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In-Box Review
USMC Force Recon Afghanistan

by: Peter Ong [ TRISAW ]

By Airborne Miniatures of Poland. Note that this figure is 049 and is made before Airborne Miniatures's U.S. Army in Afghanistan (kit #050). As such, the USMC M4 guns are in three pieces compared to the M4 in the Army version which is one piece (an improvement).Kit contents:• Legs• Boots• 2 torsos• Pistol• M4/M203• 4 arms• Pouches• Clear styrene• M4• Flexcuffs• 4 canteens• Smoke grenade• Buttpack• AN/PVS-17• Head with helmetOverviewFinally, a company has produced a modern U.S. Y2K soldier. The company is Airborne Miniatures of Poland and the figure depicts a U.S. Marine in “Operation Enduring Freedom,” Afghanistan 2002.Not only is this figure an historical event in the figure modeling industry, it also represents many “firsts.” I’m happy to say that these “firsts” appear very accurate. Upon inspection of this kit, two things pop out at me: The thinking involved and the generosity apparent in the kit (more on this later).A nice plaster base is included for the figure, just as the photo shows.For sales, email Maciej "Maciek" Rebkowski (owner) at: [email protected]Not (yet) available in the United States (no distributor) .Airmail to the United States takes 10-14 business days. Delivery to Europe takes a shorter time. Service is very good. I'm not affiliated with Airborne Miniatures in any way.

The Figure

This kit gives the modeler an option: Construct a figure holding a M4 with M203 40mm grenade launcher or a figure holding just an M4 carbine. The sculptor is wise and generous to include plenty of ammo for the M203, in this case a whole vest-full of 40mm ammo pouches! All the parts are included to make either figure option so this also means it’s possible to use the spare torso, arms, and gun to kitbash another 120mm modern figure!First off, let me say that I’ve never seen such a 120mm modern figure so well and cleverly thought out. This figure truly depicts the real U.S. fighting man in a Real World environment.The figure is exceptionally well crafted and cast; there are no sinkholes or seamlines and the detail is crisp with wrinkles flowing realistically over the uniform. The white resin is of a high-density impact type and feels more like plastic than hard (brittle) resin.The legs are cast in one-piece with kneepads and straps molded on. The right leg has a molded-on strap for the thigh pistol while the left thigh has two molded-on straps and two molded-on M4 ammo pouches of decent scale. The detail and appearance rivals Verlinden quality, truly sharp with deep wrinkles.As stated, this kit includes two torsos (both “firsts”). Both torsos have are Point Blank's Full Spectrum Battle Equipment (F.S.B.E.) body armor vests of the Special Operations Forces Equipment Advanced Requirements (SPEAR) design with one having the Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment (MOLLE) vest. Both SPEAR and MOLLE vests have sewn on loops that allow the soldier to mount anything from ammo pouches to canteens to small packs using slip-on clips. The one with the MOLLE vest and snap fasteners is intended for the 40mm grenade pouches. The molding of both the loops and harness straps are exceptionally crisp and the loops line up perfectly as on the real vest. Both vests seem pretty thick, indicating that the ceramic plate body armor is underneath. For the SPEAR/ MOLLE 40mm grenade torso, large M4 ammo pouches are included for the web belt. For the SPEAR torso, M4 vest pouches are included for the torso. This means that no matter which torso the modeler decides to chose, this figure is going to be armed for bear with ammo on the torso, web belt, and left thigh!Fit seems nice for there are no pins-to-holes to complicate anything. All gluing surfaces are smooth and flat although some modelers may wish to drill holes and use wire to pin the figure.

The Gear and the Guns

This figure knows “how to pack to survive!” The gear consists of 20 40mm grenade pouches for the MOLLE vest. There are also four torso M4 ammo pouches and two huge web belt pouches for ammo, maps, GPS receiver, small knife, or what have you.Two smaller torso pouches are included for various items and the kit also gives you two compass pouches as well. As if that’s not enough storage, a buttpack is included to offer the modeler a sense that perhaps a radio, mini flashlight, first-aid kit, survival radio, and various survival items go in there. If real, this figure is truly “self-sufficient” in combat.The figure still is not fully combat equipped yet so provided is a smoke grenade, two flex cuffs, and four canteens (of which maybe each torso has two). And to top it all off, two heavy gloves are included as well.The sculptor also had insight to prepare the figure for “night fighting,” so on the helmet mount is the newest night vision device, the AN/PVS-17 Mini Night Vision Sight (a “first”) which can also be mounted on the M4 too.The Guns:The M4/M203 gun is molded in pieces consisting of buttstock, center, barrel with rails, muzzle, and M203. Hands are molded-on gripping the M203 and M4 trigger.

The Arms and the Head

The arms are devoid of any unit insignias, which is realistic given that the Force Recon is considered Special Forces and thus likes to remain anonymous. Research also went into the arms for the pockets are different than standard BDUs.The head has the new MICH helmet and Oakley Tactical Goggles molded on (all “firsts”). Airborne Miniatures even included a clear styrene strip with the shape of the goggle outlined in black (and yet another “first”)! Thus the modeler can paint the eyes and then glue on the clear plastic sheet over the goggle—almost like the figure is wearing real goggles! Only one head is included so anyone wishing to use the spare torso for a kitbash will have to provide another 120mm head. Two thin well-detailed pieces are included for the AN/PVS-17 MNVS (“first” again) but I’m unsure if they can be glued to put the MNVS over the figure’s eye although I don’t see why not.

Conclusion et al

I think this review speaks for itself. There are so many “firsts” incorporated in this figure that it’s almost a record-setting figure. I’d thought I have to buy several modern figures to get the gear and equipment built-into this one. Furthermore, this figure is accurately and appropriately loaded for bear and also for “his” own survival. Airborne Miniature’s owner was both intelligent in the figure’s design as well as extremely generous in providing all the gear necessarily to depict the actual fighting Force Recon Marine. According to my Marine source, the Force Recon Marines are indeed gifted with lots of resources and “toys” that the regular Marines don’t usually see.Airborne Miniatures has outdistanced the current 120mm competition and raised the bar extremely high—as high as the mountains of Afghanistan in this case. This along with Airborne Miniatures's U.S. Army Afghanistan are perhaps the most modern 120mm figures on the market today.Construction note: I built this figure during Christmas 2002 and the fit requires large amounts of putty to fill in the gap at the back of the web belt (torso) and legs (waist) and at the wrist of the hand holding the barrel to the arm. The rest of the figure fits pretty well and since the buttpack covers the rear of the figure, one can't see the putty anyway. Gluing the three-piece gun yields a rather delicate assembly so I recommend the modeler doesn't handle this figure too much after construction. Rating is based on Inbox Review only and not the Construction Review.Photos by Maciek CZma/ Inn Ping. Posted with permission.References:Pushies, Fred J. “Weapons of Delta Force.” St. Paul: MBI Publishing, 2002.Miller, David. “The Illustrated Directory of Modern American Weapons.” London: Salamander Press, 2002www.specwargear.comITT Industries Night Vision brochurePoint Blank Body Armor website
There are so many “firsts” incorporated in this figure that it’s almost a record-setting figure.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 120mm
  Mfg. ID: AIRM-12049
  Suggested Retail: 27.00 USD
  PUBLISHED: Mar 27, 2003
  NATIONALITY: United States

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About Peter Ong (Trisaw)

I model modern topics, mainly post 1991 Gulf War onwards. My modeling interests include: * Science-fiction/ fantasy * 1/100 Gundam * 1/35 armor * Kitbashed projects * Special Forces * Resin or plastic modern figures * 1/24 Police, fire, medical, and Government vehicles * Rare, unique, ori...

Copyright ©2021 text by Peter Ong [ TRISAW ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of Historicus Forma or Silver Star Enterprises. All rights reserved.


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