All modern armies have tanks, and have done for the past century. However the fact that the crews are almost entirely hidden during battle has meant there are few sets depicting them, and most of those are for the two world wars. With this set Caesar began making such figures for the modern period, but also indulged in one of their characteristic policies of mixing two apparently unrelated subjects in the same box. This is called set one, so we might expect a number of other countries to have their armoured forces covered, but in this box we are promised tank crew for both Germany and Israel.
Sadly this is one of those reviews where we are not able to offer as much of a credible opinion on the accuracy and dating of the figures as we would like, but we will describe them as best we can. The figures are basically in one of two looks, which we have grouped together in our two rows. The men in the top row represent the German element of the set. They wear the soft tanker's helmet (Panzerhaube) of padded strips running front to back, reminiscent of the old Soviet model and so not popular with the troops. They also wear the Panzerkombi, issued first in the early 1990s, and still much the same to this day. Here it has correctly been sculpted with the velcro access slit to the rescue strap across the back, two zip internal pockets on the chest and no external pockets on the legs.
The second row contains, of course, the Israeli crew figures. They wear hard-shell CVC helmets of more than one design, fatigues with two cargo pockets on the thighs, and body armour (some with a load-bearing vest too). The suit and body armour are typical of the IDF, so they look fine to us. However on these items we cannot expand, nor can we say over what period they were worn and how appropriate they are.
These are all clearly tank crew that are not in the midst of a battle, when they would either be hidden inside the vehicle or perhaps attempting to escape one. All these men seem relaxed and nonchalant. Some are sitting, but always in a casual way rather than looking like they are controlling or otherwise crewing a vehicle. The standing figures are equally casual, some clearly standing in a turret while others may just be outside their vehicle. The first figure in the second row, leaning back on something and holding a bottle while resting his hand on a surface is a particularly attractive pose, but really every figure here looks very natural and well done.
The usual good Caesar sculpting is on show, with very realistic clothing and nice faces and hands. No one here has any sort of weapon or tool, so there are no fine-details to trip the sculptor up, but items like the pouches and the communications equipment is well done. No assembly is required, yet a clever mould has produced some deep and very natural poses, and also ensured there is no flash anywhere. Also absent however are any bases, but Caesar include a sheet of thin clear plastic bases should you wish to allow your figures to stand. Perhaps as they would normally decorate a tank model, a base was not seen as essential.
The Germans at least still correctly reflect the look of tank crew today, although it would have been nice if there had been some wearing the preferred beret. For the Israelis we cannot say whether these figures are genuinely modern, or something a little older, as often happens with Caesar ‘modern’ sets. However the quality of the design and production are of the highest Caesar standards, and these are all undoubtedly nice figures. All those models of Leopards and Merkavas will certainly benefit from a few of these fellows in attendance.