by: Bill Cross [ ]
Max Wünsche was a prodigy: after joining the Hitlerjugend in 1932 at the age of 18, he rose steadily in the ranks of the Nazi war machine. First he was an orderly officer in Hitler's bodyguard (the Leibstandarte AH), later in various staff roles, the commander of the 1st SS/LSAH's Stürmgeschütz battalion, and finally commander of the Panzer regiment attached to the 12th SS/Hitlerjugend Division. His prowess with armor led to the Knight's Cross, then Oak Leaves for same.
Wünsche's career came to an end in the Falaise Pocket following the Normandy invasion. Captured along with two of his staff, he spent the rest of the war and three additional years in a POW camp in Scotland.
Alpine Miniatures has released a two-figure set meant to depict Wünsche during the Normandy campaign. While he was wounded during his escape from the Falaise Pocket, photos show him prior to then with a distinctive white "bandage" around his head (see photo from Germany's Bundesarchiv at right).
what you get
Inside Alpine Miniatures usual soft plastic box are two Ziploc baggies. The first has the body, two heads and the hands for the Wünsche figure.
The second shows an otherwise unidentified NCO, again with two heads, hands and a pistol holster. A full-color painting guide is included.
There can be no arguing with the sculpting and casting of Alpine Miniatures figures.
But the poses!
Pitched at the figure market and not at AFV modelers, Alpine's figures tend to come from the Soviet "Heroes of Socialism" school of posing: standing erect, gazing into the unidentified distance, prepared to do great deeds.
By themselves, these figures are about as exciting as lukewarm oatmeal, but placed amid a group of tankers studying a map or gazing across a field at the enemy, they're excellent.
The casting is state-of-the-art, though styrene is catching up with things like overcoats: the second figure (unidentified NCO in the officer's cap) is depicted wearing a standard-issue great coat. The fabric folds are superb, but the coat is solid at the bottom and in the back. I have seen some excellent styrene figures where the coat layers are glued-on, allowing for a more natural fabric "hang."
The bodies are one piece with two heads for each one and separate arms. The fit is generally excellent, though a little Mr. Surfacer 500 was called for in some of the attachment points. The shoes have some minimal seam lines, and the bottoms will have to have some excess resin cut down.
The uniforms are consistent with the time period for SS tankers, with details sharp enough that the new camo decals from Shinsengumi and others should not overwhelm them.
Styrene figure manufacturers are slowly catching up with resin ones, so the quality of this set isn't as drop-dead dramatic as it would have been five years ago. Still, it's a good set to go with a late Tiger I or other AFV.