by: Mario Matijasic [ ]
Introduction:Airborne Miniatures releasing another US Special Forces figure? Not really surprising news for all those familiar with the work of Maciek Rebkowski, a one-man-band behind Airborne Miniatures. Maciek definitely loves sculpting modern US SF Operatives; this review describes one of his latest 1/35 scale figure kits: US Special Forces with captured Taliban (AIRM-3507).
Review:The kit is safely packed in a firm cardboard box featuring nicely painted boxart picture, with zip-lock bag containing pieces for two figures additionally protected in bubble wrap. After opening the bag I found 21 kit pieces cast in light cream resin… quite a lot of parts for a pair of 1/35 scale figures, especially considering the Taliban figure is a single piece cast. The SF Operative figure parts are:
- lower body with both legs,
- head with helmet,
- left arm,
- right arm,
- left and right boot,
- various MOLLE pouches and backpack (8x),
- M4 weapon parts (4x).
I have to add that figure's right hand is cast with the main M4 part, thus ensuring a firm grip on the weapon, while its left hand is sculpted holding the Taliban figure.
All pieces in the kit are nicely cast, but I did find two small air-bubbles on the Taliban figure... some putty and the problem is solved. Large casting plugs can present more of a problem as they could be difficult to remove, especially on the smaller and delicate pieces, so take your time and be patient while cleaning the figure. The fit of the parts is very good, but some might find the figure build-up a bit complex… Maciek likes to break down his figures in many parts and this kit is no exemption. I don't mind the extra work as all the separate pieces allow modelers to kitbash new figures using various parts from different Airborne Miniatures figure kits. Be careful when building the weapon; it is made of 4 tiny parts, but once you manage to clean them and fit them correctly, the M4 turns into a real gem.
The figure represents a US Special Forces Operative taking blindfolded Taliban to captivity. The SF figure wears ACU cut uniform which is these days often issued in MultiCam pattern instead of the pixilated Universal Camouflage Pattern (UCP). Designed to work in multiple environments (desert, woodland and urban), MultiCam pattern came out on top in US Army testing back in 2004, but still somehow lost the race to replace previous US Army camouflage patterns to pixilated UCP. However, MultiCam pattern has been newly commissioned in 2010 and will be replacing UCP by US Army units serving in Afghanistan. US SF soldiers in Afghanistan were the first to receive MultiCam camouflaged uniforms and so far the response has been extremely positive. The figure is also wearing Eagle Industries’ Combat Integrated Releasable Armor System (CIRAS), the common body armor/carrier choice for US Special Forces. CIRAS vest is fitted with PALS webbing and accommodates MOLLE accessories and pouches. Some of the gear is sculpted on the vest: double M4 ammo pouches (4x), utility pouch and map/document case. All the other equipment is cast separately so the modeler can decide for himself on the optimal gear setup for this figure. Extra equipment includes: triple pistol magazine pouch, grenade pouches (2x), radio pouch, utility pouches (3x) and small assault backpack. The secondary firearm is included in holster which attaches to heavy duty belt. The figure wears Modular Integrated Communication Helmet (MICH) TC-2000 equipped with Norotos NVG mount base. Special Forces Operatives usually spray camouflage paint on their helmets and add various patches to them as well… This helmet has velcro applied to both sides just above ear flaps for attachment of US flag patches. As for the communication devices, the figure is sporting SF ComTac Headset, specifically designed to fit MICH. You will need some thin brass wire for adding microphone boom and headset wiring to get the perfect communication system for this figure.
As for the weapon, the figure carries SOPMOD M4A1 carbine. The SOPMOD kit includes Rail Interface System (RIS) instead of the standard handguards and a wide variety od add-on goodies, such as various optical sights, laser pointers, sound suppressor, M203 grenade launcher, detachable front grip, tactical lights etc.... SOPMOD kit allows SF Operatives to configure their weapons to individual preferences and mission requirements. The M4A1 supplied in the kit is broken into 4 parts: weapon body and buttstock (with AN/PEQ-2 IR Aiming Laser and Illuminator and figure’s right hand attached), the front sight and barrel, tactical foregrip, and Aimpoint ECOS-N red dot reflex sight. All the parts are extremely delicate, but if you are patient when building the weapon you are going to end up with a really nice M4A1 SOPMOD rendition.
The Taliban figure wears a traditional Afghani outfit of long knee-length dress with baggy trousers called parahan tunban, which literally means "dress and trouser". The outfit is complemented with locally-made field jacket, similar to US M65 jacket.
Conclusion:This is a very nice figure set representing US Special Forces Operative with captured Taliban prisoner. Sculpted by very talented Maciek Rebkowski, the anatomy of both figures looks great with the poses well balanced, realistic and natural. The facial details are nicely defined as well, but this kit really shines when it comes to uniform and equipment of the SF Operative... researched to the tiniest detail and sculpted to perfection, all pieces of equipment are extremely well rendered. The cast is great with minimal imperfections and the fit of the parts is really good. The build is a bit complex as there are 20 pieces comprising SF figure, but the patience is well worth it in the end... this kit will definitely become a beautiful model when completed.
References: Special Forces: War Against Terrorism in Afghanistan (Historie&Collections), Eric Micheletti
Special Forces: War Against Saddam Hussein (Historie&Collections), Eric Micheletti