In ancient times you generally had to come face-to-face with someone if you wanted to kill them. There were archers and slingers of course, and you could throw a spear or javelin if you were fairly close, but a lot of the actual damage was done with a sword, knife or spear. The introduction of gunpowder weapons gradually meant soldiers could kill one another at greater and greater distances, and by the 20th century most wounds and deaths in battle were caused by bullets, bombs and shells fired by people who never saw their victim. Bayonets were universally issued but seldom used for their primary purpose, yet on occasions men would find themselves facing one another with no choice but to attempt to club or piece their opponent. This set is unusual in focusing on that very act, and since it depicts German and Soviet forces from the 'Great Patriotic War' one’s mind turns to such horrific close-quarter battles as Stalingrad, although that was by no means unique in seeing such desperate fighting.
When a man is in hand-to-hand combat the arms tend to swing wildly and the body gets very animated, making such poses extraordinarily difficult to mould with the limitations of a two-piece mould. The many attempts at depicting a man in the act of bayonetting illustrate just how unsuccessful that exercise normally is, but with this set Preiser have done what they normally do, which is to have separate arms and/or weapons to allow virtually unlimited possibilities of posture. We think you will agree that the results are very good, with a lot of life and action in these well posed figures. From the sprue you will see that all have some assembly, but the results are well worth it as every pose is completely believable, with figures leaning into or away from whatever action they are taken - a refreshing change from the stiff, straight-backed stance so often seen in this hobby.
The sculpting generally is first rate, with good detail and a realistic feel to the way the clothes are modelled. All the men wear winter clothing, which as can be seen is snow suits for the Germans and quilted jackets and a greatcoat for the Soviets. Everything here is authentic, and the weapons look fine too. Although every figure has been given a weapon and a fair amount of kit, Preiser have still included their usual generous helping of extra items of equipment with which the figures can be further burdened if required. This is great, so while the construction of the figures does not offer much opportunity to vary the poses, the levels of kit will permit some personalisation.
With no flash these diminutive figures (they are only 1/87 scale after all) are very impressive and offer a level of action and urgency rarely matched by more conventional sets yet totally appropriate to the frantic efforts of the soldiers in their life-and-death struggle. This is as good a set as Preiser have yet made, but one of the most dynamic so far, and is certainly worth consideration by gamers and modellers alike.