In fairly simplistic terms Spain’s security forces in 1936 consisted of the Civil Guard (basically a police force for the countryside and small towns), the Assault Guard (police for the large urban areas) and the Carabineros (frontier guard and revenue protection). When civil war finally broke out in mid July of that year these forces, like many groups in society, split apart as the individual members followed their own political views to support one side or the other, with the majority remaining loyal to the government. In the early stages of the war such men were very useful, particularly in suppressing local revolts, as both sides attempted to organise their forces, but later on the major battles were mainly fought by organised infantry.
The first row of figures shows the Civil Guard in this set. Although their uniform was in the process of changing when war broke out these figures wear a very common version. Most apparent is the distinctive tricornio hat which all these men wear, but all the rest of the uniform and equipment is also correct. Those Civil Guard that remained loyal were reorganised and incorporated into a body called the Republican Guard, adopting a very different uniform, so all these figures are suitable for the early war and later on just for those that worked for the Nationalists.
By contrast the Assault Guard was a creation of recent republican governments, so it is perhaps not surprising that most chose to stay loyal when the choice had to be made. As with the Civil Guard those in the republican camp changed their uniform and were incorporated into the Republican Guard, but broadly speaking the Nationalists wore smart blue uniforms and peaked caps while the Republicans wore the Gorillo cap and mono overalls, although many peaked caps were also to be seen in the latter. Famously they helped suppress anarchist uprisings behind their own lines. With uniform being less rigid any of the figures in the second row could be used for these men.
The Carabineros may sound less impressive but they too were a paramilitary force, and once the war started the government massively increased their numbers, using them as shock troops for what became many of the elite units of the new army. The most common uniform was an open shirt and soft peaked cap, so at least three of the figures in the bottom row could serve as these troops.
The poses are an unusual bunch. Some are very nice like the running man in the bottom row, and the walking figure in the top row makes quite a good policeman, but some are not to our taste such as the first figure in row two and the left-handed firing pose.
As with some other recent releases from BUM all these figures bar one are made from an incredibly soft, almost crumbly 'plastic'. This has little strength and it is perfectly easy for a figure to be literally torn to bits with little effort. While most people do not want to tear their figures up, it also means the figures are easily damaged, and thin areas such as weapons and arms are particularly susceptible. We have had several reports of figures already damaged by the time they are purchased, so beware.
While the material is not suitable it seems to be good at taking detail, and these figures are quite nicely produced. Some undercutting suggests the mould was not rigid, but a couple of the figures have separate parts to improve the figure. However the extreme fragility of the material makes assembly very hard - basically any assembly begs for a hard plastic. Some of the proportions are rather odd too, with occasional limbs bending in very unnatural ways. Bases tend to be at an absolute minimum, so many of the figures take little encouragement to tip over. On the whole there is absolutely no flash, but some figures seem to have been damaged, perhaps during ejection, so there are some areas that need a little trimming.
The final figure in our picture is very different. He is made of a perfectly ordinary plastic, has plenty of flash and an average level of detail. He is taken from the BUM set of Militian Army, and while he could pass for some of the forces represented here there is no obvious reason why he has been included.
In total this set is accurate and reasonably well sculpted, but the poor choice of material really negates any appeal it has. The uniforms are certainly quite interesting, particularly by 20th century standards, and the subject matter will be a novelty to many outside Spain. If BUM reissue them in a more suitable plastic then they could have a very acceptable set on their hands, but as it stands this is one for serious collectors only.