by: Darren Baker [ ]
When it comes to figure sets Japanese Infantry are one of the subjects that tend to catch modellers attention, due mostly I suspect their rarity. One of the latest figure releases from ICM is a set of Japanese Infantry 1942-1945, strangely titled Japan Infantry 1942-1945, perhaps it is a language thing.
ICM is in my opinion the best at protecting their products as regards boxing. You are provided with a very robust cardboard tray with flip top lid, and you are then provided with a separate card lid with the art work for the product. Inside of all this there is a single re-sealable plastic bag containing a single tan coloured sprue. Also included is a single sheet of paper which covers assembly of the figures, painting and a parts map
As usual for me I will start with a general look over the various mouldings. This offering from ICM is very clean with no obvious issues that caught my eye, even the seam lines are all either extremely well hidden or are just not present on this offering. Sprue gate placements on this offering are good for the most part, but it does use my pet hate of having them on the elbows of the arms. The placement of the parts on the sprue is good; all of the various figure parts are in the same area of the sprue.
The figures are broken down in the usual manner. The area that would be the pelvis has been hollowed out for unknown reasons, but it should make getting a clean attachment easy. The placement of the sprue gate on the rim of the steel helmets will make clean up very difficult of the item, fortunately the instructions do indicate the use of the soft caps rather than the steel helmets.
The uniform is functional if fairly non-descript as uniforms go, but the pockets and button detail on the tunic is present. I know that when this set was first announced there were questionable comments about the puttees, the puttees are present and in the pictures it is the cross tied areas that have thrown off the eye. The lace detail on the shoes is weak and I have seen this detail replaced with fine wire and that would seem to be worth considering here. The officer is wearing leather gaiters rather than the leather cavalry type boots worn by more senior officers.
The infantry soldiers are equipped with the late war haversack; this had two long ties that were secured at the front knotted. Also included is the larger late war water canteen, I am unsure as to when exactly this came into common usage. The soldiers mess tins have been well replicated and I like to see these items included with the figures. The instructions with this set show the field cap fitted with the neck cover in use; however the steel helmets could also be used if preferred or desired.
The Arisaka rifles are provided as the weapons for the three infantry soldiers and I believe are type 38 offerings; this rifle was not ideal due to its length and the difficulty of using it in the bush. On the plus side the length of the rifle with the bayonet fitted did give the Japanese soldier good reach in close quarters combat. The three rifles included have bayonets fitted and I am pleased to see that ICM remembered to provide the empty scabbards. The bolts for the rifles have also been supplied as separate parts. The blade of the officer figures katana is very thin to the extent that I do not believe it could be any finer without switching to photo etch. Also included for the officer is a holstered side arm and binoculars. One of the cylinder shaped grenades is provided for the figure shown throwing it, and I am very pleased to see it as a stand-alone moulding rather than in the figures hand.
The faces of these figures have been especially well done for injected moulded plastic with expressions discernible on them. The hands are an area where ICM do very well, the finger detail is very clear and will not require any additional work on the part of the modeller. Going back to the field caps with the neck protection added, I am pleased to see that ICM has provided four different finishes to the neck protection; I personally prefer the field cap to the steel helmet, but if I can clean up one of them to my satisfaction in regards to the sprue gate connection then I will use one as a way of alternating the look.
The rarity of Japanese figures from just about any period makes this offering worthy of attention. The fact that ICM produce figures to a very high standard using injection moulded plastic only increases the attention that this offering should get. Is this offering perfect? Well obviously not as very little if anything is perfect. I would have liked to see better definition on the puttees of the three infantry figures, but in all other respects I am pretty much happy with what is offered.
I really like the effort that ICM has put into the faces and hands of the figures, and the detail provided is very well done. The weapons supplied are acceptable to me, but I wish that the rifles had been slide moulded where the muzzles are concerned; with that said I do appreciate how fine ICM has managed to get the Katana blade. With everything considered I feel that most modellers will be very happy with what ICM has provided with this figure set.