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Preiser

Set 16593

East German Guard Battalion

Click for larger image
All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released Unknown
Contents 27 figures
Poses 5 poses
Material Plastic (Very Hard)
Colours Grey
Average Height 21.5 mm (= 1.55 m)

Review

When the National People’s Army (NVA) was officially formed in 1956 it was the East German answer to the formation of an army in the West. It borrowed many traditions and styles from both the former Wehrmacht and the Red Army to create its own character. Although probably involved as advisors in various communist states around the Third World, the NVA never participated in a major conflict, so its major roles were guarding the border and parades, and it is in parade mode that we find these figures.

The nicely done model photographed on the box gives a good idea of what was intended for this set. The poses are mostly of the soldier at attention, holding his rifle in the characteristic vertical position, and clearly on parade. Beside him is a pose of a soldier goose-stepping, and beside him is a slightly more relaxed guard figure. The fourth man is an officer in a Guard of Honour, and the collection is completed by a flag-bearer. For the purposes of a parade this is a pretty complete set of poses, and all the figures have the stiffness and smartness that was typical of these men.

The parade uniform is that which lasted for virtually the whole of the existence of the NVA. The East Germans were unusual in wearing a steel helmet for parade, and these men all wear the Stehlhelm Modell 56, which is correctly shaped. The tunic too is correct in every detail, as are the somewhat old-fashioned breeches and long boots. All the men wear the aiguillette, and the officers have the extra decorations that would be required for such an event. The soldiers carry the SKS rifle, which was the usual parade weapon, while the Honour Guard officers carry sabres and the flag-bearer has a pistol. All this is fine, so there are no accuracy problems with anything here.

The impressively consistent good Preiser sculpting is the norm here, with nicely proportioned and well-detailed figures and no flash or other excess material. All the figures require some form of assembly, but the hard plastic means these glue together firmly, and all the parts fit well too. There is not much scope to vary the poses, but of course for a parade that would not be desirable. Although the packaging speaks of 25 figures, there are parts enough for 27 as we have illustrated. See the image of the sprue for more on what assembly is required, but none of it is onorous. It should be noted however that since these figures are marketed as 1/87 scale they are rather small compared to the usual 1/72 figures on this site.

The splendid flagstaff looks rather sad in our picture, so Preiser include some paper flags with which to show it at its best. They offer two double-sided flags of the NVA and two of the same but with the name of the Friedrich Engels Regiment added. These are perfectly correct, but have no real means of attachment to the staff, so some unwanted extra work will be required to bond paper with plastic.

Like so many Preiser sets this delivers a very targeted subject and does it very well. It is an unusual subject, and with the end of the NVA in 1990 this is a spectacle that will never be seen again. As usual these are display figures, with no bases and splendidly slender but not robust thin parts such as rifles, yet this set can make a highly attractive little scene that shows these soldiers in a more pacific light than most, which all goes to make a cracking little collection of figures.

Ratings

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

Further Reading
Books
"Arms and Uniforms 18th Century to the Present Day" - Ward Lock - Liliane Funcken - 9780706318159
"Army Uniforms Since 1945" - Blandford - Digby Smith - 9780713709919
"Modern Combat Uniforms" - Brian Trodd Publishing - Mark Lloyd - 897472265

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