Articles

ESCI - Tiger II Henschell (8330) _________(EXT)

 

 

Manufacturer Warriors
Scale 1/72
Set Code 8330
Year Unknown
No. of Figures 3
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 1943 – 1945

 

Review 

ESCI is one of the oldest companies which activated in the field of 1/72, a real road opener that perhaps put forward one of the largest range of vehicles and figures, not only the numbers, but also the quality of the models, sometimes incredible for that period, making from ESCI label one of the most respected and appreciated by modellers from all over the world. Produced in millions of copies, their kits have been reissued by different companies, nowadays Italeri being responsible with their revitalisation. ESCI enforced high standards in the field, and also provided many good examples for the next generation of companies, unfortunately not all followed at present. One of these rested in offering together with their vehicle kits some figures, giving in this way the hobbyist the chance to bring a human touch to the machine. Generally, most of ESCI kits on WWII German Army topics benefitted by the support of one or two crewmen, more rarely three figures being supplied for the vehicle in case.

One of these examples is “Tiger II Henschell” which is practically the single ESCI WWII German Panzer delivered with three crewmen. Nevertheless, two of them are only busts and even duplicated, but this does not diminish the merit, especially bearing in mind that the busts are designed for the lower hull, a location where the crewmen are not so visible in full detail in an 1/72 Tiger II.

While the ESCI vehicles benefit by ample reviews on various sites, the King Tiger would not make the object of the present review, which prefers focusing on the accompanying figures. Anyway, it should be mentioned that there are available better detailed and accurate Tiger II, Revell, Dragon, and Trumpeter providing superior options.   

As few lines highlighted, ESCI’s King Tiger comes with three figures, one full for the turret hatch portraying the Panzer commander and two busts identical busts, designed for the lower hull to depict the driver and the radio operator. These are not only some of the best detailed ESCI Panzer minis, but also feature a more than interesting item of clothing. In stead of wearing the standard Panzer wrapper, the crew seem to wear the reed green Panzer tunic - first model although the longer opening, similar to a suit jacket might raise some issues. Nevertheless, the manufacturer’s decision is a little odd, while in 1944 when Tiger II was rushed into service, it was more common the second model of the reed green Panzer tunic, available since 1941 and easily recognised after the large front pocket on the left side. Furthermore, in assessing this garment item as the first model of reed green Panzer tunic contributes both the ties and M34 caps worn by all these crewmen, items also worn by Panzer crews especially in the Early stage of war. Anyway, that attire could be dressed even in 1944, so not such a big problem in terms of matching with the vehicle, but preferably would be using the army-men in another vehicle such as a Panzer II, III or IV. Related to the first type of reed green Panzer tunic, it remains almost a virgin terrain, except ESCI version, only Warriors proposing one on a single figure within “German Tank Crew”.

The garment put on by these minis could belong both to Wehrmacht and Waffen SS units, but definitely their use is recommended only in warm or temperate environments, otherwise shirts and ties would appear very odd in winter. Painting is also simplified here while the reed green Panzer tunic Type 1 did not encounter camouflaged versions, or at least information on the matter are not available or supported by reference images.

Half out of the turret and looking straight ahead, the Panzer commander adopts a characteristic attitude, with both hands holding the hatch for maintaining equilibrium and prevent eventual accidents while the vehicle was moving. Even if he possesses belt, no pistol holster hangs by it, but as an option, either Preiser of Dragon holsters would find an ideal location here. He keeps the headphones in position, but no wires are supplied for them, so the most exigent modellers might add some scratch-build ones. These can be done either by metal or hard plastic wires obtained from melted hard plastic sprue, the choice being supported also by the material the figure was made of, so much easier and more durable to attach with polly-cement hard plastic wires. Dressed in a potential reed green Panzer service tunic Type 1, he also wears Panzer trousers M34 overseas cap and shoe ankle boots. Under the tunic there are extremely visible both the shirt and a tie. The tunic is of particular interest while it features a breast eagle or a bar to the Iron Cross and a Panzer Assault Badge on the left as well as an Iron Cross on the right, the medals being clearly recognised due to sculptor’s skills. As reference images confirm, badges were often worn by Panzer crews, not only at parades or on special occasions, but also on the front line. However, 1/72 WWII German figures wearing medals or badges are not so often encountered, and ironically, most of them had been produced by ESCI.    

The busts, or better said the doubled bust pose, is delivered in the same attire with the commander, wearing tunic, shirt and tie, M34 overseas cap and having headphones set in position, but again, lacking wires. Considering their small size, it would be wise eventually adding wires before starting painting, in a later stage holding them with tweezers or between fingers for trying fixing the wires might harm the already done painting work. Because of the real small dimensions of the busts, two special devices were created by ESCI for emplacing inside the vehicle, obviously, before closing it, the role being both providing a place for the busts to stay and preventing accidental falls. However, even if slipping within the vehicle designed by ESCI for them, the crewmen might be recovered, the Tiger II turret easily getting off from its location. For enhanced stability, keeping away also the carpet monster from grabbing them, the two busts might be glued not only by the inner devices, but also by the edge of the hatch openings.   

 Although in hard plastic, all figures are cast as single pieces, so no assembly required. However, taking profit by the fact that are made of hard plastic, particularly for one bust, in order to create a difference between, it would be proper changing his head with another or at least, modify a little its position. Likewise, various Preiser or Dragon body parts, gear and weapons might be added, but those are not really necessary except having more boxes of ESCI’s “Tiger II Henschell”.

In spite the age and dimensions of the busts, the available details are really awesome, fully compatible or even exceeding later sets of figures on the same topic. Anatomy is appropriate, with easily perceived noses, ears, moths, eyes and eye-brows, and the palms of the commander present all fingers in their places, but his head looks a hair too big. Attire is impressively created, with special remarks for the badges, ties and shirts, the perfect sculpture on tiny dimensions proving one more time the great abilities of the ESCI team. All figures show shoulder boards, but those were prohibited to be worn on reed green Panzer tunics. However, regulations were often infringed by WWII German soldiers and some reference images show them on such tunics. Another option would be simply removing them with any tool used to get rid of flash.  

Talking about flash, it comes in medium amount and excess of plastic did not find any place here. Still, on the back of the figures is perceived a small circle marking the place where the pieces were held during casting. The circle is not so difficult to be removed, hard plastic easing the operation. Furthermore, the same material excellent accepts any paint, being also capable to retain the painter’s work after heavy handling.

Regarding compatibility with other figs, the ESCI Tiger II crew greatly match with the ESCI figures targeting Panzer units as well as the remarkable Preiser and Dragon kits on the matter. Likewise, especially the busts, might be used in conjunction even with smaller sized minis such as Retrokit’s “German tank crew travelling on their vehicle”, CMK’s “German armourers for Tiger I” and Caesar’s “WWII German Panzer Crews”.   

These army-men are suitable in wargaming but also on classic dioramas, the more than satisfactory level of details as well as their special clothes inciting static model builders, too. Furthermore, the crew is a nice touch not only to their initial vehicle, but also to any Panzer, StuG or armoured vehicle with hatches, particularly those belonging to the early and middle stages of war, bearing in mind the attire on display.

Maybe some hobbyists might wonder why reviewing a kit making available three or less minis. There are several reasons in doing it, even nowadays much more expensive white metal or resin figure sets deliver the same number of soldiers, several ESCI figs still remain unique in terms of attire or poses as well as a small tribute to a company who enchanted the childhood of many nowadays famous modellers and thanks to the reissues, perhaps it will do the same with the new generations.      

 

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