When Germany's soldiers went to war in 1914 they were better equipped and dressed than many for a twentieth century battle, but like everyone else their appearance underwent a number of changes over the next four years. The figures in this set show soldiers of the later war period.
The most obvious feature is the Stahlhelm helmet, which was introduced at the start of 1916. This helmet had two lugs on the side, correctly modelled here, which held a bullet-proof brow plate or Stirnpanzer, which can be seen on the figure in body armour (last figure, second row). Most of the men appear to wear the older tunic rather than the later Bluse, though this garment was to be seen throughout the war. Some wear boots while others have the more modern puttees and ankle boots, introduced in 1915. They have correctly sculpted webbing and kit, including one man with bags of grenades round his neck, and the officer is wearing a greatcoat. The man with body armour wears a common design (early type Sappenpanzer), and would normally have been a sentry or sniper (armour was produced from late 1916), but he has straps holding his armour at the back, which is incorrect.
We liked the selection of poses, though inevitably they are more focused on the attack than trench defence. The marching figure is wearing his peakless field cap ('Feldmutze') and is in full kit, but the rest are in assault order. Though many stormtroopers were no differently equipped than their regular colleagues, the man throwing the grenade is particularly good for this type of soldier. The kneeling NCO with his binoculars could perhaps be directing the fire of the machine gun.
The machine gun is an MG 08, and comes in two parts together with the base and two-man crew. Though of necessity simplified it is a pretty good model, though the small mound in front of it would be considered a very exposed position. Both the crew are correctly done, including the dragging straps. The whole thing fits together well and makes a very good model.
The dog is an interesting 'bonus' in this set. All armies of the First World War made use of dogs, including the Germans, who used thousands of them as sentries, messengers and carriers of first aid supplies, food, ammunition and even cigarettes.
All these figures are beautifully sculpted and well proportioned. The attention to detail is excellent, and we could find no significant fault with the historical accuracy. Though there is some flash this is mainly in isolated areas rather than all round the seam of the figure, although in later releases there is a great deal more flash, as the later figures photographed above show (they are also in a much softer plastic). The war became one of trench warfare on many of the fronts, but although these are not ideally suited to that kind of warfare they are in every other respect exemplary, though try and find one of the earlier, cleaner batches if you can!