First things first. The question on everyone’s lips when this set was announced was ‘Why are these two subjects together in one box?’ The official Caesar explanation is that both France and China have sent troops to Somalia in the light of the recent piracy problems.
Reviewing very modern sets always presents many problems. By their very nature there has not been time for books or other authoritative commentary to be written on the subject, although on the other hand there are many living witnesses that can provide expert opinion. In the past we have managed to review modern subjects by gaining the input of serving members of those forces, and therefore have excellent information on which to form an opinion. Sadly we have no contacts with any member of either the French or Chinese armed forces, so this option is not available. Naturally there are no books yet written on them, and since neither army is currently or recently committed to any significant actions there is little reason to suppose that such publications will appear in the future, while for the same reason news media have provided no particular coverage apart, presumably, from the national media of the countries in question. In short then we have far too little information to assess the accuracy of these figures, and are therefore unable to comment.
What we can say is that the top two rows represent the French, and all have weapons which are appropriate, including the FA MAS rifle, AT APILAS rocket launcher and ERYX launcher, although the last is being used without a tripod, which is unusual. The webbing is of a type that is being phased out, although many still wear this older model so it is not out of place here. Uniform generally is accurate, although some of it is very old and would therefore serve for quite a wide time period stretching back to the 1991 Gulf War and beyond. The figure with the radio is missing an antenna but is probably an NCO.
The five PLA figures in the bottom row all hold the QBZ-95 rifle, which is fine, and the general opinion is that these few figures are very accurate and up-to-date.
Accuracy may be hard to guage but the quality of these figures is very clear. As usual the sculpting is excellent, and the usual Caesar use of the multi-part mould has helped make lots of vibrant and well-rounded poses that look both natural and believable. None of the figures require any assembly, yet such difficult subjects as the shoulder-mounted weapons are done very well indeed with no loss of detail from any angle. In fact the detail is impressive throughout, and there is no flash anywhere, although a couple of poses do still have some excess plastic between weapon and body.
We thought the Frenchman wearing the kepi was a nice touch (although he must be on guard duty or on parade), but all the figures are attractive and useful. Mixing subjects is not something we approve of however, and even with slightly more than the usual 12 poses there are still only eight French and five Chinese poses. Perhaps this is a case of better a half set than none at all, and maybe fans of either of these subjects should be grateful that they have been made at all.