Minisoldiers is a resin figure company from Russia founded by Anar Aytaliev, a very talented figure modeler. Anar is producing an interesting range of WW2 and modern era figures in 1/35 scale. Private of the 101st Airborne Division (Iraq 2005)
is the first figure from OIF period in Minisoldiers line and hopefully not their last… I’m sure these would prove very popular among modelers who would like to add figures to their OIF dioramas and vignettes.
The figure arrived in a clear, very firm plastic box which features unpainted figure box art picture and lists both the sculptor (Dmitry Shevtsov) and interestingly, the painter as well (Anar Aytaliev). I just found a picture of the painted figure and I think those would be added as box art in the following samples of this kit. All the figure pieces are contained in a single zip-lock bag. The parts are cast in grey resin and are clean of casting imperfections… there are no air bubbles or flash, the only thing I noticed was a seam line on the helmet. The figure consists of 19 parts:
- Full body with both legs
- Left arm
- Right arm
- Various bits of extra equipment (12x)
Cleaning the parts is not difficult; casting plugs are easy to remove while some smaller pieces do not even have the plugs. The fit of the parts is really good and I had absolutely no problems building the figure. Be patient when attaching the arms to the torso and fitting the weapon: align the arms to the torso properly and the weapon is going to fit the hands well.
This figure represents a soldier of the 101st Airborne Division serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The figure is kneeling and surveying the perimeter with its weapon ready for any sign of hostile activity. The assembled figure looks fantastic; the pose is well balanced and the anatomy is spot on. The details are amazing and all the equipment adds to the realism of a heavy laden US Army soldier.
The figure is wearing Army Combat Uniform (ACU)
. One of the most visible changes adopted by the US Army since Operation Iraqi Freedom began has been the fielding of ACU; the new uniform replaced old Battle Dress Uniform (BDU) and Desert Camouflage Uniform (DCU). One of the main goals of the change was to have a uniform that worked in all environments and held up to the rigors of combat duty as well as the strictures of day-to-day work in garrison. A great deal of time and money was spent on the ACU development and the Army Program Executive Officer Soldier did extensive testing with soldiers in Iraq/Afghanistan and at home in the US. Considering all the testing the uniform went through, it is surprising such a mediocre product finally emerged. Although the overall layout and organization of the uniform is good and the pockets are generally more useful and easier to access, there are number of ACU weak points: Velcro, durability, fire protection and camouflage pattern. The fact ACU camouflage pattern doesn’t blend well, particularly in the Afghanistan region, pushed US Army to start fielding ACU-cut uniforms in Multicam pattern. With a few more changes (particularly regarding the material and Velcro), the US Army can complete the process and ensure soldiers have a top-quality uniform ready to take them into combat. The sculptor did his job on ACU well and the details look really good. However, one thing that immediately caught my eye when I first saw this figure were the unbloused ACU trousers; ACU wear policy clearly states that “soldier will wear the trousers tucked into the top of the boots”. Although I have initially considered the figure needs complex corrections to tuck the trousers back in the boots, I have found pictures of US soldiers in Iraq wearing ACU unbloused trousers… So, even if considered a serious violation of US Army dress code, I have to say the sculptor didn’t make a serious oversight.
The figure wears Interceptor Body Armor (IBA)
. IBA replaced the older fragmentation protective Personnel Armor System for Ground Troops (PASGT) and features two modular components; the outer tactical vest and small-arms protective plates which can stop 7.62mm rounds. IBA is equipped with MOLLE-compatible webbing loops on the front and back which permit modular attachment of other equipment to the vest. Some of the equipment is sculpted on the body armor (three double M4 magazine pouches and one triple pistol magazine pouch are located on the front of IBA) while all the other equipment is cast separately. The IBA is sculpted to perfection and I love the addition of IBA throat collar offering extra ballistic protection for this figure.
The figure is also wearing Modular Integrated Communications Helmet (MICH)
. MICH was developed to replace the PASGT helmet as the next generation of protective combat helmets in the US Army. MICH features a new type of Kevlar providing increased protection against handgun rounds. A new pad system and four-point retention system provide better impact protection and comfort for the wearer. MICH can be fitted with a mounting bracket for night vision devices on the front, as well as with a pair of straps on the rear to keep combat goggles in place. Interestingly, MICH is smaller than the PASGT thus allowing greater situational awareness and less vision obstruction, particularly when combined with IBA. The helmet in this figure kit is nicely sculpted and represents MICH realistically in scale. The combat goggles (inside protective cloth cover) strapped to the helmet are a great extra detail.
The biggest piece of equipment in this kit is Tactical Assault Gear’s Large Mountain Ruck
, a redesigned version of the old issued mountain ruck and a part of MOLLE II system. Designed to fit the ALICE frame it is crafted from 500d Cordura and lined with pack cloth; the combination which allows the ruck to be lightweight and yet retain durability. The shoulder straps and kidney pad are contoured and molded to balance the load and be more comfortable. Three external general purpose pockets were designed to accommodate an issue H harness and lowering lines making this pack jumpable. Both outside of the ruck and the pockets feature MOLLE-compatible webbing for attachment of additional MOLLE pouches. To support hydration systems, the interior has two 100oz. bladder pouches ports and drink tube holes along the sides for on-the-move drinking. The lid of the ruck has a radio antenna port for radios with center mounted antennas and the radio pocket has been lowered slightly and enlarged to fit man pack radios. The Large Mountain Ruck is perfectly sculpted with three external pockets and all the MOLLE-compatible loops well defined. I love the way the backpack sits on the lower back of the figure creating a sense of weight to it.
The additional equipment in this kit includes:
- 3 different MOLLE utility pouches
- 3 different small MOLLE pouches (Compass/Frag grenade/Accessory)
- Drop leg holster
- ALICE type canteen
- 3 small communication devices (GPS/Radio)
The extra MOLLE pouches
look good and the fact those are cast separately allows the modeler to decide on the gear setup for the figure. However, I would suggest checking the reference pictures and the boxart itself to get an idea of the optimal equipment setup. The secondary firearm is included in Drop Leg Holster
which attaches to Duty Belt with a quick detach hanger and to thigh with two adjustable leg straps. The addition of communication devices
, probably Tactical Radio Communication and Satellite Navigation Systems, is very welcomed. The only piece of equipment which is clearly not a part of the MOLLE system is the older ALICE type canteen
. Since the large backpack has internal hydration pouch ports, I would prefer to discard the canteen from this kit anyway.
The figure is armed with M4A1 carbine
, equipped with Rail Interface System (RIS) instead of the standard handguards. The carbine is equipped with an ACOG scope, while AN-PEQ laser target pointer and front grip are attached to the rail system. The weapon is perfectly cast but very delicate; the only thing you need to add is the tactical sling.
This is a very nice figure; it is sculpted really well, cast almost perfectly and easy to build. The amount of detail is amazing… gloves, knee protectors, large mountain ruck and small pouches are just wonderful. The facial details are well defined, too. The only thing I had problems with were unbloused ACU trousers… although very unusual, I found references of US soldiers in OIF with unrestricted trousers falling down the top of the boot. As a nice addition to the growing range of OIF figures (especially close to NATO in Miniatures’ kneeling US Army figures), this figure is definitely going to be popular with the modelers wanting to add a “human touch” to their OIF vignettes.
Many thanks to Anar from Minisoldiers for this review sample.