by: Todd Michalak [ ]
As the World War II rolled on in 1945 and the Allies advanced towards the prize of capturing Berlin from the Nazis, there was a accord reached between the United States, Britain and the Soviet Republic. This was an agreement as to a meeting place as the armies would come together; the US and Britain from the West and the Russians from the East. The powers to be determined this “meeting” point to be the crossing of the Elbe River in Germany just outside the small town of Torgau. This was an important meeting not only that the two advancing armies would finally meet but that this would mean that the two armies would have effectively split Germany in two and the goal of toppling Hitler’s Third Reich was upon its eve.
On the 25th of April, 1945, the two armies finally came together a bit south of Togau in the town of Strehla. An American reconnaissance patrol crossed the river and met up with a forward unit of the First Ukrainian Front, a forward rifle regiment of the Soviet Army. In or around the same time just North at the destroyed river crossing in Torgau, US and Russian forces would meet. The following day, Commanders from the US Army’s First Army and the 5th Gaurds Army of the Soviet Union would meet in Torgau and arrange for the formal "Handshake of Torgau” whereas photographers would be on hand to record this momentous occasion. After the meeting there was a simultaneous release from all three Allied forces, The US, Britain and The Soviet Union where each country would back up the determination that the total destruction of the Third Reich was eminent.
Riich Models, being one of the new players to the modeling game finally releases one of two of their first figure sets; East Meets West (Elbe River 1945). Marketed in a standard end opening box as we see with numerous figure sets and sporting the colorful box art of the scene to which the figures are to depict.
The East Meets West set will allow the buyer to construct four period figures using 34 parts in all. The parts are laid out all on one sprue of light grey colored styrene, each figure having their own corner of the sprue tree.
At first glance the figures are a nice little representation of the auspicious events where the meeting of the two armies in Togau, German on April 25th, 1945. With a quick search online there are several photographs that stand out as the basis for inspiration of this set; two in particular whereas a female Soviet soldier is greeting her US counterpart and the other where a young GI is hugging a Russian tanker.
Taking a good look at the pieces I notice there is little to no flash on the parts. The peripheral items, legs, arms, torsos, etc. are nicely detailed, showing such details as laces and stitching on the clothing. The heads for the figures appear to be in great shape for styrene rendering; with nicely molded expressions and only the mold seam there the front and back of the head come together.
My first thought of the set is that the use of the figures is rather limited being the figures and the poses are conforming to the meeting at the Elbe River. However, I am sure that with a little thought and some manipulation the figures could be spilt up to use in other scenes. The two gentlemen hugging would be a hard bid to fix as where the two meet, the torso area is hollowed out. Albeit scene specific, this is a pretty neat set all around. These are some of the crispest and cleanest styrene molds I have come across in a while.
Clean up proved to be a snap on the figures. After snipping the parts from the sprue and cleaning the gate marks there is a seam line, the same in which we see on all figures of the styrene variety, but through the use of a #11 blades and even fine sandpaper at times, in moments the lines were gone!
The Russian female figure’s skirt in a slide mold allowing the legs to be inserted into the skirt itself. This aids in giving the illusion of reality. Assembly was a little too quick I think... before I knew it I had all four figures assembled. Depending on the size of the parts involved I will typically use the standard thin cement for attaching the pieces and good old CA (Cyanoacrylate adhesives) for the smaller more delicate parts. The plastic used to mold the figures is a bit harder than conventional figure sets and I think this contributes to the cleaner mold and easier clean-up.
I think it is great to see another company breaking out into the figure world. Albeit the set is period specific for the most part, the mold is great, the detailing is above what I expected. The price is spot on. MSRP of the set is $18.00 UD but this kit does sell on line for under $15.00 US. I think this would be fun for anyone wanting to depict this day in history or make the attempt at using one or all of the figures in another setting. I honestly cannot wait to see if Riich Models will start adding other non-scene specific sets to their collection soon.