German Infantry, 1939–1944

Matchbox 1:76 Scale Figure Review

German Infantry, 1939–1944, 1:76 Matchbox 5003.

Matchbox German Infantry mounted on ferromagnetic steel bases, ready for undercoating.


49 Figures in 16 Poses – 22 mm equal 167 cm Height

  • General/Staff Officer, observing (2)
  • Officer with Pistol 08 (Luger), standing, firing (2)
  • NCO with Binoculars, commanding (2)
  • NCO with Karabiner 98k and Binoculars, pointing (1)
  • NCO with Submachine Gun (10)
  • Tank Close Assault Team
  • MG-Schütze Nr. 1 with MG 34 Machine Gun, prone, firing (1)
  • MG-Schütze Nr. 2 with Karabiner 98k and Patronenkasten 34 / 41, prone (1)
  • Rifleman with Karabiner 98k and Sidearm 84/98 Ausf. III, running (6)
  • Rifleman with Karabiner 98k and Bayonet, in melee (2)
  • Rifleman with Karabiner 98k, throwing Stielhandgranate 24 (4)
  • Rifleman, standing, firing (6)
  • Rifleman, kneeling, firing (6)
  • Pionier with Flame-Thrower (2)
  • Mortarman Nr. 2 with 8 cm Shell, standing (1)
  • Mortarman Nr. 3 with 8 cm Shell, kneeling (1)
  • Schwerer Granatwerfer (s.GrW) 8 cm (1)


Excellent choice of subject, Matchbox German Infantry wearing the field blouse M36 and belt supports M.1939 is a staple for wargames and dioramas.

This set offers 16 figure poses, of which nearly 40 % are officers, senior and junior NCO, and engineers. Only seven poses are actual rank and file of the infantry. The NCO with submachine gun is the most common figure, and 20 percent submachine guns are far too many for a set of German infantry.

The submachine gun looks nothing like the iconic MP 38 or MP 40. The rectangular housing should be round, and the short foregrip should be replaced by a long 32-round magazine. This figure is rather useless because of the conspicuously incorrect weapon. The SMG may be replaced by an artillery shell to convert the soldier into a gunner.

The staff officer and NCO with Karabiner 98k appear to be slightly pigeon-toed, making their pose look rather unmilitary.

German Infantry, 1939–1944, 1:76 Matchbox 5003.

MG-Schütze Nr. 2 would normally use both hands to feed the ammunition belt, instead of just holding the ammunition box like he does here. The machine gun team fits on a 1 × 1.5 inch stand. The set only includes one light machine gun instead of the three MG 34 required for one infantry platoon. Fortunately, the shortage may be remedied by recruiting spare machine gunners from Airfix German Infantry.

The heavy mortar s.GrW 8 cm is a simple and robust design, very easy to set up or take apart, but it might be replaced with a more realistic model. However, the s.GrW 8 belongs to the Machine Gun Company, whereas rifle platoons of the infantry and motorized infantry were equipped with a light 5 cm Granatwerfer 36, which is not included in this set.

Munitionsschütze Nr. 3 may be converted to Richtschütze Nr. 1 of the 8 cm s.GrW simply by removing the mortar bomb from his hand. The mortar team nicely fits a 1 × 1 inch stand.

The figures are carrying the Feldflasche M31 field flask on their belt, instead of attached to the Brotbeutel M31 bread bag which is sadly missing. One easy fix is to slice the field flask off with a scalpel, sculpt the haversack from Green Stuff, and press the field flask back into it. Everyone seems to have left their Zeltbahn M31 shelter half and mess tin in the attendant vehicle, only the soldier throwing the Stielhandgranate 24 carries a flat square object on his Y-straps where the mess tin should be.

German Infantry, 1939–1944, 1:76 Matchbox 5003.

The RPG launcher is only 1.44 m long, it falls significantly short of the 1.64 m long 8.8 cm RPzB 54 “Panzerschreck” of the Wehrmacht.

The flame-thrower with identical gas and flame oil tanks arranged vertically looks nothing like the Flammenwerfer 35 nor the Flammenwerfer 41, whose tanks were of different sizes and arranged one above the other. The easiest fix is to slice both tanks off and replace them with more realistic tanks made of polystyrene tubing.

German Infantry, 1939–1944, 1:76 Matchbox 5003.

The ratio of support weapons to rifleman is incorrect. While the number of figures in this set would normally be sufficient to raise a rifle platoon of the German Wehrmacht, the surplus of submachine guns and the simultaneous lack of light machine guns make this impossible. Matchbox British Infantry is much more balanced in this regard.

Several figures are without cartridge pouches or magazine pouches. Two riflemen are equipped with incorrect cartridge pouches for only four charger clips, instead of two M.1911 cartridge pouches for six K 98k charger clips each.

The bayonets are short shot, too thick and blunt to be accurate. Airfix did a much better job with their British 8th Army figures which carry perfectly sculpted bayonets.

The gas mask canister was carried by its strap, which these figures lack. Instead, the gasmask appears to be attached to the belt.

The jackboots are nearly free of folds, making them look stiff like ski boots. The error may be corrected by carving several folds around the ankle, using a soldering iron or heated needle.

Using a ZEP-70 Pulse Regulated Soldering Iron, it took only 45 minutes to completely remove the mould lines from 16 figures and the mortar; an average of 2.6 minutes of cleanup per miniature.

Painting Matchbox German Infantry

The original painting instructions for Matchbox German Infantry recommended enamel paints which are not really suitable for soft plastic miniatures. Revell has since adapted the painting instructions to their own range of Aqua Color Acrylics.

  1. Revell 302, Humbrol MC14 »Black«: Belt, Y-straps, Ammunition Pouches, Entrenching Tool Carrier, Boots, Steel Helmet?!, Gas Mask Canister?!
  2. Revell 91 »Iron«, Humbrol MC23 »Gun Metal«: Rifle Barrel, Bayonet
  3. Revell 85, Humbrol MH19 »Dark Wood«: Rifle Stock, Field Flask
  4. Revell 66 »Olive Grey«, Humbrol HM6 »Field Grey«: Feldbluse M36, Trousers M40
  5. Revell 35, Humbrol 61, Airfix M7 »Flesh«: Face, Hands
  6. Humbrol 30, Airfix M3 »Dark Green«: Collar, Shoulder Straps

The painting instructions are incomplete and misleading. The field grey Feldbluse M36 was initially worn with stone grey trousers M22 (M36), stocks of which were still issued to troops as late as 1942. Field grey trousers M40 were introduced in time for the 1940 Battle of France, and they were worn alongside the earlier stone grey trousers even in the same sub-unit, whose appearance begins to lose some of its uniformity in this way.

Steel helmets, gas mask canisters, mess tins, ammunition boxes and other Kleingerät (small equipment) of the army which had initially been painted »Field Grey Nr. 2, RAL 7009« was painted »Field Grey Nr. 3, RAL 6006« from 1935 until the end of the war, or »Fliegerblaugrau RAL 7016« in the Luftwaffe.

The dark green shoulder straps were piped in Waffenfarbe. The piping is easier to paint if the shoulder strap is underpainted in the branch-of-service colour first and painted dark green only in the center, leaving the piping visible along the edges. Of course, the piping is so narrow, it would not normally be visible in 1:72 scale. Unless painted to scale, white piping on infantry shoulder straps is easily confused with NCO lace, which is much more important tactically than the piping. We therefore only paint non-white piping on uniforms of specialist figures like staff officers, engineers, forward observers, forward air controllers, medics, assault gun crews, logistics personnel and so forth, who need to be easily identified in wargames.

Compatible with Airfix, Fujimi, Milicast, Cromwell Models, Ostmodels, MMS, and Vac-U-Cast.

Historical Employment

  • German Infantry, 1939–1944

Matchbox German Infantry was first released in 1976, and they are still a must-have for wargamers and miniature collectors alike.

German Miniatures of World-War Two