by: Mario Matijasic [ ]
After some really nice modern Russian figure releases, Sergey Traviansky, the creative force behind Evolution Miniatures, decided to venture into a completely new direction… the Vietnam War. The first release in the new line of Evolution figures is American Infantryman, Vietnam (EM-35017). Sergey announced several more US figures from this period and I must admit I’m really looking forward to seeing them… I’m pretty sure those figures would prove very popular among modelers.
The figure arrived in a well designed and very firm cardboard box. The box features a nicely painted box art and lists both the sculptor (Sergey Traviansky) and the painter (Oleg Drobov).
Upon closer inspection the figure looks absolutely fantastic. The figure consists of 11 resin parts which are perfectly cast in gray resin; the resin is completely clean of any imperfections... there are no air bubbles, no flash or seam lines. The parts include:
- full body with legs
- left arm
- right arm
- M14 weapon with the right hand attached
- knife/M6 bayonet
- two M26A1 fragmentation grenades
- two M18 smoke grenades
- M1942 machete
Casting plugs are intelligently placed, allowing easy clean up with minimal chance of damaging the detail. However, be careful when removing all the small and delicate parts from their carriers (particularly the machete) as they could easily snap or bounce off your modeling table only to become a tasty snack for your “carpet monster”.
The figure depicts a US grunt patrolling the Vietnam countryside. As with all Evolution figures, the fit of the pieces is excellent; if placed correctly there are almost no visible gaps between the pieces so minimal putty work is needed. The left hand grips the weapon very nicely, however be patient to test the fit before gluing the arms to the torso. My advice would be to join the arms to the torso first, making sure they fit correctly and then to add the weapon, securing the right hand well to the right arm and fitting the weapon handguard correctly to the left hand. There is also a number of small parts which can be attached to the figure… all the grenades, the knife and machete could add to the “Vietnam” look of the figure.
A good sense of balance makes the walking pose very natural and the anatomy of this figure is perfect. The details look amazing; boonie hat, equipment and uniform details, facial features, the weapon and the machete… all the details are definitely sculpted to a highest standard.
The figure wears tropical combat uniform which was introduced in 1963. Patterned after the WW2 parachutist’s uniform, the tropical combat uniform was made of cotton-poplin, which was suitable for Vietnam’s range of climates. The loosely fitting garments offered good protection against insects and other tropical hazards, as well as being cool and quick-drying. The tropical combat boots (“jungle boots”) were introduced to Vietnam alongside the tropical combat uniform. The boots were one of the most successful innovations of the war; the leather of most of the upper portion of the boot was replaced by cotton/nylon fabric which was cool and fast-drying. The figure wears a short-brim boonie hat, a very popular headgear during the Vietnam War as its low crown and semi rigid brim could be shaped to individual taste. The hat also featured an adjustable chin strap, foliage loops and ventilation eyelets. As for the equipment, the figure wears M1956 Individual Load Carrying Equipment (LCE). M1956 LCE was issued in 1957 and became the standard gear throughout the Vietnam War. Made from olive-green cotton-canvas, the M1956 system introduced a number of new concepts to personal equipment: securing items against the belt rather then hanging them from it thus eliminating the “bounce” effect of the old system. This figure wears typical M1956 equipment belt and suspenders, a universal small arms ammunition pouches on the front of the belt and two canteens on the back. The figure also carries the Indigenous Ranger Pack (ARVN rucksack) on its back. ARVN rucksack was very popular among US grunts because of its light weight and generous capacity. The ARVN rucksack was originally produced for South Vietnamese Rangers and was based on a captured North Vietnamese Army pack. One of the rucksack’s advantages was that it sat high on the back, allowing full use of the rear of the equipment belt, which was not the case with some US packs. This figure sports a rolled poncho liner secured under the ARVN pack. During the Vietnam War ammo for the weapon was often carried loaded into magazines in the cotton bandoleers draped around the chest or waist and by 1968 these bandoleers had become the most common way of carrying rifle ammunition. The figure wears one of these bandoleers around the chest; the bandoleer details are very nice and you can almost feel the weight of the ammo magazines. Also, the figure has first aid/compass pouch secured to the harness on the left shoulder. The separate pieces of the equipment in this kit include two M26A1 fragmentation grenades, which were usually carried on the universal ammo pouches, secured by their levers with a retaining strap passing through the safety rings, and two M18 colored smoke grenades. The M18s were available in yellow, green, red and violet; they were used to help helicopter pilots gauge wind direction as well as identifying enemy/friendly positions. The additional equipment also includes M6 bayonet and M1942 machete in its self sharpening sheath.
The figure is carrying M14 rifle; a gas operated, magazine fed, selective fire assault rifle. The weapon was adopted by US Army in the 1957 but the production was ceased by US Government in 1964, after the combat experience in Vietnam. The M14 was too long and too heavy to be carried all day long in hot and wet climate. The 7.62mm NATO ammunition was too heavy, limiting the amount of ammunition carried by soldiers on patrols. The selective fire capability was mostly useless, since the M14 was way too light for powerful cartridge it fired, and climbed excessively when fired in bursts… In general, the M14 was a very controversial weapon: it had the accuracy and range of the "old time" military rifles, but was too long, heavy and lacked the automatic fire firepower. Nevertheless, it was a reliable and powerful weapon, often favored by users for high lethality, long range and good penetration - features much appreciated by US soldiers even during recent operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
This figure is first in line of Vietnam War figures released by Evolution Miniatures… and I think it is going to spur a lot of interest among modelers. The figure is perfectly cast and the parts fit extremely well. The details on the uniform and equipment are spot on and the pose is very natural. Along with several other “grunts on patrol” announced by Evolution Miniatures, this figure could make an amazing vignette…
Thanks to Sergey from Evolution Miniatures for this review sample.
Vietnam: Us Uniforms in Colour Photographs (Europa Militaria); Kevin Lyles
Ground War Vietnam Vol1 1945-1965 (Squadron Publications); Jim Mesko
Ground War Vietnam Vol2 1965-1968 (Squadron Publications); Jim Mesko
Armies of the Vietnam War Vol1 (Osprey Publications); Lee Russel, Mike Chappell
Armies of the Vietnam War Vol2 (Osprey Publications); Philip Katcher, Mike Chappell
Vietnam Airborne (Osprey Publications); Gordon Rottman, Ron Volstad