Any army of the Second World War had great need of support weapons for its infantry, but this was particularly true of the Marines. By their very nature, many of their operations were amphibious assaults where heavier weapons like artillery and tanks might be absent or in very short supply during the early stages, so the need to gain as much firepower as possible early on was clear. In addition, much of the terrain in which the Marines fought in the Pacific made heavier weapons very difficult to move, adding even more importance to mortars and other light and easily portable support weapons.
The first thing to say about this set is you do get a lot of weapons, although it should be pointed out that many are quite poorly crewed here. So the bazooka in the top row has no one to actually feed a round into it, and as we shall see that will be a common problem. The bazooka itself is poorly defined, but with a barrel length of 20 mm (144 cm) and no sign of a hinge mid-way, this must be the earlier M1 or M1A1 model, which had a barrel length of 138 cm. The next two figures carry flamethrowers – an important and useful weapon in the island fighting as there were many bunkers to overcome. Both those here look to be the common M1, although again detail is scarce. The next figure is merely moving forward carrying a rifle and ammunition box, and the last is a prone figure holding a submachine gun of some sort.
The second row includes another couple of figures with submachine guns and a kneeling figure with an ammunition box. The last man is operating a Browning M1919A4 in the correct way, and while the weapon is simplified to a degree, the sculptor has conveniently but not unreasonably placed the weapon in some long grass so the tripod can be produced as one piece – indeed the whole weapon is a single piece.
The mortars present us with some problems. There are two types here, of much the same design and only varying in being a little different in size. The smaller has a barrel length of 9 mm (64.8 cm) and the longer one 13 mm (93.6 cm). This implies they represent the two most common smaller mortars, the 60 mm M2 and the 81 mm M1, but as these had barrel lengths of 72.6 cm and 125 cm respectively, both models are rather too small if our guess is correct. As can be seen, they come as two pieces, but the point of contact between them is tiny and we found ordinary polystyrene cement worked poorly on this material, so they will not be strong models. Another issue here is the crew, because the four mortars have a total dedicated crew of three between them, which make up the rest of this row. The poses chosen are fair enough, but there are far too few of them.
The machine gun in the fourth row also comes as two pieces so as to get around the problems with the tripod, but again the point of contact is small. The weapon itself looks to be the Browning M2HB .50 calibre machine gun, but with a total length of 21 mm (151 cm) it is a bit shorter than the proper 165.4 cm. Once more, although two of this weapon are provided, only one crew is included.
Finally we have a few odds and ends. The first man carries an ammunition box and a folded tripod, the next uses a field telephone, the third carries a M1919A4 (presumably to go with the first figure and his tripod), and the last is perhaps an NCO. We didn’t have a problem with any of the poses in this set, and particularly liked the many that are kneeling or prone, as they might be whilst assaulting a beach, for example. The main problem is inadequate numbers of crew for the supplied weapons.
The quality of the figures is evident from our photos. Detail is basic and vague, and the faces are really quite poor. Some of the weapons are hard to identify due to lack of clarity, and the metal origins of these figures is evident. Apart from the assembly of the weapons already described, the only other build requirement is the fourth figure in our top row, who has a separate rifle/right hand to attach. As with the weapons, we found this difficult to do. Also, and very curiously, several of the figures have such tiny and narrow bases that they cannot stand upright by themselves, which seems like a very fundamental design failure to us. Flash is not too much of a problem here, and the nature of the plastic used means it is fairly easy to trim off anyway.
Finally, the accuracy, which is difficult to pinpoint when the sculpting is of this quality. The men all seem to wear a tunic with a single pocket on the left breast and two on the skirt, so we assume these are the popular herringbone twill fatigues. Everyone wears a cover on their helmet, and contrary to what the box artwork shows, kit is minimal – often no more than a canteen, although some have a pistol or machete too, and a handful also have the usual rifle ammunition belt. So in as much as the uniform can be identified it looks accurate, and it is just the size of some of the weapons that loses this set accuracy points.
Although the range of weapons on display here is pretty good, and we particularly liked the number of poses involved in carrying ammunition, there are just too few figures to properly man all the crewed weapons in this set. The uniforms may be accurate, but to our eye the look of these figures is far from appealing, and really there are much better alternatives available from other manufacturers as this is quite a popular subject. Therefore this is not a collection that has much going for it.