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In-Box Review
Modern USAF Pararescueman OIF

by: Peter Ong [ TRISAW ]

Originally published on:
Historicus Forma

The first modern USAF Pararescue figure to enter the 1/35 figure market, Airborne Miniature’s 1/35 “USAF Pararescueman OIF” (AIRM-3502) awes the modern figure modeler with its multitude of delicate details and features. This USAF PJ belongs in part to Airborne Miniature’s AIRM-3501: “PJ Approaching Wounded Soldier” mini-diorama and reestablishes Airborne Miniature’s 1/35 resin figure line.

Quality and Detail
I don’t have any of Airborne Miniature’s previous 1/35 resin figures (which I saw to be Delta Force and Rangers in Somalia) so I cannot compare the quality and sculpting to them. When comparing Airborne Miniature’s PJ to other leading 1/35 modern U.S. resin figures, the scale height and thickness looks correct. The figure’s parts came in a clear plastic bag, so I don’t know if this figure has its own box or not.

The detail just looks exquisite, and rivals, even beats some of the leading 1/35th resin makers of modern U.S. figures because everything just seems to “jump out” at you. The buckles have thickness and there are straps over straps over clothing or gear. The forced perspective looks amazing. For example, if a strap is closer to the body, it looks less thick than a strap further away from the body. I can even see the low smooth impression of the body armor ceramic plate covered with a few soft wrinkles of the cloth covering. Because of the goggles covering the eyes and leaving part of the nose and all of the mouth exposed, this figure can be painted to almost represent any race.

I have never seen such attention to 1/35 detail either. For instance, the kneepads have rivet holes, three along the side. Typically, manufacturers make these holes by using a wire (I do when I make my own kneepads out of putty). Instead, Airborne Miniatures made the tiny hole and the rivet ring around it, essentially making a rivet that looks more like a concave saucer than a deep tunnel, impressive considering that the 1/35 rivet is the size of the period at the end of this sentence. The fingers on the heavy-duty (fast-roping) gloves are all separate with the thumb being thicker than the pinky. Notice that I said “heavy-duty” gloves because the figure’s hands already have gloves on! This is just another neat feature of this figure and provides a more “realistic representation” of the actual PJ—equipped to the maximum performance for the mission. I eyeballed the gloves to the figure’s gloved hands and they look like they would fit. Even the three prongs of a plastic SNAP-TITE strap buckle are shown! Straps lead all over the body to hold everything: kneepads, vest, backpack, grenade pouches, and holster. In summary, Airborne Miniatures just gives you more, more gear, straps, details, and eye candy.

Consistent to a real Pararescue Jumper, the figure has its straps on tight, bunching up the flight suit at the knees, buttocks, and crotch. With the kneepads on tight, the figure’s legs have a realistic appearance like a toothpaste tube squeezed tightly in the middle — the way the legs should look. I have never seen so many wrinkles on a figure before. Best of all, the placement of the wrinkles do work to add “eye candy” to the character and are by no means excessive.

Armament, Ammunition and Gear
Airborne Miniature figures have a nice reputation of being armed and loaded for combat. This USAF PJ continues the trend. No less than eight 40mm grenades rest on the left thigh, a nice placement considering that the torso and waist are well sculpted and placing an ammo bag there would hide the fine detail, not to mention not having enough space for the canteen or ALICE ammo pouches. Armed with a M-4/M-203 rifle grenade launcher with Comp-M sight on top of Rail Interface System (the Comp-M sight is a separate part), the PJ's trigger finger rests on the receiver, ready-to-fire. With the ALICE and vest pouches, I estimate this PJ carries around 360 rounds of 5.56mm. Closer examination of the ALICE ammo pouches reveals saggy grenade pouches so I’m assuming the PJ just carries two fragmentation grenades in the vest harness pouches, afterall he’s a medic, not an infantryman.

The figure seems to represent a daylight rescue. I saw no evidence of night vision devices or infrared transmitters on the helmet, torso, or rifle, nor any pouches to store such devices. This is not a complaint since the diorama from which this PJ participates in clearly shows a daytime scene.

My only minor complaint would be the width of the M-4 vest pouches as being a tad too narrow. I used the M-4’s magazine and overlaid it on top of the vest pouches and discovered that the vest pouches can barely contain the width of the magazine. The fit will be tight, but the vest pouches do look like the magazine can fit inside them.

Due to the tricky nature of sawing the pour blocks, I recommend this figure for those modelers who have some experience constructing resin figures (I always sand and saw resin underwater). The torso’s pour block can be removed with a straight saw cut. The legs’ pour block required sawing from the front and back to follow the angle of the waist. The arms are a little tricky, requiring a razor saw, wire snippers, and sandpaper to remove the blocks. I highly recommend using a wire snipper to remove the thin blocks from the canteens, ALICE ammo pouches, and boots since a saw seems too clumsy for such small delicate parts. I snapped off the gun’s barrel and then the entire M-4/M-203 section forward of the receiver when sawing away the block from the right arm, so I recommend using wire snippers to remove as much of the block as possible and then sanding the rest off. Fortunately, the pieces were superglued back with no hint of having been broken off. Don’t sand too much of the arm blocks off because the idea is to get the arms’ glue surfaces flat with the torso glue surfaces, not particularly flush. Once flat, the arms glue on without any fit problems and require little to no putty to fill in any gaps. I do sometimes find with Airborne Miniature figures that leaving some pour block remnants behind helps make for a better fit (with less of a gap) than sanding the pour block down flush to the part. I can’t explain the reasoning behind this; it’s just the nature of the beast. As such, softly sand and check the fit of the piece often. If the piece doesn’t fit, sand a little bit more.

Gluing the boots into the legs requires patience. I had to testfit and reglue several times in order for the boots to stick and properly settle inside their respective leg holes. I recommend standing the figure upside down and just let the boots dry untouched. Once dried, the fit is solid with no gaps.

Despite the long neck, the head fits perfectly into its torso hole and can even be glued in a turned position. I kept to the standard figure’s look and glued the head looking forward.

Areas to pay attention to
There are a few tricky areas. Most resin figures that have a separate torso and legs almost always have a gap between the two pieces and this figure does as well. Since the figure is leaning forward, I didn’t know how to sand off the legs’ pour block and sanded at a frontal angle underwater, which incidentally removed the top of the gloves and some of the waist detail. Thus I’m unsure if I created my own waist gap to fill with putty or that joining the torso with the legs produces a large gap. One really has to pay attention to sanding, sawing and gluing with this figure. Nonetheless, with the glued figure before me, I can see that putty will solve all the problems with gaps since the figure is proportional and the putty will act as a filler between the two pieces. The canteens and ALICE ammo pouches should help in hiding the lack of waist detail from the putty.

I took no liberties as I glued and constructed a figure that matched the look and pose as intended.

One important factor to consider before you buy concerns the pose of the figure. Note that the figure is looking down, almost four feet in front of it. Even if positioned on an upward slope, the head’s line-of-sight will still make the figure look down. This makes sense because the PJ is looking at the wounded soldier lying in the “AIRM-3501 “PJ Approaching Wounded Soldier” mini-diorama. So if you do buy this figure separately, bear in mind that the pose of the figure suits a PJ looking down from (say) a ridge, helicopter, roof, at a tripwire, or into a hole and does not suit a PJ on patrol or talking to someone. One can try to sand the neck to angle the head up and forward, or putty the torso to negate the forward lean, but I didn’t experiment with this idea.

Even though this is the only 1/35 Modern USAF Pararescueman on the market today, this one is definitely a winner.

I highly recommended this kit.
The first modern USAF Pararescue figure to enter the 1/35 figure market, Airborne Miniature’s “USAF Pararescueman OIF” awes the modern figure modeler with its multitude of delicate details and features.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: AIRM-3501
  Suggested Retail: 12.00 USD
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Mar 29, 2006
  NATIONALITY: United States

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About Peter Ong (Trisaw)

I model modern topics, mainly post 1991 Gulf War onwards. My modeling interests include: * Science-fiction/ fantasy * 1/100 Gundam * 1/35 armor * Kitbashed projects * Special Forces * Resin or plastic modern figures * 1/24 Police, fire, medical, and Government vehicles * Rare, unique, ori...

Copyright ©2021 text by Peter Ong [ TRISAW ]. All rights reserved.


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