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First To Fight

Set PL1939-016

German Infantry 1939

Click for larger image
All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released 2014
Contents 24 figures
Poses 8 poses
Material Plastic (Fairly Soft)
Colours Grey
Average Height 23 mm (= 1.66 m)

Review

First To Fight is a Polish company that produce a regular magazine called 'September 1939', which is dedicated to the German and Russian invasion of Poland in that year. Each magazine comes with a kit connected with that campaign, and issue 16 is the first to come with figures. There are 24 figures in eight poses as shown above, and while there are many sets of German infantry available in the hobby this one is unusual in being so tightly focused on what was a relatively brief campaign, with all Polish forces that could not escape surrendering to either the Germans or Russians after around four weeks of brave but hopeless resistance.

The first offering from a new manufacturer is always particularly fascinating because it indicates the kind of quality and approach we can expect in the future, and our first reaction to these figures was not particularly enthusiastic. The figures are neat enough but the sculpting is a bit off. The detail is pretty good but the overall proportions and the way the figures are posed is not the best. The most obvious feature is that several have their backs significantly caved in, and while the faces are simple but adequate we felt the clothing did not have the right kind of feel, lacking the sort of creasing and folds you would expect. Our samples had virtually no flash and no excess plastic, so they are nicely produced in that sense at least.

The modest eight poses include some of the classics of course, and we particularly liked the crouching figures in our second row and the soldier carrying the ammunition boxes, but three of the poses drew a more critical eye. The first figure in the top row is perfectly fine as a pose but has neatly strapped his helmet on his belt (he also has no field cap), so is presumably well away from any fighting. His pose is a reasonable battle pose however, so we wondered why this somewhat less useful bare-headed figure was included in such a relatively small set. Beside him is another advancing figure, who is about the poorest of the sculpting as he is extremely thin front-to-back, and does not really convince as a running man. Finally the third figure in row two holds an MG34 light machine gun in the usual manner, yet quite clearly cannot possibly be supporting the weapon like this. The bipod is neatly folded beneath the barrel, so what is holding this heavy weapon up? He could be resting it against a wall or tree, or in an emergency resting it on the shoulder of a comrade (as has been modelled several times before), but in all cases you would expect the bipod to be down, and anyway none of the other figures in this set work as such a temporary support, so we are left with a very odd machine gunner pose. One possible use would be for him to rest the weapon on the side of a Sd Kfz 251, for example, which is nice but hardly the most versatile figure ever made.

These figures are all uniformed as you might expect for 1939, with the correct M1935 uniform of tunic, trousers and marching boots. They wear pretty standard equipment for the day, with most or all having the bread bag, entrenching tool with bayonet scabbard attached, mess tin, canteen, Zeltbahn tent section and fluted gasmask container. These items are arranged in typical fashion, so for example the gasmask tin has the lid pointing to the wearers left, and the strap goes over the right shoulder, which was not as per regulation but was plenty common enough in reality. Around the front all the men have the anti-gas sheet in its oilcloth bag attached to the gasmask strap at the chest, and most have the usual twin ammunition pouches on the waist belt. One problem here is with our magical machine gunner, who has nothing on the front of his waist belt when he should have a pistol holster one side and a spare parts pouch on the other. None of the men have the vertical belt supports meeting in a 'Y' at the back, although again many photos show these were often not worn even though they were issued by this time. Other than the machine gunner the men's kit looks fine and quite nicely done.

An unusual but perfectly appropriate feature for the Polish campaign is that the figures have attached bands round their helmets to hold foliage and camouflage materials (bicycle inner tubes are often cited as a source for these), and they also have a strap across the top of the helmet for the same purpose, which was usually the extra strap supplied with the bread bag. All this is fine, but looks a bit silly when you realise that none of them have actually put any camouflage materials in these straps, begging the question of why did they bother with the straps?

Although we liked the man carrying the ammunition boxes, it does seem a bit of a luxury in a set with only eight poses. Also he could easily have been made a second gunner for the MG34 by giving him a pistol holster, ammunition drums and spare barrels.

Other features to note are that the plastic used is quite a bit softer than the 'classic' material (such as Airfix or Revell figures), although plenty strong enough and shows up detail well. Also the figures all have particularly large, round bases, which means these must be cut away if you want to stand two men next to each other. In conclusion then these are quite nice but not impressive figures, with mostly useful poses and only one accuracy issue, which only applies to our poor MG34 gunner. These are not the best German infantry on the market, but a very promising start for a new company and certainly useful to those wishing to depict those dramatic days in September 1939.


Ratings

Historical Accuracy 9
Pose Quality 7
Pose Number 5
Sculpting 8
Mould 9

Further Reading
Books
"Blitzkrieg" - Concord (Fighting Men series No.6001) - Gordon Rottman - 9789623616010
"German Combat Equipments 1939-45" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.234) - Gordon Rottman - 9780850459524
"German Infantryman (1) 1933-40" - Osprey (Warrior Series No.59) - David Westwood - 9781841764627
"German Soldiers of World War II" - Histoire & Collections - Jean de Lagarde - 9782915239355
"The German Army 1939-45 (1) Blitzkrieg" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.311) - Nigel Thomas - 9781855326392
"Wehrmacht Combat Helmets 1933-45" - Osprey (Elite Series No.106) - Brian C Bell - 9781841767253
"World War II Infantry" - Windrow & Greene (Europa Militaria Series No.2) - Laurent Mirouze - 9781872004150

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