AC Models is a resin figure company based in New Zealand, producing a wide selection of figures and busts in larger scales. Andy Cairns, the creative force and the owner of the company, recently decided to venture in 1/35 scale... and immediately produced a figure set that caught the attention of many modelers. Special Forces Humvee crew, Afghanistan is a 3-figure set originally envisioned to depict New Zealand SAS operatives, but due to their universal Special Forces look, these figures can be used as any other nation SF soldiers serving in Afghanistan.
The set arrived well packed in a very firm cardboard box within a fortnight after being dispatched from New Zealand. The box features box art picture with three unpainted figures and all the necessary information about the kit. Two zip-lock bags containing resin parts are additionally protected inside foam padded box slider... this kind of packing offers minimal chances of parts getting damaged during transport.
The kit consists of three figures cast in grey resin... all together 6 parts. The driver figure is composed of two parts (full body and right arm), the passenger figure of three parts (full body, left arm and baseball cap), and the gunner figure is cast as a single piece. The parts are molded really well with almost no casting imperfections; I did find a small air bubble on elbow of one of the figures, and several tiny seam lines along their backs. The air bubble can be easily fixed with some putty, while the seam lines should be sanded down. On the other hand, the figures are depicted sitting and resting their backs on the vehicle seats, so the seam lines actually present no problems and would not be visible once the figures are placed inside the vehicle. After taking the pictures for the review, I noticed another seam line, this one a bit more awkward, going along the passenger figure left arm. This would have to sanded down carefully in order to preserve the detail on the part.
The figures are sculpted by Andy Cairns. Andy's sculpting style differs slightly from the usual sculpting practice as the lines of the uniform and equipment are more angular and artistic... something that, in my opinion, works really well in this scale. The figure sculpts are wonderful and convey the look of SF operatives in Afghanistan nicely; the beards, sunglasses, ball caps and shemagh scarves will probably remain one of the long lasting memories of SF involvement in Afghanistan.
The figures are designed to depict NZ SAS operatives in the early stage of Afghanistan conflict (2001-2003). As for the equipment, I must admit I'm not completely sure how specific the gear worn by these figures is... getting any info on the NZ SAS is definitely not an easy task. I can tell the figures do not wear US type BDU or DCU, but rather uniforms that look more alike to British desert DPM. The assault vests/chest rigs are a mystery to me although the info I gathered claims NZ SAS wears rigs of both US and NZ origin. The rigs sculpted on both the driver and the passenger figures look very similar to Modular Assault Vest (MAV) chest load bearing carrier. MAV consists of four triple M4 magazine pouches, two small and two large utility pockets. I don't think the gunner wears the identical rig, however I don't have any info to back up that claim. I'm really sorry my research does not offer more hard evidence about the equipment sculpted on these figures. If anyone reading this review has any more info on NZ SAS equipment (and is allowed to share it) I will be more than happy to update these lines.
The figures fit perfectly to my 1/35 scale Tamiya Humvee model. The driver sits comfortably in the driver's seat and his right hand can be easily fitted to properly hold the steering wheel. The passenger can also be placed to sit snugly on the front seat, with his right leg on the Humvee door frame and his left arm resting on the seat or even on some internal stowage pieces. The gunner fits well to the turret ring, both his legs inside the opening.
The poses are nicely rendered and show all three figures comfortably cruising in their vehicle. Equally important, there is no need to cut or modify the figures in order to get them to fit inside Tamiya Humvee. As for placing the figures in other modern vehicles available in 1/35 scale... I'm not sure if they fit as perfectly, but I'm quite confident it can be done with some minor adjustments.
Andy Cairns made quite a reputation among figure painters with his unique sculpting style and the wonderful large scale figures he produces under AC Models label. Stepping out of his "comfort zone" and starting a new line of figures in 1/35 scale was definitely a bold move... and, I think, the one that will prove very successful for AC Models.
The figures in Special Forces Humvee Crew set are magnificently sculpted, well cast, very easy to assemble and fit perfectly to Tamiya 1/35 scale Humvee models. These figures definitely have an amazing "cool factor" to them: beards, long shemagh scarves, sunglasses... what's not to like about the figures depicting SF operatives in Afghanistan? My only gripe with the set is the lack of info regarding the equipment these figures wear, so I'm not sure how specific these figures really are. Although designed as NZ SAS, I feel this set is "close enough" to depict most nation SF operatives in Afghanistan without any major alterations. The die-hard modelers might have an issue with this, but they should be perfectly confident in using this figure set with a really interesting NZ SAS Humvee conversion AC Models is working on (news story link
Special Forces Humvee Crew, Afghanistan is a very impressive experiment from AC Models and hopefully not the last vehicle crew figure set in 1/35 scale from that company.
EDIT: I finally managed to get some info and really good pictures of the kit these figures are wearing. Apparently the figures are based on the first NZ SAS rotations to Afghanistan; these operatives wore NZ style cut uniforms in British DPM camo and were supplied by personalized Kiwi rigs. Thanks for the help, Thomo!