Over the past few years NATO pilots have often found themselves in active combat, flying over Serbia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya amongst others. Modern warfare is heavily focused on air power, not least because it is cheaper and easier than placing large numbers of troops and armour on the ground, while any casualties will be very low and more politically acceptable at home. Pilots may be relatively few in number, but the immense complexity of modern military aircraft means they are some of the most highly trained and skilled personnel in any force, with much greater personal responsibility than most soldiers or seamen can expect to face. Both Airfix and Esci have produced sets of such men, but naturally this much more recent set from Revell brings their story up to date.
As can be seen from the image of the sprue, these figures come on a single sprue somewhat akin to a kit of an aircraft. The plastic used is harder than traditional figures, and many need some assembly, which is easy enough as the plastic takes normal cement well. Only one standing figure has to be put together, but all of the seated pilots have at least separate arms, which allows both for some variety in how they are actually positioned and makes it easier to squeeze them into a tight cockpit. Everything does need gluing, but the fit is quite good so putting together is not difficult. There is no flash anywhere, and these are very nicely detailed figures, although inevitably some of the very slender parts such as the oxygen masks are less sharp and not ideally placed, to allow for the limitations imposed by the mould.
As always, pilots are basically in one pose when in action, and Revell have included four such seated pilots in this set. The major difference between all these is in the arms, which are separate and can be both positioned at different angles and switched between the figures to create the desired pose. All have helmet on and oxygen mask to the face, but the face is visible, so you can decide for yourselves whether this indicates the inner, transparent visor is up or down. Certainly the shaded visor is up on all models. All of course wear the flight suit and g-suit with mae west around the neck, so the only real difference is in the posture of the men. Some lean further forward than others, suggesting they are still at the preparation stage of their mission rather than actually in flight. The thumbs up pose of our first pictured seated pilot also seems to suggest this. This means some of the figures are not ideal for the more laid-back seats of some fighters, although two of these poses have a separate body and legs, so it would be relatively simple to change their posture to suit your needs.
If the seated pilots are intended to crew an aircraft, then the standing figures must be to decorate a model or diorama of one. All are in pretty relaxed poses, perhaps discussing the mission or checking the plane itself. There isn’t much action here, but there does not need to be, so if the poses are quite dull they are nevertheless perfectly appropriate. All but one are of pilots, so again we find them in flight suit and g-suit, but at various stages of readiness to climb into the cockpit. We particularly liked the one figure wearing sunglasses, but all of them are fine. The man pointing looks to be ground crew as he has ear defenders and no g-suit. About the only disappointment with these figures is that no bases are provided.
Although there are small differences between the clothing and equipment of the various NATO members, these figures are generic enough to cover the stated subject well, and everything looks accurate to us. Those with a particular interest in such things as oxygen masks or the arrangement of pockets on flight suits may find some figures more or less accurate for any given air force, but given the scale we thought Revell did a good job here. While this is not a set of soft-plastic action soldiers like you will usually find on this site, it does the job well and will provide some welcome life to many a model of a jet fighter, with the seated figures in particular being appreciated by many modellers.