When Pearl Harbor was attacked in December 1941 the USA declared war on Japan, but despite the wishes of both Roosevelt and Churchill there seemed no compelling reason to also declare war on Germany and Italy. Luckily for both men Hitler solved their problem by quickly declaring war on the US, and by the end of the following month the first US troops had been deployed to the UK. The US army expanded rapidly and sent huge numbers of troops to North Africa and Europe, where they participated in operations from Torch to Overlord. The figures in this set depict such troops, as they appeared in the European theatre of operations before uniform changes were implemented late in 1944.
As we have come to expect from Valiant, this set provides a great many choices and possibilities, with several of the figures having a choice of separate arms and weapons as well as other kit items and even extra heads. To gain an idea of all that is on offer you have to examine the complete sprue, but the stated intention is to depict all the major elements of a battalion with 1 figure representing roughly 15 men. Because of this plethora of options the figures pictured above are merely an indication of the possible poses. As a result the range of poses is very impressive, with all the major weapons represented - M1 Garand rifles, M1 carbines, Thompson submachine guns, BARs, Bazookas, 60mm mortars and Browning M1919A4 .30 calibre machine guns. All the poses are nicely done, although the officer would be far more likely to be carrying his carbine than a pistol. Also for the period stated the Thompson would be rare at best, so this should have been an alternative choice of weapon rather than forced on two of the poses. Finally the gunner operating the M1919A4 should be prone, as this would allow him to aim the weapon and present less of a target - troops were trained this way and not to sit as portrayed here.
Doubtless all wars have seen the common soldier adapt and change his regulation clothing and weaponry to suit his personal tastes and needs, but this is most apparent in wars after the invention of photography. American GIs in World War II were certainly no exception, so it is fair to say these figures are much too neat and regulation, but that could easily be said of almost every set ever made. However these figures are correctly dressed, with the M1941 field jacket and canvas leggings laced at the side. Belts and pouches are OK but fairly minimal, although some extra items on the sprue can give individual figures a much more overburdened appearance if desired. As with the weapons all this is entirely accurate for the period.
The style is the same as previous Valiant sets, which is to say these figures have a bulky feel which does not match well with figures from other companies. However the sculpting is really good with plenty of sharp detail and realistic folds in clothing. Faces are good and the weapons are extremely well detailed, while there is virtually no flash and no excess plastic thanks to the multi-part nature of some of these figures. Detail does occasionally fade where a figure’s body is square to the mould, but this is very minor. All the separate parts require gluing to stay put, but the hard plastic takes glue very well so this is no problem.
This is another well engineered set of figures which complement the previous Valiant sets in terms of style, but struggle to mix well with other sets of GIs. Unlike earlier sets the height of these figures is pretty good, but the weapons and kit are more 1/60th scale than 1/72nd, and some items such as the helmets are also well oversized. If you can live with the difference in scale then this is a very appealing set with a fantastic amount of scope for variety, but that is a big 'if'.