torsdag 7 maj 2015

Warlord Games German Pioneers open box review (sort of)

Continuing from yesterday's post, here is the last item in my self-gratulatory shopping splurge:

German Pioneers, or assault engineers.
A box of German assault engineers, pioneers, or Sturm Pionier.

Opening the box reveals a lot of plastic frames and two zip-lock bags with metal bits.
The box contains 31 plastic and metal miniatures, allowing you to build german assault or combat engineers. These were highly trained, highly motivated and heavily equipped assault troops as well as regular field craft specialists. They operated in their own platoons or companies within an infantry regiment, often spearheading an assault.

For some reason I only got 20 Renedra bases and five Warlord bases... for 31 figures!
So what do I think about this set? You get a lot of stuff, right? No... not quite. Or yes you do, but most of it is not stuff that is useful for pioneers. Useful for regular infantry yes. Incidentally the price difference is only £2 between the sets and they contain the same number of sprues, making the Pioneer set a very good buy if you are after regular infantry because of all the extra bits you get.

I'm not particularly knowledgeable about their organisation and tactics, but as far as I know it's impossible build a Sturmpionier platoon from the contents of the box, mainly because there isn't enough engineer equipment in it. Yet it will suit my purposes quite well.

An instruction sheet! Goodie! Although it doesn't show all the options it will come in handy.
The plastic sprues are exactly the same as those in the Blitzkrieg German infantry set from Italeri I bought earlier, and the metal bits included are supposed to be used to convert the figures into pioneers. Ok, let's break down the metal parts, they are quite a lot actually.

All the metal parts included.
The two biggest items are the body lying on it's back and the Goliath remote detonation vehicle. The body is wearing a Pioneer backpack and Pioneer equipment pouches but lacks arms and a head. The Goliath is one piece and quite crudely cast. More about those later.

Next are seven pairs of arms holding various weapons. The first two pairs have grenade bags under them. These were devised during WW1 for the Sturmtruppen, or assault troops that were supposed to take and hold enemy trenches. Basically they are a pair of empty sandbags which you stuff full of stick grenades and hang around your neck. When you reach the trench you lob grenades down it as fast as you can -- one at a time, it's not a bundle charge -- and after you have taken the trench, the empty bags can be filled with dirt and used to construct barricades. These were available for all infantry units and not unique to pioneers. One of the pairs have a set of wire cutters also tucked in, and they are armed with a rifle and an MP40 respectively. Last on the first row is a pair of hands holding an MP28 SMG -- the original Schmeisser -- and only used at the very start of the war. Useful if you want a figure to hold something different, but again, nothing unique for Pioneers.

The right to bear arms... um... arms. Yes, lots of arms.
On the bottom row the first pair of arms on the left are holding a Soviet Ppsh-41 SMG. Like the MP28 it's nice if you want to differentiate a figure but not unique to pioneers. Next is a Sturmpistole-42, a converted signal gun that could fire a small HE or shaped charge. It's a peculiar and not especially effective weapon. The third pair of arms is holding an MP40, nothing special at all and a waste of metal IMO. The last pair of arms is the only one that has a vague pioneer connection since they are holding a pair of wire cutters. This pair is supposed to go on the lying metal body, resulting in a figure lying on his back cutting barbed wire. A very realistic pose, but I think I will put the wire cutting arms on a kneeling body instead.

At last, some engineer stuff.
Next up is three small sprues of various items. We get a right arm throwing a bundle charge made of several stick grenade heads wrapped around a central stick grenade. The elongated shape next to it is a pouch for the wire cutters, and then we get two ammunition pouches for Ppsh magazines; one for round and one for curved magazines. On the right sprue we first have a right arm holding a slung Ppsh SMG with a curved magazine. Middle item is the backpack and personal equipments for a mine detector, and last a pair of arms operating the remote control for the Goliath. The bottom sprue features three arms carrying items; a "Tellermine" anti tank mine, a spool of communication wire and something I think is a 3kg "Geballte ladung" or demolition charge. The mine and demo charge is useful, but the wire is a bit of a disappointment as I first thought it was another teller mine.

Mine detector, flame thrower, AT gun and the German equivalent of a Bangalore Torpedo.
Next we have some real pioneer equipment like a mine detector, a flame thrower and an AT rifle. Last is a curious item; it's a demolition charge used to blow paths through barbed wire obstacles. It's called "bangalore torpedo" among the allies, but I do not know the German designation.

Twelve metal heads are included.
You also get twelve metal heads to further vary the look of the figures, three sets of four. Two of the sets are identical and are not special pioneer heads, rather they just wear helmets with different helmet covers. The third set features a gasmask and a head with headphones (for the mine detector), a bandaged head and two heads that would do well as Afrika Korps or early Panzergrenadiers, since they have goggles and one has a cloth covering the lower part of his face. Extra heads are of course always welcome and these will be useful for a number of things.

Twelve assault backpacks with various other equipment.
Finally there are twelve pioneer backpacks in the box. I do not know a lot about them, but there are some very nice pictures at I do know however that the central backpack could had two compartments, each capable of taking a 3kg Geballte Ladung and the side packs could take several 1kg charges or hand grenades. There are some variations among the backpacks as some have shovels strapped to them, some have regular entrenching tools and some have neither.

Warlord Games's example of completed figures.

My main beef with this set is that the bodies are very clearly early, early war, suitable for the campaigns during 1939 and 1940. A dead give-away is the high marching boots and the gas cape pouch worn on the chest. It was very impractical to wear like this and by Barbarossa most troops had started to wrap it around the gas mask case or ditching it alltogether since gas was not frequently used during WW2.

Yet a lot of the equipment are either mid- or late war, like the Goliath and Sturmpistole which both are post 1942. The AT rifle is a pre-war design yes, but this variant is modified to fire rifle grenades since it was more or less obsolete after 1941. The redesigned model was used -- yes you guessed it -- from 1942 and onwards. Even the assault backpacks were introduced in 1941, as was this model of mine detector. Also the two Soviet SMG's included are useless if you want to use them on anywhere else than the Eastern front.

But I have a cunning plan.

  1. As I said earlier, I have about two thirds of a regular early war platoon. I will build as many as I need from the Pioneer set as regular infantry to complete the platoon. Any equipment like the flame thrower and wire cutters will be used to make an early war Pioneer squad.
  2. I will then use some of the equipment to convert Perry DAK figures into a pioneer squad, most likely a mine clearing team with the mine detector and a demolition team using the arms with the grenade pouches and either the teller mine or the arm holding a geballte ladung.
  3. I will then use the late war Panzergrenadier bodies I got with the Stugs and make a pioneer squad for my late war Germans with Pioneer backpacks and other the late war stuff like the Goliath.
  4. Any surplus like the soviet MG's and spare backpacks will be ceremoniously thrown into the bit box along with any left over infantry bodies.

I'm a bit hesitant to give any sort of grade to this set, because it's so mixed. The plastics are nice, good details, lots of attention to detail like watches on the arms, a flashlight on one of the bodies etc. Yet the heads are quite cartoony. The metal parts are a bit worse, lots of flash and some mould lines to scrape off. The extra parts you get are a mish-mash of stuff wich can be useful or not, depending on what front you are fighting on and whether you care about historical stuff like the difference between early and late war uniforms or not. I feel that Warlord could have left out all the SMG arms that don't have any pioneer equipment and given us more arms carrying mines demo charges or wire cutters instead.

Oh all right. I give Warlord's German Pioneers set 3 out of 5 (but with a +1 if you happen to have a use for all the non-pioneer stuff).

Happy gaming!

4 kommentarer:

  1. A n informative review. Thanks!

  2. An excellent review as always. So, who will make some mine fields for the desert then? Should be easy.

  3. Excellent review.
    To bad the set wasn't more thought out

  4. Very good ideas señor Erikson!! I think I shall be imitating you


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