Rangers were intended to raid enemy positions and infiltrate behind enemy lines, and on D-Day three companies performed this task, destroying a number of cliff-top German guns. However the bulk of the available Rangers participated in the main assault on Omaha beach, and it is clearly these men that are depicted here. The inspiration for this set could have been the famous beach landing scene from the film 'Saving Private Ryan' (which depicted the Rangers on Omaha beach), and certainly this set stirs many memories of that gritty and harrowing piece of cinema.
This set is a first in several respects. Many previous sets have had all-unique poses, but never a set of this quality. This is not a general purpose set like most of them, but very specifically focused just on assault. Those few poses that are on their feet are all running and trying to keep low, but most are either on their knees or prone. All are superb and portray their subject with a realism probably never seen before in this hobby. It is hard to pick out the cream of the crop, but the two medics attending to the casualty (third row) is well worthy of special mention. The pair further along in the same row is quite touching while the large piece depicting two men caught in an explosion is innovative and very well done. Some of the poses are intended to be placed together, namely the last two figures on the second row, the medics in row three, the first two figures in row four, two of the kneeling figures, the sniper (on one of the provided scenic bases), the falling man in row 9 and, pride of place, the line of men up against the sand embankment (using the large scenic base in our final row). However since all the poses are meant to be on a beach, they are best seen in that situation.
In terms of accuracy there is no problem, with both uniform and weaponry being correctly done and appropriate for this unit and moment in history. Items that specifically date these figures to D-Day include the M5 assault gasmask bag which is worn on the chest by most, and the US Navy flotation belt which several figures have. Both these items, particularly the flotation belt, were commonly jettisoned as soon as possible. Many also have the gas-detecting brassard on the upper right arm. All these items are perfectly correct for D-Day, but limit the other possible uses for those figures that possess them.
As the box warns you, there is some assembly required with this set. Quite a lot actually, although most figures are whole apart from one arm which is holding the weapon. Actually that is not quite true as most also need the separate entrenching tool added to the back of the pack, and where necessary the base is also separate. In general these fit well, although not always particularly tightly (some of the holes for the entrenching tool are considerably too large). Sadly the set has been made in a traditional and quite soft plastic which requires a specialist plastic glue to get a good bond (ordinary polystyrene cement is less than satisfactory). However the figures are no more fragmented than necessary, and a lot of ingenuity has gone into many of them. The two men attending to the fallen man, for example, is just four pieces - the casualty and legs of both medics, the bodies of both medics, and each of the medic's heads.
As can be seen from the pictures, some items such as rifles and the Bangalore torpedoes are noticeably bent, and the nature of the plastic makes it almost impossible to straighten. However there is no flash and the use of multiple parts means there is no excess plastic elsewhere either.
What this set desperately needs is some guidance for the poor customer. Since most figures require some assembly there should be drawings or some other system showing what goes where. The larger pieces are obvious, but we assumed pieces adjacent on the sprue went together, although this was not always so. The bases were particularly confusing. You may notice that a few of the figures have pegs in their feet but no base. That is because we ran out of bases. After putting the figures together we consulted the Pegasus temporary website at www.panzer46.com which was very useful in showing how it should have been done. One base has two holes, yet no piece has two pegs. Since we ran out of bases we cut this base in two to provide more, but the website tells us that base is actually for two figures that go together (the radio operator). All very well if a) you have access to the internet, and b) you know about either our website or that of Pegasus (which is not mentioned anywhere on the box), but for the many customers who do not this set will be baffling in places. There is not even a picture on the box showing how the figures should look. The solution is simple - include a paper insert in the box with the kind of line drawing instructions Airfix were putting on their boxes 30 years ago, and we hope that Pegasus will consider doing this in future runs as customers are going to be unhappy otherwise.
This is a fabulous but very complex set of figures. The scenic bases certainly show off the figures very nicely, but in general we are not keen on these as modellers will probably make their own beach if they wish. Certainly these are well detailed, authentic and dramatically realistic figures, but Pegasus need to make it easier for customers to put them together (i.e. glueable plastic and instructions). Hopefully this page will help many to do this, and it is an effort well worth making.