by: Jim Rae [ ]
At the outset, following on from my comments in the introduction, I am NOT the world's biggest fan of Tamiya's 1/35th scale figures. In general, I consider them wooden, poorly detailed and in (far too) many cases are well past their sell-by-date. Too many of their range are from the 1970s and re-releasing cannot turn them into anything which is acceptable to today's standards. Now why the observations on figures of a different scale - what possible relevance can this have to1/48th scale figures? Well, the overwhelming majority are based on the poses of these original figures, so, one of the purposes of this review will be to consider their utility for modelers in the relatively 'new' (or re-introduced') scale of 1/48th.
In Brief - MM # 13
MM # 13 - U.S. Army Infantry G.I. Set is a 1/48th scale kit consisting of 15 U.S. WWII figures (including 2 AFV crew). The set comes in the typical, nicely-designed Tamiya box and the set comes on four, light-grey plastic sprues. Also included is an double-sided instruction sheet which includes painting instructions linked to Tamiya paint.
Before I begin my overview of the set, it's worth pointing out that the figures here are based on two different (1/35th sets) these are the U.S. Army Assault Infantry and the company's U.S. Heavy Weapons team. However, to allay some of the 'Urban Legends' around the company's Quarter-Scale releases, these are NOT simply down-scaled or pantographed versions of their larger scale 'cousins' - a simple reduction would leave pretty indistict details. They're BASED on the 35th scale figures but they've also undergone a certain degree of 'refinement'.
As usual, with my reviews of figure sets, i'll look at the various aspects of the figures - Poses, Equipment, Weaponry etc. and finish with my opinions.
Mould-Quality - Impeccable. There is no flash present whatsoever although there are some discreet (and easy to remove) mould-lines.
Poses - Amongst the figures there are some pretty active poses. Eight of the figures are infantrymen who are running, shooting etc. Four more figures compose the crews for the water-cooled Browning MG and the Bazooka. The last two figures are for AFV crews which consist of simply the head and shoulders of one and the upper-torso of the other.
Equipment - Sprue 'X' (times 2) contains both weapons and personal equipment. The latter consists of items such as helmets, entrenching tools, bayonets and holsters. These are extremely well done with considerable detail.
Weapons - Also contained on the the 'X' Sprues are the weapons. These are three M1 Garands (1 with Rifle grenade), a Thompson SMG, an M1 Carbine, a Browning AR, an M9 Bazooka, and a tripod-mounted Browning .30 MG. The latter consists of sven parts and includes the condensation can along with a belt of ammunition. Detail is excellent on these parts and the only thing missing are their relevant slings which are simple enough to fabricate.
Construction - each (basic) figure consists of four parts - legs. torso and arms. This will give (for the more adventurous) the possibility to mix 'n match arms etc to change postures - make no mistake, this is one of the strengths of this set.
Uniforms - The majority of the figures are wearing the M41 Jacket although several have the M-1943 Field Jacket. Also included is one figure with the widely-issued greatcoat.
Overall, this is quite a an actively-posed set with some very nice touches such as the canvas Garand pouches being moulded onto the figure. Three of the figures are designed for a cold-weather setting with scarves protecting their necks - again, a nice touch.
After my complete disenchantment with Tamiya's 1/35th scale figures, this is an incredibly positive release. Added to that is the company's increasing cooperation with ICM (in several of the more recent sets) and Tamiya could be onto a real winner with these sets along with the high quality of their AFVs. For the money you get a lot in the box. Although there are some extraordinarily good (Resin) figures on the market and some extraordinary releases in the pipeline, for many, particularly to populate dioramas, they'll go for injection-moulded sets such as this. It's an excellent set which demonstrates some real potential for conversion and super-detailing.
Good though as this set is, the real proof will come with modelers being persuaded to change their habits slightly and try a scale which offers a serious alternative to 1/35th. Much of this will come with increased exposure to high-quality products such as this, the other being able to purchase them at reasonable prices and NOT the ridiculous prices which are being asked for in Europe. This set was bought from a retailer in Hong Kong for roughly a third of the price that European modelers are being asked for....