Since the begining it should be mentioned that the present figures are test shots and not the final market product. A nice surprise from HaT that perhaps soon will reach the shelves of shops.
The vehicle I used as a platform for these figs is the old Matchbox/Revell StuG IV with Dragon cannon and MG as well as other improvements.
I hope you will enjoy the images and the text which is a preview while the set has not been lauched on the market.
WWII German Tank Riders
Set Code: -
No. of Figures: -
No. of Poses: 11
Additional Items: None
Flash Level: -
The development of new strategies and weapons in the WWII warfare, as well as the key role gained by tanks imposed combined tactics and armoured vehicles to jointly operate with infantry, particularly for receiving protection against close distance attacks. Still, speed difference between humans and machines had to be considered and various armoured vehicles for the accompanying infantry had been developed while mounting the infantrymen on tanks was a common practice applied both by Allies and Axis units. Plenty of photo and video materials shot in the period attest the practice, the level of mounted soldiers on a single vehicle varying from only few to almost an entirely platoon. Likewise, not only in attack, but also while retreating, tankers often offered a helpful-hand to their un-motorised comrades, allowing them to travel on the vehicles, an attitude that saved many lives and troops from encirclement. For particular armoured vehicles such as Panzer VI Tiger, in order to avoid engine overheating, regulations forbidden transporting infantry on the vehicle, but those rules were often infringed.
Figures definitely possess the great ability of bringing life to any vehicle and tank riders can play a major part on the matter. Bearing in mind the thousands of vehicles available in the 1/72 as well as the really low number of figs sets targeting the issue, it might be assessed that troopers travelling on vehicles emerge as one of the most important gaps in the field. In terms of WWII, HaT is widely acknowledged as a company aiming rare subjects and it is their practice making available their kits in series, right examples in this light representing the series of WWII German motorcycles, the one portraying bicycle and horse riders or the one dedicated to cannons. This time, the producer targets tank riders and the series rests in four individual sets depicting WWII German, Russian, British and US troopers. In principle, these figures are designed for mounting on vehicles, but of course, this is not the only utilisation they can get.
There is a great joy noticing the new HaTs advance to WWII minis materialised in detailed sculpture, fine size and quality of poses that turns these products into very attractive tenders. Excellent completing the fast assembly vehicles of HaT/Armourfast range, the merits of tank riders series will catch the attention of all hobbyists, either wargamers and collectors or static modeller builders.
With reference to the German tank riders kit, which in fact sets out as the objective of the present review, during the years, despite the fact that several mass production companies have announced the intention of issuing sets on the topic, it was HaT the first succeeding to finalise such project, comprising single piece minis.
Nonetheless, for those really interested by the matter, several high quality hard plastic, resin or white metal offers are available on the market. However, these are either too expensive, hard to find or requiring assembly, an operation not very popular among collectors and wargamers. Preisers hard plastic Motorised infantry/Panzer grenadiers, Miniaturas Allemanys German Panzergrenadiers in white metal or the outstanding Warriors resin German Tank Riders Set 1 & Set 2 as well as MIG Productions German Winter Tank Riders emerge as reliable sources for WWII German tank riders. Moreover, the awesome Dragons 3rd Fallschirmjager Division Set 1 & Set 2 transpose in the 1/72 scale some Fallschirmjager tank riders appearing in a series of images shot during the Ardennes offensive. On the other hand, few vehicle kits such as Hasegawas SdKfz.7 Half Track 8-ton or Caesars German Halftrack SdKfz.10 Demag D7 also take in several figures suitable for the use as tank riders.
When picturing tank riders, most references show in the same frame one or more crew members of the vehicle. This facet could not passed unobserved within an intensively researched set of figs, and for this reason, along with nine infantrymen, the sprue also accommodate two Panzer troopers. At the moment, it is unknown both the artwork of the box and how many sprues will contain a set, but based on HaTs custom of including four identical sprues in each box, it seems that we are going to receive 44 figures.
Because the tankers are designed for being emplaced in the vehicles, they miss legs, a common move repeated by many manufactures. Occasionally, the wide opening of some hatches make possible to notice that such figures miss a part of the body and for avoiding a bizarre appearance, special care has to be granted to this aspect. In order to exempt modellers from undesired difficulties, it would be better that figures meant to depict tank crews to possess all their limbs. However, from the two Panzer crewmen made available by HaT, just the one featuring only the bust impose enhanced care, the other missing only the part below the knees entering deep enough through the hatch opening, being impossible to observe the shortage of a body part.
Immediately recognised are the Panzer wrap tunics dressed by the vehicle crew, but the type of tunics worn here by the tank riders is hard to spot because of Y straps or poses taken. Still, the officer has not Y straps and his stance makes possible a clear identification of the tunic, respectively M36. Thus, it might be apprised that all of his subordinates received the same tunic. The other attire pieces are trousers and marching/jack boots, so figures appropriate for Early War part, but still usable throughout the entire war. Headgear rests in steel helmets for all tank riders except the officer wearing a visor cap while the Panzer crewmen received M34 overseas caps. The same cap has also one rider who prefers keeping the steel helmet on the right knee. The Germans fully understood the need of mobile infantry, capable to keep pace with the armoured vehicle, and established several specialised units such as armoured or motorised infantry and grenadiers as well as the famous Panzer Grenadier. Anyway, due to similitude of uniforms, weapons and equipment, HaTs tank riders can be enrolled in any of these units, the difference being established by the colour of the Waffenfabre added by modellers. The same applies to the tankers, and not only the colour of Waffenfarbe, but also the one of the tunics attesting if they belong either to Panzer or assault artillery units. The thickness of uniforms permits deployment of these minis in various climates, but the most advocated are the warm or temperate ones.
Gear and particularly its dispose on troopers emerge as a satisfying and wonderful surprise prepared by HaT. Generally, even at companies recognised as manufacturing the highest quality figures, various items of equipment maintain the same size and shape on each mini. However, in reality those had not always the same appearance, fact clearly visible especially at Zeltbahns, not all the time soldiers identically rolling it. Such an image tries and succeeds to achieve the sculptor, most of the figures featuring the Zeltbahn in dissimilar shapes. Furthermore, another plus point is the way of wearing various gear components, for instance the gas mask containers and canteens being kept in diverse styles. Each and every element of gear is set in its correct location and except the officer, all the tank riders come with Y straps, gas mask container, bread-bag, canteen and Zeltbahn. Still, due to the larger size, it is likely that the MG assistant to be endowed with a rolled blanket instead of Zeltbahn while the potential NCO with MP40 is in possession of a bayonet. Quite basic sculptured shovels with or without bayonet attached are possessed by five combatants and the only missing characteristic item of a classic WWII German gear is the mess-tin. When the stances allow, the minis let be seen appropriate ammunition pouches for the weapons they carry, including a MG ammunition belt worn by the gunner around the neck.
The tank riders unit was endowed with six Kar98k, one MG34, two MP40 and one pistol in holster as well as with few grenades stuck either in boots or under belt. Some of the weapons present in scale and correctly fixed weapons straps, very welcome being the one of the MG. All arsenal, including the higher percent of rifles, fully complies with the true one established by KStN for an infantry or Panzer Grenadier squad and a proper inclusion is the light MG team, formed by gunner and assistant.
Of course, when targeting tank riders, most figures have to be seated and here from the nine infantrymen, seven are seated and two are crouched. These two last poses are the officer and a soldier that based on his MP40, looks like a NCO. Besides, this is the only trooper wearing on his helmet the band used to fix camouflage canvas, net or foliage. Having the strap around the neck and holding the left hand on the MP40, he is also the sole part of the kit that might be appreciated as pretty flat modelled. Setting out as an excellent new arrival in the field of 1/72 WWII German officers, the present one comes in an unconventional pose, with both knees on the ground or vehicle and he was properly bestowed with binoculars, map case, pistol in holster and a MP40 on right shoulder. His equipment reiterates sculptors good knowledge in terms of WWII Germans, indeed according to KStN, officers commanding infantry platoons were endowed with MP40 as personal weapon, but often they retained pistols on them, too. Moreover, instead of steel helmets, visor caps were frequently worn in combat by officers. With the tunic not buttoned up till the last button but proudly showing the ribbon of a War Merit Cross or Russian Front medals on left side of tunic, he holds in the left hand the binoculars. For sure, the figure possesses all attributes in order to depict a casual but skilful officer. It has to be pointed out that both crouched army-men fit either on vehicles or simply on the ground, for example, the scout role perfectly matching their stance.
With reference to the seated squad members, the whole attitude of the riders evokes a trip in a peaceful climate, at a safe distance from enemys shells. Generally it is quite difficult to achieve clear dissimilarities on the postures, but here the manufacturer succeeded to create first-rate figs, fully suitable for their purpose. These can be considered dynamic in what they do as well as completely unlike. The way of keeping the legs, some of them excellent waving in the air or appropriate to match lower parts of the vehicle not only increase the diversity between the figures, but also make them apt to be emplaced in numerous locations on the tank. Moreover, variety among the minis is boosted by the manner of holding their Kar98K, all doing it in totally contrasting modes. The inclusion of a MG34 team, formed by gunner and his assistant has been more than necessary and the one here advanced illustrates another facet of such a team. The gunner is definitely one of the most interesting figures put forward by the set, having a MG ammunition belt around the neck and keeping the weapon on the knees. With the right hand he tries maintaining the balance on the vehicle while in the left holds the strap of the MG. Furthermore, a nice touch is his helmet, thrown back and letting to be seen a part of his hair while the strap is untied and hangs down the check. Unclear is the presence of the pistol holster, an indispensable item of MG gunners but on this one either hidden by arms or purely omitted by the sculptor. At his turn, the MG assistant is properly done, resting his elbow on a MG ammunition case he is the single warrior of the set holding his Kar98K on the back. The approach is correct, KStN allocating for assistants of light MGs Kar98K as personal weapon. Nevertheless, these seated poses are appropriate not only for travelling on tanks or assault guns, but also inside vehicles on benches of trucks or armoured transporters or even in cars. Moreover, they can also portray soldiers at rest, seated on various ammunition boxes, barrels, tree trunks, stairs and the list can eternally prolong.
Related to the two tankers, as earlier enhanced, since their tunics might be painted in black, Feldgrau or a large assortment of camouflage patterns, they can easily portray either Panzer or assault artillery crewmen. The lack of inferior limbs restricts their use and the one and only destination for them is hatch openings. Both wear headphones but miss the wires that should be added by the hobbyists, if necessary. One of the crewmen is visible shorter, undone below the bust but prolonged with a pin aimed either to stick in the seats within the vehicle or purely to ease the painting process. The figure is suitable not only for commander hatch, but also for the driver or radio operator ones as well as when available, for the loader hatch. Although just a small bust, the sculptor found means to portray goggles on the chest as well as both hands, the figure holding them on the vehicle in a widespread position taken by armoured vehicles crews. The other Panzer trooper misses legs starting from the knees, and in spite capable for sneaking through various hatches, perhaps the best location for him is the commanders one. Anyway, based on position of arms and orientation of palms, maybe Panzer III commander hatch provides the ideal environment because the two parts of the hatch could be held by this figure. A little bent in front, the mini can evoke a commander either trying to get in or out the vehicle or simply yelling something to the tank riders around him. Used in conjunction with the tank riders or solitary, undoubtedly both crewmen can enrich any vehicle with a human presence.
Attire is good enough detailed, including small particularities such as collar and shoulder boards, breast and cap eagles as well as cloth creases. Of particular note are the buttons, in scale and superbly detailed as well as the clearly visible inverted "V" Waffenfarbe soutache on both Panzer crewmen caps. It would be a pity not painting the "V" soutache while the outstanding work carried out by the sculptor in this regard will be of much help. Possibly the collar boards are a hair over-scaled, but nothing disturbing and this will facilitate an effortless painting of the desired Waffenfarbe. Per total, anatomy is gorgeous, with well balanced proportions and remarkable facial details. Attractive achievements on the matter record the MG team and the officer, but also all figs feature nicely shaped moths, noses and eyes. Although letting the impression of a slight over-scale issue on several of them, the palms come with all fingers in their places and nicely gripped around the held objects. Likewise, boots are a bit less detailed and the chapter could be a little improved by the sculptor within the next sets. Brilliant modelled and respecting the true shape are completed the Y straps and immediately perceived are also the straps of the gas mask containers. Previously highlighted, a pleasant revelation sets out the weapons and particularly the Kar98K that are perfect for the scale, matching in shape and size Preiser, Revell or Dragon similar items. The same applies for gear, also in scale and with some strong points formerly stressed along the present review. There are no size variations on bodies, gear or weapons between different poses, the same dimensions being kept throughout all the set.
The test shots were issued in a light green rubberized soft green plastic, the consistence of material being similar with the one used by HaT for producing their WWII German guns series. At present there is no information on the final colour of the market version, but on the basis of colours used by HaT on other WWII German topics, either gray or green set out as main choices.
The size of the figures matches the medium side of 1/72, but also next from taller mins, the here presented army-men will look very fine. Corroborating the size with attire, it can be pointed out they perfectly interact with troopers from Zvezda German Infantry 1939-1942 and German Machinegun MG34 with Crew 1939 1942, Esci "German Soldiers"/Italeri "German Infantry", Revell "German Armoured Infantry", Atlantic "German Infantry", Airfix "German Infantry", Imex German Troopers, Pegasus Hobbies German Mortar Teams as well as with various cottage industry releases in the field. Nevertheless, perhaps the best companions are encountered in a large number of Preiser figures, but due to similar adopted pose, the ideal comrades are included in Panzer grenadiers getting off the tanks and Motorised infantry/Panzer grenadiers.
HaTs WWII German Tank Riders hallmarks a new move towards of the company to the WWII topics, reflecting that desires of the target groups have been taken into consideration. Benefitting by good sculpture, proper size, and nice stances the set might represent an excellent alternative for static model builders, too. Moreover, the versatility of poses, suitable for arrangement not only on tanks, but also in a large number of vehicles or even at rest on the ground, increases with much the value of the product. Launching the first mass production kit in soft plastic depicting tank riders and not imposing assembly, HaT has filled in a void in the field of WWII Germans, and for sure the enclosed troopers will find their way not only to fast assembly, but also to more detailed vehicles.
Historical Accuracy: 10
Poses Quality: 10
Details Quality: 8
Mould Quality: -
Reviewers opinion: 8
ON THE VEHICLE
ONLY THE PANZER CREW
TO THE FRONT
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