Last modified: Saturday, January 6, 2001 6:20 PM
I've been eagerly awaiting the arrival of Cotswold's Fallschirmjager, and once again, Greg Brown of Eklyps Custom Figures & Collectibles came through in record time. Mainly I was curious because I was working on my own version when I found out about theirs. The first thing you think of when you find out something like this is "I sure hope mine's better!" :^) Heck, I'm just being honest! A lot of pride & ego goes into making your own stuff, and you hate to think that you put two weeks into creating something which is crummier than something you could have bought. The fallback position is that you don't have to wait for something you make, or that it was good experience... but whether you admit it to yourself or not, the element of competition is still there as a vital component of personal motivation. It has to be if you want to challenge yourself to improve. If you suffer in comparison, then hopefully you're motivated to improve. If you meet or beat the standard, then you go looking for new standards.
From the picture above, you can see that my Fallschirmjager is at least smarter than the Cotswold version, since he's hanging out at the rear.
Cotswold makes a very good Fallschirmjager, and it's affordable even without the Mass Order discount. For this, you don't get the same level of detail or authenticity that custom goods bring you, but it's an excellent starting point for putting your own accurizing touches. These can be quick & minor, such as hitting the helmet with a mist of Dullcote to kill the plasticky gloss. Or you could repaint the helmet, adding a more worn and irregular texture. Action City sells an excellent decal set which solves the problem of painting around those supplied on the helmet (plus they look better). The helmet could also use a second set of straps to make it more accurate-- while you're at it, you could replace the elastic ones with leather. If you're a real authenticity freak, get some references and duplicate the web liner. Also, don't miss those eyelet vents on the side of the helmet!
I prefer printed patches instead of embroidered ones. Although embroidered ones look neat and confer a feeling of quality, printed ones allow much more detail-- as you can see from this picture, the tiny eagle pips can't be duplicated in embroidery.
Cotswold did a marvelous job on the splinter pattern screening. The splinters are very thin and overprinted in the brown and lighter green areas. The smock itself is well-tailored too. It has snaps at the bottom so it can be secured to form the leg openings. It's reasonably accurate too-- they missed some of the upper pocket stitching and didn't make the cuffs adjustable, but these are extremely minor quibbles which would have added to the cost. For some reason, they put the flare gun holder strap on the opposite side at the back-- all the pics I've seen have this on the right butt cheek.
The bandolier leaves a lot to be desired-- it's similar in construction to the 21st Century one: padding sewn into a belt-like structure. I think this is the only way that this part can be mass produced at reasonable cost, without getting into plastic molding. If you could buy their camo material separately, you could undoubtedly do a better job by taking your time to do the tedious work.
There aren't a lot of other "standard" accessories included with this set: a harness, the pistol and a canteen. That's okay, since other stuff would just increase the price of the figure. No one ever sees the junk on the back of the figure anyway... ;^)
Not seen in any of these pictures are the pants & boots. The pants appear to be the same as those in their other WWII German outfits, but the boots are a very nicely sculpted front lacing style which I haven't seen in any of the Cotswold figures I've bought. I don't know whether the Fallschirmjager wore special front-lacing boots later in the war. The early war Fallschirmjager did wear the side-lacing style seen at Polo Moreno's (Ape Joe) web site.
The FG-42 is the centerpiece of the figure, and Cotswold is rightly proud of it. It has a lot more detail and working features than any of their other weapons: The magazine (with sculpted round) is removeable, the separate sniper scope is attachable (it slides into a nub on the permanently folded down sight), the bayonet can be removed and fixed, and the bipod legs can be folded down. That trick is accomplished by the legs having short pins which pressure fit into holes-- they're not hinged in the normal sense-- you remove them from the folded up position and plug them in folded down (or if you want to wear the pins down, pretend they're hinges and twist 'em downward).
This was of particular interest to me for the reason discussed earlier. Their version shows the precision that machining brings to modeling, and makes my own look obviously "home-made" in comparison. On the other hand, the detailing on mine is finer, more "dimensional" and accurate in many respects. One of the things that I noticed immediately was that the funky grip ribbing on mine was done at nearly twice the density of theirs! This is some relief to me, since it lets me know that my efforts were guided by a striving for accuracy. (I'm still puzzed by the incredibly intricate detailing on some models-- I can't imagine a machining bit being small enough to engrave some of the detail that you see on some plastic models!)
So Cotswold... once again, great work, and keep it coming!