Refugees have long been a part of human history. Whether they are fleeing some invading army, a natural disaster or any of various barbarities that would now be termed 'ethnic cleansing', it has been the fate of millions to gather what they can and head out on the road with little clear idea of where they are heading or how they will survive once they stop moving. Although there are no clues as to what date this set is supposed to be aimed at, with many World War II sets and almost no other military ones it is safe to assume the Preiser designer had that conflict in mind, and certainly there was no shortage of refugees of many nationalities during those terrible few years.
Like many Preiser sets this is pretty small, with just seven all-different figures plus a small cart. This small group includes men and women, young and old, and makes a fair stab at a cross-section of the kind of civilians that might be expected to form the long lines of displaced people seeking safety elsewhere. Both the men are carrying walking sticks, although there is also an optional arm holding a crutch for one of them. It is hard to judge age but both could equally be old or simply young but tired or infirm. Both carry a suitcase, with one having placed it on his back and therefore stooping somewhat. The women look to be moving a little easier, with one carrying a case and the other a smaller shoulder bag. On our second row we have two children who are not carrying anything but from the poses seem to be assisting with the small cart being pulled by the woman. The intended effect can clearly be seen in the box artwork above.
Refugees often try and carry too much because they know what they do not take will be lost, but the practicalities of a long march almost always mean much of this luggage is discarded en route. Apart from the stooping man with the case on his back none of these people seem to be particularly overburdened, although of course than could be many reasons for that. All are wearing coats and hats that along with the hairstyles makes them perfectly suitable for the 39-45 war but also for long periods either side, and it must be remembered that many refugees took to the road after the fighting stopped. Everything here is authentic for at least the 1930s and 40s, so no problems with accuracy.
We liked the stooping man the best, but the woman pulling the cart is the most eye-catching element of this set. The cart is no bigger than a modern shopping trolley, but piled high with all manner of unspecified boxes and objects it gives a good impression of weight as the woman is leaning well forward in her efforts to move it. As always Preiser have done a top notch job with making these figures entirely natural, and there is not the slightest hint of a flat pose here. The secret of course is that many of these figures have to be assembled from several parts (for which see our photo of the sprue) but the instructions for this are clear and the parts fit together well. Clothing and faces are beautifully sculpted, and the occasional ridge where the moulds met does not spoil the generally very clean lines of these figures. The cart itself is extremely delicate as might be expected at this scale, yet the hard plastic means it is a very crisp model that is so well engineered that the wheels and axles, all of which are separate, fit together well enough to not need glue, and therefore are free to rotate and move (though why you would want this is unclear). The point is, the production is exceptionally well done, and an object lesson in what slender models can be made in this material (we choose to show the handle of the cart on the ground, but naturally it would normally be up to meet the hands of the woman).
With no bases and some very specific poses these figures are intended to be displayed in the manner shown on the box, but that does not mean that they cannot also be useful in more general models or as part of some elaborate wargame. This is an extremely well presented collection, and while you do not get a great many figures in a box you do get quality, and as a reminder of at least part of the human cost of war this is a very worthy product done well.