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Set 85

Sendai Japanese

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Date Released 1976
Contents Varying number of pieces
Poses 11 poses
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Pale Green, Bright Green, Brown
Average Height 24 mm (= 1.73 m)


During World War II the 2nd Infantry Division was known as the 'Sendai Division' as it was based in the town of Sendai, and recruited from that area. Why this set is labelled as Sendai we have no idea, since there was nothing significant about this particular division. It seems this was a random appellation to make the title sound more Japanese, and basically this is just general Japanese infantry, although as we shall see the emphasis is on the Pacific campaign rather than that in Southeast Asia or China.

This set contains 11 poses, which is not bad, but there are some unusual choices to say the least. The man with twigs sprouting from his arms and head, though absurd to look at, recognises the Japanese mastery of camouflage, which they used very successfully. Another figure is carrying a flag into combat, with the morning sun engraved upon it, which is rather too large to be a Buun-Tchokyu (a personal good luck charm), and too small to be much of a battle flag. Several of the poses are on all fours, which is generally a good thing for World War II figures, with one apparently moving forward with a knife held in his teeth to surprise some enemy individual. The man advancing with bayonet is about the best of the bunch, but the man bayoneting over his head is flat and all but impossible anatomically, and the first guy in the top row is just plain weird - presumably being wounded but not convincing whatever he is doing. Lastly the machine gun crew in the bottom row has a reasonable prone man passing an ammunition clip and a largely useless kneeling figure who is at best touching the weapon but certainly not holding it or looking where it is pointing. As with so many Atlantic sets then, this one has a lot of very strange and highly unnatural poses.

The sculptor has chosen to have all the men in field caps and type 98 service dress, which is not unreasonable for the Pacific War. However in a moment of sheer madness he has given each man a western-style tie, neatly done up and tight on the collar. Common sense alone should have dictated that such an item is hardly likely, and of course this is complete nonsense. In fact the Japanese prided themselves of their scruffy look, which was inadvertently enhanced with the difficulties of supply once the war with the Allies got underway from 1942. The 98 tunic is not the best of models, and the puttees reach very close to the knee, which would have been uncomfortable. Ironically the officer has not been given a tie, but has a more pronounced pair of breeches and full boots, making him by far the closest this set ever comes to a plausible costume. However the uniform in general is poor for all, and the ties make them absurd.

Kit is fairly minimal and lacks some common pieces. Few have the pair of ammunition pouches on the front of the waist belt, and just two have the larger pouch that should be in the middle of the back of the belt. Many have a sort of pouch on a thin strap that is not realistic, and some have a form of canteen, but only one has a bayonet scabbard and none have a pack or haversack. Other items are missing that could also have been included, so in general the kit is quite a mess. The rifles look very little like the usual Model 38 Arisaka, and the officer's sword is also fairly unimpressive. The officer also has a pistol, but bizarrely this is suspended by a code attached to the trigger - there is no holster! The machine gun is probably meant to be the Taisho 11 or the subsequent Type 92, but it is at best a much simplified model of it.

In addition, the sculpting is suspect. Many Atlantic figures are poorly sculpted, and while these are not the worst they still present an awkwardness which makes them feel more like toys than models, which is perhaps what was originally intended. In any event they do not work well with figures from other companies, being quite awkward in stance and in some cases very flat - the bayoneting man in particular. For Japanese men of the 1940s they are also much too large, being comparable to the Atlantic Americans, which was far from the case in reality. Although the detail is historically very inaccurate it is reasonably clear and our examples exhibited no flash or excess plastic.

At the time that this set was released there were relatively few figure sets on the market, and in any event the whole range has the feel of toys rather than serious historical miniatures. Although nothing can explain the inclusion of ties, perhaps many of the other faults are down to a lack of interest in the finer points of accuracy for what was a child's toy. These days however the interest in such old sets is mainly from adult collectors and gamers, and they now have a good range of sets from various manufacturers to choose from. This is certainly the worst of the several World War II Japanese infantry sets produced so far, and likely to be of no real interest except for nostalgists and collectors.


Historical Accuracy 5
Pose Quality 2
Pose Number 7
Sculpting 4
Mould 9

Further Reading
"Infantry Weapons of World War II" - David & Charles - Jan Suermont - 9780715319253
"Japanese Army of World War II" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.20) - Philip Warner - 9780850451184
"Japanese Infantryman 1937-45" - Osprey (Warrior Series No.95) - Gordon Rottman - 9781841768182
"The Armed Forces of World War II" - Orbis - Andrew Mollo - 9780856132964
"The Japanese Army 1931-45 (1) 1931-42" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.362) - Philip Jowett - 9781841763538
"The Japanese Army 1931-45 (2) 1942-1945" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.369) - Philip Jowett - 9781841763545
"Uniforms and Equipment of the Imperial Japanese Army in World War II" - Schiffer - Mike Hewitt - 9780764316807
"Warriors of Imperial Japan in World War II 1941-45" - Concord (Warrior Series No.6532) - Claudio Antonucci - 9789623611718
"World War II Infantry" - Windrow & Greene (Europa Militaria Series No.2) - Laurent Mirouze - 9781872004150

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