The Folgore ('Lightning') Division were an elite unit of Italian paratroops specially raised and trained for the planned invasion of Malta. When this invasion was cancelled they were shipped to North Africa, and made a name for themselves as excellent fighters. Their finest hour came at El Alamein, where they fought superbly, but suffered such high casualties that they never regained their former effectiveness.
The 11 poses in this set are very unusual in several ways. First, there is a high proportion of men kneeling or prone, which seems to us to better reflect the realities of 20th century warfare in a terrain that often had little or no cover. There is no standing firing man here - possibly a first for this type of set, and a feature we approve of since the chosen poses are all pretty good. The officer and man throwing a grenade while on the ground bear a strong resemblance to the Airfix Italians, and we thought the man running and throwing a Molotov cocktail was rather too ballet-like. Overall, the poses are a good selection.
Paratroops wore a different uniform to the rest of the army, and this has been properly represented here. The M1938 paratroop helmet is similar to that of other armies of the time, though some paratroops wore the ordinary tropical helmet also shown here, and the officer wears the bustina cap. They wear the popular sahariana jacket, which has no collar - a feature unique to these troops, as is the arrangement of pouches on some of these men. As can be seen, some are wearing nothing more than shorts and boots, and others have an almost equally relaxed approach to uniform. All this is correctly sculpted and perfectly accurate.
Most of the men are armed with the excellent 9 mm Beretta M1938A sub-machine gun, but two have the not-at-all-excellent Breda M1930 light machine gun. The man with the spade may not be in the thick of the fighting, but many can attest to the amount of digging that the desert war required. One of the prone figures seems to have his hand on a mine - hopefully laying it rather than detonating it, although it may be a magnetic mine anyway. Several men have grenades, which is fine, and one has a Molotov cocktail, which was on occasion used in the North African campaign. However it is very strange that not one man has an ordinary rifle, despite this being the most common weapon in use.
The style of these figures is very reminiscent of Esci, and the same Esci qualities apply also to these. Detail is crisp and very clear (even down to the hobnails in the boots), with minimal extra plastic and virtually no flash. Some people care for the Esci style more than others, but these are thoroughly well executed figures for a long overlooked subject - the Italians in North Africa. The almost complete lack of anyone firing their weapon is a drawback, and the lack of rifles is a curious design decision, but this is a set of many good points and very few bad.