At the outbreak of the Great War Canada was not yet a fully independent state, and was to some extent obliged to follow Britain into the war. However in general there was much enthusiasm for their participation within the country, and by the war’s end around 425,000 Canadian troops had served overseas – a very considerable achievement for a country with a small population. The courage and skill of the Canadian troops was recognised right from the start, and it is fitting that they should be specifically represented in a set such as this.
This is another set where HaT have tried to cover as much of the subject as possible by including all the major weapons. The first few poses as shown in our pictures are of the humble riflemen, and a pretty good selection it is too. Nothing spectacular or unusual, but that is a good thing for many, perhaps most customers. The third row shows some more interesting poses, beginning with a field telephone operator and a prone spotter peering through his binoculars. The Vickers machine gun and crew is a very important element to the set, as is the gunner and assistant with the Lewis gun on the next row. However the Vickers gunner should not be kneeling but sitting behind his weapon. Finally we find a mortar with two crewmen, and here too we find problems with the chosen poses. The first man is standing with outstretched straight arm holding a bomb. You might think he would be in the process of loading this into the mortar, yet he is looking the other way, with his hand far above the mouth of the weapon. His crew-mate has one arm down by his side and the other stretched out to his right. Both arms are absolutely straight, and the hand is fully open, making this pose very unnatural.
It was no accident that Canadian uniform and equipment was almost identical to that of the British, and the differences are virtually invisible at this scale. All the men wear the familiar tin hat and have a gas mask bag on the chest in the ready position, marking them as suitable for 1916 onwards. Their uniform and equipment is all accurate although not always as detailed or correctly proportioned as we would have liked.
The style of sculpting is quite familiar and is much the same as some recent releases from HaT. Whatever your view on this style we have long been on record as saying we don’t like it, and this set does nothing to change that view. Clothes with unconvincing folds and creases, simplified weapons and some very wooden poses do not look good in our view, but of course the viewer can judge that for themselves with the pictures on this page. One particular feature that leaps out at you as soon as you see these models is the faces, or rather the lack of them. With the honourable exception of the officer all the men have little or no features on their head – little hair, no chin strap for the helmet and no ears or mouths. The man throwing the grenade is the worst, as he not only suffers from all the above but also has no nose – in fact his head is almost perfectly smooth.
The figures are made in the same very soft plastic that HaT have used recently, which is inclined to tear rather than yield smoothly to the knife. However there is no flash and quite a small amount of excess plastic. The machine gunner has a separate tripod which requires gluing to attach, but this plastic takes glue quite well. The mortar too requires some assembly, and while it does have some peg-and-hole arrangement gluing would still be advisable.
This set does provide a good range of weapons and figures, so if you can live with the style of the figures then it has a lot to offer. As we have said, the Canadians were almost indistinguishable from their British allies, so this set could equally serve for either, making it very useful indeed if not good to look at.