I’m sure most of you have seen the “Platoon”… and loved it. Voted as one of the best war films ever made, written and directed by Oliver Stone, “Platoon” won 4 Academy Awards (including best picture and best director).
Bravo-6, a new Russian figure company, is giving you the chance to paint Sgt. Elias and other well known characters from the “Platoon” movie. Wonderfully sculpted with amazing attention to detail, these figures bear striking resemblance to the “Platoon” cast.
If you are interested in painting figures and visit figure dedicated websites, you have probably noticed several very talented Russian figure sculptors. Vladimir Demchenko is one of them; Vladimir became known to the broader public after showing some of his amazing work on planetFigure website. His first sculpt posted on the website was the figure from the “Platoon” movie representing Willem Defoe as Sgt. Elias Grodin, which can be viewed Here.
After that post, Vladimir showed several other “Platoon” movie characters he sculpted and they all were fantastic, but the big question was whether those amazing figures would ever be produced. Fortunately, the public didn’t wait too long to hear a new Russian company, Bravo-6, was to release all “Platoon” figures in resin… and couple of months after Vladimir’s first post on planetFigure, I got the chance to write a review of Sgt. Elias for Armorama.
The figure arrived safe in a cardboard box decorated with nicely painted box-art. The box is very firm, so that the pieces packed inside the zip-lock bag are not likely to be damaged during transport.
Upon closer inspection the figure looks absolutely fantastic. The figure consists of 12 resin parts and a decal set. The parts are cast in gray resin; the resin is almost completely clean of any imperfections... there are no air bubbles, no flash or seam lines. Casting plugs are intelligently placed, allowing easy clean up with minimal chance of damaging the detail.
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 handguard very nicely, however be patient to test the fit before gluing the arms to the torso. My advice would be to join two arms on the weapon without using glue, fitting the left arm well on the weapon and then gluing arms to the torso.
The anatomy of the figure is perfect and the walking pose seems very natural. The level of detail is really amazing; among the best I have seen on resin figures.The Uniform:
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. Several features were modified in later versions of the tropical uniform, but the general cut was the same throughout the war. 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.
As far as I can tell, both uniform and the boots are correctly sculpted in terms of historical (and movie) accuracy. The insignia badges are sculpted on the uniform: 25th Infantry Division insignia badge on the upper left sleeve with chevrons for the sergeant rank below and 1st Cavalry Division badge on the upper right sleeve with chevrons for the sergeant rank below. The sculptor captured the “feel” of the tropical uniform and boots very nicely.The Equipment:
M1956 Individual Load Carrying Equipment (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 than hanging them from it thus eliminating the “bounce” effect of the old system and including combat field pack (butt pack) which, in theory, eliminated the need for a separate rucksack. This figure wears typical M1956 equipment belt and suspenders, a universal small arms ammunition pouch on the front right of the belt and twin-cell magazine pouch for the pistol on the front left of the belt. The Marine first aid kit is centered on the rear of the belt and Tanto knife is taped to the harness on the left shoulder.
During the Vietnam War ammo for the weapon was often carried loaded into magazines in the cotton bandoleers draped around the chest or waist. By 1968 these bandoleers had become the most common way of carrying rifle ammunition, holding seven 20-round M16 magazines apiece. 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.
Indigenous Ranger Pack (ARVN rucksack) is supplied to the kit as a separate piece. 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. The ARVN rucksack is wonderfully sculpted with all the details present; the pack seems to be fully loaded and the folds depict a heavy sagged look well. The fit on the figure’s back is impressive and it connects very well to the rucksack straps molded on the figure’s body.
The separate pieces of the equipment in this kit include M1956 first aid/compass pouch, plastic one quart canteen inside M1956 canteen cover and a .45 cal. auto pistol in an M1916 holster. There are also four 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 one M18 colored smoke grenade. 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 Weapon:
This figure is armed with what seems to be CAR-15 carbine, but I have some doubts about this statement. CAR-15 is the first carbine version of the M16 assault rifle; it appeared in 1965 and was intended for US Special Forces who fought in Vietnam. The original M16 was shortened by cutting the barrel to half of the length and by shortening the buttstock, which was made in plastic and retractable, the handguards were of triangular shape and the flash hider was of original three-prong type. Initial combat experience with CAR-15 brought up some problems, like the loudness of the carbine and immense muzzle flash blinding the shooter at night and giving away the position of the shooter to the enemies. XM-117 version of the CAR-15 solved this problem by installing a new, longer flash suppressor. This version also carried new handguards of tubular shape.
So, the weapon of this figure could be some sort of a CAR-15/XM-177 hybrid as it doesn’t have longer flash suppressor but carries tubular shaped handguard. However, the sculpted weapon looks identical to what Sgt. Elias carries in the “Platoon” movie… I wasn’t able to find such a weapon on the websites I browsed and it could well be some sort of “Hollywood accuracy”. If you happen to know the solution to this puzzle please let me know, I would appreciate it.
Anyway, in my opinion this issue isn’t such a big deal as Bravo6 figures were modeled to represent movie characters and as such they are indeed accurate.The decals:
One of the nice additions to the figure is definitely a decal set. The set consists of 6 Divisional emblems (1st Cavalry, 1st Infantry, 4th Infantry, 9th Infantry, 23rd Infantry, 25th Infantry /in both full color and subdued variant/), 2 Staff Sergeant sleeve insignia, 2 Sergeant sleeve insignia, 6 name tags and US Army tag. Subdued insignia was authorized for wear on all uniforms in 1966, but the changeover took some time so the mixture of full-color and subdued insignia was common during the transitional period. Subdued insignia was usually made from black embroidery on a green twill patch, but locally made insignia from black velvet on green twill was also popular. I feel the colors of the subdued patches are a bit off on this decal set; instead of a greenish tone, the color seems to have too prominent yellowish hue. A light green wash after the decals are applied could possibly solve this problem.
It’s the small details which make this figure so special. First of all, the amazing likeness of the figure’s facial features to Willem Dafoe, his hair style and the head band. Dog tags, the large brass wrist band and bracelet are also there, while Tanto knife is taped to figure’s shoulder harness. The level of details on this figure really is astonishing; I added a picture of “Platoon” cast to this review so you can appreciate how well the sculptor captured the image of Sgt Elias in such a small scale. Vladimir, you did a great job!References:
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