By the time this set was made Airfix were in serious trouble, and the decline in the quality of the range is clear for all to see here. When the set was released, in the early 1980s, the Soviet Union was engaged in a terrible war in Afghanistan, and the Cold war was still very real. Large numbers of troops served in various countries, and in theory the possibility of invasion of Western Europe remained, at least in some minds. Therefore this set was particularly significant for the times in which it was created, though it would be the last figure set Airfix would make for over a quarter of a century.
The most obvious sign of the decline of the Airfix range was the lack of poses. Gone are the glory days of anything up to 20 poses in a box - here we are faced with just seven, and a pretty uninspiring bunch they are too. The man standing and firing had better be doing so over a wall or some other cover as he would not otherwise expose himself in this way. The other poses are not particularly wrong, just very boring, and while those wishing to wargame some Soviet campaign of the time might be satisfied with this, there is not much here for everyone else.
The uniform is Field Dress, Summer Uniform, and the men are in 'fighting load'. This was the uniform as specified by the reforms of Minister of Defence Andrei Grechko in the late 1960s, known as the regulations of 69 and actually coming into force from 1970. Compared to the previous regulations they had a more western look to them, with a fairly simply tunic and trousers, long boots and the steel helmet. The belt was supported by 'Y' straps, and held a larger pouch for magazines for the AK-74 and a smaller pouch for grenades. Also on the belt was a bayonet/knife, a water canteen and generally an entrenching tool. On these figures the uniform has been accurately sculpted, except that the trousers widen above the knee in the style of riding breeches, which is incorrect. The kit has also mostly been correctly done, though the figures lack the bayonet/knife and entrenching tool, but include a gasmask case slung over the same shoulder as the canteen. Every man has an AK-74 assault rifle (except the officer, who has a small pistol), the standard weapon of the early 1980s, which is a serious disappointment when the variety of possible weapons is considered. Again, not wrong but very dull.
The detail on these figures is not particularly good as it is quite shallow and indistinct. The officer is holding up a pair of binoculars, which means there is some unavoidable excess plastic round his face, which is not pretty. These men also seem quite thin, and are shorter than most, which gives an impression of delicacy which is far from appropriate for this subject. However at least Airfix got the technology right, with a first class mould that produced no flash at all.
As already stated, the main conflict of the time was in Afghanistan, yet these figures are of little use for that conflict as they would be untypical of infantry in action in that cold and mountainous region. In any event, these figures are much too smart to give the impression of being in the middle of a conflict, and with the addition of unimaginative poses and weaponry, there really is not much going for this set. If you are a manufacturer struggling to stay in business then producing poor sets like this is not the way to do it, and Airfix stopped making new figure sets for many years after this one as they passed into and out of insolvency.