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Set 16577

Russian Prisoners of War

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released Unknown
Contents 22 figures
Poses Up to 22 poses
Material Plastic (Very Hard)
Colours Green and Grey
Average Height 21 mm (= 1.51 m)

Review

One of the major features of Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, was the encirclement and capture of vast numbers of Soviet soldiers. The numbers were almost overwhelming, and as further advances were made ever more prisoners were taken. Vast columns of prisoners were to be seen streaming back from the front, walking slowly towards a very uncertain future. During the four years of war almost 5.8 million Soviets were taken prisoner by the Germans, and for most the outlook was especially bleak. The Soviet Union had not been a signatory of the Geneva Convention that regulated the treatment of prisoners, and this coupled with the German view of the Slavs as sub-human meant prisoners could expect only a horror which they would do well to survive at all. Of the 5.8 million prisoners in German hands, 3.7 million died, with many starved, executed or simply worked to death.

The prisoners in this set are clearly just at the beginning of their ordeal, and probably have little idea of what fate is in store. They wear typical Soviet clothing, including the usual gymnastiorka, but also padded winter jackets, greatcoats or raincoats. Those that are not bare-headed wear the pilotka or the older budionovka cap, while there are officer’s peaked caps too. A few are down to their shirt or underclothes, and of course all have been relieved of their weapons and kit, although a couple still have a belt or haversack (which they are unlikely to keep for long). It was also common to take their boots from them, but no one here seems to have suffered that particular indignity.

As can be seen from the sprue, most of these figures come in multiple parts – generally the body, head and two arms. Clearly most of the poses do not require this level of multiple parts, so the intention must be to provide a wide choice of parts from which to piece together the figures. Certainly there are several spare arms and a good many extra heads, so there is a lot of scope for mixing different parts – our photos above follow the suggestions printed on the box in most cases. Apart from an absence of steel helmets almost everything is on offer here, so a lot of variety can easily be achieved, although it does mean it takes quite a lot of time to construct the desired figures. Naturally all the figures, including the German guards, are in walking poses, so there is not much more to say about that except all look very natural if perhaps not as dejected as might be expected (or is that asking too much for figures barely 20mm in height?). A few have wounds, which is of course inevitable, and adds to the realism.

The two guards are in typical German uniform with jack boots and smart tunics, making them seem more of the early or middle part of the war, before the tide began to turn. Again the poses are quite relaxed but everything here is correctly done.

The sculpting of these figures is very good, with all the usual folds and detail you would expect in the clothing. All the arms and heads need gluing, but all fit well and the hard plastic accepts the bond very securely. Naturally their small size (they are actually 1/87 scale) makes this construction quite tricky, but the results are worth it. Curiously the Germans are not so well sculpted, lacking detail in a few places. Also both have circular mould marks on their backs, which is a disfigurement rarely seen these days.

With the benefit of hindsight we can see what a grim subject matter this is, although perhaps not surprisingly the more shocking aspects are not depicted here. What we do get however is mostly very well done, and while it would take some time a very irregular column of prisoners can easily be built up with this kit. Be warned that there are no bases for any of these figures, so the intention is for a display like that on the box artwork rather than more general gaming etc. All things considered however this set depicts its subject pretty well, and while it is somewhat sanitised it is probably the closest a commercially viable set will get to modelling this aspect of World War II.

Ratings

Historical Accuracy 10
Pose Quality 9
Pose Number 10
Sculpting 9
Mould 10

Further Reading
Books
"Prisoners of War" - Time-Life (World War II Series) - Ronald Bailey
"Stalin's War" - Crowood - Laszlo Bekesi - 9781861268228
"The Red Army of the Great Patriotic War 1941-5" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.216) - Steven Zaloga - 9780850459395

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