This set of four figures is marked as 'Hohenstaufen Division, Normandy 1944', and as such can be used to depict Panzer grenadiers from the 9th SS Panzer Division, or indeed most other Divisions. All four figures are wearing generic camouflage smocks with plain combat trousers, and are shown to wear helmets with camouflage covers. Three soldiers are carrying a 98K rifle, and the section commander carries the ubiquitous MP40 'Schmeisser' sub-machinegun. Additionally one soldier is holding a 'potato masher' handgranate, whilst another is holding a Panzerfaust. All figures are in 'observant' rather than 'firing' poses, with one soldier pointing something out to his commander.
A quick look at the contents of the box reveals two sprues with the individual parts for the figures, and six sprues with 'generic' equipment, some of which we use for these figures, and most of which will be welcome additions to the spares box.
As usual with Dragons 'Gen II' kits, there is much more in the box than we need for the depicted subject.
The sprues are once again cast devoid of flash, and there are only a few seams to be removed, as usual on the legs and arms. Other than that all parts are seam free, with only the sprue gates to be removed.
The detail of the individual parts is superb, with very crisp folds in the uniform fabrics and the incredible detail on the equipment. The Ammo pouches have stitches, and there is a choice of closed or opened pouches. Add to this the Canteens and mess tins with separate cups and lids and not only is everything in the box to create some beautifully detailed figures, there is also plenty to add to the diorama that these figures are asking to be added to.
An extra addition to this set is a sprue with six newly tooled M40 helmets with very finely detailed camouflage covers. Comparing them with the 'original' M40 helmets with covers (which are indeed also included, as are 6 uncovered steel helmets... you get 16 helmets in this set!) shows a marked improvement of detail, the new helmet covers showing fastening straps and improved cloth texture.
This kit includes the generic weapon sprues WA (x2) which each contain 2 98K rifles and sprue WB which contains 2 MP40 sub-machineguns, one MP44 Sturm Gewehr and one G43 Rifle. In addition the two sprues containing the parts for the figures also contain parts for four Panzerfausts, two Panzerfaust 60 and two Panzerfaust 30K (Klein, which is German for Small). There are two packing crates for each type included with some nice wood grain effect on the lid and bottom, but unfortunately there is no detail at all on the sides.
The PE set has parts to 'represent' the rope carry handles on the end of the crates, but as always this is a feature that is not well defined with flat PE. Using thin thread will result in a more realistic effect. Talking about the PE fret, a really nice feature is the two masks to spray the markings (Panzerfaust and Panzerfaust (Klein) respectively) on the crates. The crate markings are also present on the comprehensive decal sheet, which carries the full set of markings for all four Panzerfausts. As with the rifle's optional open or closed bolts, you are given multiple options for the firing/aiming handles on the Panzerfausts. In this case there are three options,
Closed, the 'safe' position. The PE set even has tine 'Safety pull rings' to add...
With the aiming aperture raised, which 'armed' the Panzerfaust for action.
Wit the firing handle depressed, but if you want to use this option you will need to remove the warhead from the tube.
No 'spend' tubes are provided, which is odd considering inclusion of 'fired' handles, but as these are easily scratched it's not a big omission.
The rest of the equipment is identical to the earlier 'Gen II' sets, but this time the PE set includes slings for the rifles and MP40. A number of battle decorations are provided in PE, but none are indicated for use, probably because all figures are wearing Camouflage smocks. Although the instructions show all figures to be dressed and equipped identical, the many included spare items offer plenty of alternative possibilities.
The proof of the pudding..
is in the building. I have build the Section Commander figure to check the fit of the parts, and to see how he compares with a similar style figure from an old Dragon set (Arnhem '44).
The parts are attached to the sprue with fairly thick sprue gates, and you need a pair of cutters to remove them. As usual the legs have one gate on a mating surface, which is easy to clean up, and one right on the knee, which makes cleanup a trickier job, as its easy to damage the fine detail of the trousers. Sam goes for the arms. Lags, body and arms fit well and without the need for filler. The boots, which miss the prominent seam at the back, have square locating pegs to fit in the bottom of the legs, but I didn't find the fit to be positive. Some manipulating during the drying time of the glue was needed to get them to sit at a realistic angle.
Which brings us to the four parts that make up the lower part of the Smock. Fit of these four parts is not as positive as it should be, and the individual parts are difficult to line up. There are gaps in between the parts, and particularly part D15 fits badly, leaving a large gap at the front of the Smock, which makes it necessary to use filler to re-shape the continues front of the Smock. The other seams are covered by equipment, so they are not so much of an issue. The face fits well against the head, and has good defined features. You can really see him squinting into the distance.
This is an impressive kit, by any standard, and Dragon must be applauded for creating some of the finest plastic Injection figures on the market. The novel inclusion of separate rifle bolts and ammo clips gives great scope for use in dioramas or vignettes.
Some people will question the 'more of the same' choice of subject, but Dragons recent U.S. Marines kit shows that the Allied kit builders are not forgotten. Unlike kit no. 6273 'Desperate Defence' which contained six figures, this kit has returned to the classic Dragon issue of four. Oddly enough there are four helmets with covers moulded to the figure sprues, and 6 extra helmets with covers added on a separate sprue? An indication of thing to come?
The other minus point is the lack of wood grain detail on the side of the Panzerfaust ammo crates. If it's possible to break up a figure into 17 parts, without equipment, it should be easy to create individual parts for all six sides so that all sides have detail.
Neither of these distract from the overall quality and detail of this kit. The amount of spare equipment makes it worth the price alone, and details like the Safety Pin on the Panzerfaust put this kit ahead of all others. Although this is in my opinion not a kit for the inexperienced modeller, I do recommend this kit to those comfortable working with many small parts.
Thanks to Dragon for this review sample