At the beginning of World War II many Australian troops were posted to the Middle East and the Mediterranean. From the artwork on the packaging of this set, plus some of the poses, this group of figures is meant to represent them at one of their most famous battles - that of the defence of Crete in May 1941.
The battle for Crete was basically the defence of the island from German paratroops, and the Australians were a large part of the garrison. Two of the poses in particular put us in mind of that conflict. First, the man firing into the air could well be firing at paratroops descending above him, and indeed there are few other situations where such a pose would be likely. The surrendering pose reminds us that ultimately the island fell to the invaders, and many Australians were forced to surrender. The Australians and New Zealanders were famous for their bayonet charges, and the figure thrusting forward with bayonet seems in keeping with this reputation. The officer running around with nothing more dangerous than a revolver is typical of WWII figure sets but not a favourite pose of ours, and we were not keen on the prone figure apparently throwing a hand-grenade. The radio man is a nice touch - perhaps holding the radio at a strange angle (why is it not facing him?), but a useful figure, and only one of him in each set. All the poses are suitable and well executed, with plenty of life and activity.
Australian uniform and kit was much like that of the British at this stage of the war, with the obvious exception of the slouch hat. Some of these figures wear the British waist-length battledress blouse, while others still wear the thigh-length service tunic, little different from the Great War. This mix of uniform is entirely correct for this period. A mixture of slouch hats and helmets are worn, which is again correct although probably most should really be wearing helmets if they are in action. Webbing is the 1937 pattern, which is fine, although the prone man is something of a mess as he has one ammunition pouch beside him rather than attached to the brace as it should be, and is missing the other entirely. So apart from this and the tendency for too many slough hats, the uniform and kit are correct.
Most men are carrying rifles (which look like the correct SMLE), though one has a Bren gun and a couple have Thompson sub machine guns of the M1928A1 model, which would make them NCOs. The group piece is of a water-cooled Vickers medium machine gun with gunner and number two feeding ammunition. Too many sets ignore this second figure, so it is very satisfying to see him properly included here, and the group is nice. Having two of the common poses carry submachine guns is somewhat overstating the presence of these weapons on Crete, though that is a common fault of many sets.
This set was released to accompany the German Paratroopers set, but the difference in quality is enormous. Whereas the figures in that set are flat and poorly defined, these are properly rounded, well proportioned and well sculpted, with very little flash. Detail is first class and very clear, and the accuracy is good. When this set was first reviewed the figures were free of flash, but later copies have proved less clean, so as usual this aspect will depend on which batch your set comes from. However the worst that we have seen is not particularly terrible.
Apart from our reservations on the prone man and the limited usefulness of the man firing skywards, we could find little to fault with this set. The mix of khaki drill combat dress and service dress is interesting, although the latter would soon largely disappear from the battlefields of North Africa later in the campaign. That and the scarcity of helmets will limit its usefulness for actions in North Africa, but as a set for the Battle of Crete this has much to recommend it, and while it was one of the first Revell sets, it illustrated the high standard that many (but sadly not all) Revell figure sets were to attain.