Articles

ESCI - Panther Tank (8363) _________(EXT)

 

Manufacturer ESCI
Scale 1/72
Set Code 8363
Year Unknown
No. of Figures 1
No. of Poses 1
Additional Items 1 Panzer V Panther
Size Tall
Material Hard Plastic
Colour Gray
Flash Level Medium
Glue-ability Excellent (Polly-cement)
Convert-ability Easy
Optimal Period 1939 – 1945

 

Review  

Providing a single crewman for their vehicles was the most spread approach ESCI developed, although some exceptions of offering two or three figures per vehicle were also recorded. More or less detailed, few of those really set up standard in the field, putting forward either uncommon pieces of garment or gear and highlighting the talent of company’s sculptors. In this regard, perhaps one of the best examples come form the crewman supplied in the “Panther Tank” kit, a good work hard to equalise by some of nowadays manufacturers.

In a modern advance, with separate arms, the mini makes a good impression through the complex and complete system of wires the sculptor managed to recreate on the soldier. It is well-known that at present most of the Panzer crews wearing headphones are delivered without the related wires, forcing the modellers which  search accuracy to scratch-build them from various materials, many times an in-scale representation being difficult to reach. In fact, one of the fewest companies that had the courage to repeat the ESCI performance and deliver Panzer crews together with wires, throat microphone and control switch housing is El Viejo Dragon, their second edition of “German Panzer Crew (1/72R01)” emerging as one of the best versions on the topic. Nevertheless, few other cottage industry sets succeeded to catch these details, Retrokit’s “German tank crew travelling on their vehicle” being another example.  

The Panther provided within the kit is not targeted by this review which restricts just to the figure. Returning to it, the crewman was designed to be emplaced in the turret of the accompanying Panther, but he can easily take position within almost all vehicles with hatches, his close legs permitting such thing. He clearly depicts a Panzer commander, being dressed in Panzer wrapper and trousers, ankle boots and on the head wearing M34 overseas cap. Due to its attire he might be engaged throughout the war, since the beginning till the end, best in a warm or temperate environment. Embodying either a Wehrmacht or Waffen SS trooper, his garment can be painted in black as Panzer, feldgrau as Sturm Artillery or various camouflage patterns belonging to both just mentioned units.

Definitely the most attractive thing at the mini rests in the complex webbing formed by headphone and throat microphone wires, clearly seen along the body, perhaps the Model B type. A plus point comes from that the ESCI sculptor did not limit in depicting only the headphones wires, but also tried and succeeded in a fine manner to show both the wires of the throat microphone and its control switch housing. Following his realization, Braille Scale modelers became accustomed with the excellent WWII German communication system utilized in Panzers and various other vehicles. Indeed, since the outset of war, the German High Command realized the importance and paid enhanced attention to communication, almost all armoured vehicles, no matter size or weapons, being endowed with radios. Generally, in Panzers, StuGs and various tank destroyers all the crewmen had radio communication. In fact, thanks to the proper communication system with the commandment and between or inside the vehicles, German Army achieved some incredible results. For instance, many wondered how the much inferior Panzer III succeeded to destroy the superior T34. That was because the radio allowed the commander of the German platoon to order to all his vehicles to fire against a single target while at least in the Early Stage, the Russian commanders had to get out of the turret and wave flags for communicating between vehicles, a perfect target for German infantry weapons. 

Holding in the right hand binoculars and signaling something with the left one, the fig proper portrays a Panzer commander exercising his duties, his skills being emphasized by the Iron Cross worn at the neck. Both arms come separately and go satisfactory in their places while the binoculars are sculptured in the palm and not as an individual part. Except binoculars, the mini received pistol holster, being practically the single ESCI Panzer crewman endowed by factory with the personal firing weapon of the unit he represents.

Diverging from many other ESCI Panzer figures, here we encounter a fine sculpture, not only wires and gear, but also the uniform featuring small details and creases having a nice finish. At its turn, anatomy is well done, palms having all fingers in places and respecting the proportions while the face received proper nose, mouth, eyes and eye-brows.

The multi-part casting prevented the apparition of excess of material and flash, although present, is in a lower amount, fast removable. The figure also did not escape of ESCI’s habit of showing from where they keep it in the mould, the sign getting the shape of a small circle. Nevertheless, the unwanted detail can be immediately eliminated and furthermore, this time it comes on the butt, so impossible to be noticed when the figure is set in the turret. Like all products made of hard plastic, painting the crewman is a pleasure, the material offering an excellent base for enamel, acrylics or artistic oils, succeeding to maintain those over the years in spite regular hand contacts.

Found in the middle side of 1/72, this commander may give orders to a crew formed by other ESCI figures as well as to Panzer crews made available by Preiser, Caesar Dragon, Orion, Retrokit, CMK, Warriors, El Viejo Dragon, Miniaturas Alemany but the list is surely longer. Because of the wire webbing, many modellers might wish to use this body, replacing the arms and even the head with superior ones, the best in this purpose being available in Preiser’s “WWII German Tank Crew 39-45 (72507)” a kit delivering not only supplementary heads, but also arms matching in size the ESCI figure. It is a smooth operation while the crewman comes with separate arms and on it can be attained extremely interesting and realistic conversions. Likewise, the pistol holster might be easily removed and replaced with better Preiser or Caesar versions. 

Acting proper in wargaming, he is also one of the most wanted and used ESCI Panzer crewman by static modeller builders due to the authentic and complete radio communication system he featured, supplemented by a very good sculpture. Once again, the old manufacturer must be admired and acclaimed for the endeavour of offering highly detailed figures for their vehicles, particularly this time when even present manufactures avoid depicting so tiny characteristics.    

Historical Accuracy

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