Tamiya 1/48 German infantry and maintenance personnel

KIT #: 32512/30/47
PRICE: Ä10.00 each
DECALS: None
REVIEWER: Sjon van der Heiden
NOTES: Not all 39 figures assembled.

HISTORY

Some seventy years ago, there was a war going on in most of Europe. Apparently, some of those who fought in it, looked a lot like the little men in these boxes.

THE KITS


Tamiya is bringing us ever more in injected quarterscale. Not only armour, but a lot of figure sets as well. The first set (512) contains 10 infantry men and 5 tank crewmen. All infantry men are in very active poses. Theyíre all running, jumping and guns ablazing. The second set (530) contains 12 infantry men and 3 tank crewmen, but these guys are more relaxed as they are supposed to be on manoeuvres. Most of them are bear headed or wearing their M43 field caps instead of a helmet. Most of them sport M43 style uniforms contrary to the M36 uniforms worn by the figures of set #512. The tank crewmen are wearing a mix of panzer and assault gun tunics. Both sets come with 2 sprues each containing every conceivable item needed in warfare, ranging from canteens and duffle bags to very heavy machineguns indeed. Set #530 has a small additional sprue containing a folded tripod intended to be carried on ones back.

To start with the good news: the accessories sprues are amazing. You simply have to see all the small details yourself to believe this to be for real. There is absolutely no flash, no sink marks and the few ejector pin marks that are there will give you no troubles once assembled. You are also given plenty to choose from, early or late war issue. All in all there is way more than you will actually use with either of these sets. And now the bad news: Nearly all figures are a bit of a letdown. The details on the uniforms are OK I suppose, but their hands and especially their faces are quite featureless (does anybody remember Odo from Deep Space nine?...it seems he has a lot of German relatives). The mould separation line is also quite evident and will take some time to get away with. And another thing; if this is supposed to be quarterscale, they are all midgets. They all size around 1,55mí. I realize such people exist, but to have a whole platoon full of them defies all odds. And theyíre all emaciated! To be fair I would have to admit that some of the figures in set #530 do not look as bad as most others do. They too are rather dwarfish, but at least theyíre not undernourished, have lifelike poses and some facial expression.

Set #547 contains 8 maintenance crewmen and 1 tank commander. According to the box art, these figures are supposed to work on tanks, but since most of them are wearing coveralls and M34 caps, they may just as well be servicing planes when painted black or blue instead of field grey. No need for guns for these guys and so this set comes with a sprue consisting of crates and several types of shells to fill these, a stepladder, a folding table and a plethora of tools and toolboxes. All of these items will be perfect for any diorama. Again, the accessories sprue is superb. The sprue even has a moulded-in template to assist in constructing the stepladder (hardly necessary, but itís a nice touch just the same). The figures in this set are definitely better than the other ones. Still too short, but very lifelike poses and quite acceptable faces. You will still need to clean the mould separation line though.

The instructions are quite elaborate and leave no room for error. Colour callouts are generic and in Tamiya numbers, and are quite detailed. Another very helpful feature are the sides of the boxes where numerous accessories are depicted in full colour. No decals are provided.

CONSTRUCTION


Thanks to the excellent instructions, assembly would be a breeze. That is if you would build them ďout of the boxĒ, which would result in some serious disproportioned people. Some look as if their coat hangers are still in their jackets, others are attempting to walk with both knees bent (a feat only ever really accomplished by John Cleese). And letís not forget their height problems and troublesome faces. Some faces were mostly obscured by binoculars or helmets, others were acceptable and the really bad ones were replaced by resin ones from the spares box, or leftovers from several ICM sets. Some figures were sawn in half at the waist or just below their jackets and had some plastic shims inserted to get some extra height. The silly walks were cured by cutting the back of the knee and straightening the leg, after which the void was filled with Tamiya putty. I ended up using only two figures from set #512 because their poses were all way too animated for my purposes. I altered a crouching figure into a sitting one. He is taking a well deserved swig from his canteen. All chosen infantrymen from set #530 were given Mauser 98k carbines instead of the intended heavy machineguns. Ventilation holes were made in all helmets with the help of a new #11 blade. All figures were assembled minus their accessories. These were painted while still on the sprue and attached later on.

COLORS & MARKINGS


All figures were brush-painted using Humbrol enamels (except for the hands and faces, for which I use Revell enamel #35 as I think itís a better approximation of skin tone than Humbrolís equivalent). All base coats were washed with darker colours and then highlighted some with the original basecoat colour. I try to keep this process as subtle as possible as the effects are easily overdone! The black coveralls were painted flat black and drybrushed with panzergrau. The hands and faces were washed with a dark brown to accentuate the contours and some slight colour was applied to the lips. Finally I put a little graphite-pencil on their eyes to give the faces some focus. One guyís hair was painted copper and gold (#12 and 16) which makes him a very convincing redhead. Most silver details on their uniforms (piping and badges) were done in white, as I think silver or even aluminium is way too shiny for this scale. The buckles of their belts and Y-suspenders were picked out with a graphite-pencil. All of this was done with the help of an opti-visor as my spectacles are no longer able to compensate for my age.

FINAL CONSTRUCTION

Set #547 offers some very interesting items, such as a lightweight folding table, a closed and open metal toolbox, a little box with socket spanners, a bucket, 3 metal oil canisters and several tools. The wooden tabletop was washed and drybrushed in several shades of tan and grey. After this I drew multiple circular stains with different shades of colour-pencil. I drilled out the cap of one of the oil canisters and laid it on its side on the table and simulated spilled oil with gloss brown. Some very short pieces of a very tiny straw made for 3 excellent tin cans. I made a rag out of tissue paper moulded into shape with the help of diluted white glue. The whole scene was topped of with a few photo-etched tools from Haulerís toolset HLX 48016.

The open toolbox was assembled according to the instructions after which I added 2 lids from Evergreen sheet. It was painted, washed and drybrushed every shade of grey I have in my inventory. Then it was painted with a mixture of rust and gun-metal. Finally some edges were highlighted with a silver pencil. The box was filled with various items from the Hauler set.

I wanted to depict the bucket filled with murky water, so I cut a disc out of Evergreen sheet and glued this halfway in the bucket. I purposely glued it at a slightly odd angle, so the water would sit level when I would place the bucket at the same slightly odd angle in the yet to make diorama. I painted the water gloss brown. The bucket itself was painted off-white on the inside and bright red on the outside to give the diorama some colour. A rag was made with the help of tissue paper and finally the water level was given 3 coats of Testorís Kristal Kleer.

Now all that is left is to assemble all accessories. Everything was attached with CA glue. The binoculars for the non commissioned officer had its lenses drilled out with a new #11 blade and these were filled with Testorís Kristal Kleer. A strap was fashioned out of the finest electrical wire I was able to find. One of the soldiers is carrying his shovel in his hand. I used the stem of the kits item and made a blade out of wine bottle foil. A shovel minus the stem was used to depict the empty leather holster on its back. All carbines and the MP40 were given a sling made out of very fine strips of wine bottle foil. And finally, the officer was given a map made out of cigarette paper. Itís a bit immaculate so Iíll have to give it a little colour some day.

CONCLUSIONS

In recent years the line of quarterscale figures has vastly expanded. This is good news for anyone who builds an aircraft or two in this scale and wants to bring some life to his dioramas. Still, the figures Tamiya is bringing us, are not of the same quality their other products invariably are. I can imagine creating a lifelike figure 1/48 times of real size is hard at best, but I can not understand why Tamiya canít at least get the size of their figures right (if anything they should know that every head has two ears but many of them have only one!). Besides, other companies such as ICM seem to be able to produce very lifelike figures at around the same costs. I took a picture of an unmodified Tamiya figure, a modified one (a new resin head, added height and altered posture) and an unmodified ICM figure (not entirely true, I cut him below his jacket to reduce his height to get him to match the Tamiya figures,Ö go figure!). Even with the time and effort, I think the ICM figure is the better product. But maybe I am just being a bore, because these Tamiya figures will definitely bring some life to your diorama. The accessories sprues are simply amazing and because thereís plenty of it will find their way into other projects. Especially set #547 offers some very interesting items. The figures of this set are also definitely superior when compared with the other ones, which makes this the best set out of the three. But if itís Wehrmacht youíre interested in, the other sets will do just nicely. 

REFERENCES

The box art is very helpful, but you can definitely do with a visit to www.atthefront.com. Everything you want to know about German, US, Russian or Japanese uniforms, is there to be found. And itís a darn funny website to boot!

Sjon van der Heiden

April 2009

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