This is the first of the 'Hot War' range of game pieces produced by Zvezda to allow wargames based on a fictional 'hotting-up' of the Cold War around the end of the 1980s, just before that confrontation in fact ended with political changes in Eastern Europe. This is the first set of figures for the range, and represents the ordinary motorised infantry or riflemen of the Soviet Army.
As with the rest of the Art-of-Tactic ranges, we find a small set with just five figures. In the game they represent a unit, with a reasonable spread of weapons. The first and third figures are riflemen, armed with either the AKM or the much more likely AK-74 - it is hard to tell at this scale, despite the excellent, sharp detail. Indeed the weapons could easily also be the AKS-74 with the folding stock. The second figure looks to be a squad leader, and he carries an AK-74 with the GP-25 grenade launcher attached. Figure number four is holding a loaded RPG-7, while the machine-gunner in the squad is using an RPK-74. All these weapons are suitable for the late 80s, and although a Soviet infantry squad included more men than are present here, the distribution of weapons is a fair representation of the make-up of such a squad. All the men are dressed in the same way, which is to say the standard uniform and helmet, plus the 6B5 body armour that first went into production in 1986 but did not appear in the war in Afghanistan, thus precluding these figures from that conflict. Everything here is historically accurate for the period.
The poses are nothing special but are entirely appropriate, which is what you would want for a representative piece like this. All bar the prone machine gunner have been provided with separate bases for us modellers, but the main purpose of the product, as a game piece, means one single base is also included to group the figures together, as seen here. The sculpting is of the usual excellent Zvezda standard, with good detail everywhere - particularly important for weapons identification. Each figure is made up of more than one part, which helps to make all the poses very natural and lifelike. All the various parts fit together effortlessly, and are so well engineered that no glue is required to make these hard-plastic models.
As always, a full set would have been more welcome, particularly since no such set currently exists for this subject, but within the constraints of the game-piece concept, this is about as good as we could have asked for. The figures are great, and can be used for operations after 1986 such as those in Chechnya, so there are only good things to be said for this small but well-made product.