We have made the point before, but the word ‘Modern’ printed on a box of figures has a very short shelf life. Our modern listing includes sets that were designed 10 years ago, and a decade is a long time in technological terms. While no conflict is specified for this set, the mention of desert kit strongly suggests the war in Iraq, yet uniform, kit and weaponry have changed over the years since that conflict began. Still there is always strong demand for today’s soldiers, so this set from Caesar is one of the latest in that line.
The poses in this set are really excellent, with several soldiers having a levelled weapon and others apparently moving rapidly. In the war in Iraq a large part of the activity is in patrolling hostile urban areas, which is done by four-man teams, which move with weapons trained to front, back and both sides. The second figure in each of the above rows depicts this superbly, although a fourth similar figure would have been nice. The prone sniper is OK but there are no appropriate figures to depict the observers and support team that he would have, although his inclusion does add some breadth to the range of poses. The first figure in the second row holds an AT4 (a one-shot anti tank device), which is fine for the original invasion but rarely used later for various reasons.
In terms of accuracy, as we have said it depends on what stage of the war is meant to be depicted. The men all wear a uniform that is no longer issued, without pockets on sleeves or lower legs, and while this will have taken time to disappear entirely from the battlefield it means the set is already dated. Over their flak jackets they all seem to be wearing a MOLLE vest, even though this is not universally issued throughout the army and most soldiers who receive it often choose not to wear it. In any case, the vest is poorly depicted here as no one seems to have chosen to zip it in front, which is often done to help keep the flak vest closed. Also the arrangement on the back, particularly the strap across the shoulders, is incorrect. The various pouches and gear hanging from the webbing is nicely done, with the sort of variety that is always to be found in the real thing. Some men are depicted with lots of ammunition, others with knives, first aid pouches or whatever kit they choose, which is good to see. Apart from the sniper, who wears a Boonie hat, everyone wears what looks like the old PASGT helmet (again this is no longer issued - troops are now changing to the new ACH), although it seems to lack the front peak. All the helmets have either ordinary or night vision goggles (PVS 7 and PVS 14), which is good, but it was mandatory to actually wear eye protection when in theatre, and not one man here is wearing the goggles or the much more usual ballistic glasses, which is a serious fault. In any case the goggles on the helmets are remarkably thin and not very convincing. Also everyone has a gas mask on their hip – something that was common during the invasion but very seldom thereafter. Another sometimes issued but less often worn item is the butt pack, yet all have them here, but we were pleased to see some figures wearing the Camelbak hydration system.
A very important aspect of any modern set is the weapons, and those in this set are fair but could have been better. The rifle is rather indistinct on some figures and the carrying handle is not well done on many. The front sight is also a weakness, with the first two figures missing theirs entirely. One figure has a rather short muzzle and no flash suppressor. The second figure in row one has an M203 grenade launcher attached to his M16A2, but this is very thin and much too small. The sniper has a .50 calibre Barrett rifle, which is OK but not the most common sniper weapon (which is an M14 with scope). The last man carries a machine gun. This should be the M240B, which replaced the M60, and judging by the bipod it probably is, but the detail on the gun is not good enough for the kind of definite identification we would have liked. Instead the weapon is rather chunky and items like the bipod tend to melt in with the rest of it. Finally this weapon is heavy, and so usually mounted on a vehicle rather than carried like this.
The general standard of sculpting is very good, although the weapons are not as sharp or well done as they should be. The men have quite a baggy look to them and items such as knee pads appear randomly, which is perfectly authentic, and the poses are very lifelike, with one exception. The AT4 gunner is holding his weapon in a very strange way, with his left hand on the right side of the weapon and his right hand on top. This looks very wrong and it is, and this figure could perhaps have benefited from a multi-part approach anyway.
Period is a little confused, with many aspects such as uniform and helmet dating them to c.2003 but some pouches dating them to 2005 or later. Still here we have a mostly excellent set of figures that are let down in some details but look great from a distance. For many that may well be plenty good enough, but a little more care taken over the admittedly very complicated subject of webbing and weapons could have brought this very attractive set closer to perfection. Armies at war are constantly changing, and none more so than the US Army of today, but this is a very good depiction of the subject that should delight many interested in today’s conflicts.