by: Andy Renshaw [ ]
One area that has been lacking lately is some good quality US Marines figures in plastic. This new set from Dragon Models Limited (DML) helps fill that gap with some great new figures featuring good “in action” poses.
The box is the traditional DML fare with attractive box art from Ron Volstad on the front and illustrated instructions on the rear face. Being that these are uncomplicated figures, the instructions are clear and cover painting as well.
Contained in the kit are two light grey plastic sprues. One is the larger sprue with all the parts for the figures, as well as equipment and 3 of the four weapons needed. The forth weapon, a BAR, is supplied on a separate weapons sprue from set 6802; a familiar sprue for anybody who has purchased any other US figures from Dragon.
Molded in the standard light grey, high quality plastic that Dragon uses, is the parts for four figures in some outstanding poses. Each captures the look of marines on a day patrol with apprehensive looks keeping a sharp eye out for snipers and anticipating the next ambush. The quality of the molding on the P1941 herringbone twill utility uniforms is excellent and captures the look of the loose, thin cloth. Facial expressions are adequate for plastic, but for those wanting more robust and animated faces there are some great resin heads from Warriors or Hornet that would fit the bill. Personally I feel with some good painting the plastic faces will do just fine. Headgear is the coverless M1 steel helmet, reflective of the early war period these figures represent.
The equipment is provided with each piece being separate, and requires some careful fitting and planning to get it all on realistically. Each figure has specific equipment depending on the weapon carried, and DML reflects this in the parts breakdown. Of interest is the inclusion of the M3 scabbard with bayonet. One figure has it fixed to his 1903 Springfield, the other still sheathed.
The one miss on the equipment is the canteens. The covers should be the M1910 USMC style with cross flaps and a single seam down the middle. The ones in the kit are US Army style. Granted, some Marines may have acquired some US Army stocks of supplies while on the Canal, but the inclusion of this one detail would have made this a close to perfect figure set.
Weapons included on the figure sprue are two 1903 Springfield’s, one with bayonet fixed, and a M50 Reisling. The only weapon used on the other sprue is the BAR (use without tripod, as this was removed to lessen the weight during jungle patrols).
The M50 Reisling in Combat:
Taking a short side trip, the M50 Reisling was an early weapon issued to USN, USMC, and USCG as a lightweight semi-automatic carbine. Being a selective fire weapon, it could also do full auto, between 450-600 rpm (though limited to a 20 round magazine). It fired from a closed bolt unlike its counterpart, the Thompson which fired from an open bolt. At first, the design seemed to be what was needed with its light weight, accuracy, and high rate of fire. A lighter version, the M55 with a folding stock, was issued to para-marines.
However once the M50 was fielded in combat in both the Solomon’s and Guadalcanal, it was quickly discovered that it was a soldiers nightmare. In combat, it was easily prone to malfunctions because of dirt and mud, critical parts would rust in the humid climate, and the magazines would be easily damaged to uselessness. It quickly earned a terrible reputation and it is rumored that Marines issued this weapon would quickly discard it for anything else they could find.
After the dismal performance in combat, it was regulated to stateside guard duties and lend-lease arms deals and quickly pulled from the front lines.
For the purpose of the review, I constructed one of the four figures. Figure D with his cautious stance and fixed bayonet caught my eye for the first build.
Assembly is straight forward, and the fit on the main parts is fantastic. In the accompanying photos, I used no filler, so you can see how well the arms and legs fit the torso. The only area that required a little work was adding the 10 (yes, ten!) ammo pouches around the belt, as some careful trimming of both the body and some of the pouches was needed to get a good close fit against the figure. You may want to add the pouches before the arms to get full access to the area for trimming.
I also suggest attaching the heads before the arms, as you will need to use a little filler to blend the neck into the chest area where the shirt is open.
When attaching the arms, use the rifle to insure correct alignment. The fit of the rifle in the hands is very good, and the grip will satisfy all but the figure purist.
The bandoleer is provided in 3 separate pieces. I wanted to really make this part hang, so I cut a long strip of Taymia tape, folding and twisting it, and glued one end of it with super glue to the backside of the 3 parts, lining up the 3 parts as I went. I then draped the tape “sling” across the figure, gluing with superglue as I went, and then trimmed and connected the sling to the other end of the bandoleer pouches. Some final shaping to get the proper hang, then some CA glue was flowed into the gaps between the pouches to hold its position.
I corrected the canteen cover flaps with some bits of scrap plastic, cut to shape and glued on. I also scraped away the extra seams on the canteen cover, leaving a single seam in the center. Simple fixes for improved detail and accuracy, and well within the skills of most modelers.
All it needs now is a sling for the rifle. Once painted, some USMC markings from Archer or Hudson and Allen will finish these off nicely. Now if we could just start convincing Dragon to include uniform insignia with all their sets!
A great figure set by Dragon, even for a so called “Gen 1” ('39-'45 Series) release. I’m glad to see some animation coming back into the poses within Dragons newer kits. Hopefully the trend shown with this set continues!