"Quietly came, quietly went…" - Special Operations Forces of Ukraine
From the ICM website -
The modern Special Operations Forces (SOF) of the Armed Forces of Ukraine were created in 2016 on the basis of existing units and subunits, most of which already had some combat experience. As of the summer of 2023, the Ukrainian Special Operations Forces are based on two special purpose regiments – a special purpose maritime center, a special operations center and several other units. Their main tasks include in-depth reconnaissance, combat raids behind enemy lines, search and evacuation of captives or hostages, and anti-terrorist activities.
The selection process for Special Forces units is very rigorous, with only 10% of all candidates passing the selection process. Special attention is paid to the equipment of the Special Forces units. The weapons, equipment and facilities include the most modern models, both foreign and Ukrainian, such as the special Vulcan assault rifle, which has been supplied to Special Forces units since 2017. Also in 2020, the Special Operations Forces were the first in the Armed Forces of Ukraine to adopt the structure of NATO army headquarters. During 2022-2023, Ukrainian Special Forces units successfully performed the most difficult combat missions in all areas of combat operations.
ICM continues to announce new models despite the ongoing Russian initiated war in Ukraine. While most subjects released by ICM are welcome, the current conflict subjects are even more relevant and timely. This Ukrainian Special Operations Forces figure set does not disappoint.
This fantastic ICM kit begs to be opened upon the colorful box art lid and cover of the typical sturdy ICM box, there is a reinforced white inner box that does a good job of protecting the single sprue containing the four Special Operations Forces (SOF) figures, two of the same weapons sprues, along with an advertisement folder for ICM acrylic paints.
There are four modern Ukrainian SOF operator figures (from the box art, left to right):
- Kneeling operator with weapon at rest
- Kneeling operator with handheld tablet
- Standing operator with AK-type and AT weapon
- Standing operator with machine gun and AT weapon
All the operators are wearing body armor, special ops type ballistic helmets for headsets and night vision goggles (NVGs) mounts and optics, modular pouches for magazines, grenades, etc in Ukrainian Multicam camouflage uniforms. While the instructions call out where the various kit are applied, you can mix and match as you like, as soldiers in most militaries are want to do. ICM has weapon slings molded onto the figure, so attachment points are obvious, but there is nothing hard about scraping them away and adding slings to fit your style. There is a nice collection of rifles, MGs, knives and sidearms on the two duplicate weapons sprues.
The figures build up quickly and easily with only a little filler required (but the few gaps could be a result of my skillset). There are only a few changes I would incorporate in the instructions. First, multiple views (or at least front and back) of each figure would be beneficial. Second, a callout for the equipment; while the gear is detailed and interchangeable, it would be nice to know the nomenclature. I spent hours trying to narrow down the types of rifles and weapons in the kit. I believe the weapons are from the AK family, the IPI Mulyuk (or Fort-221/224) bullpups, UKM-2000, GP-25 Kostyor grenade launcher, shoulder launched ATGMs (believe to either a Shtur-B or Barrier-V) and indeterminate holstered sidearms and sheathed knives.
Assembly does not take long, and once complete, there were 15 parts remaining on the A Sprue that were not called out in the instructions. As far as I could determine, the parts belonged to the following figures, based on their sprue location:
- Kneeling operator with weapon at rest: Parts Nos. 44 (three cell magazine pouch), 46 (dual pouch), 47 (dual handgun mag pouch), 48 (radio with folded antenna)
- Kneeling operator with handheld tablet: Parts Nos. 1 (radio with folded antenna), 3 (pouch), 4 (dual pouch), 5 (backpack)
- Standing operator with AK-type and AT weapons: Parts Nos. 21 (radio with folded antenna), 22 (three cell magazine pouch) 23 (pouch)
- Standing operator with machine gun and AT weapon: Parts Nos. 27 (pouch), 29 (dual pouch), 30 (radio with folded antenna)
The weapons on duplicate W Sprues are not all called out. Missing call outs are the headphones (Part Nos. 12 and 13) for the four figures and handguns in holsters (Part Nos. 16). Part No. 22 (NVG arm) is a spare for Part No. 5. As for the weapons, two styles of handguns in holsters are provided, as are knives in sheaths, and two folding stock AK variants (one with a Gp-24 Kostyor grenade launcher), two bullpup variants (one with a suppressor), an AK squad automatic rifle with suppressor, a machine gun (with options for a folded or deployed bipod), and shoulder launched AT rocket.
I built the figures straight out of the box and primed them as displayed on the box art (with the addition of the wine bottle foil for the slings for the shoulder launched AT weapons on the standing figures and hollowing out the barrels on the suppressors). The intent is to show the fit and overall appearance, and not to highlight my lack of figure painting skills. As the bodies are multi-piece affairs, with separate arms, legs, head and headgear, these figures really stand out. Any gaps shown in the photos are most likely my fault and will be filled before painting.
These figures look the part and can easily be put together with a vehicle, vignette, or diorama for the current Ukrainian War, or another Eastern European military environment. The only real niggles are the lack of a small decal sheet for the shoulder patch of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the Ukrainian flag (both of which can be easily rendered with homemade decals as they are simple) – although a lot of SOF units have sterilized uniforms, and the fore mentioned multiple views (at least back side) for the figures.
I enjoyed experimenting with the Multicam pattern with ICM’s Acrylic Paint Set for the Armed Forces of Ukraine (Item No. 3041), and reviewed by myself. The paint set comprises six colors, although 12 colors are called out in the kit instructions - these are easily sourced through other paint companies.
The paint set is really designed for brush painting and the paint dries to a hardy, matte finish. The built and painted figures showcase the detail and paint colors, not my figure painting skills. One great thing is that these two kits (figures and paint set) are a great way to continue developing skills.
I had a lot of fun building this gem from ICM and look forward to seeing what other modelers can do with this set. The possibilities are only limited by imagination and the poses, gear, and weapons makes this a very diverse set.
Profuse thanks to ICM and IPMS/USA for providing the review sample.