In the years following the Great War, the US Marine Corps had been forced to work hard to convince the public and politicians that they were useful and cost-effective. In a country weary of war and more concerned with financial problems after the Great Crash of 1929, they had shrunk in size, as had all branches of the military, and on the eve of the attack on Pearl Harbor they numbered a little under 65,000 all ranks. With the coming of war, and especially the many amphibious operations in the Pacific, the Corps quickly expanded again, and by the final victory they numbered over 485,000 men and women. In those four years they had cemented their reputation in the history of their country’s military, and had successfully undertaken some of the most arduous and bloody actions of the war.
Perhaps the most obvious characteristic of this set is the large number of poses. 26 is an impressive haul by any standards, so there is much room for variety and perhaps something a little different. Overall however the poses are pretty conventional and, it must be said, not very dynamic. There are a lot of men here standing upright and showing little sign of movement, which feels like something of a missed opportunity when you imagine all the poses you could have had which might portray advancing in a storm of fire up some beach, or else assaulting an enemy strongpoint. Not that there is anything particularly wrong with any pose here, but we would have hoped for more action, particularly when compared to some other sets of marines that have some great and very appropriate poses.
If the poses are nothing to shout about then the sculpting gives a much more negative impression. Our pictures largely speak for themselves, but the figures are really quite basic by modern standards, with poor detail and a look which reminded us of the early Airfix output. All aspects are well below modern standards, but as usual this is most apparent in the weapons, which are very basic. The box artwork suggests the M1 carbine, but we could see nothing here that resembled that weapon. All we can say for sure is the majority here carry a rifle, with five poses having a BAR, and a few with submachine guns – apparently Thompsons though really badly done. All the weapons are chunky and with little definition, and look terrible. Aside from the weapons the detail disappears entirely in some places, probably down to filling the mould, because in some places there are cuts or even deep holes where the material has presumably not filled properly. The feet suffer from this particularly, but it is a bit of a mess in all areas. On the positive side there is no flash anywhere, although there are a few tabs of excess plastic in some places which are easy to remove.
Things do get better when it comes to accuracy. All the men wear the M1 helmet, most apparently with a cover. The clothing is hard to be precise about given the poor detail, but looks to be the usual herringbone twill fatigues or the very similar camouflage utility uniform. Only a couple of the men have anklets or leggings, which is fine, so the uniform looks to be accurate. Kit is mostly minimal, consisting of the ammunition pouches on the belt, first aid pouch, one or quite often two canteens and a fighting knife. Where visible, those with a BAR seem to have the appropriate pouches, and a few have an ammunition bandolier or two. Three of the poses wear a combat pack with entrenching tool attached, so the variety and style of equipment is pretty authentic, even if as poorly sculpted as the rest.
A further moan is that all the figures have very small bases – many so minimal as to make it impossible for the figure to stand. We feel this is a very basic element to get wrong. Also we were surprised by the number of what look like Thompsons, with no sign of the M3 Grease gun. The positives are few, but we liked the figure in the bottom row using a walkie-talkie, and the unarmed running figure next to him would make a good corpsman.
So apart from the number of poses we were unenthusiastic about this set. The quality of the sculpting and moulding is the worst aspect, but the stiff poses are also a disappointment. This may be because the figures were originally made in metal by Xian miniatures, and so rather illustrate the superiority of plastic over metal. Whatever the reason, we felt the previous sets of Marines from other manufacturers were much superior to this product, which may be historically quite accurate but has little else to recommend it.