by: Darren Baker [ ]
IntroductionZvezda has released some great figures in the last few years, with great leaps in quality for both the level of detail and general appearance. This set from Zvezda depicts two stretcher bearers with an injured casualty and a skirted female medic cradling an injured infantry man. During World War Two the Soviets became very good at treating battlefield casualties, with their field hospitals having better survival rates than any other countryís military, and according to some texts I have read they made a point of helping the injured person regardless of the casualtyís nationality.
ContentsThe kit is provided in an end-opening box with artwork on the front faithfully depicting the kitís contents in a battlefield scene, while the rear of the box depicts the figures from 2 angles in a CAD format. Inside the box there is a set of instructions and a safety leaflet with a loose sprue in tan plastic.
ReviewThe five figures in this set (2 casualties and 3 medics) are all wearing summer uniform which looks to be faithfully reproduced. They are all wearing the typical Russian boot which would indicate a later period in the war and that includes the female medic, and while I cannot see the reinforcing knee patch I do believe these are Sharovari breaches. The skirt the female medic is wearing is not an item I can tie down to any specific military specification but does look accurate when compared to period photographs. The shirts are all the later pattern high-necked collars with the only issue being the lack of the breast pockets (except in the case of the female medic).
The stretcher bearers in this kit have their arms moulded directly to the poles down each side of the stretcher, this approach does make positioning easy, the bodies only require you to attach the arms and the left or right leg depending on if it is the front or rear bearer. There is the option of a flat-top head and helmet or bare head for both of the figures. The equipment for the front bearer consists of an entrenching tool, first aid bag, and PPSH41. An interesting approach here is that Zvezda has partially moulded the straps to the bag and part of the weapons sling in order that it looks right when attached to the figure where the rest of the strap is moulded. The rear bearer is equipped with water bottle, Myeshok, ammunition pouches, mosin nagant rifle with the partial sling moulded to it, and Plasch Palatka. Hand and facial details are fair but the uniform creases look as if they could have been better.
The stretcher casualty consists of a torso with the right leg moulded on the figure and the left leg, both arms and the head as separate parts. The head - or more accurately the brow - of this figure and for that matter the brow of the other wounded soldier is wrapped in a bandage, the bandage detail looks a little plain but detail may become evident when painted. The casualty on the stretcher has not been provided with a weapon. However, as one of the weapons in the set has the option of the hands moulded to it or not you could use the weapon without the hands for the casualty. Detail on this figure is fair but not great.
The other casualty is supplied with a weapon which is a PPSH41 which has a separate drum magazine. Detail is again fair but there is a large sink mark in the centre of the back, however this may be to accommodate the positioning with the female figure who is cradling him. The crease on the uniform is acceptable if a little soft, the creases shown on the boots being very good.
Now for the star of this set in my opinion, the female medic. When it comes to injection-moulded plastic (and for that matter some resin offerings) the female face and figure seems to create all sorts of issues, the biggest problem here is that a lot of manufacturers seem to be using a maleís face with a femaleís hair style and expect it to cut the mustard and in most cases it fails big time. Zvezda on the other hand look to have had a female face specifically moulded which lifts this figure and gives you a convincing female appearance in miniature. Proportions in areas such as the chest and waist also add realism which lets the viewer know itís a female without her looking like an underwear model.
Uniform detail is minimal but the breast pockets have been replicated here and the crease detail is also good. The skirt looks to sit naturally with the positioning of the legs doing away with the need for an undercut. The belt is replicated as are the buttons on the blouse, and the boots which I presume are identical to those worn by the male soldiers also look good. The female medic - like the stretcher-borne casualty - does not have a weapon which puzzles me a little as I believed that all Soviet personnel were armed, but I have been unable to verify this one way or the other.
One unexpected plus with this set for those who like to modify their own figures is that the arms and positioning of them looks to be spot on for a combatant to be about to break the neck of his opponent.
One aspect that I like about Zvezda is that they make a point of including instructions for putting even the simplest offering together, and this ensures that regardless of your skill level or experience you can at least assemble everything correctly. Painting instructions are included for this set using Model Master paints; as for myself I would use this as a guide rather than a hard and fast rule.
ConclusionThis is an interesting offering from Zvezda with highs and lows. For me the weakness in the set is the wounded casualties who fail to relay the pain and misery of being wounded at the front and being moved. The detail is also a little disappointing, with the failure to include the breast pockets on any of the male figures being the biggest oversight. The female figure on the other hand is a real star with what looks to me to be an accurate uniform. Careful placement of the lower legs does away with the need for an undercut on the skirt while still looking very natural. Zvezda should also be praised for making the female figure look like a female who is neither a shot-putter nor an underwear model.