When judging a figure conversion set (a kit meant to add to or enhance figures not included with the conversion set), one has to ask, “Is this conversion set more of a liability or an asset?”
From close examination of the box photo, one can see Verlinden Production’s (VP) “Figure Conversion Parts Modern, U.S. Iraq—Afghanistan” (kit #VP2177) as sort of a mixed bag of old and new, good and bad, useful and useless items—and in truth, it is.
The parts included in the kit are:
(Starting at the upper left corner of the box photo and moving down): · Two sprues of MOLLE vest pouches · Two sprues of MOLLE SAW ammo pouches, pistol pouches, and 2-quart soft canteens. · One sprue of MOLLE ammo pouches, three smoke grenades and three Vietnam-era fragmentation grenades
(Refer to box photo for reference): · Five M-16-type rifles (one being an M-16A2/M203. One has an arm attached while another has a firing hand attached) · One arm with a partial M-16A1 receiver · Two Camelbaks · Five ALICE 1-quart canteens · Three heads wearing Kevlar PAGST helmets (one with balaclava and goggles on helmet, one with goggles on helmet, and one with no goggles). · One head with radio earphone, no hat · Two CVC heads with goggles (one with goggles on helmet and one with goggles over eyes) · Two Special Forces RACK torsos · One Interceptor Body Armor (IBA) torso wearing a MOLLE vest · One partial arm · Two full arms (extended left arm with open hand and a pointing right arm) · Seven individual hands · Three M17A2 gas masks · Two M1911 pistols with leather holsters · Four boots (two pairs) · Four PAGST Kevlar helmets · Four MOLLE backpacks · One large backpack · One first air/compass pouch · One set of legs with kneepads
This kit definitely takes some of the figure and gear parts from VP’s modern OIF U.S. figure line and ironically combines them with some Vietnam-era parts. I never bought any of VP’s OIF figures and decided that VP’s Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) figure conversion kit would be a cheap, easy, and fast way to upgrade some outdated 1/35 DML plastic figures to at least Y2K standards. Unfortunately, not everything works out as planned.
First off, when looking at the box photo, a figure modeler must realize and decide where the VP parts are going to go. The parts themselves have no value unless they are added to figures. My plan to enhance DML figures fell flat because this VP conversion set only provides three torsos (two being Special Forces RACK) and there are four figures in one DML box. Therefore, to give four DML figures new RACK torsos means that I will have to buy another VP conversion kit! That fact in itself makes this kit more of a liability. Furthermore, keep in mind that competing resin companies selling OEF and OIF figures often give their figures the proper gear, uniform, and equipment. Thus this VP kit doesn’t really add or enhance those resin modern U.S. figures.
The other option is to create one complete figure using this kit. The kit provides one pair of legs, a couple of arms, heads, and four boots and a whole lot of gear. One can use the IBA torso with MOLLE vest, but in essence that looks no different than DML’s “Modern Marines” or other resin OIF figures wearing IBA. Or one can use a RACK torso on the legs and the head with the earphone to make a figure that looks 75% similar to VP’s standing Special Forces figure (kit #VPI2176) or use a Kevlar head to make a standing figure similar to Verlinden’s “U.S. Machine Gun Team” (kit #VP12193). I went this route.
The pour blocks allow for straight cuts. I sawed off the pour blocks on the torso, legs, and boots. I then dryfitted the parts: the waist has a gap that requires putty and the boots have a loose fit inside the holes at the bottom of the legs and keep snapping off, causing me to glue them repeatedly into the legs using superglue. The pour blocks for vest pouches’ are not that thick so I recommend using wire snippers to cut them off the pour blocks and then sanding the remaining remnants of the pour block on sandpaper.
The RACK torsos have molded-on Camelbak straps, which means that the two Camelbaks have to be used on them (another liability). Again, this limits the usefulness of this conversion kit since those Camelbaks cannot be used for (say) DML figures. If VP provided more Camelbaks, then perhaps some can transfer to update plastic figures.
To my surprise, the Kevlar helmeted heads have no chinstraps molded on the faces (none!). I can’t remember if I ever saw any resin or plastic helmeted heads omit this important detail. The figure modeler will have to sculpt or paint on the chinstraps, or make them from thin tape or photoetch metal because unlike Vietnam, modern U.S. soldiers nearly always wear the chinstraps when their helmets are on. This oversight makes for another liability for the figure modeler having this kit.
The guns are no assets either. The leather holster isn’t even used anymore; the M9 ALICE cloth holster or non-Government issue holsters being the trend since the 1990s. The M-16s are hard to identify. I could only make out the M-16A2 and M-16A2/M203. The other guns are a quasi-mix of CAR-15s or M-16A1s pretending to be M-16A2s because of the 20-round magazine! Again, another liability because the figure modeler who strives for accuracy will have to cut off the short 20-round magazine and attach a DML 30-round magazine since no soldier these days even uses 20-round M-16A2 magazines in combat. VP also oddly cut up the M-16s, meaning that the figure modeler will have to superglue on the handgrip, barrel, buttstock and grenade launcher and align all components and hope to make a straight M-16 in 1/35 scale. Once again, another liability and more work for the figure modeler. I highly recommend substituting the kit’s M-16s with single-piece 1/35 plastic or resin M-16A2s.
The MOLLE backpacks look nice even though they are pretty flat. They are crisp and have distinct MOLLE loops one can see.
The M17A2 internal-filter gas masks have been replaced by the MOPP external filter gas mask and are of no value to modern Y2K U.S. figures.
The VP canteens, gas masks, pistol ammo pouches, leather holster, smoke and frag grenades are found in DML kits, meaning that they add no real value to enhancing or updating plastic figures.
Molding and detail vary from sharp and crisp (resin quality expectation) to smooth, soft, and well-rounded (plastic figure quality). Overall, the major pieces such as the torsos, backpacks, arms and legs look comparable to the crispness of other resin manufacturers, but the gear, pouches, and heads compare to plastic figures in terms of detail and sharpness. I didn’t find any runs, warps, air bubbles or gouges and only one sinkhole on the boot. The toffee-colored resin is very solid and odor-free.
In all fairness, the majority of parts can be used for U.S. figures of differing decades in the 1980s, 1990s, and Y2K. But as advertised for OEF and OIF, this VP figure conversion set fails by about a third of its parts because they don’t match the conventions and trends of OEF and OIF.
Overall, I am disappointed with this kit despite the nice molding quality. While VP gives a lot of parts, the majority of them are useless for Y2K: Kevlar helmets with no chinstraps, quasi-M-16-like guns in pieces with 20-round magazines, old gas masks, outdated leather pistol holsters, and hardly any critical extras. If VP added more torsos, Camelbaks, arms, guns, and legs, then perhaps this kit could be of some use, some value to enhance other resin or plastic figures. Instead, with so few body parts, this VP kit almost has to be used “as is.” VP should have marketed two conversion kits, one for guns and gear, and one for heads, torsos, and limbs. Instead, this compromise of mixing old with new gear with body parts doesn’t work well for either having a large quantity of gear or body parts. In summary, Verlinden Production’s (VP) “Figure Conversion Parts Modern, U.S. Iraq—Afghanistan” is more of a liability than an asset to the modern U.S. figure modeler. Even worse, the modern U.S. figure modeler will probably have to add parts from other companies to “rescue” or “salvage” this VP kit to make truly accurate up-to-date modern U.S. figures in Afghanistan or Iraq.
Verlinden Production’s (VP) “Figure Conversion Parts Modern, U.S. Iraq—Afghanistan” is more of a liability than an asset to the modern U.S. figure modeler.
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About Peter Ong (Trisaw) FROM: CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES
I model modern topics, mainly post 1991 Gulf War onwards.
My modeling interests include:
* Science-fiction/ fantasy
* 1/100 Gundam
* 1/35 armor
* Kitbashed projects
* Special Forces
* Resin or plastic modern figures
* 1/24 Police, fire, medical, and Government vehicles
* Rare, unique, ori...