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Comparing Eisenkern: Then and Now

Updated: Jan 29, 2023

Back in the good ole days of cheap plastic, I fell in love with the aesthetic of a certain collection of German inspired sci-fi figures. Then, like Christmas had been torched by the Grinche's very own heavy flamer of despair- the whole line was canceled. Gone were the Panzerjager tank hunterettes. Gone were the accessory sprues, and the MULEs, and the massive walkers of death and destruction. As Dreamforge Games passed into the nether, I took advantage of their warehouse clearance sale to grab a couple of the Leviathan models (review to follow soon), and then said a sad farewell to the line.

Enter Wargames Atlantic. When first I saw the line, I was a little excited. Just before their release, I had purchased the WWI Germans (wchich is honestly a really good kit in itself) with the intent of making a Faux Death Korps of Krieg army. I was originally intending to use the Eisenkern as a standin for the Krieg Storm Troopers and their Engineers. Then GW changed their rules so they weren’t as good anymore, the local hobby shop changed their rules for tournaments- long story short, I sold off the WWI Germans and delayed getting the Eisenkern.

The principle reason I delayed getting the Eisenkern was that after purchasing the WWI Germans, I discovered to my dismay that they were made in China. To a lot of folks, this isn’t a big deal. To me it is. I don’t support anything the CCP does, and so products made in China are off limits. I try pretty hard to sanitize my purchasing with regards to China. Some stuff still flutters in (my wife isn’t totally on board yet), but when I know something is made there, I avoid it. It's a semi recent trend for me (maybe five or six years) and I fully admit I'm an outlier here. Yet, I feel it's pertinent as I also want to encourage companies to avoid working with the CCP at ANY level.

Suffice to say, now that WGA has moved production stateside, I feel better about getting their stuff, and so I made the plunge with a box of the Stormtroopers and I got a box of the Panzerjagers for Christmas. I also managed to find a box of the old Panzerjagers on Ebay (sans one set of legs) and Mark Mandragon is selling off some of the older sets, so I managed to land an original box of the Stormtroopers. This put me in an interesting position to review the sets against one another, and see what changed.

If you compare the original Dreamforge Games models to the new WGA models, you’ll notice that the scale has gone down a touch. I noticed this the moment I started building the newer versions (I had yet to get the originals). Everything is more dainty on the figures. This isn’t really a huge problem, but I can see this making details more difficult to pick out when painting these figures up. It also makes assembly more tricky as the pieces are just that little bit smaller. At least for me- I crushed the index middle and ring fingers on my right hand about five years ago, and after the surgery to fix them, the booger hook hasn't been the same. Results may vary here, but if you are going to kitbash the old bits with the new kits, it's something to keep in mind.

DFG Jager, WGA Jager, DFG Trooper, WGA Trooper, Mix of Troopers
DFG Jager, WGA Jager, DFG Trooper, WGA Trooper, Mix of old and new

However, scale wise they are right in there with other “true scale” figures, and to be honest, I actually dig the smaller nature of the figs. And beside an old DG model, it’s not easy to pick out unless you know what you’re looking for. You really have to look to see the difference, and even then- it's just people of varying sizes as is true in real life. The most noticeable place to see the scale difference is in the thighs of the Panzerjagers, and when the weapons are laid side by side. The big difference I noticed was those thighs. In the originals, the thigh was clean- no straps. Just joined armored panels. On the new ones, they are like their Stormtrooper cousins, with the straps holding the armor sections together.

Old Ladies are definitely a little thicker.
Notice the thickness of the DFG Jager thighs.

I prefer the smoother lines on the old variant of the Jagers. It looks more feminine, while still looking armored. I can see why they may have changed the details here- especially given the reduction in size- but that smoother look just looks better. Not that it can't be "fixed" with a hobby knife and time, just that I'd prefer not to. You can also see that going smaller made some of the details softer overall. Not the end of the world, but something to consider when you go to paint.

Left, WGA Jager. Right, DFG Jager.

As to general look- those have been retained in spades. The Eisenkern troops have a fairly robust cool factor given how they look. People who like German stuff can claim they’re German soldiers, and people who hate Germans can claim they’re sci-fi troops of an unknown lineage. They are generic enough that you can use them to represent many different kinds of troops. The individual weapons load outs are excellent. In both boxes you get enough of the long rifles and carbines to outfit each model with one, and you get enough of the other various weapons to do at least two of each for every five figures.

At $35 per box of twenty, these guys and gals are a helluva deal. WGA also allows for multi set buys reducing the cost further if you want huge armies. 200 Eisenkern will run you $265 if you buy a 10 box set. And given what they can stand in for, that’s a really good deal (200 Scions would run you north of $1600- so, your call). Only downside is that you can't mix and match with multi box sets. Maybe they'll change that if we all complain about it on the forum. But that little point aside- these guys are competitively priced with amazing quality to boot.

For sub $40, this is a helluva deal.

With regards to assembly, there isn’t much to complain about aside from a lack of instructions and the daintiness of some of the parts. All the major components go together easily enough, and the only really tricky bit is the arms and weapons. Pieces are set on the sprue in a logical fashion, so that the lack of instructions is minor. If you have bits from the original Dreamforge kits, fear not- they'll work very well with the new kits.

DFG Trooper (WGA Carbine), WGA Trooper, DFG PZJ, WGA PZJ

Unfortunately, it’s not all sunshine and unicorn poop. There are a couple issue I have with the set, and one in particular would be easily solved in about two seconds with a product they already have. The set doesn’t come with bases. That means extra expense, driving the cost per figure up a touch. Given that WGA has a set of bases they sell, this seems like a VERY easy fix. Throw a couple sprues of bases into the box and problem is solved. And the box has plenty of room for those sprues. And a couple dollars extra per box to cover that would still leave these sets as competitive options for those who don't worry about brand loyalty.

The other thing is the absurd lack of pouches. Granted, you get a TON of weapons options to kit these guys and gals out with, but the few pouches you do get (and only with the Stormtroopers) are kinda meh. The details are soft, and being scaled down like everything else really doesn't help matters. For those with booger hooks with issues they are a pain int he neck. I'm hoping that an accessory set is in the making (ideally with those spiffy heavy weapons) and that it retains the original scale for the pouches, because these models could stand to have some, and the original pouches you got with the accessory set were top notch.

A simple way to make the details POP.

If WGA put bases in the boxes (and maybe some instructions for arm pairing) this set would move from “Very Good” to “Great” in my opinion. And if they did an .stl package of torsos, shoulder pads, and arms (and probably pouches and other kit)- they'd hit "Stupid Good." The value is there price point wise, and as mentioned before, they are a generic enough look that you can use them to represent lots of different forces. Want some Scions for your Imperial Guard Army (for 16% the cost) - these fit the bill perfectly, much like the Mantic Games GCPS figures- another set that is an excellent price point (and they have bases- take note WGA).

In closing, would I recommend these figures to a friend? Yes, I would. They hit pretty much every wicket I look for in a good kit. The price point is excellent. The quality is great (outside of some of the aforementioned items). And they look great on the table top. If you want to support a company doing their best to do it right, or just want a reasonably priced alternative to these, these, or these, I'd highly recommend getting either of these sets.

WAAAAAIIIIITTT!!!! Hold up, I missed something on my initial review, and I feel really stupid for having missed it.

If you look at the Jager sprue -the new one- you'll notice that there is a rather odd thing going on. At first I just chalked it up to there being an extra set of legs, but the reality is... um... Weirder. I have highlighted in yellow the butts of every set of legs that is complete. In The green are the left leg extras, and the blue are right leg extras. When you add it up, there are only five complete sets of legs with two spare rights that don't fit ANYTHING. Well, not true per se. You can make them fit the kneeling legs if you do a little work. But they literally don't fit ANYTHING.

This was a glaring miss in my initial review, and I apologize for this miss. The original Jager sprue doesn't have this issue. All legs (at least as far as I can tell, I did get a sprue without one set) are present for complete sets. the Stormtroopers are not so encumbered. You get full sets. But it is interesting that this little mistake made it through the inspection process. Hopefully WGA puts a 3D printable fix out to remedy this situation. Would really like to run the other two sets of legs that are missing.

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