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Atlantic

Set 1011

General Custer

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released 1976
Contents Varying number of pieces
Poses 13 poses, 1 horse pose
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Blue, Grey
Average Height 21 mm (= 1.51 m)

Review

This is one of the very few sets that attempts to depict an actual event rather than a particular kind of soldier. While the title merely refers to Custer, the figures make it obvious the designer had his last and most disastrous moments in mind; namely the Battle of the Little Bighorn in June of 1876.

The poses are actually very good, with a lot of interesting and believable choices made. The group round the flag is perhaps a tad too heroic, but the pair behind the horse is accurate as the cavalry were trained to make their horses lie down and use them as a shield if they fought on foot. Nearly all the men sport at least one arrow wound, yet they are battling on in true boys-own fashion.

So much for the good news - now for the bad. Poses may seem accurate but appearance is anything but. In practice US cavalry dressed for comfort and utility when on the march, which meant an assortment of uniform and civilian clothing and slouch hats. These figures wear a uniform often portrayed in toy soldiers but with little basis in reality. All are wearing the kepi, a Civil War item that was useless for screening the sun and therefore virtually never worn. The flag, whilst very patriotic, was in fact a guidon, very much smaller than this, and swallow-tailed (the actual item still exists today).

The Custer figure himself is even more inaccurate. At the time of his death he was wearing a flannel shirt and buckskin trousers, not the uniform depicted here. Equally he did not take his sword on that fateful day, but was armed with two pistols. Finally, he suffered two bullet wounds, either of which would have been fatal, but no arrows were found in him. So, scoring nil for accuracy, but again a heroic and evocative figure.

Since this set is part of the Atlantic 'Far West Story' range, the figures are small and very thin. Even allowing for the fact that they are supposed to be HO scale, they are still thin and anatomically poor. Also many have ugly circular mould marks at various parts of the figure, which damage the detail and are very difficult to remove. There is more flash than the average, though detail is not too bad.

With all model figures often referred to as 'toy soldiers', these are perhaps more toy than most. Whilst very inaccurate, this set does go some way to bringing alive a moment from history.


Ratings

Historical Accuracy 2
Pose Quality 6
Pose Number 7
Sculpting 4
Mould 5

Further Reading
Books
"Apache Warrior versus US Cavalryman" - Osprey (Combat Series No.19) - Sean McLachlan - 9781472812469
"Sound the Charge" - Greenhill (GI Series No.12) - John Langellier - 9781853673191
"The American Indian Wars 1860-90" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.63) - Philip Katcher - 9780850450491
"The United States Cavalry" - Blandford - Gregory Urwin - 9780713718171
"US Cavalry on the Plains 1850-90" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.168) - Philip Katcher - 9780850456097
"US Cavalryman 1865-90" - Osprey (Warrior Series No.4) - Martin Pegler - 9781855323193
Magazines
"Military Illustrated" - No.71
"Military Modelling" - No.27303

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