"Desperate Defense" is the first Generation 2 figure set from Dragon. While Dragon never provided a definition of Generation 2, the contents of the set clearly show why they decided to use this name.
Unfortunately I know next to nothing about WW2 German uniforms, weapons and equipment and very little about the Korsun Pocket defense. This means that in this review I will focus purely on the design of parts and mold quality and won't even mention accuracy.
The set comes in a top opening box with separate lid with excellent illustration by Ron Volstad. Box sides and bottom are covered with computer generated images and photos of parts - already known from DML website. The box is slightly larger from previous typical DML figure set boxes and includes three bigger light grey styrene with figure parts and personal gear, one sprue made of slightly flexible mixture of styrene and DS100 with various bags and pouches, four smaller sprues with weapons and accessories and two identical small photo-etched brass frets with uniform badges and other details. Smaller plastic sprues and PE frets are attached to the now Dragon trademark grey paper card, while bigger sprues are individually packed in plastic bags. The painting and assembly instructions are provided on a sheet of paper with color illustrations on both sides inserted on the bottom of the box.
First feature of the set worth mentioning is that it includes six figures. It looks like it is a new standard for DML and it is definitely a welcome change from more classic four figure sets. Figures are shown in dynamic "combat" poses, firing or reloading their weapons, throwing grenade etc.
- standing figure 1 aims from "borrowed" Russian PPSh gun,
- figure 2 down on left knee is throwing grenade and holds Kar98 rifle,
- standing figure 3 in a field cap holds MP40 gun,
- standing figure 4 in long overcoat reloads Kar98,
- two lying figures crew the MG42 and are shown during reloading with one holding the gun and other preparing ammo belt.
In addition to weapons listed above we also get one additional MP40, one MP44 and one G43 rifle.
Each figure is composed of at least fourteen main parts (not including weapons and other gear):
- helmet or cap,
- the face (separated along the edge of helmet strap, so hiding the seam is not a problem),
- main head part,
- separate collar and lapel parts,
- torso with separate front and back halves,
- separate arms,
- two separate legs,
Additionally for each figure the lower parts of their overcoat, parkas and jackets are also separate and composed of several pieces for best detail. Three figures wearing parkas have separate hoods. Of course there is also a lot of extra gear to attach to figures: ammo pouches, bayonets, gas mask canisters, shovels, canteens, pistol holsters etc.. For each figure we get photo-etched belt buckles and various badges and two figures also have PE shoulder bards. For most of these figures we also get plastic equivalents of belt buckles and shoulder bars, but for figure 2 only PE buckle is included - this is because this buckle is attached over the grenade carried there and plastic part would be too thick.
The level of detail of all included parts is simply amazing. While good resin figures still have slightly more crisp details on them, there is really nothing to complain about in DML figures - they are as good as plastic figure can get! All the folds on clothes, buckles and straps on personal equipment or various surface details on weapons are perfectly and very naturally reproduced. Faces and hands also look very natural. DML used slide molding for every hard styrene sprue in the set. Some of the features added thanks to slide molding include: details on shoe soles, indentations in gun muzzles and sights, hollowed cans and gas mask canisters, rivets on helmets, details on sides of MP42 ammo cans etc.
Some nice features included in the set are for example:
- in addition to six bayonets molded in their sheaths we also get one empty sheath and separate bayonet,
- we get six folded shovels molded integrally with holders plus one molded in two separate parts that can be assembled folded or open,
- canteens with separate cups and mess kits with separate lids,
- gas mask containers with separate lids (but no gas mask is included in the set!),
- Kar98 and G43 rifles with separate bolts with options to show them extended or in normal position (some details inside the rifles are also added),
- M40 guns have separate upper body part (one provided part has bolt in forward and one in rear position),
- one MP40 has a stock in folded position molded integrally, while the other has stock as separate part,
- extra ammo clips are provided for Kar98, G43, MP40 and MP44,
- MP42 with separate breech cover and details (slide) molded on upper barrel surface and inside the breech. Included are also optional folded and extended bipods.
Probably the only things missing from the set are slings for guns and these need to be added by a modeler.
All parts are molded flash free and no sink marks are present, while only ejector pin marks are hidden inside the torso halves. Mold halves were very well aligned, so mold seams should be easy to remove.
For photos of assembled figures and some comments about parts fit check Terry Ashley's review at Perth Military Modelling Site: http://www.perthmilitarymodelling.com/reviews/figures/dragon/dr6273.htm
New Dragon figure set raises the bar to the level, which most likely other manufacturers will not even try to achieve. Advanced molding techniques and clever engineering created a really unique product. This is coupled with very high quality of sculpting that results in very natural poses and facial features. As personal equipment and weapons are all on small separate sprues, it is certain that we will see these excellent parts used in other figure sets. I'm not sure if all future DML figure sets will maintain the same number of features and amazing details and it is likely that Generation 2 figures will still be accompanied by more classic "Gen1" new sets, just like "super kit" models (i.e. Tiger I variants) appear along more basic kits. Anyway, really great times for figure modelers arrived and it was never before possible to get so excellent figures for so little money!
Many thanks to Dragon Models Limited for the review sample!