Articles

ESCI - Pz. IV Ausf. G (8309) _________(EXT)

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Manufacturer ESCI
Scale 1/72
Set Code 8309
Year Unknown
No. of Figures 2
No. of Poses 2
Additional Items None
Size Tall
Material Hard Plastic
Colour Gray
Flash Level Medium
Glue-ability Excellent (Polly-cement)
Convert-ability Difficult
Optimal Period 1941 – 1945

 

Review   

Apprised as one of the few manufacturers supplying crewmen for the vehicles, ESCI succeeded to maintain the same line, providing one to three figures for almost all of their WWII German vehicle kits. For Panzers, the most common was a single crewman, but also two or three troopers might be found in some kits. The two crewmen approach is found within their “Pz. IV Ausf. G”, but the same figures were redeployed by ESCI in “SturmPanzer IV” kit. Because of that, perhaps these crewmen are the most known and spread within the modelling community. Furthermore, it seems that company had developed a passion for the standing pose proposed here, duplicating it, but in an upgraded version, within “Sd.Kfz. 250/3” and Sd.Kfz. 250/9” kits.

As usual, since comprehensive reviews of ESCI vehicle kits are available on many websites, the present one will stick only to the figures put forward by the kit. Nowadays, much better versions of Panzer IV and “Brumbar” circulate on the market issued by Revell, Dragon or Trumpeter, but unfortunately, al those do not include any figure.

For their Panzer IV Ausf. G ESCI selected two full figures as crew, one for the turret hatch and another that might be emplaced in different locations on the tank. What is more important, is that for the last mentioned figure ESCI focused on an out-of-ordinary item of clothing that for many years had remained the single interpretation on M41 HBT Panzer tunic, until Retrokit in “German tank crew travelling on their vehicle”, Dragon in “German Panzer crew & Panther G Early – “Achtung Jabo” France 1944”, CMK in “German armourers for Tiger I” and Orion in “German Panzer Crew - Set 4” brought their own interpretations over that famous and intensively worn item of garment. The M41 HBT Panzer uniform was introduced on May 5, 1941 for replacing the first version of HBT Panzer attire. The main characteristic feature of the 1941 HBT Panzer wrapper was the large front pocket on the left side and was standard delivered in reed green or mouse gray for Panzer troops as well as feldgrau for Sturm Artillery. Although initially designed for Wehrmacht units, the uniform was very appreciated and worn by Waffen SS as well and except the standard colours, in later stages the HBT Panzer uniform featured various camouflage patterns belonging to both units. The trousers of the figure miss the characteristic large pocket on the left thigh, so those could be only regular Panzer or first pattern HBT Panzer trousers.

Nevertheless, bearing in mind the year when those ESCI minis had been created, the 1941 HBT tunic is inferior to the ones made available nowadays by the above mentioned companies. In this regard, the front pocket is much under-sized than it should be, the provided details being quite vague and hard to spot while others, such as the back panels and the middle guide tunnel for the back ties completely missing. Likewise, the Panzer standard wrapper worn by the other figure does not impress too much through level of details, those also being quite blurred, but still perceivable.

The standing crewman for the turret is definitely the Panzer commander and he wears Panzer wrapper and trousers, shirt, M43 cap, and ankle boots. He has belt but no pistol holster for it, so a Preiser or Dragon holster would be a welcome and easy addition to him. On the head there are visible the headphones, but the related wires are inexistent. For a more realistic appearance, wires can be scratch-built either from metal or hard plastic, obtainable from melted sprue, the last solution being somehow easier to fix with standard modelling glue due to the material the figure was made of. Close to the chest, the commander holds binoculars in the right hand, but being cast as single piece, appearance is pretty flat, the binoculars being almost integrated in the body and having almost no volume. This might be corrected also by using binoculars provided as separate part by many Preiser, Dragon or Caesar kits, but in such a case, also the right palm should be replaced with a new one, some of Preiser figure sets offering spare arms from where a palm can be extracted. Having the legs close, he perfectly slips in the Panzer IV hatch and he can simply do it trough hatches of other vehicles. The left arm, with the palm on the waist prevent him to fall in the vehicle, but being a full figure, he can also be deployed on or near the tank, not necessary inside it.  However, as previously stated, an improved version of this figure, even shorter, might be found in “Sd.Kfz. 250/3” kit.  Particularly the work on tunic and binoculars was enhanced and were added extra details.   

Diverging from his commander, the other crewman is in a sitting position, very suitable for emplacement on any part of the vehicle, including with legs in a hatch opening. Wearing his 1941 HBT tunic over the trousers, it makes difficult a clear identification of those that could be painted either as made of the same material or even as black Panzer trousers. Under the tunic is somehow visible his shirt and the figure voted for some quite short marching boots and M34 overseas cap. Like his commander, he has belt but no weapon, so the same solution with extra adding a pistol holster might apply in his case, too. Looking to the left, with the right hand in the hip and the left holding his balance, the pose is realistic and often adopted by Panzer crews as plenty of reference images attest.

Seeming to be some of the first ESCI Panzer figures produced, the level of sculpture is lower, uniforms and binoculars could possess clearer details. Anatomy is fair, with well proportioned bodies but on the same line with garment, facial expressions and palms would have allowed more room in terms of detailing. Still, faces possess all the normal parts such as noses, ears, moths, eyes and eye-brows. Both figures come with shoulder boards, although the 1941 HBT tunic generally did not feature those, but exceptions were known and accepted.

Cast as single pieces, especially the commander emerges flat and flash is spread in medium amounts all over the figures. Still, excess of plastic is not present but on their backs the minis record a small mark in the shape of a circle, showing us from where the pieces were kept in the mould.  This undesired thing should be erased, hard plastic making easy the intervention. Painting goes smooth, the material perfectly receiving enamel, acrylics or artistic oils, also keeping the painter’s efforts even during intense touches.

In spite wearing different clothes, both crewmen fit well with many other ESCI figures on the topic as well as with tall and medium Panzer crews dressed in classic Panzer wrapper or 1941 HBT Panzer tunic and issued by companies such as Preiser, Dragon, Orion, Retrokit, CMK, Warriors, El Viejo Dragon or Miniaturas Alemany. There are no discrepancies between the sizes of the two army-men and it might say they interact pretty fine although the commander looks straight and his subordinate to the left.

These figs are good for wargaming and collectors, but also for static modellers, particularly for the nostalgic ones, and with some aftermarkets they could be improved. They can occupy the assigned vehicle or others as well as some ground positions, especially the seat crewman being ideal for deployment on a barrel, ammunition box, tree trunk, stairs or other possible locations. Wearing loose the tunics, it makes clearly seen the unbuttoned up shirts, drawing the conclusion that these figures can be principally utilised in warm or temperate climates, but attire is compatible with Waffen SS and Wehrmacht units, including specific camouflage patterns. Bearing in mind the same minis are duplicated in several ESCI kits, corroborated with the fact they are made of hard plastic, in case the modeller is in possession of more such figures, in order to bring some diversity, except eventual gear, their heads might also be replaced with Preiser or Dragon or even better ESCI ones.

Ensuring for more than three decades the single figure dressed in 1941 Panzer HBT uniform, him and his comrade occupy a special place in the quite complex gallery of minis depicting WWII German Panzer crews. Likewise, ESCI should be complimented for the efforts put in the attempt of covering unusual Panzer attire as well as for the highly appreciated incentive of providing crews for the vehicles.

 

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