German Panzer Crew &
German SPG Crew
Reviewed by Brett Green
There is a new figure and armour company on the block, and its initial releases are very impressive.
Tristar is a brand new Hong Kong based model company with Japanese connections. The figures in both their premiere releases are designed by Yoshitaka Hirano, an award winning modeller whose work has appeared in many Japanese publications including Models in Action, AFV Magazine and the recent Osprey Tiger modelling book. He has also had his own line of figures, and mastered several resin figure sets for Jaguar. The project has been supervised by Hiroyuki Nakada, a master modeller in his own right.
Their work on these two sets is really excellent.
For their first two releases, Tristar has selected subjects that will appeal to both figure painters and armour modellers - a German Panzer Crew and a German Self-Propelled Gun Crew.
German Panzer Crew (Normandy 1944)
Tristar's release no. 35001 comprises 35 crisply moulded parts on a single grey sprue. I know that the colour of the plastic is largely irrelevant to the quality of the product, but it is interesting to note that Tristar has chosen a "Tamiya Grey" colour for their styrene.
The quality of sculpting is very good indeed. The faces are individually expressive, the fabric of the uniforms drape realistically, the proportions of the figures are nice and the poses are quite natural. The moulding is also first rate. Seam lines are kept to a minimum, and I cannot find any imperfections (sink marks, ejector pins etc) anywhere on the figures.
Four full figures and one half figure is included in this set. One of the figures is a Waffen-SS officer in a field grey uniform, while the remaining figures are garbed in a variety of tank uniforms of the day. One is dressed in overalls, and the remaining three in separate trousers and tunic.
Engineering of the parts has been well thought out. The legs and torso of the figure in overalls have been moulded as a single part to eliminate the mid-body join. However, the feet are a separate part. This will permit the modeller the option of leaving the feet off if the figure is destined to be squeezed into the cupola of a vehicle. The seated figure has a recessed ridge under his backside to assist his flat placement on the cupola of a tank - more clever planning on Tristar's part.
Painting and construction notes are by way of colour photographs on the back of the packaging. These are photos of the actual figures. They are beautifully finished.
Painting instructions offer detail views of two variations on the "Peas Pattern" uniform camouflage scheme. Modellers should note that the uniforms were often "mixed and matched", with elements of the standard black Panzer uniform combined with camouflage clothing.
The box art is both attractive and practical. The flaps at the ends of the boxes include colour maps and various data plates in 1/35 scale.
Colour callouts are provided for both Tamiya and Humbrol paints.
German Self-Propelled Gun Crew Set
The same comments about sculpting quality, production values and engineering forethought also apply to release no. 35002.
The Self-Propelled Gun Crew also comprise 35 parts, but a small fret of photo-etched headset frames is also supplied. Four standing figures are included.
The figures are pictured with a Marder III Ausf M (due to be released by Tamiya sometime soon) on the box art, but the generic poses will suit almost any German Self-Propelled vehicle.
With the huge number of German armour models now available in 1/35 scale, we can surely never have too many good crew figures.
Tristar has burst onto the scene with these two excellent figure releases that are worthy of displaying with any late-war German tank or Self-Propelled gun. The quality of sculpting and production is equal to many of the best resin figures available. This is hardly surprising as the designer of these sets is a master of the resin medium. These releases represent great value - the four crew members can be had for roughly the price of a single resin figure.
If Tristar's forthcoming Panzer I Ausf. A is produced to this same high standard, armour modellers will be jumping for joy too.
Thanks to Trevor from Modelmania for the review samples.
Tristar products are distributed in Australia and New Zealand by Modelmania.
Check their website for Retailers or Trade enquiries.
Text and Images Copyright © 2002 by
Brett T. Green