|US Army Figure Sets|
|Preview by Doug Chaltry|
|Thank you very much to VEPAMINIATURES for providing the review samples.|
title for this line of figures is misleading. The line of
figures is titled "Irak 2012", however, the
last US Army combat unit withdrew from Iraq in 2010. As
described below, the uniforms and equipment of these
figures are suitable for any US Army forces since around
late 2007, so they could represent US troops in Iraq from
2007-2010, or in Afghanistan to the present day (or
anywhere else in the world for that matter). I think a
more appropriate title would be simply "US Army 2007
All of the figures share many features. They all complement each other well, and modelers can mix and match the figures and parts of the figures for a multitude of settings. I am going to write some brief comments at the beginning here that apply to all of the figures in this line, and then add some specifics to each set as they are pictured below.
The bottom line is that these are the finest figures I have ever seen in white metal, and some of the finest figures I've seen in any medium. The quality of the sculpting is absolutely fantastic, and in the many sets I have reviewed below, there was only a single flaw in the casting (a short-shot folded bipod beneath a gun barrel). Other than that, the casting is first-rate. The amount of detail on the clothing is impressive, which makes identification of the specific features of the uniform and equipment quite easy. Body proportions are just about perfect and the poses are realistic and useful for a variety of diorama settings. Facial features are finely cast and unique to each figure. Figures measure between 25mm - 25.5mm tall from bottom of boots to top of helmet. This makes them just about the 6ft mark for height, which is perfect for 1/72 scale, but may be a little large for 1/76th. (As a suggestion to VEPA for future sets, it would be nice to have a little variation in soldier height.)
The one aspect of the figures that may detract from their appearance to some eyes is that some of the weapons are molded a little bit thick in order to accomodate the metal casting technique (thereby making them a little more sturdy for wargamers). But even so, they are extremely well detailed, and look far superior to any other metal figures I've seen. Replacing the tips to some of the gun barrels may improve their appearance a bit.
As mentioned above, the details of the uniforms of these figures date them from late 2007 to the present day. Their uniforms are the new Army Combat Uniform (ACU), which replaced the earlier Desert Camouflage Uniform in 2005. All of the pockets are correctly located; the "Mandarin" collar is obvious on some of the figures, and many of them wear the heavy-duty sunglasses now commonly worn by US troops. They can be painted in either the very poorly-received Universal Camouflage Pattern (UCP or "digicam"), or the new MultiCam pattern, which is replacing the UCP and as of 2010 is seeing increasing use in Afghanistan.
Although the body armor of the figures resembles the OTV (Outer Tactical Vest) of the Interceptor Body Armor system, it actually represents the Improved Outer Tactical Vest (IOTV) that replaced the OTV in late 2007. Some of the figures also incorporate the optional groin protection to the IOTV. The Soldier Plate Carrier System (SPCS) is a lightweight body armor currently being used in Afghanistan. There are minor differences in the appearance of these two armored vests, but at this scale, the figures could possibly be said to be wearing the SPCS, but it most certainly looks like the IOTV to me.
The helmets worn by these figures are the Advanced Combat Helmet (ACH), which became the standard helmet in 2006. They could also pass for the Modular Integrated Communications Helmet (MICH), which replaced the old helmet from the Personnel Armor System for Ground Troops (PASGT) in the mid-2000s (the PASGT helmet was worn during Operation Iraqi Freedom). The helmets all have camouflage covers, and on some of the figures sport a night-vision device mounting bracket as well, though none have the actual night-vision gear attached.
The figures are cast in lead, so it is very easy to sand off the minor mold seams seen on a couple of the figures.
Here are the individual sets:
I would consider only one of the figures in this set to be actually "relaxed". All others have their weapons at the ready, although not aiming at anything in particular. Maybe this is what passes for relaxed in a war zone (I've never been in one). One of the soldiers is armed with an M240B machinegun, the other four have M4 carbines, one with an M203 grenade launcher. Two of the M4s mount the M68 Close Combat Optical (CCO) gunsight, and two mount the Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight (ACOG) and laser targeting sight mounted on top of the barrel. One figure also has a LAW (light anti-tank weapon) rocket launcher slung over a shoulder. Two figures have heavy goggles on their helmets, and two of the five have the Camelback(?) hydration system on their backs. One thing to note: I had initially thought that strip of metal connecting the M240B to the figure's base was simply a molding artifact so that the gun barrel wasn't short-shot, but as you can see in the scan on the left, it's actually a strip of machinegun ammunition. If you don't use it with this guy, it will certainly come in handy with other figures.
I would consider these figures to be only slightly more aggressive than the previous set. The figure on the left has an M4 carbine with ACOG and laser targeting sight. He also has a LAW rocket and camelback on his back. The center figure is carrying an M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW). The figure on the right has an M4 with CCO gunsight, and a camelback.
This set gives several optional arms, thereby allowing some customization. Weapons on display here are primarily the M4 carbine, a couple with the M203 grenade launcher beneath the barrel, and the CCO gunsight. There are also two M249 SAWs, although only the crouching figure has the appropriate ammo pouch for that weapon. The officer also has an M9 Beretta 9mm pistol holstered on his chest. Although the title of this set is "Combat", the figures aren't running or diving for cover, and only one is aiming his weapon, so it's more like they are "under threat" as opposed to in an actual firefight.
Two figures: the sniper and his spotter. The sniper is armed with the SR-25 Mk 11 Sniper Rifle w/supressor. Unfortunately, the folded bipod slung beneath the barrel has been short-shot, but that will be an easy fix. His spotter has an M4 carbine with ACOG and an M203 mounted beneath the barrel. The one oddity about this set is that the two figures are in different poses: one kneeling and the other standing, when you would expect them to be the same. I'm sure there may be some circumstances when the spotter would be standing and pointing like this, but I really would have rather had him kneeling or squatting as well. And he probably should have some sort of spotting device such as binoculars or a spotting scope. Only a minor gripe.
These five guys seem to be perfectly posed for what they are described as doing: manning a checkpoint. Their weapons are at the ready, and none seem to be too relaxed. The predominent weapon here is the M4 carbine with ACOG; one with an M203. One appears to have a flashlight(?) under its barrel. The figure on the left will carry the M240B and the next one to the right has the M249 SAW. Two figures also have the heavy-duty goggles on their helmets.
These figures look to be doing exactly what the title describes: assaulting a house. One of them is armed with a shotgun (I think it's a long-barreled Mossberg M500), and the other three have M4 carbines with the CCO or ACOG gunsights. One (an officer?) has an M9 Beretta holstered on his chest. All four of these figures have the Camelback(?) hydration system on their backs, so they would be suitable primarily for dioramas in arid climates such as Iraq and Afghanistan.
Machinegun/Grenade Launcher Team
This set of two figures can be manning either an M2HB .50cal machinegun or a Mk. 19 grenade launcher. The weapons are really nice, though the machinegun isn't quite as fine as the newest .50cal done by Dragon in their Allied tank kits. But it is perfectly usable. [Note that the assistant gunner in this set would make a great crouching spotter for the sniper team set described earlier.] There is a single, nicely detailed tripod mount for the weapon, and appropriate ammo boxes for each. I would have liked to have seen the assistant gunner armed with something.
These two figures are operating an M252 81 mm mortar. One of the things I really like about these two poses is that they catch the crew at the moment of firing. Pretty much every other mortar figures I've ever seen depict the crew as they are about to drop the mortar round down the tube, but not here. As with the above set, I would have liked to have some personal weapons for these figures to lay to the side. Otherwise, this is one of my favorite sets, specifically due to the dynamic and well-thought out poses.