This is a review of a set depicting a topic still needing to be approached by other manufacturers too, bearing in mind the small number of figures and their related mean of transportation existing at present in the field. Till then, hope you will enjoy this one. Probably a little too many photos, but not only I enjoy the subject, but also I tested a new way of lighting, using two 300 Watt video lamps. No need to say that any remark or suggestion is very welcome.
"WWII German Mounted Infantry"
Set Code: 8119
No. of Figures/Horses: 12/12
No. of Poses/Horses: 4/2
Additional Items: 12 extra heads in 4 poses
Material: Soft Plastic
Flash Level: Intermediate
Glue-ability: Good (Super Glue Gel)
Optimal Period: 1943 -1945
Along the years HaT has accustomed the Braille Scale WWII German Army fans with sets aiming uncommon topics, trying to complete or fill out various gaps in the field. According to the intense use of cavalry, especially on the Eastern front, it can be considered as far insufficient the nowadays available offer on the matter, consisting in few 1/72 sets such as CMK - "Wehrmacht Mounted Infantry", Force of Valour - "German SS Cavalry Division" and of course, HaT - "WWII German Mounted Infantry". Moreover, other four German cavalrymen are inside Revell box - "German Artillery", a set made in collaboration with Preiser which represented the first appearance of figures suitable for German cavalry and still featuring some of the best horses and riders ever done for the small scale. Soldiers riding various things typified one of the foremost preoccupations of HaT, bringing inside four sets adequate riders for motorcycles, bicycles and horses. Another good habit of this producer is to launch on the market almost in the same time twin sets, and the riders' subject can be grouped in "German BMW with Sidecar" with twin "German Motorcycles" as well as "WWII German Bicyclists" twin with the hereinafter reviewed set.
Inside a classical HaT box with an artwork portraying a cavalryman in a standard pose, there are four identical sprues, on each being emplaced four figures, four horses and four dissimilar heads. Diverging from the set with bicycles where the content requires some assembly, the present figures and their mean of transportation were cast as single pieces. Furthermore, the riders match the horses so great than it is not necessary gluing them on the back of the animals, of course, excepting the cases of heavy handling. The manufacturer provides few opportunities for conversion materialised in extra heads with different covers, namely M34 overseas cap, helmet with camouflage cloth, steel helmet with vegetation and a bare head. The modellers intending to confer diversity by employing these extra heads will have to cut off the cast head and attach the new one after removing the unnecessary pin. The use of super glue gel is highly recommended, on account of its capacity for creating a reliable bond on this soft plastic. In fact the material seems to be a combination between plastic and rubber, pretty similar with the one used by Pegasus Hobbies for their soft plastic sets or Dragon for the Mouse/E100 tank crews. Taking profit by super glue gel great reaction in linking hard plastic to this soft one, variation and improvements also may be brought appealing to Preiser weapons, accessories and even spare heads, replacing the unimpressive existing firing arms and better endowing these troopers.
The manufacturer selected only two pretty close poses for the horses, both advancing though the artwork of the box shows a stopped one. From the first glance can be noticed something missing from its place on each horse, and this is the saddle. The standard model used by Germans was the M25 and almost all reference images depict saddles on cavalry horses. Nevertheless, it is true that plenty of artillery horses had blankets without saddles but even in such cases, those designated for riding while pulling a gun were saddled up. The absence of an important detail in a set connected to cavalry is diminished, both by the legs of the rider and by the presence of the left and right pouches generally coming with the saddle. Inside the left pouch or Pferdegepack (horseshoe pack) were kept horseshoes, nails, brush and other items for horse while in the right pouch or Reitergepack (rider pack) the soldiers had their personal stuff. If saddles are missing, not the same thing should be said about other details found on real WWII German horses depicted also here such as blankets beneath the saddle, girths, bridles and reigns, all not impressing through details or emplacement accuracy, but still amending the aspect of the animals. In addition, on the back of each horse exists a rolled item suitable to represent a spare blanket, a greatcoat or a forage bag. Not only the head details of the horses are acceptable, but also the manes, tails, hooves as well as the proportion of bodies. Taking into consideration the absence of the saddles as well as the worn harness and other characteristics, the animals from here look closer to pack horses than regular horses used for riding. In order to transport heavy weapons and ammunition, two of three sections of a cavalry troops were endowed with pack horses, generally saddled up with M33 pack saddle, a model vicinal to what we get here, but still missing some stuff. Except their regular load, it could happen that pack horses to carry on the back soldiers, but the presence of only M33 pack saddle in a set on cavalry is quite too much. Despite the lack of well defined muscles, the overall appearance of these animals is satisfactory and qualify as eligible for 1/72 horse replicas. Being just two poses, easy ways to grant each soldier with a distinct horse are shortening the tails or changing the position of legs and tails, before performing the modification soaking for few seconds in hot water the part of concern constituting a proper method.
Diverging from horses, their riders come in four poses and dressed in four styles covering the most representative attires of the German soldiers throughout WWII. Taking the garment chronologically, figures wear M36 tunic, M42 parka, M43 tunic and the last one has Zeltbahn over tunic, making impossible the identification of his tunic that could be either M36 or M43. The model of trousers is not so clear, looking like regular trousers, but perhaps some may have riding breeches. Clearer is the foot wear, three soldiers receiving marching boots and one ankle boots with gaiters. Like in all other sets with riders, the stirrups were sculptured on the boots, a facile and nice looking solution for a complicate to implement, but necessary feature of any WWII cavalry set. The cast heads of the rides are protected by three steel helmets (one having the net used for fixing vegetation) and one with M43 cap. This figure might be the NCO of the team, another clue attesting the rank representing his MP. For better matching fighters made by other manufacturers, it is advisable to paint the two regular steel helmets as roofed over camouflage cloth. Through crediting each figure with a distinct uniform, perhaps HaT's primary intention is to make a brief introduction in the history of WWII German uniforms than depicting soldiers from a single platoon, a similar approach registering in the twin set on bicycles. However, bearing in mind on the one hand that reconnaissance was a main role of WWII cavalry, requiring only few troopers as well as the fact that images of the period show in general three-four riders inside the same frame, and on the other hand the provided opportunities for conversions, the owner of the set have the possibility to accustom similar dressed riders from the other sprues in order to establish a small cavalry unit wearing the same type of cloths. Likewise, beside the figure with rolled up sleeves, the thickness of the uniform allows all the others to take part at missions in either cold or warm environments as part of Waffen SS or Wehrmacht in conformity with the specific camouflage patterns or collar boards selected by each of us to paint. In spite the fact that their uniforms confer the possibility of participation in various stages of war, considering that the M34 tunic was sent to troops until the end of the war it is assessed the Late War period as the best period for these fighters.
Gear is scarce but suitable for these riders, who have received only gas mask containers and the ammunition pouches appropriate for each weapon in use. We get three Kar98K and a MP40, both weapons not touching a deep cord through the representation given by the sculptor. However, those unsatisfied by these firing arms may replace them with others as well as complete the equipment of the warriors, Preiser profiling as a solution at hand thanks to the large number of spare weapons and gear delivered in plenty of their boxes. The figures serve well their purpose as riders, matching so well the animals that gluing is not absolutely necessary. Neither men nor horses are stressed by enemy fire, their stances evoking a march in a tranquil area for the moment. What is more to say about these poses refers to the reigns held by all troopers, the end part being added in the hand of each soldier, an innovative solution adopted by HaT for a detail pretty intricate to depict.
If uniforms are easy to identify means that are according to reality, but the manufacturer did not spoil us with extremely clear small details, except the buttons of the tunics. The anatomy is acceptable and even the faces that are not very attractive at the first view, with a little painting effort may pass as normal. No discrepancy between the size of bodies, gear or weapons is noticed from pose to pose. Removing flash will be a manouver asking for patience because of the rubbery qualities of this plastic, but still we are happy due to its small amount. Excess of plastic is almost missing, a small one being located on a couple of figures at the junction of the helmet with the barrel. This material confers an adequate base for enamel and artist oils, not bringing a negative influence to the initial attributes of the selected paint. All horses have bases attached, but those wanting to remove the undesired item will have to spend only few seconds with this job. Moreover, with a lucky cut released by the modelller horses will find their balance even if all come from the factory with a leg up in the air.
According to standards in the 1/72 field, the present figures may pass as tall, compatible with a lot of offers existing on the market, either with infantry or cavalry related sets quoted at the beginning of the review. Nevertheless, taking into account that on the one hand sometimes the bicycles were looked upon as valuable replacements for horses within cavalry units, well appreciated for their value in reconnaissance missions and on the other hand the existence of the twin set, it can be appreciated as the perfect match the figures encountered in the twin set, "WWII German Bicyclists".
Mainly addressed to wargamers and collectors, with or without few aftermaths, HaT's cavalry may find their way to dioramas as well, the existing offer in the scale proving insufficient for supplying with enough troopers and horses the requires. Likewise, the door is still open, all the WWII German Army fans anxiously waiting a mass production 1/72 set capable to fill the blank spaces of the cavalry belonging to one of the most mechanized army which used for the last time in a war on large scale the oldest mean of transportation. Last, but not least, the set extends the thin number in the scale of soldiers wearing Zeltbahns over tunics and those with helmets having attached the net for vegetation.
Historical Accuracy: 8
Poses Quality: 8
Details Quality: 7
Mould Quality: 8
But I'd say that the lack of saddles on cavalry horses amounts to rather more than a minor omission.....I'd call it something more like a catastrophic error, about on par with releasing a tank kit without any tracks!
For what it's worth & all the best