There are now many sets of German infantry in 1/72 plastic, and it is tempting to think that the subject has been covered from just about every angle. However the war years were ones of considerable change for the German Army, not least in the appearance of the soldiers. The smart uniform of 1939 had by 1945 become a more practical outfit that gave greater emphasis to comfort, camouflage and utility. The figures in this set mark one of the stages in that process.
All these figures are wearing the same thing - basically a greatcoat with a smock over it, long boots and a steel helmet on the head. What can be seen of the boots and greatcoat look properly done, but naturally it is the smock that is of the most interest here. There were many styles of smock used by the Germans in the War, but the key features of this one are it has no collar, no hood and only reaches to the hip, so has no skirt pockets. This makes it look like one of the earliest smocks used by the German Army - the M1942. That is all perfectly good, though that smock was fairly limited issue so not widely seen. However there was another organisation that were pioneers in the use of camouflage clothing such as this, and that was the Waffen-SS. Smocks had been issued to the SS since 1937, and they pretty much match the appearance of those on these men. The only difference is there were slits on the real thing allowing access to the uniform underneath, which do not appear in this set, though that is a very minor point. The men often tucked the lower part under the belt to gain access to the tunic skirt pockets, but as everyone here wears a coat that is not necessary. The M1940 smock and its predecessors generally had two forms of camouflage pattern on their reversible sides rather than white winter, but that is a matter of painting. As it is, the greatcoats tell us these men are in a cold environment, though there are no other obvious elements of winter clothing such as toques.
The men carry standard infantry weapons and equipment, as did the Waffen-SS. Some carry a rifle and others an MP38 or MP40; all have the appropriate pouches for their weapon. The machine gun in the hands of the prone man looks to be an MG42 with a drum magazine, and of course there is the mortar. With a barrel of 15 mm in length this is an 8 cm medium mortar and it is provided in 2 parts - the barrel/base and the bipod support. It is a fairly good model - not quite as detailed and sharp as the best in the market however, much like the rest of the weapons in the set.
The sculpting is very good, as always from Caesar, with just a little vagueness in areas like the weapons. However the clothing is very well done, so no particular problems. There is no flash or extra plastic, and all the poses come in one piece apart from the two mortar crewmen, who both have separate arms. These fit really well into holes in the shoulders, and are of different shapes and sizes so only the correct set fit in the correct place - another object lesson on how to do separate arms on soft plastic figures and still make them look good. The mortar will need to be glued of course, but the main problem here is the usual fairly bendy Caesar plastic, which means the mortar stand in particular suffers from deformation and may need straightening once out of the box.
All the poses are pretty conventional but perfectly suitable and nicely realised. We particularly liked the officer, who clutches a pair of binoculars but is otherwise no different in appearance from his men. All the poses are on a base apart from the mortar crew, and Caesar have also included a sheet of clear plastic bases for those wishing to mount these men. The sheet includes 12 rectangular bases and four round ones, and while a lot thinner than the rest of the bases here they are a worthwhile addition for those wishing to mount these figures, particularly as they should be easier to trim to just the right shape so the man can still reach the weapon.
Although usable for any period of the war in Europe, the long boots and early pattern smocks suggest the early to middle part of the war for these men. Better smocks would appear later, and the less than ideal greatcoat would also be superseded by better clothing, especially for the Russian Front. There is not much variety here - apart from the different weapons, the only random element is that some of the men have covers on their helmet and others do not, so these seem rather neat for men in the middle of a long campaign, but everything here is accurate and well done. This is another unspectacular but more than satisfactory Caesar set adding yet another element to the available German Infantry.