by: Mario Matijasic [ ]
Battalion Models is one of the newest Russian resin figure companies. I learned about Battalion quite accidentally, browsing the Internet for modern Russian figures… among several WW2 subjects I noticed two sets of modern figures sculpted by Sergey Menelaev. As I recognized the name of the sculptor, I knew the figures were destined to be a part of my grey army. Moreover, since I already had several figures made by Sergey, I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed with their quality.
The figures arrived safely packed; a very sturdy cardboard was used to protect the box itself and zip-lock bags inside the box were additionally protected with bubble wrap. The front of the box features nicely painted box art and lists both the sculptor (Sergey Menelaev) and the painter (Tatyana Podrutskaya). The base is included in this set, making it a “limited edition” kit.
The parts for two figures and the base are packed inside 6 zip-lock bags. After opening the bags I was amazed as the figures look great and have loads of details. The addition of the base is a very nice touch making this set ideal for a simple yet very effective vignette. All the parts are cast in gray resin and are almost completely clean of any imperfections: there are no air bubbles but I did find couple of minor seam lines… some careful sanding and the problem is solved. Be patient while removing casting plugs as couple of them are attached to kit pieces in awkward places. Removing such big carriers could result in damaging the detail, particularly on the netted helmet. The overall fit of the pieces is very good although I did have to use putty when joining the arms to the torso… I guess I have caused the fit problem myself as I probably removed too much of the casting plug on the arms thus creating several gaps. Placement of the carriers in a different manner would probably make cleaning these figures much more enjoyable for the average modeler. Anyway, take your time and be careful to avoid putty work as much as you can. You should also be patient while cleaning the weapons and ammo belt as they are very delicate.
The kit contains two figures and a really cool base making this set ideal for a stand alone Chechnya vignette. The anatomy of both figures is perfect and the poses of two tired soldiers relaxing after a fierce battle are very natural.
The figures represent Russian soldiers during the first Chechen war. They are wearing typical winter uniform consisting of the lined jacket and trousers. I’m not completely sure about the designation of the uniform, but I did find some facts about it. The jacket is made of cotton and has four pockets on the body and has one small pocket on the upper part of each sleeve. The elbows are reinforced and the button plaquette is covered with the exception of the throat button. The jacket lining is removable; it can be attached for additional warmth and has a fur collar that is exposed over the collar of the jacket. The fur collar can be turned up to protect the head from the freezing cold. The trousers are also lined and made of cotton; they have a pocket on each thigh and have draw-in ties on each cuff of the leg. The first winter uniform models were issued in tan color and later variants were camouflaged in TTsKO and VSR pattern (also known as “Schofield”), which were later replaced by Flora camouflage pattern. It has to be noted however, that Russian camouflage is notorious for being produced in a wide range of color combinations, usually because of general lack of standardization throughout the Russian textile industry. The figures are wearing fragmentation body armor that was generally issued to Russian troops at the time of the first Chechen war. I found a ZH-86 designation for this type of body armor and as far as I know this kind of body armor was not camouflaged, but in khaki or greenish color. It is amazing how the sculptor captured the “feel” of the heavy-weight uniform and the body armor. The folds are in the places where they should be, the fur collars are very nicely rendered, high top boots look great… there is even a knitted pattern on the gloves. The level of details on these figures really is astonishing.
Both figures have ammo belts draped around their shoulders; the belt is partly cast on the figure while the rest has to be recreated using the ammo belt supplied with the kit. The flak vest and pouches have sculpting marks so the placement of ammo belts would be made easier. As you can see, I didn’t fix the belts to the figures when taking pictures… the reason is simple: I didn’t want to glue belts to the figures as it would make painting the details much harder afterwards. Fixing the belts with small lumps of epoxy putty turned out to be pretty awkward with the lumps masking the fine ammo belt details. However, I can assure you the well placed ammo belts are complimenting the figures really well, giving them an appearance of real soldiers on the frontline.
I also have to mention the figure head sculpts. Both heads look really good and each figure has its own individual facial details cleanly sculpted and well defined. The figures are wearing M-60 helmets over knitted caps, a usual practice of Russian soldiers during the cold winter months in Chechnya.
The first figure depicts a soldier resting on a BTR wheel. It consists of 4 major body parts (the body, both arms and the head) and the weapon. The figure is armed with PKM, a gas operated, belt fed, air cooled machine gun. Standard ammo belts have a capacity of 100 rounds and are fed from special steel boxes which can be clamped under the receiver of the PKM for better mobility. The PKM is fitted with a skeleton buttstock made from wood and fitted with a hinged buttplate, and a wooden pistol grip. The rear part of the buttstock houses an accessory / cleaning kit, and a disassembled cleaning rod is stored in the right leg of the bipod. A folding bipod is fitted to the gas tube below the barrel. The fit of the figure parts is very good although I did create couple of gaps between the arms and the torso during the cleanup. I would suggest placing the weapon on the knees of the figure first and then securing the arms to the figure. Also, be sure to dry fit the arms before gluing the parts together.
The second figure consists of 4 parts: the body, the head, left arm and the weapon. This figure is armed with AKS-74, the airborne version of AK-74 with the folding butt, which fits to the hand perfectly. You can also use RPG-22 with this figure, hanging it on its back. Both weapons are very nicely cast with great details. I particularly liked the helmet on this figure and it is a shame that some of the netting can be lost after cleaning the large resin plug. I was very careful with the cleaning so I managed to reconstitute some of the intricate details of the netting without using putty.
The base supplied with the kit is simple but very effective; it provides a possibility of a nice two figure Chechnya vignette. The BTR wheel is perfectly rendered with amazing small details on the hub… the figures fit to the base is very good.
The lack of modern Russian figures was pretty obvious in the last couple of years. Now, that niche is being filled by several new Russian figure manufacturers... Battalion Models figures described in this review are simply wonderful, sculpted by a very talented sculptor and superbly cast with amazing attention to details. As stated in the previous Battalion Models review, the only real problem I see with these figures is their availability. They are still pretty hard to get (Bronya35.ru is the only dealer I know selling Battalion figures through Western Union), making them less known among figure modelers. As soon as the figures hit the international market in greater quantity, I’m sure they are going to become a new hit in the figure modeling world.
Thanks to Evgeny of Battalion Models for this review sample.
Camouflage Uniforms of the Soveit Union and Russia (Schiffer Publishing); Dennis Desmond