by: Rob Harvey [ ]
Following the al Qaeda orchestrated attacks on September 11th, the Afghan Taliban where give an ultimatum by the United States to hand over high level al Qaeda individuals (widely known to having been harboured in the Islamic Republic). Combat operations officially started on the 6th October following the Taliban’s refusal to cooperate, although CIA Special Activities Division (SAD) personal had arrived in country days earlier to link up with the Northern Alliance and facilitate the insertion of Army Special Forces detachments.
Army Special Forces, among other US Special Forces units, would go on to play a key role in the initial stages of the ensuing Operation Enduring Freedom. ODA teams (Operational Detachment Alpha) of 5th Special Forces Group formed part JSTOF-N (Joint Special Operations Task Force- North) or ‘Task Force Dagger’. Operating alongside the 160th SOAR, they arrived in country in mid-October to link up with CIA elements and Northern Alliance warlords. They were instrumental in coordinating air-strikes on Al Qaeda and Taliban positions, as well as numerous other activities such as ‘pshyops’ and the capture of on main urban centers such as Mazar-e-Sharif in November.
As the war progressed ODA teams went on the engage in operations around Tora Bora and the 2002 Operation Anaconda. 5th SF Group left Afghanistan in 2002 to prepare for upcoming operations in Iraq, leaving other Special Forces units to continue the fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
As some of you may choose to skim read my review, I’ll start with the most important bit. This figure is quite simply stunning. The quality of the sculpting and level of intricate detail displayed here is synonymous with a style of sculpting coming out of Russia at present which is at the forefront of the miniature figure market.
Cast in fine grey resin and sculpted by the highly talented Sergey Traviansky, the figure is broken down into seven parts, packaged in the distinctive Evolution Miniatures cardboard box. The casting is totally flawless without any imperfections present on the parts. An even more impressive feat is the almost total absence of any mold lines, one only needs to remove fairly minimal casting blocks from the separate parts, which thankfully have quite limited contact points.
The basic breakdown of the figure is main body; separate lower right leg; 2x arms; main weapon with integrally cast hands, radio and side arm.
The figure itself depicts a Special Forces Operator in Afghanistan circa 2001-2003, and is most likely based on the appearance and attire of a member of a 5th Special Forces Group ODA team during summer op’s prior to the tightening of grooming standards (in late 2002). ODA Operators working alongside the Northern Alliance and locally recruited Afghan Militia Forces (AMF), adopted full beards and often wore the traditional Afghan pakol, both to blend in and as a mark of respect and cultural awareness.
Like many Operators at the time, this figure wears an ad hoc combination of equipment and clothing, very much selected on a mission specific basis. His basic attire consists of civilian vest, the ubiquitous standard issue 3-tone desert pattern BDU trousers and desert boots. Secured to his right thigh is a drop leg harness with Safariland Tactical Holster. The lower leg attaches just below the harness, with a flawless fit and the clothing creases matching up.
On his upper torso he wears a Ceradyne SPEAR (Special Operations Forces Equipment Advanced Requirements) BALCS (Body Armor/Load Carriage System) vest. Manufactured from 2000 onwards, these vests featured soft fragmentation protective armor and could also carry two SAPI plates. On the front and rear are vertical and horizontal rows of PALS webbing for pouch attachment. Slung across his chest is a Blackhawk Industries chest rig, with four M4 magazine pouches and two larger utility pouches. Just visible attached to the SPEAR vest above the chest rig and partially obscured by the figures shemagh is an M9 magazine pouch and attached to the rear is a Camelback MOLLE hydration system with drinking tube across the shoulder. Molded separately is an AN/PRC-148 Multiband Inter/Intra Team Radio (MBITR), for affixing onto the Camelback.
The head is cast integrally with the main body and is a work of art. The detail is mind blowing with plenty of character and a superb likeness to the now famous bearded ODA Operators. He wears M44 style U.S. military ‘sun, wind & dust goggles’, and Tactical Assault Spec-Ops Communication Headset (TASC-1), the modeler just having to fashion a microphone from fine wire.
The two muscular arms are cast separately, with pour block attachment points on the elbows. These will require some careful removal and cleanup to ensure the bare arms are left with no imperfections. There are also very faint (and I mean incredibly faint) mold lines present on each arm, a quick running over with the scalpel blade will have these gone instantly. The arms align with the main torso almost perfectly, with no filling required.
Main weapon comes in the form of an M4A1 SOPMOD with Rail Interface System (RIS) hand guard, M203 40mm grenade launcher, ACOG optical site and Guarder M203 Flip-Up Leaf Site. The Nomex flight gloved hands are cast integrally and fit well on the arms. The weapon is molded onto its pour block with a number of fine mold pegs to prevent warping or damage during transit.
It’s not often I’m presented with a product which I cannot fault in anyway, but truly there is nothing negative I can say about this latest release from Evolution Miniatures. Everything from the subject matter and dynamic pose to the sculpting and casting is utterly superb. The detail present on the figure is mind-blowing, with some of the finest sculpting I’ve seen. The drapery on the uniform is incredibly natural looking, and proportions wise everything is perfect.
I hate to produce a gushing review, but with so many different companies in the market now offering wares of varying quality, when a company goes to the lengths to produce a product of this high quality I believe they deserve a great deal of praise.