by: Mario Matijasic [ ]
When US soldiers wanted a way to handle heavy machine guns and ammunition alone in the heat of battle, they found inspiration in the mini-gun backpacks of the movie "Predator" and built do-it-yourself ammo carriers. The idea first came from an Iowa National Guard unit discussing the machine gunners' troubles in the aftermath of a two and a half hour firefight in Afghanistan in 2011. The soldiers cobbled together their backpack based on an ALICE carrying frame, two old ammunition cans, and ammunition feed chute taken from a CROWS vehicle turret. Cords, glue and duct tape held everything together.
The battlefield invention has since undergone official development by TYR Tactical, with the company producing MICO Machine Gunners Assault Pack (or the "Quiver of Death"), a dedicated gunner’s pack with lightweight feed chute, cloth cover and several different attachments depending on whether you’re using the M240, M249 or Mk46. The pack holds 500 rounds, with additional 75 rounds in the feed chute, enabling the gunner to deploy suppressing and superior fire for an extended period compared to current 100 and 200 round belts. In brief, MICO takes a crew-served weapon and turns it into a single soldier deployable system for short missions.
ANT Miniatures made a really good business decision starting a cooperation with Peter Samofalov. Peter is the man behind numerous Live Resin designs and the artist who digitally sculpted all the figures in the Live Resin range. The Assault Trooper with M240L Machine Gun and MICO Pack Ammo Can (35-708) is Peter’s first 1/35 scale figure design released under ANT Miniatures label.
The kit is packed in a hard cardboard box which features CAD image of the figure. The box contains a zip-lock bag full of resin pieces, additionally protected in bubble wrap. The parts are cast in grey resin and display impressive level of sharp details superbly delivered in scale. I found an air bubble on the left shoulder ridge of the body armor which needs to be filled, but other than that, the cast is really good. Some pieces are very thin and delicate so I would suggest taking care when removing them from their carrier blocks. Here's a list of the parts included in this set:
- right arm
- left arm
- right boot
- left boot
- MICO pack and accessories (4x)
- other equipment pieces (7x)
- helmet and helmet accessories (8x)
- weapon and weapon accessories (12x).
Altogether, the kit contains 38 pieces plus a small resin base. This figure, as the other figures the sculptor released under Live Resin label, is designed in a modular concept... The idea behind this concept is to provide main figure parts and all the equipment pieces in the kit separately so that modelers can customize the figure to their own preferences.
The figure represents a M240 machine gunner with MICO Assault Pack, posed in a well-balanced action posture, deploying suppressive fire. The garb and gear sculpted on the figure qualifies him as a Special Forces operator. The figure wears flame-resistant Army Combat Shirt (ACS) and Army Combat Pants (ACP) produced by Massif. His Generation II Improved Outer Tactical Vest (IOTV) is fitted with Deltoid Auxiliary Protective Shoulder Pads and the figure also sports Ballistic Groin Protection. As for the equipment, the main feature of this figure is definitely a large MICO Machine Gunner’s Assault Pack. It consists of a large square backpack covered in PALS webbing, an additional backpack module, and custom suspension system with adjustable waist belt and shoulder straps. The feed chute comes out of the side of the pack, is covered with Cordura to prevent the entrance of debris, and attaches to weapon feed via an adapter. The other equipment in this kit comprises of a small utility pouch, twin pistol mag pouch, radio pouch with AN/PRC-148 MBITR, Peltor PTT and a Serpa holster clipped to IOTV upper chest securing the figure’s secondary weapon. Two helmets are included in this set, Airframe and uncovered MICH, with 2 different strobe lights and GPNVG-18 night vision system.
The figure is armed with M240L, a lightweight version of the standard M240 machine gun. The weapon features Picatinny rails for attaching the accessories on upper receiver and the handguard. The M240 accessories included in this kit are two optical sights (Trijicon 6x48 ACOG and Raytheon AN/PAS-13 Thermal Weapon Sight), Meyers Glare Mout Visible Green Laser, bipod, forward grip and suppressor.
The sculptor did an amazing job on the figure. As far as I can tell, all the intricate details of the uniform and the equipment are replicated to the highest standard in scale and this miniature is a real work of art. After producing the 1/35 scale version, this figure is soon going to be offered in 1/16 scale as well… and I’m sure the larger scale is going to take the figure to an even more impressive level.
As mentioned previously, this kit consists of 38 pieces and although it might seem as a complex build, the figure takes some time to assemble but actually goes together without any major issues. The main body parts feature protrusions and indentations which help in aligning the pieces correctly. The fit of these pieces is perfect and I didn't have to do any additional putty work. Please note that I did not fix the right arm to the torso just yet, as I wanted to test the fit of the weapon before actually gluing the piece. The equipment was added next; MICO pack with additional pack module and MBITR pouch, utility and pistol mag pouch, M9 in Serpa holster and PTT system. The first assembly steps are shown on photos 1-3.
The kit includes two helmets; I chose to follow the box art image and use MICH for my build. I also decided to assemble the GPNVG-18, a 4-piece affair which is not for the faint hearted... an Optivisor should provide a very welcomed help with the assembly, as well as for attaching the device, its battery pack and the strobe to the helmet. The finished helmet (with a brass wire microphone boom) is shown on photos 4-5.
The M240L and all the weapon accessories supplied in this kit are delicate parts, so I would suggest extra care when cleaning the pieces from their carrier blocks. Two magnifying scopes are included in the kit, and I decided to go with the AN/PAS-13. The scope is assembled using 4 pieces... perhaps a bit of overkill, but the end result is well worth it. I also added the Glare Mout laser and bipod, and then fixed the MICO chute adapter to weapon's feed tray. The M240 carrying handle, although depicted on the box art, is not included in the kit. The fully assembled weapon is shown on photos 6-7.
I cut the weapon's handgrip and dry fitted it to the right hand to ensure a correct placement. I fixed the weapon to the figure without any major issues; if the arms are positioned correctly on the torso, both hands should grip the weapon well. The chute is fitted to the weapon and the MICO pack, and finally the helmet attached to the head. The complete figure is shown on photos 8-15.
The only extra thing this kit needs is the radio communication wiring. This is easily added using thin brass wire.
ANT Miniatures is well known for their superb 1/35 scale line of modern figures, and Assault Trooper with M240L Machine Gun and MICO Pack Ammo Can (35-708) is the first miniature in ANT catalogue produced using 3D software and rapid prototyping technology.
The figure is sculpted in a well balanced action posture, features a very nice resin cast and offers amazing level of details for a 1/35 scale miniature. The kit consists of almost 40 pieces, which might make building the figure a bit intimidating for novice modelers. However, it really is not such a big deal… Due to the very intelligent engineering of the main pieces, the figure builds very easily and the fit is perfect. Altogether, a very impressive release from ANT Miniatures!