Almark publishing is usually remembered for their enormous range of books on every aspect of military uniform, but much less well known is their experiment in making 1/72 scale plastic figures. Only two sets were ever made, which suggests a lack of commercial success, and since they have been out of production for decades, they are very hard to find today. Both sets, which were only made in a hard plastic, featured the British army between 1939 and 1945.
The five poses in this set include four very standard choices plus one surprise, a sapper with a mine detector. The packaging proudly tells us that the figures were designed by Charles Stadden, so great things should be expected, and indeed all the poses are quite natural and lifelike, though not particularly energetic. The sapper is detecting the ground just in front of his foot, which would be a dangerous way to do it if there were a mine there! However the inclusion of a sapper in a set with so few poses seems like a waste, as no one is likely to want 8% of their army to be mine detecting sappers.
All the figures wear battledress of the time and the Mk I or Mk II helmet, and are fairly accurate. However they are fairly lightly kitted, and all are missing canteens. The man with the submachine gun has a weapon we could not identify as it is a fairly basic model - most likely a Thompson perhaps, but not a great model of anything. The sapper is interesting in that he appears to wear the paratroop helmet as adapted as a crash helmet and used by motorcycle riders and armoured vehicle crews, which is an odd choice for which we could find no justification.
The sculpting is good but the detail only fair, and not as sharp as many soft plastic figures. Clothing has good natural folds, but equipment such as weapons is missing some detail. The figures have a little flash in a few areas, but are mostly clean, though there are minor mould marks which need to be trimmed off.
This set is from the early days of this hobby, and did not face the wealth of competition that exists today. While the figures themselves are fairly good, the brittle nature of the material makes them prone to breaking if handled roughly, and the small number of poses is a significant limitation. Ultimately it is easy to see why soft plastic figures from Airfix and Esci proved to be much more popular.