Any army needs a nerve centre where decisions are made, and the means to communicate those decisions to the troops. The Zvezda Art of Tactic game system clearly needs a headquarters component, and this set provides this for the British Army.
The most widely-used means of tactical communication was the field telephone, and this set provides a figure kneeling next to his, which is the common Type F, Mk II model. He lifts the handset as if passing it to an officer. Another very common means of communication was simply to send a messenger, called a ‘runner’ in the British Army, and perhaps that is what we have with the first pictured figure in this set. Of course, in fact he is just an ordinary infantryman at attention and saluting, but the role of runner would make sense here. However were he to be delivering a message to the officer, which seems implied in this small group, then he should be doing this 'at the shoulder', which means he should be holding his rifle against his right side. This would mean he would be unable to perform the normal salute, so he should be performing the correct salute for such occasions, which is to tap the rifle sling with straight fingers facing inwards. Films and TV often get this wrong, which may help to explain this figure. The third man is clearly an officer, nonchalantly holding his pipe while pointing with his cane. Lastly there is another officer, looking through binoculars and holding something such as a map or orders perhaps. As a headquarters and communication centre this little group make a lot of sense, and the poses are very nice. They are primarily intended to be grouped together on a single game base as seen here, but are also provided with separate bases as shown in our photo.
The box dates these men to 1939-1945, but that is a stretch. Three figures wear the battledress that was introduced from 1939, and widely worn by 1940 and throughout the war, so that presents no problem. However these three all wear the respirator haversack in the alert position on the chest, something that largely disappeared before 1944, and equally they all have an anti-gas cape rolled on top of their small pack on their backs, again an early war feature. The webbing is all 1937-pattern, including the officer with his officer’s set, and well done here.
The sculpting is of the usual high Zvezda standard, with great poses and lovely detail. Every man has some element of assembly, and the kneeling man is made up of no less than six parts without counting the base! As always, there is no flash and the fit is tight and very solid without need of glue.
These are lovely figures, and while not in the thick of the action, they illustrate the role of the headquarters well. Everything looks perfectly accurate, with the exception of our comments on the stance of the man at attention. We liked the wellington boots of this figure however, perhaps expecting a wet run ahead of him. A small but great little set.