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Built Review
135
U.S. Stryker Brigade
U.S. Stryker Brigade OIF ACU Infantry
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by: Mario Matijasic [ MAKI ]

Introduction

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.

review

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

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.

Conclusion

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.

References:
http://www.sbct.army.mil/
http://www.globalsecurity.org/
http://world.guns.ru/assault/as17-e.htm
SUMMARY
Highs: This is a great kit! The figures look really good; sculpted with amazing sense of motion in well balanced action poses, perfectly cast with very high level of details. If you are looking for US OIF 'in action' figures, this is definitely the set for you.
Lows: A seam line along the back of the leg on one of the figures.
Verdict: Highly recommended.
Percentage Rating
85%
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: HF 578
  PUBLISHED: Apr 04, 2010
  NATIONALITY: United States
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 93.37%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 88.86%

Our Thanks to Hobby Fan!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.
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About Mario Matijasic (Maki)
FROM: CROATIA HRVATSKA

You wonder how did this addiction start? I was a kid when my dad broght home a 1/72 Concord airplane; we built it together as well as couple of other airplanes after that. This phase was just pure fun: glue, paint, decals in no particular order... everything was finished in a day or two. Then I disc...

Copyright ©2017 text by Mario Matijasic [ MAKI ]. All rights reserved.


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Comments

Absolutely fantastic review Mario! Very detailed and informative and tells me everything I need to know, great pics as well. Take note everyone-this is what a first class review is all about.
APR 04, 2010 - 06:27 PM
Excellent review, Mario! I'm surprised at the low score though. I would've rated these higher. However, I know you have reviewed many other 1/35 modern figures so perhaps your rating is accurate for these.
APR 04, 2010 - 09:18 PM
Great review, Mario! When will we see these figures painted?!
APR 05, 2010 - 01:37 AM
Thanks for publishing this one so fast James! Rob, thanks for your feedback, I appreciate it! I like including some extra info on garb and gear in my reviews, but I often get carried away... I'm glad you found it informative. As for the photos, I actually feel my pictures do not do this set justice; taking detailed photos of figures cast in cream resin is not easy and I think they don’t show the details all too well. Pete, good to hear from you buddy! I agree, perhaps I should have rated these higher, but I have had some questions on my % system before and I decided to be more strict in the grading. Ted, my thanks for the samples! As for the painting, painting ACU in 1/16 was a nerve wrecking experience... I'm sure those pixels would be even harder to reproduce realistically in 1/35. Mario
APR 05, 2010 - 02:50 AM
I think your grading is just fine. I too have reevaluated my grading system and decided is reserve 90% or over for a product which really was flawless. The fact you mentioned an albeit small problem with the mold seem means that 85% seems fair to me. As to photographing them, I find it helps to give the figures a coat of grey primer, this makes the details stand out a lot better.
APR 05, 2010 - 04:01 AM
True... I too think that there are some figures out there that are practically flawless that put them above the 90% ratings. OK, I agree then with your grading.
APR 05, 2010 - 10:33 PM
THESE ARE SO COOL !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
MAY 16, 2010 - 02:44 PM
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