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Set 531

Chinese People's Liberation Army

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released 2005
Contents 50 figures
Poses 15 poses
Material Plastic (Fairly Hard)
Colours Grey
Average Height 23 mm (= 1.66 m)

Review

By October 1950 the initial invasion of South Korea by the North had been completely turned around, and US and South Korean forces were approaching the border with China, threatening to extinguish the North Korean state entirely. Peking had warned that it would not tolerate the loss of its ally, nor the presence of US troops on its border, yet when Chinese troops entered the Korean war in that month it came as a surprise to many. The Chinese troops (technically known as 'Chinese People's Volunteers' but referred to by the UN as 'Chinese Communist Forces' (CCF)) quickly turned the tide of war once more, forcing the battlefront back to somewhere approaching the 38th parallel, where it had all started. China undoubtedly saved the North, and thereafter had a huge influence on the course of the war.

When the Chinese entered the war one of the advantages they enjoyed was that they were much better prepared for the imminent harsh Korean winter than their opponents, but these figures are wearing the summer uniform rather than the familiar quilted winter one (although from 1952 a new winter uniform appeared closely resembling the summer one but more bulky). This uniform, including the soft cap, tunic and canvas shoes has been well depicted here. The kit was very variable, and these figures reflect that very nicely, with an array of belts, bandoliers, packs and accoutrements, all of which are authentic.

The poses are also a good reflection of the kind of war many of these troops fought. The several advancing poses are suggestive of the 'human wave' tactic sometimes employed, and of the general principle of advancing in huge numbers to ensure an objective was taken. Several of the men are armed only with grenades, and indeed the CCF armed some platoons solely with grenades - to soften targets for the following ranks of riflemen or machine-gunners. A most unusual feature of this set is the number of casualties - nine figures in three poses, plus another pose surrendering. The CCF suffered vast casualties during the war (partly thanks to Ridgway's 'Meatgrinder' policy), so while any military set can justify the inclusion of casualties this is particularly appropriate here, although wargamers especially may feel so many poses is a bit excessive. The bugler is also very appropriate as there are many accounts of the amount of bugles and whistles used by the CCF during attacks. In short, all the poses are fine and entirely appropriate.

The weaponry is always a key element of any modern military set, and in this case the CCF employed a bewildering array from many sources including captured stock from the Nationalists (supplied by several countries) and the Japanese. Many different rifles were used, and while we couldn't positively identify which one is sculpted here it looks quite reasonable. Those figures with a sub machine gun seem to have been given the Soviet PPSh 'Burp Gun' but with the curved box magazine developed in 1942 rather than the more familiar drum magazine. However this could just as easily be the Chinese 7.62mm Type 50, which was a copy of the PPSh. The grenades are of the stick variety, which is fine, but one man seems to be throwing a Molotov cocktail, which is a curious choice. The prone machine gunner is using a Soviet DP light machine gun, a weapon used by all the Communist forces. Finally one man is firing a Japanese Model 92 7.7 calibre medium machine gun, the most common Japanese machine gun of World War II. The Chinese were well used to using captured weapons for their own benefit, and many Japanese weapons saw service in Korea in this way.

All the figures are very well sculpted with plenty of detail and good natural proportions. The very occasional tab of excess plastic merely highlights how otherwise flash-free these are, and the areas of extra plastic hidden from the mould are very few. The prone figures have separate heads which fit easily and well and make for a much better figure than a one-piece effort, and a few of the rest have separate arms, again improving the quality of the finished figure, but most of the poses require no assembly. The plastic takes glue extremely easily, so glued figures will stay glued! If you are looking for minor quibbles then the Model 92 machine gun has no ammunition being fed to it, but basically this is a very sound set of figures.

Ratings

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

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