by: Mario Matijasic [ ]
Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU), previously identified as SEAL Team 6, is a US Navy component of Joint Special Operations Command. An elite within an elite, the unit is made up of SEAL operatives selected from existing SEAL Teams. DEVGRU is considered a 'Tier One' special mission unit on par with the Army's Delta Force.
DEVGRU's full mission is classified but it is thought to include pre-emptive, pro-active counter-terrorist operations. The most famous DEVGRU operation was the one codenamed Operation Neptune Spear (1–2 May 2011), in which DEVGRU operators killed Osama bin Laden, leader of the Al Qaeda, at his compound in the city of Abbottabad, Pakistan.
Airborne Miniatures is a small company from Poland, focused on producing high-quality resin figures depicting US Special Forces. After receiving stellar feedback on his DEVGRU miniatures in 1/35 scale, Maciek Rebkowski, the owner and creative force behind the company, decided to sculpt almost identical figures in 1/16 scale. The result is one of the most impressive sets from Airborne Miniatures so far, a large scale action packed vignette showing two DEVGRU operators about to engage the enemy.
The set is packed in a large cardboard box (23 x 14 x 8 cm), featuring a box art image of the fully assembled and painted vignette. Opening the box reveals a ton of pieces neatly secured in several zip-lock bags additionally protected in bubble wrap. The set consists of two figures, small puppy, base and base accessories… a complete vignette in the box. Here is a full list of parts:
Figure 1 (44 pieces):
- body parts (8x),
- equipment (16x),
- helmet and helmet accessories (14x),
- weapons & weapon accessories (6x).
Figure 2 (42 pieces):
- body parts (7x),
- equipment (17x),
- helmet and helmet accessories (14x),
- weapons & weapon accessories (4x).
Base & base accessories (7 pieces).
The two large base segments are done in plaster, while the rest of the pieces are cast in grey resin. A big plus are the two tiny strobe lights, one for each figure, cast in transparent resin... wow, I have to admit I didn't expect that. Along with the two US flag decals also included in this kit, these would level up the figures immensely.
The resin pieces look really good: they are well cast and feature numerous tiny details perfectly rendered in scale. The only casting defect that I found on the entire set was a thin seam line on the rear part of kneeling figure’s right leg and boot, which should be sanded carefully. The carrier blocks are large and should be dealt with patiently to avoid breakage, especially on the small delicate pieces.
The figures depict two DEVGRU operators in action poses, taking cover and about to engage the enemy. One of the figures is kneeling with his weapon ready, while the other is standing up, leaning slightly to the right to get a visual of an enemy. I feel the poses are nicely done, with a really good sense of balance.
The figures sport the most advanced state-of-the-art equipment. They wear Crye Precision Gen2 AC Combat Shirt and Pants. Designed as a no-compromise assault uniform, and used with the removable AirFlex Elbow and Knee Pads, this is the uniform of choice for most US Special Forces operatives today. Interestingly, the combat shirt on one of the figures is cut off at elbows... as documented in "No Easy Day", a book written by one of the ex-DEVGRU operatives conducting the Operation Neptune Spear. Over the uniform the figures wear LBT 6094 Plate Carrier with LBT 2586J Quick Release Assault Panel. The panel holds three primary weapon ammo magazines, but also features front modular attachment points for mounting additional equipment, i.e. light-sticks, flex cuffs, etc. The only equipment cast on these figures is an AN/PRC-152 Radio, U94 PTT and Antenna Relocation Pouch/Holder. These should be connected using thin radio wiring, with the wires also going to the headset. The AN/PRC-152 Antenna is included as a separate piece and should be fixed to the back of the figure. Photos on Airborne Miniatures website could serve as a guide how to connect all the communication equipment on these figures. A Safety Lanyard is also cast on these figures.
The kit includes numerous equipment pieces supplied separately, which are used on both figures: M4 Magazine Pouches, Grenade Pouches, First Aid Pouch, Flashbang Grenades, TQS Medical Emergency Tourniquet, as well as the secondary weapon, Sig Sauer P226 in Serpa Holster. Although the figures share most of the equipment pieces mentioned above, some of the equipment included in this kit is figure specific. The standing figure sports a large Hydration Pouch with the drinking valve supplied as well (the drinking tube needs to be added by a modeler himself), a carabiner to hold the "pirate gun" (the Vietnam-era M79 grenade launcher), Triple 40mm Grenade Pouch, Triple Pistol Magazine Pouch, Tool Pouch and Tactical Map Pouch strapped to figure’s left arm. This figure also wears Merrell Gore-TEX hiking boots. The kneeling figure sports breaching equipment on his back: a large Bolt Cutter Pouch with two long bolt cutter handles protruding from the pouch, and Double Slap Charge Pouch. The figure also features Combat Master Knife, Side Utility Pouch, two single Pistol Magazine Pouches, wrist-mounted Garmin Foretrex GPS navigator. On his feet the figure wears Merrell Sawtooth hiking boots. Most of these pieces are supplied as separate parts in the kit, enabling the modeler to customize the gear on each figure per his own preferences. However, take some time to study the references, as there are some ground rules of attaching equipment to the assault vests and combat belts. Again, photos on Airborne Miniatures website could serve as a guide.
On their heads the figures wear Ops Core FAST Ballistic High Cut Helmet with Occ-Dial Liner Kit, which gives helmet 4x more stability than standard helmet suspension. The left side chinstrap buckle denotes both figures are right-hand shooters, a simple detail but a very good example of Airborne Miniatures dedication to get every single aspect of these figures correct. The helmet features FAST-ARC Accessory Rail Connectors on both sides, which enable quick attachment of various helmet accessories and VAS Shroud for mounting night vision equipment. Those keen on super-detailing their figures might want to recreate the BISS-NVD lanyard tensioner bungees… these extend from the bottom front of the ARC rail on each side to the VAS Shroud and serve to eliminate night vision mount vibration by keeping the device taut against the helmet shell. Velcro fields are provided on the top and rear of the helmet for attaching devices, ID markers, etc. CONTOUR camera and Princeton Tac MPLS (Modular Personal Lighting System) are provided as separate pieces. V-Lite Manta Strobe received special attention from the sculptor. The clear plastic dome is cast in transparent resin, while the tail cap with battery is supplied separately and cast in grey resin. Wow! The Night Vision Goggles system in this kit consists of Wilcox L4-G24 NVG Helmet Mount (supplied as a two-piece affair, which enables fixing the NVG in upright or lowered position) and the ultra-modern GPNVG18. GPNVG18 features four separate image intensifier tubes with four separate objective lenses arrayed in a panoramic orientation. The center two lenses point forward like traditional dual-tube goggles, giving operator depth perception, while two lateral tubes point slightly outward from the center to increase peripheral view. The NVG are powered by the Low Profile Battery Pack, also supplied as a separate piece. The GPNVG18 and battery pack should be connected via thin wire, with cable connectors (one for the battery pack and the other for the NVG) provided as separate tiny pieces. The Peltor ComTac Headset is there as well, sculpted on the figure’s head. The microphone boom should be added by the modeler, but the microphone itself is provided as a separate piece in the set.
The figures are armed with Heckler & Koch HK416, a preferred weapon of DEVGRU. The rifles in this kit feature Advanced Armament M4-2000 Silencer, while the M4 magazine, LA-5A/PEQ ATPIAL-UHP (Advanced Target Pointer Illuminator Aiming Laser – Ultra High Power), EOTech 556 Holographic Weapon Sight and Surefire Scout Light are provided separately and should be carefully aligned on the weapon. Please note that the weapons in this kit are not products of 3D rapid prototyping, rather sculpted in a traditional way, which makes these HKs even more remarkable.
The uniform and all the equipment pieces have been thoroughly researched, with the details perfectly transferred in scale. Although I reviewed many figure kits from Airborne Miniatures which were all very impressive, I was still surprised with the amazing quality of the sculpt and the astonishing level of details on these pieces. Great job Airborne Miniatures!
The base consists of two parts cast in plaster. The base footprint is 14 x 10 cm, with the house wall 12 cm tall. The setting shows a traditional Middle Eastern mud house segment, with three wooden roof support beams cast in resin. The plaster works pretty well as a base, but be advised… it is easy to damage the details and is very messy to work with.
A large 55 gallon drum is included in the kit. The drum is a bit dented and nicely shows its age. The small dog is also supplied, depicted looking at the DEVGRU operatives in wonder. I’m not sure of the breed of the dog, but I’m pretty positive it is not Cairo, the Belgian Malinois shepherd dog involved in the Neptune Spear raid. :-)
The construction of the figures is pretty complex. Each figure consists of almost 45 parts, and cleaning all these pieces from their carrier blocks is a tedious process. However, supplying each part of the equipment as a separate piece in the set has its advantages as modelers can customize the equipment setup based on their own preferences. Besides, the equipment can be fixed to the figure after painting the uniform, which is a big plus when tackling complex camouflage patterns. After cleaning all the pieces, the figures go together without any major issues. This review features a short photo summary of my build: I annotated the parts on their resin carrier blocks and I'm showing photos of all major subassemblies noting the position of each part as well.
I fixed the main body parts first. Torso and legs need some dry-fitting before actually gluing them together. When I found the optimal placement, I added two pins into these parts to secure them as firmly as possible. Some putty work was needed to fill in the gaps, but nothing serious. I built the figures in several subassembly steps as shown on the photos. I attached the pouches and equipment using photos on Airborne Miniatures website as a guide, omitting the drinking tube and valve for figure 1, as well as the radio wiring and secondary weapon lanyard. The HK416s were fixed with all the gizmology, as well as the helmets. The helmets are particularly busy assemblies with tiny pieces all around. Again, I omitted the GPNVG-18 wiring, but added the wire microphone booms. Finally, the arms were positioned on the torso; these parts feature protrusions and indentations which help in aligning them correctly. If aligned well, the hands with weapons fit the arms perfectly.
The photos of the finished figures show these masterpieces in all their splendor. The construction took some time, but it was well worth it… These are definitely one of the best large scale figures I have in my stash.
DEVGRU Operators (072) from Airborne Miniatures is an absolutely amazing 1/16 scale kit. It consists of two figures, a base and base accessories… everything to make an action-packed Neptune Spear vignette.
The resin figures are cast really well. DEVGRU uniform and equipment is perfectly reproduced in scale and feature an astonishing level of details all around. The assembly of the figures is complex due to the large amount of pieces, but the end result is well worth the extra effort… the finished figures look great, their poses well balanced and with all the state-of-the-art gizmology, the figures capture the look of real DEVGRU operatives really well. The plaster base is a very nice addition, with some base accessories to enhance the impression of the Middle Eastern mud house complex.
Altogether, this is a top-class product from Airborne Miniatures.