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Sunday, November 13, 2022

Introducing the US Marines

Latest edit: Added Plastic Platoon's Marines Heavy Weapons.

The war in the Pacific was a brutal business. Not only were men fighting each other, but they were also fighting against nature. The jungle, constant rain, mud, tropical diseases, jungle rot -dying of the skin and flesh-, even starvation -or at least having to eat half-rotten food-, when supplies could not reach them. The fighting was also a lot more primal. Tanks were hard to maneuver in the jungle, so infantry did the bulk of the fighting, often in close quarters fighting or hand-to-hand combat, which was made highly treacherous by the large amount of vegetation that allowed combatants to sneak upon each other. Every night the danger of enemy infiltration and being killed in your foxhole was a very real and nerve-racking possibility. The stiff resistance of the Japanese, often fighting to the last man, meant that sometimes they had to be burnt alive or sealed to die in their caves, and virtually no quarter was given by either side. The weather conditions also meant that the dead decomposed very quickly and the men often found themselves fighting next to or on top of rotting corpses filled with maggots, enduring a terrible stench and macabre conditions. This is the world that the leathernecks inhabited in this theater of operations. Yet, perhaps because relatively fewer men were involved in the Pacific campaigns, or perhaps because of its remoteness, or the fact that the fighting happened in places that westerners have difficulties locating on a map, the war on the Pacific has received less attention, and this is also the case in the manufacturing of figure sets representing US Marines. It was not until a few years back that the situation started to improve, as you will see from the pictures below. 

Atlantic US Marine Corps - Part I
This is one of my favorite sets from Atlantic. The figures are posed with enough movement in them and they are well proportioned. The kneeling guy's bazooka is a separate piece, so unless you glue it, you have to put it in place every time you handle him.

Atlantic US Marine Corps - Part II
Here are another 6 figures. If you are counting that makes 11, which is 1 more than the usual in the typical Atlantic set. The highlight of this batch are the flag-raising guys. Again, the flag comes separately and it requires a few tries to assemble the three pieces right, but the effort is well worth it. A mini tribute to the Iwo Jima flag-raising marines.

BMC US Marines - Part 1
BMC released these marines as part of their Iwo Jima set, along with Japanese figures. They were made aroud the time of the movie Flag of our Fathers, when some interest in the Pacific war started to take place. Personally, I find these figures to be very well made, and quite affordable. They are a bit on the larger side for 54mm, but they are very well made.

BMC US Marines - Part 2
As you can see, the men are depicted in nice action/fighting poses which look quite realistic. One thing to point out is that the left most man's bazooka can be removed and it requires a couple tries to set it back in place properly. Not a big deal, but something to be aware of.

BMC US Marines - Part 3
These guys are already primed as I will be painting them soon. Their original color is a light, creamy green. Also with this set you get a flag raising team modeled after the famous photograph, and also a Higgins boat coxswain. The flag raising team is made in a smaller scale as the rest of the figures, and the coxswain has an unusual base that makes him stand about 1 inch taller than the other guys, hence I am not including them in the figures I'll be painting.

Glencoe / Marx US Marines - Part 1
The Marx Marines were released in the 60s I believe, and for many years, they were the only figures of their kind that you could find. They produced 12 poses, and they seem to be meant for a beach landing scene. There are a couple poses in the set that seem a bit awkward, but they are actually a very nice set if you compare them to other figures released at the time.

Glencoe / Marx US Marines - Part 2
I painted these guys about 10 years back, before I had any of the more recent sets. Going back to the point about the poses, the two guys on the right are slightly odd. Maybe it's the way they are leaning, or maybe how the flamethrower guy is bending his knees. On the other hand, the two guys on the left seem just right.

Glencoe / Marx US Marines - Part 3
Remember what I was saying about a beach landing? The running poses and the Mae West would be well suited for it. Even the prone guy trying to determine the best route to get off the beach. Although I really wonder how many Marines actually wore life jackets during landing operations. Maybe this is a rear echelon officer coming ashore once the beach has been secured?

TSSD US Marines - Part 1
Another recent set courtesy of Toy Soldiers of San Diego. These guys are also a nice dynamic bunch which captures well the nature of the fighting in the Pacific. Close quarters combat with bayonets, the wounded having to defend themselves. Their original color is very similar to the BMC guys, so even unpainted they blend well together.

TSSD US Marines - Part 2
Some more nice poses by Toy Soldiers of San Diego. The guy fighting with the shovel is quite dramatic. The other men showing a representative variety of weapons: sub machine gun, Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) & Garand rifle.

Classic Toy Soldiers US Infantry (as Marines) - Part 1
These guys are not really Marines. They are recently released US Infantry troops by CTS, but I thought I would add them to the Marines to get a few more poses, plus the fact that they come with a flamethrower guy and a guy having to fight with both hands, makes them good candidates to fight on places like Peleliu or Iwo Jima.

 Classic Toy Soldiers US Infantry (as Marines) - Part 2
I like the guy standing with the bazooka. Most of the times they are depicted kneeling. The BAR guy could be firing through the dense jungle foliage at some unseen enemy in the distance while on patrol. 

TSSD US Infantry (as Marine)
This guy is also a regular Army guy, but since the Marines don't have any heavy MGs of their own (OK, the Marx/Glencoe guys have one guy running carrying a MG, but it is not mounted) I've decided to reinforce them with this TSSD guy. He could be gunny Sergeant Basilone fighting on Guadalcanal, earning his Congressional Medal of Honor.

Austin Miniatures Marines
This is a fairly recent release from a new US firm. They are made in the style and size of CTS and Conte figures. A nice level of detail and good sculpting. The poses also depict a good degree of action and intensity. And they are all good basic fighting poses. They will certainly blend in well with the rest of the unit. And if you want you can probably paint them as regular GIs, and they will fit right in as well. 

Plastic Platoon US Marines
The perfect complement to PP's Japanese Infantry set. These guys remind me a bit of Austin Miniatures' marines in the shape of the bodies and heads, slim and tall figures, but with nicer sculpting and detailing. The six poses are good fighting poses, and they cover a nice range of headgear (covered helmet, with netting, plain), clothing styles (tucked vs loose pant bottoms, rolled up sleeves, shirtless, ripped pants, etc.), weapons (Thompson sub mgs, BAR, rifle/bayonet, shotgun w/bayonet(!) and my favorite, the flamethrower) and equipment (backpack, pouches, bandoliers, etc.) I also enjoyed the facial expressions. I am not surprised anymore by the fury and intensity displayed by a couple of them. This time I was more impressed by how the BAR gunner seems so concentrated. Is he aiming at something in the distance, or is he simply laying down covering fire with determination? You'll need to figure that one out yourself when you setup your scene :-) 

Plastic Platoon US Paramarines
These guys are a nice complement to the first set of Marines. Initially I thought that other than the fact that there's a 7th man with them who clearly is a pilot -maybe he crashed or had to bail out on the same mission that dropped the Paramarines- there wasn't much to indicate that these guys were paratroopers, but then it hit me that they are clearly wearing jump boots. I wonder if after the jump that was still a good type of footwear for tropical islands. Maybe it was better at keeping the sand out, but if it did get in, I would have hated having to undo the shoe laces every so often to empty the sand. Anyhow, great poses as usual, with good variety of weaponry. The machete guy is a nice touch. And in terms of detail, look at the ding on the helmet of the second guy from the left. Looks like he literally dodged a bullet! The pilot is one guy that I probably won't have a lot of use for. I might have preferred another Paramarine, but I won't complain. Another great set.  

Plastic Platoon US Marines Heavy Weapons
This is a very nice set. It contains a crew for a Browning Heavy MG, a bazooka team, a BAR man, and an officer coordinating the action through a radio. The center piece of this set is the heavy machine gun itself, and not just the gun, but the base. I know that some folks prefer plain/neutral bases so that they can be placed in a variety of settings, but in the case of these marines, I do think that the heavily detailed base adds to the set. The other figures are nicely sculpted, as usual, with a high degree of action in them. A couple of them show bullet dents in the helmet, which is a nice bit of detail. The other creative touch is the trophy sword tucked away in the backpack of the BAR man. Lastly, the expression on the officer captures very well the intensity of battle without overdoing it as was the case with some of the prior German sets. Overall a great addition to the WWII range, and a great support unit for the other Marines.

Click here if you want to see a really cool post of the Marines in action.
Click here to see a description of Japanese Infantry figures.

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