After the Winter War of 1939-40, when Finland had gallantly fought a Soviet invasion but had been forced to concede territory, the country saw its chance for revenge when Germany invaded the USSR in 1941, and launched their own campaign to reconquer their territory, known as the Continuation War. This they succeeded in doing quite quickly, but to the fury of the Germans they refused to invade the Soviet Union proper, and sat defending their borders in a very low-key war for the next three years. In June 1944, with a resurgent Red Army pushing the Germans out of their country, the Soviets launched a massive attack on the Finns, forcing them back to their 1940 borders. With overwhelming force the Soviets clearly could not be defeated, so the Finns negotiated a peace which required them to force out those Germans who had helped and advised them. This, the Lapland War, was a lacklustre affair as neither side really wanted to fight it, and fighting was sporadic, but it continued until the Germans completely left Finland in April 1945. So the year 1944 saw the Finns facing a quiet Soviet opponent, then a massive and skilful Soviet invasion, and ended with a reluctant campaign against the Germans.
In the quiet years before 1944 the Finns had done much to improve their small army, and received a good deal of help from Germany including weaponry and equipment. This almost accidentally forced some uniformity on the Finnish Army, which by 1944 had a strong German look, but there remained a wide variety of uniform, equipment and in particular weaponry. In as much as can be seen, the figures in this set look to be a good reflection of this rather heterogeneous appearance. The uniform all looks good, and many wear peaked field caps, while the rest have quite an assortment of helmets from several countries, which is fine. The detail is not good enough to be sure of the identification of any weaponry, but the various rifles and submachine guns here all could pass for one or more of the models this army utilised by 1944. Two of the men have the unmistakable Panzerfaust, which were supplied by the Germans in large numbers. Several also have visible knives – most Finnish troops carried a knife of some sort.
All the poses seem perfectly acceptable without there being anything particularly noteworthy. There are several kneeling and prone figures, and others advancing while keeping their head down, which is as it should be for Second World War soldiers. Although all the figures come complete the poses have been skilfully chosen to not appear to be particularly flat, so the poses are very good.
The sculpting is not too bad, although detail is certainly far from the clear and sharp ideal that some manufacturers produce. The proportions are not too bad either, and unlike most Strelets sets these are a little thinner and have a more natural anatomy. There is a little bit of flash and a bit of excess plastic in places, but the only really poor element of the sprue production is that the positioning of the prone machine gunner means his gun has a very distinct bend in the barrel which is very hard to correct.
This fairly decent set brings a little-known part of the wider global conflict in 1944 to our attention, and does it well enough. While Finland suffered ultimate defeat in the Continuation War, the resourcefulness of her people and the bravery of her soldiers meant she escaped the fate of many Eastern European countries and was not occupied by the Soviets after the War. That was no small achievement, and one that this set now allows to be replayed on any tabletop.