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Airfix

Set 01759

NATO Infantry

Click for larger image
All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released 1982
Contents 48 figures
Poses 7 poses
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Green
Average Height 21 mm (= 1.51 m)

Review

By the start of the 1980s, the toy figure output of Airfix had slowed down considerably. Times were hard, and this was reflected in the later sets which mostly boasted large numbers of very few poses. There was also an emphasis on modern subjects, perhaps to make the then increasingly unpopular toy seem more relevant.

With much of the cost of making a set being taken by the sculpting, Airfix cut the pose count to the bone to try and keep things going. Nonetheless most would agree that seven poses is quite insufficient, particularly for a unit that would not have operated in the neat formations that would be expected of Napoleonic troops for example. The few poses that are provided could be described as fair, and have some nice action stances. All of them are quite fluid and well animated, with the soldier using his weapon as a club being the pick of the bunch. It is a pity, therefore, that clubbing your enemy with your rifle is all but unheard of in late twentieth century warfare, so the pose, nice as it is, is useless.

This set was made in the early 1980s, and was also sometimes labeled as US Infantry, but its vague subject matter makes it difficult to comment on accuracy. The uniform is broadly that of the American forces at that time, and includes the kevlar 'fritz' helmet that had only just been issued, so it was at least up-to-date when it was made, though this is a poor representation of the actual helmet. The weapon seems to be the M16 self loading rifle, but no other weapons are included. The webbing does not resemble the American ALICE system of the time, but more closely the British '58 pattern set, so perhaps with such a vague subject the sculptor picked the elements that appealed. However whatever the nationality the men seem to be very light on equipment.

Individually the figures are very nicely sculpted, so at least in this respect costs do not seem to be been cut. Detail such as on the weaponry is really nicely done though not deep, and the general proportions of the men are very good indeed. On the samples we have seen there is no flash to speak of, so are very much on the same high standard as previous Airfix products around this time. The poses do not seem flat, yet there is no excess plastic or separate parts to put together, so certainly well-designed. Unfortunately however they are all much too small - averaging only a metre-and-a-half in height (that's less than five feet) for Western troops in the 1980s is a nonsense.

Apart from a positive identification, the other problem with such a set is of course that NATO forces were not engaged in any serious fighting during these years. Small operations like Grenada and the attempted Iranian hostage rescue hardly merit specific sets of figures, and this Airfix set does not do justice to the increasingly sophisticated NATO armies of the day. Labelled as 'American Assault Troops' in some later forms, the level of equipment is much too light, the figures are not a good historical fit for US or other NATO armies of the day, and you get so few useful poses that there is not a lot you can do with them.


Ratings

Historical Accuracy 4
Pose Quality 4
Pose Number 4
Sculpting 9
Mould 9

Further Reading
Books
"American Web Equipment 1967-1991" - Crowood (Europa Militaria Series No.37) - C Monroe - 9781847973153
"British Infantry Equipments (2) 1908-2000" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.108) - Mike Chappell - 9781855328396
"Modern American Soldier" - Weidenfeld (Uniforms Illustrated Series No.16) - Arnold Meisner - 9780853687627
"NATO Armies Today" - Osprey (Elite Series No.16) - Nigel Thomas - 9780850458220
"NATO Uniforms Today" - Arms & Armour (Uniforms Illustrated Series No.6) - Digby Smith - 9780853686651
"US Army Combat Equipments 1910-1988" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.205) - Gordon Rottman - 9780850458428

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