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First To Fight

Set PL1939-019

Polish Infantry

Click for larger image
All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released 2014
Contents 24 figures
Poses 8 poses
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Grey
Average Height 24.5 mm (= 1.77 m)

Review

When Poland regained its independence after World War I it found itself with a patched together army made up of contingents from many national armies, but this force would be forged into a single national army as the country established its borders and started to enjoy its new, and as it turned out temporary, freedom. In the mid-1930s a series of changes to the uniform and equipment produced a modern-looking soldier, but the country was poor and while it fought bravely once Germany launched its invasion in September 1939, it was unable to resist for long the might of the Wehrmacht and the devastating attack by the Soviet Red Army when it was at its most desperate hour.

The smart, modern uniform and helmet introduced in the previous few years had reached all infantry by the time of the invasion, and these figures all wear it. The practical M1936 tunic and trousers are worn with short boots and anklets, and the well-designed M1931 helmet is here too, with everything being reproduced faithfully. Kit is also standard and properly sculpted here, with all but the two gunners in the bottom row carrying the pair of triple-pouches on the waist belt, entrenching tool and bayonet on the left hip, and knapsack with greatcoat wrapped round it and mess tin strapped to the flap. All the men also have the haversack on the left hip and the gas-mask bag on the right; sources disagree about which way round these are supposed to be, but this seems to be the usual arrangement at least. The two kneeling gunners have no knapsack or bayonet/entrenching tool, and their ammunition pouches on the waist belt are appropriate to their weapon rather than for a rifle.

The sculpting is a good deal better than the previous sets of Germans produced by this company. The figures are a little bigger, and have much better anatomy. Anyone who is familiar with Caesar figures will find these are no different - they do not come attached to a sprue, and the style is identical, down to the clever multi-part mould used on some to avoid any excess plastic, and the bending of some weapons. The detail is good but not always great - weapons in particular are not as clear as they could be - some of the heads seem particularly long and thin. There is almost no flash, but some minor ridges where the moulds meet. The man holding the machine gun has this weapon separate but this fits well enough once glued in place. In a couple of places the moulds do not meet quite perfectly, which does disfigure those pieces a bit.

We have no complaints about the modest range of poses. With a lot of fairly straight backs these are not the most dynamic poses ever conceived, but nothing here is particularly poor and all are certainly usable. The machine gun is supposed to rest on the thin (single brick) wall, and there are holes on the top to take the bipod. The second gunner is holding ammunition magazines, ready to reload the weapon, which is great, and it makes a pleasant change when so many sets provide no second gunner at all!

As we have said, the detail on the rifles is not good, but the very nice part-work magazine that accompanies this set suggests several possibilities, of which the Mauser wz.98 is the most likely. The machine gun is probably meant to be the Polish-made BAR copy, designated RKM wz.28, which is fine, although strangely this model is missing the ammunition magazine, so cannot be being fired at the moment! Both the gunners for this weapon have a single peg under their foot, yet there is no base in the set, but both will rather unsteadily stand without a base so long as you trim off this peg first (next time, give us a base instead, thanks).

A couple of small points to finish. The only fixed bayonet is puny in the extreme, but the man kneeling firing would be something of a giant when he stands up. So we have some reservations, but this is undeniably a better set of figures than the two sets that preceded it, and it is also a lot better than the HaT set on the same subject released some years earlier. Both are reasons to celebrate, although there is still room for improvement. Other sets from this manufacturer provide command figures and support weapons, which helps make acceptable the small number of poses here. A worthwhile set that may not rank with the best but still provides some much-needed troops for the 1939 campaign.


Ratings

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

Further Reading
Books
"Army Uniforms of World War 2" - Blandford (Colour Series) - Andrew Mollo - 9780713706116
"Poland 1939" - Osprey (Campaign Series No.107) - Steven Zaloga - 9781841764085
"The Armed Forces of World War II" - Orbis - Andrew Mollo - 9780856132964
"The Polish Army 1939-45" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.117) - Steven Zaloga - 9780850454178
"World War II Infantry" - Windrow & Greene (Europa Militaria Series No.2) - Laurent Mirouze - 9781872004150
Magazines
"Uniformes (French Language)" - No.55

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