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Set 240

Modern Russian Paratroopers Spetsnaz

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Date Released 1988
Contents 50 figures
Poses 15 poses
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Grey, Light Tan
Average Height 24 mm (= 1.73 m)


The Spetsnaz ('Special Purpose') were the elite of all elite units in the Soviet army, and were comparable to a degree with American Rangers or British SAS. They were given the most difficult assignments, and performed all manner of special tasks behind enemy lines. Their existence was shrouded in secrecy, and they were not permitted any distinctive uniform or insignia. Consequently, these figures look much like other elite units, principally the VDV ('Air Assault Force').

In looking at the poses in this set you are soon struck by how dull most of them are. Many of the poses are almost identical, and most seem to be rather flat and have very little action. This was a problem with several of the last Esci sets, and it does not inspire their use either on display or in games. However the only pose that really looks wrong here is the kneelling sniper in the top row, who has the wrong knee on the ground and looks very awkward holding his rifle. That apart the poses are at least believable, but most of the interest lies in the weapons some are using.

In the absence of a distinctive uniform, Spetsnaz generally adopted whatever was appropriate for the circumstances they were in. Most of these figures wear the one-piece camouflage coveralls common amongst Soviet infantry in the mid-eighties, when this set was produced. The sculptor has also managed to sculpt traces of the instantly recognisable stripped shirt that is usually associated with naval units but was also adopted by the VDV. Most also wear a beret - the mark of airborne forces in most of the World - but this was mainly for ceremonial or for propaganda photos, and when in the field such troops would usually wear one of several soft hats or else the standard helmet, which is notable by its absence in this set. Several here do indeed wear the tropical field hat (also sometimes called a bush hat) that was issued to Border Guards for actions such as the invasion of Afghanistan, but there are none of the 'Afganka' hat, which is a shame. Apart from our comments on the hats the uniform and webbing are accurate and well presented, but the headgear is a major problem.

The main weapon in this set is the AK-74 assault rifle or the AKS-74 variant with the folding stock. Although the sculpting of the weapons is generally nice and clear, with plenty of detail, in this case the rifles have not been given the longer muzzle brake of the AK-74. Two of the figures carry what looks like the RPK light machine gun, but this is the 1961 model, which had been superseded by the 1980s so seems too old a weapon for this set. A kneeling man is about to fire an anti-tank rocket launcher, and the most interesting of all the men is the soldier standing aiming his 9P54M in the air, which is as well as it fires anti-aircraft missiles.

Abraham Lincoln once said 'For those who like this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing they like', but for everyone else there is little of interest here. Technically this set is very good; beautifully sculpted, with not a trace of flash or other imperfections on the original batches. Of course these men wear regulation uniform and kit, and the reality in the field, perhaps far from home in Afghanistan, would have often been quite different. The kneeling sniper should have a sidearm such as a pistol, as well as the items of kit associated with his weapon, all of which are missing. As is so often the case then, these figures are something more of an ideal in terms of dress than the rather more practical reality, although the headwear is the most obvious departure from their normal appearance in the field, particularly in a war zone such as Afghanistan. Added to that, it seems that Esci, or at least their sculptor, had run out of ideas by this stage, and the result is a beautifully produced product with some accuracy problems and very boring poses that is somehow easily forgettable.


Historical Accuracy 7
Pose Quality 5
Pose Number 9
Sculpting 10
Mould 10

Further Reading
"Inside the Soviet Army" - Osprey (Elite Series No.12) - Steven Zaloga - 9780850457414
"Modern Combat Uniforms" - Brian Trodd Publishing - Mark Lloyd - 897472265
"Modern Military Uniforms" - Silverdale - Chris McNab - 9781856055345
"Russia's War in Afghanistan" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.178) - David Isby - 9780850456912
"Soviet Army Uniforms Today" - Arms & Armour (Uniforms Illustrated Series No.) - Steven Zaloga - 9780853686989
"Soviet Bloc Elite Forces" - Osprey (Elite Series No.5) - Steven Zaloga - 9780850456318
"Soviet Paratrooper vs Mujahideen Fighter" - Osprey (Combat Series No.29) - David Campbell - 9781472817648
"Soviet Uniforms and Militaria 1917-1991 in Colour Photographs" - Crowood Press - Laszlo Bekesi - 9781861263704
"Spetsnaz: Russia's Special Forces" - Osprey (Elite Series No.206) - Mark Galeotti - 9781472807229
"The Soviet-Afghan War" - Pen & Sword (Images of War Series) - Anthony Tucker-Jones - 9781848845787
"The Soviet-Afghan War 1979-1989" - Osprey (Essential Histories Series No.75) - Gregory Fremont-Barnes - 9781849088053
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