It would be fair to say that the Middle East has suffered more than most over the past few decades from war and violence. It is not unusual to hear news of civil wars, fighting between militias and general violence, often in countries with weak central governments and bitter political or religious divides in society. As a result, images of men engaged in these actions are common in news coverage, and perhaps as familiar to us as the image of a modern soldier. So, unlike most sets reviewed on this website, the subject is both relevant to today and likely to remain so for the foreseeable future.
The look and feel of this set reminded us very much of the Preiser military range. The figures are made in a hard plastic and come with some element of assembly, as well as a choice of weapons. The style is very much the same, which is a good thing as the proportions are well done and the detail is good. The separate weapons are a master-class in how to produce beautifully detailed sculpts at this scale, with all of them being perfectly slim yet so well detailed as to make identification very easy. The clothing of the figures is generally loose and baggy, so the same precision we see on the weapons is not required there, yet it is still very good and we thought all the clothing was realistic. The faces are perhaps a little less well realised (although some are hidden anyway), but overall these are still very nicely produced sculpts. The amount of assembly varies between figures (see image of sprue), but it does not offer much scope for varying the poses, and our examples above follow the suggestions on the box precisely. There is some flash, but not too much, and is easy to trim off with this hard plastic, while the assembly itself is pretty straightforward.
As we have said, the poses have little scope for alteration, but we thought all the poses were fine. Clearly no one is actually in action at the moment, nor attempting to fire their weapon, but all the poses look natural. The second figure, who is looking at his watch, is particularly nice, and the man holding a cup and some food (?) is unusual, but all are very useful. Each sprue of five figures comes with a sprue of six weapons (discussed below) for the three that need one. We chose to give all the poses the RPG rather than the rifle, since we felt the poses looked better with this by virtue of the way the men are holding it.
Each weapons sprue offers six weapons. Three of these are the excellent RPG-7, or any of the many copies made in many countries, including some in the Middle East. This is a good choice as the RPG-7 is cheap, easy to obtain and very effective, making it a favourite with such fighters. The three models here are identical, and are of a good length, with all having a round already fitted. They have the front and rear iron sights, but no optical site. As pictured above, the first two weapons we kept on the sprue are both the SVD-63 sniper rifle or, again, any of the many clones and copies currently circulating. The difference between these two models is that one has a telescopic sight, and the structure of the stock is different. Both have the cheek pad on the stock, but both are missing the front iron sight, and both are rather longer than they should be (20 mm or 144 cm when they should be 17 mm or 122.5 mm). The last weapon is a Kalashnikov assault rifle, another favourite amongst such men. This could be the AK-47, AKM, AK-74 or any of many copies, all of which look much the same at this scale. This model has a fixed stock, and again is a bit longer than it should be.
There is of course no uniform to discuss here, but the men are all dressed in authentic fashion. Some wear western boots and trousers with cargo pockets, which as the box illustration shows lend themselves to being painted in a camouflage pattern. There are some western jackets too, but also some more traditional clothing. The second figure wears western clothing but also a pakol hat, associated with Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan. The first man wears a very long robe while the fourth seems to have a perahan, a long shirt again often seen in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Other head coverings include various scarves and turbans. This mix of traditional and western seems very typical, and well done on these figures.
One man wears a pack on his chest for the rounds for his RPG, but otherwise there is no visible kit. Apart from the length of the rifles, we thought everything here was perfectly accurate and typical of the subject, and also nicely posed and well-sculpted. Some care needs to be exercised with the weapons in particular, which are easy to break, but these are great figures. Making the figures work equally well when holding the rifles might be more difficult however. Some may have wanted fighters actually engaged in combat, and for them this is clearly not a set with much to offer, but for everyone else these figures, though with only a handful of poses, are very good, and are a good first figure set from this particular manufacturer.