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Sonntag, 25. September 2022

Review: Empress Miniatures WW2 Germans

 


Heyhey, it's been a while since the last WW2 figures review. So let's take a quick look at Empress' WW2 Late War / Volksgrenadier Germans!

Empress Miniatures



Empress Miniatures offer a wide range of really nice 28mm (plus a 20mm WW2 range), including such delicacies as WW1 Russians, a Thirty Years War range, an amazing range for inner-German inter-war fighting for ideological hegemony, Ultra-Moderns, VBCW, figures for the Abyssinian war, Maori Wars, and so on. So a good range of stuff. And the figures look really nice. 



The Range


I got a bunch of packs from their Volksgrenadiers range, which boasts 15 different packs of two (for LMG and MMG teams) to four figures each. This covers Volksgrenadiers with Kar98k, Gewehr 43, Mp40, Panzerschrecks, Panzerfausts, and of course StG44s.


On top of that there's a Pak40 with a choice of early or later wheels, a 8,8cm Flak with a choice of Luftwaffe, Heer or civilian(!) crew, and a U-Boat and a few crewmen. Yes, the U-boat is too short. No, nobody will care. :-D It's pretty stonking cool.



The Figures



So I got a few codes of the Volksgrenadier infantry (G43, Kar98k) and the Pak40 with crew.

The figures come in little plastic baggies, which means that there was some slight bending to be done t get the rifles straight. The rifles are pretty fine casts too, which led to the barrel on one of the G43 having snapped. I replaced it with a barrel from a plastic G43 from a warlord set I bought many years ago, no trouble.

These figures are sculpted by the amazing Paul Hicks, and they look great. Very realistic proportions, excellent detailling and loads of variety between the individual soldiers:

That guy looking straight at you through binoculars? Yeah, he's no Empress figure.

The casting quality is great as well. Overall these figures swiftly moved way up on my list of my favourite WW2 figures. They're proper 28mm figures too, foot to eye!


The Gun

Excellent, crisp cast (I noticed what looks a bit like very light 3d printing marks on the gun shield though), finely detailled, easy to assemble (keep a few reference photos at hand though if you're not familiar with WW2 German anti-tank guns).



If you get the 8,8cm Flak you'll find assembly instructions on the Empress website.

The gun crew is also Volksgrenadiers, so will fit a timeframe from mid-1944 on. I took the opportunity to get several German guns done at once: A sIG18 (by Black Tree Design), a Pak38 by the Perrys (donated by the lovely Mr.Moiterei!) and the above mentioned Pak40. When I had them all built and put next to each other I looked at the Pak38 and the Pak40 and was astonished with how much larger the Pak40 is. It does make sense; the Pak40 means a 50% increase in calibre over the Pak38.

Then I read that Empress use 1/50th and 1/48th scale for their vehicles and guns. That explains a lot. 
Honestly though - it doesn't matter. If I get more Pak40s I'll go with the Empress ones again and won't gamble and put it next to a potentially smaller Warlord or Rubicon one (other brands available) and possibly look like a COMPLETE FOOL by having one Pak40 be slightly smaller than the other. ;-) Or maybe I will. Honestly I thought I already bought a Pak40 many years ago. Couldn't find it though. Maybe it'll pop up some day, who knows.

The gun comes with three crewmen (which of course is woefully few, but pretty much standard). Unfortunately there is no figure included aiming or directly operating the gun. Those seem to be surprisingly rare. The set includes no additional gubbinz like ammunition crates or spent shell cases. Which gave me some opportunity to scratch-build some.


Verdict

These are cracking good figures. Possibly my new favourites, at least on an objective basis these are the best 28mm WW2 figures I have had in hand. I can't find a single thing bad about them; Mr.Hicks does an amazing job. Of course they do lack a bit of that chubbiness; that slight caricature look we've grown so fond of. 


It's not like they are completely devoid of that (like most figures drawn on a computer), it's just that due to the more realistic proportions and more delicate features there just is no space for that dramatic "28mm expression/grimace".  At thatpoint though it all comes down to tastes and a review can't cater to that really (beyond my own taste of course :-P ). 


By the way, here's the one photo you probably came to see on here - the size comparison.


Price-wise, an infantry pack comes in at GBP 8.00, the Pak40 with 3 crew costs GBP 18.00. I was delighted to find that Tabletopper.nl sell this Empress range in mainland Europe (because that became a factor now). Over there an infantry pack will cost you EUR 9,50, the Pak40 with crew EUR 21,95.  That's not entirely cheap on a per-figure basis, but figures increased in price, especially metals (look at Warlord Games. Phew.), so within the context and given the quality, the price is OK. The price for the gun actually is rather good compared to others around.





These are amazing figures. I'm thinking of replacing my plastics with those, one step at a time. The only shortcoming of this range is that we need more! FOOs, maybe an officer, and then we swiftly need a full additional range for 1940 and for 1942 and later.


I hope that you enjoyed this review, found it interesting, enjoyed the painting and so on. If you have any questions, comments or indeed commission inquiries, feel free to let me know via the comments section, the Battle Brush Studios Facebook page or via e-mail.

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