It is appropriate that this set should be called Japanese Army in Attack, because the ethos of the Japanese Army was very much to attack, so even if they were defending a position they were encouraged to find a way to attack the enemy and regain the initiative. While this aggressive attitude sometimes delivered favourable results, and often surprised their opponents, it could also be very wasteful of Japanese lives, and ultimately no amount of bravery or positive attitude, nor confidence in final victory, could save Japan from eventual humiliation against far stronger opponents.
The poses in this set are very true to the notion of attack, with a lot of men moving forward aggressively, bayonets fixed and at the ready. There are also several that seem to be actually in a fight with someone in front of them, lunging with the bayonet and using their rifle as a club. The first figure in the top row is doing just that, and is a much more credible pose than many to be seen on this site depicting the same thing. In this case he seems to have resorted to this action as he has lost his bayonet, which is neither fixed nor in his scabbard. The third figure in that same row is lunging with his bayonet rather low, and with the rifle held in front of him, which is a bit awkward and means he has less control than he should, but not too bad. The advancing figures in the second row are good, and we really liked the third figure, advancing under fire or perhaps half stumbling, and also the last figure, again fighting with bayonet. The second figure in the third row is advancing and holding a submachine gun, and the sculptor has cleverly got round the problem of the curved magazine for this weapon by having him in the act of fixing it - a neat solution. Both the man with the flag and the officer are moving forward with purpose, so some excellent poses here.
There is a mix of uniform on these figures, with some wearing a tunic and others simply in the tropical shirt. All the men have puttees on the lower leg held by the strips in the characteristic cross arrangement. Eight of the poses have a helmet, sometimes with netting and suitable camouflage, and the rest have the usual field cap with neck curtain attached. All have been correctly done, and so too has the kit on show here. The men have the two front ammunition pouches on the waist belt, and the larger reserve ammunition pouch at the rear. They also have the bayonet scabbard on the left hip and a haversack on the right, but surprisingly just four of them have any sort of a water bottle. Also missing entirely are any packs or entrenching tools, so these are quite lightly equipped.
Everyone in the top two rows looks to be armed with the usual Arisaka rifle, which is as it should be. There are no heavy weapons here (Strelets have that covered elsewhere), but the bottom row here provides weapons that are more notable. Both the first two figures have what looks like the 8mm Type 100, which was the only submachine gun used by the Japanese. It was made in small numbers by the standards of the day, and sources state it was only issued to paratroopers. The fact that some are in the hands of ordinary infantry in this set is therefore surprising, but it is hard to say whether this was possible or not. We could only find a couple of propaganda images of infantry holding this weapon, so we will have to put their presence here down as an error in the absence of evidence to the contrary. Also a problem is the lack of a bayonet scabbard for the man throwing the grenade. All infantry were issued bayonets, even if they did not carry a weapon capable of holding one, although in fact the Type 100 slung on his back was able to have a bayonet fixed. Both men with submachine guns have interesting ammunition belts round their waists. Lastly the officer has pistol and sword, an anachronistic look in the western world but still possible in Asia at this time.
The sculpting is reasonable, but a bit rough in places. The general anatomical proportions are fairly good, and for the most part the poses are not particularly flat. There is no assembly here, so the first figure in our top row does have plastic between his two arms, and the flash, although patchy, is to be found in some areas. The detail is fairly good, but can go astray, such as the bayonet scabbard being much too short on some men. There is no design engraved on the flag, which is good in our view.
The martial spirit and samurai traditions of Japan meant the training of the men placed greater emphasis on use of the bayonet, so we liked the preponderance of this weapon in the poses presented here. The sculpting is pretty good and the main accuracy issue is with the two men carrying submachine guns. Even if you decide not to use these two, the set offers some interesting and worthwhile figures, and it adds some lively poses to the already available sets of Japanese infantry for the war that would destroy the Japanese Empire in 1945.
Note The final figure is of a soldier from the Streltsi of 17th century Russia. Though he is unrelated to the subject of this set, he is one of a series of 'bonus' figures which when combined will create a set of this unit for the Great Northern War. See Streltsi Bonus Figures feature for details.