Listed as the first in their “Brave Ukraine” series, this is a small diorama set with four figures servicing an indigenous Stugna-P antitank missile system. The Stugna-P is essentially the equivalent of the U.S. TOW missile system and was developed around 2010 and is effective against most forms of armor (including reactive) up to about 160 feet. It can fire two different calibers of missile – 130mm and 152mm, both of which can also be supplied in high explosive or fragmentation format for use against infantry. It’s also effective during night operations, which must make it a major headache for Russian forces, who normally are not well equipped for night combat. The version supplied in the kit appears to be the 130mm version, although I could be mistaken.
As said, there are four figures supplied with the kit – one handling the sight mechanism while another handles the missile tube itself. An operator lies on the ground fiddling with the control box while a fourth watches over the entire operation, AK-47 in hand.
Before assembling the figures, it’s probably best to assemble the Stugna-P first, as the positioning of the two standing figures need to be adjusted to fit. All four figures went together easily with just a modicum of filler, although I paid particular attention to the arm-torso joint as T-shirts normally do not have very visible seams. The only real trouble I encountered in assembly was due to my own lack of familiarity with this type of modern equipment. There are various satchels that fit to the figures, but only one graphic for each, directly reproducing the cover art. Unfortunately, this fails to demonstrate the positioning of satchels attached to the far side of each figure. What I did because of this was largely guesswork, and I know I screwed up the positioning of at least one of these. Just an FYI—though no mention is made of these in the instructions, two pieces representing the discarded covers for both the missile and sight mechanism are also included.
When it came to painting, I relied far more on the cover art than the rather dubious insert, although the most obvious difference is that the cover art depicts all of the figures without helmet covers. The helmets provided are most certainly covered, so some accommodation was necessary. I also painted the head bands as ID strips to add a bit more color to these. All in all, painting these figures is challenging, not only for the complex camouflage, but also for the somewhat complex equipment harnesses. As always in this scale, I didn’t try to really duplicate the camouflage as merely give an impression of it. To me, the most difficult part of doing elaborate camouflage on uniforms isn’t the pattern itself – it’s defining the figure so that they don’t just turn into a big blur of earth tones.
All in all, this box provides everything you need to make a very interesting contemporary diorama. The only addition I will probably add will be to install some lead wire to represent the cabling between the launcher and control box. Obviously, a nicely knocked-out Russian tank would fill the scenario out nicely.
ICM has to be commended for making these kits under such trying circumstances. Like their infamous Chernobyl series, they never seem to shy away from difficult or sensitive topics. I just picked up their Refugee set recently, and it’s literally heartbreaking.
My thanks to ICM for their continuing release of fascinating subjects and to IPMS/USA for letting me take a shot at building them. Stay safe, everyone!