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IMEX

Set 532

North Korean KPA

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released 2005
Contents 53 figures
Poses 15 poses
Material Plastic (Fairly Hard)
Colours Grey
Average Height 23 mm (= 1.66 m)

Review

By prior agreement the Korean peninsular had been occupied after the Japanese surrender in 1945 by Soviet forces in the north and American forces in the south. From this arrangement the separate states of North and South Korea emerged, with both continuing to get considerable support from their respective 'sponsors'. For the North this meant an army trained and equipped largely along Soviet lines, so when this well equipped and trained force invaded the South in 1950 it had a considerable Soviet look and feel to it.

The poses in this set are a pretty reasonable bunch, and we particularly liked the crawling figure. We were less taken by the high right elbow of the first figure on row one, but the rest of the advancing figures are fine. The two mortar crew are also very well done, but some may be disappointed with the fairly high number of casualties (including the rather unconvincing falling-wounded figure) and the surrendering man. Nevertheless all the poses are appropriate and usable.

The relatively simple summer uniform of the KPA has been correctly represented here, with the two breast pockets that were only replaced with a single-pocket version late in the war. The shirt was usually tucked into the trousers, as is the case with most of the figures here. The distinctive North Korean cap tops off an authentic look (helmets were issued but rarely worn in the field). The officer wears a Sam Browne belt over his tunic, but this tunic has two external breast pockets whereas it seems these were actually concealed, so only the flap should be showing. This man has also been given a trim round the tunic for which we could find no evidence.

Most of the armed men carry the SKS45 carbine, a weapon developed in the Soviet Union. However, although the Soviets supplied the KPA, the evidence suggests they used the enormous stocks of vintage World War II weapons for the purpose, so these figures should be carrying rifles from that conflict, including many captured Japanese examples. Two poses have a similar-looking weapon to the SKS but with a curved ammunition clip protruding from the bottom. We have not been able to positively identify this, but it would seem to be either the SKS with a 30-round clip (a post-Korean War development that never entered military service anyway), a Chinese Type 63 carbine or even an AK47, all of which date from well after this war. Just one pose is carrying the famous PPSh M1941 submachine gun with the usual round magazine (which we felt was a little too large and thin), which leaves one man carrying a machine gun with folded bipod and of course the mortar. Mortars were a favoured weapon of the Soviets, and this one, with a barrel length of 14mm (approx 1 metre) looks like it is the 120mm model, which is a good choice if so. So, the rifles are all wrong but the rest of the weapons are fine.

The general level of sculpting is identical to the other Korean War sets from this manufacturer, with good if sometimes shallow detail. Generally flash free, although some small tabs need trimming on a few figures. A few of the poses come in two parts (separate head for the crawling man and separate arms for the mortar crew and observer), but the resulting pose is much better as a result. Those that do not like to assemble figures may be unhappy, but the plastic glues easily and permanently and the figures are definitely better for it.

As with the rest of this short series IMEX have delivered a very well made set of figures, with considerable effort going into delivering better poses by using multiple parts where appropriate. The problem with the weapons is a pity, and while a couple of the poses are a little awkward they are all usable. This is another subject never tackled before in this hobby, and in general IMEX have done it pretty well here.

Ratings

Historical Accuracy 8
Pose Quality 9
Pose Number 9
Sculpting 10
Mould 9

Further Reading
Books
"Army Uniforms Since 1945" - Blandford - Digby Smith - 9780713709919
"Inch'on 1950" - Osprey (Campaign Series No.162) - Gordon L Rottman - 9781841769615
"Korea - The Ground War From Both Sides" - Pen & Sword (Images of War Series) - Philip Chinnery - 9781848848191
"The Korean War - History and Tactics" - Orbis - David Rees - 9780856136498
"The Korean War 1950-1953" - Osprey (Essential Histories Series No.8) - Carter Malkasian - 9781841762821
"The Korean War 1950-53" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.174) - Nigel Thomas & Peter Abbott - 9780850456851

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