In the modern era the nature of armies has changed dramatically as military might is increasingly measured by the technology that one side or the other can bring to bear rather than numbers or quality of individual soldiers. Nonetheless the individual soldier remains a key element in even the most advanced armies, not least because many recent wars have not been about armies facing each other but about patrolling hostile environments, where no amount of drones, missiles or satellites can provide the necessary presence on the ground. Britain’s soldiers have found themselves in many combat zones in recent years, always as part of a far larger allied force. Revell made a set of modern British infantry in the 1990’s, but since then much has changed and many battles fought, so it seems appropriate that a new set should be released, this time by Caesar.
As might be expected of modern troops, there is a considerable variety of clothing and kit on offer in this set. The basic clothing looks fine, and several of the figures appear to wear Osprey body armour, although we were surprised that not all do. The helmets look to be the Mk.6 rather than the current Mk.7, but the differences are marginal at this scale. The prone sniper has some form of balaclava-type hood which we could not identify, but naturally camouflage would be the intention here. No one has knee or elbow protectors, which is a shame as these are common, but many have faintly discernible gaiters of some sort on the lower leg which we could not validate at all. The various elements of webbing, pouches and Bergens all look OK to us. However elements missing here include goggles (which only one figure has here) and personal radios - ideally PRR (Personal Role Radio) would be issued to all personnel, and certainly officers and NCOs.
The more modern the set, the more important it is that weapons are clearly sculpted, but those in this set are really disappointing. We found it very hard to be certain of most of the weapons as they are poorly detailed or defined. However it would be safe to say that the rifles here are intended to be mainly the SA-80 with some having the UGL (Underslung Grenade Launcher) attached. Does the last man in the second row hold an LSW in his right hand? Who knows, although in his left hand this figure seems to be carrying a LAW 80 or similar, or perhaps a Milan reload canister. The sniper that starts the bottom row might be using an L96 or L115 rifle (hard to tell), but this hangs in mid-air so must be provided with some form of terrain support. Next to him is a man with what could be a Minimi (that lacks any form of ammunition feed) or more likely an L86A1 LSW, which is magazine fed. We had no luck with the anti-armour weapon either, apart from being certain that it is not the Javelin or MBT LAW, but he is missing a personal weapon, which is not good.
The poses include a lot of men firing, which is fine, but also some surprises. The man climbing over a low wall in the second row is certainly unusual but not the most useful pose ever devised and some customers will struggle to find roles for three of this pose. As is so often the case, the sniper has no observer to make up a full sniper team, and there are not really the proper poses to make up fire teams, nor to portray the usual move and cover patrol tactics. Of the poses that are present, most are quite usable although it is a shame that the rather stiff standing firing pose is looking well above his rifle sight.
We have long been fans of Caesar sculpting, but it seems to fall a bit short when it comes to very modern subjects. Generally there is good detail here, but as we have said key areas like weapons are sadly lacking in detail. Some of the heads are a little odd too, although nothing too terrible. As usual a multi-part mould has helped make the poses better, and the only assembly is attaching the man to the wall, for which there are no guides so you just have to use a cyanoacrylate glue and fix him as you think best. The figures are largely without flash, although several have much more excess plastic between body and weapons than we are accustomed to seeing these days, certainly from this manufacturer. Also the lack of bases on the kneeling figures annoyed us, although they all do stand as they are.
With the Mk.6 helmets and the sniper’s webbing in particular, we thought these figures matched a date of approximately 2004 to 2010, although many elements are still in use today of course. The second figure in the second row is a little out of place as he seems to be on patrol but wears only a beret instead of a helmet, and is therefore highly unlikely to be in hostile territory like Iraq (apart from a very short period early on) or Afghanistan. Overall this is a fair set but the lack of crucial detail was disappointing and some more appropriate poses could have been chosen in our view.