Dmitri Baev, the owner of Soga Miniatures webstore, created his own resin figure label “NATO in Miniatures” with the idea to produce 1/35 scale modern figures of NATO soldiers in current conflicts. So far the company released almost exclusively US figures; American sniper with M14 is the fifth figure in “NATO in Miniatures” US modern figure range.
The figure arrived in a well designed and firm cardboard box, additionally protected by packing peanuts. The box is printed in ACU pattern, features nicely painted box art picture and lists both the sculptor (Dmitri Shevtsov) and the painter (Dmitri Baev).
The kit parts are secured in a zip-lock bag. Molded in grey resin, all parts are wonderfully cast with no imperfections visible. Casting plugs are intelligently placed, allowing easy clean up with minimal chance of damaging the details. Take your time when cleaning the weapon, however, as it is very delicate. The figure part break-up is well thought of and the figure assembly is pretty straightforward with excellent fit of the pieces; if placed correctly there are almost no visible gaps between the parts so minimal putty work is needed. The anatomy the figure is perfect and the pose very natural. Again, as with all “NATO in Miniatures” kits I reviewed so far, the level of detail is amazing… among the best I have seen on resin figures.
The figure represents US Army sniper serving in Middle Eastern theater of operations (OIF/OEF). It consists of 8 pieces: full body with both legs, right arm, left arm, head, helmet, weapon with right hand attached, and two equipment accessories… smoke grenade and the knife/bayonet.
The figure is wearing Army Combat Uniform (ACU). ACU is the current combat uniform worn by the US Army. It replaced the old Battle Dress Uniform (BDU) and Desert Camouflage Uniform (DCU), and it consists of a jacket, trousers, t-shirt and tan combat boots. The ACU uses a new camouflage pattern comprised of slate gray, desert sand and foliage green pixel patches. The pattern was designed to be effective in all environments, however, soldiers in the field have complained about the ineffectiveness of the new pattern since it was first issued. I would imagine most figure painters have protested to the similar extent since painting pixilated uniforms is usually a nerve wrecking experience… particularly in 1/35 scale. The sculptor did his job on ACU very well; all the details of the uniform are present and the folds have a very natural feel to them. Couple of aftermarket US Army patches can be used to further enhance the ACU appearance. Tactical gloves and knee pad protectors are perfectly sculpted and add to the realism of the figure in the field.
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. Most of the equipment is sculpted on the IBA; three double M14 magazine pouches, one triple pistol magazine pouch, hydration system with nicely sculpted drink tube strapped to the front of the IBA, large buttpack, grenade pouch and various other MOLLE equipment pieces. I particularly like the radio pouch on the left shoulder with amazingly rendered cable coil leading to the two-way speaker/microphone system. The sculptor did a great job on all the equipment mentioned in this paragraph; although pretty packed up, the IBA looks good and the unused MOLLE loops look amazing with each loop well defined between the pouches. All the pouches are very nicely detailed as well. The only thing I couldn’t find references on is the large buttpack.
Two equipment pieces are sculpted separately; the smoke grenade and the knife/bayonet. I have a problem with the latter, as it seems to be an older M8A1 scabbard type which is not a part of MOLLE system. I’m not going to use it on my figure as it just doesn’t look right. Another piece of equipment that appears a bit off is the drop leg holster; it seems a bit too small.
The figures are 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 figure is armed with M14 rifle; a gas operated, magazine fed, selective fire assault rifle. The weapon was adopted by US Army in the 1957 but the production was ceased by US Government in 1964, after the combat experience in Vietnam. The M14 was too long and too heavy to be carried all day long in hot and wet climate. The 7.62mm NATO ammunition was too heavy, limiting the amount of ammunition carried by soldiers on patrols. The selective fire capability was mostly useless, since the M14 was way too light for powerful cartridge it fired, and climbed excessively when fired in bursts… However, during recent campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan many old M14 rifles were withdrawn from warehouses, dusted off and issued to troops in the field to improve range and lethality of troops armed with 5.56mm weapons. Some M14 rifles were issued as is, some were fitted with new telscope sights to serve as a para-sniper / designated marksman rifles.
In general, the M14 was a very controversial weapon: it had the accuracy and range of the "old time" military rifles, but was too long, heavy and lacked the automatic fire firepower. Nevertheless, it was a reliable and powerful weapon, often favored by users for high lethality, long range and good penetration.
This is a very nice figure; well researched and sculpted with great care to all details, perfectly cast and extremely easy to build. The details on the uniform and the equipment are very sharp, the anatomy of the figure looks really good and the facial features are well defined. This figure is definitely another masterpiece from “NATO in Miniatures”.
Thanks to NATO in Miniatures for this review sample.
I have missed it completely in the review, but have been reminded via discussion tread: there is an issue with M14 supplied in this kit as the gas port/piston on the M14 barrel is positioned upside down. The weapon looks good in the boxart photo, but the weapon provided in the kit definitely needs to be "surgically" corrected. Check this discussion link for more info: link