by: Mario Matijasic [ ]
“The battalion sniper squad is a modular organization consisting of a squad leader and two similarly equipped three-man sniper teams. Each team, consisting of the team leader, one sniper, and one observer, is capable of providing the battalion with a full range of sniper support. The team is equipped with both the M24 7.62-mm sniper rifle (providing antipersonnel fires out to 800 meters) and the .50-caliber XM107 sniper rifle (providing antipersonnel and anti-equipment fires beyond 800 meters). The spotter is usually the most experienced member of the sniper team. It's the spotter's job to make sure the shooter is set up. The spotter calls the range and the "windage," or how much wind is blowing and which way. Once dialed in, the shooter says he's ready, and the spotter leans in to monitor the shot. The third member of the sniper team is equipped with an M203 rifle system to provide protection and security for the sniper and his spotter as well as a means to break contact if the team is compromised.” (citation from http://www.globalsecurity.com)
Snipers Group, 82nd Airborne Division is a 3-figure kit released by NATO in Miniatures and it depicts a US sniper team in Middle Eastern theater of operations.
The figure kit arrived in a well designed and firm cardboard box. The box is printed in ACU pattern, features nicely painted box art picture and lists both the sculptor (Dmitri Shevtsov) and the painter (Dmitri Baev). 3 zip-lock bags, each holding resin pieces for building one figure, are additionally protected inside foam wrap. The kit contains a total of 60 parts altogether… quite impressive, even for such an extensive 3-figure kit.
The casting quality of all NATO in Miniatures figures I had the chance to review so far was very high and this set is no exception; the parts are molded in grey resin and are almost completely clean of any imperfections. I did notice several thin seam lines, but nothing serious… some careful sanding and the problems are solved.
The assembly of the figures is pretty straightforward and the fit really good. Each figure consists of 6 major pieces (full body with legs, two arms, head, helmet and weapon) and a ton of extra equipment. I always like to dry-fit the main figure parts, particularly the torso, arms and the weapon, to find the optimal position of those pieces before actually opening the glue bottle. Small protrusions and holes help in positioning the parts properly. I would suggest attaching the arms to the torso and then fitting the weapon… it could take some time to get it right, but the result is definitely worth the extra hassle. Each figure also has number of separately cast equipment included (MOLLE utility pouches, FRAG grenade pouches, canteen, communications gear, dose meter and bayonet) and those can be attached to the body armor in any way you choose fit. However, just a word of advice here... the ALICE canteen and what seems to be M1 bayonet were outdated long before OEF/OIF operations, so I would not use those parts with these figures. Also, I could not identify the comm gear, or the purpose of the dose meter, and I feel those pieces are useless as well.
Although the figures sport almost identical gear, there are distinct features of each figure as well:
The first figure from this set is also sold separately under NATO in Miniatures label as American Sniper 82nd Airborne Division (USA-011). This figure wears Army Combat Uniform (ACU) and Improved Outer Tactical Vest (IOTV) with ballistic collar added. Triple pistol magazine pouch is sculpted on the IOTV, while five MOLLE M4 magazine pouches are cast separately and need to be bent a bit for the optimal fit to the vest. MOLLE utility pouches and FRAG grenade pouches can be added to IOTV as well. The large tactical Eberlestock sniper drag bag is worn as a backpack and can accommodate most full-length sniper rifles, with extra ammo, log book and cleaning kit secured in 3 large removable pockets on the front. Two different Modular Integrated Communication Helmet (MICH) versions are included with this figure; one of them with the NVG mount and the other with goggles inside protective cover. The figure also features knee pads, tactical gloves, combat boots and drop leg holster.
The figure carries M4A1 carbine fitted with Rail Interface System (RIS) and several SOPMOD add-ons attached: AN/PEQ infrared illuminator, Aimpoint optics and tactical forward grip.
The second figure, also sold separately under NATO in Miniatures label as American Sniper 82nd Airborne Division (USA-012), wears ACU and Interceptor Body Armor (IBA) with groin protector added. This figure has most of the pouches sculpted on the IBA: four M4 magazine pouches, two FRAG grenade pouches and MOLLE utility pouch. Again, extra MOLLE pouches can be added to the body armor. A bandolier holding 12x 40mm grenades is secured to the belt and drop leg pouch is strapped to figure's left thigh. Large sniper drag bag is worn as a backpack. This figure also includes two different Modular Integrated Communication Helmet (MICH) versions; one of them featuring the NVG mount and the other featuring goggles inside protective cover. The figure also sports knee pads, tactical gloves, combat boots and drop leg holster.
The figure carries M4A1 carbine fitted with Rail Interface System (RIS) and number of SOPMOD accessories attached: AN/PEQ infrared illuminator, Trijicon ACOG scope and M203 grenade launcher.
The last figure is also sold separately under NATO in Miniatures label as American Sniper-Spotter 82nd Airborne Division (USA-013). Again, the figure wears ACU and IBA, but this figure also sports Modular Low Profile Chest Rig. The Rig holds M4 magazines in an open-pouch configuration using elastic pull tab retainers. Triple pistol magazine pouch is attached on the front and extra MOLLE pouches supplied with the figure can be added to the system. A bandolier with 40mm grenades is secured below the chest harness. Medium Assault Pack with the radio communication gear is worn on the back, with separately cast handset which can be secured to the IBA. The pack can also be fitted with spotting equipment included in the kit. This figure also includes two different Modular Integrated Communication Helmet (MICH) versions; one of them with the NVG mount and the other with goggles and their protective cover. The figure also features knee pads, tactical gloves, combat boots and drop leg holster.
The figure carries M4A1 carbine fitted with standard handguards, Aimpoint scope and M203 grenade launcher.
The sculptor did a great job on the kneeling poses, which are very similar but with slight differences just enough to make each figure a unique subject. I was amazed with the level of details sculpted on the uniforms and equipment... all the ACU details are present and wonderfully executed with folds sculpted very naturally, the equipment looks great and comparing them to the reference pictures I found a good match. Heads are sculpted really well with facial features nicely defined. Dmitri Shevtsov is definitely one of my favorite sculptors and I'm glad his talent is available for NATO in Miniatures to produce such high quality figures. Well done guys!
This figure kit is great in so many ways: the anatomy is spot on and the poses nicely balanced. The parts are cast really well and the fit is very good. The assembly is pretty straightforward, so you shouldn't have any problems with building the figures. Uniforms and equipment are sculpted to the highest level possible and head sculpts are very nicely defined. The only thing I don't like in this kit are some of the equipment accessories which are of older type and should not be used with the figures.
This kit gives you all you need for building a US Army sniper group trio, but the best part is that with another set of backpacks these sniper figures can be turned into almost any kind of Army unit you'd like.