Of the many elite military units in the world today, very few can hope to match the reputation of the British SAS. Originally formed in 1941 for operations behind enemy lines, this regiment has seen more combat than any other special forces unit in the world. Yet thanks to their ending of the Iranian hostage siege in London in 1980, an event watched live on television by millions around the world, it is their anti-terrorist ('Counter-Revolutionary Warfare' (CRW)) role that is better known by the public. This sudden (unwelcome) leap into fame provoked Airfix to begin manufacture of a set of figures, but only a small 1/32 scale set was made before financial difficulties cancelled the 1/72 scale project. Since then many have wanted such a set, and with this product those wishes have finally been granted.
When we looked at these figures, the first from this new manufacturer, our initial reaction was of surprise and delight. Several of the poses are basically impossible to do, at least not without large amounts of excess plastic in areas where the mould cannot reach. However here there is absolutely no excess plastic as Caesar have used either a multi-part mould or one with sliding parts, allowing access to areas that are otherwise inaccessible and therefore creating better, more realistic poses. As far as we know this is the first time such a technique has been used on figures in this scale, and the results are excellent. As for the poses in general, they are fine, although we would have liked to have seen more movement in them as befits the rapid-movement action of this type of combat. The soldier with the grenade shows little sign that he is actually about to throw it, although of course that may be because he is not!
These men are clearly all performing a CRW role, and all wear a hostage rescue uniform of black nomex (flame-retardant) overalls over body armour, a nomex anti-flash hood and in many cases a respirator. The overalls are well supplied with the means to attach all manner of equipment as deemed appropriate for the mission, and an assortment of pouches no doubt carry ammunition, grenades etc. Some appear to carry a sledge-hammer on their backs, for forcing doors and other obstacles, and all the figures seem to be well equipped, remembering that lightness of movement is an important consideration and these men would not carry more kit than was thought necessary. Given that there is no absolute standard uniform or kit arrangement for such troops, we found no problems with accuracy on these figures.
To ensure they have the best possible tools for any given job, the SAS have great freedom in their choice of weapons. For CRW work the need is for a powerful and reliable weapon that is neither large nor heavy, and the usual choice is the Heckler and Koch MP5 machine gun, famously used during the 1980 London Embassy rescue. Generally considered the finest weapon of its type in the world, most figures in this set appear to be armed with it. In addition, all have a pistol holstered on their right thigh, and one figure is using his. Again the detail is not sufficient to be sure of the intended type of firearm, but it is likely to be either the FN Browning High Power 9mm semi-automatic pistol or perhaps the recently adopted 9mm SIG Sauer P226, both superb weapons. One figure is possibly using a 12 gauge assault shotgun (second figure, third row), but if so then he should not be holding it to his shoulder as the recoil will cause him to lose some teeth!
The quality of sculpting on these figures is excellent, with plenty of nice detail. Despite the increased number of split lines (lines where the moulds meet), these figures have absolutely no flash at all, and are basically ready to go straight out of the box. Given that these men will never be placed together in large groups as might conventional infantry, the 12 poses seem to cover the subject pretty well, with the individual wearing a suit and waving a pistol being an interesting component that could serve as either an undercover soldier, a 'James Bond' type agent or a particularly smartly dressed terrorist!
This is the first non-fantasy product from this company, and an impressive one it is too. Definitely nothing to do with the aborted Airfix figures, it also represents the first 1/72 scale soft plastic military figures set produced by an Asian manufacturer, a very healthy development in our view, and promises great things for the future.