Dmitri Baev, the owner of Soga Miniatures webstore, created his own resin figure label NATO in Miniatures
with the idea to produce 1/35 scale modern figures of NATO soldiers in current conflicts. So far, the company released modern US figures in various action poses; American soldier with cat (USA-004)
is the first figure kit with a completely different atmosphere to it… the vignette shows an exhausted soldier sharing a peaceful moment with a stray cat.
The figure arrived in a well designed and firm cardboard box. The box is printed in ACU pattern, features nicely painted box art picture and lists both the sculptor (Dmitri Shevtsov) and the painter (Dmitri Baev). Additionally protected with bubble wrap are two zip-lock bags containing 11 figure kit parts:
- Full body with legs
- Left arm
- Right arm
- Helmet (2x)
- Night vision goggles
- .50 cal ammo box
- Small vignette base
Closer inspection reveals excellent casting of the parts: cast in grey resin, the parts are clean of any imperfections... no air bubbles, no flash or seam lines. Perfect casting has definitely become a trademark of NATO in Miniatures kits. Casting plugs are well placed, allowing easy clean up with minimal chance of damaging the detail. Take your time when cleaning the weapon, however, as it is very delicate.
The assembly of the figure is pretty straightforward with excellent fit of the figure parts; there is almost no chance of misaligning the pieces. Placing the parts correctly leaves no visible gaps between the pieces so minimal putty work is needed. The anatomy the figure is perfect and the pose is very natural; the figure is sitting on a small base supplied with the kit resting his leg on the ammo box. The figure represents US Army soldier serving in Middle Eastern theater of operations (OIF/OEF).
The figure is wearing Army Combat Uniform (ACU)
. One of the most visible changes adopted by the US Army since Operation Iraqi Freedom began has been the fielding of ACU; the new uniform replaced old Battle Dress Uniform (BDU) and Desert Camouflage Uniform (DCU). One of the main goals of the change was to have a uniform that worked in all environments and held up to the rigors of combat duty as well as the strictures of day-to-day work in garrison. A great deal of time and money was spent on the ACU development and the Army Program Executive Officer Soldier did extensive testing with soldiers in Iraq/Afghanistan and at home in the US. Considering all the testing the uniform went through, it is surprising such a mediocre product finally emerged. Although the overall layout and organization of the uniform is good and the pockets are generally more useful and easier to access, there are number of ACU weak points: Velcro, durability, fire protection and camouflage pattern. The fact ACU camouflage pattern doesn’t blend well, particularly in the Afghanistan region, pushed US Army to start fielding ACU-cut uniforms in Multicam pattern. With a few more changes (particularly regarding the material and Velcro), the US Army can complete the process and ensure soldiers have a top-quality uniform ready to take them into combat. The sculptor did his job on ACU very well; all the details of the uniform are present and the folds have a very natural feel to them. Couple of aftermarket US Army patches can be used to further enhance the ACU appearance. Tactical gloves and knee pad protectors are perfectly sculpted and add to the realism of the figure in the field.
The figure wears Interceptor Body Armor (IBA)
. 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 PALS loops on the front and back which permit modular attachment of other equipment to the vest. Over the IBA, the figure wears lightweight WSH Chest Rig
. Made from Cordura, the robustly built WSH is an extended chest rig capable of carrying front and back SAPI plates and holding 12 M4 magazines (2 in each pouch). The rig is equipped with PALS loops on front and back allowing loadout configuration according to users’ needs. All of the equipment is sculpted on the WSH rig; couple of smaller MOLLE pouches, medium MOLLE utility pouch and radio pouch on the front of the rig, and a small tactical pack on the back. The details sculpted on both the IBA and WSH equipment is amazing; I like the addition of neck and groin protectors to the IBA, all the intricate buckles and straps of the WSH look great, PALS loops are well defined, as well as the two-way speaker/microphone system strapped to the WSH left shoulder. The only piece of equipment sculpted separately is the knife/bayonet. I think this item seems to be an older M8A1 scabbard type which is not a part of MOLLE system; I’m not going to use it on my figure.
The figure is 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. I welcome the addition of two MICH helmets in this kit, one of them with the night vision goggles setup. Both helmets are very nicely sculpted and represent MICH realistically in scale.
The figure is armed with SOPMOD M4A1 carbine
, equipped with Rail Interface System (RIS) instead of the standard handguards. The M4A1 accessories include an ACOG scope, AN-PEQ laser target pointer, tactical flashlight and front grip attached to the rail system. The weapon is perfectly cast and very delicate; the only thing you need to add is the tactical sling.
The extra pieces in this kit include a small base, .50 cal ammo case and the cat… all what a modeler needs for turning this kit into a really nice OIF/OEF vignette. The small base
features a very detailed oriental rug and some sort of a sand bag, which the figure is leaning on. The base has small indentations for easy placement of the figure. The .50 cal ammo box
can be used for resting figure’s left leg upon. Unfortunately, the ammo box seems to be of older WW2 type and I think it should not be used with this kit. With all the info available on the Internet these days, including the vintage ammo box in a vignette depicting a scene from modern era is a very unusual slip-up from the sculptor. The final piece of this set is a cat
, which provides a complete story of this vignette… A tired soldier sits down to relax and find a little piece of mind by sharing a peaceful moment with a stray cat.
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. NATO in Miniatures’ “American soldier with cat” figure kit is exactly like that. However, the best part of this vignette is that it reminds us of something we tend to forget easily… opening our hearts makes the world a better place.
Thanks to NATO in Miniatures for this review sample.