login   |    register

Scale Modeling Sponsors

See Your Ad Here!

Dragon Models [ MORE REVIEWS ] [ WEB SITE ] [ NEW STORIES ]

Built Review
135
Battles Of Smolensk & Roslavl
Battles Of Smolensk & Roslavl 1941
  • move

by: Karl Flavell [ ERICHVON ]

Introduction

Smolensk and Roslavl were two battles fought early on in the Eastern Front campaign. Both were victories for Germany and buoyed their confidence as the Soviets fell back further into Russia and the German advance gathered speed.

This release portrays three German soldiers from this time period. Although they are classed under the Eastern Front campaign for the purpose of sales their uniform would quite easily place them in any of the early war period campaigns i.e. Poland, the Low Countries, France and Greece.

Inside the box you get two Wehrmacht soldiers (one NCO and a private) and one SS machine gunner with a Zb26 which makes a nice change to an MG34. The box art done by Dmytro Zgonnik illustrates the figures beautifully. In an unusual step the front of the box also displays " Bonus" in the form of some of the flexible plastic tunics. Is this a bonus I asked myself? Read on

Review

Opening the box everything is fairly typical of a new DML release. One grey sprue which has the figures, one sprue of personal kit, one sprue of weapons, a sprue with the Zb 26, a sprue with four folding entrenching tools and finally a dark yellow sprue of tunics and one pair of boots. Moulding on all items is sharp and there is loads left over for the spares box after building the figures which is always a bonus. Whilst the weapons are Gen 1 the LMG's have hollow muzzles which is always a nice touch. Personally I prefer these weapons as with Gen 2 the separate bolts on rifles, receivers on MP 40's never look right after assembly seeming too high. Having said that the MP40's always look a bit anorexic, these look right. All three wear the M36 tunic and high marching boots which is correct for the period. The M36 tunic is identified by the pleated pockets which are cleanly moulded. The folding entrenching tools are an unusual choice. Whilst they were issued from 1938 the war it is more typical to see the Kleines Schanzzeug in period photos which was the rigid shovel in a leather carrier. . Onto the figures.

Figure 1- This figure is an SS machine gunner, equipped with a Czechoslovakian Zb26 MG. This weapon was used extensively in the early war period by the Waffen SS. As the Wehrmacht regarded the Waffen SS as "asphalt soldiers", supply of uniform, weapons, vehicles was a major issue in the early campaigns as they did not have their own supply system in place at first so the SS had to make do with what they could get off the Wehrmacht. By 1941 however they had their own supply system in place which begs the question why isn't he wearing a camouflage smock or carrying an MG34? Either he is in a rear based unit or a member of an Einsatzgruppen. I'd feel more comfortable using him 1939-1940 rather than in Russia. In the Zb 26 they found an accurate and reliable weapon. Ironically this weapon is what the British Bren Gun was developed from. The Zb26 comes on a separate sprue and is fantastic. Moulding is very sharp and the weapon looks to be perfectly in scale. It comes with both folded and open bipods and three spare magazines. A lot better than the ones in the old Dragon weapons sets.

The figure is fairly straightforward as illustrated in the box art. He does not display the SS runes due to the somewhat bizarre laws in some countries banning all Nazi insignia but a black patch is used to denote them instead on the box. (I usually use Archers Transfers for SS collar runes) It depicts the gunner standing upright holding the muzzle of the Zb26 with the butt resting on the ground. On his chest he wears the Zb26 ammo and spares pouches which when compared to photos look to be correct with the straps etc. cleanly moulded. He carries normal belt order of bread bag, water bottle, mess tin, folding entrenching tool, bayonet and gas mask. Building him was straightforward with no problems but DML seem to be going over to hollow tops on their legs. Not really an issue but care must be taken to get them level before attaching the torso. Oddly he does not carry a pistol which was standard for machine gunners but there are plenty on the kit sprue. Moulding is sharp with minimal clean-up of moulding lines. Hands are nicely done although the facial expression is a bit nondescript. The collar is deep so the head sits in nicely. An unusual figure as by 1941 the Waffen SS had their own supply system so a strange figure for the declared period.

Figure 2- This figure depicts a Wehrmacht NCO standing cocking his MP40. On the box art his collar displays the white tresses of an NCO but it's down to the builder whether they want him as an NCO or private by painting or not painting it on. This is my favourite out of the three figures. His stance is more interesting for one. Assembly is straightforward and the right arm is moulded with a notch at the top to hold the MP40 in the right position for the left arm to come across to the weapon. The left hand is cleanly moulded so that his index finger and thumb grip the cocking lever. He carries one MP40 ammo pouch and a pistol on his front which was typical of a German senior NCO but alternatively you could give him two MP40 pouches if desired. His belt order consists of a bread bag, water bottle and folding entrenching tool. These are moulded cleanly and are in proportion. There's a bit of clean up required where his head meets his body as he's not wearing a shirt under his tunic but depending on how you position his head you won't see it. The collar is deep so the head sits in nicely. One anomaly I did pick up however is his gas mask strap. It goes to the right on front and on the back which means it never meets up so this will have to be carved off and a new strap made using your preference of material or omitting it entirely. Strange that no one picked this up before production but not a major problem. To me this figure can be used in all sorts of situations. On a captured enemy position during the "reorg" period reloading his weapon seems the most appropriate setting for him. I positioned his head downwards (rather than forwards on the box) as to be looking at dead Russians on the captured position so he's already spoken for use in a diorama. Detail is sharp throughout and in proportion. A very useful figure.

Figure 3- This figure depicts a Wehrmacht private holding his Kar 98 in a relaxed position. As with the other two figures he's dressed in an M36 tunic and high marching boots. He wears the feldmutze forage cap as opposed to a helmet but that option is there if required. Naturally the top of his head will need levelling out as it is moulded to fit the feldmutze which sits neatly in the groove. These were worn throughout the war despite being officially replaced with the einheitsfeldmutze which was the soft peaked hat introduced in 1943. I had problems with this figure. Without doing some surgery I couldn't get his rifle into the position shown on the box art. He wears standard field gear for a rifleman, two ammo pouches to his front and on his back carries a bread bag, water bottle, mess tin, folding entrenching tool and bayonet. Unlike the other two figures there is a recess which the gas mask sits in to marry up with the moulded strap.

The Bonus-On a dark yellow soft plastic sprue is the bonus. This sprue carries four M36 tunics in various positions and a pair of jackboots. Moulding is very sharp and goes as far as showing the internal adjustment straps on one tunic and breast eagles where seen. Nice but three of them are lying flat on something while the fourth is hanging up. To be honest I'm not sure how or where I can use these. The hanging tunic? No problem as that can be hung off the side of a vehicle or inside a building but the others? I'm not sure how pliable these are but they're too wide to lay on a vehicle seat.I don't know what to do with them really with them being flat and wide. To call them a "bonus" is a bit of a cheek really. They're just in lieu of another figure and to be honest I'd have preferred another figure.

A bugbear of mine appeared with this kit. Dragonís inability to decide on the size of stick grenades. There are three on the figure sprue which lack the flared lip at the base of the charge so they're wrong and can't be used. There are three on the equipment sprue with it so that's better. However, when you compare both of them to a stick grenade from an older set they look like kids toys (see photo for comparison. Larger grenade taken from the Sturmpionier 6126 set). The older grenades have sharper detail and look right. Both Wehrmacht figures should have grenades as per the instructions. Two in the belt of the NCO and one in the boot of the private. I left them out in the build as I intend to replace them with older ones. I just wish Dragon would stick to one size!

Conclusion

My overall impression of this set is rather lukewarm. Yes, they're nicely moulded, lots for the spares box but they're... well, pretty boring really. This isn't a set that screams out "BUY ME". I usually look at figures with a diorama in mind. Some figure sets are that interesting they inspire me to build a diorama around them just so that I can use them. These sadly are background men. All three are fairly typical of Dragon's releases these days, uninspiring. It gives the impression that the Germans lost the war because they just stood around aimlessly and didn't actually do any fighting. This set would appear to be an afterthought with the "bonus" thrown in as they couldn't think of a fourth figure standing around. Rightly or wrongly that's how it looks to me.


SUMMARY
Highs: Nicely moulded, lots for the spares box.The Zb26 is the best part of this set being an unusual and beautifully moulded weapon. Seperate well detailed tunics.
Lows: Fairly uninspiring poses. We are definitely not short of Germans just standing around doing very little. Gas mask strap on one figure goes in opposite directions so doesn't meet up. The seperate tunics are too wide to sit on a vehicle seat.
Verdict: While the moulding etc is good in every aspect the posing lets this set down. I can think of at least half a dozen Dragon sets with the same sort of poses. In fact the machine gunner is in an identical pose to the Mg'er in set 6122.
Percentage Rating
65%
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: 6791
  PUBLISHED: May 16, 2017
  NATIONALITY: Germany
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 79.50%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 86.50%

Our Thanks to Dragon USA!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.
View Vendor Homepage  More Reviews  

About Karl Flavell (erichvon)
FROM: ENGLAND - EAST MIDLANDS, UNITED KINGDOM

My first kit was an Airfix Spit Mk IX at the age of 10 bought for me by my grandad. I had a break for a few years got into modelling armour.Joined the infantry as I didn't fancy driving tanks. Had a break for a few years again then got back into the hobby again. Main interests are British WW2 subje...

Copyright ©2017 text by Karl Flavell [ ERICHVON ]. All rights reserved.


Reader Reviews
Do you own this item and want to review it? You can add your review of the item here. Please read the reader review instructions before posting.


Comments

Good review Karl and great that you did a build review. These are really valuable. How did all the equipment sit on the figures? In the past I've had problems with Dragon fires where the equipment, pouches etc sits proud of the figures and doesn't hang naturally. I agree about the lack of the extra figure.
MAY 16, 2017 - 07:50 AM
Thanks guys. Pat- There wasn't really any problems with how it sat apart from the guy with the MP40. There are no recesses in his torso or lower half so that the ammo pouch would fit naturally. I found that the ammo pouch seems to be attched with some sort of forcefield as it doesn't mate with the belt at all, just hovers near it. Once the bread bag and waterbottle are on it does hide it to an extent from the back also with the position of his arm but some surgery is required to get it to fit properly. Overall they went together easily but I thought it odd that only one had a recess for his gas mask canister. If one has it why not all three? Christian- You're right about the price. It does seem expensive for what you get really. I think the only people who'll be willing to part with that much cash are the people desperate for the DS kit as the figures, while nicely done, are near enough the same as earlier ones that DML have released. I noted that the machine gunner is in an identical pose to the machine gunner in the "Approach To Stalingrad" set (just a different weapon) and have now noticed that the rifleman is basically the same as one in "28th Infantry Division Poland". I think the fundamental problem with releasing figures in these sort of "doing nothing" poses is that they will be duplicated easily as there are a limited amount of things/stances when you just stand still. When you think about the hundreds of figure sets launched by DML how many of them could be described as fighting? Not very many at all. Yet newcomers like Masterbox seem to release "kinetic" set after set. I've got a cupboard literally full of DML figures so I'm definitely not anti but they definitely need to get some new blood in their R&D team as they appear to have no imagination at all these days which of course has the knock on effect that less people buy a release because they've already got something similar or the same. What we really could do with would be a set of Germans-one standing firing a Kar 98, one kneeling firing a Kar 98, one prone firing a Kar 98, a prone machine gunner. A set like that would a)be completely different (b) be more appealing (c) open to allsorts of posibilities changing weapons/ legs to the firing torsoes thus creating more possibilities. I've bought several sets of the Artillery Crew 6201 as donor kits. Whilst the torsoes have no webbing, I've swapped torsoes for ones with webbing. There are extra arms in the set so plenty of options to create new figures from something that is role specific. They go from arty to infantry just by a torso swap and by swapping arms about you get six totally different figures. We all do it I just thought I'd give an example. A kinetic figure can be swapped about and produce all sorts of options whereas one standing still with his feet apart? New torso and arms? Still standing still doing nothing
MAY 16, 2017 - 09:17 PM
You can get it from the Dragon US Online site for $10.50 with the their moving sale code "final". Plus shipping of course. http://www.dragonusaonline.com/item_detail.aspx?ItemCode=DRA6791
MAY 17, 2017 - 01:37 AM
Early-war figures like these are great to have and I'm fairly happy with the poses. With all of the sea that I've accumulated I often switch arms, etc, and add Hornet after market heads for something different. New poses, on the other hand, would be nice.
MAY 17, 2017 - 02:56 AM
Thanks Karl. That's my main gripe with Dragon figures that you have to carve away at them to make the equipment fit. I agree about the standing around poses too. Useful if you want to pose a figure beside a vehicle to show scale but not very exciting diorama wise
MAY 17, 2017 - 09:34 PM
So-so figures. The same old, standing poses. I normally buy every Dragon, WW2 German release., but I'll pass on this set. Masterbox is my favourite manufacturer. Imaginative poses and most sets provide an instant vignette.
MAY 18, 2017 - 09:49 PM
Alex, you're right. MB are definitely the most interesting figures these days and seem to spread their releases evenly. If Dragon release something it's pretty much a certainty it's going to be Germans standing about doing nothing. MB however release Germans, Americans, Russians and occasionally British subjects that are actually doing something or even shock horror fighting. They're infinitely more useful if you're a figure builder or want to do a dio that isn't an assembly area. Personally I'd like to see a few sets of British NW European infantry in action ie firing weapons etc as we've not got any really apart from one DML standing figure firing in the Monte Cassino set. I did notice on PMMS a new company called Gecko who are doing a Vickers crew in action and a Vickers section manpacking the weapon. No variation in the figures though as they're all wearing the leather waistcoat which if truth be known wasn't used that much by infantry, mainly support arms. When they're available I'll most likely pick one up to have a look at them as I can't really justify the cost of the Resicast ones, plus they're a little bit small.
MAY 22, 2017 - 10:30 PM
You're right, Karl. I've seen the box art for the Gecko, British ,figures they look quite interesting. Dragon need to have a serious re-think for their future 1/35 figure releases. On the other hand........... If only they'd release sets of Gen2 equipment, I'm sure they'd sell very well! To me anyway !!
MAY 23, 2017 - 09:08 AM
Those DS clothes came in a lot of the older Dragon releases - I am sure someone would be willing to trade.
MAY 28, 2017 - 07:29 AM
Tip: Just hit enter to submit your reply!
   

What's Your Opinion?


Photos
Click image to enlarge
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move