The Waffen-SS had started life as a small personal bodyguard to Adolf Hitler, but gradually grew into a military organisation that would eventually form 38 divisions (not all at full strength admittedly) by 1945, and would comprise about 10% of the country’s armed forces. After the Army suffered defeats in Russia and North Africa, Hitler increasingly came to rely on the Waffen-SS to bring victories in the war, and much of it performed well, but of course it could not turn the tide of war and was dissolved at the final defeat.
These figures were originally made in metal by Adler Miniatures, and this shows in their style. The figures are rather chunkier than most plastics, and in particular they have large heads. They are also somewhat smaller than most plastic Germans (they are marketed as ‘20mm’ after all), but none of these things necessarily means they cannot mix happily with other ranges, just that some customers may find the differences more noticeable. One particular feature is the faces, which are not particularly natural and have very deep-set eyes. However detail generally is good, with fine details such as buttons and some weapons being quite impressive. There is a lot of undercutting here, as of course these do not have a conventional two-piece steel mould, which helps to ensure no detail is blind to the mould, and it also helps with the poses. So there is no excess plastic, and the material used is quite flexible, though it also has something of the qualities of resin too. On our sample a couple of limbs had not been filled at all, and there were some high-gloss blobs where it appears the cavity was not completely filled, although these were few. We found very little flash, and the only assembly is to attach the bipod to the prone machine gun (row 2), so they are just about ready to go straight out of the box.
As we have said, the poses benefit from the flexible mould, particular for those simply carrying their weapon or ammunition. As a result none of the poses are at all flat, and you certainly get a lot of them in a box. 23 poses is impressive by any standards, and most are of ordinary grenadiers carrying standard weaponry of the time. The most common weapon here is the standard rifle, as it should be, and the set provides all the usual advancing and firing poses. There are no less than six MG42 machine guns – three being fired from prone and three being carried (rows 3 and 4). All have the second gunner either feeding the weapon or carrying the ammunition boxes, which is great to see. Three figures are armed with the MP38 or MP40 submachine gun – one looks to be a command figure (last pictured figure) and is kneeling and giving orders – one of our favourites. Three more figures – again all different poses – carry or prepare to fire the late war Panzerfaust. Here it is being held correctly – something not all sets achieve. Finally we have three more command poses (bottom row) – one looking at a map, one using a radio mounted on his back, and another using a radio that is not present. Again, all really useful poses and well done.
The uniform is much the same on all these men, and begins of course with the steel helmet, which most of these men are wearing with a cover. One radio operator has his hanging from his waist and wears instead a peaked field cap (Einheitsfeldmütze) as he is using headphones. All the men have a tunic with pockets, which at this date (1944) is likely to be the M43 or M44 camouflage uniform. All have short boots and anklets, as was common by this stage of the war. Kit is what was called assault order, so we find the bread bag, water bottle, gas mask canister (sometimes with gas sheet wrapped round it) and in a couple of cases a rolled tent quarter. Many also have an entrenching tool, but this seems to have suffered much in the making, and is often missing bits or is significantly bent. The men also have the ammunition pouches appropriate to their weapon of course, so generally both uniform and kit are perfect for the late-war period.
For a set of this date there could have been other weapons on show of course such as the assault rifle and various mortars, although many of these will be available in other sets in this Ultracast series. As a basic set of infantry you can’t argue with the wide range of poses, all of which are very usable. Although a few are not very dynamic, we particularly liked the kneeling figures and the men carrying ammunition boxes (except that one is leaning forward so far that his base fails to stop him from toppling forward). The sculpting is good but there are issues with filling the mould properly, and one or two of the machine guns are not as straight as they should be either. The problems with filling have cost this set something in the moulding category, but otherwise there is not much to complain about here. It is the style of these figures which will decide many people on whether they want to include them in their German armies, along with the slightly smaller size, but the set certainly has much to offer if the figures themselves appeal.