Thursday, December 4

Review: Alpine's on the hunt for some large scale game with their new Panzerknacker in 1/16th scale

Alpine Miniatures have released a large scale gunner with an even larger gun - this 1/16th SS soldier is punching above his weight with an anti-tank rifle which ads a different dynamic to the figure. We built him up so you can see how he takes the stage.
Build review:
Alpine Miniatures
German Infantry with PzB 39
Sculpture by Taesung Harmms
Boxart by Dr. Jin Kim
1/16th scale
containing seventeen pieces of grey resin

Adding to their range of 16th scale figures which are almost like special editions is this figure of a German SS infantryman carrying a large anti-tank rifle, the PzB 39. The figure is tall and slim, although not only is the figure taking the space on your workbench but the long barrelled anti-tank gun also fills a space high on the soldier's shoulder. It is a naturalistic looking pose and i could easily see a person with the weight of this gun hoisting it on his shoulder. This large and fairly unusual weapon takes a lot of the focus in this piece - so what about the gun?

The German Anti-tank gun Panzerbüchse PzB 39 or "tank hunting rifle model 39" was a heavy anti-tank rifle – 13.35mm Mauser Tank Gewehr Model 1918 based on 7.92mm Mauser Model 98 rifle. The new rifle was able to penetrate 26mm of armour at 100m and approximately 10mm at 200m.
The original bullets for this gun had hardened steel core and tiny capsule of tear gas. The idea behind the capsule was that once the bullet entered the armored vehicle it would disperse and force the crew to leave the vehicle. It didn’t work as only the core penetrated and capsule was left outside the tank it struck. The PzB 39 was able to penetrate 25mm of sloped armour at 60 degrees  at 300m and 30mm at 100m. 
Due to the fact that this rifle was conceived before the war and the advent of super heavy tanks it quickly became obsolete and could only be used as short- range anti-tank infantry weapons. It is unusual and so I think a very interesting choice from alpine and the sculptor Taesung Harmms.
This  chap is ready to fire his PzB.39 - notice he has the same covered helmet and camo smock as this figure.
Ok let’s look at this figure shall we?

The larger scale figures from Alpine Miniatures come with a bit of a premium feel to them. The dark blue box has a texture and feel that is far away from other boxes with miniature figures in them. The box-art of the painted figure by Dr. Jin Kim is featured on the front of the box and it opens up to reveal some black padding with eighteen parts of grey resin inside zip-loc bags.
Each of the parts are cast in light grey resin. On looking at this resin it very much reminds me of the quality of the smaller scale 35th figures that alpine makes and more people would be familiar with. The sculptor in this case is the head of Alpine Miniatures Mr. Taesung Harmms, I have been a fan of his work in the past but I look at all of his work with a view of getting something of a high standard.

The resin here on offer represents that standard. There are no surface bubbles in evidence here, even when the parts are removed from their resin pouring blocks. This is a relief as the detail on the surface is so fine you wouldn’t want to try to replicate it.
Let’s start at the head(s) and work our way down…

The sculpt comes with two head choices - One with the patterned cloth camo helmet and the other with just the bare German helmet, both of the faces on the heads are the same – his expression is looking off into the distance – spotting some enemy tanks to take a pot shot at maybe or just marching down the road.
Both of these necks join into a two part torso. The upper half is donning an SS camouflage smock which was standard issue even early in the war, over his field grey tunic. This can be seen under his camo smock at the waist and the collar. The collar on the right opens up just enough to see the “SS” runes on his tab. It is a nice little hint and further lets you know he is one of the elite of the German army.
The camo smock is actually a good device to lend depth to the sculpt. It creases loosely under the straps of the infantryman’s Y shaped webbing and it sits low under the elbows and upward raised arms of the figure. The strings which hold the blouse closed are loose and open and sit to the side quite naturally as well. There are some flat surfaces on the front and rear of the torso which are recessed to accept the equipment of the infantryman and better secure the part on the body. This makes the parts sit more naturally on the figure as well whilst leaving a slight natural fold as a gap between the parts. You will notice the fine details on this soldier's belt also.
The lower part of the torso features the same recesses, again this helps locate but also helps you align the figure’s two torso halves. There are two notches in the join also that help secure and locate the parts together.
You can see the infantryman’s tunic coming out from under his short camo smock on the lower torso. This is gathered at the waist so the bottom of the jacket flares out under the pants this soldier is wearing. Again the wrinkling of these pants is done quite realistically. 
As the soldier is seen walking forward his pants bulge where they are slack and pull in a straight line where the cloth is stretched. The flat bread bag the soldier is carrying is seen with indentations on it which are there to enable the recess of the corrugated gas mask which sits on the rear of the infantryman. The legs of the infantryman end at the knee where they fit into the boots. Again these are hollowed out to receive the next parts in the correct alignment. 
While we are talking about boots – the boots provided are the more prominent high “jackboots” that were issued in the earlier part of the war. Soldiers were later issued with the cheaper and easy to produce leather lace up boots later in the war and this makes me think he is an early war figure.
You can see by looking here that one of the boots is bent at the toe where the foot is seen pushing forward. Also there is a catch in that boot which holds the soldier’s extra knife which goes into the recess on the leg and stick into the boot most realistically.
One more thing to note is that his hands is seen here on the same pouring block. The smock on the sleeve is gathered at the wrist and the join is in the cloth seam on the smock arm which makes a clean and convincing join. Another smart bit of engineering. The hand itself features some nicely gnarly fingers and veins on the back of the hand and creases and lines in the open palm.

All of these parts go together in a way that there are notches and lugs to correctly align and secure them. Legs secure into the correct shaped lugs, the two torso halves fit into lugs and the arm is again secured correctly to the sleeve. Sensible and helpful engineering is a step beyond what you get with a lot of figures nowadays but thankfully delivered here. 
The early/mid war load out of most German soldiers included a water canteen, mess tin and a cylindrical canister with a gas mask inside. These all attach to the Y shaped webbing the soldier has on and like we saw earlier these pieces all have a place on the torso. All of these are very well sculpted and especially the metal handles on the mess tin are delicately cast but not that delicate that the handle fell apart whilst cleaning the part. There is the L shaped handle for the gun as well as the knife handle that tucks into the boots as well.
What is also on this casting block are two parts relating to the gun. The folded tripod which sits neatly under the barrel folded up and the two pouches for the PzB.39 ammunition. These rectangle packs have nicely sculpted flaps with toggles and on the rear they have strange little blocks which look like “Play” and “Record” symbols.
These are simply notches which fit into the torso recesses we pointed out earlier in only one way so that you place them on the figure correctly and so they stay affixed to the figure.
The leather carry strap of the large rifle is here in a thin resin strip. It will need to be carefully removed and even more carefully bent to shape to fit the curve of leather versus gravity. The strap is moulded as two layers with a clear division in the two leather layers and buckles to hold them in position. 
The PzB.39 is next – and compared to the real thing we examined earlier it is a very doo replica. The right hand that is holding the gun is moulded into the weapon. There are a bunch of moulding stems which were used to cast the gun but these are easy to remove. Caution must be used however when removing the trigger guard stem.
You can see the corrugated sides of the steel and the safety catch of the gun. The padded guards on the shoulder rest are visible here as well and the leather on these is rendered wrinkly and life like.. Again the hand’s sinews and veins are very visible.
The sleeve of the figure slips straight onto the wrist joint and it is a secure hold with just a little super glue. You can see from this shot the way it leans on his shoulder.
The gun handle even has two notches which securely and correctly align it to the gun…
The muzzle of the gun is hollowed out just enough to be able to shade it to look hollow as is the same for the flash suppressor holes either side of the barrel. These can be seen to great advantage as the gun barrel is prominent. 

And here is the whole lot of  equipment on the figure. It's a great choice to have these parts attach to the body as it gives separation and  depth to the finished figure.
 Some examples of how these soldiers are carrying this gun just like in the sculpt
So here he is together – he has a slight gap at the waist which I just needed some time to work on. All of his joints are at the most sensible of places that look natural once he is put together. Smart engineering is a real key feature of these large scale kits and I was heartily impressed by the smart fit and ease of construction on offer here.

And here he is built up with both head choices - First here he is with the bare steel helmet choice 
Here he is with the cloth covered helmet
The height and width of this figure will set him apart from many others on the competition tables or your display bench. He is a different type of figure in his weapon loadout and physical body language.
To us this SS infantryman looks early war – his rifle choice – large jack boots and camo smock over his grey uniform make us believe he might be a pre-Barbarossa figure even though you could make him a much later in the war choice if you liked by adding or changing colours. His cross threaded stitching on his chest definitely could be a later war accoutrement.

We liked him a lot – he is definitely another example of why the sculptor and Alpine Miniatures are top of the tree in military figure modelling.

Adam Norenberg

These figures – sold as a set or by themselves are available now from Alpine Miniatures Distributors from this Link
…Which leads us to the other excellent work in this figure - the paint job - Dr. Jin Kim took time from tending patients to paint this beauty (sorry to all those sick people in hospital but this is important!) We think that all the suffering might have been worth it as he has added a lot of life to him and his clothing and pattered smock – nice work!