The Middle East has long been plagued by militias. Raised and run by local warlords, religious groups and others who feel the need for private armies to protect themselves or further their own ends, everyone is used to seeing television coverage of such men fighting on the streets of so many countries in the region while any central government is powerless to intervene. The box mentions Iraq and Syria, which naturally brings to mind ISIS, also known by many other names, which at the time of writing is still active in both those countries.
While some militias make an attempt to enforce some form of uniform, on the whole such men seem to wear whatever they feel is most appropriate and readily to hand. Images on the world’s media show a wide mix, with much Western clothing of combat trousers and jackets, T-shirts and training shoes. More traditional local items also make an appearance, including a range of wrapping for the head and long tunics reaching to the knees. This is precisely the mix to be found on these figures, so on the available evidence we would have to say that these are as typical in dress as any. The kneeling prisoner in the bottom row wears a much simpler form of clothing, which looks very much like the orange jumpsuit originally worn by prisoners of the Americans, but now widely forced on prisoners on all sides, especially when being photographed or filmed.
Militia fighters are also often seen with load-bearing vests and other items of military kit, particularly ammunition pouches specifically designed for the weapon they carry. These, like the weapons, are sometimes captured from authorities or opponents, and several of these figures have this kind of equipment. Such vests appear in many varieties these days, and we could not identify any particular type, but everything looks good here.
On such men weaponry too can vary enormously, but there is no doubt what is the favourite – the AK-47 family of assault rifles. A lot of these poses look to be carrying the AK-74 or similar, and there are a couple who carry something very like the AK-74 in shape, but longer than that weapon, which we could not identify. Another classic weapon is the rocket propelled grenade, as seen in the top row, and there is a man with a machine gun in the second row, although the detail on this is sparse so we cannot be more specific. The box art seems to have little to do with the weapons actually given to the figures, but from what we can see everything here is authentic.
Most of the poses are the usual kind seen on television screens around the world. Two of the men are running and firing to one side, which looks very much like scenes of street fighting where men move between positions while providing their own covering fire. Several are actively using their weapon, and there are a couple that look more like the images sometimes seen in photos and videos when the men are away from any fighting. The third figure in the top row caught our eye because we were not sure what was going on there, but otherwise the poses are realistic.
Sculpting is generally very good with nice faces and good realistic clothing. Zero flash as usual, and some clever moulds to ensure the more complex poses have no excess plastic, which is particularly vital for those figures with weapons raised to the chest or face. One thing missing is a base, and Caesar provide a number of thin clear plastic bases, so if you want your figures to stand then you will have to attach these yourself, which will annoy some. Weapons can sometimes be a bit vague on detail, but these are still nicely produced figures.
Clearly this is an emotive subject for some, and Caesar have made controversial subjects like this before. However in the happy absence of any major wars between large states over the past few years, this is about as close as you can get to opponents for some of the other modern sets they have produced. With no real regulations, and an abundance of media coverage, it is hardly surprising that there are no accuracy problems here, and on the whole the poses are well-chosen. The usual good sculpting and clever mould from Caesar make this a well-made and well-observed set, which is very relevant to the world today, and will probably remain so for the foreseeable future.