The tradition of music in the Italian Carabinieri stretches back to the buglers of the 1820s, but as time went on larger and more formal bands were instituted. The band performed its first foreign concert when it played in Paris in 1916 for the benefit of wounded Allied soldiers, and in 1920 the War Office created the full band in the form much as it is today. With an international reputation, the band has played all over the world, and has represented Italy in competition.
This was one of the first figure sets Atlantic ever made, and it seems a surprising choice of subject, though it is tempting to think that it may have been influenced by Airfix depicting a band in their very first set. In any event, it is a further illustration of the diversity of the Atlantic range, although they never made any other parade sets. Today this set is extremely rare, particularly outside Italy, and is therefore much prized by collectors. However, leaving aside this affection and judging the set in a cold and impartial light, it must be said that it leaves a lot to be desired.
To begin with, size is very important, particularly in a band. At its fullest extent the band included a wide range of instruments, yet this set includes just three. All the early sets from Atlantic had this small number of pieces, but really Atlantic should have considered the wisdom of making a band if they were only going to make three different instruments. Naturally the three they chose are easier to mould than some, and to our non-musical eye the poses seem correct and natural. As well as the musicians there is a bandmaster and a splendid mounted officer, both of which add to the set.
As with many military bands, these figures wear a uniform that has changed little in decades, making them suitable for a very long period of time. They all wear a coat with long tails and a sword, and the famous Carabinieri hat with the plume that they first wore in 1862. This fairly simple uniform is accurately sculpted, though like all the early Atlantic figures these suffer from some lack of detail and a very thin body and limbs. Another Atlantic problem of large mould marks on their backs is also present on some figures, and there is some flash to be removed.
This is a fascinating set, but sadly it illustrates some of the problems encountered by Atlantic in its early days. Whilst many can be put down to the limitations of the technology of the day, the small number of poses just does not do justice to its subject. Making them in black plastic is also a mistake that is still sometimes seen today. Atlantic should be cheered for their choice of subject, but so much more could have been done with this set.