Back in 2007 Valiant began producing sets of figures for World War II. Despite the box claiming the scale as 1/72 they were noticeably larger, both in the size of the figures and the equipment. This meant that regardless of their individual merits the figures looked all wrong when used with other, true 1/72 sets, and when we reviewed these sets at the time we pointed this out. Roughly a decade later Valiant have decided to reissue some of these figures, and this time in proper 1/72 scale. Their first two sets are both built on the contents of their original set Classic German Infantry 1944/45, the first of which being this one.
This set takes nine of the poses in the original set and exactly reproduces them here, but in the correct scale. As before, some of the poses come in multiple parts, allowing some flexibility in terms of arm position and what weapon is being carried, so to see all the options look at our sprue image. You will see left arms holding a Panzerfaust, a Raketenwerfer 54 (also known as a Panzerschreck), an ammo box and some that are empty-handed (there are no binoculars, despite what the box says). The right arms hold KAR 98K rifles, an StG44 assault rifle, and again some empty handed. Into these hands you can place some of the extra weapons included, which are ordinary rifles and MP40 submachine guns (again the box claims grenades, but there are none). Some of these have been used for our photography, but by using others you can produce more poses than we have shown here. So a fair selection of infantry weapons, along with the weapons already part of one-piece figures, most notably the man carrying an MG42 machine gun.
The chosen poses are all quite good, but all show men moving about, and no one is actually using their weapon in anger. Indeed, as we observed in our original review, there is not a lot of action about these men at all. A couple are kneeling, but the rest are standing upright and either walking or standing, so not the most dynamic set of soldiers. Of course there are plenty of other models of Germans firing in this scale, but we were surprised to see none in this set.
The original set referred to the last year of the war, and we felt the figures did not really reflect that period particularly well. This new set mentions the years 1942 to 1944, during which the German Army was in the process of changing from the neat infantry of 1939 to the scruffy but more practical grenadiers of 1944. As a result we thought this new dating was a better match for these men, who all wear the short boots and correct uniform for the period, although there is none of the smocks and assorted other camouflage clothing that became more common later in the war. All of the weapons were in use by 1944, so no real accuracy issues here.
All the men are in light order, with the classic 'Y' shaped strapping and many (though not all) of the usual kit items. Very few have the bayonet and entrenching tool, and many also lack the tent section, but as these are made in a hard plastic that takes ordinary glue very well, those wanting to increase the burden of these troops should find it easy enough.
As we have said, the big news about this set is it is in true 1/72 scale. The style of the sculpting is a little less lean than some manufacturers, but now these are properly sized the difference is marginal and we feel these mix really well with output from any other manufacturer. There is plenty of detail and very little flash. Arms need gluing onto flat surfaces on the shoulder, but where a fit is more crucial it is well engineered, and the hard plastic makes gluing easy. The one tricky bit is the left leg of one of the kneeling figures, which is separate and awkward to glue on, but otherwise assembly is straight-forward.
Another extra in this set as in the original is a selection of alternative heads. None of the figures come without a head, but those with the inclination can remove the supplied helmeted head and substitute one of these wearing a helmet with cover, a peaked cap, a sidecap or bare-headed. This again is an excellent bonus for the set, and certainly adds value.
We liked the original set in many ways, although the relative lack of lively and firing poses was a weak point which is naturally repeated here. However the major problem, the scaling, is resolved here, so these attractive and well-researched figures fit well with other sets (though not Valiant’s originals of course). It all shows how important getting the size right can be, and Valiant were not alone in getting this wrong. However they must be applauded for investing in improvements to their set, which have produced a highly usable selection of figures here that should introduce new customers to their products and add to a very popular area of the hobby.