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Esci

Set 231

Commonwealth Infantry

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released 1986
Contents 50 figures
Poses 17 poses
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Green
Average Height 24 mm (= 1.73 m)

Review

If these pictures look familiar, then that is because this set is almost the same as the very first Esci figure set, WW2 British Soldiers. At this period Esci were looking to get the most out of their figures, and in several cases this meant they reissued a set with a handful of new figures and named it something else. In this case, all the figures in the first three rows above were previously made for the British Soldiers set, and the last three figures were new for this one. To avoid unnecessary repetition, click on the above link to see our review of the British set, where all comments apply equally to the figures if they are seen as troops of the Empire, which were largely issued the same uniform, kit and weaponry as the British.

By 'Commonwealth', Esci clearly have troops from Australia in mind because the three extra figures are clothed accordingly. Although Australian troops generally followed British lines in clothing, instead of battledress they wore Service Dress, which was a four-pocket tunic much like that worn in the Great War. That is what these three figures wear, although they also wear a strange sort of hybrid form of the 1908-pattern web equipment, which was certainly worn in the early stages of the war, but here there are just three pouches each side instead of the correct five. The most obvious difference, however, is the slouch hat. When actually in action most Australians wore the steel helmet like their British counterparts, but on rare occasions slouch hats were seen at the front, so these are pretty unlikely but not impossible (doubtless chosen to make them look more Australian, even if at the expense of accuracy). The rest of the figures could just as easily represent many Indian, Canadian or other Empire troops since the differences between them and the British were too small to register at this scale.

Quite apart from the poor accuracy of these three, they have very limited uses for most modellers. When originally posted to Egypt and the Mediterranean this was the uniform worn, though in the heat of the summer this quickly gave way to khaki drill along British lines (although the slouch hat gave excellent protection against the sun). Later Australian troops were located back home and to the Far East, at which point the fighting was often in jungle conditions and the uniform was very different to this and far more practical. Sets of Australians made by Airfix, Revell, Matchbox and others reflect the real appearance of Australian troops far better than these do, so again there seems little that can be done with those here.

Esci did not take the opportunity to enlarge the range of poses, but merely closely followed ones already available in the British set. In order to make room for the extra figures, some of the original figures were reduced in number, and one, the officer, was lost entirely. The quality of the sculpting of the three new figures is identical to the rest, and indeed to the rest of the range, so very nice with no flash and somewhat dull but usable poses. However many customers saw this as an exercise to expand the range on the cheap and were not impressed, and this set went out of production quite early on, since it offers little that is new, and what there is is poor in terms of accuracy.


Ratings

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

Further Reading
Books
"Army Uniforms of World War 2" - Blandford (Colour Series) - Andrew Mollo - 9780713706116
"Canadian Forces in World War II" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.359) - René Chartrand - 9781841763026
"Montgomery's Desert Army" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.66) - John Wilkinson-Latham - 9780850452501
"The Armed Forces of World War II" - Orbis - Andrew Mollo - 9780856132964
"The Australian Army at War 1899-1975" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.123) - John Laffin - 9780850454185
"The Australian Army in World War II" - Osprey (Elite Series No.153) - Mark Johnston - 9781846031236
"The Indian Army 1914-1947" - Osprey (Elite Series No.75) - Ian Sumner - 9781841761961
Magazines
"Militaria (English Language)" - No.18

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