Tuesday, March 26

Review: Alpine Miniatures Otto Carius and NCO set in 35th scale

Alpine Miniatures has ventured into dangerous territory – this set of two figures we are reviewing today features one very well-known Panzer ace of WWII. Not only is he of a slight physique he is a funny looking fellow in real life. How to capture not only a man’s likeness but a well-known figure with certain peculiarities without lampooning them and so enraging World of Tanks fans around the world? We will see if this set captured the look.


35150 Otto Carius & NCO Set (2 Figure set)
1/35th scale
Grey resin 6 parts (35148) & 7 parts (35149)
This set from Alpine Miniatures contains two panzer men discussing their plans for some action, an NCO and his commanding officer – one Otto Carius. I normally don't mention much history in reviews but Carius is one of the more well-known Panzer commander “aces” who fought for Germany in WWII. A veteran with 105 + victories to his name he won the “Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub” - The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves during his time in combat.
Carius was a very slight fellow who at first was thought too small to enter armed forces service – having been rejected twice before finally being able to join the Panzer Korps in 1940. He certainly proved the recruiters wrong - he was most famous for his commanding actions especially with ABT 502nd (as well as being wounded in battle several times) on the eastern and western fronts, It was at the end of the war in the west where he finally surrendered to the Americans in April 1945.
So as a subject he is just as interesting a character, slight of frame, he had a bit of an interesting head shape - large in comparison to his diminutive frame. I have some good pictures of him so I am armed accordingly to judge the figure on its merits as well as likeness. Alpine Miniatures do some very good likeness of famous soldiers – take Alpine’s Michael Wittman/ bobby Voll figure combo they released last year – well I would think that Carius would be the second most well-known Panzer ace of the war. It is one thing to capture any man in a resin kit, but they have set the bar high here.
Ok inside their neat little green pack are the cover art and resin parts that contain both of the figures. The light grey resin is very hard to photograph so I hope that the likenesses are shown here in my snaps. I have to say I am really impressed with the detail I have seen on them. The resin is bubble free and soft to work whilst not smelly like some resins I am lucky enough to use on figures. Flawless casting I cannot see any imperfections.

A short word on the kit’s engineering-

Recently in a short chat with Taesung, the sculptor of these figure kits he mentioned that he models not just figures but figure model kits – meaning that they are not just something to look at but a process of engineering to get them to fit and to go together as easily as possible. You can see this ethos at work here in these figures. A tricky angled neck on the NCO is achieved here as he looks off to his left – as well as things like giving the pistols and equipment notches so they sit on the body with one small point of anchored contact.His right arm mirrors the contour of his body and so fits in precisely.
We see again with the Carius figure here that the pistol has a notch that locates it into the belt. Over this comes the arm which is hollowed out underneath to make the arm sit as snugly as it would in real life. The baggy armed sleeves folding around his pistol and all of the other little engineering shortcuts help you get the paint on the model as fast as possible. There is a bit of a gap still with most companies engineering levels on their kits. Alpine lead the field here in the fit and design of figure kits.
Detail is fine on both of these figures; the tiniest detail like the emblems on the headgear, the pips on the shoulder sideboards and the facial features and hair are really nice and skilfully painted will bring out the best in these figures. You can see easily the details on the edges of pockets, stitching and belts with the medals of the soldiers. The baggy trousers and sleeves are very well sculpted and sit very naturally on the legs of the soldiers. Mr Harmms has done a great job here.
 I will investigate each of these figures separately  before looking at them as a set.

 Sculpted by Taesung Harmms in 1/35th scale – this famous tank commander of the heavy panzer battalion Abt502 must have been very hard to get right – probably even by his own admission Carius had an “interesting” shaped face and head, pointy chin and downturned mouth, the slightly bulbous top of his head can be seen here especially in the head choice with no headgear. It looks to me that Taesung has nailed him in this sculpt.
The pictures show the figure with 2 different heads, this is the usual standard we come to expect from Alpine Miniatures and one that other in the industry now copy. While the heads are of course the same the two choices of head are one left bare and the other with an M-38 officers' flat forage cap.

The figure of Carius is seen with his prominent shoulder boards here detailed with the “Waffenrabe” piping of the armoured Korps, his Iron cross and field grey tanker’s short jacket covered on his chest by his small Zeiss field glasses. Carius carries a waist slung double holed officer’s belt with a P38 holster on his left hip – this is covered with his arm as previously mentioned here in this review.
The arms and covered map case come on a smaller block which is easily separated with some snips and cleaned easily due to the soft nature of the resin.
The pocket on the soldier’s leg is very interesting with a large pocket which is bulging forward giving the impression that something is in it. The whole body language of Carius is fairly neutral as he looks like he is going to have a con-flab with his fellow tanker who is engaging his sight off to the distance..

Here he is assembled..

This NCO of the Panzer 502 heavy Panzer corps is again sculpted in 1/35th scale, he is the counterpart to the Carius figure and although he can be purchased separately he is a natural companion to Carius. He is dressed very similarly to his commanding officer and like his comrade he comes with the choice of two different heads.
The pictures show the figures two 2 different heads, one with the flat forage cap and the other is showing the same face with a Bergemutze M-43 field cap which has a very flat and broad brim to it. The details of the face are more squared off, the higher cheekbones of this soldier separating him easily from Carius’ almost impish figures.

On his torso he wears some small field glasses and a Walther pistol in a pouch on his belt which is almost loosely around his waist. This belt pinches his short jacket and gives the torso some depth. The folds of the jacket and the pants are excellent again. He has the baggy pocket on his front pants and baggy legs of his trousers with short regulation issued boots.
He is posed pointing at something in the distance with his map in his hand – obviously gesturing to his commanding officer. He is holding a folded map as well and it sits nice and splayed open at the bottom where the two sides open up. A nice little facet to this sculpt which is full of delicate well thought out decisions. He isn’t a well-known sculpt like Carius but he is just as well executed.

Looking a little like the rising sun here - the arms and fingers in the baggy sleeves are lifelike and fit very well not just physically but joint wise the figures are very tight.
Here he is constructed with one of the head choices

The set of these two figures together come in a combined package – both have two head choices and are sculpted by Taesung Harmms. Here he is below with some of his cohorts doing exactly what these figures are sculpted as doing. I have shown them from a few different angles with a combo of their two choices of headgear.

These figures are very thoughtfully engineered and delicately sculpted. Ease of construction and the reality of both of the poses and the clothes and gear on them make these a great choice for your next (or current) diorama.

When it comes to getting the likeness of Carius Alpine have nailed it. Well done (again) to them on another excellent sculpted figure model set.

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to Alpine Miniatures for sending these two figures for us to review..

Here they are painted up by the insanely talented box artist Calvin Tan, this is what CAN be achieved !!