The People’s Liberation Army hardly needs any introduction. Ignoring reservists and militias, it is by far the largest army in the world today, with more than two million active duty personnel, and the military budget of China is second only to that of the United States. Naturally they have a vast country in which to operate, and troops can also be seen in large numbers at special occasions such as National Day. From humble beginnings in the mid-20th century, they have developed from an unsophisticated force relying on massed attacks to a superbly modern army with the latest equipment, especially in the last three decades.
Quite obviously, the poses in this set depict the troops on parade, either marching or at attention. The first four seem to be doing the goose-step, a very difficult form of marching that is much out of favour in the greater part of the world, but still practised in China. Then we have two soldiers at attention with weapon held to their right side, two holding their weapon across their chest, one unarmed man and one presenting arms. Finally we have two poses that we assume are in a vehicle, one of which is saluting. This covers all the most common poses for a parade, and China is particularly noted for parades with vast numbers of troops in almost perfect unison, so for once we can say that only 12 poses really does offer as wide a coverage of the required poses as any set is ever likely to.
As can be seen, the differences between the similar poses are in the uniform worn by each soldier. Presumably all wear the type 07 uniform, but some wear the combat version and some the dress one. The combat uniform of all armies today is much the same, with the main difference being in the pattern of camouflage and the kit being carried, and it looks perfectly accurate here. Equally the helmets look fine, since both the recent versions are almost identical to look at (at this scale), so again no problems. The skirt and headgear of the female soldier are also quite correct, and it is good that the part played by women in the modern army is recognised here, as they too play their part in such parades.
The first two poses in our pictures carry the Chinese 5.8mm QBZ-95 assault rifle, which is very nicely done here. The remaining four poses in that row carry a longer rifle which we think must be the older Type 81, and the same weapon is being presented by the fourth figure in row two. The first two in the second row look like they hold the silenced QCW-05 submachine gun, although if so then it is rather too long here, so we may be mistaken (it is about the same length as the older rifles (12 mm) when it should be more like 7 mm). Figures three and five in the second row have a pistol holster on their belt, which completes the roundup of weapons on show in this set. As these men are on parade they carry no kit, although several in combat uniform wear a Type 06 PCG tactical vest.
The sculpting of these figures is excellent, as we have long come to expect from Caesar. Detail everywhere is nice and clear, and on some figures this has been enhanced thanks to a multi-part mould, meaning most of the figures require no assembly. The only exception is the man presenting arms, who has his right arm and rifle as a separate piece. This fits well into the main body, and while we did not find the need to glue this, if the figure is to be roughly handled then gluing is advisable. Some of the poses are nice and simple and perfectly flat, as they should be, but the rest are properly rounded, and only figures three and four in our top row have any excess plastic in inaccessible places (around the left arm). We also searched in vain for any flash anywhere, so the only quibble we have is that none of the figures have a base. Some do stand – just – without one, but unless you are going to glue them to a diorama base then you will need to find your own base. We do not understand this approach – it is much easier for a customer to remove an unwanted base than to find a missing one themselves, so just mould one under the figure and let the customer decide! Only the last two poses, presumably standing in a tank or other vehicle, can justify no base, and even then a base would be useful.
A set of purely parade figures may not be to everyone’s taste, and certainly there is no excitement about these figures, but the box makes it clear what is being depicted, and the figures deliver on that promise perfectly. We could not fault the simple but perfect poses, nor the accuracy or quality of sculpting. Formed up in large numbers like the real thing would surely produce an amazing spectacle, and the figures for vehicles are an especially useful extra. A pretty much perfect set – just give us bases next time!