by: Jim Rae [ ]
The 'traditional' view of German uniforms goes back to the image of Field Grey with black jackboots. However, from the mid-war period onwards, a large variety of uniform styles were to be seen across all the fronts. In this set, this is not the first time that the 1944 pattern uniform has been portrayed although it has been, in general ignored as seeming to lack the 'visual' impact of the many variants of camouflage. While certainly not as 'eye-catching' as some as the other uniforms to be seen in the late-war period, in the interests of historical accuracy it is a vital component for anyone portaying late-war German Infantry.
It's also unlikely to generate as much excitement or debate in the forums, but a darned sight easier to paint!
The figure set - basics.
DRA6278 - Last Battle: Austria 1945 is the latest in Dragon Models Generation 2 series. The set is moulded in grey plastic and consists of around 296 styrene parts on EIGHT sprues, a small sheet of brass photo-etch and a diminutive decal sheet. The kit is designed to build four, late-war figures. Also included is a double sided, full color sheet which doubles as both instructions and painting guide.
About this review..
Normally, I would have built one or two of the figures, but due to time constraints I haven't been able to. The review will follow my 'normal' format of looking at various areas and commenting as they come up. At the end of the review, i'll summarize my overall opinions of the set.
Regarding the photos, images of the sprues will be seen at the side, close-ups of some of the more interesting details can be seen below.
Into the box.
The first thing which becomes apparent, looking at the instruction sheet, is that Dragon have again taken the 'Multipose' approach. Each of the four figures has a choice of arms and hands allowing for a large amount of variation - particularly true when two or more sets are combined.
1) The Poses. When I first posted the original news item on this set, one or two people commented that the poses looked a little 'static' for their tastes. Personally, this is the kind of pose I prefer as frequently (to me at least) the 'in-action' poses can look a little jaded or unconvincing. I like the poses in this set and particular, combined with other figures in a more active pose, should produce some interesting dioramas.
2) Hands and Arms. Each arm is moulded WITHOUT hands which is something that DML introduced at the beginning with the Gen2 range. The hands themselves are beautifully sculpted/moulded and, as usual. with these sets, will require the most delicate of touches in attaching them.
3) Faces/Heads Each head consists of two parts, the front and the back. Due to some interesting design, the joins are completely masked by the helmet straps. The faces are individually 'characterized' and have good, subtle detail. Although I prefer using replacement heads (in general) I will say that these are as good as anything which has been produced in plastic.
4) Upper torsos. All the figures are wearing the same tunic - the 1944 model which was more similar to the British battledress blouse in being shorter without the long 'flaps of the earlier uniform pattern. Each of these consist of two halves - front and back. All the relevant straps and pockets are moulded in correctly. The collars for the jackets are moulded seperately. This has a huge advantage as this gives a true sense of depth - looking as if the uniform was tailored rather than moulded.
5) Legs. Again, all the creasing, pocket details etc. are competently done. The tailored seam-lines are correctly portayed in a subtle manner
6) Boots. By war's end, the shorter boot was much in evidence and worn with British style gaiters. This is the footwear used in this set and, in common with the other figures in the range, the boots are very nicely done with good and clear definition between the heels and the instep. Also, in common with a 'standard' established, the soles of the boots include stud-detail.
7) Personal Equipment. It's all there. Slide-moulded, three- part gas-mask containers, two-part M1931 canteens, entrenching tools, rolled Zeltbahn pouches, the small 'bread-bag' haversacks with stiching detail etc. etc. The quality of the equipment is superlative.
8) Weapons. The set includes four small sprues of weapons. Apart from the usual weaponry, the set also includes a GEW43 semi-automatic rifle, two Panzerfausts along with decals for the stencilling. As we have become accustomed to, all the weaponry comes with seperate bolt mechanisms, which can be assembled with the bolts open or closed. There are also spare clips for the rifles... In the case of the Panzerfaust, the sighting mechanism can be assembled in the armed or 'rest' position. In addition to the weapons mentioned are two MP44s, four Kar98s, and an StG44 Assault Rifle. Also included is a small sprue with eight 'stick' grenades and six 'egg' grenades.
9) Weapon Pouches. Pouches are included for the MP44, the Kar98s, the StG44 as well as a number of open and closed holsters for Lugers, a P38, and even a Walther PPK. (see photo)
9) Photo Etch. Is provided for the weapon slings, belt buckles and the sleeve patches.
10) Instruction Sheet. This is not, in my opinion, particularly clear. A great deal of attention will be needed during the assembly stage to avoid mixing up parts.
One of the criteria when evaluating sets like this, as to whether they are particularly geared for the experienced modeller or whether a relatively ineperienced one could do a reasonable job with this set. Taking into account the (relative) simplicity of the uniform, I feel that even a beginner could produce a nice set of figures. The watchword with this set is CAREFUL assembly. It is far more complex than other (non-GEN2) sets on the market but with the undoubted quality which is being demonstrated with each new release, the effort will undoubtedly be worth it.
One point that I would make about this set, is that I would have preffered for DML to have gone down the same path with their Premium Edition U.S. Rangers set, was to have used Dragon Styrene for the heads, this is, in my opinion, far superior to styrene for heads...
As to cost, basing it on the prices of other sets on this series, it will probably be less than $15, which works out at around $4 per figure. Considering the relatively high cost of resin figures and the enormous quality of this set, the numbers speak for themselves.
My conclusion is that this is one of DML's best sets so far. I like the subject and the choice of the 1944 uniform, for me, is absolutely excellent.
Undoubtedly, what is most impressive about this kit is the attention to detail not only what you'll use, but what'll be left-over for other projects will increase the REAL value of this set enormously.
My thanks to Dragon Models Limited for supplying this (advance) review sample.