About Me

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No Fixed Abode, Home Counties, United Kingdom
I’m a 51-year-old Aspergic CAD-Monkey. Sardonic, cynical and with the political leanings of a social reformer, I’m also a toy and model figure collector, particularly interested in the history of plastics and plastic toys. Other interests are history, current affairs, modern art, and architecture, gardening and natural history. I love plain chocolate, fireworks and trees but I don’t hug them, I do hug kittens. I hate ignorance, when it can be avoided, so I hate the 'educational' establishment and pity the millions they’ve failed with teaching-to-test and rote 'learning' and I hate the short-sighted stupidity of the entire ruling/industrial elite, with their planet destroying fascism and added “buy-one-get-one-free”. I also have no time for fools and little time for the false crap we're all supposed to pretend we haven't noticed, or the games we're supposed to play. I will 'bite the hand that feeds' to remind it why it feeds.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

1973 [WWII] British Infantry (2nd Version), 01703-5 / 9 01703 - HO/OO

So these were the new version, much anticipated, they were a bit of a disappointment when they finally arrived, and most of the criticism of the set found elsewhere over the years is well founded. But - there's always a 'but' - it doesn't add up to much really, as the set still delivers a decent bunch of figures, well sculpted and ten times better than the Combat Group set they replace while paying homage - through a stretcher team!

It's about how much the problems bug you, or how much you are willing to let the problems bug you! They are thinnish, they are under-equipped, and too 'clean', their uniforms are too tight...but...they paint-up OK, sculpting detail is fine and they are a vast improvement on the Britains-clone blobs.

A nice painting guide from the 1980 catalogue, the image taken from the back of the long boxes of that era. In point of fact the battle-dress was a tad darker.

The slightly larger ammunition box illustrated is an accurate representation of the ammo-box for the Bren gun, but its carrying handle was actually on one end, so it would hang with the long dimension in the vertical. An academic point as the actual figure sculpt clearly carries the thinner box configured for the belted ammunition of the Vickers MG! The figure from the older set of Combat Group however, could very well be carrying a Bren gun ammo-box!

Atlantic's figures, I think the Airfix set pre-dates them by a year or two, but they were close, however while some of the Atlantic poses are quite nice, the set as a whole owes more to the dancing loons of Cherilea and its UN troops then to any others! They were also a deal taller, but a lot of that was down to the deep, heavy bases. I had more to say about this set on the main blog a while ago.

The 1975 Airfix catalogue (image provided by Kostas again!) was a cross-over catalogue, with the older 'blue box' imagery in the main (Ancient, Medieval, Waterloo, Wild West, WWI etc...Civilians!), but with the WWII sets illustrated as joint-set photographs in the new 'white-box' or 'corner-graphics' artwork.

The OBE's in this sample are not much it has to be said, but I had a major paint-stripping session a year or two before I'd even heard of blogging, or handled a computer for that matter, so these are what's been painted in what's come-in in mixed-lots since about 2004/5?

I can never imagine what makes someone start painting their figures all-over jade green or gloss balck, but then I remember I had some silver Marines when I was a kid, which I must have painted myself in a mad moment, so it was clearly just part of being a kid...thinking about it as I was writing that (I'll get rid of the resultant typos before you see them), it struck me that actually it probably goes something like this...

You think - on the spur of the moment - "I'm grown-up enough to paint these (at age 6-8 or so) without supervision...and no-one is watching"...you get the paint out, you find a flat-ended craft brush in your school pencil-case (or the jam jar on the window-sill by the kitchen-sink), you open the thinners, then you dip the brush in the paint...it comes out dripping! You panic, realise you haven't the faintest idea how to paint a floor or a barn door, let alone 20mm figures...You stab a clumsey hand at the bayonet you intended the silver for or the boot that the gloss black was destined to coat, a large quatity of paint then uses the laws of water tention to flow down the rifle, slide effortlessly over, under and around your fingers and on down the figure...Your limited life experiance then kicks in, instantly you realise 4 things: 1) you have not got a painting cloth; 2) that blob of paint is going to drip off the figure (onto your trousers or the carpet) if you don't do something; 3) the rest of the paint on the brush is now flowing down the handle toward the other hand and 4) you need to do something about 1-3, now! So...you spread the rest of the paint on the first figure; it's still pooling....you do a few more and hey...it'll help your story that 'that's what you wanted to do', you run to the loo and grab some loo paper, you clean the brush and the fingers (at this point some story's will get worse with incompatible thinners or the introduction of water or washing-up liquid...nightmare), you put the figures somewhere to dry - hoping they won't be found before you can hide them...upturned box at the back of a drawer near a radiator was a good one...and ergo...oddly-painted figures in you nascent collection!

The experience only encourages you to try the matt green with a proper brush a few weeks later or the next time you're alone in the house!

These are in the bag marked: 'broken, converted and painted', and I didn't really know what to do with them - I'm wont to throw anything away - when it struck me the one at the back would look good crawling out of the water... a river, the sea or a flooded shell-hole. He's lost his feet as the knife de-basing him has turned-out as it cuts through the plastic, a problem cutting thicker sections of polyethylene.

There's never been the colour variation with this set you find with some of the others, partly due to it's late arrival in the list, partly down to luck. there is a darker run (slightly washed-out by the flash in this shot) and in certain lights you can find a 'greener' issue (more yellow in the mix?).

Complete set ready to roll, the poses are for the most part OK, but like their twin replacement-set; the German Infantry, they suffer from a couple of dumb poses (middle left) and I always found the officer to be a bit weak.

Basically you get more than enough for all the men in a late-war Infantry platoon, with or without a dedicated MG section, but without a mortar team. The two signallers can be a signaller and runner, or signaller and attached FOO, air liaison or similar, or you can leave one in the box!

For those who prefer to work from a one of each line-up. You can see all the criticisms clearly here...parade or range webbing, tall, thin and gangly with tight clothing, a couple of silly poses, but painted and based with a few other makes they pass muster for war gaming, and the detail is lovely, however inaccurate it might be in places.

Some sets of toy soldiers have identical stretcher carriers, this has them stepping-off from opposite feet which is a nice touch and a sign of the effort that went into the production of the set, even if it was ultimately a bit disappointing!

Comparison with the recent effort (type 4!) and they (the sculptors) still haven't really got it right (they will have their own page at some point), like their earlier brthren, paint will hide a lot of sins, but they can hardly serve together, one lot all lumpy, over-fed and cammed-up, the others hungry-lean, in parade-order with skin-tight tailoured uniforms!

The closest Airfix (or the owners of the 'brand') have ever got to decent WWII British Infantry was the ex-Esci/A-Toys/Italieri type 3 which had already been issued by...err...Esci, A-Toys and Italieri! The Bren guns are particularly poor in this set, but the PIAT is rather nice...if a little thin, and the comparison above suggests an easy conversion of the older prone figure to a PIAT-man?

The kneeling firer's from both sets make the same mistake as the type 1 (and the Britains Herald granddaddy of them all), in adopting a pose no man firing a rifle from the kneeling position ever adopted, ever, in the whole history of warfare, drill, and press pictures for dill manuals, indeed - I don't believe the human body can adopt that position without a hip or thigh being surgically dissociated first!...I just tried, you can; but it's bloody uncomfortable!

Marx (here Marksmen from Ri-Toys (Rado Industries) giants are not much of a threat despite being called 'HO' by the original maker, however the officer and the chap on the left of the line-up with the Tommy-gun, could be hidden in a platoon of Airfix after a matching paint job, they've both been to the same tailor as the Airfix chaps! [see the 8th army for comparisons of the rest of this Marx range, they are all wearing shorts]

How it should be done, Matchbox lead the way with a set of business-like poses and some nice AFV crew. However, the bases are a real pain with this set, small and slightly rounded they were table-top only, the carpet defeats them before the Germans have been set-up - if it's Matchbox Germans as well...it's an apocalypse! But they failed the colour rule as well...brown? For European theatre? NO!

Nitto get the colour rule, but totally muck-up the simple 'ish procedure of copying the figures with a copying machine! [pantograph] It doesn't help that they are trying to convert them to American M1-helmeted troops at the same time - the heads are so poor I think they came from Airfix 1st type Marines who (with a couple of Para's - also from Airfix sculpts) make up the rest of the group - now a Fujimi catalogue item.

Thanks to Konrad Lesiek I now know these (upper row, brown) were issued as kiosk novelties by Andrzej Kawecki, and are from Set 3 British Infantry, the only set of piracies of these figures I know of, and they're not bad, a slight loss of detail, but every pose has been reproduced, even the two different stretcher-bearers, all made - apparently - from recycled material; in this case a soft PVC vinyl rubber.

Indeed - I'd go further and say that by attaching the front feet to the bases, they have actually managed to improve the two dumbest (advancing, running) poses, and somehow they've got the captain/platoon commander to look more businesslike (or less foppish) just by copying him!


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1979 [WWII] US Marines (2nd Version), 1716 / 01716 / 01716-1 / 9 01716 / A01716 - HO/OO

Another of the replacement sets for an older version holding the -16 code in the list. They were a late change and well received when they were finally released, still available (unlike the equally waited for, and equally well received when they arrived Commandos, whose mould-history are a small book by themselves!), these have not aged that well, with some of the 'new' production (that'll read weird in 20-years time!) from Pegasus and Imex looking better, but they are still (2015) a really useful set.

Based around the 54mm/1:32nd scale set which had been available for years, new poses were added and the new set paid homage to the old one with a rubber dingy to pootle-about in, at the water's edge.

Artwork on the long boxes (and the later catalogues - here the 1980 issue) was actually a figure from the earlier set, wading, doing KP's or surrendering has never been fully decided, but a sharp knife and re-basing renders him more useful than a surrendering-guy!

1985 and the Airfix 'brand' owner's get the image reversed! Sums-up this sad period in the Airfix saga, as the Irish end of an American multinational flogs the golden-egg layer to the French...I'm condensing a lot into a little, but it too, sums-up the period nicely!

Comparison with the Atlantic set, Atlantic clearly based theirs on the Airfix set, but before the Airfix set had been issued, so must have been using the 54mm set, with the result that only a few are obvious, they too - adding poses of their own.

The blue figures tended to be in French Infantry boxes, but are sometimes found in the Marine Corps packaging and the set has probably been issued in more colours than I've found, and this photo' is only  sample of the ones I have!

Full set on the runners, like the earlier second type German Infantry, the six re-used poses from the 1:32nd scale range are slightly heavier and even a tad bigger than the 'all-new' poses, compare the kneeling firer and bazooka-man.

The replacement rubber dingy trying to show a slight plastic-colour variation with a drabber green to the left and a yellowish version to the right. This boat is a single-piece which was a vast improvement on the earlier one, but tended to shrinkage marks or slight distortion after leaving the mould-tool.

Comparing the similar poses from Airfix both sets (older - the underneath of both line-ups), size-wise there's very little in it, but the new poses have much better detailing or definition, you can tell what rifle they're holding (M1 Garands and M1 carbines), webbing, clothing &etc. all better sculpts.

The major difference is in the lack of a second paddler for the dingy, but there was a overall lower pose-count as well.

Fujimi were another team who'd watched the Airfix rushes and liked what they saw so much they lifted their 54mm set wholesale, but they added some of Britains 'Deetail' figures to their set, of which the new Airfix set had equivalents, and above is a side-by-side of the closest matches. Fujimi set on the main Blog.

It floats! The older one - as we saw on their post - tended to fill with water through the join-line, without a join-line this one displaces enough water to float in the proper floaty manner!

The Esci hard plastic 'kit' set also lifted the 1:32nd scale set, again adding a couple more, the mine-detector has more in common with the late Marx/MPC 54mm figures. They cut both prone figures at the waist and swapped legs/bodies to make 'new' poses, further converting the crawling torso to an ammo-feeding No.2 on the MG. They also give it the correct tri-pod, rather than the rather fictional forward-sited bi-pod of the elderly Airfix sculpt. There was a bi-pod tried with the .30-cal, but it was set back where the barrel meets the working-class housing. It doesn't look like a BAR, but I guess that's what it must be taken for?

The two guys running and firing a grease-gun have been similarly swapped, while the bazooka-man is converted to a flame-thrower operator.

The biggest omission Airfix indulged in - with this set - was to not use either of the 54mm sculpts of the officer, leaving this set without an obvious one? Hong Kong though, had copied him a dozen or more times in the preceding two decades or so (in small scale), and with Esci and Fujimi copies kicking around as well, there's no actual shortage of them out there!

The chap walking forward has all the look of one of Hollywood's 'Ell Tees' though, so he could fill the boots of a pistol waving papa!

The entry for the 2018 catalogue, a pathetic list of six common sets all from WWII and no Japanese or Russians!

 Vietnam 1967
♫ ♪ ♪ ♫♫. . . " One pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you small
And the ones that mother gives you, don't do anything at all
Go ask Alice, when she's ten feet tall
And if you go chasing rabbits, and you know you're going to fall
Tell 'em a hookah-smoking caterpillar has given you the call
And call Alice, when she was just small
When the men on the chessboard get up and tell you where to go
And you've just had some kind of mushroom, and your mind is moving low
Go ask Alice, I think she'll know
When logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead
And the white knight is talking backwards
And the red queen's off with her head
Remember what the dormouse said
Feed your head, feed your head
" . . . ♪ ♫ 

Vietnam 1972
♫ ♪ ♪ ♫  . . . "I see a red door and I want it painted black
No colours any more - I want them to turn black " . . . ♫ ♪ ♪ ♫


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1974 [WWII] Afrika Korps (2nd version), 1711 / 01711 / 01711-6 / 9 01711 / A01711 - HO/OO

Some will say the best set (in either scale) ever made. Well...some of the sets by Revell, Zvezda or even now (late 2015) some of the recent stuff by Orion give these a run for their money, but I'm still one for thinking this was the best set ever made...by Airfix.

Several of the poses had already been issued in 1:32 scale when this set appeared to replace the older set which we looked at here. There is a rule here; the HO-OO only poses have shorts and helmets, while the 'both-scale' poses have caps and bloused, baggy trousers, the 'exception that proves the rule' being a crossover figure - prone firing, with shorts and a cap!

Reversed artwork on the 1980 catalogue image, I guess things were a bit hectic in the office what with bankruptcies and takeovers and the like going-on in the background!

Corrected image in the 1985 catalogue, this is one of the 'thumbnails' from the long-boxes, and is generally taken to be Erwin Rommel (the Desert Fox).

Indeed; he's simply described as a 'senior staff officer' in the catalogue blurb from the 1975 catalogue (image courtesy of Blog visitor Kostas), which seems to be a carry-over from the earlier sets with its mention of anti-tank guns!

Box art from the Atlantic effort, as I have no intention of starting an Atlantic Blog (there are two very good ones out there and PSR), it might as well go here, the figures are compared in the next image...

...along with the jingoistic blurb on the back of the box! The ratio was not 10:1 as stated (poor little Fascists bullied by the nasty Allies!) but closer to 2:1 (3:1 is preferred for an offensive against a prepared enemy); from Wikipedia: "195,000 men and 1,029 tanks under Montgomery made their move against the 116,000 men and 547 tanks of Panzer Army Africa."

The figures were rather fine* in a cartoon'ish sort of way, like the British Infantry by the same manufacturer there were a number of dancing loons, but there were also some useful poses*, although the plethora of knives, grenades and such-like in other hands was a bit OTT, and the separate head gear was hilarious, rather than practical, but they looked better if firmly attached with a bit of glue or a blob of filler.

* I'm kidding myself aren't I? The last four are 'OK' the rest are bloody silly! As always with Atlantic the line-drawings on the box seemed to refer to a better set than the contents!

OBE's with this set are minimal, they have had several cleaning sessions over the years and this is all that's come in painted since the last clean. The chaps from the 54mm set can all be painted-up for any other theatre, and both the officer and the grenade thrower (with the grenade removed) make excellent AFV or SPG crew.

Not much of a colour variation until the Heller muck-up (with an F) when they appeared in a dirty-snow grey for some reason!

Ah, yes! Not only did the horrible Allies outnumber poor old Rommel by 10:1 (according to an Italian blurb writer), but a Spanish artist shows us how the Allies devastated the Axis from the air, with squadrons of tank-busting Messerhurriefires in European theatre markings...it's just not cricket...from Montaplex...the copying pirate types!

Although - if they had numbers of 75mm armed AMX13's at their disposal, the DAK should have performed better than they did!

The figures: Quite close copies, and among the better of Montaplex's piracies, the colour isn't bad either compared to some of the stuff you get when you finally open the little envelope...they could have been bright pink or a washy apple-green!

Several of the figures make for easy single-cut conversions, I did some a few years ago, but they must be in storage as they're not in with the main lot, so I quickly cut these up to show a few of the combinations. The OBE on the end is a heat-conversion to save the surrendering man's honour by putting him to directing traffic or an aircraft?

Comparison with the Matchbox set, there's not a lot in it, the matchbox figures are very good, but I think the Airfix figures just take the trophy? The Matchbox MG42-gunner is poor and the 'Rommel' figure is a dwarf! AND...it's those silly bases again!

The 'Kit' set of figures from Esci seems to reference some of the Airfix 1:32nd scale set and some figure poses from - I think - Tamiya (I will look at all this on the main blog one day, as it explains one of the anomalies in Garratt's encyclopedia), anyway there were some nice poses and some straight lifts, however the Esci addition of ammo for the MG was a nice touch, as the Airfix set didn't get the sprulette of four ammunition-boxes scaled down from the 54mm ancestors. The Esci set also had a useful and quite accurate mortar, with ammo-boxes and mortar bombs (not illustrated here)

 2018 catalogue

1974 Battle Picture Weekly!

Comparison with the much elder Lone Star 'Germans, who are really more 'alpine' that Alamein! But the caps will allow for painting into an Afrika Korps army. Scale wise they are a tad smaller as a group, but after paint (and basing?) they would blend in OK, just that flame-thrower to explain!

S11, 01711-6, Africa Korps, 1/76 scale, 1961 to 1972, 01711-6, 1973, Plasty, Germany, Kit Number 1005, 1960s, MPC, USA, 2-8001 El Alamein, 2-8054 Tank Battle at El Alamein, Early 1970s, Airfix Afrika Korps, 1/76th, MPC 2-8001 , MPC 2-8054, Tank Battle at El Alamein, El Alamein, 1962, 46 figures, 20 poses, 01711-6, 9 01711, 01711, A01711, First Type, 1st Type, Type One, Type 1, Type I, Germen, Deutsches, DAK, Second Type, 2nd Type, Type Two, Type 2, Type II
I seem to have two versions of this image, one cleaner, the other better-coloured, I obviously intended to use one not the other but now can't decide which is the better, so the other is on the Type 1 post and this version can go here! Direct comparison between the two issues.


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1973 [WWII] German Infantry (2nd Version), 1705 / 01705 / 01705-1 / 9 01705 / A01705 - HO/OO

Another of the sets to get a 70's make-over. I was always rather disappointed by this set, although I liked the officer and the guy mooching about with an MG34 over his shoulder, festooned with ammunition belts, overall the set lacked something.

As with the British Infantry redesign, they were a bit clean and - like both the aforementioned set and the 2nd Type 8th Army - there were a couple of silly poses, also; like the US Marines there was an obvious visual difference between the ex-54mm figures and the wholly new sculpts. Something the Desert Rats and DAK don't suffer from.

1980 catalogue, again one of the little 'thumbnail' images from the back of the white 'corner art' boxes, carried over as artwork Long boxes. I've read endless column-inches on the web about this chap's weapon, but I believe the sculptor has admitted it was just a f**k-up. He's also owned-up to using an air-gun for the standing firing pose, which does look like our old BSA Original! Indeed the photographs were/are to be seen in the Plastic Warrior magazines coverage of the 54mm set somewhere.

1985 sees the catalogue artwork reproduced so darkly he looks like an SS-man, just off parade. Compare with the previous image and it's obviously a different print-reproduction process (the technical details of which are beyond me?), lithography versus what? And which is which! but anyway, in my opinion; this image looks like it's been cut from one of Ron Embleton's Trigan Empire stories! Especially as he's clearly been armed with a space-blaster!

Compared to the Atlantic set which clearly used the 1:32nd figures as influence, but not necessarily complete lifts. The blurb on the back of this set is not as fanciful as some of the sets Atlantic did, but it's one where you're left glad that you got the slightly odd looking figures in the box rather than the very odd ones in the line-drawings on the back of the box!

Colour variation - Eric Williamson in his seminal (and missed) website was a great one for telling you exactly when he thought a certain colour was used, by placing it next to the box art as you scrolled down the page. Sadly with this set he used the same grey/pale grey (?) one for every box type! This may mean that pale grey figures were common in the batches that went to North America, or that he was having a lazy-day when he did that page (as far as I know they were all hand-built in HTML).

I can't tell you for sure, but I know I never saw any in the late 1970's (when the Para's and Mountain Troops where being issued in both shades), nor when I picked-up collecting again after a few years in the Army, but by 1990/1 (as the grey window-boxes were being phased-out in favour of the 'new' white boxes) I did buy a set, so they are probably one of General Mills' or Heller's many abortions! Although, a pale grey is reasonable compared to some of the colours they visited on some of the sets between them, so I'm just having a dig!

It's (that first set of mine in the paler shade) also stiffer plastic than the standard Airfix, so an MPC thing looks reasonable. I have since found softer pale greys as well, so they may well have had a bash when the Fallschirmjaeger and Alpenjäger got theirs, or be from more resent years. The originals came in the 'standard' Airfix dark (mid?) grey of the earlier set of the WWI Germans, Luftwaffe etc...

A comparison with the Matchbox set, not much in it really, both too clean, it's like they've almost finished mopping-up in France, 1940, and were about to have a victory parade when someone started firing at them!

Again (like the Atlantic set) there is a clear influence from the Airfix 1:32nd scale figure-sculpts, with additional figures to make-up a typical '50-figure' box of 15-odd poses. As with most of these comparisons, it's the equivalent poses that have lined-up, so no Matchbox mortar team here, as Airfix thought their blokes didn't need any support!

Nitto...well, what can you say? Vaguely based on an old/early Tamiya 1:35 scale 'kit' figure set (or actually the Bandai 1:48th kit? I'll correct this when I've dug them out!), they are pretty awful, certainly no threat to Airfix as a source for large numbers of figures (their kits were pricey imports as well!), the set is now hidden in the Fujimi inventory, as the whole runner is included in quite a few of the AFV kits.

Fujimi's own set (of 10 figures) is in storage, but I managed to cobble this together until a better image can replace it, although as this Blog is aiming for a scrap-book effect - I'll probably just add it further down!

The standing figures are not too bad, being (like the US Infantry) taken from Airfix and the Deetail range from Britains, bit the prone figures - of which there are five, seem to have been sculpted by the same ham-fisted troll who designed for Nitto! Probably a clue to the similar artwork and eventual takeover of the one by the other, in there...

A couple of the poses were also used in the 88mm Flak kit, but the 105mm got separate sculpts.

The 'new' white 'corner artwork' box in the 1975 catalogue (image courtesy of Blog follower Kostas), where they sat alongside pages of the earlier 'blue box' artwork. As with the 2nd Type Afrika Korps: the blurb is referring back to the 1st Type, with mention of the anti-tank guns.

In the upper shot here we see the 8 poses taken from the existing 1:32nd scale range in the line above and the 7 'new' poses in the line underneath. There's not a lot in it, if you look hard you might say a few of the new poses are slighter than the originals, a tad shorter overall maybe, but really?

The kneeling guy is as tall (were he to stand up) as a lot of kneeling figures from a lot of manufacturers, the poses are generally weaker, but there's nothing here to say for definite that they weren't from the same sculptor as the others. There's nothing to say they weren't created at the same time as the chosen 8. Indeed, the fact that Airfix went with 8 poses, when most of the 54mm sets - at that time - typically had 7 might lead one to conclude that the decision-makers had a number to choose from? I'm not saying that, I don't know, but with the later poses being the weaker poses, it's a distinct possibility that the masters all date from the same time.

The lower shot is a comparison between those larger figures with their 'puddle' bases and the smaller ones with their distinctive ogee-cornered oblong bases. The only victim of major change is the No.2 on 'the gun', he loses his rifle and about four rounds of the end of the ammunition belt; I'm guessing here: due to problems with moulding what were the extremities of his sculpt?

 2018's catalogue - one of six, all WWII, all common, very sad state to see the old brand-mark get into.

 Boys Own Invading Poland Annual 1939?

Compared with Lone Star's oldies; they are fine size-wise, and would probably work best as last-ditch home defence (Volkssturm) from 1944/45, or a bunch of cooks and bottle-washers grabbed by a passing unit of Feldjägerkorps to help hold a crossroads - "You don't need helmets where you're going, to the last man; for the fatherland!"


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