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Dienstag, 3. Dezember 2013

Review: German Pioniers

Getting into full swing with World War Two month here on Battle Brush Studios with a review of 28mm German Pioniers (a charming mix of languages) from Warlord Games' popular Bolt Action range of figures.

This box actually takes me back a fair amount of time. The first ever infantry models (Playmobil and Lego aside) I ever owned actually were German Pioniers which I got for Christmas from my Dad.

So many years down the line, still playing with toy soldiers of the same kind. :D Well, not quite. The Revell models, as you can see from looking at the sprue, were made of this horrible-to paint bendy  plastic while Warlord Games' certainly are not. So after this little bit of personal history, let's proceed to the review.

Warlord Games established thislook on their plastic or plastic/metal combo boxes for Bolt Action, with artwork on the background and one or two guys large in the foreground. It's not bad for painting reference as well as getting what's in the box as the artwork can be somewhat busy.

The back has a surprising amount of text. In the left you have a list of all the stuff that's in the box, especially all the toys and guns. Apart from that there is some historical background. Some of the wording strikes me as being odd. Remember when in the 1990s the backs of the boxes of GW models had those incredibly cheesy little flavour texts which - in very flowery words - made the models inside the box sound like the greatest thing ever? The text on this box reminded me a little of that.

There's also a nice picture of a few of the models from the box built and painted (painter credits too. I like that.) and in original size.

It's also got a box telling us about the Warlord Games Figure Heads system. It always struck me as a bit weird that they makde a big deal out of this. With the ever increasing number of plastic models they make I think it will be phased out within the next few years.

What this box essentially is is Warlord Games' Blitzkrieg Infantry (early WW2 German Wehrmacht) plus a nice big bag of additional metal parts to turn them into 'Pioniers'. 

The sprues are chock full of parts. Tons of backpack stuff, weapons, arms and so on. There are six models to build per sprue. One standing, two walking, one running (I really like that one), one crouching and one lying flat on the ground.

Weaponwise we've got everything you could ask for on there. Lots of Kar98k rifles of course (with or without bayonets attached, one scoped), two arms with MP40 (one carrying the gun, the other one firing it from the hip), stick grenades (one arm holding a grenade, another one loose), a hand holding a Luger pistol and of course an MG34, along with tool pouches and arms and additional ammo belt worn over the neck for the ammo carrier. You get arms and bits to make the gunner either fire the MG from the hip (a pose I never was too fond of with MG34s) or lying down on the ground. If you (like I did) go for this pose there's also a set of arms to make an assistant gunner for a belt-fed MG34 from an ammo box. Interestingly, there is none of those MG34 drum magazines in the set.

There are ten heads on each sprue. Nice enough variation. The faces look surprisingly characterful for plastic models. I can certainly see that this is not for everybody because some of them are bordering the comical but I think I like the "more characterful" look. It also makes them mix better with metals I think.

There are five of these sprues in the box for a total of 30 plastic models.

Now for the additional bits to turn the regular Landsers into Pioniers.

Apart from a bunch of extra large backpacks with all kinds of tools of the trade of breaching or setting up obstacles there are all kinds of fun things. There is a full additional model (Pionier lying on his back with wireclippers who upps the total number of models to 31), a Ladungsträger Goliath tracked mine plus arms for the operator and a bunch of extra heads with almost comically unhappy faces. That aside though it's nice that their helmets have nets on them to weave vegetation or other camouflaging things into them.

As for extra equipment there is a mine detector, arms holding a Gestreckte Ladung (bascially a tubular thing filled with explosives to clear obstacles. Got that wrong first and mistook it for a random steel girder. Thanks to invisible officer for clearing that up.), a grenade launcher, flame thrower arms and tank, large bags full of grenades, a Sturmpistole (flare gun repurposed to fire anti-tank warheads) and so on. That aside, the rest of the arm pairs with Kar98k rifles, submachine guns (some of them looted and of Russian making) and single bits and bobs like wire cutters to dangle from webbing and so on. So all kinds of things to have fun with.

There are also bases in the box, 25mm round and flat on sprues of five each. You get 25 bases so the models lying flat on the ground aren't planned to have bases at all which is very weird. I would have liked to see maybe another little sprue in there with five bases of 20mm by 50mm (or 70mm) too.

As with all Warlord Games boxes I have worked with so far, there's an explanation leaflet in here as well:

It's got a very useful listing of parts on the sprue in the front...

...and a listing of the metal parts on the back. You can download these leaflets from Warlord Games' website for free.

There are some casting problems on some of the parts (same on all sprues):

The two heads with the field caps have holes in the sides of their temples.

The peaked officer hat has a hole on top.

The ammo box bit also has a hole in the front.

It's not a big problem, especially on the peaked hat and the ammo box, which can be filled with putty rather easily. On the sides of the faces, the miscasts are a bit more problematic, especially on the one in the right. You've got to be a bit more careful when patching those up.

Now let's get some models built! I decided to build a squad of regular infantry plus a bunch of Pioniers. 

The parts fit perfectly well, even the metal parts go well with the plastic models even though the sculpting seems to be a nudge rougher on the metal parts than on the plastic ones.

Here are the upgraded Pioniers:

Goliath, operator, flamethrower and wireclipper.

Mine detector, Pionier wiht backpack, Pionier with two bags of grenades running, Pionier with Geballte Ladung and backpack.

On the Goliath operator and the guy with the grenade bags you can see the interesting concept of the arm pairs. Those bits fit surprisingly well too although I would suggest dry-fitting them with some of the bodies until you find the one that fits best.

Painting the whole bunch went pretty well. Had to do some research on some of the items they're wearing on their backs and so on but painting the uniforms - surprisingly - was a breeze.

I kept the basing rather sparse this time, just for a change really.

Above you can see the infantry squad (minus one deserter). I used a few of the heads from the Pioniers add-on bits just for variety. There are no decals on the helmets for now but I intend to add some later (muted though). As per combat doctrine, the whole squad is set up with the MG at its center and the officer being right with them to direct fire.

Here finally are the Pioniers I painted. Note the burnt vegetation on the flamethrower guy's base.

In terms of size, they're along the lines of other Warlord Games miniatures so slightly more buff than 'true' 28mm scale. I guess it has it perks producing your models to be slightly out of scale with the competition.

So what's the verdict?

This review really covers Warlord Games' Blitzkrieg Infantry box as well as the Pioniers set because the later is the Blitzkrieg Infantry box with metal bits added. The plastic models are excellent quality. Great detailling (albeit some slight miscasts) and fit, good poses and a whole host of additional bits of equipment. The lack of bases for the prone guys is a minus though. I was happy to have this flat, round plastic bit lying around. Overall though, the minis are of top quality.

The Pioniers box costs £28.00 while the Blitzkrieg Infantry box comes in at £25.00. If you're interested in getting into 28mm WW2 with Wehrmacht, I would suggest getting the Pioniers box over the Blitzkrieg Infantry one. For only £3.00 extra you get a whole bunch of useful extra bits either for just spicing up your models or for adding some more special equipment to your lads.

It's a bit of a shame that the box, whichever one you get, has too few models to get you a full infantry platoon. You do get enough MGs to cover you for almost two platoons but just not enough men. It would be nice if the box was repacked with a sixth sprue to get you 36 models so you have a full platoon plus a medic or something like that. Sure, during wartime no formation was ever at full strength but still, a full platoon would be very handy.

Overall, I don't see any reasons not to go for this offer. At £00.90 they aren't the cheapest models around compared to historical plastics but then: Where else do you get German Pioniers at that price? Infantry maybe (Wargames Factory, Plastic Soldier Company) but anything more specialized you're unlikely to find similar offers.

This closes the first review in the WW2 Month series. I hope that you enjoyed it, found it interesting, entertaining and so on. If you have any questions, comments or indeed commission enquiries, feel free to let me know via the comments section, the Battle Brush Studios Facebook page or via e-mail.

Don't forget that any WW2-themed painting/modelling project commissioned during all of December is -20% off!

5 Kommentare:

  1. Thank for this post, I was thinking in buy the Blitzkrieg infantry box but probably will buy the pioniers after reading it.

  2. You're welcome, Carlos. I think that the Pioniers box indeed is a very good deal. Even if you don't use many of the Pionier bits you still get one full additional model and quite a lot of additional heads for swapping out of the box for very little additional money.

  3. Very helpful, thank you. I´m getting into bolt action with Wehrmacht, so this article is a gem.

  4. Thanks for the comment PoQ! Great to hear you getting into historical wargaming. I have lots more lined up this month so stay tuned!

    Let me know if you need someone to paint the models for you (quickly and to a high level to get the most out of the visual part of your gaming!)

  5. Thank you very much for this detailed review, very informative and helpful :)