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Saturday, December 8, 2012

Waterloo 1815 - Toy Soldiers

Waterloo 1815 is an Italian firm, started in the late 90s. It began recasting Atlantic figure sets and shortly after they began sculpting their own line of figures. They do most of their sets in 1/72 scale and have only released a handful of them in 1/32, which is a shame because they do have a decent variety of WWII figures which they could scale up. Aside from their own product line, they are also dealers of many other brands. One interesting point that I am still trying to clarify is why the Waterloo 1815 name is often associated with HAT. Perhaps some of their figures are recasts of HAT figures,but I don't know for sure. In terms of the WWII figures that they have released in 1/32, not surprisingly they are all Italian Army sets which fought in North Africa, but that's actually a good thing as that has been a niche that has been neglected by all manufacturers. Their pricing is fairly reasonable if you buy directly from their web site. You can get the figures for a fraction of what you will pay for them in the US. In terms of quality, the level of detail is good and creative, but the poses sometimes feel a bit stiff. If they made the scultpting of their figures reflect more fluid movements, I think they could be a top tier manufacturer. OK, so let's take a look at the sets that they have offered us. 

Waterloo 1815 El Alamein Division
Waterloo 1815 came up with this set around the same time as CTS released their Italians, but I like these guys better as they are focused on the North Africa campaign. I was trying to figure out the actual division that these figures might represent, but there were multiple Italian Divisions -Pavia, Trieste, Trento, Ariete, Brescia, Littorio, Bologna-, which fought during the First and Second battles at El Alamein, and the fighting in between. One of these guys appears to wear a Bersaglieri helmet, but there were Bersaglieri units attached to several divisions, so it does not really help to narrow down which one they belong to. In any case, they are good troops to have next to the DAK to fight the British 8th Army.

Waterloo 1815 Folgore Division
Anothet good set for the West Desert campaign. The Folgore division was an Italian Parachute Infantry unit which fought in North Africa with distinction. During the second battle of El Alamein in the fall of '42, it held back the allied attacks of more than 5 divisions for about two weeks. I like how they reflect the relaxed dress code that existed in the North African desert. That's what I meant about the nice, creative level of detail. The only thing I don't quite like about these guys are their bases, which make them a bit wobbly.

Waterloo 1815 Folgore Division Light Artillery 1942 - Part I
These figures are manning a heavy machine gun. The man with the bullets does not quite get to feed them into the MG, but he's still useful to have close by. The spotter with the binoculars is doing a good job. I might just try to remove the plastic that joins the cap to the hands which looks a bit odd. The machine gun itself looks like it could take out more than just infantry. It could easily knock out soft-skin vehicles and maybe even some lightly armored ones, but probably not very effective against some British 8th army Grant and Matilda tanks.

Waterloo 1815 Folgore Division Light Artillery 1942 - Part II
These other guys are the crew for the small howitzer. I am not sure about the caliber of the gun. I thought it might be a 37mm which is what was often issued to the paratroopers as it was easier to drop along with them during an airborne operation. However a reader recently commented that it's likely a 47mm Bohler gun (see comments section below). Apparently the wheels were detachable and it could be mounted on a tripod. It might not be clear from the picture, but all these figures come without a base, but they still manage to stand well on their own. One thing I don't quite like about the gun is that you can't change the elevation without messing around with the peg that inserts into the wheel carriage. All in all a good addition to the Folgore infantry.

Waterloo 1815 WWI Italian Infantry - Part I
From the bushy set of feathers on their helmet, this is a set of what appear to be Bersaglieri troops. While they are also WWI figures, as we've pointed out already, the Italian uniform and equipment did not change much in the inter-war years, so I think these guys will blend in well with their WWII peers. In terms of the set itself, I like the poses and detail on most of the figures. The only one that is a bit odd is the man throwing the grenade. It's not very apparent on this picture, but his front leg is too close to his back leg; not quite the way one would throw an object.

Waterloo 1815 WWI Italian Infantry - Part II
A nice set of poses here. I like the man on the left, crouching, but not quite kneeling. There is not much to criticize. Perhaps the only other thing to point out is that they are made out of this very light but hard plastic, which makes it a bit annoying to take off the spruce. You need a sharp knife, and you need to apply a good bit of pressure too, so if you slip a bit you might be slicing off your finger. One good thing is that Waterloo chose to give them a regular base. An improvement over those funny bases in their WWII sets.