by: Darren Baker [ ]
Zvezda has come on leaps and bounds of late, both in their figure and armoured fighting vehicles offerings, but what about the products that have been on the market for some time. In this review I am going to take a look at the German Sniper Team offering from Zvezda, this is a set of four World War Two German infantry figures working as two sets of two man sniper teams. This set gives you a spotter and a sniper in two different poses.
The sniper, unlike most infantry soldiers, is sent to war to kill very specific targets and they uniquely have the ability to tie down large numbers of enemy infantry as no one wants to be the one to stick their head up. Because of this the sniper has been feared by the enemy and with the exception of the Russians not overly liked by his own side, a situation which has improved over time.
During World War Two the Eastern front saw some of the bitterest fighting of any area of conflict, and it was in this area of conflict that the sniper was most heavily utilised and where they came into their own. This set of figures from Zvezda will be right at home in an Eastern front diorama regardless of whether you want to use them in an urban or rural area of conflict. It should be mentioned that these figures could be used in the Western area of conflict in World War Two as well as the Eastern.
Inside the very sturdy end opening cardboard box you will find;
• 2 light grey sprues
• An A4 set of instructions
• A general advice and safety leaflet in a huge number of languages, 20 in total.
Starting with the packaging for this product; the cardboard box has artwork on the front by Andrey Karaschuk which closely depicts the included figures when assembled, and which provides a fair guide to possible painting styles and display options. The rear of the box shows the included figures assembled and painted but they are very glossy and not shown at their best in my opinion.
The sprues and other contents are all loose in the box which could result in damage or parts being broken loose from the sprues, and while it is unlikely it is conceivable that some parts when broken free could be missing from the box. I should mention that in the example I have all the parts were still attached, complete, and undamaged. Painting instructions are covered at the end of the instructions but only list Model Master paints, my advice would be to use the box artwork and your own knowledge of paint colours. The instructions use the line drawing method to guide you through the construction, and due to the minimal number of parts are very easy to follow.
Each of the figures is made up of;
• A flat top head
• Two separate legs
• Two arms
• Water bottle
• 3 of them have gas mask containers
Starting with the two snipers who are both armed with K98k for a Model 43 with telescopic sight, one of the snipers is moulded in a prone position and the other in a kneeling firing position. The prone sniper is wearing the standard German boots and trousers, he is also wearing a camouflaged combat smock and helmet with a cloth cover. Zvezda has gone to pains to depict the cloth seams on the helmet which is a detail that could be easily overlooked. The inside of all of the helmets show some of the internal structure but due to the figures having flat top heads a ridge is also present to make it sit correctly.
The face detail is good, but I am a little confused about the hands as the artwork shows bare hands whereas the kit either has very poor hand detail or is wearing gloves/mittens. This figure is equipped with a case for the rifle optics and holster for a side arm, also included with this figure is an entrenching tool and ammunition pouches. An interesting inclusion for this figure is a camouflage shield which would appear to consist of a wooden frame with cloth covering which is self supporting.
The kneeling sniper is wearing ankle boots with puttees and standard trousers, the jacket is a hooded camouflaged smock. The helmet has strapping in place to hold vegetation in place over the cloth camouflaged covered helmet. This figure is equipped with ammunition pouches, gas mask case, and what looks to be binocular cases.
The facial features on the figure are also good and the hand detail is far better than the previous figure. Clothing detail is good with the bagginess of the smock being well replicated and good crease detail.
Moving onto the spotters; the first spotter has taken a knee and is again wearing ankle boots and puttees with standard trousers. This figure is also wearing the baggy camouflaged hooded smock with the hood being a separate part. Facial detail is a little off on this figure but the hand detail is fair. The helmet is a cloth camouflaged one with chicken mesh over it and the effort put into depicting this effect is excellent.
The figure is issued with an MP40, entrenching tool, ammunition pouches, water bottle, and what looks like a map case. The MP40 is a little soft where detail is concerned with no detail at all rendered on the hand grip of the weapon, I suppose there may have been wooden grips on a version of this weapon but all the ones I have seen have horizontal ribbing detail on what looks to be Bakelite. This figure is holding a pair of binoculars but they are not up to the figures eyes which is odd when the snipers are both depicted about to take a shot.
The last figure in this set is in a crouching position and using a periscope to spot enemy troops. This figure again wears the ankle boots and puttees, this does make me question if the ankle boot was more common to snipers for some reason as I am not aware of them being a common item amongst German troops. The figure is shown wearing standard trousers and what looks to be mid/late war tunic. The helmet for this figure is again a camouflaged cloth covered rendition and Zvezda does a good job of rendering this detail on all of the various types of top cover in this set.
Facial details on this figure are good and while this figure wears gloves the detail is again good. This figure is also armed with an MP40 with the same weaknesses as the previous one, it should also be mentioned that all of the weapons in this set will need the barrel drilled to improve the detail. This figure is equipped with the correct ammunition pouches, water bottle, and gas mask case, the detail on the gas mask cases and water bottles looks a little weak but passable, the ammunition pouches have good detail on the face and none at the rear.
The figures in this set all have fair to good crease detail on the various uniform portions and it all looks appropriate to the positions the figures are in. Moulding quality is fair to good with no flash to worry about, minor seams are of course present but should be easy to remove. There are no sink marks to worry about or for that matter push out marks. All in all a good solid set of figures for offerings from 2006.
There are a fair number of sniper figures available now in injection moulded plastic but this set which is stamped on the sprues as 2006 is a fair kit and hard to beat for the money. MiniArt and MasterBox may lead the field when it comes to choice of injection moulded figures, but Zvezda keeps on improving and is their equal at the moment as regards to detail, they just need to add to the range. Despite the age of this product I really like it and have bought two sets, neither of which has disappointed me, and so I will highly recommend this product to you for your consideration.