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RedBox

Set 72036

Gangsters

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released 2010
Contents 56 figures
Poses 14 poses
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Brown
Average Height 22 mm (= 1.58 m)

Review

In all parts of the world, and throughout human history, there have been gangsters. Much like wars, it is not an attractive part of our collective makeup, but with so many sets depicting organised violence between tribes and nations it does not seem out of place to depict much the same on a smaller scale, and so we find this set from RedBox. Despite the long and on-going history of gangs and gangsters, most in the English-speaking world at least will probably associate the word in the first instance with the United States, and particularly Chicago, during the 1920s and 30s. While the box makes no such claims we will assume that this is what was intended, and consider it accordingly.

The very respectable 14 poses in this set include a good cross-section of subjects. Almost half the figures conform to what we imagine gangsters to be; smartly dressed and carrying various firearms which in most cases seem to be in use. These weapons include a rifle (or shotgun – the lack of detail makes it impossible to identify) and a pistol, but by far the most numerous is the inevitable Thompson submachine gun, so beloved by gangsters for its rapid rate of fire. Other weapons such as the BAR could have been included, but have not. These men are all dressed as any smart young man would dress at the time, in a loose lounge suit and with a trilby or similar on the head. At this time all men who could afford it wore a suit in public, and almost always a hat too, so these are dressed no differently to any of the innocent citizenry around them, or indeed to many detectives, who would be similarly armed. Given the limitations of the quality of the figures we found them to be entirely accurate.

Five of the poses depict what might be termed ‘blue-collar’ gangsters. Of course not all gangsters were incredibly rich men who could and frequently did bribe politicians and police. Gangs could be small, lower class affairs too, and even the big bosses needed ‘heavies’ to make the wheels of the organisation run smooth. These men wear ordinary working men’s clothes, and again these are all correctly done for the supposed period in question. They are armed with an assortment of knives and baseball bats, and one is putting up his bare fists. One pose is kneeling, handling some sort of bag, perhaps with loot or weapons.

This leaves us with the last three figures in the bottom row. The middle figure is a fat man smoking a cigar, so clearly a wealthy individual and obviously supposed to be a boss of some sort. Generally bosses wore the sharpest, most expensive suits money could buy, so if anything the apparently knitted cardigan this man is wearing under his jacket does not fit with the character. Three piece suits were certainly fashionable at this time, but this does not look like such a waistcoat. Other than that however this is a nice figure.

Finally in the line-up (pun intended) we have two women. Many gangsters were married, but naturally few women took an active part in gangster activities, although when they did they could become notorious, as in the case of Bonnie Parker. The first woman is certainly not behaving like a lady, since she is pointing a large revolver at something or someone, and very much fits the image of a gun moll. The second woman looks far less aggressive, standing with handbag in one hand and a cigarette in a long holder in the other. Both women are wearing the currently fashionably knee-length dress or skirt, and judging by the box artwork the armed woman is supposed to be wearing the iconic cloche hat, although if so this is a poor model of it. Still both seem well dressed, as any successful gangster would insist upon.

Unfortunately these are not nicely presented figures. Detail is often vague or missing entirely, and even when it is obvious what something is supposed to be, such as the Thompsons, it is still hard to equate with the real thing. The poses are fairly flat although not too bad, but there is a considerable quantity of flash which would spoil even a good sculpt.

We certainly hope that America in the twenties and thirties is the intended subject because if so then this set is at least accurate, although many of the figures would do just as well for many years more, perhaps even up to the 1960s.. However the poor quality of the models, and particularly the mould, does much to spoil what could have been a very decent set which has some nice ideas. It makes a change from armies and soldiers, but apart from that there is not much to recommend here.

Ratings

Historical Accuracy 10
Pose Quality 9
Pose Number 9
Sculpting 5
Mould 5

Further Reading
Books
"Chicago to Springfield: Crime and Politics in the 1920s" - Arcadia (Images of America Series) - Jim Ridings - 9780738583730
"Everyday Fashions of the 20th Century" - Shire - Avril Lansdell - 9780747804284
"Historic Photos of Chicago Crime: The Capone Era" - Turner - John Russick - 9781596523876
"Last Call - The Rise and Fall of Prohibition" - Scribner - Daniel Okrent - 9780743277020
"The Chicago Outfit" - Arcadia (Images of America Series) - John Binder - 9780738523262

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