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Set 1703

Infantry Combat Group

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Date Released 1960
Contents 48 figures
Poses 11 poses
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Green
Average Height 21 mm (= 1.51 m)


This set has the distinction of being one of the very earliest plastic sets in this scale, having been produced back in 1960. Though not labelled as belonging to any one nation, some aspects of the design suggest it was the British infantry that the designer had in mind, and later packaging illustrations confirm this. Ultimately, the set was retooled and relabelled as British Infantry, and also identified as for World War II, though whether this first version was also for that conflict, or 'modern' (i.e. late 1950s), is hard to say now.

The figures are clearly closely based on the older Britains 'Lilliput' set of infantry (see A Call to Arms British Infantry World War II for a 1/72 scale equivalent of that set), with most of those poses being repeated here. The additional poses are a man lying on the ground, one carrying something, and a stretcher party. Between them, these poses cover the basics of advancing, firing, etc., but in a set with a modest number of poses, having a non-combatant, radio-operator, bearer and two casualties seems a bit wasteful. It is interesting, however, that at this time the inclusion of casualties was clearly seen as important, whereas in the future many manufacturers would severely limit such poses or even exclude them entirely.

Since the title of this set is so vague, it is going to be very hard to comment on accuracy. As a child's toy it was probably not seen as important, so it is perhaps harsh to judge them by today's standards, but were you to do so then the accuracy would not seem to be good. Whether we assume these to be British or some other nationality, World War II or 1950s, their simple and toylike appearance does not give the impression of solid historical accuracy. As far as can be made out, the figures seem to wear standard British battledress which is lacking any clear detail, and a generic helmet that seems to be an approximation of British and American helmets of the time, while the officer wears a peaked cap that is a design all of its own. Webbing is greatly simplified and so impossible to identify with any certainty, and the weapons, which might normally be a great way of identifying and dating the intended subject, are crude strips of plastic with little or no detail.

By today's high standards these are crude figures. Detail is very poor or missing entirely, with hands that are just blobs. There is a good deal of flash, and most of the figures have large mould marks that further spoil the overall appearance. The poses are very stiff, so we get no feel of movement from the running man, nor any sense of action from the man about to throw the grenade. The stretcher party are obviously three pieces which fit together tolerably well, although as can be seen, getting both bearers to stand flat on the ground is something of a challenge. Unfortunately, the quality of sculpting of this collection is much poorer than the larger-scale Britains set that inspired it.

As with all the early Airfix figure sets, this one was made in 'OO/HO scale', a somewhat vague statement that means they match with the Airfix railway range. This scale is somewhere between 1/76 and 1/87, so as 1/72 scale figures these are noticably small, but it is the other qualities of this set that make it less than appealing these days. Clearly standards are much higher today than when this pioneering set was produced, and it is as well that the set was completely retooled, and better focused, in the early 1970s. So these old figures have not been in production for over half a century, but can still be found second hand, though they do not command a high price and are mostly only of interest to collectors. Still this is an interesting slice of plastic soldier history, but the hobby that these figures helped to create has moved on a tremendous amount since they were made.


Historical Accuracy
Pose Quality 5
Pose Number 7
Sculpting 2
Mould 5

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