This set is subtitled ‘French and Balkan’, but the natures of the resistance in those two areas were very different. In France the activity was mainly sabotage, assassination and other relatively low level activity as it was difficult to find safe havens and the German occupation was not as onerous as in the East. In Yugoslavia however the partisans, mainly the Chetniks and Tito’s forces, had mountains to hide in, and at various times fielded armies numbering tens of thousands controlling large areas of the country, forcing German and Italian counterattacks on a very large scale.
As with the nature of the warfare, so the participants were very different. French resistance wore no uniform unless suitable items came to hand. They wore essentially civilian dress with no more than a brassard on the arm to indicate their affiliation. Many of the figures in this set are wearing normal civilian fashions of the day, with many having berets or flat caps, so are suitable for almost any civilian in Europe.
The fighters in Yugoslavia were much more of an organised army, with bases and (at least in theory) some items of uniform. In the early days clothing included items from the defeated Royal army, civilian items and items taken from the occupying forces. Later some attempt at uniformity was made, but often with little success, although this was made easier late in the war when the Allies supplied quantities of cloth and garments. Nevertheless appearance was always quite motley, but certain figures in this set (particularly the first two on the top row) do wear some uniform and are therefore appropriate to the Balkans rather than France. The first figure has a soft cap which could well be seen as the ‘Tito cap’, although the beard might also suggest a Chetnik: At this scale there is much room for interpretation. The last figure on the top row is a woman in man’s clothing, which is fine but she has long hair which is unrestrained. We would have thought this would be an encumbrance in a fight and she would have tied her hair up before setting off. One further figure is also more Balkan than French. The woman with the basket on her head is in a pose typical of the region at this time, and indeed like many of these poses is taken directly from a photograph (or in some cases an Osprey illustration).
Yugoslav poses should suggest ambush or full-scale battle, while those of the French would be mostly ambush. All the poses here are fine, although the man carrying the child (charming as it is) will have relatively little value for many buyers. We felt that the inclusion of a nun was unnecessary, although it is certainly true that in the absence of strong direction from the Vatican some priests and nuns chose to help the resistance. Their services were mainly spiritual and medical, although this nun is not apparently doing anything in particular. The man in the overcoat on the bottom row is taken from an Osprey illustration of a Gestapo officer, which is about the best use for this figure as he is not particularly suitable to be in the Maquis, although his clothing is of course civilian.
Taken together the resistance movements of France and the Balkans could have held virtually any weapon ever seen in Europe. Old pre-war stocks, weapons stolen from the Germans and Italians, supplied by the Allies or simply personally owned hunting rifles – all were seen in use by these people. Many different weapons are on show in this set too, and all seem reasonable under the circumstances.
Sculpting as usual is excellent, with some particularly expressive faces (the woman carrying the basket is especially good). All the clothing folds naturally and all the proportions are spot on, while the weapons are nicely slender yet well-enough detailed to make identification easy. Flash is virtually non-existent, although less use has been made of multi-part moulds in this set so there is some excess plastic filling areas between weapons and bodies.
Although covering two very different resistance movements somewhat dilutes the impact of this set to represent either one the result is still very good. Apart from our minor quibbles about a lady’s unrestrained hair and the lack of brassards (which could easily be painted anyway), there are no historical problems that we can see, and the poses are good too although the nun and man with child are more interesting than useful. There are only 34 figures in this box (the box claims 32 but there were 33 pieces in our box and the man/child combination makes 34), which is unusually low for a Casear set. Several of the poses do not lend themselves to large repeats, but surely the prone man with the Bren could have been more numerous? Still the set is another top quality sculpting job, which makes these very appealing figures that enlarge on the previous Casear partisan set nicely.