In the immediate aftermath of World War II Germany was not permitted to have an army, but with the split into East and West both states reconstituted their armed forces with the blessing of the Occupying Powers. With unification in 1990 came the merging of the two forces, but the German Constitution specifically restricted the armed forces to defensive purposes only. However after a Federal Constitutional Court ruling in 1994 the term 'defensive' was redefined to include operations in the supposed long-term defence of Germany, which effectively meant anywhere in the World. As a result, at time of release there are German troops in combat in Afghanistan, and they have also operated in recent years in the Balkans and parts of Africa and Asia.
Although the nature of these missions means actual contact with the enemy is quite rare, many of these poses do seem to be in action, which is no surprise. The first figure in the top row has the look of a soldier on patrol, and since he wears a beret rather than his helmet this impression is confirmed. As a result he is particularly appropriate to much of what German soldiers would do these days, but the other poses are all very well done and very usable. The apparent commander resting his foot on a stone is a stand-out piece, but we liked all these poses a lot.
As you might expect, the majority of the men are carrying a rifle. Detail on these is good but not great, although we are pretty sure these are correctly modelled as the Heckler & Koch G36, the standard issue rifle at time of release. The sniper in the bottom row clearly has something else, as would be expected, but again detail is not sharp enough to allow a definite identification. This means it could easily pass for any of the standard sniper weapons such as the G22 (AWM), with telescopic sight of course, which is fine. Our second row includes a kneeling man handling a Panzerfaust 3, which is quite a good model and very suitable for such a set, while the bottom row includes two particularly interesting devices. The first man is using a FIM-92 Stinger surface-to-air missile, which is a surprisingly good model considering the complex shape of this weapon, and clearly benefits from a more sophisticated mould. Less deadly but just as important in modern warfare is the item being held up by the next man. This is an EMT Aladin drone, which is a hand-held drone with imaging equipment that is used for reconnaissance, and can be either radio-controlled or follow pre-set co-ordinates.
The general fatigues these men wear are typical of those worn by almost all armies these days and look OK. Equally typical of so many modern armies is the body armour and various pouches, packs etc. attached to the flexible system of straps. Again everything looks fine here, although the sniper would be far more likely to be wearing the issued multi-pocket smock rather than the general kit he actually has. Although helmets also tend to be very similar in most armies today, those on these men look OK as the B826, but it is noteworthy that several do not wear them (although all carry them). Apart from the man with the beret there are three wearing a soft hat plus the sniper wearing a peaked cap. There is nothing wrong with this, although when in direct contact with the enemy these men (except possibly the sniper) would put their helmet on. Many wear knee pads - another internationally common feature - but we were disappointed that none are wearing, nor seem to have to hand, any goggles or sunglasses, and most have no radio. Goggles or glasses are particularly common in theatres such as Africa and Afghanistan, so at least some should have been represented here in our view.
As always Caesar sculpting is very good, although with sophisticated modern subjects such as this there is a need for particularly good detail on some equipment, and this is not so good here. General clothing and webbing is fine and the figures are beautifully natural in terms of proportions and posture. As we have already said, a complex mould has allowed for better poses and good modelling of even difficult shapes such as the Stinger, so everything here comes as one piece. The usual Caesar problem of extremities such as weapons being prone to being bent is naturally true here too, particularly for the drone, which is thin and highly vulnerable with no sprue to protect it. There is no flash and only the usual extra plastic in hard-to-reach places on some figures, although we were a little annoyed at the kneeling figures having no base for, while it is true they do stand by themselves, they are that much 'shorter' compared to the standing figures, and some customers find the lack of a base makes them harder to handle or mount.
For the most part then this is a fine set, and while the lack of eye protection and radios is worthy of mention these are tiny details on figures this size. There are some great poses (although as so often there could be more, such as an observer to complete a sniper team) and the weapons are generally well-chosen, although in recent deployments there has been absolute NATO air superiority, so exactly what the man with the Stinger is attempting to shoot down is far from clear. However everything here is still current at the time of release and reflects well the German army of the day.