by: Mario Matijasic [ ]
Introduction:I became a big fan of Special Ops Models ever since I first saw their amazing US Navy SEAL figure in 1/9 scale. This masterpiece was sculpted by Alan Ball and Andy Meyers, and it is still one of the best figures I have in my stash.
I was very excited to hear Andy was working on a new 1/9 scale figure, this time a US sniper armed with Barrett long range sniper rifle. After seeing the first photos of the bust, I knew this one will be a winner... and I knew I had to get it. So, here is the review of "Special Forces Sniper, Afghanistan" (SFS-922) kit, in my opinion a true piece of art.
The figure:The kit arrived safely packed inside a very firm cardboard box. The front of the box features box art picture comprising of full figure image and several smaller images of figure details. The box also lists both artists who sculpted this masterpiece: Alan Ball and Andy Meyers. Styrofoam packing peanuts protect the contents of the box; 5 zip-lock bags with resin parts, 1 zip-lock bag with extras (decals, lead foil, lead wire and brass cord), brass bust mounting rod and an additional leaflet featuring more pictures of the figure.
The kit comprises of 31 resin parts. Cast in grey resin the parts are molded really well; there are no air-bubbles but I did find couple of minor seam lines… those should not be difficult to remove with some careful sanding. Several parts in this kit are extremely delicate so take care while cleaning them from their casting blocks.
The anatomy of the figure looks really good. The only issue I have with this bust is the right arm which appears a bit off. I think the problem could be in the right elbow; it seems to be pushed a bit too far making the arm look slightly awkward. I must admit I don’t see anything wrong with the right arm position on the box art pictures though, and the problem could be far less noticeable once the entire right arm with the weapon is in place. The equipment and weapon look magnificent with amazing fine points all over; the body armor and PALS loops featuring “elastic” texture, intricate details on the communication gear, Oakley gloves, and particularly the superb features of the M107 sniper rifle… all these are not only nicely sculpted but also 100% accurate.
The equipment:The figure wears customized Battle Dress Uniform (BDU). The standard US Army uniform since 1981, the BDU was often customized and modified to improve security, functionality and accessibility of the uniform. RAID BDU was one of the most widespread modifications, especially among Special Forces operatives. All the RAID modifications are too numerous to mention in this review, particularly because the only visible part of the uniform on this bust are the sleeves. Thus, the RAID modifications evident on this bust are Cordura fabric reinforced elbows and double layer shoulder pockets along with Velcro panels at shoulder pockets body and cover flap.
The figure is sporting Eagle Industries’ Combat Integrated Releasable Armor System (CIRAS), the common carrier choice for US SOCOM. The CIRAS was designed to fit BALCS or SPEAR cut level III soft armor and features PALS webbing, making it MOLLE compatible. The vest incorporates a two cable release system and can be rigged in two different configurations: for land warfare missions or maritime operations. The land warfare configuration uses two separate pull pillows to release the back independently of the shoulders. The reason for this design is simple; if wounded, the back can be released leaving it connected at the shoulders and the vest can be lifted up out of the way during emergency medical treatment. It is then laid back down covering the user and still provides protection while in transport to a medical facility. Once at the facility, medical personnel can pull the second cable and release it from the user at the shoulders without causing any further injuries or trauma. The maritime setup uses the single pull pillow to completely release the vest from the wearer while in the water to prevent accidental drowning. The maritime version of CIRAS vest (MAR-CIRAS) on the figure looks great; comparing the sculpt with pictures of the real thing, I found an excellent match with all the CIRAS details wonderfully executed… PALS loops even have a pattern sculpted to them giving them „elastic“ appearance. Some of the small items (mini glow sticks / light sticks) are sculpted strapped on the PALS loops of the body armor. The Blackhawk SERPA holster platform is also cast on the CIRAS; the holster platform is designed to mount Blackhawk CQC SERPA Pistol Holder to any MOLLE compatible system. All the other equipment is cast separately from the body armor. The equipment includes:
- MOLLE hydration carrier,
- Blackhawk CQC SERPA Beretta Pistol Holster,
- medium utility MOLLE pouch,
- FRAG grenade pouch (2x),
- pistol magazine pouch (2x),
- tactical flashlight / knife sheath small MOLLE pouch,
- MBITR Radio pouch with MBITR Radio,
- MBITR Radio antenna,
- Peltor Push-To-Talk (PTT) adapter
- Peltor ComTac II headset boom microphone,
- lanyard with karabiner and
- large karabiner.
The placement of some of the equipment is predetermined; MOLLE hydration carrier, SERPA Pistol Holster and large karabiner have their commonsense places on the CIRAS, while the other pouches can be added to modeler’s own preferences. However, I would suggest checking the references before deciding on the optimal gear setup on the body armor. The box art can be very useful in that regard as well.
The figure wears Oakley SI Tactical Gloves, which feature micro-vented leather palm with high-friction surfacing on palms and fingers for a secure grip, carbon fiber knuckle plating and nose wipe area on thumb. An additional right hand index finger is supplied with the kit; it is an option for portraying operatives who cut the trigger finger on the gloves for easier manipulation of the weapon…definitely a very nice addition to the figure. I’m amazed by the amount of perfectly sculpted details on the gloves; those are a real masterpiece and definitely one of the best elements of this bust for me.
As for the communication gear, AN/PRC-148 Multiband Inter/Intra Team Radio (MBITR) is sculpted inside the MBITR pouch. The pouch is MOLLE compatible and was designed specifically to hold MBITR. It features open top with cord fastening for easy adjustment of radio control knobs and a flip up cover which can be lifted up to expose the screen and program buttons. The pouch also features elastic loops for attaching chemical light sticks or 12 gauge shotgun shells. The MBITR is connected to the headset via Peltor Push-To-Talk (PTT) Adapter, which is usually clipped to PALS webbing loops of the body armor. The PTT is sculpted with recessed activation button and protrusions both on the top and the bottom which represent connection jacks which link PTT with radio and headset system. The figure is sporting Peltor ComTac II Tactical Headset. The headset combines sophisticated surround sound listening electronics with a slim-line profile cup designed for comfort under PASGT, MICH and ACH helmet. The boom microphone is cast separately and it can be mounted on either side of the headset to accommodate left and right handed operators.
The communication gear is nicely sculpted with extreme attention to details. All the references I have on the MBITR, PTT and ComTac II Headset show that guys at Special Ops Models did their job in scale really well. The wiring should not be a problem to reproduce using the brass and lead wire supplied in the kit.
Two slightly different head options are included with the figure. The two heads differ only in one of them being sculpted with a beard, a quite common feature of US Special Forces operatives serving in Afghanistan. The head sculpts look really good with their facial elements well defined. The figure is wearing a Tactical Hat. This kind of hat is basically unstructured baseball cap with the top button removed and Velcro patches sewn on front, top and back of the hat. Tactical hats are often used in Iraq and Afghanistan by personal security detachments, military contractors and Special Forces operatives. The brim is sculpted separately.
The weapon:The figure is armed with M107 Long Range Sniper Rifle (LRSR), a weapon derived from the M82 rifle series produced by Barrett Firearms Manufacturing, Inc. The M107 is a .50 caliber, shoulder fired, semi-automatic, anti-materiel sniper rifle offering greater destructive force than any other US sniper system. The weapon fires .50 caliber ammunition and is capable of delivering precise, rapid fire on targets out to 2000 meters. It is especially valuable during military operations in urban terrain where greater firepower and standoff ranges provide counter-sniper capability while enhancing sniper survivability. The Barrett M107, like previous members of the M82 line, is also referred to as the "Light Fifty".
The M107 supplied in this kit is huge... in 1/9 scale the weapon measures over 15cm in length. It consists of 8 parts:
- main weapon body (complete upper and lower receiver),
- muzzle brake,
- bipod legs (2x),
- bolt handle,
- carrying handle,
- sniper scope and
- scope lens cover.
The parts are extremely well cast, without any imperfections. Some of the parts are very delicate so be patient when cleaning them up from the resin carrier blocks.
The main weapon body part consists of complete upper and lower receiver. It is cast together with brass fluted barrel; very smart engineering of the part ensures avoiding any possibility of misaligning or warping the long barrel. The part includes 10-round magazine, folded front and rear sights, lengthened MIL-STD-1913 accessory rail on upper receiver, bolt-carrier, rear grip, monopod socket, bipod mount and various small details.
The M107 dual chamber muzzle brake looks great with the characteristic shape of the part very realistically reproduced in scale. The peculiar design allows muzzle brake to absorb approximately 70% of rifle recoil. The protrusion at the end of the resin piece fits snugly inside the metal barrel assuring a solid connection between two parts. The muzzle brake is extremely delicate, particularly the thin chamber walls, and the piece in my sample was damaged during transport. However, Andy quickly replaced it with no extra cost for me… a great customer service from Special Ops Models!
The detachable folding bipod legs are also very thin and delicate but sculpted to perfection: the retractable spiked feet, the plunger and number of positioning holes look amazing. The bipod legs have small protrusions which help in positioning them correctly to the bipod carrier on the M107 lower receiver.
Additional small parts of the weapon assembly are the bolt handle and carrying handle. The bolt handle fits well to the indentation on bolt-carrier assembly, while the detachable carrying handle needs to be attached to its appropriate place on the upper receiver with some brass wire (supplied in the kit).
The standard optical scope fielded with the M107 is Leupold 4.5-14x50 Mark4 scope. However, I think the optical system supplied in this kit is actually American Technologies Network Corporation’s 4-12x80 Day/Night Riflescope System. This scope is marketed as the most advanced day/night riflescope system in the world, featuring 80mm objective and 40mm tube, parallax-free construction, 4 to 12 variable power zoom, 1000-yard bullet drop compensator with interchangeable cams for six calibers, 1000-yard range finder and a sharp, illuminated reticle with 11 light settings. To convert the ATN 4-12x80 DNS to a night vision weapon sight, the daytime eyepiece is replaced with a night vision eyepiece. The night vision eyepiece can utilize a wide array of image intensifier tubes to meet a range of requirements. The ATN 4-12x80 DNS mounts onto any standard Picatinny rail. The scope in this kit looks great with realistically reproduced turret knobs for bullet drop compensation, elevation adjustment and electronic reticle settings. The magnification adjustment ring and night vision eyepiece with battery holder are also wonderfully rendered. Front scope lens cover is cast separately.
What more can I tell you of the weapon delivered with Special Forces Sniper figure? In my opinion, it is the most impressive part of the kit.
The extras:Special Ops Models added some really nice extras in this kit... A separate zip-lock bag includes decal sheet, lead foil, lead wire and brass wire for detailing the figure, as well as the brass bust mounting rod. The decal sheet includes US flag patches of both orientation (4 different types; full color and 3 types of subdued ones), Special Forces shoulder patches with 3 different flash patch setup (again, 4 different color types are available; full color and 3 types of subdued ones), blood type patches, Calico Jack pirate patch, EOD patch, two morale patches (Suck Meter and Fun Meter) and two wrist watch face decals. The patch decals should be applied to lead foil in order to give them some thickness and then positioned to appropriate Velcro strips on the figure… you can get the feeling of patch placement by browsing the Internet and finding some pictures of SF operatives in OIF/OEF. Brass and lead wire could be used for wiring the radio communications gear.
Conclusion:It has been a while since we saw a new figure kit from Special Ops Models. However, it was well worth the wait... In my opinion, the Special Forces Sniper bust is the best looking 1/9 scale kit Special Ops Models released so far. Well cast with amazing attention to detail, beautifully rendered M107 Barrett and 100% authentic gear and equipment, this bust is a definite must for any serious modern figure buff.
References:“Special Forces”, David Miller, Salamander Books
“Special Forces: War against Saddam Hussein”, Eric Micheletti, Histoire and Collections
“Special Forces: War against Terrorism in Afghanistan”, Eric Micheletti, Histoire and Collections
“Special Operations Forces in Afghanistan”, Osprey Publishing
“Battle Rattle”, Hans Halberstadt, Zenith Press