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Orion

Set 72012

Modern Israeli Army (Set 1)

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released 2010
Contents 48 figures
Poses 12 poses
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Light Brown, Dark Brown
Average Height 23.5 mm (= 1.7 m)

Review

We always have a problem with sets labelled as 'modern' because they date so quickly. The Israel Defence Force (IDF) was founded in the same year as Israel itself, 1948, so has a relatively short history. However it has been an exceptionally busy one, with constant action against external and internal threats ranging from large-scale invasions to civil disorder. With so many potential possibilities for a focus, this set and the accompanying set 2 must be carefully considered to ascertain the correct date and therefore the appropriate usage.

As with any military force of the late twentieth century, the IDF has used a broad range of clothing and equipment. Leaving aside the last figure in the second row, and the last two in the third, all the figures here wear the standard IDF fatigues which are worn today and have been so for several decades. The trousers should have two large side cargo pockets and a smaller pocket above the left knee, but while these models have such pockets they are modelled on the front of the thigh and not the side, which is wrong. The third figure in the second row and the first two in the third row are tank crew, yet they do not wear tank overalls but the same fatigues as the infantry. This is not unknown, so is OK, but we would have preferred normal tankers overalls to have been depicted.

The three tank figures are wearing type 602 helmets, which were introduced in the mid 1980s, and a special tankers version of the standard webbing, which dates from the early 80s. All also wear body armour, which might seem surprising for men who are inside a tank but was perfectly normal. Of course these three are not inside a tank, and one seems to be engaged in reloading, but they all wear gloves as was normal practice.

For the infantry, they all wear the standard ballistic helmet which appeared in the 1970s. Several of these also have a very lose camouflage cover with has often been compared to a shower cap and first appeared in the late 1990s, which gives us a more specific date for these figures as it is still in use today. We would like to have seen some also wearing the matching loose camouflage smock, although how common this was is not clear but may have been fairly rare judging from photographs. Those without the cover display the older and almost universal tight-fitting net with rubber strap to keep it in place, although this is modelled here quite high on the crown whereas most photos show it tight to the rim of the helmet. These men also wear the standard Ephod webbing, which like the helmet has been in service since the 1970s.

The second figure in the second row is a sniper, who wears clothing designed to blur his outline, and his rifle is completely covered, which is fine. The last figure in that row wears a pullover in British/Pakistani style which was very common, as was the habit of folding his beret under a shoulder strap. Orion have given this figure a pistol and some sort of map case (?) to hold, and he is pointing at something, which suggests they intended this to be an officer, although this does not need to be the case (in reality officers in combat would be impossible to distinguish from their men at this scale on unpainted figures). The penultimate figure is of a woman, of which there are very many in the IDF due to the critical manpower shortage that such a small country will always face. Controversially, women are not used in combat roles except in emergencies, and this woman is wearing her Class 'A' uniform of blouse and skirt with compulsory shoulder bag, so is well away from any danger. Her hat is of a style that has been in use by all branches of the IDF for decades, and is correctly sculpted here, although it sits far too far towards the back of the head, and should be comfortably touching the forehead. The last figure, the rabbi, is dressed in civilian clothes although the IDF have plenty of uniformed military rabbis too.

As the clothes cover quite a long time period, it must be the weapons that we use to date this set more precisely. The five ordinary infantry in this set all have the M4 carbine version of the M16 rifle, sometimes with the M203 grenade launcher attached, which entered service from 2001. That ties in nicely with the helmet covers to show this set is truly for the 'modern' era, from around 2001 to the time the set was released. However the set has already started to date, as many elite forces have already been equipped with the new TAR-21 assault rifle, and the MTAR-21 is currently (as of 2011) being issued as the standard infantry weapon, yet this weapon is not to be found here (unless, of course, you count its prominent but misleading appearance on the box artwork!).

The last decade has seen wars in Lebanon and Gaza as well as battling the Second Intifada and countless domestic security alerts and border incidents, so the potential number of poses is enormous. With the tankers and so many speciality figures, there are only five ordinary infantry poses here, and given that limitation we thought all were pretty appropriate. Naturally action is usually from cover, and often in an urban environment, and these poses seem well suited to that scenario. All are fairly realistic, although the last two running figures are stretching it a bit, but generally no real problems here.

The sculpting too is pretty good, with fair detail in most places, although where sharply defined detail is called for (such as the rifles) there is some vagueness. There is no flash anywhere, and despite having mostly realistic poses there is no excess plastic in hidden areas where the mould cannot reach, so these are technically very well produced.

It should be noted that many of the sources listed in our bibliography below were published well before the intended date for this set, and are only useful because they illustrate clothing that has been in use since well before that date. The number of speciality figures - particularly the tank crew - seriously deplete the available range of ordinary soldiers, although it is nice to see such a wide range of personnel on show. Given the nature of modern warfare, where soldiers simply do not act together in large bodies as they would a century earlier, we thought the balance here was quite acceptable and while there are small problems with accuracy this is a good product that does the IDF justice.


Ratings

Historical Accuracy 9
Pose Quality 9
Pose Number 8
Sculpting 9
Mould 10

Further Reading
Books
"20th Century Guns" - Salamander Books - David Miller - 9780760315606
"Armies in Lebanon 1982-84" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.165) - Sam Katz & Lee E Russell - 9780850456028
"Flak Jackets" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.157) - Simon Dunstan - 9780850455694
"Israeli Defence Forces since 1973" - Osprey (Elite Series No.8) - Sam Katz - 9780850456875
"Israeli Defence Forces, 1948 to the Present" - Arms & Armour (Uniforms Illustrated Series No.12) - Samuel Katz - 9780853687559
"Israeli Elite Units" - Arms & Armour (Uniforms Illustrated Series No.17) - Samuel Katz - 9780853687979
"Israeli Elite Units since 1948" - Osprey (Elite Series No.18) - Sam Katz - 9780850458374
"Merkava Main Battle Tank MKs I, II & III" - Osprey (New Vanguard Series No.21) - Sam Katz - 9781855326439
"Modern Military Uniforms" - Silverdale - Chris McNab - 9781856055345
"The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rifles and Machine Guns" - Lorenz - Will Fowler and Patrick Sweeney - 9780754817581
Magazines
"Military Illustrated" - No.12
"Military Illustrated" - No.5
"Military Illustrated" - No.112
"Military Illustrated" - No.123

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