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Tristar Figures - A Serious Alternative to Resin?

Why This Feature was Written.....
Many times in the forums of Armorama many of us ask the same kind of question, Who does figures of type X in 1/3th Scale? Inevitably the answer is the same - one of the many excellent resin manufacturers such as Alpha Image Workshop , Warriors , Wolf or Hobby-Fan (to name but four!) , however not everyone has the access to these figures or indeed the financial 'clout' to purchase the available resin castings available. Many younger modellers are in a similar quandary... Therefore I have chosen to highlight Tristar as going someway to filling the gap. This is somewhat qualified by the fact that the range (at the present moment) is nothing like as extensive as that of DML or Tamiya , concentating as they do, (with one exception) exclusively on German WWII subjects, however as most of these are vehicle crews - sometimes the addition of figures of this quality will raise the quality from the 'ordinary' to the (clichéd) 'Show-Stopper'......

Just What Is Currently Available From TRISTAR ?
Currently, Tristar has nine figure sets available. These are:
001 - GERMAN PANZER CREW (NORMANDY1944) This set contains FIVE crew figures in several different uniform types, including three in the camouflaged coverall.

002 - German Self-Propelled Gun Crew Set Four figures are included in this set along with a photo-etch fret set. They are equally useful as tank crew - Check Your References!

004 - German Panzer Grenadiers Set (Volume 1) Once again, four figures are included. All of these figures have a nice mix of the late-war (reversible) camo smocks which can easily be painted up to represent snow gear if one so desires...

005 - German Panzer Grenadiers Set (Volume 2) Similar to the previous set, this also contains four figures with a nice mix of uniform styles....

006 - German Officers Field Session Set This set contains four figures. As the title suggests, the contents of the set are officers - definitely field-grade and above due to the generous 'proportions' of some of the figures!

007 - German Self-Propelled Gun Crew Set Vol.2 The set contains five 'full' figures and one 'half' (for adding to a vehicle hatch) Similar comments to 002

009 - German Tropical Panzer Crew Basically a D.A.K. (Afrika Korps) tank crew. The set contains three 'full' and one 'half' figure with the 'Tropical' Uniform. The animation of these figures is truly superb. Two sitting and one standing figure are included as well as an optional (bandaged) head....

011 - German Africa Corps (Deutschen Afrika-Korps) This recent set consists of six figures. The subject is (obviously enough) D.A.K. Infantry. Once again, the animation is truly impressive....

012 - Russian Tank Crew Set This is the latest (at the time of writing) figure set and the only non-German set in the range. Seven figures are included in this set, five 'full' and two 'half ' figures. A multitude of uniforms are represented including the leather tanker's coverall. A nice (and often overlooked) bonus is the inclusion of a female tanker.

Tristar's other Products
Although this feature is primarily designed as an overview of Tristar's figure sets, it would be extremely remiss of me NOT to mention their small range of vehicles. The vehicle sets are: 35003 - GERMAN PANZER I ausf A Panzer I A Detail Interior Set (No reference number) This set includes full interior details for the Panzer 1 kit including: Driver set, Driver compartment, Transmission and Rear Engine Deck. Also included is Engine and compartment, Gun Mantlet, Turret Interior and Upper hull Details.... 35010 - German 20mm FLAK38・Sd.Ah.51 This diminutive model has to be simply one of the best detailed Flak 38s on the market:

An interesting and useful range of plastic figures which offer a very serious alternative to the resin figures. The only negative aspect of the range is the limited amount of nationalities available. However, in fairness to Tristar they have used considerable imagination in their choice of subject. Too few manufacturers have taken the subject of vehicle crew sets seriously. And sadly, few of the 'mass' producers employ sculptors of the standard who work for Tristar Final Credit: It would be insulting not to mention the sculptor employed by Tristar ,who is Yoshitaka Hirano
O.K. I'm Convinced, where can I buy them?
Logically, the first port of call to purchase Tristar Figures is their shop, which can be seen: HERE For U.S.A. / Canada: VLS CORPORATION For Europe Any offers?
  • 35010
  • 35008_b
  • 35012dr
  • 35011web
  • 35009s
  • 35007
  • 35006_web_m
  • 005_600
  • 004_600

About the Author

About Jim Rae (jimbrae)

Self-employed English teacher living in NW Spain. Been modelling off and on since the sixties. Came back into the hobby around ten years ago. First love is Soviet Armor with German subjects running a close second. Currently exploring ways of getting cloned to allow time for modelling, working and wr...


jim and dave, if you do arrange an interview with tristar, would it be possibe to request some questions? i.e. what future plans do they have for the line etc(any allied? ) regards joe
SEP 14, 2004 - 04:30 PM
I recently purchased the Flak 38 crew and have mixed feelings about this release. This may be the only plastic and easily affordable crew for this gun, but I find that these figures are even a bit smaller than previous releases, maybe closer to 1/37th, unless some of the crew are Hitler Youth auxilliaries. I was going to use this set with Italeri's Demag-mounted Flak. The commander figure seems to be wearing Wehrmacht uniform and their breast eagles also appear to be army style, but the remainder of the crew are wearing a pocket-less tunic. I don't recognize it as being army, is this actually a Luftwaffe item? I am a great advocate of Tristar figures, especially their self-propelled gun crew sets, and their DAK figures look very good, but this set seems to be a little soft in detail and as stated previously, a bit on the diminutive side of 1/35th.
MAR 23, 2005 - 04:06 PM
I can't comment on the flak crew, but IMHO, the Tristar figures are some of the best scaled 1/35 figures on the market, together with Alpine Miniatures. I was scratchbuilding a 1/35 scale GI and based him on a 5' 10" man, and he scales out to be about 50mm tall. I personally think that Dragon have been producing some slightly large figures and what we're seeing here is more normal!
MAR 24, 2005 - 02:18 AM
One of the things I like about Tristar figures is the fact that they have a picturte of the actual completed figures on the back of the box. The tank crew set that I bought has four diffent maps to use in a diorama printed on the tabs of the box, too. Just a nice little extra that didn't cost them anything. As far as scale goes, DML figures have been shrinking over the years. Last weekend I was going to put a figure from the old DML panzer crew set (first picture) on the ground in a diorama with a couple of figures from the newer grenadiers in Arnhem set, (second picture) and it ain't happenin' The old figure looked like Andre the Giant compared to the two new guys. Shaun
MAR 24, 2005 - 03:23 AM
Very nice article, and very nice products by Tristar! I hope they continiue like this.....maybe a M10/M18 or M8/M20 crew would be an idea? :-) Where to buy in Europe: www.plasticmodelbouw.nl It's already said before.....but it can't do any harm to say it again I guess. Great service, great people, and unbelievable fast delevery (at least here in the Netherlands....I ordered my VIIC uboat monday and received the kit tuesday......that's really fast :-)) cheers, Martin
MAR 24, 2005 - 03:49 AM
Actually if you compare very old DML figs ( an Ardennes set from about 10 yrs ago, when they were still moulding them in an orange-yellow color plastic) they were really small - probably around 5' -6" average height. Their sculpting and animation certainly weren't up to par either. If they were better produced they could still be used for Hitler Youth! I would still like to know if the uniforms on the Tristar Flak crew are Luftwaffe or Wehrmacht: re; the tunics without pockets.
MAR 27, 2005 - 03:41 AM
You can get away with the odd under-scale, or over-scale fig in a diorama as not every man is created equal :-); in any mixed group you will find tall people, medium people, and short people. Just make sure that all their equipment - helmets, weapons, etc., are of a standard size.
MAR 27, 2005 - 03:51 AM
I love the Tristar figures! I just recently bought the DAK figure set along with the Tropical panzer crew. Great figures! I believe the only ones i don't have are the Russian tank crew, Flak Crew and the newest early German infantry. These figures are unsurpassed in terms of quality and accuracy. I just received my Tiger I (initial version) from Dragon and i think i will wait until Tristar releases a mid-war panzer crew to populate it. Thanks for the review Jim. Great work! Bodeen
MAR 31, 2005 - 02:22 AM
One more thing.... Great Models webstore LINK carries the entire line of Tristar figures and vehicles. Thier prices are about 10% cheaper than other hobby suppliers. If they have the item in stock you should recieve it within a week. They have..in my opinion...the best selection of plastic kits in the US.
MAR 31, 2005 - 02:30 AM
Great Models have also been discussed at length on this forum. I'm still surprised that people use them. Vinnie
MAR 31, 2005 - 02:43 AM