by: Mario Matijasic [ ]
Over the years, Andy Meyers from Special Ops Models has produced some very impressive busts and figures; their SEAL and SF Sniper busts in 1/9 scale are definitely prized possessions in my grey army. This time Special Ops goes in a slightly different direction by delivering us a bust of the US WWII tanker, a bust based on Andy’s father who was a gunner in M5A1 Late Stuart tank and M24 Chaffee. I think this adds very nice historical bonus to the piece.
The kit arrived packed in a sturdy cardboard box, the content inside being protected with Styrofoam packing peanuts. The front of the box contains two pictures of painted figure with three more pictures on the box side. Alan Ball and Andy Meyers are listed as authors while Mike Spivey painted the box art. Inside the box are six zip-lock bags, five of them containing resin parts, one with decals, lead foil and solder wire, clear plastic for goggle lenses and a brass mounting rod. Also there is A4 paper with detailed instructions on how to make Thompson gun sling, cutting template for goggles and color photos of the machine gun, strap clips and sling swivel.
The bust consists of 15 parts. The parts are cast in light grey resin, and the molding is perfect, without any bubbles, blemishes or casting lines. Details are very crisp and look really nice. The bottom of the torso features a hole where you insert the brass mounting rod; a very nice touch because it saves you from drilling resin and dealing with the resin dust.
The face has great level of details included and it has its own individual character displayed really well by slightly larger nose and thin cheekbones. Since every one of us has a different facial features, I love when this is present on a figure, especially on busts where the face has a very important role. Teeth, pupils and even irises are nicely reproduced and give that ‘extra touch’.
The pose is good and somewhat dramatic. Open mouth and raised Thompson give subtle but visible sense of motion and action.
The fit is really good and everything literally falls in its place. The level of sculpting and parts breakdown is high and you can see that immediately when you start putting the pieces together.
The figure wears tanker jacket and tanker coverall trousers. The jacket was made of windproof and water-repellent cotton, and is wool lined throughout. The tanker trousers were designed for Armored vehicle crews in early 1940s. Made of khaki twill shell and wool lining, the trousers featured front zipper and metal fasteners. Both the jacket and coveralls are beautifully rendered on this bust and truly represent the original WW2 items of clothing. The ribs on the jacket sleeves and neck are perfectly cast, while the zipper and metal fasteners in the coveralls feature really nice details. The M1936 pistol belt has all its details beautifully executed as well. The top row of eyelets is designed to take the M1936 suspenders and the bottom row is for other equipment like the ammo pouches, first aid pouch, etc.
Other equipment included in this set consists of a Colt .45 handgun in its shoulder holster and two pouches. The handgun and the holster are very well cast, featuring crisp details like the inscription on the holster and handgun handle. The two pouches (pistol double magazine ammo pouch and first aid pouch) are also nicely detailed. Attaching these parts on the bust is straightforward as the torso and the belt have placement positions already cast in them.
The U.S. tanks of World War II were very small inside. A special purpose Tanker Helmet was developed with these specifications: 1) fits inside an M1 helmet when shrapnel protection is needed, 2) equipped with microphone and earphones, with connecting jacks, 3) protected the crewman's head from hits on the steel tank interior. The Tanker Helmet developed in 1938 met all these criteria and more. It was made of rubberized fiber/leather with a thicker band of leather stitched around the rim. An inner suspension was made of a cross of soft leather straps. Ten 3/4 inch ventilation holes helped keep heat down while the back of the head was protected by a neck flap of the same material as the cap. As the remaining parts of the bust, the helmet is beautifully cast. All the details are there: straps, ventilation holes, stitching, etc. The strips between which you put the goggles are nicely cast with crisp details.
Goggles on this bust really deserve a special description. Resin manufacturers usually sculpt goggles as a part of a figure. This definitely requires some pretty good painting skills in order to make it look realistic. Special Ops goes an extra mile with this kit by providing separate goggles with transparent foil. On instruction paper you even have templates for cutting the foil into required shape. Although this probably imposed a lot of extra work from the sculptor’s part, the result is the most realistic goggles I’ve ever seen on a figure.
The famous Thompson machine gun was created by General John Taliaferro Thompson and started its long and successful life in 1919. It gained popularity during the Prohibition time when the Thompson was nick named ‘Tommy-gun’. During the WWII Thompson was used in Europe and in Pacific theatre. After the WWII, Thompson was used in many conflicts and wars.
The Thompson in this kit basically consists of two parts. First are five resin parts which you use to make the submachine gun. Second part consists of all the things you need In order to make the gun sling. The kit provides lead foil, resin metal strap clips and black wire for sling swivel. In order to put the sling together you will have to follow the provided instruction sheet. On it you will get exact measures for cutting the foil, pictures of the sling in minimum/maximum length configuration. In addition there are three color photos of Thompson, strap clips and swivel. Although you will need some time to assemble it, the result will be the most detailed and accurate Thompson sling I’ve seen. Besides it will give you the feeling of actually doing something on the figure which is better than just gluing the parts together and putting on some paint. Finally you will have to put the machine gun on its handle which is very conveniently already molded into the hand.
As with all Special Ops figures, this kit includes a lot of extras:
- lead foil (for the Thompson gun sling)
- black wire (for the sling swivel)
- solder wire (for the helmet head phone cord)
- clear foil (for goggles)
- brass mount
The reason why I absolutely love Special Ops Models is that they provide all the necessary decals. In this case you will get the unit patches and the rank chevrons Andy’s dad had on his uniform. Nice touch is that you actually get more decals than you need.
Although I’m not big WWII fan this bust is really something special. The greatest strength of Special Ops Models is that you get everything you need in the box. Since the price is not higher than other busts, this is definitely great value for money. Every part of this bust conveys Andy’s customer orientation: clear and concise instruction sheet, separate transparent foil for the goggles, extra parts are things that you usually don’t get with busts. The casting is top notch and details are amazing. With this bust I got the feeling that Andy left no stone unturned. And the fact that this bust is a tribute to Andy’s father gives a sort of ‘icing on the cake’ and a really nice personal touch to the whole figure.
EDIT: I assembled the bust for this review, but omitted attaching the goggles and first aid pouch. These will be attached after the bust painting is done. Hopefully, the review will be updated soon with the photos of the painted bust.