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A Call To Arms

Set 52

British Infantry World War II

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released Unknown
Contents 32 figures
Poses 8 poses
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Dark Green
Average Height 21 mm (= 1.51 m)

Review

One thing must be made clear right from the start - these figures do not represent World War II British Infantry and were never intended to do so. They first appeared in the early 1950s in 1:32 scale as 'Khaki Infantry', and were made by Herald (later Britains). In 1958 '00' scale versions were released under Britain's 'Lilliput' range. As such, they were just about the first plastic soldiers in roughly 1:72 scale, and can be seen as the granddaddies of all today's figures. Certainly they were repeatedly copied, and the Airfix Infantry Combat Group has much more than a passing resemblance to them.

The set may be roughly half a century old, but time has been very kind to it. The detail is surprisingly good and the poses have plenty of life in them. Indeed the quality is rather better than the early Airfix sets that came later. Amazingly the mould quality is first rate, with no flash or imperfections. The one let-down is the small size of the figures - '00' scale is roughly 1:76. However, since very few of the poses are standing up straight, that doesn't really matter.

The men wear ordinary battledress which was little different to that worn during the War, with the most apparent difference being that they wear it with the neck of the blouse open, as was permitted by the early 1950s. All naturally have the standard pattern 1937 web equipment, or rather the belts and braces, because many have almost no items of kit of any sort. Apart from the front ammunition pouches, which vary wildly in shape and size, just two of the men wear small packs on their backs along with what looks like a rolled gas cape or ground sheet. The occasional bayonet scabbard is just about all else there is, so no canteens etc. - these troops are lucky indeed to be so unencumbered with equipment! Many of the figures are using a 'bullpup' rifle, the EM2, which was not adopted for service by the British until 1951, well after World War II, and then only saw limited service before being replaced.

The appearance of this set smacks of A Call To Arms trying to expand their range on the cheap, but perhaps one should be more charitable and think of it as a new lease of life for some classic soldiers. The World War II label is an obvious attempt to make the set seem more attractive, and it seems a pity that they couldn't have been more honestly labelled as 1950s British infantry. Perhaps that was a bit too much of a clumsy label, or perhaps the absence of a landmark conflict for the period was seen as a disadvantage (the Korean War figures from Imex are the first for that otherwise ignored war).

In short, a set of surprising quality that does not show its age too badly, though not one that fits with World War II sets and so struggles to find any particularly useful purpose beyond prompting fond memories of toy soldiers from our childhood.


Ratings

Historical Accuracy 4
Pose Quality 7
Pose Number 5
Sculpting 8
Mould 9

Further Reading
Books
"20th Century Guns" - Salamander Books - David Miller - 9780760315606
"British Battledress 1937-61" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.112) - Brian Jewell - 9780850453874
"British Infantry Equipments (2) 1908-2000" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.108) - Mike Chappell - 9781855328396
"British Infantry Uniforms Since 1660" - Blandford - Michael Barthorp - 9780713711271
"Personal Equipment 1945 to the Present Day" - Wessex Military (The British Soldier Series No.3) - Mike Chappell - 9781870498029

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