There is nothing quite like a well made and successful film for bringing history to a wider audience. 'Saving Private Ryan' did it for the US Rangers, and in 2001 the US Paratroopers, particularly those of E (Easy) Company, 506th PIR, 101st Airborne Division, found similar fame with the superb mini-series 'Band of Brothers', co-produced by Dreamworks, HBO and the BBC. The series followed the recent fashion of depicting history in a more realistic light, and certainly sparked much interest in these men and the events in which they participated. As can be seen from our 'See Also' section these men are already fairly well represented in this hobby, but there is always room for one more so now we have this offering from IMEX.
When you are modelling a subject that is already covered you don't want to simply reproduce poses that have already gone before, particularly when, in our opinion, what has gone before has been perfectly adequate but lacking any real excitement or dynamism. IMEX have certainly avoided this by providing some really nice poses and plenty that has not been seen before. All the figures have a lot of life and movement, and nearly all the poses look very natural. An exception to this is the falling wounded man in the third row, who is merely OK but no more. One surprise is the second figure in the second row. He appears to be moving forward, weapon in hand, yet has not shed his reserve chute nor detached himself from his main chute, so he will not get far and can only be engaging the enemy as an emergency. Apart from the two poses we have mentioned we liked them all, and on the few that have separate parts we felt they all easily justified the assembly required.
These paratroops wear the classic uniform as seen in all their later war battles. They have the M1943 jacket, which mostly appeared after D-Day but before Operation Market Garden, and this has been properly done apart from the pockets on the skirts, which have been modelled as external and with a square flap when they were actually internal and with a pointed flap. The other area of particular interest is the boots, because although everyone wears the later war jacket they have all managed to retain the popular laced jump boots. By late 1944 many units had been issued with ordinary combat boots, but these were unpopular and resisted wherever possible, including it would seem by these figures. Most of the men have the M1936 field bag on their backs along with the usual pouches, canteens and other kit. Many also have a number of grenades on their person, and as might be expected most have a knife strapped to the lower leg. Apart from the jacket pockets these figures have no accuracy problems.
All the major paratroop weapons are represented in this set. The majority carry the M1 Garand rifle, which is fine, while two Thompson submachine guns are also on show. The third figure in the top row carries a M3/M3A1 'Grease Gun', which was not a popular weapon but was certainly used. The prone figure is firing a Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR), in this case with a bipod so it acts as a machine gun. Again this weapon was certainly used by the airborne forces, although they usually left the bipod behind to save weight, and fired it from the shoulder. One man is using a bazooka, which while not the greatest of weapons was usually the best anti-tank weapon available. Again there are no problems with accuracy of the weaponry.
The standard of sculpting is superb, with all the detail you could want. Weapons tend to be of particular interest when assessing detail, and here they have all been well done. Where figures have separate arms or other items to assemble they all fit together very easily and certainly improve the pose, although there are still a couple of poses which have some minor extra plastic and could perhaps have benefited from separate parts. Flash is at a low level too, so the engineering of this set is excellent.
Why the clumsy title of this set fails to include the word 'paratroopers' we cannot imagine, but what matters is what’s inside the box, and anyone with an interest in this subject should be well pleased with what they find here.