ICM 1/35 WW I German Infantry (1914) (35679) In-Box Review

It’s been a while since the last post, mainly because real life has managed to get in the way of my kit-building, as it has a nasty habit of doing. I also took a break because I was getting a little jaded. I had been focusing on 1/72 armour, and I came to realise that, while I really enjoy painting and finishing my kits, I really can’t be bothered with fiddly construction that involves lots of tiny parts (IBG Renault FT17, I’m looking at you…).

So, I wanted to try something a little different that involves simple construction but lots of painting. That’ll be figures, then. I did enjoy building a diorama from a Tamiya 1/35 Pak35 which came with figures, but that kit dates from the early 1970s and the quality of the included figures wasn’t great. So, I wanted to try something more modern to see how quality has improved. I also fancy a change from the World War Two period and I was therefore happy to find this 1/35 kit of figures from World War One at a local stockist for less than €10. 

This is one of a number of 1/35 scale figure kits released by Ukrainian manufacturer ICM in 2014 to mark the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War One. Other sets in the series include infantry of a number of other nations and from various periods during that conflict, tank crews and machine guns. This appears to be one of the most comprehensive collections of World War One figures currently available and it’s refreshing to find a manufacturer covering something other than ubiquitous subjects from World War Two.

I haven’t tried an ICM kit before, so I’m keen to find out if this offering is worth having or one to avoid. Let’s take a look…   

History

The Imperial German Army in 1914, like the armies of many other nations, was going through a period of transition in terms of equipment and uniforms.

A colourised contemporary image showing troops of the 106th Reserve Infantry Regiment in 1914.

Most infantry units used the 1910 Feldgrau uniform incorporating a grey tunic with red piping on the collar, front, rear and cuffs and exposed silver or gold buttons. The grey trousers also featured red piping on the outside of each leg. Soldiers were provided with a Model 1895 Tornister, a wooden-framed backpack faced in hair-covered cow or horse-skin and usually surrounded by a folded greatcoat and blanket.

A 1914 German uniform on display at the National World War I Museum in Kansas City, MO. The helmet cover at bottom left has the later green regimental number.

Boots were hobnailed, calf-length jackboots, usually in black for officers and brown for other ranks. The standard helmet was the Model 1895 Pickelhaube, a leather or enamelled tin helmet featuring a distinctive spike that also provided ventilation. In the field, the shiny helmet was usually covered with an Überzug, a close-fitting cloth cover. The regimental number was shown on the front of the cover for most units. Initially this took the form of red, felt numbers stitched on to the cover but from later in 1914 these were replaced with green numerals.

A modern recreation of the 1914 German uniform.

The standard infantry weapon was the Gewehr 98 rifle manufactured by Mauser. This is a very, very brief overview of standard German unform in 1914. Even to use the term “standard” is a little misleading: certain units (Guards Regiments, for example) had detail differences in unform and even some infantry regiments from various parts of Germany used different types of uniform and weapons at the outbreak of war.

What’s in the Box?

The box contains just three sprues, and two of those are identical! There is no PE here and no decals, which I for one find rather refreshing.

The main sprue contains the parts for four figures: one officer and three other ranks.

Detail is good and all the figures wear a pretty good representation of the 1914 uniform. There appears to be almost no flash at all. There are some moulding seams, but these seem to be minimal and often on areas that won’t be visible when the figures are completed. On each figure, the arms, legs, and head and neck are separate from the torso. Even each Pickelhaube helmet and spike are provided as separate parts.

The faces look good to me. They aren’t particularly expressive, but each is distinct and different with two displaying appropriate period moustaches. It’s interesting to compare these to the Tamiya figures from the 1970s which were the last 1/35 figures I attempted. These are just much, much better, particularly in terms of having detailed and appropriately sized hands – no bunches of banaas here! Overall, these figures look very good.

The other two identical sprues contain a wealth of weapons and equipment, though most aren’t appropriate for figures representing soldiers from 1914. On these sprues, for example, you’ll find eight examples of the later M1916 steel helmet as well as a heavy machine gun, an anti-tank gun, a selection of grenades and pistols and even an early submachine gun, but most of these just don’t apply to these early-war figures.

What you do get is sufficient numbers of the Gewehr 98 rifle to equip each of the three other-ranks with a rifle either with or without a bayonet. Though if you choose to show rifles with bayonets attached, you’ll have to remember to remove the handle of the bayonet from its scabbard. The bolts of the rifles are moulded as tiny separate parts though no slings are provided.

Some items display real artistry. On each backpack, for example, the folded greatcoat and blanket are moulded integrally. But each of the three is subtly different in how the creases and folds are shown. Nice touch!

The painting instructions are detailed but, in at least one respect, wrong! Model Master colour references are provided and correctly identify German Uniform Feldgrau for the tunic and Medium Gray for the trousers. However, the colour for the cover of the Pickelhaube helmet, blanket and bread bag are given  as “Pale Green”.

In truth, these items were light brown and washing and exposure to the elements usually rendered them as a light tan colour. That’s an important factor in the look of these early war German infantrymen and it does seem to be wrongly stated here. The box art doesn’t help either as it shows the figures only from the front and with tunic, trousers and helmet cover all in a similar shade of dark grey.     

Would You Want One?                                                                                                   

Overall, these figures look very good. There is nice detail here and it all seems appropriate and plausible. The only thing that I can see which isn’t included are slings for the rifles. I quite like having a kit where I don’t have to worry about decals, but having said that, I can’t help but think that decals for the regimental numbers on the helmet covers might have been nice,

Of course, part of how the finished figures look depends on how natural and lifelike (or otherwise) their poses look, and that’s something that won’t be apparent until these are assembled. However, my first impression is that this would be a good place to start if you’re planning a collection of early war figures from 1914.

It’s lucky that these are good because surprisingly (at least, it was to me) there isn’t actually a great deal of choice if you want to make German infantry in 1/35 from 1914. Revell offer a set of German, French and British infantry from 1914, but these are actually just a re-box of these ICM figures. Emhar and others produce sets that include German infantry from World War One, but all appear to be from later periods.

MasterBox did a set of resin 1/35 early war German infantry, but those do not seem to be currently available. M-Model also offer several sets of resin figures from World War One that include German infantry, but all appear to be from later periods. So, as far as I’m aware, this appears to be your only option if you want a mass-produced, injection-moulded 1/35 kit of early war German infantry.  

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