Since there is already a wide variety of figures available depicting World War II soldiers in combat, the popularity of soldiers doing something other than fighting has grown in recent years. No soldier is better covered than the German infantryman of 1939-45, and there are already numerous sets showing him in non-combat situations, greatly increasingly the possibilities for dioramas and, to a lesser degree, games. Several of these have been labelled as Tank Riders’ (see below), and this set adds to the available range with figures in what Caesar term a camouflage suit, but most people would normally describe as camouflage clothing or simply a smock.
So, the distinctive feature of this set compared to those that came before is that every man here wears a hoodless smock which looks like the M1942 model. This had no collar, so while all the figures here have a visible collar, this must be for the tunic they wear underneath. The smock closes with a drawstring at the throat, and may or may not have pockets in the skirts, since these are largely obscured on these figures. All have cloth tabs around the shoulders for attaching small kit items, and are nicely done. The rest of the uniform is also pretty good, with trousers and long boots worn by all, even though as camouflage clothing such as this became more popular, so too did short boots and anklets. However this combination is still perfectly reasonable. All but one of the poses wears a helmet, each with a cloth cover which is also well done. The sole exception wears an M1943 peaked field cap.
Each man has ammunition pouches appropriate to the weapon being carried, and almost all of them have fairly light kit of breadbag, water bottle, gas mask container and mess tin. One man who clutches a machine gun has just a pouch for the gun’s equipment, the bread bag and a holster for a pistol.
There are five different weapons on show here, although it must be said that many of them are fairly undetailed. Five of the men carry a rifle, while three more have a submachine gun – likely to be the MP38 or MP40. One man has rifle slung but carries a Panzerfaust anti-tank weapon, which leaves three with something a bit more exotic. Two seem to have the late-war StG 44 assault rifle, or similar profile weapon, since they are vague on detail. Finally one man holds an MG42 machine gun, which here is sculpted a little shorter than it should be, but nothing too terrible.
The sculpting is very good, with the clothing well done and the faces very lifelike. Many of the weapons suffer from little detail, however, although they are of good proportions and appropriately slender. There is virtually no flash, and many of the figures benefit from a more sophisticated mould allowing better poses without being flat, so there is little in the way of excess plastic. The men themselves are also very well proportioned, and the poses are entirely natural and lifelike. Caesar almost always produces excellent poses, and these are as good as any. Some seem more alert and perhaps nervous, but many are quite relaxed, with their weapon resting on their lap. The array of men with one leg tucked up help to make the whole selection look great.
While these figures would certainly work well draped over a tank, they are more generally useful as seated soldiers, so could be seen in the back of a lorry or any other vehicle. They seem a bit confused in terms of period, for the smock and some of the weapons are clearly for the later part of the war, while the long boots, while sometimes worn right to the end, were more common in the early years, and we thought that at least some here should have had short boots. However nothing here is actually wrong, and since the poses are excellent and the sculpting pretty good too, this set has much to offer in a competitive area of the hobby.