The Chinese Civil Wars are extremely complex and not well known in the West, though the man that would dominate China after their conclusion, Mao Zedong (1893-1976), certainly is. It would take many sets to depict all the armies and soldiers that were involved between 1911 and 1949, so this small set can only touch on such a long and bloody period.
For a set labelled as belonging to a war, this one has a high proportion of non-military subjects. The first figure pictured above is, of course, Mao himself. He wears what is often termed a Mao suit in the West, an item that he did not invent, but one that he made very popular in China after his victory and which became something of a symbol of the new order. In his raised hand he holds something which is probably meant to represent another of his famous symbols, his 'Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong', known in the West as the Little Red Book, though never referred to as such in China. Beside him in our scans are apparently two civilians, perhaps political agents distributing the aforementioned book or doing the business of the Party.
The soldiers are a very motley crew, with no real uniform look to speak of. As has been said, there were many armies during the Civil War years, and many uniforms, and supply was always a major problem, so such a mix is not inappropriate. The overall look is Soviet, which is very suitable for the Communist forces as Soviet Russia supplied much of their needs in the crucial final years of their struggle between 1946 and 1949. However much of this supply was of captured Japanese kit, and as the Communists cared little for uniformity they often closely resembled their former enemies, and just as often their current one. Two of the men wear something like the warm Russian ushanka hat, with tunics and trousers tucked into boots. Another wears an overcoat, while a fourth wears a soft peaked cap with ear flaps. This last item is in fact much more typical than the Russian headgear. The fourth figure on the first row has a pigtail and wears a coolie hat, and belongs to a much earlier era than the rest of this set. In fact soldiers wore a padded loose and comfortable uniform with a peaked cap and puttees round their lower leg rather than boots. There are no signs of this appearance here.
The two final items are a real mystery, in that it is difficult to see what they have to do with the Chinese Revolution. The lady in the rickshaw is perhaps representative of the pre-revolutionary class divide, but she seems to be wearing a kimono, and may well be Japanese rather than Chinese. The rickshaw driver is dressed in typical working costume for the early part of the century, and includes a pigtail, but he is a very loose fit and does not stay attached to the rickshaw for long. Whether this piece is symbolic of Japanese oppression in China, or simply oriental-looking we do not know. The tiny boat also seems a pointless addition, though again it may do no more than give the set a more Chinese flavour.
Like so many Atlantic sets, this one has flash and an unattractively thin sculpting style. The figures are also small, being HO scale, though the detail is fair. More a curiosity than of any particular use (though that will be reason enough for many collectors to want to own one), this set is a very poor reflection of its subject, though for many years it was the only one on a Chinese subject from any era, amazingly.