For any Germen Panzer crewman, ‘in combat’ should have meant playing your part in the team that controlled the tank, and your principle weapons were the armament of the tank– the main gun and any machine guns – and on occasion the bulk of the machine itself as you tried to ram or drive over your opponent. If your tank was incapacitated then you were in trouble, with evacuation being the first, and often very difficult, priority. Having escaped, you would only have pistols or submachine guns available to continue the fight, and you might be facing enemy infantry armed with rifles, machine guns and any number of other weapons that far exceeded the capabilities of your own. So combat outside of the tank was not an appealing prospect, yet on occasions it did happen, and this is the focus of this set from Mars.
Having been forced out of their tank, all the figures in this set are armed with the usual short-range weapons – pistols, submachine guns and grenades. Most of them seem to be in the act of using them too, although the third figure in the top row holds his weapon in a very strange way, so we could not understand what he is trying to do. The middle figure in the second row seems to be in the act of throwing a grenade, although we would have thought by the time the arm had reached this maximum stretch, the grenade would not still be gripped as it is here. We thought this was a valiant attempt at an unusual pose but doesn’t really work. Given the circumstances in which such men would find themselves in this situation, we thought the poses were reasonable, and the final pair of a man carrying a wounded comrade was the most poignant. It was very common for crewmen to be injured when their tank was hit, and very difficult to extricate them, alive or dead. While getting them out might save a wounded man from being incinerated in a burning tank, carrying them like this would have made movement difficult, and a very tempting target for an enemy.
All these men wear the usual tankers uniform of short, double-breasted jacket and loose-cut trousers with short boots. This uniform was later also worn by crews of other types of armoured vehicles, not just tanks, which helps to expand their utility. The officer wears the usual peaked cap, and the rest wear either the standard field cap or in one case the later model, the 1943 Einheitsfeldmütze with a peak. This has all been fairly well done on these figures.
As with other recent Mars products, this one has been well sculpted. Mars have a penchant for poses with very twisted bodies, and several here demonstrate that, so they are anything but flat. Despite that the sculptor does well to avoid much excess plastic, leaving lively poses that look OK from any angle. The detail is very good, and the weapons are accurate and well-detailed. The casualty evacuation pair at the end, which is two separate figures, must have been a considerable challenge to sculpt such that they fit together, however the sculptor has succeeded well as they fit almost perfectly. Unfortunately the mould-making has been less of a triumph, as in many places the flash is quite considerable. In addition, the last figure in the top row has some large extra blobs of plastic above and below his hand, which are so large as to count as something much more than flash, and suggest a problem when the mould was made.
For such men to take on enemy infantry, or worse yet enemy armour, they must be pretty desperate, never mind also having to handle their own wounded. As a result it is tricky to know what the best poses might be, though we thought these were OK rather than great. The casualty pair is a nice touch, but something of an expensive luxury in a set with only eight poses, and having four of them in each box is also going too far in our view. The uniform and weaponry are all correct, and the sculpting is very good, but the flash will annoy most people. So although it is quite an odd subject, there is much to like in this set, however its weaknesses do spoil things quite a lot in our view.