The Stryker Brigade Combat Team (SBCT) is a full-spectrum, early-entry mechanized infantry force of the US Army formed around the Stryker Interim Armored Vehicle. The SBCT is an organic combined arms unit of light armored vehicles with increased tactical and operational flexibility, organized differently than the Infantry or Heavy Brigade Combat Teams. A full Stryker brigade was intended to be air transportable into any theatre within 96 hours, while a division sized force is expected to need 120 hours. It is interesting to note SBCT were first to field test the new Army Combat Uniform (ACU) in Iraq in October 2003.
I believe Hobby Fan’s “U.S. Stryker Brigade OIF ACU Infantry” (HF-578) were the first figures on the market wearing full ACU system. The figures represent two US Army Stryker Brigade Combat Team soldiers in action.
The Hobby Fan
kit arrived safely packed in a very sturdy box featuring a very nice box art picture. The box contains resin parts for two figures and a simple resin base. Each figure is packed inside its own zip-lock bag and consists of 5 main parts (full body with legs, left arm, right arm, head and the helmet), 10 various equipment pieces and a weapon. Closer inspection reveals excellent casting of the parts: cast in cream resin, the parts are clean of imperfections... no air bubbles or flash, but I did find a single seam line going along the back of the leg on one of the figures. Some careful sanding and the problem is solved.
Most of the casting plugs are well placed, allowing easy clean up with minimal chance of damaging the detail. The exemption to this is the arms which have obviously been designed to fit well to the torso, so the casting plugs have been moved to shoulders or elbows. Take your time when removing these. Also, be patient when cleaning weapon parts as they are immaculately cast but very delicate.
The fit of the figure parts is perfect; there is absolutely no chance of misaligning the pieces due to small protrusions and recesses in corresponding parts. Placing the parts correctly leaves no visible gaps between the pieces so minimal putty work is needed. Positioning the weapons properly on the figures hands is a bit tricky, so I would suggest to test fit everything before gluing those parts. Equipment pieces can be fixed to the figures body armor in modular fashion, customizing the gear to your own preferences. However, I would suggest checking the reference pictures of the typical OIF equipment setup before actually gluing the pieces to the figure’s torso.
The figures represent two US Army Stryker Brigade Combat Team soldiers in action; one is running for cover while the other is providing fire support. The poses of both figures look very natural and the sculptor captured the “feel” of action really nicely.
The figures are wearing Army Combat Uniforms (ACU). ACU is still 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. ACU features number of design changes as well as a different camouflage pattern from its predecessors. The design changes include:
▪ Mandarin collar that can be worn up or down
▪ Rank insignia affixed above right chest pocket
▪ Velcro for wearing unit patch, skill tabs and recognition devices
▪ Zippered front closure
▪ Elbow pouch for internal elbow pad inserts
▪ Knee pouch for internal knee pad inserts
▪ Elastic leg cuff
▪ Tilted chest pockets with Velcro closure
▪ Three-slot pen pocket on bottom of sleeve
▪ Velcro sleeve cuff closure
▪ Shoulder pockets with Velcro
▪ Forward tilted cargo pockets
▪ Integrated blouse bellows for increased upper body mobility
▪ Integrated Friend or Foe Identification Square on both left and right shoulder pocket flap
▪ Bellowed calf storage pocket on left and right leg
▪ Moisture-wicking desert tan t-shirt
▪ Patrol Cap with double thick bill and internal pocket
▪ Improved hot-weather desert boot or temperate-weather desert boot
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.
The sculptors of these figures did their job on ACU very well. All the details of the uniform are present and the folds have a very natural feel to them. Tactical gloves and knee pad protectors add to the realism of the figures.
Both figures are wearing Interceptor Body Armor (IBA), one of the latest modern body armor series fielded by the US Army. 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. IBA weighs only 16.4 pounds (the PASGT body armor weighed 25.1 pounds) and its lighter weight provides more mobility to the wearer. The Armor Protection Enhancement System can be installed to IBA for additional neck, arms and groin protection. The IBA and its components are very nicely sculpted in this figure set; the MOLLE loops look amazing with each loop well defined, removable throat and groin protectors are modeled correctly as well as the deltoid arm protectors, which attach at the shoulder of the IBA and are secured around the wearer’s arm with a strap. The deltoid protectors feature additional MOLLE loops and Velcro patch attachments.
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 helmets in this figure set are sculpted to a highest possible level of accuracy and represent MICH realistically in scale. All the MICH details are there; the bracket for mounting night vision devices, the straps on the rear and combat goggles (one inside the protective cloth cover).
The additional equipment in this set includes MOLLE compatible pouches and accessories. Each figure is supplied with 5 M4/M16 magazine pouches, 2 canteens, utility pouch, compass pouch and another small pouch that I could not identify. MOLLE is a load bearing system which allows the soldier to customize his vest or any other MOLLE compatible platform with a wide variety of pouches to his own preferences… you can customize these figures to your liking as each pouch is molded separately. However, I would advise using references before placing all the MOLLE pouches on the vest.
The figures are armed with SOPMOD M4A1 carbine, equipped with Rail Interface System (RIS) instead of the standard handguards. The first M4A1 has an ACOG scope, AN-PEQ laser target pointer and front grip attached to the rail system while the other M4A1 is fitted with M203 40mm grenade launcher. Both weapons are perfectly cast and very delicate; the only thing you need to add is the tactical sling.
I just love reviewing figures which are well researched, sculpted with great care to details and loads of sculpting talent, well cast and easy to build. Hobby Fan’s “US Stryker Brigade OIF ACU Infantry” set is exactly like that. This figure set looks great on the first glance as the sculpting and casting are almost perfect, but it is after you build the figures that this set really shines. The poses are very natural and the sculptor captured the feel of “action” really nicely. The facial features are well defined as well. The only problem I can envision with this set is painting pixilated ACU camouflage pattern.