Inspecting the troops

August 13, 2008

In an earlier post, I expressed my interest in a new 1/72 scale set by Caeser Miniatures, WW2 German Panzergrenadiers set 1. Clicking on the link shows you the box art as well as a photo of the poses included.

I ordered two boxes of these figures and have had a good look at them since they have arrived. Here are my thoughts about them, both as miniatures in general and as miniatures for wargaming.

This set of figures is usable and workable with fairly good sculpting. I have very little exposure to their other figures, apart from what I’ve seen and read over at Plastic Soldier Review. I have bought and used Caesar’s now-discontinued WW2 German Infantry in Winter Gear, and consider that a superior set to this.

There are three things that I feel could have been re-done with this set. Firstly, the rifles in this kit are thin. Very thin. I found a number of them were bent, probably incurred during transit. They may be a little more realistic in dimensions to those from the Winter Gear set, but I think in the moulding something has been lost…at this scale, I think figures need slight exaggeration so that what they represent is clearly grasped, especially from a distance. I think that I’ll find painting these rifles much harder than those carried by the Winter Gear set!

Secondly, some of the poses have extra flashing/moulding that cannot be removed, and was not present in the Winter Gear set. The soldier standing and firing his MP-40 from the shoulder has extra moulding approximately 2mm thick between his gun and his arm – in the “crook” of his arm. The soldier stalking forward with his MP-40 has the same excess plastic. A shame, because this wasn’t present in the Winter Gear set. The space was empty between their arm and their weapon, so you could slide a toothpick or paintbrush between them. With this set, you’ve got this extra stuff just sitting there, looking a bit unnatural. This extra plastic is going to have to be somehow “hidden” by painting – perhaps painting the excess plastic with black…. This may be a moulding limitation, but I’m not sure why it would be if they were able to avoid this in a previous set.

Thirdly, everyone is wearing the same type of boots – and they seem to be mid-thigh boots. I thought that by that time (1943-1945) they were wearing ankle-high boots with gaiters?

Let me discuss the poses – you can see these in the photo over at Caeser Miniatures’ Australian website (use the first link in this article). There are 12 of them. Of the twelve, only 3 are firing a weapon. Two are throwing grenades. Discount one who is an Officer commanding his troops – that leaves 6 whom are doing something else.

The chap kneeling and waiting with his MP-40 (maybe in ambush?) is for me the highlight figure of the whole set. It’s a very natural pose and very useful for wargaming.
The chap mentioned earlier, stalking forward with his MP-40, is almost the same pose from a figure in the Winter Gear set. Well done, but not too original…some sort of variation in stance – perhaps running rather than walking but still with his gun in a similar position would have been nicer? Pressing forward the advantage?
The chap kneeling and waiting with his rifle is well done – another natural pose and another useful one for wargaming, rather than someone running forward with a rifle.
The officer is holding an MP-40, wearing a helmet and pointing forward and upward – in a general sort of direction. Perhaps he’s bellowing out someone about which direction the enemy is in? I think this sort of pose is much more useful than the older / more traditional one where the officer is looking through his binoculars, or just holding a pistol.
There are two grenade-throwing poses. One is carrying his rifle in his other hand and is using it as a counterweight as he throws his grenade. This is a pose that we’ve seen before, but it’s nicely done here. The other looks as if he has just pulled the primer – he hasn’t brought his throwing arm back yet and his other hand is empty. Of the 3 copies of this pose in one box, the grenade warheads had broken off in transit – a shame. Why a shame? Because the grenades here are certainly more to scale than in the Winter Gear set which I felt were over-exaggerated. Perhaps the pendulum has swung too far to the other side and now they are too flimsy?
There are two firing their rifles – one standing, one kneeling. While they look fine, they don’t look too worried about any return fire – perhaps they are at a firing range? They look too casual. They aren’t even leaning forward on their left foot as they shoot, which would provide more balance – the ESCI/Italeri German Infantry figure is better and more realistic in that regard.

The chap firing his MP-40 from the shoulder (mentioned earlier) IS leaning forward on his front foot – which makes me wonder which pose was done first and why was consistency forgotten?
There is a chap holding an MP-40, slightly crouching (or at least he’s partially bent his knees) and looking to the side, as if he’s listening to instructions and then will race off to carry them out. Another good, natural pose – but not useful enough to warrant 4 of them, in my opinion. Still, better than just standing and holding is MP-40 in a forgettable or non-combat way.
The second-last pose to mention is a chap holding his rifle diagonally across his chest while his attention is focussed on something else. I recall this sort of pose, but rendered as if the troops held their rifles like that while they ran or jogged forward into battle. (Maybe they were US Infantry by Airfix? Russian Infantry by Airfix?) I think that for a set like this, where the troops were fighting desperately, that he could have been doing something different.
The last chap is holding his rifle horizontally across his waist while he looks to the left. Natural, and more useful than the previous pose.

All seem to have the exact same kit (breadbag, entrenching tool etc.) and overall the sculpting is of good quality.

Something that struck me about this set after thirty minutes of examining them is that no-one is carrying or using: MG-34/42s, Panzerfausts, flamethrowers, radios or anything else. Perhaps they will surface in Panzergrenadiers Set 2? They are sorely needed for this set of troops and time-period…


2 Responses to “Inspecting the troops”

  1. John said

    i managed to remove the extra plastic in the crook of the arms by first using a pin vice to bore away most of it, and then carve away the remainder with a pointed scalpel. Took about 10 minutes per figure, and really improves things no end. If you are not confident with doing this cleanly, once you have painted the smocks with camo pattern, any slight imperfections are lost to the eye due to the paint job. Hope this helps! John

    • Eastern Funker said

      Ah, yes, the pin vice…this is something I’ve been avoiding buying but seems that I may finally have to succumb to.
      I do want to prepare, paint and base a company of Panzergrenadiers before winter next year…
      Thanks for your advice, John, I’ll give it a go!

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