Some sets cover a wide period of history, while others are specific to one conflict or perhaps just a couple of years. A handful depict one particular event such as the Alamo or the Charge of the Light Brigade, but this set is surely unique in depicting just one moment. That moment occurred on 23rd February, 1945, four days into the battle for the island of Iwo Jima.
In brief, a photographer with the US forces, Joe Rosenthal, learned that a group of marines had set off for the top of a local high point, Mount Suribachi, and intended to plant a flag there. When he arrived he found the flag already flying and another group of marines preparing to take it down and raise a larger one on a long iron pipe. As they did so, he took a photograph that was an immediate sensation. That photograph, one of the most famous of the Second World War, is the basis for this set.
Despite the title, the figures in this set are nothing to do with amphibious assault. There are just six poses, one of each, and by themselves they seem a very bizarre collection. Of course this is because they have only one function really, and that is to recreate that famous photograph. As a result they are not much use for anything else, although many come with separate arms to allow some flexibility in poses. In effect however this merely allows some flexibility in the way they are grouped together.
This set is nothing in its parts, but everything as a whole. The finished model looks like this, and we would be the first to admit this is not a precise representation of the photograph. The actual photo is copyrighted material but is easily found on the internet, and the artwork on the box fails to do it justice as it makes the mount seem like a dune close to the shore. The problem is that the base is simply a textured lump, with the base of the pipe and the lead man's front foot being the only two parts with an identifiable position on it - all the rest of the figures have to be arranged as best you can, so the resemblance to the photograph is largely up to the skill of the modeller.
To consider the model for a moment, its construction in hard plastic makes all the limbs glue easily, and their fit is reasonable. The pipe slots into a hole in the base, which also forces its angle, and we recommend that this is the first part to be assembled to serve as a guide for the positioning of the men. However the pipe itself is very thin - commendably in scale but very prone to breaking even before it is taken out of the box. The men themselves are reasonably detailed but nothing to get excited about. The sculptor has not really captured the very natural forms of the men in the photo, and the classic circular mould marks on their backs does nothing to help matters. However they do reflect the clothing and equipment of the men correctly (extra weapons are provided, although in the photograph some have none).
In November 1954, President Eisenhower dedicated a new monument to the United States Marine Corps at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington. This massive 100-ton bronze statue, with figures almost 10 metres tall, was a direct copy of Rosenthal's photograph. This set is therefore also a model of that monument and it can be seen from the photograph of the completed model that the textured base can be placed in a second supplied octagonal base, which completes the monument model.
One final component in the box is a wet transfer decal of the flag of the United States. We have added this to our photo of the model, and it shows that the flag is in a very strange shape rather than rectangular. Clearly the original would not have been this shape, and we cannot understand why it has been made this way.
The actual flag raising was significant in highlighting the arrival of the marines on Iwo Jima, but there was to be another month of bitter and bloody fighting before the island was captured from the Japanese, so it was no indicator of victory. Yet the photograph became an instant legend, perhaps due to the peculiarly American habit of placing such significance in flags, and this model is just one of many in various scales of this iconic image. However we must say that, even without our humble efforts to assemble it correctly, it leaves something to be desired, although we must acknowledge the difficulty of modelling such a complex subject.