Practically all modern countries have some form of elite military force, and in most cases that means particularly highly-trained soldiers with access to the best equipment available who are tasked with the most difficult and dangerous missions, often in isolation rather than as part of a wider operation. Counter-terrorist operations feature highly in such actions, and naturally these often attract the headlines, particularly when the target is a well-known individual such as Osama bin Laden.
When considering these figures it is worth noting that no nationality is ascribed to them, and nor is any unit or even time frame. To an extent this is not necessary as many countries’ elite forces use similar equipment and clothing. Elite units of major countries have the pick of any issue item, non-issue item and often add privately purchased items as they see fit, so clothing, webbing, equipment and particularly weapons can be seen on men of many nationalities. This can lead to an almost homogenous image where troops from many countries look much the same, and when it comes to small-scale figures like these that particularly applies, as small differences such as details of weapons and camouflage patterns on clothing become undetectable.
Having said all that, these figures give a thoroughly confusing impression, and seem to come from a wide period of time, judging by some of the weaponry and webbing. Variety is fine, but it would be hard to place even two of these figures together as if in a team, yet it is as a team that elite forces usually work. Some wear helmets and others soft caps or hats, implying the latter are not in action at all. The first figure in the bottom row is particularly unusual as he wears a full-face visor and a good deal of armour, making him look more like a policeman on crowd control duty than a military man. Those with helmets should have goggles and optical equipment attached, but they do not, so are perhaps dating from many years ago. The last figure in the top row has headphones under his suitably-shaped helmet, so is perhaps a pilot or tankman, in which case why is he here? Although many of the figures have ammunition pouches these are varied and not always consistent with the rest of the figure, and on the whole are too few in many cases. On the other hand two have quite large packs or bergens, suggesting a patrol rather than a fire fight.
With the weapons in particular, although they are well detailed here, there are so many possibilities available in the World over recent years that just about any here could be identified with more than one of these, so any sort of a list of them would be pointless. However we would say the assortment of weapons - light machine guns, squad automatic weapons, assault rifles etc. - all look reasonable. One weapon that particularly stands out in this collection is in the hands of the last figure in the middle row - a bow. Not a usual weapon to be sure, but such a bow would have the advantage of being virtually silent, so for some clandestine missions where surprise is vital it is possible to imaging such a weapon still being used. Whether that ever actually happens seems open to doubt, however, so we remain to be convinced that this is a useful figure.
Given all the training these men do in urban warfare, clearing buildings etc. we thought the poses were OK but lacking in drama. None really seem to suggest the intense action of a close-quarters fight, as many counter-terrorist actions become, and many are clearly on patrol or otherwise not in harm’s way. So while there is nothing exactly wrong with any of them we felt this could have been done much better, with more lively poses clearly involved in some time-critical operation.
There is really nothing to complain about with the sculpting, which is highly detailed and very clear, as it would have to be for such complex subjects. Clearly again multiple-part moulds have been used, as even those with large amount of kit have each item clearly defined, while the poses are anything but flat and all look very natural. Unfortunately the multi-part mould has not been used as widely as in some previous sets because a few figures do have noticeable amounts of extra plastic - mainly between raised weapon and the body. This is nowhere more apparent than with the men with raised weaponry- the archer has the gap between arrow and arm completely filled in. We were disappointed as always to see that all the kneeling figures have no bases, which means they seem to be even shorter when arrayed next to their standing colleagues. More seriously however, two of these figures (the first two in the middle row) do not have their right knee on the ground, and so do not stand at all. Why these two have been given no base when they very obviously need one we cannot guess, but it is a bad design flaw that is very annoying.
As we have said this is a very motley collection with no apparent focus that makes us wonder exactly what the set was meant to deliver. Some of the kit and weaponry goes back decades, but some is fairly current, and certainly no two figures look like part of the same unit, never mind the same team. With no apparent subject matter it is very hard to say if anything here is inaccurate (although we are highly doubtful about the archer), but it is much easier to say the poses are really rather dull given the subject. The sculpting is very nice, although there is some extra plastic in places, but quite what you are supposed to do with a largely random array of figures such as this we do not know.