Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Review: "Classic Armor" Marder III Sdkfz 139 1:48

Classic Armor Marder III with Artizan commander.
As I mentioned in an earlier posting, the arguments about the correct vehicle "scale" for a given size of wargames figure are seemingly never ending.  I have a rather flexible approach.  Whilst I would certainly refrain from using a 1:56 Panzer IV alongside a 1:48 SPW, I think most scales are usable if coupled with the right figures.

A case in point is the "Classic Armor" Marder III produced by the now defunct "New Millennium Toys"  These vehicles were available in Target and Wal-Mart - at very low prices - approximately three years ago.  I picked up a few at around $4.00 a time (they are still obtainable online at an inflated but still reasonable price) and added them to the vehicle park.

Sdkfz 139 on the Ostfront 1943.
These are nice little models, a good level of detail and acceptable painting.  The latter is nothing great but can be easily improved with a few touches here and there.  Of course, you could strip them but it is not really worth the effort.  They seem to sport a metal core around which a host of plastic parts have been attached.  The tracks are of the "rubber band" variety but have no unsightly join point.  Considering the fact that these are "toys" I am amazed that none of the seven in my collection have any warped, bent or mis-aligned components.  Personally, I will be filling a few gaps here and there and also replacing the decals but the models are usable "out of the box"

So, we have established they are nice enough models.  Now we come to the all-important "With what can I use them?" question!  I was pleasantly surprised at just how easy it is to get an acceptable result.  In my parts box I had an Artizan PaK 40 crew in winter gear (ideal for Ukraine 1943/4) so I positioned them around the vehicle.  Hey presto - they look fine!  The commander is a slight figure but compares favourably to period pictures of Marder III crews.  I reckon after removing the bases he and his friends could be attached to the vehicle "as is" and look good.

The crew look truly tiny in this shot (Autumn 1942)
Now why does this work when the figure is clearly not 1:48 scale?  It is all to do with the caricatured nature of nearly all 28mm models (even the "realistic" ones such as Artizan)  Extremities and details are usually over-played on wargames figures but we have become inured to this by years of exposure.  Just take a picture of a real person and compare it to a 28mm figure.   Unless the former is severely deformed you will see that the miniature's proportions are just wrong!

Anyway, I have posted a couple of pictures showing real Marder IIIs so that you can make your own call - I think the miniature combo looks pretty good - not perfect - but good.  The vehicle was deployed in all theatres during the 1942-45 period and thus it's utility is great.  When it comes to crew, I am sure that there are other models out there that will work just as well, BAM and BTD spring to mind.

So if you agree with my findings and need a cheap Panzerjäger go and snap up the remaining Classic Armor stock ASAP!

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