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  1. ’Battle of the Bulge’ Ardennes 1944 (35373) 1:35 Miniart via Creative Models Ltd The Battle of the Bulge was the nickname given to the last-ditch attempt by Hitler, sometimes referred to as the Allies’ best General, to stop the Allied advance toward Germany by driving a wedge through the front and separating the four armies, removing Antwerp from Allied hands, and forcing them to sue for peace. This was clearly what is now known as a ‘hail Mary’ play, and relied heavily on capturing Allied fuel supplies, because the Germans were woefully short of their own stores, and would soon run out if they didn’t capture substantial new supplies. It also relied on bad weather keeping the Allied air elements grounded for the crucial period of the operation, as the Luftwaffe was a spent force by this time of the war, and any daylight activity quickly attracted US and British fighters equipped with cannons and bombs, largely unopposed by the Luftwaffe. The operation began on the 16th December 1944 when the weather was bitterly cold, heavy snow and overcast conditions, and Nazi progress was initially good, capturing many Allied units off-guard, resulting in substantial casualties and a large quantity prisoners. Apart from one hideous incident at Malmedy where Kampfgruppe Peiper massacred dozens of US prisoners, the majority captured were thankfully treated humanely by their captors. After the initial advances, the German’s progress stagnated, and they began to run out of fuel, which in concert with the improvement in the weather, permitted the Allied aircraft to take on the vulnerable German armoured columns and support lines, with the Allies back to their original positions by February of 1945, and the Germans in disarray. The Figures This set contains five figures, two German soldiers walking alongside three US prisoners, who are unsurprisingly not looking happy about their plight. The kit arrives in a figure-sized box, and inside are five sprues of grey styrene, plus a small glossy piece of paper with a sprue diagram for the figure sprues. All the figures are in a walking pose, one German nursing a set of binoculars against his chest, while the other holds his rifle across his smocked chest, relaxed but alert. The three Americans are wearing various battle-dress combinations, two wearing blouson jackets with their hands up, while the man in the greatcoat has his hands mid-chest, probably too cold to wave his hands in the air. The American with his hands clasped behind his head isn’t wearing a helmet, and his hair is clearly non-regulation, so he had probably been on the front for a while. The parts for each figure are found in separate areas of the sprues that are separated by country for ease of identification, and parts breakdown is sensibly placed along clothing seams or natural breaks to minimise clean-up of the figures once they are built up. The sculpting is typically excellent, as we’ve come to expect from MiniArt’s artists and tool-makers, with natural poses, drape of clothing and textures appropriate to the parts of the model. The three accessory sprues include helmets, some of the US M1s either covered with netting or cloth cover, and two of the German helmets also have cloth covers. The rest of the equipment includes the usual personal pouches, bags and small arms, although the Americans won’t be using any of those and their webbing will have been confiscated at time of capture, however the Germans will have a full complement appropriate to their unit and task. The rear of the box has the artwork separated with blue colour arrows, while the kit parts are in black text, with the officer having a choice of cap or helmet. A small photo insert shows the equipment on the back of the smock wearing soldier, as those items can’t be seen in the painting. A small swatch of the smock’s camouflage is given on the back of the box, with the colour chart in the bottom right corner, giving paint codes for Vallejo, Mr.Color, AK Real Color, Mission Models, AMMO, Tamiya, as well as small colour swatches and names to assist you with choosing your paints. Conclusion A great figure set that would look good in a diorama, their chaperones pushing the prisoners back through the front lines while the panzers and other forces are heading forward to press the attack. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
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