Saturday, July 12

We review MJ Miniatures new 1/10th bust - Tiger Ace in Normandy, 'Michael Wittmann'

They sell like hotcakes, everyone seems to be interested in them – but SS Figures and busts from WWII seem to divide modellers into enthusiastic and “not another German” camps. Well we don’t really care about the subject here – we just want to review any bust coming from MJ Miniatures Studio – let’s have a look at him and compare him to the real man - Tiger Ace in Normandy, 'Michael Wittmann’  shall we…

Review: Tiger Ace in Normandy, 'Michael Wittmann'
Code: MJ09-001
Size: 1/9 Scale
Material: 6 pieces of Resin
Sculpted by: Ho,Seo.
Retail Price: 60 USD + shipping price

MJ Miniatures has made a great name for themselves in a short time span. Man-Jin, Kim has provided some lovely and one very complex model we looked at here of the Battle of Hastings and the WWII German Gebirgsjäger busts which were beautiful pieces.
Now the one thing I can say I might not have enjoyed about these (or any of the recent bunch of amazing busts by other artists like Life Miniatures) was the amount of complication these figures had in their construction. We seem to have gotten further away from the subject and more into what else we could include onto the piece as of recently. 

Sometimes you just want to get the bust built and paint it – and some of these busts seem to keep you on the construction phase a little too long. They stand out on the modelling tables I’m sure but they make a fun project a longer less fun proposition.

This sculpt though is made from a simple sic parts of grey resin. Two heads with two different head gear choices, the torso and a pole to mount him on – six parts makes for a whole lot simpler construction phase which I’m really glad of.

The resin is in a light grey colour and I saw no evidence of any surface bubbles or imperfections. There are slight casting block remnants which are in in easy places to remove. You needn’t fear any damage to the bust when removing these.

So the resin is in good shape – we will look at the parts individually in a second – first a little about the subject of the sculpt..
Michael Wittmann (22 April 1914 – 8 August 1944) – the poster boy of the SS Panzer korps and called “the Black Baron” – was famed as one of the highest scoring Waffen-SS tank commanders during the Second World War . He rose to the rank of SS-Hauptsturmführer (captain) by the time of his death in the Normandy Bocage in 1944

One of Germany's top scoring panzer aces he was a Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross holder and he was credited with the destruction of 138 tanks and 132 anti-tank guns, along with an unknown number of other armoured vehicles. He is best known for the carnage he caused in his Tiger “007” to the British 7th Armoured Division, during the Battle of Villers-Bocage on 13 June 1944.
He and his crew were on a recon mission in his Tiger when he ran smack-bang into a British column which he systematically destroyed up to 14 tanks and 15 personnel carriers along with 2 anti-tank guns within the space of 15 minutes.

He was later killed it in battle with his crew in the same area - it seems by a collection of forces on the hunt for the Germans the credit goes to a Sherman Firefly of the 1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry that fired the round that destroyed his tank and killed Wittmann and his crew. It is the Wittmann of this Normandy battle that the figure of the figure is inspired by.

All that was left of Wittmann's Tiger after his death
Sculpted by ‘Ho, Seo' this figure comes in a black box filled with padding which kept this bust very safe in the post, the padding straddled the parts on both sides as is the norm with MJ's Miniatures..
Let’s start at the top and work our way down – Starting at the headwear choices:- The Wittmann bust features two headwear choices – both going onto a head that has been flattened and which the hats can sit upon.
One of these headwear choices he is wearing is the peaked officer’s "Crusher" cap (or Schirmmuetze) with pink wool piping around the edge called the “Waffenfarbe Rosa”

The German eagle and the skull and crossbones is clearly visible here on the front of the hat, The hat also sits back in the accustomed manner of the Panzer “old Hares” who bent the wire in the hats to make them look worn and used.  The cloth on top of the hat is captured here very well.
And here with the hat on his head
The other with the latter war M-43 Field Cap (Einheitsfeldmutze) which was worn by all ranks in the SS and both of which Wittmann had been photographed in during that time in Normandy.
This cap again features a very delicate rendering of the German eagle emblem and death’s head on the front peak which is pinched in much the same style as the officer’s cap is flattened. The tiny button’s holes are visible as are the folds and the stitching on the flattened cloth of the cap.
And with the head choice on the flat head provided - notice the ears and even the eyelids are the same likeness..
You know about the head choices – I am actually misleading you a little here – technically this bust features THREE headwear choices – The last one being the simplest of course – that of him wearing nothing on his head. 

You can see the young chubby cheeks here just like the man himself and the point between his eyes on his forrid where he squints.  The long nose with a slight bump on it, the downward slant on his mouth at the sides and slightly knobby chin all capture the “Black Baron” in some great detail here.
The facial features are instantly recognizable and they do his face justice completely.

The heads fit into the torso easily with the rounded joint - you can even swap them out without damaging the collars or the rest of the kit..
The other main part of this kit is the torso. This is a simple affair almost in a minimal style – you couldn’t have put much less into this to make it a bust. The round stem supports the torso and reveals a torso that is small but is picked with the finest of detail.
The open neck of the black leather jacket Wittman is wearing shows his tunic with SS runes on one side and the three pips of the SS-Hauptsturmführer” as well as the Iron Cross/ Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords which are all readily visible and will come up very well under a skilled hand and the smallest of brushwork.
His two shoulder star shoulder boards with the special “LAH” monograms in gold and two pips on the straight braid of an SS-Hauptsturmführer  which could have easily been missed by a less scrupulous researcher – well done!
The buttons pull at the waist where the leather coat is done up and the leather itself has texture just like the real thing that you could well bring out in your paint..

Here he is all put together – first with the M43 hat choice
Then my favourite the offficer’s peaked crusher hat
..Then with no hat – the “nude look” – which shows off his features
This bust is a departure from the last three releases by MJ Miniatures – it isn’t complicated and it is easy to make – it should paint up pretty easily as well – there being only the simplest of elements all open to the light overhead ( as opposed to a dragoon head or chains hanging off him like the resent models.)

I am not saying I dislike complicated busts at all – far from it – but there is a place for simple personal sculpts and complicated busts and this one nails the likeness of the man – right down to the scar on his chin. He is very a lifelike capture of this SS Panzer ace and impressively sculpted to the finest detail. Well researched as well as noted with the shoulder boards – this is a great addition to MJ’s range.

Adam Norenberg
You can get this new bust from MJ Miniatures distributors…
Here is the bust painted by Box-art Painter Man-Jin, Kim to show you the possibilities with this sculpt…