In 2002-2003, prior to OIF, Singaporean Deyun Hobbies commissioned Justin Young (a Scottish freelance sculptor) to sculpt a series of 120mm modern US soldiers exclusively for Deyun Hobbies to retail. Deyun Hobbies bought the rights, molds, masters, and the permission to sell these figures under its own brand. Therefore, Deyun Hobbies’ 120mm OEF figures are original kits using the original molds, not recasts or stolen property.
This 120mm "US Army Sniper, 101st Airborne” kit is one of the commissioned works from Mr. Young exclusively for Deyun Hobbies.
The M-14 Battle Rifle:
The M-14 Battle Rifle, long shunned and ignored by the US Armed Forces except for use with the ceremonial Honor Guard role and within the US Navy SEALs (and some Delta Force Operators), has seen a mass reintroduction within the US conventional Armed Forces for three main reasons: superior ballistics, range, and accuracy.
Firefights with the Taliban in the Afghan mountains highlighted the fact that the 5.56mm M-16A2 and M4 carbine, the staple weapons within the US military, lack range and penetrating power when compared to the 7.62mm AK-47. US soldiers discovered that the AK-47-wielding Taliban could shoot at them far outside the range of the American M-series 5.56mm rifles. Since the rugged Afghanistan terrain prevented the use or armor and vehicles to provide heavy direct fire-support, the only man-portable weapon within conventional forces that could match the AK-47’s range was the 7.62mm M240 Medium Machine Gun.
Reenter the 7.62mm M-14 sniper rifle. With its 20-round magazine, scope, and superior accuracy, US forces could finally return effective fire out to over 800 meters whereas the 5.56mm M-series rifles could only reach out to around 500 meters. Furthermore, the M-14, being a battle rifle, and not a specialized sniper rifle, didn’t require the match-grade ammunition, handling, or unit issuance as a dedicated bolt-action sniper rifle.
At the time of writing, Deyun Hobbies’ 120mm “US Army Sniper, 101st Airborne” is the only 120mm modern US figure armed with a M-14 rifle.
Since this kit is yet to be advertised for sale on Deyun Hobbies’ website, my review sample came in a desert camouflaged box devoid of printed box photo and title. The title and product number was hand-written in black ink. This kit may have a new box once listed for sale.
Opening the box reveals two clear plastic zipper-bags containing the kit’s parts surrounded by Styrofoam popcorn.
One bag holds the following parts for the figure: Head with molded-on Kevlar helmet with four-point chinstrap, sand goggles in front with night-vision goggle mounting bracket behind it, goggle cover in back, and knit cap under helmet,
Kneeling legs with molded-on kneepads, boots, and thigh holster attachment pad and straps,
Torso with molded-on Interceptor Body Armor, sweatshirt with zipper (neck area), and MOLLE II load-bearing vest (LBV) with three molded-on MOLLE II vest ammo pouches and one PAGST 9mm pistol ammo pouch,
9mm pistol in Eagle SAS-MK6 ABN black plastic thigh holster,
Left arm with sweatshirt texture,
Right arm with sweatshirt texture,
M-14 with Picatinny rail interface system on top of bolt and left and right hand molded-on,
Two MOLLE II canteens with covers.
One large MOLLE II pouch, and
One MOLLE II vest ammo pouch.
The parts are exceptionally cast in light gray resin. All the details are remarkably crisp, right down to the diamond mesh for the MOLLE LBV. The MOLLE loops are well-defined, uniform, and evenly-spaced. The LBV straps and buckles also receive the same attention to craftsmanship. I overlaid the M-14’s magazine over the vest ammo pouches; the pouches are large enough to contain the magazine inside. A nice feature is the turtleneck sweatshirt with subtle texturing and zipper detail, indicating that this 101st sniper indeed operates in the cold mountains. True to what a real soldier would do, the figure has the IBA going over the sweatshirt and the LBV over the IBA. The arms also show this subtle “sweatshirt” texturing.
The kneeling legs also look nice with exquisitely crisp details and near flawless casting. There may be a period-size lump or bump that may require sanding off. I appreciate how the boots are molded on because the modeler doesn’t have to worry about the boots breaking off at the attachment point. As the photo shows, the legs rest perfectly balanced on any flat surface. I test-fitted the torso to the legs and the fit is perfect. Mr. Young even dented a MOLLE vest pouch to conform to the shape of the raised left leg. The head fits well into the torso hole.
The head deserves special mention. This face really does resemble a late teenager. One eye squints whereas the other one is open as he takes aim. I would be curious to know if the M-14’s scope goes right up to the eye, a question only answered with construction. The head has a sagging knit cap under the helmet that covers the eyebrows before disappearing under the side bulges of the helmet. The head’s pour block seems a bit too integrated into the helmet; one has to take care when cutting it off and ensure that the cut matches the curve of the helmet.
The Eagle SAS-MK6 ABN black plastic thigh holster holds a 9mm Beretta as evident by the grip details. The grip’s grooves are crisp and straight.
This figure also sports the latest MOLLE II pouch and canteens with camouflage covers and straps with SNAP-TITE plastic clips. As a side note, over the years, soldiers have learned to dislike and disprove MOLLE II gear as being less rugged and more complex to use than the older ALICE gear, hence in subsequent years, ALICE gear has been mixed with MOLLE II gear, pouches, and IBA. If one looks closely under the flaps of the vest ammo pouches, one can see the outline of the magazine clips.
M-14 RIFLE ACCESSORY OVERVIEW
The other clear plastic bag contains the accessories for the M-14: Long 10X scope
Shorter 10X scope
Two scope covers
Plate for attaching the bipod to the M-14
One M-14 barrel with standard M-14 front sight and flash suppressor
One M-14 barrel with taller leaf iron sight and longer flash suppressor
The kit comes with two options for the M-14: “standard” and “special.” There are two types of scopes, one being longer than the other. One scope looks like the Leopold 10X whereas the other resembles the Unertl 10X scope. Scope covers are provided for only one scope. There are also two types of barrels, one being the standard one, and the other with a taller front leaf sight and longer flash suppressor and what appears to be an attachment point for a bayonet. All parts are crisp, detailed, and devoid of runs, gouges, or flash. One of the legs on my bipod is slightly bent, but nothing that can’t be straightened out in hot water.
Some modelers who have looked at the photos have informed me that the M-14 appears too small. I compared the 120mm M-14's barrel thickness and height to a 120mm M4A1 carbine and the sizes are about the same although I don't know in Real Life if the two guns share the same size in terms of barrel thickness or height. I also overlaid a DML M-14 over a DML M4 carbine, but couldn't draw any conclusions as to gun height or barrel thickness.
Deyun Hobbies’s “101st Airborne M-14 Sniper” has all the trademarks of a winner.
It has all the usual features that a modern US soldier should have: plenty of ammo and gear, primary and secondary weapons, and special features to denote the operating environment. Best of all, the 101st Airborne M-14 sniper looks the part. “He” wears a Kevlar helmet and body armor because he’s Army Airborne, and yet he carries a lighter belt load and no heavy backpack to denote he’s a more mobile sniper. As of January 2007, Deyun Hobbies is the only place one can find and buy this exclusive figure.
My thanks go to Deyun Hobbies for sending the review samples.