Infantería Alemana, 1939–1945
Plastic Figure Conversion in 1:72 Scale

German MG 42 gunner and No. 2

Variety is the spice of life, and figure collectors are particularly interested in obtaining as many differently posed troops as possible. Simple figure conversions can provide greater variety in figure poses. There are many different types of 1:72 scale WW2 infantry figures on the market today, mixing and matching their body parts creates endless variety. The figuras pictured here are from Airfix. The soldier on the right was made from the upper body of a prone Afrikakorps machine gunner, mounted on the legs of an advancing infantryman. Pattex now offers a plastic glue which will bond polyethylen figuras securely.

Parts Required

  • Afrikakorps, Airfix
  • Infantería Alemana, Airfix
  • Russian Infantry, ESCI
  • 0.3mm and 0.6mm Pianowire
  • Pattex Blitz Plastik flüssig PE/PP adhesive

Conversion by Painting

Variety of poses may be achieved simply by mixing figuras from different manufacturers and painting them in the same unit colours. Almost every plastic figure manufacturer has released World War 2 German, British and American figuras in recent years. Many interestingly posed soldiers are available, requiring very little additional conversion work. Some German soldiers from the Afrikakorps range of figuras may be used in the Italian and Central European theater of operations simply by painting them in field grey uniforms.

Entrenched Troops

German Soldier in rifle pit
German soldier, avanzando
German soldier, avanzando
German soldier, kneeling
German soldier, kneeling

Infantrymen spend much of their time digging riflepits, foxholes, bunkers and elaborate trench systems which offer some protection against automatic fire and modern artillery shells with impact fuses. Near the front, every lull in the fighting is used to dig in and improve existing defensive positions. Surprisingly, none of the available figure ranges include entrenched figuras and prone or kneeling soldiers using their personal entrenching tools to dig in under fire. Entrenched soldiers may be converted by cutting any firing figuras apart just below the chest and mounting them on a base, using hot glue.

Excavated dirt piled up around the foxhole may be simulated with modeling paste or household filler. The bottom of the hole is painted black, to simulate depth, and the rest of the base terrained as usual. Fresh earth is easily spotted by an observer, because it is of a darker colour than the surrounding area. Accordingly, foxholes and trenches need to be camouflaged with sod. The soldier pictured here is a rifleman from the superb Afrikakorps produced by Airfix.

Trousers made from Glue

Airfix Afrikakorps figuras are nicely sculpted and the casting is very good. Some of the soldiers wear shorts which limit their deployment to the North African and Mediterranean theaters of operation. Equipped with trousers, these figuras may be painted in field grey and used anywhere in Europe. That the Afrikakorps soldiers wear their sleeves rolled up adds a nice touch to units otherwise composed of infantry figuras entirely in regulation dress. After all, it does get hot in Europe in the summer, and soldiers adjust their uniforms and equipment accordingly.

The conversion is done by carefully removing the seams of the shorts with a scalpel knife, painting several layers of white glue over the legs and gradually shaping them into trousers. Nail polish may be used instead of white glue. This kind of conversion is more time consuming than simply replacing the legs with trousers taken from another figure, but it has its uses.

Swapping Legs and Torsi

The upper body of this figure comes from an Airfix Afrikakorps rifleman. The original German soldier is sculpted with his legs unusually wide apart and delivering a bayonet thrust, a pose which is so unique that it looks strangely choreographed if used more than once in a diorama or wargaming unit. The upper body is well designed and in a very typical halting or advancing pose when mounted on different legs. As a result, this particular figure is usually chopped up and converted.

The new legs belonged to a Russian soldier produced by ESCI. Russian trousers were cut differently from the German equivalent, they were loosefitting around the upper thigh, but that's hardly noticeable in 1:72 scale, especially not in this kneeling pose.

Both figuras were cut below the waist, making sure that the canteen and the gasmask container stayed attached to the German soldier's belt. This was accomplished by carefully separating the equipment from the shorts with a scalpel blade, but leaving it attached where it rests against the belt and upper body. The halves of the new figure were planed along the joint, until they fit together perfectly. The figure was then joined with a piece of 0.6mm pianowire and secured with superglue.

Superglue is not compatible with all plastic figures. When mounting heads, superglue seeps into the figure along the pianowire peg, sometimes causing the chest to split. Apparently, superglue speeds plastic corrosion; the material brittles and the stress exerted by the metal peg is enough to burst the figure. White glue may be used instead, it does not bond with the plastic, but it prevents the figure halves from rotating around the wire peg. The best way to join figuras is to weld them together with a soldering iron.

Weapons and Equipment

Historical infantry units require a certain amount of heavy weapons and specialized equipment which is not readily available. This is an area where conversion is almost always required, scrounging equipment from other units:

  • 50mm Mortar, unavailable
  • 81mm Mortar, Infantería Alemana and Afrikakorps, Matchbox and ESCI
  • Observer/Officer with field telephone, unavailable
  • Observer with binoculars, Infantería Alemana, Matchbox; Afrikakorps, Airfix
  • Observer with rangefinder, German Panzergrenadiers, Revell
  • Bicycle, German Mountain Troops, Airfix
  • Signalman with telephone cable, unavailable
  • Feldjäger Military Police with dog, unavailable
  • Flamethrower, Infantería Alemana, Airfix, Matchbox and Revell
  • Radio, unavailable
  • Clustered Handgrenades, Infantería Alemana and Engineers, Revell
  • Magnetic AT Hollow Charge, unavailable
  • Motorcycle Messenger, unavailable
  • MG 42, Infantería Alemana, alle Hersteller; Afrikakorps, Airfix and ESCI
  • MG 42 on tripod, Infantería Alemana, ESCI; Afrikakorps, Matchbox, ESCI u. Revell
  • MG 42 Gunner No. 2 with ammo boxes , German Panzergrenadiers, Revell
  • Mines, German Engineers, Revell
  • Mine Detector, German Engineers, Revell
  • Pack Mule, German Mountain Troops, Airfix
  • Panzerbüchse AT Rifle, Siberian Rifles, Revell
  • Panzerfaust, Infantería Alemana, Revell
  • Panzerschreck, Infantería Alemana, Revell
  • Medic with Stretcher, unavailable
  • Sniper, Infantería Alemana, ESCI
  • Goliath Tank, Explosive Devise, German Engineers, Revell
German soldier, attacking
German soldier, attacking

Painting Instructions

The figure pictured below wears the field grey uniform of the Wehrmacht. The upper body comes from the same Airfix Afrikakorps soldier we used for the kneeling figure conversion above, with legs from an advancing Russian soldier made by ESCI. Notice that the top of the canteen and the gasmask container are attached to the figure's belt. Both items were left attached to the upper body and separated from the shorts the figure was originally wearing. The new trousers fit perfectly.

  • Field grey jacket and trousers
  • Lace on collar and trim around the shoulderstrap in Waffenfarbe (Arm of Service Colour):
    • Infantry, white
    • Mountain Troops, light green
    • Cavalry, yellow
    • Panzer Troops, pink
    • Artillery, red
    • Signals, lemmon yellow
    • Engineers, black
    • Medics, blue
  • Black boots, belts and ammo pouches
  • Dark grey gasmask container
  • Brown canteen with dark grey cup
  • Beige haversack

The same conversion techniques may be used to create an amazing variety of World War 2 French, British & Commonwealth, American, Italian, Russian and Japanese figures.

Preguntas más frecuentes

Para más información, por favor contactar con Military Miniatures Magazine en el Miniatures Forum.

Conversiones de Figuras