The USA has been involved in a lot of military operations since World War II, but without much doubt one of the most important of these in terms of its consequences was the Vietnam War, called the American War in that country. When Esci produced these figures and the accompanying Americans, the war had not long finished, and there would have been many tens of thousands of first-hand witnesses who could judge their accuracy.
This set, which is labelled North Vietnamese on the box, in fact has representatives of most of the communist forces engaged in that war apart from the Chinese, whose level of participation is still hotly contested. Of course the two main groups are the Viet Minh/Viet Cong - the NLF - and the North Vietnamese regular army (PAVN). The typical Viet Minh costume was the simply peasant shirt and trousers, called 'pyjamas' by the Americans, and simple sandals, often made from old motor tyres. As with any irregular force, though, clothing was extremely varied and all manner of clothing and headgear was observed, including khaki fatigues captured from the Government, French and Americans. When operating in the South, North Vietnamese troops frequently wore much the same dress (to make it seem they were from the South too), though later in the war they were more often seen wearing their regular olive green uniform. Webbing and equipment was equally varied and often home made in the Viet Cong particularly. Weaponry would often include captured items and weapons supplied by other communist states.
With such a varied appearance, it would have been quite difficult for Esci to go far wrong with this subject. Sure enough, the homework has been done and these figures faithfully reflect the appearance of their subject. For the reasons stated above it is not possible to positively identify which figures are Viet Minh and which regular North Vietnamese, though at least two of them are wearing a more formal uniform and characteristic sun helmet which was typical of the PAVN. Others wear a floppy bush hat and assorted ammunition pouches attached to belts and webbing of many styles. Several also wear a cloth roll across the body, in which would be kept their rice ration.
One figure is particularly interesting (first figure on second row above). He wears a round soft cap with a peak and a neck towel, both of which are typical of members of the Cambodian Khmer Rouge, a body that assisted the Vietnamese Communists during the war.
The weaponry suffers from some minor accuracy problems, including that they are all a bit over-sized, but includes such common items as the Simonov SKS rifle, the AK-47 and the Soviet RPD light machine gun, although any could easily be copies produced locally. Also there is one RPG-7 rocket launcher, so a good selection of weapons.
As usual a first class effort from Esci, with good accuracy, interesting variety and faultless sculpting. A handful of the poses are a little wooden (such as the grenade-thrower), a common Esci fault, but we liked the man helping to drag away a wounded comrade, since the PAVN and Viet Cong were both keen to avoid leaving wounded or dead behind for the enemy. There is much more that could have been done for such a large subject, and more recently there have been other sets to expand on the figures here, but in total this set is a great piece of work.