Even if I am now buying nearly all my tanks and other vehicles as plastics from the likes of PSC and Zvezda, I still have a soft spot for the Battlefront infantry. One range that caught my eye as soon as it was released were the German Gebirgsjaeger or mountain troops. I immediately bought a whole company's worth, plus all available support options, and here is my review of the range.
The first thing to say is that this is a range of two halves. Some of the figures are absolutely exceptional: the best I have ever seen. Take a look at this Big Man and these anti-tank gunners:
They are, to put it blankly, bloody amazing! Even with my rudimentary painting skills, they are figures full of life and animation.
Following on from this, here are the infantry guns and a forward observer. I particularly love the chaps with their hands over their ears!
So far so good, so very good, but now let us turn our attention to the standard infantry.
Here things are not so consistent. Unfortunately many of the standard infantry are so different in execution to the gunners, above, that I have almost come to believe that their were two sculptors involved in the range. At least half the infantry are no more than blobby mannequins: nowhere near the standard of the previous examples.
Here's a long range shot of my first zug of infantry:
I particularly like the standing LMG team, far left in the middle squad as you look at the picture but then, if you look carefully, you will see that many of the figures, especially the one's painted in grey, are nowhere near as good. In fact it's true to say that if I hadn't needed them to make up the numbers, I would have thrown some of them away.
Here are the other two infantry zigs for you to see and to make up our own mind:
And a close-up of the first zug:
So that's a good summary of the range: some exceptional figures leavened by unfortunate mannequins...but what of the other Battlefront bugbear: quality control?
Those of you who buy lots of Battlefront kit (guilty as charged!) will know that they sometimes have problems with quality control. For me, this arrived in the form of the Gebirgsjaeger machine gun platoon:
I was very disappointed. The casts from Battlefront were very poor, especially on the chaps actually firing the machine guns. If you look closely, you can actually see that one of them is missing half his head!
Well, Rob, you may say, why didn't you just get them to send you some more: they're very good at that sort of thing.
Well, I'd reply, they're very good at that sort of thing because they have plenty of bleedin' practice! If they had the quality control to start off with, then I wouldn't need to bother! I love BF stuff, on the whole, but sometimes they do themselves no favours.
And on the 'no favours front', we now come to the most heinous crime of all.
The original range contained no anti-tank teams i.e. no antitank rifles and no panzerschreck. I was therefore very happy when I saw that (albeit some time after the original release) Battlefront had decided to add a Gebirgsjaeger anti-tank rifle team of two figures: one rifleman and one chap carrying what I think is a PzB 38 or 39 anti-tank rifle. The team retails for about £1.50, but I got three of them in the recent 3-for-2 sale which, to be fair, was a very good thing, with a delivery arriving within three days of my order.
My joy was short lived. Why, I hear you ask? Well I will let a picture say a thousand words. Here are the two figures from the Battlefront Gebirgsjaeger anti-tank rifle team pack:
You may notice that they are a slightly different size to each other.
The bloke with the ATR is so short his colleague can see over his flipping head! I mean, was this some kind of joke? Give the shortest man in the unit the biggest gun? It honestly looks like two figures from different ranges or manufacturers, not two figures designed to be fielded together mounted on the same base!
Now I can understand the team being shorter than previous releases (new sculptor etc) but just the new figure? Didn't anyone at Battlefront notice that the two chaps didn't really match each other?
Battlefront's Gebirgsjaegers are, on the whole, a wonderful range of figures. The longer faces give more to work with, and I can forgive the quality of some of their standard infantry because of the exceptional sculpts of their officers and gun crews etc.
Battlefront then, unfortunately, let themselves down: first in terms of their quality control, hardly a new complaint, and then with the release of a range-completition anti-tank rifle figure that is a truly laughable misfit to the rest of the range. I have had to go with buying Peter Pig Germans and re-heading them with combat caps.
It's not that I'm angry, Battlefront, just disappointed, terribly disappointed!
To end on a high note, however, here are the final figures I've completed for my Gebirgsjaeger army: the mortars, along with another shot of my Big Men officers: