Thursday, November 22

Construction Review: 1/16th scale WSS Grenadier NCO from Alpine Miniatures.

Not only does Alpine Miniatures turn out 35th scale figures and 16th scale busts, but also 1/16th full scale figures. Reviewing one of these larger figures is always an opportunity not to be missed, so when we got the chance to build the new Waffen SS NCO we jumped at it. See what we thought in our construction review...

Construction Review: WSS Grenadier NCO
From Alpine Miniatures.
1/16th scale
Sculpture by Mike Good
Boxart by Toshihiro Sano
Sixteen parts cast in light grey resin.
Alpine Miniatures is a well known company to model makers. Supplying some of the best figures in resin in 35th and also 1/6th scale, their sets pioneered the standard of figure makers supplying alternate head choices with their releases. Alpine's track record of turning out great works from the best sculptors around has few peers in the industry.

We had the chance to have a look at and build the newest 1/16th scale figure from the Alpine stable, titled "WSS Grenadier NCO" and consisting of sixteen parts of grey resin. The original was sculpted by Mr. Mike Good, and in the case of the box art, painted by the very talented Toshihiro Sano.

The two options of the figure made up and painted by Toshihiro Sano
This sculpt in 1/16th scale resembles an NCO (translated as "head (or chief) squad leader" - the equivalent of a U.S. Master sergeant) of the SS in an early or mid war uniform. There are several "tells" to pick this time-frame out as we will look at while examining his clothing in the review...
A few similarly dressed SS men that look a little like our subject...
The larger 1/16th scale figure figures sold by Alpine Miniatures come in a different box than the lime green and clear thin plastic boxes you may well know. The premium feel of thick card make up the housing of this figure with box art on top. Inside you will find the box filled with padded foam to keep everything safe in place.
The Resin Parts:
Inside this foam enclosure you find several small zip-loc bags that hold the sixteen parts inside them. Most of the resin parts are connected to the casting stub, especially the smaller pieces or resin that are a little more frail. The large upper torso and lower portion below the belt and two head choices still have a little resin to be cleaned off them. There is a little extra material that you can see here that needs to be scrubbed clean of the parts before you go too far in construction.
The two head choices:
Supplied as a part of every Alpine Miniatures kit are the choices of the same head, but with different headgear in two options in each release and this box is no different. The choices are the M40 helmet with canvas camouflage cover, or the M40/42 flat overseas cap. Both of the faces feature delicate touches to the eyes, teeth, nose and hair, the ears and chin strap of the helmet are layered and vary in size as to the position and thickness as the real thing would on a 1/1 figure.
The first choice we will talk bout is the NCO'S M40 overseas cap (Feldmütze neuer Art) on the bottom right. This was first introduced in June 1934 for wear by EM/NCO’s serving with the Allgemeine, Totenkopfverbände, and the VerfügungstruppeSS which were to become the cadre of the Waffen-SS, (Armed-SS). In 1937 an earth grey version of the first pattern cap was introduced and worn until a second pattern overseas cap was introduced in November 1940 in a field grey colour as we see int he box art of this figure. The M40 overseas cap was similar in cut to the Luftwaffe’s "schiffchenform", (boat-form), overseas cap and was worn for the duration of the war. you can see in the sculpt here the finely sculpted death's head of the SS and the German eagle on the front in what would be silver stitching.
Another comparison with the real headgear from the side, Notice on the canvas covered M40 helmet the similarity to the sculpt? The folds of cloth, the zip where the chin-strap is positioned are exactly the same on the figure as the picture. The detail and time taken by the sculptor here Mr Mike good is as with all of his work that I have seen top notch. 
The view from the rear of the camouflage helmet showing again the similarities to the sculpt.
The torso is next. This half of the soldier is dominated by the early war version of the camouflage smock of the initial type M40 smock which was a feature of the SS troops in the early war especially. You can easily see his rank in the Waffen-SS, as a Hauptscharführer. This was a was a rank bestowed upon company and battalion non-commissioned officers and was considered the second highest enlisted rank, below that of Sturmscharführer. Those holding the Waffen-SS rank of Hauptscharführer were typically also granted the title of Stabsscharführer, which was an appointment held by the senior SS non-commissioned officer of a company, battalion, or regiment. The insignia for Hauptscharführer was two silver pips, with a silver stripe centred on a black collar patch.
The collar tabs for this rank in a diagram and a smock of a very similar type worn by an SS man in the earlier part of the war - probably in Russia.
Th smock here from an angle, note the shoulder joint socket, the straps and their associated hooks of the harness, the laces on the front which tied the smock together or were released in warmer weather and the stick grenade tucked into the two-pronged officer's belt. Note the hook of the NCO/ Officer's cross strap that tucked into the soldier's belt on the near left of the figure.
The rear of this smock shows that it is the M40 camouflage smock around the neck area, with that cross strap twisted over the "Y-shaped" harness. Also not the way that the camouflage smock cloth folds and pinches underneath these hard leather straps. 
A good view from a similar angle of this tunic. The SS runes and laces that tie the neck area together are again evident, as are the pinches and folds we were talking about just prior. Note the thick sleeves on this figure that are stitched and gathered at the wrists?
Those sleeves from both sides, they fit into the square and round sockets of the torso and cannot be mixed up in this way. The thick canvas almost looks padded in both real life and in this sculpt.
The "pantalones" of this figure re the simple field grey issued cotton pants. You can see that camouflaged smock is getting in there again with the bottom of the smock hanging over the groin area. I like very much the  360 degree pinching around the internal drawstring of the waist of the smock shown here.
You can see the brad bag of the soldier that all of his other equipment sits upon and the engineering of the notches that the sculptor has made for them to simply sit inside. these locating tabs leave the modeller with no way to stuff up the body language and gravity of these figure's accessories. Note the pinching of the pants as the figure walks forward and where they are tucked into his high boots.
Besides the helmet, the tall, blackened leather boot is probably one of the most instantly recognizable items of the German military. However the German’s concern with leather shortages was evident as early as September 1939 when issue of the traditional tall leather marching boot was restricted to personnel serving in the field.Officers and certain senior NCO’s could choose to purchase their footwear from the armed forces clothing depots or to privately purchase footwear of higher quality. Although enlisted personnel were issued their footwear from government supplies they were also permitted to purchase privately manufactured footwear although the price may have been restrictive.The early war tall leather boots of this soldier are again typical of a soldier for up 'till about the late 1943 period. The later the war went on, the mode we see soldiers in the shorter leather boots that were easier and cheaper to produce. The folds in the leather, especially in the toes as the figure leans to walk forward are evident from the difference in the boots.
Included in this figure's equipment is the Mp-40 sub-machine gun. This is a great choice for that period, You can see the soldier's hand and wrist, covered by the fringe of the camouflage cloth sleeve that flows over the hand that is holding the gun. This hand fits into the sleeve of the soldier leaving a seamless joint.

I can see by the comparison to the real sub-machine gun below they have it just about right.

The thing that is missing from the MP 40 is the folding stock of the gun, and it is on a long and thin casting block her - a little covered with extra material that takes some careful removal. As well as this we have from left to right below - the flat map case for the NCO and officers, the Walther holstered pistol, the extra MP 40 ammunition pouches that sit on the soldier's chest, the flask and cup that is strapped to it and lastly the ribbed gas mask canister on the far right below. They look great in 35th scale resin here with a lot of detail. Especially the Mp-40's folding metal stock.
Th strap of the MP 40 is included with a nice buckle for those who do not want to make their own. These resin parts are difficult to shape, but be careful and you will be OK.
That is the end of the parts breakdown. I think the sculptor has done a great job in his accuracy - but what about how it all fits together?

Engineering of the joints:
These parts are all "socketed and jointed" so they fit just right as they are meant to to give the correct body language and weight to the figure. It also helps construction and the sticking on of his gear and accessories too.

The waist parts contain a few circular stubs of casting material that needs to be removed before you can slot the square socket and trench locating tab together in the correct position.

These legs slip into those tall boots just fine because of the tabs included, also the seam where they fit is as natural as the real thing would have.
Th torso fits neatly into the arms in the correct manner with both square and rounded sockets that fit into the left and right arms at the joints in the fabric of the camouflage smock.
With all of this prior preparation it prevented piss poor performance😁 - and we got him together in about 10 20 minutes after a quick clean up.
nearly there...this picture shows the the drape of the MP 40's strap and the rear equipment in place.
Here he is completed, first in a walk around with the steel helmet covered in the camouflage cover...
Next up the flat overseas cap choice that shows more of the face and especially that lovely, layered hair.
So there he is - to me a quite convincing, accurate and finely sculpted figure of an SS NCO in an early to mid war get up that has all the hallmarks of a nicely put together German soldier. The key equipment and subtle work on the smallest of details on the uniform are there and the face and effects of clothing and body language are spot on. The only problem I had was balancing him to take pictures!

A great figure by the team from Alpine, well done on this, another excellent offering.

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to Alpine Miniatures for sending this figure to us to build and to review for you. This figure is available now through the Alpine Miniatures Website…
Here is a walk around from the box artist himself Mr Toshihiro Sano of his painted up version on the box art of the kit. This is what this kit looks like under the hand of a skilled or even a patient painter.