by: Mario Matijasic [ ]
The Italian Army did not take part in OIF combat operations, dispatching troops only after May 1, 2003 when major combat operations were declared over. Italian troops arrived in Iraq in the late summer of 2003, and began patrolling Nasiriyah and the surrounding area within an operation called “Antica Babilonia”. One of the units dispatched to Iraq was an amphibious regiment of Lagunari, and this figure represents a member of that regiment.
The figure arrived in a safe cardboard box decorated with box-art of unpainted figure. I must admit I prefer box-arts showing painted figures, but I noticed a different trend among some figure manufacturers. The box is very firm, so that the pieces packed inside the zip-lock bag are not likely to be damaged during transport.
Upon closer inspection the figure looks really great. It consists of 5 resin parts and a small booklet showing the Italian desert uniform and a picture of a real Italian soldier in Iraq. I think the sculptor used the photo of this particular soldier as a model for sculpting the figure; in fact, browsing the Lagunari website, I found more pictures of the same soldier. Comparing him and his gear with the figure, I’m now quite convinced my assumptions are true. What do you guys think?
Anyway, the booklet is a nice addition to the kit and shows the colors of Italian desert uniform well. However, I would suggest finding some more references before actually painting this figure; couple of websites that could be useful are listed at the end of this review.
The parts are cast in gray resin and the resin is almost completely clean of any imperfections. I did found a seam line at the inner side of the left boot, but that could be easily removed with some fine sandpaper. Two more seam lines were found on the arms; these could prove a bit trickier to remove because they run along the folds of the uniform.
The fit of the pieces is very good so that minimal putty work is required. Fitting the arms and the weapon to the torso is not difficult, just be patient and make a test fit before actually opening a glue bottle.
The anatomy of the figure is perfect and the pose seems very natural, as if peeking behind a wall. The figure is wearing Italian desert uniform nicknamed “Somalia”. The 4-color desert pattern consisting of light and medium tan, green and reddish brown was developed in 1988 and fielded for the first time to Italian peacekeepers in UNISOM II mission in 1993. “Somalia” was the standard Italian desert camouflage pattern until 2004, when new 4-color computer designed pattern was introduced. The uniform on the figure is a very good representation of “Somalia”; the folds are very natural and follow the pose of the figure well. There are even sleeve patches sculpted on: the Italian national insignia on the upper left sleeve and Lagunari regimental patch on the right sleeve pocket.
The figure is wearing an assault vest over its body armor. The body armor is of the older type issued to troops in Italian woodland pattern. The assault vest looks amazing; comparing it to the real thing I found out all the intricate details are there and the bulge from the rear body armor plate is well represented on the back of the figure. All the pouches are sculpted on the vest.
The head is cast as a separate piece. It has very nicely sculpted facial features and the “Fritz” helmet has all the details present along with the goggles modeled in a protective cover. Of course, the sunglasses are a standard issue in Iraq.
Another separate piece of the kit is the side arm; probably an Italian made Beretta in the holster. It fits well to its designated place on the right hip of the figure.
This figure is armed with Beretta SC-70/90 rifle. The SC-70/90 rifle is a carbine version of AR-70/90 assault rifle; it is basically the same rifle but features the folding buttstock designed for Special Forces. Beretta 70/90 was first introduced in 1990 and soon became a general issue shoulder arm with the Italian Army. It uses 5.56 NATO cartridges and can accommodate any STANAG compliant magazine. Instead of the carrying handle pictured on the box art, Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight (ACOG) scope is attached to the rifle via ACOG adapter. The folding buttstock is covered in “Somalia” pattern cloth. The cast of the rifle is perfect, but the tip of the barrel is very delicate and broke during handling. Quite an easy fix, though.
It’s the small details which make this figure so special. First of all, I was amazed by the likeness of the figure to a real Lagunari soldier: the details on the vest, the scarf around the neck, knee pad on the right leg and the cloth on the rifle buttstock. The subject is quite unique and interesting, the cast is almost perfect and the level of detail could be easily compared to the big names in resin figure business. Highly recommended for all modern figure fans.
SpecialOps Vol.22 (Concord Publications), James R. Hill
SpecialOps Vol.35 (Concord Publications), James R. Hill
Camouflage Uniforms of European and NATO Armies (Schiffer Publications), J.F. Borsarello