by: Rob Harvey [ ]
Unlike most western tanks, modern Russian MBTís are unique in having a three man crew, the auto-loader replacing the need for a manual loader.
Modern Russian figures, especially post cold war subjects, are rather thin on the ground. This is a gap that is increasingly being filled by a number of Russian resin manufacturers, however until now the only available modern tank crew figures available in injection plastic were an old offering from Dragon. Russian model company Zvezda now come to the rescue with a welcome set of modern, up to date, Russian tank crew figures.
The quality of many Eastern European injection plastic kits was, until recently, dubious at best. However a number of Eastern companies have improved by leaps and bounds in recent years, and seem to be advancing the hobby, particularly in the area of plastic figure sets.
Zvezda have begun to produce some rather nice sets recently, and their moulding quality has developed considerably. This latest set represents many of those advancements, and is of a subject very welcome for modern armor and figure modellers.
The three figure set contains just 33 parts, and includes three complete figures and a small base for displaying two of the figures.
The basic build up of the figures is the same as most plastic figure kits, each leg is separate and attach to the main torso, to which the arms and head are also glued.
All three figures are depicted wearing what appear to be the modern Russian tankers BDU, and the latest type Russian tankers helmet with 6 ribs. Two of the figures are armed with very well detailed AK-47ís.
The quality of molding and sculpting on these figures is reasonably high. The poses on all three are excellent and they look very natural and realistic, plastic figures often look a little stiff but these are spot on. The standing pair look well posed together, but can easily be used on their own, perhaps with the pointing figure on the turret of a tank.
As with all injection plastic figures there are some mold lines to clean up, but nothing too troublesome. The fit of the parts is pretty good as well, obviously one will require some filler around the joins, but the gaps arenít too drastic and can easily be sorted. The detail on the clothing is reasonable, perhaps lacking some definition on the front jacket zippers, pockets and creases. The front of the jackets is probably the weakest point on these figures, and Iíd suggest defining some of the detail with some careful re-sculpting with a scalpel.
The strongest point of these figures has to be the heads and helmets. The faces are spot on and look perfect, I really cannot see any need for replacing the heads on this set. The way the tankers helmet has been handled is just perfect, the two side flaps come separate and must be glued to the side of the heads leaving a nice gap around the face, in this aspect the overall head and helmet look just as good as a resin counterpart. Zvezda have also molded the jacket collars separate, so once again this leaves a nice realistic gap around the edge; details like this significantly improve the overall look of the figures and add to the realism.
As mentioned two of the figures are supplied with AK-47ís which attach to slings molded on the figures bodies. The slings are best replaced with metal foil or being re-sculpted from putty, as the molded on details donít really look ideal. Finally a small base is supplied for two of the figures, I suppose this could be used if one wanted to display two of the figures, but I think a better base could easily be made from simple diorama materials.