code 1/72R01
Year Unknown
No. of Figures 6
No. of Poses 6
Additional Items None
Size Tall
Material White Metal
Colour Silver
Flash Level Intermediate
Glue-ability Excellent (Super Glue Gel)
Convert-ability Medium
Optimal Period 1943 - 1945

 

Review 

El Viejo Dragon (EVD) proposes a limited catalogue of 1/72 WW2 German figures, but their top-notch quality has imposes the Spanish company on a leading position in the field, as one of the most appreciated manufacturers in white metal. Likewise, EVD provided few surprises, although having a narrow offer it took the decision of cancelling several sets featuring not only more than attractive topics in terms of WW2 Germans such as motorcycle or Panzer crews, but also a first class sculpture. Those out-of-production sets appear as some of the most wanted by collectors, modellers and even wargamers. However, understanding the great interest and value of WWII Panzer crews, the producer decided to release a new set, several poses relying on the earlier ones, but with little minor changes or improvements. The two sets shares the same title, the artworks and codes representing the first and most visible criteria for distinguishing them. Nevertheless, regrettable is the first set comprised more poses than the second one, making available six extra figures. Anyway, few are better than none, and the set in production nowadays put forward excellent minis.

The new package definitely has cost less than the former, content arriving this time in a plastic bag stapled  on a piece of cardboard serving as artwork, too. Within, the manufacturer shows extremely good painted figs, supplying correct guidelines to modellers for finishing the product. On the other hand, the plastic bag rather holds together the content than protecting it, but the material and poses, cast as single pieces and without fragile parts, ensure safe arrival to customers.

All figures wear the classical Panzer wrapper, shirts, trousers, and ankle boots but head gear differs, covering the most common items used by WW2 Germans serving in armoured vehicles such as M34 overseas cap, M43 cap, officer peaked cap, and steel helmet. Pistols in holsters endow every trooper, a plus point of the kit considering the personal weapon of the great majority of Panzer soldiers, as specialised army-men, were pistols. Besides, here we get more types of holsters, accommodating different weapons like 9 mm P-08 Parabellum/P-38 Walther or 7.65 mm Walther.

The famous Panzer uniform was worn not only by the indicated troops, but also by Sturmartillerie, the colours attesting in which unit the soldier was enrolled, black for Panzer and feldgrau for Assault Artillery. Additionally, various camouflage schemes could emerge on such attire, but the breast eagles clearly noticed here on wrappers make the figures appropriate only for Wehrmacht camouflage patterns. If the breast eagles are taken out, Waffen SS camouflage patterns would match them, too. The unbuttoned up wrappers and the clearly seen shirts specifies temperate or warm climates as the ideal location for these soldiers. Apart from the one with M43 cap, the rest of figures can be easily deployed in any period of the war, starting with 1939 till the end of it. The steel helmet imposes its bearer to better operate in a Sturmartillerie vehicle and not a Panzer, the largest number of reference images often showing Assault Artillery crewmen wearing steel-helmets and extremely rare Panzer soldiers covering their heads with helmets, though such items were standard for Panzer units as well. This idea is highlighted by the artwork, presenting the figure with steel helmet painted in feldgrau uniform. Except the helmet, he received a finely carved and complete radio communication gear formed by headphones, throat microphone, activation control switch housing, and related wires. His pose is wonderful for saluting or signalling something from the hatch, with the right hand in the air and the left holding his balance. Perhaps taking into consideration that a StuG featured two hatches, the producer thought to supply a partner, certainly the finest emerging the guy with M43 cap, whose stance ideally match the hatch of such a vehicle. In addition, he received headphones not set in position, but kept down around the neck. In a certain manner both these figures can have a major contribution in animating any armoured vehicle manned either by Panzer or Sturmartillerie units.

A little bizarre, the kit incorporates two Panzer officers, immediately identified after their peak caps, both being designed for turret or other hatches, not only the poses but also their headphones, throat microphones, activation control switch housings, and related wires clearly displayed on chests, turning the hatches in the one and only option for them. These items, particularly the throat microphones, switch housings, and wires, corroborated with the brilliant sculpture impose them as some of the most accurate Braille Scale figures for WWII German armoured vehicles hatches. Furthermore, these officers stress the noteworthy efforts carried out by the sculptor in the attempt of creating high accurate minis. One of them, holding with the right the hatch, really complements any vehicle and wears, a little above the medal on the left side, a ribbon bar, detail extremely rare encountered at 1/72 WWII German figs. Likewise, the pose is almost identical with the one included in the first EVD set on Panzer soldiers, the most important modification resting in radio gear added to the new variant. The other officer holds the hatch with both palms and at his turn, he makes a strong impression when set in position. He looks like a new sculpture without correspondent in the earlier EVD attempt on Panzer crews. By incorporating two officers specially designed for hatches, perhaps, manufacturer’s intention was to complete the previous one where no officer was slotted in and with most of the figures are crafted for outside the hatch usages. The artwork shows both officers as wearing the black Panzer uniform, but depending on the hobbyist’s needs, it is more than possible to paint at least one in feldgrau as belonging to Assault Artillery.

The other two minis, one aiming at Panzer and the other Sturmartillerie, at least according to the artwork, portray soldiers outside the vehicle, one simply standing with arms crossed at the back and another carrying in the left hand a canister, evoking a common activity of such units considering the armour vehicle huge gas consumption per 100 Km. The figure best stays on the ground and somehow brings to mind a famous photo of a real soldier doing the same thing. He is identical with a pose included in the first EVD Panzer troops kit. His comrade stays and just watches how the vital liquid is brought, the slight head turn to the right giving emphasises to the naturalness of the pose. A badge is on display on the wrapper and it seems he has got a scarf or a pullover under the shirt. Moreover, it should be highlighted this figure has no correspondent and even the smallest link to any pose of the prior set, being totally a bright new miniature. 

EVD’s first set on Panzer crews benefitted by an excellent sculpture, but the second issue has recorded a slightly improved one, the level of its small details impressing from the first glance. Anatomy is gorgeous, with excellent proportions of bodies and ideal facial details, where there are immediately perceived greatly carved eyes, eye-brows, moths, noses, ears, and hair. Moreover, the anatomically correct palms propose nicely shaped fingers, put in valour by the remarkable skills of the sculptor. These abilities are also reflected on uniforms through amazing small characteristic features such as breast eagles, collar and shoulder boards, pocket flaps, insignia, and folds. Nonetheless, the most appreciated details are of the communication gear found on three minis, with a plus point for the throat microphones, switches, and cables. As previously pointed out, 1/72 figures with complete communication gear are scarce, few Warriors, Orion and one old Esci figure having such representative devices.

In spite released as single pieces, the proper mould has provided minis without excess of material and with flash and seam lines at a really low level. The existent ones are immediately removed with no special tool while the metal deployed by EVD is great, neither soft, nor sturdy.  In order to acquire proper results at painting white metal, after cleaning flash and seam lines the figures should be primed, otherwise paint will not fix on the material. After priming, enamel, acrylics or artistic oils might be utilised with fine results but it is recommended avoiding handing in excess, especially if a varnish was not used to protect the artistic work. White metal is also very glue-able with cyanoacrylate cement, super glue gel giving excellent results and sticking the soldiers on vehicles made of hard or soft plastic, resin or white metal. Obviously, while most of the miniatures proposed here are for hatches, bases would have been pointless and also the standing figure with hands crossed at the back has got a great balance. The only piece requiring either a base or fixing on the ground is the soldier carrying the canister, due to its walking pose he cannot stand by itself.

Comparing with mass production trends on WWII German Panzer crews where only three hard plastic sets and a single soft plastic release in 2011 are available, during the years cottage industry has proliferated and supplied a large array of choices on the matter, in terms of attire, poses, and material. Sculptured in the tall side of 1/72 as most of cottage industry figures, these EVD crewmen find a huge number of partners, especially in CMK and Orion offers but also they match very good with Preiser and Dragon minis on the topic. Nevertheless, ideal companions are the troopers incorporated in EVD’s first set on the matter, not only because it seems the  two sets share the same sculptor, but also the second one is mostly based on figures issued within the initial one, unfortunately out-of-production and hard to find nowadays.

The poses are very persuasive and successfully bring life to any Panzer, StuG, or other vehicles with hatches, and at least two of them might take position on or near other vehicles from the large range operated by troopers dressed in the famous wrappers. Mainly targeting static model builders and collectors due to the higher price of the product, wargamers also might be tempted by it, particularly bearing in mind the lack of fragile parts. Taking into account most of vehicle kits come without crews and that here we get some of the best sculptured and inclusive figures for hatches, the EVD’s second figure set on Panzer soldiers clearly distinguishes as  a tremendously valuable proposal for modellers searching accuracy and perfection for their 1/72 vehicles.

 

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