, the owner of Special Ops Models
, has been providing his talents to the movie and commercial industry since 1989, working with companies such as Universal Studios, Disney, MTV, Stan Winston Studios, Jim Henson and Steven Spielberg. Andy has also provided models and props for Spiderman and Terminator movies… and I guess the guy is used to make a living by thinking “outside of the box”.
Special Ops Models is definitely not a mainstream figure company. Focused on 1/9 scale figures and working together with super-talented sculptor Alan Ball, Andy’s releases were very imaginative and unique catching the eye of many modelers. I'm sure you remember that wonderful NYFD Fireman figure, which was produced to honor the brave firemen giving their lives to save others in the World Trade Center 9/11 tragedy.
Special Ops Models newest release is 1/9 Navy SEAL from Iraq figure; one of the best resin figures I have ever seen.
The figure arrived safely packed inside a very firm box. The front of the box features nicely rendered box art composed of full figure picture and several smaller pictures of figure details. The box also lists both sculptors: Alan Ball and Andy Meyers.
Styrofoam packing peanuts protect the contents of the box; the big resin base, 4 zip-lock bags of resin figure parts, 1 zip-lock bag of resin and metal weapon parts, 1 zip-lock bag of extras (decals, lead foil and brass cord) and an additional leaflet featuring more pictures of the painted figure... all together more than 40 parts. Upon closer inspection the figure looks absolutely fantastic; the parts are cast in cream resin and are completely clean of any imperfections… there are no air bubbles, no flash or seam lines. Casting plugs are small and well placed, allowing easy clean up with minimal chance of damaging the detail. Besides that, the plugs are attached to kit pieces that are not going to be visible once the figure is fully assembled. The fit of the pieces is excellent; if placed correctly there are almost no visible gaps between the pieces so minimal putty work is needed… sculptors obviously paid a lot of attention to the figure break up while making a mold.
The anatomy of the figure is perfect and the pose is natural. The details are amazing; webbing and uniform details, assault boots, rough helmet surface, tactical vest with MOLLE loops, the tiny details of the weapon… it is all not only nicely sculpted but also 100% accurate to the real stuff. The head sculpt looks very good and the aggressive posture of the figure is nicely accompanied with its facial expression; this guy means business. All the facial features are well defined and I’m sure this one is going to be a treat to paint. The hands are amazingly rendered… all the minute finger joints, wrinkles and fingernails are there along with the intricate palm details on the left hand. I’m quite sure a good chirologist would have no problems in foretelling this guy’s future by studying the lines of his palm.
Battle Dress Uniform (BDU) has been worn as a standard uniform of the US Army since 1981. During the years several companies appeared offering customized BDUs; SWG RAID BDU is one of the most widespread modifications, especially among Special Forces operators. The modifications were added to improve security, functionality and accessibility of the entire BDU system. Modifications include:
- full coverage racer collar with neck ID device,
- forward tilted double layer chest Velcro pocket complex (accessible while wearing open front LBV and underneath chest pocket accessible even while wearing closed body armor),
- double layer shoulder Velcro pocket complex (consisting of main pocket and concealed compartment underneath),
- enlarged loop Velcro panels at cover flap and shoulder pocket body (maximizing the area for patches),
- Cordura fabric reinforced elbows,
- Velcro adjustable wrist cuffs,
- waist D-rings and nylon reinforced belt loops,
- Velcro closure butt pockets,
- Velcro closure expanded cargo pockets,
- small front hip pockets,
- Cordura fabric reinforced knees,
- lower leg pocket with divider,
- shock cord leg cuff closures.
The extra pockets and features make SWG RAID BDU far superior than the current BDU system. Looking at the figure makes me realize the guys at Special Ops Models must have done their homework really well; all the SWG RAID BDU modifications are present, giving the figure a characteristic SF appearance. The SF look is additionally enhanced with perfectly sculpted Oakley Assault Boots. Engineered with a lightweight athletic design exclusively for US Special Forces, the boots are well known for their durability, comfort and protection.
The figure is wearing Eagle Industries’ Combat Integrated Releasable Armor System (CIRAS), the common carrier choice for US SOCOM. The CIRAS is designed to fit BALCS or SPEAR cut level III soft armor and it incorporates a two cable release system. The CIRAS vest can be rigged in two different configurations: for land warfare missions or maritime operations. The land warfare configuration uses two separate pull pillows to release the back independently of the shoulders. The reason for this design is simple; if wounded, the back can be released leaving it connected at the shoulders and the vest can be lifted up out of the way during emergency medical treatment. It is then laid back down covering the user and still provides protection while in transport to a medical facility. Once at the facility, medical personnel can pull the second cable and release it from the user at the shoulders without causing any further injuries or trauma. The maritime setup uses the single pull pillow to completely release the vest from the wearer while in the water to prevent accidental drowning. The maritime version of CIRAS vest (MAR-CIRAS) on the figure looks amazing; I have compared the sculpt with the pictures of the real thing and found an excellent match. MOLLE loops even have a pattern sculpted to them giving them „elastic“ appearance. Velcro strips used for patch attachment also have a nicely sculpted pattern. All the pouches are cast separately from the CIRAS (except for the double pistol magazine pouch and the map/document case on the upper part of the vest) so the modeler can decide for himself on the optimal gear setup for the figure. The extra eqipment includes:
- MOLLE Hydration Carrier (with additional MOLLE loops for attaching extra gear, pile tape across the top for unit patches, name tapes, glint tape, blood types etc. and 100oz hydration bladder)
- Tactical Assault Gear's Fanny Pack
- utility MOLLE Pouch with side pockets
- medium MOLLE Pouch
- single Pistol Mag Pouch
- single Frag Grende Pouch (with internal slots for the grenade spoon to rest in)
- large MOLLE Pouch
- 3x double M4 Mag Ammo Pouches
- MBITR Radio Pouch (specifically made for the PRC 148 MBITR)
- triple Pistol Mag Pouch
- SEAL 2000 Knife
The secondary firearm is included in Drop Leg Holster which attaches to Duty Belt with a quick detach hanger and to thigh with two adjustable leg straps. A spare pistol magazine pouch is sewn on the front of the holster. You can use brass cord included in the kit to add Tactical Pistol Lanyard for weapon retention and recovery.
The figure is wearing TC-2002 low-cut Helmet. It provides ballistic, fragmentation, aural and impact protection, while at the same time being night vision, communications and NBC equipment compatible. The helmets suspension system provides maximum balance, stability and comfort. I love the helmet sculpt; not only is it accurate in shape and all the details but it also has a slightly rough coating to it. The fit to the head is perfect. As for the communication devices, the figure is sporting SF ComTac Headset, specifically designed to fit ACH helmets. The flexible boom microphone is cast separately; it is a very delicate piece so be patient while removing it from the carrier. The brass wire for replicating electrical wiring of the headset is also supplied in the kit.
In 1994, US Army adopted the Colt Model 720 selective-fire carbine (basically, a shortened M16A2 rifle) as the US M4 Carbine. The weapon was much more handy and comfortable to carry than the long M16A2 rifle, so the US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) designated the M4 as a universal weapon for the Special Operations community. M4 was soon modified with the M16A3-style flat-top receiver with integral Picatinny-type accessory rail instead of the M16A2 integral carrying handle. This modification was designated as M4A1 and the only difference between the M4A1 and M4 is that the trigger unit of M4A1 is modified to fire full-auto instead of the three shots bursts in M4.
Based on the SOCOM instructions, US Naval Surface Warfare Center developed Special Operations Peculiar Modification (SOPMOD) M4 kit which consisted of the M4A1 carbine equipped with Rail Interface System (RIS) instead of the standard handguards. The SOPMOD kit also includes a variety of the add-on goodies, such as various optical sights, laser pointers (visible and infra-red), detachable sound suppressor, M203 40mm grenade launcher with shortened barrel, a detachable front grip and tactical light… the kit allows special forces operators to configure their weapons to individual preferences and mission requirements.
The SOPMOD M4 seemed to be an ideal Special Operations weapon – handy and flexible with good firepower. However the latest experience in the Afghanistan showed that the M4A1 has some drawbacks. First of all, the shorter barrel commands the lower bullet velocities, and this significantly decreased the effective range of the 5.56mm bullet. Second, the M4A1 barrel and the forend rapidly overheat. Third, the shortened barrel resulted in the shortened gas system, which works under greater pressures, than in M16A2 rifle. This increases the rate of fire and produces more stress on the moving parts, decreasing the reliability. While adequate as a Personal Defense Weapon for the non-infantry troops, M4A1 is less than ideal for the Special Operations troops, at least in its present state.
The M4A1 carbine included in this kit is a real gem. It consists of 13 beautifully sculpted parts cast in grey resin, metal barrel and flash suppressor. I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but the cast is again perfect and resin is completely clean of all imperfections: there are no air bubbles, no flash or seam lines. Besides that, casting plugs are well placed allowing easy cleanup with minimal chance of damaging the detail. The fit of the parts is excellent; clever design of the weapon makes it almost impossible to misalign the parts. The correct placement of the main weapon parts is ensured by two holes in the receiver: collapsible buttstock fits to the back and the metal barrel inserts to the front. The fit of those parts is so good and tight you could almost do without opening the glue bottle.
The M4A1 receiver looks amazing. Comparing the receiver part with the pictures of the real thing I found all the details present… bolt catch, selector switch, charging handle, forward assist knob, ejection port cover, magazine catch button and the magazine itself… it’s all there. Carrying handle is sculpted on the receiver rail system; two small knobs from the kit are used for securing the handle to the rail. Position the knobs to the designated places on the left side of the upper receiver. Additional SOPMOD optical sight can be placed on top of the carrying handle as it sports an additional rail system.
The M4A1 buttstock also carries all the necessary details along with the anti-slip pattern on back side of the buttstock. The stock release lever is used to extend the buttstock; if you like, you can simulate different stock extensions by modifying the length of the main buttstock tube.
The M4A1 front part of upper receiver consists of a metal barrel, handguard and front sight. The metal barrel is enclosed in the resin and it looks great; using CNC metal barrel brings the kit to the next level and there is no chance of warping or breaking the barrel… a very nice touch by the guys at Special Ops Models. The rail system of the YHM Tactical Handguard is extremely well detailed and it presents attachment for all the SOPMOD accessories. The front sight is delicate but again very nicely cast. Brass flash suppressor looks amazing and it fits firmly to the metal barrel.
As mentioned, the weapon is sculpted with Rail Interface System on the YHM 2 Piece Tactical Handguards. RIS is composed of a series of rigid grooved Picatinny rails and provides attachment point used to accommodate the SOPMOD accessories. Here’s the list of SOPMOD accessories you get in the kit:
- ECOS-N red dot sight
- Deluxe Tactical Foregrip
- Visible Light Illuminator
- 4x RIS Rail Covers
Insight Technology's AN/PEQ-2 is a dual beam multi function weapon mounted IR Aiming Laser and Illuminator. It has two infrared laser emitters—one narrow beam used for aiming the rifle and one wide beam used for illuminating targets, like a flashlight. The beams can only be seen through night vision goggles. AN/PEQ-2 is a standard part of the US SOPMOD kit; I'm extremely pleased with how the guys at SpecialOps Models rendered this piece, it has all the details present and the fit to the RIS rail system is perfect.
ECOS-N is a red dot reflex sight variant of CompM2 sight manufactured by Aimpoint AB and a standard part of US SOPMOD kit. The piece is wonderfully sculpted with all the little knobs and details; the only thing missing are the flip-up scope covers, but those can be easily built from scratch.
The Deluxe Tactical Foregrip features ergonomic non-slip design with internal watertight battery compartment and pressure switch housing on both sides of the grip, making it ideal to use with rail mounted Visible Light Illuminator (VLI). Foregrips help in stabilizing the weapon and keep hands away from the hand guards and barrel which can become really hot during use. Both the tactical foregrip and the flashlight are sculpted extremely well and the only thing a modeler needs to add is the wiring from the pressure switch of the foregrip to the flashlight iteslf.
RIS Rail Covers add grip surface for improved weapon control but also provide protection from the sharp rail edges. The cover panels can be easily cut for custom gear fitting.
The fit of the accessory parts on RIS is excellent and the modeler can decide on the weapon setup and choose which goodies to use.
I also have to mention the Tactical Sling added in the kit. It is a very nicely sculpted one-point sling that attaches to M4A1. The instructions on how to soften the sling and shape it to desired form are included in the kit.
I have already said it couple of times, but I don't mind repeating... The M4A1 is a true gem; the amount of details on the weapon is amazing and the cast is fantastic. All the parts fit perfectly and there is almost no way you could misalign the pieces. The metal parts add to the realism of the M4A1 and the flash suppressor is extremely well detailed.
The list of goodies in this kit goes on... A separate zip-lock bag includes decal sheet, lead foil and brass wire for detailing the figure. The decal sheet includes US flag patches (both subdued and full colored ones), blood type patches, Calico Jack pirate patch, EOD patch and two morale patches (Suck Meter and Fun Meter). The decals should be applied to lead foil in order to give patches some thickness and then positioned to appropriate Velcro strips on the figure… you can get the feeling of decal placement by browsing the Internet and finding some pictures of SF operatives in Iraq. The brass wire could be used for electrical wiring of the radio headset and to make Tactical Pistol Lanyard for the secondary firearm.
The base supplied in the kit is less elaborate than that awesome base Andy displayed his SEAL figure on at Atlanta show 2009… Still, the supplied base is pretty big measuring 15.5 cm in diameter (about 6 inches) and it features a part of the sidewalk with nicely rendered bricks and rubble. The figure fits well to the designated places on the base; however you’re going to need couple of strong pins to mount the fully built figure securely on the base.
I know what you mean; it all sounds great, but look at the price! I’ve seen many similar comments on various figure forums and to be honest, I never thought of spending so much money on a single figure kit… Now that I have the kit in my hands, I can tell you the price shouldn’t present an issue to a serious figure modeler. In fact, with all the things you get in the kit, the price sounds like a bargain.
This kit has it all for making a wonderful 1/9 SEAL vignette. The figure looks amazing, nicely posed and with perfect proportions. The cast is absolutely incredible, the amount of details is astonishing and as far as I can tell, all the gear and equipment is accurately reproduced in scale. The M4A1 looks great; the CNC metal barrel and brass flash suppressor are real pieces of art… The addition of decals and the nice resin base is a final touch from Special Ops Models, making this kit one of the best resin figure kits I have ever seen.
I would highly recommend this kit to all modern figure buffs… paint it well and it is going to be a show stopper for sure.
More pictures of the finished figure can be found on Special Ops Models website
“The US Navy SEALs”, David Jordan, Grange Books
“Special Forces”, David Miller, Salamander Books
“Special Forces in Iraq”, Eric Micheletti, Histoire and Collections
“Battle Rattle”, Hans Halberstadt, Zenith Press