Preiser HO Scale (1/87) Figure
Sets: Kit No. 16545: Infantrymen on a tank, USSR 1942. Kit No. 16546:
Tank crew USSR 1942.
by Cookie Sewell
Kit No. 16545; 83 parts in khaki stryene; price US$8
Kit No. 16546; 34 parts in khaki styrene; price US$7
Advantages: best figures in this scale by any company; nice poses and
useful choices of options
Disadvantages: all of the options found on 1/35 scale figures on a 1/87
scale figure make for some very tiny parts
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all Soviet WWII armor fans and also HO railway modelers
Many model railroaders are familiar with the German company Preiser,
headquartered in the notorious tourist trap of Rothenberg am der Tauber.
For years they have been the acme of small figure manufacturers, and even
today produce figures for their own extensive lines in scales from Z Gauge
(1/220) to LGB gauge (1/22.5). In recent years, Preiser has expanded their
line of figures to cover more common armor modeling scales, and now makes
figures in 1/72, 1/48 and 1/35 as well. Most of this is done by means
of pantographing the original figure up or down as they need to meet a
product line. (Modelers should note that what makes for a great figure
in 1/87 may make for a good figure in 1/48 but one "soft" on
details in 1/35, though.)
With the rise of new lines of HO scale armor from eastern Europe, most
notably Premo from Russia (marketed in the west by ROCO) as well as other
small manufacturers, there has a been a call for new figure sets to go
with them. For many years this scale tended to be ignored as it was considered
either a "wargamers' scale" or a "toy scale" as most
figure sets were made of soft plastic from companies like Airfix, Revell,
Italeri, Haet, etc. But with the advent of scale models it called for
scale figures and now Preiser is making 1/87 lines of WWII German, American
and Soviet figures to go with these new armored vehicles.
Set number 16545 provides a 12 man "tankoviy desant" –
tank riders – suitable for the 1942-1944 period of the war. Each
figure consists of a one or two piece body with separate arms and weapons,
a blanket roll, rations bag, and choice of heads – either with helmet
or "pilotka" side cap. The figures are in a number of positions
varying from fully seated to crouching and even standing, so they should
be able to fit on any HO scale armored vehicle. As noted, what makes a
good part in 1/35 may be pretty tiny in 1/87, so prepare for having to
deal with flying heads if not careful.
Ste number 16546 provides a series of eight commander figures as well
as two drivers. The latter are one-piece figures from the torso up, but
come on a sort of "pogo stick" so they will fit into most of
the extant tank hulls and sit properly in an open driver's hatch. Three
commanders are complete figures, one is a three-quarter (e.g no lower
legs) and four are designed to separate at the belt line so they may be
used with a "dummy" cupola as the commander figure. Again a
variety of headgear is provided, from helmets to tankers' helmets to peaked
caps, most with goggles.
The directions are on the inside of the box, so this is not a kit where
you can check out the instructions without ruining the box. This is a
quirk of many later Preiser kits, but I think they have been trying to
maintain reasonable prices and by not including a separate direction sheet
it appears to help out.
The box art is helpful, showing a number of sets in use with several
Premo T-34 Model 1941 tanks rolling down a road.
Overall, if you can manipulate the parts these are great kits and really
dress up small scale armor models.