For years, Dragon Models held the title of producing the most modern 1/35 SEALs on market with their “SEALs in Aviator Uniforms” and “SEAL Team 3,” both produced in the 1990s. A few resin makers produced modern 1/35 SEALs although none were produced in quantities to have enough recognition or impact on the 1/35 modern figure market. With Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom, interest in modeling modern U.S. and NATO forces climbed, yet manufacturers have been slow to break out of the typical conventional U.S. soldier figures with Kevlar helmet and Interceptor Body Armor.Boom microphone
At first glance, Think-180’s SEa-Air-Land (SEAL) #1 has a whole number of “firsts” that no plastic or resin manufacturer has ever produced.
SEAL #1 sports the latest night-vision goggle capability (as of 2006) with its helmet-mounted AN/PVS-14 monocular. Briefly, the monocular leaves one naked eye exposed to darkness, thus maintaining shooter’s depth perception and darkness orientation compared to the AN/PVS-7 night vision goggles that cover both eyes.
SEAL #1 also carries the new gas mask with external filter, H-style load bearing harness (popular with SEALs) with vest ammunition pouches, new SPEAR vest with MOLLE loops, new-style pistol holster, new communications helmet with glint reflective tape and emergency beacons, and new Solomon hiking boots. Even the pant’s thigh pocket has a bottom bulge, indicating that the pocket isn’t empty.
The M4A1 has nice features of a Rail Interface System, COMP-M sight, forward vertical handgrip, under-barrel flashlight, retracted buttstock, double magazine, and rear leaf sight. The gun looks straight and true—no warps, runs, droops, or alignment issues. Clearly a lot of thought has gone into designing SEAL #1, one of the first left-handed shooters to enter the 1/35 modern figure market.
The aviator uniform and M4A1 setup suits a wide-variety of scenarios from Close Quarter Combat to ship/oil derrick takedown to desert operations to effective night fighting to working in chemical environments. The equipment allows for both active (flashlight) and passive (AN/PVS-14 and COMP-M) night-fighting capabilities.
What’s more important is the figure’s inclusion of the integrated communications gear with boom microphone, a needed addition for Special Forces operating in hostile environments since their link to external support often means the difference between life-and-death. The head comes with the neat feature of its neck having an Adam’s Apple, a detail often overlooked by other figure sculptors when the neck is exposed in such a fashion.
I found some of the pieces close, but not totally accurate to the actual items. The AN/PVS-14 and COMP-M scopes look a little off in terms of shape and details, but nothing to get concerned about.
The light gray resin shows excellent detail and casting devoid of warps, runs, droops, or thin areas although my SEAL had air bubble holes under the vest pouches and on the boot tip, nothing some putty can’t fix. Wrinkles and details are crisp and sharp; the figure looks proportional. The M4A1 doesn’t come with any pour blocks to cut away, a nice bonus, although some modelers may decide that the M4A1 looks more 1/33rd scale than true 1/35th scale.
Construction of SEAL #1 was tricky at times.
The figure has an “invisible slickness” that prevented my CA superglue from sticking most of the time. As such, I recommend that the modeler wash the figure first to remove the molding-release agent, or roughing up the gluing surfaces slightly with sandpaper, taking note that sanding resin produces toxic dust that the modeler should avoid breathing in.
The head, gas mask, holster, and pouches fit with no problems whatsoever; the figure gives ample waist space to glue on accessories. Modelers may wish to add a dive knife, flex cuffs, or smoke grenades from their 1/35 figure spares box.
Gluing the arms was tricky possibly due to the mold-release oil agent. I made many attempts to get the arms to stick to the torso. The figure does have “gun-to-hands” fitting problems in that the M4A1 doesn’t rest snugly in the open hands.
The left hand’s fingers are not open enough and the triggergrip doesn’t rest properly in the right hand. Worst off, I found no easily solution to remedy this problem. I can attest that after much fastidious test-fitting, I did find a “sweet spot” where aligning the arms does make the gun rest pretty well in the open hands; however, gravity often pulls the arms and hand downward before the superglue can totally dry, making me lose that “sweet spot” many times.
The right arm cannot depress much due to the vest pouches blocking its descent. In order to move the right arm lower, the modeler has to gouge out the vest pouch or the right arm. In fussing to get the triggergrip into the left hand, I broke the firing finger, which fell into my carpet, lost forever. The break doesn’t affect the figure’s appearance too much since the truncated firing finger now looks curled around the trigger (or I may just make a new finger out of putty).
The triggergrip cannot rest in the left hand because the thumb gets in the way, meaning that the left hand is too far forward to hold onto the grip. The triggergrip either rests behind the thumb or on the thumb. The only recommendation I can suggest is removing the thumb, or cutting off some of the left wrist and moving the left hand back, a discovery I made too late after the left hand’s superglue dried. I even tried substituting DML M4s, Benelli M1 shotguns, M-16A2s, other Think-180’s M4s, or other DML 1/35th modern weapons for this figure, but none of them would fit properly in the hands.
Nonetheless, when viewed from the figure’s left side, the figure does appear to hold the M4A1 properly. But when viewed from the figure’s right side, one can see that the left hand doesn’t hold the triggergrip. The modeler would need to exercise some “creative modeling liberties and artistic license,” such as creating a rifle sling to hide the fact that the gun doesn’t fit in the left hand and to fill the right hand’s finger gap under the barrel. Experienced modelers may also attempt to pin the arms in hopes of finding that coveted “sweet spot” where the gun does rest in both hands.
Think-180’s SEAL #1 requires work to make the figure look like the box photos. Purchasing aftermarket resin hands or arms, manipulating the arms to the proper “sweet spot,” pinning the arms, or shortening the left hand a bit may remedy the issue of the “gun-to-hands” fit problem. Purchasing aftermarket 1/35 plastic or resin guns may assuage modelers who believe that the supplied M4A1 borders on 1/33rd scale.
Think-180’s SEAL #1 does hold the title of being the most state-of-the-art and advanced 1/35 modern U.S. SEAL on market today. This figure’s features and capabilities make it a valued addition for the modern collector and for those looking for a 1/35 Special Forces figure equipped for night-fighting.
With some research and slight modifications, SEAL #1 can also be used to represent another U.S. military branch such as Marine Force Recon or the U.S. Air Force’s Pararescue Jumpers.
Pushies, Fred J. Weapons of the Navy SEALs, Motorbooks International, St. Paul, MN C 2004.