There have been many sets of WWII German infantry produced over the years, and the challenge seems to be to find some new version of them that has not been done before. In the case of this set the distinctive element is the Zeltbahn. The Zeltbahn was a highly versatile item of kit which could be used for many purposes. Essentially just a waterproof triangle of material, the many buttons and button-holes meant it could be used as a makeshift shelter or combined with others to form tents of various sizes. Literally 'tent strip', the designers recognised the possibility of also using it as a weather-proof garment for the soldier, and it is in this form that we see it here. First introduced in 1931, it served unaltered throughout the war and was popular with the men.
If not ideal combat wear the Zeltbahn was nonetheless welcome in bad weather, and all the figures in this set are in combat while wearing it. The poses offer nothing new but all are perfectly reasonable and not nearly as flat as many others. There is no assembly for this set, so some of the figures have the trademark sophisticated Caesar mould to achieve the pose without loss of detail, and the results are very good. The kneeling man about to throw a grenade was our favourite but there are no poor ones here.
Naturally the Zeltbahn obscures much of the uniform, but at least it has been properly sculpted for the most part. The previous attempt at this item by Valiant was poorly done, and clearly the sculptor of the Caesar set has understood the item much better, but still there are mistakes. On two of the figures the sculptor has clearly given the garment sleeves, which is wrong, and the rear of each figure is rather too neat, suggesting they did not understand how this garment looked when worn. In fact there was a lot of extra material at the back, so deep folds were unavoidable, but there is no credible evidence of that here. However these are small points and in general it looks good. The only other item of uniform that is clear are the anklets, which were introduced in 1941, so this set is for the second half of the war. All the helmets look fine, although we were a bit disappointed that none have any netting or attempt at camouflage.
The weapons on display confirm the later-war period for these figures. Apart from the usual rifles there are three figures with the MP43/StG44, which appeared from 1943, and two with the Panzerfaust, which was of similar vintage. There is also one figure with an MP40, and all the figures have the appropriate ammunition pouches. In fact all of the kit is correctly done, and all naturally wear their straps outside the Zeltbahn for ease of access.
The sculpting is very good as always, with good detail everywhere except on some of the rifles. All the figures have great proportions and look entirely natural in their posture. There are a couple of bits of flash but otherwise these are flash free.
Apart from the small problems where the sculptor has not properly understood the Zeltbahn (and we would highly recommend the two magazine articles listed below for all you need to know of this) these are very nicely produced figures. Likely to be seen whenever it is raining hard on both the Eastern and Western fronts in the last years of the war, these figures do add some variety to the range of late war Germans and do so with Caesar’s customary good quality finish.