by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
Set #48084 consists of a single sprue containing 35 x parts moulded in tan coloured styrene. The parts build up into 7 x figures and the moulding quality is very good indeed. Despite the thickness of some of the torsos, there wasn't a single sink-mark on any of the parts, there are no ejector-pin marks to deal with and there was hardly a trace of flash. The sprue attachments are nice and thin and quite well placed to make clean-up pretty quick and painless - on most parts this consisted of gently scraping with a sharp blade to remove the fine mould separation lines which largely follow the seams and folds in the figures' clothing.
If the moulding is good, then the sculpting of the figures is quite exceptional. The proportions of the figures is very good and the poses are natural and lifelike. The details of the uniforms are very crisply detailed and the faces are extremely well done, with each figure displaying a high degree of character for such a small scale. In terms of comparing quality, I'd say these are among the finest - if not the finest - injection moulded 1/48 scale figures I've yet seen. They are well on a par with the very best that Tamiya has produced and easily exceed the quality of other manufacturers. Perhaps the ultimate accolade is that Tamiya are now including some of ICM's earlier figures in their limited edition releases - and the best compliment I can pay them is that, at times as I constructed them, I forgot they were injection moulded and assumed they were resin - the sculpting and detail is that good!
The figures break down into two basic groups - a set of 3 male officers with a female assistant carrying a large wad of reports, and a group of 3 mechanics. Two of the mechanics are crouching as if examining a problem, while the third stands back scratching his head. All the poses are very natural and lifelike and will add a considerable amount of "life" to any VVS vignette or diorama. The fit of parts in each of the figures was good and only a touch of filler will be needed to hide the seams - I'll use something like correction fluid or Vallejo acrylic filler that can be flowed into the small gaps and won't risk damaging the parts. The only adjustments that could improve the figures are modifying the hand of the figure intended to be carrying his hat to "grip" it better, while the female figure might look more natural if shortened somewhat - she's a bit of an Amazon, standing shoulder to shoulder alongside the men.
The latter point is really the only serious criticism that can be levelled at the figures; while they have a good deal of variety in their faces and uniforms, they are all of a basically similar height and stature - a small point when the figures are otherwise so exceptional and, if ICM address that in future sets, I'll almost run out of superlatives to use to describe them!
A minor disappointment is that there are no accessories provided, beyond a leather satchel. You might argue that bearing in mind the competitive price and high quality of the figures themselves, to bemoan this seems like a carping, but it would have rounded everything off perfectly to at least include a toolbox for the mechanics - especially as ICM provided a good selection of tools and equipment in their earlier set of Soviet figures which is rather hard to find these days.
The instructions consist of single sheet with a photograph of the parts on the sprue, plus an English/Russian colour list for ModelMaster paints. On the reverse side of the sheet is a large drawing of each of the assembled figures with the parts numbered and colours keyed-in. These drawings are repeated in colour on the back of the sets cardboard box.
ConclusionThese are superb figures and deserve to be a huge success. They represent excellent value for money and I shall certainly buy several sets. I hope they prove successful enough to encourage ICM to produce more figures in this scale to extend their excellent range still further. Unreservedly recommended.
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