The Imperial Japanese Army is one of the most ignored modelling subjects, especially when it comes to available figures in plastic, despite the strong demand for more. With another plastic model manufacturer set to release their 1:35 Japanese SNLF, the first set of Japanese infantry in plastic in over 14 years, the subject should become somewhat more popular.
DML’s Japanese Army Infantry were the last set of 1:35 Japanese infantry to be released in plastic, way back in 1994. Before that, there had only been two other kits released. Due to the kit being out of production, it is now extremely difficult to buy. It occasionally appears on modelling webstores or ebay, where bidders usually pay a very high price for the kit (one went the other day for about $18 USD). A few years ago, DML reissued the kit in their ‘Windtalkers’ set, and this is how I got my hands on it.
The kit is divided into two sprue trees, the larger containing primarily body parts and equipment, the smaller (traditionally) containing weapons. The kit contains enough parts to build up 4 figures. The poses are quite animated, with 3 enlisted soldiers attacking/firing while an officer (holding sword) fires his pistol. Modellers may wish to create other dynamic poses by swapping recommended parts or buying multiple kits.
I believe that the original kit release included colour instructions on the back of the box, however the ‘Windtalkers’ release offers instructions in the form of a leaflet.
Two figures, labeled ‘A’ and ‘D’ in the instructions, wear Type 98 tropical shirts with half breeches. Figure ‘A’ is wearing quite an extensive network of belts and straps, which are well sculpted. The figures, ‘B’ and ‘C’, wear the Type 98 tropical shirts with concealed pockets, worn un-tucked. All the figures bar the officer have their bayonet frog molded onto their breeches.
I’m not entirely convinced that figure ‘C’ is in a realistic pose. With the weight of the light machine-gun, he would not be able to run with such ease. He looks as if he should be holding a broomstick, not a 9kg LMG!
All figures wear puttees with leather shoes, of which the level of detail is outstanding. Although figure ‘D’ is posed in a strong, firing action (which is also well molded, his trousers even have a rip in them), it is figure ‘B’ which wins my award as the most dynamically animated figure. He is set in a lunging/ firing position, well proportioned and realistic.
One point that must be mentioned, the instructions and box art show a vertical ventilation slit/flap on each of the figure’s shirts. However, this detail is not present on the parts themselves!
The faces do not closely resemble Japanese features, and although passable, I would recommend using resin replacements.
The kit includes:
• 2 Arisaka 6.5mm Type 38 rifles (with bayonets)
• 1 Type 96 LMG
• 2 Type 14 ‘Nambu’ pistols
• 1 Type 94 officer’s sword
The Type 96 LMG included in my kit was strangely missing the carrying handle. Whether or not it simply snapped off and got lost I do not know. DML has picked up on the common Japanese practice of fitting a bayonet to the end of their LMGs. It is a good representation of the gun, with bipod cast separate, and is the only one made in 1:35 plastic to my knowledge.
Due to the Type 14 ‘Nambu’ pistol being mold in the grip of the officer, detail and accuracy lacks, but an extra Nambu is included on the weapon sprue.
In order to model the officer brandishing the sword, it is necessary to cut the blade off the kit part and glue it to the hilt molded in the officer’s hand. You then have a spare hilt in case you want to model the sword in its scabbard.
The kit includes:
• 3 bayonet scabbards
• 4 frontal ammunition pouches
• 2 rear ammunition pouches
• 1 Type 92 steel helmet (with netting)
• 1 Type 92 steel helmet (with canvas covering)
• 2 field service caps
• 1 pair of sun curtains (for field cap)
• 3 canteens
• 1 felt-covered canteen
• 1 officer’s map case
• 4 haversacks
• 1 tool pouch (for LMG maintenance)
• 2 holsters for Type 14 ‘Nambu’ pistol
The rear ammunition pouches include the oiler, and are well sculpted. On the other hand, the frontal ammunition pouches are not satisfactory in detail. The Type 92 (1932) helmet netting is well defined and the field caps are very good in terms of thickness and detail. The sun curtain compliments the overall animation of the figure really well, they seem to flow very nicely and capture a sense of movement. Of the remaining standard equipment, the tool pouch for the Type 96 LMG gunner stands out as very thoughtful and a nice addition to the kit.
As the newest 1:35 Japanese infantry plastic kit to date, this is obviously the most accurate representation available on the market. Details are sharp in most cases, overall posing and animation is acceptable and some usable heads are provided. The kit suffers because of the very little optional/extra equipment and weaponry provided. As hard as the kit may be to purchase, I would recommend trying your best to get your hands on one simply for the LMG kit part, which is not provided by any other vendors.
Also take a look at other Japanese Infantry reviews by Chas:
Tamiya Japanese Army Infantry
Airfix Japanese Infantry