by: Darren Baker [ ]
Back in 1982 the United Kingdom went to war with Argentina over a series of small islands in the South Atlantic Ocean called the Falkland Islands. The Argentines captured the islands very quickly overrunning the small garrison of Royal Marines who were instructed to surrender in order to prevent casualties to the native population. It is possible that the conflict would have ended there except for two things; Firstly Margaret Thatcher was the British Prime Minister, and secondly the Argentine forces made the mistake of publicly embarrassing the Royal Marines that surrendered by filming troops with their boots on the prone British troops, a bit like the great white hunter with his boot on the lion or tiger he just shot.
The outcome of this regardless of you viewpoint was that the British Armed Forces were sent to war in an impressive assortment of ships to retake the islands. I believe that just about every branch of the British Forces was represented. The Navy had the Fleet Air Arm who even sent a member of the British Royal Family to war (Prince Andrew flew helicopters), all of the crews of the various ships, the Royal Marines, and the S.B.S. The British Army had the SAS, the Parachute Regiment, Welsh Guards, The Ghurkhas, Army Air Corps, and the Royal Artillery to name but a few, and lastly the Royal Air Force flew several bombing missions with the Vulcan bomber and Victor tankers for refuelling. I plead ignorance as regards specific Argentine units other than I do remember a large number of them were conscripted troops.
This conflict has been largely ignored by the model manufacturers with the exception of the aircraft that took part. Blackdog has now addressed this oversight with the release of British Marines and Argentine Soldier Falklands 1982. The set I am reviewing here is titled the ‘Big Set’ and consists of four figures, the figures consist of three British Marines and an Argentine soldier. These figures are also available as individual purchases and as two pairs.
Each of the four figures supplied in this set are packaged in their own Ziploc bag and then packed in another Ziploc bag as a set before being packaged in a card box that should keep everything safe as they are also packed with polystyrene peanuts. All of the figures in this product are sculpted by Radek Tomanec. All of the figures in this product appear to me to be cleanly moulded with no obvious air bubbles I could detect.
The British in their long history have fielded some exceptional military units in their time, with the Royal Marines being one of those great military units which can trace its history back to 1664. The Special Boat Service or Squadron depending on time period are the navel equivalent of the British Army SAS. The three British figures in this set from Blackdog are I believe members of the SBS rather than Royal Marines, my main reason for that belief are the M16 rifles which was not the standard weapon issued to British forces whose personal weapon was the SLR. Don’t get me wrong that is not a complaint about the figures just an observation, also some of the personal kit such as boots are not British Forces issue of the time.
The figures have been tacked together using PVA glue only. I have not cleaned the parts up for assembly unless required for a mating surface; I have merely snapped them free of the pour plug. The only figure I found any issue with is the right arm of figure F35085 which does show a gap that will need work; otherwise I was extremely impressed with the joint of parts.
The first figure I am going to look at is available on its own as F35082 - British Marines Falklands 1982 and as part of a pair in set F35084 - British Marines Falklands 1982. The figure is made up of seven parts with the head and hands being separate from the complete body. The Bergen has a LAW stowed in the top with a ground mat stowed on the rear and supplied as a separate part. The uniform consists of the appropriate DPM smock and trouser of the period, however the smock has a hood which is indicative of the equipment worn in Norway when doing Arctic training (not many troops had this equipment due to the British government being caught out by the Argentine action) If I am correct in that belief then the jacket is a little short but it is a correct length for a standard issue smock, however I do not know of a smock like that with a hood.
The boots depicted are not British military issue and I believe they are a personal purchase item which is not that unusual among Special Forces. The gaiters depicted are an item I am unfamiliar with but they would be ideal for the cold boggy conditions on the Falkland Islands at the time of the conflict. The black woollen hat worn is another typical item from the Commando days; it won’t stop a bullet but it will help keep you warm. The hand and face detail is good and should look the part when pained. The M16 appears accurate but is bowed along its length, this is not going to be the hardest part to correct but drilling the end of the barrel will test the hand eye coordination.
The second figure is available on its own as F35083 - British Marines Falklands 1982 and as part of a pair in set F35084 - British Marines Falklands 1982. This figure shares all of the uniform attributes of the first figure and is the only one of the three to be depicted with his hood up. The moulding is again of a very high standard with none of the resin issues that can arise and has good definition. The facial and hand details are also very good with the fit of parts also being especially good and praise worthy. The Bergen is a similar load to the first figure except that the ground mat is moulded as an integral part of the Bergen. This figure is also packaged with a shovel and the handle of the shovel has broken, I do emphasize though that this is the only part and it is a very fine casting.
The GPMG does have an error in that the bipod has been attached to the weapon back to front, it is however correctly placed in terms of the area it occupies. One other issue with the GPMG is that the weapon is bowed over its length and will need straightening and the barrel tip will be a pig to drill due to its small size. The carry handle is supplied as a separate part and will help the look of the weapon. There has been some discussion reference how this weapon has been shown being carried, having never had to carry one any distance I cannot comment but with the addition of a scratched sling I believe some compromise can be reached.
The third figure is available on its own as F35085 - British Marines Falklands 1982 and as part of a pair in set F35087 - British Marines plus Argentine soldier. This third British figure is the easiest to build as it only consists of the torso with the legs attached, 2 arms, a head, and the M16 rifle, there is no Bergen with this figure. Moulding is again excellent being clean, crisp, and precise with no obvious faults. The fur trim around the hood of the smock is especially well done. The boots shown are again not standard British issue and I am guessing the local army surplus and camping store did a roaring trade; as I have said before it is common for British special forces to be wearing none regulation kit.
The hand and facial details are again good, but the ears do look a little poorly defined. Clothing and the limited equipment being carried all looks appropriate to me with the smock again being a little short on length if it depicts the piece of kit I believe it to be. The trousers look to be tucked into the boots and have good crease detail, however this figure does not have the gaiters depicted on the two other British figures. The M16 rifle in this offering is straight or true whichever term you prefer and has good detail but again the barrel does not have a hollow tip that I can see.
The last figure I am going to look at is the Argentine soldier which is available on its own as F35086 - Argentine soldier Falklands 1982, and in set F35087 - British Marines plus Argentine soldier. The figure only consists of two parts with torso arms and legs as a one piece moulding and a separate head. The fit of the head to the body is excellent and should not require any remedial action once cemented in place. The facial detail on the figure is well defined, the expression is that of a person who is cold and miserable. The uniform is fairly basic in the form that appears to consist of light weight trousers and a light winter hooded jackets, the crease detail is good as is the boot detail. The pour plug on the boots should be easy to remove and clean up; the pour plug on the head is easily snapped off leaving a small area to clean up. This figure while depicted as a prisoner in the set would be equally at home stood near a brazier with his weapon lent up against something.
As someone who remembers the Falkland Islands Conflict very well it is good to see the ground troops that took part on both sides finally getting some recognition from the model companies. While these British troops are listed as British Marines I do feel that the description would be better shown as SBS or SAS members but at the very least listed as Royal Marines. It is a pity that the Argentine soldier is depicted as a prisoner, but it does leave scope for further releases of combatants from both sides. It is my sincere hope that Blackdog continues to expand upon these releases covering the Parachute Regiment, the Ghurkha’s, Royal Marines, and Guards regiments to name but a few.
I would also like to see the Argentine forces represented in a more meaningful way as they do deserve recognition for their involvement. When faced with the likes of the Parachute Regiment and the Ghurkha’s whose reputation is well known, and with some of the stories that got around especially about the Nepalese Ghurkha’s during World War Two I would not have wanted to face off against them. Blackdog has done a fantastic job with these initial four figures and I hope that they sell well and encourage further releases from the same conflict zone. There are some minor questionable attributes which is mostly to do with stance rather than content, but that is nothing that should bother most and with some minor work could be made to satisfy most. I very highly recommend these figures from Blackdog.