World War II German infantry in one guise or another must be about the most popular subject for a set of figures, as a glance at the relevant section of our World War II page will testify. By the time this set of Waffen SS was released it was quite a challenge to make something not seen in the hobby before.
The now normal format of three identical sprues of 16 poses has been used again here, and it must be said that a lot of the poses are very similar. Five are basically a man moving forward while holding his weapon at chest height, with only the weapon and clothing differentiating them. There is more variety in the lower rows, although this is largely due to the heavier weapons being used. Several of the poses are almost identical to the first Italeri German Infantry set, which was a reissue of the old Esci product. The poses are OK if rather dull and uninspired.
As the war went on the German army acquired a wide range of clothing that was in stark contrast to the smart troops that had won the early battles. In this set the theme seems to be cold weather as the men wear an assortment of greatcoats, parkas, tunics and smocks as well as over trousers, while several also wear the toque. In some cases the position of the arms makes a definite identification of clothing impossible, but in all cases the clothing has been sculpted correctly.
There is a good range of weapons on show here, and again the emphasis is on the later war years, with such weapons as the MP43/StG44 Assault rifle. The men are fairly lightly kitted, with most just having their field flask, entrenching tool and gas mask case, plus the appropriate ammunition pouches of course. However strangely almost all have their flask and entrenching tool on the wrong side - i.e. the former on the left hip and the latter on the right.
In general the sculpting is excellent, with plenty of detail in the one place that really needs it, the weapons. One place where this is not true is the base of the mortar, which is just a featureless slab of plastic and not even the right shape, although the mortar support, which is a separate piece that requires gluing on, is properly done. This set shares several characteristics with the Italeri Russian Infantry (Winter Uniform) set, including the poor mortar/man piece (although not as badly done here). Also, both the heavy machine guns have had their bipods twisted through 90 degrees, which allows them to be moulded but was not possible in reality. A further similarity is that the last figure in row 3 rests his machine gun on a wall that is no thicker than it is, which looks ridiculous. The other machine gunner has found a box to rest on, although this has a side missing (for purely production reasons).
The major contrast between this set and the earlier Esci reissue is that these SS men are more practically dressed and are clearly late war and in a cold environment - images of the Eastern front spring readily to mind. Although there are differences with the winter sets from Revell and Caesar, this is not anything particularly original, but should work well with both those products. The unimaginative poses and accuracy problems we have discussed are the main letdowns here, which is a pity when the quality and sharpness of the sculpting is generally so good.