by: Mario Matijasic [ ]
Airborne Miniatures is a well-known name among modern figure enthusiasts. The company is actually a one-man-band run by Maciej Rebkowski, offering number of miniatures depicting modern US soldiers in both 1/35 and 1/16 scale. Although one of the most talented traditional figure sculptors today, Maciej decided to step into the future and use 3D scanning technology to produce his latest 1/16 scale figure, Special Forces Operator (076).
The set is packed in a hard cardboard box, with the front CAD image showing the digital model of the figure. I must admit I would prefer seeing the resin model instead, as it looks far more impressive than a computer generated image.
The figure parts are packed in a zip-lock bag, additionally secured in bubble wrap, ensuring no pieces were damaged in transport. Cast in grey resin, the pieces look really good: I found just a tiny amount of flash residue on some of the pieces, but no seam lines, air-bubbles or any other imperfections in the resin, with loads of tiny details very nicely delivered. The set consists of 32 pieces:
- lower body with both legs,
- left arm,
- right arm,
- boots (2x),
- equipment pieces (18x),
- weapon pieces & accessories (6x).
The figure represents US Special Forces operator in the latest garb and gear. The figure is wearing Crye Precision Gen2 AC Combat Shirt and Pants, the uniform of choice for most US Special Forces operatives today. This particular uniform features sleeves cut off at elbows, a rather common practice among Special Forces. Over the uniform the figure sports Eagle Industries Plate Carrier with Cummerbund, which offers a very stable MOLLE platform. All the equipment pieces are cast separately: 7.62mm single open magazine pouches (6x), grenade pouches (2x), MBITR radio pouch (w antenna and U94 PTT unit), large utility pouch, medium utility pouch, medical emergency tourniquet, holster with secondary weapon, and modular assault pack. These equipment pieces can be attached to the plate carrier per modeler’s own preferences. However, I would suggest checking the reference images, or the photos of the fully assembled figure in this review, as there are some ground rules for positioning equipment on carrier vests. Hiking boots and gloves add to the Special Ops feel of the figure.
On its head, the figure wears Ops Core FAST Ballistic High Cut Helmet with FAST-ARC Accessory Rail Connectors on both sides, which enable quick attachment of various helmet accessories, and VAS Shroud for mounting night vision equipment. Velcro fields are provided on the top, rear and both sides of the helmet, used for attaching devices, ID markers, etc. This kit includes MS2000 Strobe light as a separate piece which should be attached to the top of the helmet. The Peltor ComTac Headset is there as well, sculpted on the figure’s head in great detail. The microphone boom should be added by the modeler, but the tiny microphone itself is provided as a separate part in the set.
The figure is armed with SCAR-H, a 7.62mm x 51mm carbine / assault / sniper rifle chosen by SOCOM to replace a number of existing weapons used by US Special Operations Forces. The rifle in this kit features a 13-inch Close Quarter Combat (CQC) barrel supplied as a separate piece. Also included are several weapon accessories which can be mounted on Picatinny rails: EOTech holographic sight, AN/PEQ-15 aiming laser, tactical light and forward grip. Some of these parts are very delicate and I would suggest taking care when cleaning the pieces off their carrier blocks, as well as in aligning them optimally in order to obtain perfect weapon geometry. The extra effort should result in a very realistic 1/16 scale miniature of SCAR-H.
The details on this figure are absolutely amazing! As stated before, the figure was produced using 3D scanning technology. 3D scanning is a process of making a three-dimensional “selfie”, which is then processed into a digital 3D model. The digital model is then scaled, transferred into the physical world by rapid prototyping, and voila… a copy of a real person is on your desk, in the form of a resin miniature. Can the figure get any more realistic than that?
Special Forces Operator (076) is the first figure from Airborne Miniatures produced using state-of-the-art 3D scanning technology. I was a bit surprised when I first heard the company decided to venture in this direction, but after thorough examination I must admit the figure is very much impressive in just about every aspect… from the anatomy and the pose of the miniature, to astonishing details on the uniform and equipment. Altogether, this kit really is something special and offers a glimpse into the future of figure production.