by: Mario Krajinovic [ ]
A Navy SEAL is a warrior in the truest form. From the start their path is a fight; fight for what you want: enlistment, selection, training, and combat – there are no shortcuts. An elite fighting unit that paved the way for some of the finest men in the military community. True professionals in every way.
Airborne Miniatures is a renowned resin figure company that has some of the best figures when modern elite fighting forces are involved. This is a review of their latest release in 1/9 scale that is dedicated to these modern warfighters – U.S. Navy SEAL bust [kit #903]
The bust comes securely packaged in a hard cardboard box and protected by bubble wrap, thus ensuring that all the fragile parts reach the modeler intact. The box features a nice picture of the assembled bust sculpted by Maciek Rebkowski and painted by MJ Kim. After opening the box and examining zip-lock bag content, the parts count reached a total of 25, which is a lot for a bust, however this provides all the necessary details we are accustomed in seeing from Airborne Miniatures. The casting is nice; cream resin which has some flash and some air bubbles. Casting blocks of the main figures part are big, but well placed, allowing easy clean up with minimal chance of damaging the detail. One thing though about the packaging is there are a lot of parts together in small space which leads to possible tiny parts breaking.
The main parts are as following:
• right arm
• left arm
• right hand attached to carbine
• left hand
• kangaroo pouch with three primary weapon mags
• double primary weapon mag pouch x2
• FAK/utility pouch
• tactical light/front grip pod
• holographic weapon sight
• primary weapon crane buttstock
• primary weapon barrel and front iron sight
• single primary weapon mag
• MS2000 IR/Visible Distress Beacon
• NVG helmet mount (2 parts)
• radio antenna
The helmet is an SF favorite; the MSA TC-2001 Side-Cut Combat Helmet. TC-2001 is a modular helmet system that provides ballistic, fragmentation, aural, and impact protection; while at the same time being night vision, and enables the easy integration of combat communications systems such as the SFCTB Special Forces Communications System and is NBC equipment compatible. The helmet allows maximum sensory awareness for the user, which includes unobstructed field of view and ambient hearing capabilities.
Molding is great and the helmet features three Velcro patch areas on the sides and the back of the helmet. This is usually intended for unit/morale/ID patches and accessories such as the MS-2000 strobe light (made by ACR Electronics) provided in the kit. Also molded is the standard 3-hole bracket for the Wilcox L2 G03 NVG mount (provided as separate 2 parts).
The make-or-break for any figure or bust is the head. This one is superbly sculpted and captures great facial expression and is bursting with details all over. Any respectable SF operator runs high-speed, low drag facial hair and this one is no different. A fully grown beard and moustache will ease the panting of large skin areas that most modelers are intimidated of when dealing with such large figures.
The helmet straps are quite complex and the buckles and snaps are very detailed. A good paint job will bring a lot of attention even to the back of the head.
The eyes are covered by Oakley SI M Frame glasses which provide high-mass/high-velocity impact protection. The lenses are made of Plutonite, a proprietary material that offers the highest level of optical clarity available in eyewear, providing razor-sharp clarity at all angles of view, which maximizes peripheral vision and protection against sun, wind and side impact. This is also something modelers will find helpful by avoiding the trouble with realistic eye painting.
Clear and reliable communication is critical to the success of any operation and this figure comes with molded Peltor COMTAC II ACH Tactical Headset. The cup profile is designed specifically for the MICH/ACH helmets for better fit and improved comfort which is evident when used with a low-cut profile helmet such as the TC-2001. Some features of this headset are:
• Continuous communication of 2-way radios
• Cup microphones provide talk-thru listening capability
• Instantaneous suppression of harmful impact noises to 82 dB inside the ear-cups, while amplifying up to 18 dB ambient noises/voices
• Excellent helmet clearance at ear areas
• Noise canceling flexible gooseneck microphone
• Various types of chest PTT and finger PTT
• Waterproof touch pad volume control
Again, the molding is great, and all of the details are there. There are even small protrusions on the cups where the Peltor logo is supposed to be.
The largest part is the torso, sporting a NWU type II (AOR 1) Combat Shirt and a LBT Plate Carrier. In January 2010, the Navy began considering new Navy Working Uniform patterns modified from MARPAT, named Type II and Type III, desert and woodland, respectively. These patterns are overall darker than their respective MARPAT progenitors, modified with different color shades and a vertically-aligned pixel pattern for the woodland version.
Since SF operators have freedom to choose and modify their gear, this figure has a wide variety of gear bristling with details all over. Where to start? The combat shirt is based on the Crye Precision combat shirt with cut off sleeves, and features great details on the zipper, Velcro shoulder pockets and all the seams. The wear is quite natural and all the folds and creases appear very realistic. SEALS usually opt for mobility over protection (HSLD philosophy) and utilize the London Bridge Trading LBT-6094 Plate Carrier, made of 500d DuPont Cordura, providing a modular front and back area loaded with PALS attachment system and fully adjustable modular side panels. The protection comes from either soft armor inserts and/or level IV hard plates. Some of the features of this plate carrier are:
• Modular web attachment points on entire vest profile providing maximum versatility
• Front, back, and side plate compatible
• Quick release tabs for front and back plate removal
• Concealable rear adjustment in cummerbund style side panels constructed with elastic for comfort and ease of movement
• Padded shoulder straps with additional removable wrap around pads offer extra comfort and support
• Wire, antenna or hydration hose guides
• Spine plate sleeve
• Reinforced drag handle
• Centered front pouch provides easy access to maps, magazines, or utility gear
• Interior hook and loop attachment points for shoulder or collar soft armor (lbt-2540kit ancillary package)
• Interior side radio pouches
Maciek really pulled this one off – if looks and feels real. The weight distribution is superb. The plate carrier looks loaded, and the weight pulling the carrier slightly downward is very natural in appearance. Shoulder pads look tight and all the pull-tabs are present and the folds are very realistic. The PALS attachment point are all lightly compressed as if they have been used and are not flat but are 3D and the best part this effect is quite random just like in real life-just plain natural overall look and feel. Also included are a AN/PRC-148 MBITR radio stowed in the left side panel and a TCI's VIC-3 U-94 Series PTT Headset Controller attached to one of the PALS loops.
One part I was confused at first was that the front attachment panel looks undefined and watery in detail. That’s because another part goes on top of it – LBT 2645 kangaroo pouch that holds M16/M4 carbine, 30 round magazines secured in place by bungee retention with quick pull tabs for ease of access. This is also very clever in design. The lower MOLLE loops (the under-detailed ones) are actual locating tabs which help alignment of the add-on pouch and are visible enough to provide more detail to the plate carrier. The pouch is the same level of detail as the carrier with three Magpul PMAG’s secured with bungee cords, although some air bubbles are trapped in the lower edge of the pouch which will require some filling.
Just when you think: “Aaahh, the major parts are done, what more can he bring to the figure?” – You’re in for more detail. The arms correctly portray the anatomy of a Navy SEAL with muscular forearms. The left arm has a wrist mounted map pouch which just screams for a detailed image or a satellite map or whatever you want to add. The hand is a separate part and comes with Oakley SI Assault Gloves. The SI Assault Gloves have many useful features such as:
• Rugged micro-vented leather palm reinforced and carbon fiber knuckle plating
• Premium leather and durable synthetics with flexible articulated construction
• Mesh zones and rubber exhaust ports for comfortable breathability
• Surfacing on palms and fingers for a secure grip plus textured pull for easy donning
These are very well made, and the detail level is amazing. What you could do to improve them is simply a kick-ass paint job and some carbon fiber decals or painting for the knuckles protection. The left hand is portrayed using the PTT controller and fits nicely in the arm socket.
The right arm is simple affair, but is also visually interesting as it’s the hand holding the weapon. The gloved hand is molded together to the Mk.18 CQBR carbine upper/lower receiver and like expected from true professionals, displaying proper trigger discipline. Some bubbles are present in the very tips of the fingers, but should not be a problem to fill with your choice of putty.
On to the primary weapon: the Mk.18 CQBR carbine. The Mk.18 is developed and built by NSWC (Navy Surface Warfare Center) Crane as a complete weapon: lower/upper receiver, barrel, stock, etc. - these came in the Mod 0 configuration. Lots of similarities exist between the M4 CQBR, the Mk.18 and the Mk.18 CQBR and to show the amount of confusion related to these weapons here’s a quick history rundown: the Mk.18 was originally envisioned as the Mk.18 CQBR, specifically to fill a gap in the SEAL armory between the Mp5 and the full length M4 - but when it evolved into its own weapon system with its own basis of issue, the Mk.18 component and CQBR (Close Quarters Battle Receiver) component were de-coupled. The Mk.18 weapon system became the Mk.18 Mod 0 Close Quarters Battle Rifle (unfortunately - also shortened to "CQBR") while the M4 CQBR accessory upper receiver group became a different entity. Both are made by different companies, but look nearly identical.
The regular Mk.18 is used by VBSS units while the Mk.18 CQBR’s are used by NSW units; mainly the SEAL teams. The biggest difference is that the CQBR is built on a Colt M4A1 lower, whereas the Mk.18 uses an M16A1 - styled lower; (you can tell because the cut near the front receiver pin is not rounded but cut out with a harder edge). Mk.18’s have CRANE laser engraving markings on the right side of the lower receiver while the CQBR’s don’t have any.
The weapon is broken into several components:
• The Crane buttstock - is an adjustable buttstock that comes with a Garmin Foretrex lightweight wrist mounted GPS receiver that has become very popular with troops down range. It can often be seen strapped to a weapon’s stock so that the shooter can conduct a GPS check by simply rolling his carbine toward his face. In addition to GPS, the device also integrates an electronic compass (yes, mounting it to a rifle affects it) as well as a barometric sensor which comes in quite handy while operating in mountainous terrain.
• The upper/lower receiver assembly is very well represented, the charging handle, fire selector switch, forward assist button, mag release button, it’s all there and in very sharp detail. The rail interface is sharp and presented in full length which enables all the options for this weapon to be installed. A separate PMAG is included to be added to the mag well. Other accessories include an EoTech holographic sight (probably a 553 series), AN/PEQ-15 Advanced Target Pointer Illuminator Aiming Light (ATPIAL) , and a SureFire M900V Vertical Foregrip WeaponLights white light/IR illuminator - fore grip combo.
• Muzzle (flash suppressor) and the front sights
This part looks more fragile than others, and some flash will need careful removing so take care.
More attachable accessories for the plate carrier include a pair of double 30 round mag pouches with visible PMAG’s inside, a FAK/utility pouch and a single M18 smoke grenade
This figure is incredibly detailed and well researched. You can’t go wrong with Airborne figures, however I wouldn’t recommend this figure to a complete beginner in resin figures due to somewhat large number of parts and complex weapon build.
Everything about this bust feels natural and realistic. The sculpting is amazing, but there are some tiny molding flaws such as delicate bubbles that will require some filling but other than that there are no problems. I would like to see some more kit content in the form of decals for the map pouch and some smaller markings i.e. smoke grenade stenciling, headset, strobe light and weapon markings. This is a larger scale than the usual 1/35 scale figure so I believe it would be nice to add these to the figure. If you’re a fan of modern figures, and would like a centerpiece bust in your collection this is one you need to consider.