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RedBox

Set 72037

Policemen and Citizens

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released 2010
Contents 48 figures
Poses 12 poses
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Brown
Average Height 23.5 mm (= 1.7 m)

Review

As with the RedBox set of Gangsters we must first consider the setting for this box, for the title gives no clues, and the answer must surely be North America during the 1920s and 30s. This was an extremely difficult time to be a policeman, at least if you genuinely wanted to combat crime and disorder. To begin with politics was riddled with corruption, and in many places the local police were used as a tool of whoever was in charge locally, intimidating rival candidates and harassing those whose interests were contrary to the incumbent mayor. Then there was organised crime, which received a significant boost from prohibition, making most urban areas a battleground between rivals. In the 1920s Charles Fitzmorris estimated that 65% of all Chicago police officers were on gang payrolls, and he was in a position to know as he was the chief of police at the time. Also the period was one when many feared revolution such as had occurred in Russia, and many industrial disputes became street brawls and riots as the police again found themselves being manipulated by powerful interests. The Great Depression merely added to the problems, so this was a very turbulent period in American history.

Half the poses in this set are police and half ‘citizens’, so we will consider the police poses first. In terms of uniform there are two officers wearing a double-breasted frock coat, two a single-breasted version of this, and two a double-breasted overcoat. Each city uniformed its police as it saw fit, but all these are in typical uniforms of the time, although exact uniform details varied not only by city but also by rank and time of year. All the officers seem to wear the ‘windblown’, the partially-stiffened cap that had by now largely replaced the helmet, and all have their shield on the left breast, as they should. For most forces this was a fairly standard shape, as done here, but a few had this in a star shape. One of those was Chicago, and for that reason alone we would have liked to have seen a couple of these poses with star-shaped shields, but there are none.

The police were routinely armed, and most of these men have a visible revolver (the rest are likely to have one under their coat). One man has a rifle, which is fine, and several have their night stick. Some have a Sam Browne belt, which is quite right (although whether it went over the right or left shoulder seems to have varied between forces), but strangely the waist belt is supported on the opposite side to the revolver, when we would have thought it was the revolver side that needed the extra support. Still, these figures follow the dress regulations for New York’s police and therefore are suitable, badge apart, for just about any city police (but not state troopers etc.).

We were not quite sure what to make of the ‘citizens’. Gun ownership was extremely high in the US at this time, just as it is now, but every person here has a rifle or a revolver. Why this might be we do not know, but presumably they are somehow assisting the police, although of course they could just as easily be engaging in crime themselves. All seem to be dressed in quite working class clothes, and clothes more suited to the countryside than the urban areas, where law enforcement was always less easy than in the highly populated areas. Wearing dungarees and floppy hats, they have a very agricultural look about them and everything looks authentic for the period.

Sadly these figures are not a quality product. What detail there is is quite vague, and clothing does not have the folds or general feel to make it realistic. Faces range from fair to virtually non-existent, and there is no hope of trying to identify any of the weapons. There is a good deal of flash too, and while the poses are not demanding on the skill of the mould-maker, still there is a fair amount of excess plastic, which does not help matters. The poses are mostly OK but the second figure in the top row is using the 'Weaver Stance' to fire his pistol, a stance that only became popular in the late 1950s, and so is not typical for the supposed date of these figures.

So, some accurate police and believable vigilantes, inpromptu posse or whatever they are, but not an inspiring set of figures. Anyone wanting to set up a shootout between the gangsters and the ‘cops’ will notice that only one of the policemen is actually shooting, so compared to the firepower in the Gangsters set the only effective opposition is the citizens. The quite poor quality of the figures is no different to the gangster set, so that at least matches, but this is a very disappointing set for what could have been a very interesting and unusual subject.

Ratings

Historical Accuracy 10
Pose Quality 8
Pose Number 7
Sculpting 5
Mould 5

Further Reading
Books
"American Police: A History 1845-1945" - Enigma - Thomas Reppetto - 9781936274109
"Chicago to Springfield: Crime and Politics in the 1920s" - Arcadia (Images of America Series) - Jim Ridings - 9780738583730
"Historic Photos of Chicago Crime: The Capone Era" - Turner - John Russick - 9781596523876
"Police Uniforms of the World" - Plimpton - Fred Blakeslee

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