It is always exciting when a new range of figures are coming on the market, and even more so when these figures cover a subject that has been ignored for some time. The subject of this review is precisely that, and it was with some excitement that I anticipated the arrival of this new figure from Wee Friends. The subject of the British Infantry Soldier is not very well represented in the figure world, which is strange, as there are many attractive options when it comes to painting these figures (owing to British Squadies wearing a wide variety of kit, not all of it standard issue), and the wide operational deployment of the British Army over the years. Wee Friends have recently released a new figure of a Modern British Infantry Soldier, in Battle Dress, in 120mm scale.
The figure came packed in a simple plastic snap lock bag, with the smaller parts inside a second snap lock bag. A simple printed piece of paper shows a (very blurry) photo of a painted figure, the name of the company, and the name of the figure. There are no instructions for building the figure, or painting guide included. My figure was packed in a (padded) Jiffy bag for shipping, but no other packing material was added in the packaging of the figure.
The figure consists of only six parts, but you get a spare normal barrel, one barrel with bayonet attached, and a second head also included in the set, so you have a few options as to how you portray your figure. All parts are cast in a shiny cream resin, and are warp and flash free. There are a few very small air bubbles underneath the pouches at the back on my sample, but they are easy to fill with a drop of CA glue. The figure stands in a defiant ready pose, as at a check point, and looks very natural.
Torso and legs : The torso and legs are a single casting, and all the gear has been cast integral with this part. It is a very good casting, with no flash, despite the relative complexity of the mould, and just a very faint seam line to clean up. Detail is sharp and well rendered, with only the quick release snap locks of the pouches being a little soft. The figure wears the standard issue trousers and shirt, although the shirt is obviously mostly obscured by the assault vest. The assault vest looks a little odd, because I have been unable to find an example of the four adjustment straps at the lower back, combined with the overlap over the shoulders as depicted in this figure. Attached to the assault vest is a set of utility pouches as well as the comms radio (including the headset wire, which runs to, and ends at, the collar of the shirt), and on the belt are attached a 'standard' load out comprising of a double ammo pouch on both front sides, utility pouches on either side behind them, and the gas mask/canteen pouches on the back in the middle. The pouches have been rendered well, with restraint seam detail and showing a bulky, but not too angular, shape. The trouser show nice folds, not to sharp, and represent the baggy fit of the real trousers well. Both side pockets are rendered bulged. The shirt is well creased were the belt gathers around the waist. The boots are a bit of a conundrum as well. They do not resemble British Issue boots (either standard or desert), and seem to be closest resemble American Jungle Boots. From what I understand these were quite popular with British Soldiers at a time when the supply of British Issue Desert boots was .. patchy, but recently it seems that British Soldiers have been able to get 'proper' desert boots. I decided to paint mine as the American Jungle Boots (black with greenish uppers) and then colour them with 'dust'.
Arms : The right arm is moulded without the hand, because the hand is moulded onto the grip of the rifle, for better detail. A very nice touch is that the hand attaches to the wrist at the wrist watch strap, which avoids a unsightly seam to be cleaned up. When you attach the rifle (with the hand) there is a small issue with the angle of the wrist, which looks a bit to acute, but I solved this by trimming some material of the butt stock (which rests in a cut out in the right arn) and of the wrist, which allows the rifle and hand to sit a little further back, which makes the wrist look more natural. As with the trousers, the folds of the fabric and rolled up sleeve have been nicely rendered. The hand has been sculpted very natural, and thanks to being sculpted integral with the grip, the hand actually 'grabs' the grip. The (substantial) pour plug is attached to the shoulder, and needs some care full timing to remove without damaging the edge of the shoulder. The fit of the right arm to the torso is good, and needed no more than a dab of CA glue to fill a small gap. The left arm is likewise a well rendered piece, with equally pleasing folds and a rolled up sleeve. Again the pour plug is sensibly placed at the shoulder, and again care is needed when cleaning this away. The fit to the torso is good, needed only some CA glue to eliminate a slight gap around the mating surface. The arm and hand have been sculpted very nice, and the grip of the left hand around the barrel and barrel cover is excellent.
Heads : In a nice touch this figure comes with a choice of two heads, one with the Comat helmet, and one wearing the beret. The beret is sculpted with the cap badge of the Parachute Regiment, which to some extend limits it's use, but the face has been sculpted very well indeed. The detail of the ears, nose, mustache and cheekbones is excellent, whilst restraint enough to avoid the sharp angled 'gaunt' looking cartoon effect that some sculptors seem to favour. The beret and cap badge are equally fine, with the detail of the Parachute Regiment badge particularly well rendered. The head does not wear the headset for the comms set which is attached to the assault vest, which may be an issue. The head wearing the Combat Helmet is also done very well, although not much of the face is visible. The helmet has been sculpted with the standard helmet cover and a set of sun/sand goggles. The detail of the cover and camo straps is very good, with a seam in the cover running in the middle, back to front, and the camo straps rendered very thin. The goggles have good definition around the elasticated strap, with a good effort to 'lift' the strap for added realism. As with the other head, this head does not have a comms headset either, which is a surprising omission, considering that the comms radio is present on the assault vest, complete with wire running to the collar. To add this head set to the head with the beret should not be to difficult for a modeller with some experience with putty and foil, but to add it to the head with the helmet will be neigh on impossible, unless you remove the existing detail of the chinstrap and ear etc, and sculpt a headset, and the chin strap again.
Weapon : The soldier carries the standard issue SA80 rifle, and it is supplied with two ordinary barrels, and one barrel with the bayonet attached. All items are cast cleanly, with out warping or air bubbles. The barrels have solid muzzles, but they can be easily hollowed out with a mini drill or the tip of an Exacto knife. The SA80 rifle looks the part, but has a number of inaccuracies, the biggest, and most obvious one, is the barrel cover which is to short, and has incorrect holes in the side. The bayonet is rendered well, but you would need to check your references to see if it would be appropriate to add it to the figure.
Wee Friends first foray into the world of 1/16 scale figures is a welcome one, because if their widely varied 1/35 scale subjects are an indication, we can expect some nice and unusual subjects following these first releases. The release of a British Infantry Soldier is even more welcome, and the inclusion of two different heads has to be applauded. Overall the figure looks good proportionally, and I like the stance, which is a bit different from the usual 'firing in the distance' or 'leaning casually against nothing' kind. The only drawback that I found was the SA80 rifle, which could have been detailed better, and the omission of the comms headset. Whilst the later could be added without to much trouble, the SA80 is a different matter. Despite those two reservations, this is a good looking figure, which paints up very nice, and I recommend it.
Highs: Nice stance, choice of heads, good sculpted detail.Lows: No headset, SA80 not quite right.Verdict: A very nice figure of a much ignored subject.
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