It is clear from the product code that this set is from the early days of Preiser military figures in HO (1/87) scale, which apparently means around 1974. That makes these figures representative of the army of the Federal Republic, at a time when happily such forces were not involved in any particular conflicts, although of course they were an integral part of NATO forces stationed along the 'Iron Curtain'.
The figures show some typical details of the early 1970s, including the zip-closed respirator bag (called "Banane"). It had been introduced in 1962 and was replaced in 1965 by a folded plastic bag (called "Atomkoffer"), but was still in use in the early 1970s. Some figures wear berets, which were introduced in 1970 for some units (green for rifles/Jägertruppe, black for armoured troops/Panzertruppe and red/bordeauxrot for paratroops/Fallschirmjägertruppe), although other units got berets around 1978. The figures can be painted in green-olive for the woolen combat suit ("Kampfanzug Wolle, jagdmeliert", called "Filzlaus"), which had been introduced in 1959 and was in use until the early 1980s. The figures can also be painted in grey-olive for the fatigue dress ("Arbeitsanzug, oliv" later "Feldanzug, oliv", called "Moleskin") introduced in 1963 and worn as a summer combat suit until the end of the 1990s. It was made from cotton and had the same cut as the woolen combat suit. The pilot wears the overall ("Fliegerdienstanzug" called "Fliegerkombi", grey or orange for the air force, olive for army aviation) and the grey leather jacket ("Fliegerlederjacke"). The set covers many parts of West Germany's armed forces, (apart from paratroops, which are the subject of another set), and includes not only riflemen but military police and tank troops as well as the pilot, but everything here looks authentic for the early 1970s.
With 50 different poses you certainly get a lot of variety here, although one thing that is quite rare is anyone actually apparently being in the midst of battle. True West Germany’s forces had no battles to fight at this time, but exercises and wargames still require the same sort of poses, or at least some rifleman holding his weapon up as if to fire. Instead we get a lot of men moving around, standing as if waiting for something, or just on the march. These are all very well, and nicely done, but should you actually want to deploy these figures for a fight then the only truly aggressive ones are the prone figures firing rifles, rocket-launchers or machine guns, plus some figures with no legs, who are presumably supposed to be partly within a vehicle, or in a foxhole or similar cover. One man (in the last row) seems clearly to be part way out of a tank hatch, and there are some other poses that are clearly specialised, such as the pair using oars. As usual some of the poses have only been achieved with multiple parts, but all are well done.
The sculpting of these figures is pretty good, although the detail is not always particularly clear or sharp. The many figures that require some form of assembly all fit together quite well, although as might be imagined placing individual arms or weapons on a figure in this particularly small scale is even more of a challenge than in 1/72 scale. We found some flash (one figure in particular had a lot of this for some reason), but for most this was pretty negligible.
From the picture of the sprue it can be seen that there are many small parts here - particularly small arms and items of kit. These are well beyond what is needed to furnish the figures, so there is some scope for alternatives as well as spares for another day, which is good. One sprue includes quite a number of helmets, although the prospect of removing the cap or beret of an existing figure and replacing it with such a helmet would be daunting to most.
Known mainly for their products for model railways, Preiser might very well have primarily intended these figures to depict army exercises near some train line, in which case the demands are rather different to those of a wargamer or military modeller. However this is an interesting set, with enough generic '70s figures to be of interest to anyone wanting to depict almost any army of the time, which is never likely to have many sets made for it.