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Strelets

Set M085

Soviet Partisans in Summer Dress

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released 2013
Contents 52 figures
Poses 13 poses
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Grey
Average Height 24 mm (= 1.73 m)

Review

In the days following the German invasion in June 1941 the Soviet Union, its people, government and army, were in shock, and initially chaos ruled as the Germans passed through the lands recently taken over by the Soviets and began penetrating the Soviet Union proper, eventually even reaching Russia itself. As the enormity of the disaster became apparent however the shock turned to determination to resist, and almost two weeks after the invasion had begun Stalin broadcast to the nation calling for a scorched earth policy and the forming of guerrilla units behind enemy lines; the famous Soviet partisan was officially born. Over the following years huge numbers of partisans operated against Germany and her allies, including many of the native peoples in the western USSR who initially saw the Germans as liberators from Bolshevik oppression. Many such units largely operated independently for lack of communication with the Soviet authorities, but many others were carefully controlled by the government, provided with specialists, equipment and training, etc. Until the Germans were expelled, these groups attacked supply lines and other vital organs of the increasingly overstretched German forces, and in the process created a legend that was massively exploited by the post-war Soviet government.

Although partisans spent much useful time in activities away from the sight of the enemy such as destroying railway lines, many of the poses in this set seem to be in combat, which is hardly surprising. We have an assortment of figures holding a wide variety of weapons, but on the whole there is not much life in most of them. We get little of the sense of crouching and firing from behind cover, or of moving rapidly whilst under fire themselves, which would be required of any soldier of the day and particularly so for partisans. On the whole the poses are flat but this is not crucial for most. It is most apparent however with the kneeling firing figure in the top row, who in reality would be so unstable as to topple over as soon as he pulled the trigger. Otherwise there is nothing too terrible here, and everything is useful, but we did not find the poses to be at all inspiring or especially appropriate to the subject.

Partisans came from many sources, including the local population, soldiers left behind in the first terrible retreats and trained personnel sent over specifically for the job. Certainly children were used, although usually as couriers or for gathering information, but on occasion they might handle a weapon, such as the boy in the second row is doing. This boy, along with the girl next to him and most of the men are wearing ordinary civilian clothing, and everything here is typical. Some may well be items of military clothing – certainly some of the bags worn on the back could be, and the last figure in the third row is probably entirely military in his attire, so everything here looks good.

What looks less good are the weapons. 20th century weapons are slender and detailed, which is always beyond the sculpting skills of Strelets, and this is true here too. Many are recognisable – we find German and Russian rifles and machine guns – but all are thick and very crude. The boy looks to be carrying an 'obrez', which was an ordinary rifle with barrel and sometimes stock sawn down to make a poor but compact weapon. This poor lad is also encumbered with an ammunition belt across his body and what might be a grenade in his pocket, so he is clearly strong even if he is not expected to use these items. The prone machine gunner may be using a captured MG34, which would be fine although again it is hard to be sure.

The sculpting we thought was a little disappointing for Strelets. Largely this was due to the poorly rendered weapons, since the clothing is as it should be – simple and relatively easy to model. All the prone figures are particularly bad around the head because they are done as one piece, but the heads of most of these figures are not good, and the hands of many would have to be described as pretty basic too. There is a little flash, but these figures have a bit more of a rough appearance to them, and not simply one that enhances their rugged lifestyle but instead makes the model seem untidy in the execution.

There are some aspects of this set that we genuinely liked. The girl has a medical bag with a red cross, but she knows that will not save her from being fired upon so she also carries a rifle. The last figure in the second row looks to be a priest, and has been given something of a heroic pose, which makes it a more interesting figure if not a particularly typical partisan – few people will want four of this man in each set. The third man in row three has something in his mouth. We wondered whether it was some form of duck call used as a signal, or perhaps just a large cigar? Inevitably it can probably be either.

The impact of the partisans is still debated today. Certainly they irritated the occupiers and tied down large numbers of troops, although these were almost always poor quality units not thought fit for the front line. However even if they were never decisive they contributed to the cause, and that is reason enough to recognise them in plastic figures. These ones however failed to impress us, for while they are accurate they are not particularly well produced and don’t quite capture the essence of the subject in our opinion.

Note The final figure is of a soldier from the Streltsi of 17th century Russia. Though he is unrelated to the subject of this set, he is one of a series of 'bonus' figures which when combined will create a set of this unit for the Great Northern War. See Streltsi Bonus Figures feature for details.

Ratings

Historical Accuracy 10
Pose Quality 6
Pose Number 8
Sculpting 5
Mould 9

Further Reading
Books
"Heroes of the Soviet Union 1941-45" - Osprey (Elite Series No.111) - Henry Sakaida - 9781841767697
"Heroines of the Soviet Union 1941-45" - Osprey (Elite Series No.90) - Henry Sakaida - 9781841765983
"Partisan Warfare 1941-45" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.142) - Nigel Thomas - 9780850455137
"Partisan Warfare on the Eastern Front 1941-1944" - Pen & Sword (Images of War Series) - Nik Cornish - 9781848843769
"Partisans and Guerrillas" - Time-Life (World War II) - Ronald Bailey

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