The United States Marine Corps saw a lot of action during the siege of Peking in 1900, from both inside and out. Approximately 50 marines formed part of the small garrison defending the foreign legations in the city during the siege itself, while around 100 US ‘sailors and marines’ participated in the first relief expedition and a whole battalion was part of the successful Gaselee column. The marines in the city took a prominent part in operations, including actions to clear snipers from the city walls, so this is a very important set of figures for the famous siege.
These models show the men in quite typical costume. The soft campaign hat, shirts, breeches and leggings are all standard for US soldiers of the day and have been properly done here. All the men are in shirt-sleeve order, which is understandable given the heat of the Chinese summer, although those in the relief expedition may have worn their tunics on occasion (at least one photograph shows them doing so, although only on parade). Some figures wear the vertical belt supports which should have been part of every marine’s kit, but again photographs confirm that for the besieged at least standards of dress were quite lax so this mix seems reasonable. Equally some have the regulation pouches on their belt while others have the much-liked cartridge belt – once more a mix which seems authentic. Kit is very sparse, with a few having a canteen but most having nothing but their bayonet scabbard. For the besieged this is reasonable but those fighting their way up from the coast might have been more heavily burdened.
By and large the poses are OK if uninspired, although we particularly liked the first kneeling figure in the top row. However the figure holding his rifle over his head is an odd choice. Perhaps he is defending himself against an edged weapon from above, but we were not taken with the pose whatever it is meant to be. A rather wooden collection of poses but all the basics are here except for a man on the march.
Sculpting is self-evidently not that good, with fairly poor faces and detail lacking in places such as the rifles. Some of the figures are relatively free of flash while others are covered in it, which leaves us wondering why it is possible to achieve a good result on some figures but not all of them.
There is nothing here to get excited about, and the figures might be called workman-like but never attractive. Unless you need them to recreate the 1900 campaign it is hard to see why this set would appear on many shopping lists.