Thursday, December 12

Life Miniatures 1/10th scale bust - "MG42 Tripod Carrier, Totenkopf Division, Kharkov 1943" in review and construction

We have the latest and most complicated work from Life Miniatures bust range in 1/10th scale  - Sang Eon Lee has tried to capture 1/10th scale bust - "MG42 Tripod Carrier, Totenkopf Division, Kharkov 1943" in review and construction. Let’s see if he was shooting straight.

Life Miniatures
1/10th scale
Sculpted by Sang-Eon Lee
Bust includes 23 Parts in grey resin

Sent for review this week was the latest figure kit from Life Miniatures. In his latest and most technically complex kit so far Sang Eon Lee has captured a German machine gunner in the battle of Kharkov in 1943 carrying the base of the MG42 called the “Lafette 42” (MG42 Tripod which also worked for the MG34)

The resin bust comes in Life Miniature’s normal card box with lots of soft black padding inside which sandwiches the figure in nicely. I got him from the box undamaged, the resin was bubble free (and sickly sweet smelling) and there was no release agent still on the figure but I would wash before I undercoated as a matter of course.
Inside was twenty three resin parts – no less than eleven parts of the count going into the Lafatte 42 MG tripod the SS man carries on his back. The rest of the parts were the bust, stand, Kar.98 and binoculars (and a cigarette.) Each of the resin parts is attached to a pouring block that once or twice is problematic – but more on that later.
To get you in the mood I found some and the sculptor sent me the rest of these – the inspiration pictures that drove the sculpting of this piece – Germans in the soviet union all with winter “Kharkov Parkas”.
The shell of these parkas were made of heavy zeltbahn style cotton poplin in the typical field-grey shade and lined with genuine sheepskin. The sleeves were padded with woolen material and the hood lined with the sheepskin as well. These soldiers , whilst carrying loads of ammo, MG’s and their tripod stands – are all looking like pretty tough cookies while they are at it!
To show you what came in the box in detail I think we will work from the head down to the torso and then “personals” before we look at the MG mount for his back. Sounds logical to me.

The bust has one head choice – he is wearing the large brimmed German steel helmet. Complete with air holes in all the right places and a large casting block on the rear of the helmet which will need some snips and a flat bit of sandpaper to flatly sand off any excess after you have trimmed with a sharp knife. This would be better placed somewhere else as the rear back of the brim is so fine it’s a butt-clenching 5 minutes cutting it off. There mustn’t be a better solution I suppose or it would have been used. Not a biggie – the helmet is good in it’s shape and it has a lump on the inside which fits into…
The HEAD – which is a very nice piece of work, every nuance and bump of a tough weather-beaten face is there. A lumpy and bumpy nose, a strong chin, brows frowning ever so slightly over the eyes, a chinstrap around his neck to attach to the helmet and a hole in the right hand side of his moth for his ciggie to poke out of. The hair and ears are both very finely done as well.
The hollow in his head where his brain goes fits neatly into his helmet to help secure and place it. Where the neck joins the torso on the head you will find that once the casting block is removed it just slips in and could hold without glue. I glued mine however.
On his torso this SS man from the Death’s head division is seen wearing a thick fur-lined pullover parka was often called the “Kharkov Parka” by the troops and was manufactured from 1940-1943 and issued until the end of the war. It became synonymous with that battle as many soldiers were lucky enough to be able to be issued one in time for that winter. The parka was very commonly worn by the soldiers of the Elite units due to the very high cost in material and time, the parkas were never made in large enough numbers to go around – and because of this various types of the fur lining were used on this garment when needed.
The fur on this sculpt is really impressive, it comes sticking out of the coat on his neck with some weight that gives it a woolen look. The coat itself is wrinkly and the stitching at buttons are very impressive as well. He has two “Potato Masher” stick grenades that would be stuck handle end into the soldier’s belt which is not visible here.Also not seen are the little notched under the collars there the MG belts and the rifle straps site nicely in the correct locations. thoughtful engineering like this is all around this kit.
On the rear view we see two large holes in this bust. One is for the pole which the figure is rested on (supplied with the kit) and the other hole is cut out of where his parka would be. This is for the Lafette MG mount. The casting block on this part is easily removed from under his torso.
The wrinkles around the opening of the hood of the parka, as well as the neatly sculpted pockets deserve a mention here – as dos the quizzical twin holes in the chest above the grenades – and the long bump indented in his chest. Could these be for “accessories?”
And accessories we have! There are a small pair of field opticals (binoculars) that have visible focus rings on the eyepieces and hollowed out eye sockets and hinges where the glasses open or close up depending on how wide you want them. They look exactly like my dad’s old glasses. These two eyepieces fit neatly into the dents supplied in the body after you remove the pouring block which isn’t a hindrance.
The binoculars and the rifle sit flush into the body with these smartly included hollows in the torso. They make the parts sit realistically in the figure instead of on top of him.
A superbly sculpted KAR 98 rifle made with Magic sculpt and Plastruct round rod. This is an extension to the front part of Kar98k that Ju Won Jung had built for Life Miniatures LM-B006 'German 6th Army Stalingrad' bust.

This is a truly wonderful representation of the “soldier’s bride” – as you can see by the comparison below all the major parts are there and it has a hollowed out muzzle. Only the sights are not see thru – this can be achieved however with some very careful work – it’s risky though!
The rifle sits into the chest like the binoculars – and thee is a slight depression ready to catch it. This is a good locator for the gun in angle and placement. Be careful carving the casting block part off the rifle around the trigger guard as it’s so fine.  Don’t forget to put the bolt into the rifle as well. You can see it all in the picture below with lovely detail near the trigger only you will know about after it’s glued in place. Lovely work there.

He also carries a bunch of rounds around his neck for the MG 34/42. He may have even been carrying boxes of ammo in his hands as his rifle is draped around his neck (though well never know ‘cause this is a bust)

The ammo belts are beautiful here as well. He would have been carrying heaps of ammo and these look the part. They are attached to the pouring block so you need to cut them each off with a hobby knife. Be careful with these as if you break ‘em they’re fiddly to glue and keep glued later as I found out when mine broke a few times. You can bend these ever so gently to conform to the body.
Both sides of the ammo belt are included here. The belts used in this gun are of the non-disintegrating metallic-link type. And they are made very well with every detail able to be picked out with some deft painting or a wash which will find every crease making it easy for you.
Lastly the hardest part of this bust – building the Lafette MG42 Tripod.
Used with both the MG 34 and 42 machine guns, this mount was designed to be carried by one soldier and it was light but strong. This does not have any opticals attached to it and it is a chopped down version where the body ends – so you can’t make your own MG nest I’m sorry. It does however give the figure lots of depth which seems to be the next frontier in busts – lots of stuff to hang off the body. It does set this type of figure apart from the crowd though so smart thinking.
It comes in eleven parts – and a lot of studying the photos I'll post in this article of the assembled mount and the completed figure really help. There are several indentations that you find when your placement is close that help you make sure you have it in the right place.

It is really hard to explain how it all goes together – but there a first from Life Miniatures in the form of instructions on the side of the box which help you out a lot – then look at completed pictures and you will get it easy enough – I mean, I got it and I’m not that bright.

Here it is opened up and put together – notice it is a cut down version – some restraint was shown!
…and folded up ready to slot straight into the back of the bust – which it does with no glue at all.I hope these pictures help you put yours together.

And here's where it fits - snugly with no glue needed
Half an hour of gluing and lightly bending MG ammo belts – breaking them and regluing them back on and here is our German Machine gunner assistant in Kharkov in 1943 in 1/10th scale – ciggie in mouth looking just like the figures we saw in the real life pictures earlier..
And that sums it up really – Sang eon lee’s whole motif for this company is to capture the essence of these figure in real life, I mean it’s the name of the company isn’t it?

He has caught it here definitely. This is a winner of a bust – just needing a paint to secure you the victory at the competition tables.

Adam Norenberg

This figure is now available from Life Miniature’s distributors worldwide

Here he is painted by the sculptor Sang Eon Lee – this is what is achievable folks!