In the field of mass production figures of 1/72 WWII Germans, 2008 might be assessed as the year of sets with guns, not only due to the large number of kits on the topic, but also because probably the best kit was released also on the matter. Preceded by Italeri's PaK40 and crew released in the last part of 2007, during 2008 there have been launched 7 mass production sets including figures and a gun. None of other topic related to 1/72 WWII Germans benefited by such attention, HaT coming with 4, MAC Distribution with 2 (both sets have the same crew, only the guns differ) and Pegasus Hobbies brought to the fans the astonishing IG18 gun & crews.
Taking into account these, I decided that this month to try writing reviews for the above mentioned sets, so the topic of this month will be sets including guns and their crews.
I hope you will enjoy the topic and the painting of the figures, and the first one is HaT's PaK40 followed by the other related sets of the same manufacturer.
I must say that these sets are addressed especially to wargamers and collectors, so do not expect spectacular figures, even if I put some efforts in painting them.
"German PaK 40 Anti-tank Gun"
Set Code: 8150
No. of Figures: 16
No. of Poses: 4
Additional Items: 4 PaK40 Guns
Material: Soft Plastic
Flash Level: Intermediate
Glue-ability: Good (Super Glue Gel)
Optimal Period: 1943 - 1945
Announced with some time before arrival, in the last part of 2008 HaT finally succeeded to start commercializing their series of 1/72 sets dedicated to WWII German guns. A good custom of the company consists in grouping on pairs and launching exactly in the same time two sets, proper examples in the field representing the MG and Mortar teams, the motorcycle sets or the bicyclists and mounted infantry sets. This time the practice has been improved, the company simultaneous bringing into attention of the 1/72 WWII German Army fans an incredible number of four sets having as topic some of the most used guns by Wehrmacht during WWII. Mainly focused on antitank artillery, the series provides an infantry gun too, the well-known IG18. The models of antitank artillery integrated within the range are PaK40, PaK36, PaK 7.62 cm 36(R), and of chief importance is that we get crews for all the guns. Likewise, none of these sets brings spare projectiles or ammunition boxes, items quite often encountered in artillery sets and extremely useful in a wargame or diorama. Though presented in images and in few associated remarks, the just mentioned guns will not make the object of these reviews, special attention being granted to their crews.
Less detailed and requiring only few minutes to put together a gun, these kits are mostly addressed to wargamers, but with the inclusion in each box of four identical sprues, it can be very fast established a large German artillery unit, also at a price without rival. The collectors of Braille Scale WWII Germans will also be more than happy to add to their accumulations other fours sets. Not only the figures, but also the guns are manufactured in soft green plastic, identical with the one used for the bicyclists and mounted infantry sets. The material is extremely soft, looking like a combination between rubber and soft plastic. However, it has the advantage of greatly accepting super glue which makes a reliable and durable bond between the parts. Moreover, such plastic fair allows enamel and artistic oils, but has few shortcomings, the paint requiring a longer period for drying and flash is harder to be removed due to the appearance of fluffs during the operation. Within all these sets, only the guns need assembly, figures coming in single pieces while another interesting particularity of the series consist in the featured garment. Each crew is dressed in other type of uniform, covering some of the most common WWII German attire, as well as the warm and cold environments. A good point is that for each gun, its crew wears the same type of uniform, a single exception registering at the Afrika Korps crew, where we get two soldiers dressed in tunics and other two in shirts. No matter the gun or number of soldiers handling it in reality, every piece of HaT's artillery benefits by a crew of four members. In addition, it should be emphasised the idea that the crews can be switched to any gun, even the figures holding the projectiles, the size and details of their shells allowing such thing.
The first set hereinafter reviewed incorporates probably the most famous and most manufactured antitank gun produced by Germany during the WWII, namely PaK40. Developed in 1939, the 75 mm gun is a scaled up version of the 50 mm PaK38 and entered in service in 1941, proving to be a reliable weapon, capable to destroy all enemy tanks. For this reason PaK40 became the standard antitank gun and was maintained in production until the end of the war, over 23,000 pieces seeing action on every front. The figures and the eight parts of HaT's version of PaK 40 come on the same sprue, four of them being provided in a classical box of the company having as front artwork the gun and illustrating the poses of the soldiers plus the assembly guide for the gun on the other side. The gun might be put together in less than three minutes, the final product appearing in the labelled scale. Furthermore, its wheels are emplaced in the right position, diverging from Italeri's Pak40, another soft plastic model of PAK40 featuring a much more detailed gun and crew. Except HaT and Italeri, several other mass production companies issued in the Braille Scale the standard WWII German antitank gun as well as its crew. Airfix, with "Opel Blitz and Pak40", came with a 1/76 gun, but a truly 1/72 crew and Esci/Italeri "German Anti-tank Guns" offered the interpretation of a Pak40 while firing and a quite flat crew. For an accurate and detailed model of PaK40 diorama builders will orientate to Roden's gun that comes without crew, but this may be taken from Preiser's set on the topic, "German Pak40 Crew", a set where we do not get the gun.
Returning to HaT's PaK40, the crew members are dressed in the Late War style with M43 tunics, regular trousers, gaiters and ankle boots. Attractive is that the steel helmets of the crew make a brief introduction in various straps and nets used for fixing camouflage cloth or vegetation. In this regard, one soldier has a single strap round the helmet, one has the straps disposed in cross and other two soldiers possess nets. All of them wears the sleeves of the tunics rolled up, meaning that they are intended to activate in a warm climate, starting with 1943 till the end of war. Gear is scarce, but a little more complex than the one encountered at their colleagues from the other HaT's gun crews. Three of them received gas mask containers with straps around the chest and two of them have another item not very clear sculptured, but that might pass as bread bag. Despite they have no weapon, quite surprising is the lack of ammunition pouches, while those appear at figures from other two gun sets of the series. The crew is formed by three soldiers and a gun commander, the role of the last figure being emphasised both by his pose, and by his single item of equipment, a pistol holster. All figures are crouched and not interacting too much with the weapon they wield, the commander assuming his role pointing the target with the finger, one soldier holds a PaK40 projectile and the other two take position around the gun for suggesting a weapon in combat.
The poses are neither too dynamic, nor spectacular and the same situation registers in the field of small details of uniforms, body parts and gear. However, some collar boards, buttons can be identified on the tunics and also few facial details and fingers. No discrepancy between the size of bodies, gear or weapons is noticed from pose to pose and their size matches with the small offer of 1/72 soldiers. For this reason the best companions, except their colleagues from the other Hat's sets aiming guns, are found in Armourfast's Mortar and MG teams, Pegasus Hobbies Waffen SS Set 2 or MAC Distribution's PaK 36 and PaK38 sets. Flash is present on each figure, not difficult to be removed, but soliciting the nerves of the modeller due to the fact that this plastic has the undesired propensity of producing fluffs that also need to be removed over and over again. Primarily designed for wargamers, obviously all figures received bases that can be easily detached in few seconds, most of the troopers maintaining their balance and without these devices. Bearing in mind this material takes super glue very fine, the crew might be better equipped or even armed with Preiser or Dragon related products. As it was earlier stated, the paint and artistic oils acceptable adhere to the plastic used but require more time for drying.
With most sets of the range dedicated to 1/72 WWII Germans, HaT tries covering the needs of wargamers, attaching enhanced importance to numbers in disfavour of sculpture and details. Nevertheless, the company proved their ability in releasing excellent sets for diorama builders as well, the Mortar and MG teams clearly attesting this fact. However, taking into account the large number of guns available in the scale and the lack of crews, some of these figures may find their place on a diorama, with or without improvements added to the soldiers.
Historical Accuracy: 7
Poses Quality: 7
Details Quality: 6
Mould Quality: 7