Soldier Story : FBI HRT Review

Back in late March of 2013, hot off the heels of their CIRG figure, Soldier Story announced their latest ‘law enforcement’ figure; the FBI HRT (Hostage Rescue Team).  The news came just a few short weeks after the CIRG figure arrived in peoples hands (mine included) and for the most part you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s virtually the same figure, albeit in OD instead of black.  It is true that apart from the colour, both figures do share some common parts, some of which identical, others just a different colour.  There are however some new additions to the figure which make it all the more worthwhile.  Whilst some may opt for a ‘parts buy one’, I jumped in head first for the entire figure, as they would both look pretty awesome together on the display shelf.  This figure was slightly more expensive than the CIRG at £109.99 (£10 difference), and I pre-ordered mine through the excellent Collectable Kitbash.

So, without further ado, let’s look at Soldier Story’s latest offering.

The figure includes a pretty exhaustive list of parts:

MICH 2000 HELMET
HELMET LIGHT
SI M-FRAME 2.0 SUNGLASS
PVS-23 NVG
PVS-23 BATTERY CASE
MS2000 STROBE LIGHT
GOGGLE
M45 GAS MASK
M45 GAS MASK VPU
QUIET-OPS HEADSET SYSTEM
SABER RADIO
LIGHT STICKS *3
SABRE CROSSFIRE
NO.25 FLASH-BANG GRENADE
TEAR GAS
WATCH
PUSH DAGGER
6004 HOLSTER
1911 PISTOL
1911 PISTOL MAG X2
1911 GUN LIGHT
M870 SHOTGUN
SHOTGUN SHELL X6 (RED) X6 (BLUE)
416 RIFLE
FRONT SIGHT
REAR SIGHT
AN/PEQ15 ATPIAL
552 RED DOT SIGHT
GRIP
M600 GUN LIGHT
PUSH-BUTTON SWIVEL & MWS FORE-END RAIL MOUNT
E-MOD STOCK
M4 MAG *5+1
'M' GLOVES
'FUGITIVE' BOOTS
S2.5 BODY
GEN2 COMBAT SHIRT
GEN2 COMBAT PANTS
BLACK T-SHIRT
BELT
FBI SWAT BALLISTIC VEST
MOLLE SHOULDER PADS
ADMIN POUCH
DOUBLE M4 MAG POUCH
SINGLE GRENADE POUCH
SINGLE FLASH-BANG POUCH
TRIPLE FLASH-BANG POUCH
MODULAR ASSAULT PACK
RADIO POUCH
MEDIC POUCH
GAS MASK POUCH
WEAPONS CATCH
SAFETY LANYARD
PISTOL LANYARD
RAPPELLING GLOVES
VTAC-MK2 WIDE PADDED SLING
SHOTGUN SLING
PATCHES

Presentation

This figure is only my second boxed figure from Soldier Story (although I’ve been using loose parts for much longer) but keeping in style with the previous CIRG release, and I’m reliably informed all SS releases are like this; the HRT figure is the usual ‘front opener’ window styled box with all of the parts held in plastic trays on display.  Whilst a lot of companies seem to be going down the ‘shoe box’ foam-lined format, Soldier Story figures remain reminiscent of early Dragon releases.  Not that I mind however, I am by no means a ‘box snob’, and once the figure is put together 99% of my figure boxes go straight in the bin! 

In terms of the box artwork, it is fairly plain and simple, however the rear of the box serves as a very useful visual reference as to where the individual pouches and items are supposed to be located, but more on that later.

Head Sculpt & Body

The HRT figure was used to debut Soldier Story’s latest iteration of their figure body, version 2.5.  The main differences of the new body is the soft upper torso area and articulated neck, something that is new for SS as ordinarily the neck is made from rigid plastic and in a fixed position.  This does allow for a greater degree of pose-ability, especially for ‘shouldered’ rifle shots where you are able to lean the head down onto the butt-stock of the rifle.  In my opinion, Soldier Story bodies were already one of my personal favourites thanks to the fantastic articulation they offer, this further improvement and natural evolution only serves to make them better.  It is worth noting that the skin-tone of the neck area is a better match to the head sculpt too, something that let Soldier Story down unfortunately previously as their bodies tended to have that ‘orange hue’ as present on earlier 1/6 figures.

The figure is supplied with pair of non-gloved hands with standard right ‘trigger’ and left relaxed, along with a set of ‘mechanix’ gloved hands.  I note that you still only get one pair of hand pegs with the figure, which might be well worth including an additional set; guards against accidental breakage and makes it easier to swap between the hand set.  I did find that I needed to gently separate the finger from the palm with a scalpel on the gloved trigger hand, to make it easier to fit the rifle, although this was entirely my preference and not absolutely necessary.

The head sculpt, if you haven’t already guessed is quite obviously Matt Damon.  What I like about Soldier Story is the random actors that appear in their figure range, often having nothing to do with the figure in question; for example I can not remember Matt Damon ever playing the role of a HRT member?  I’m not going to tell you that it’s the best Matt Damon likeness that I’ve ever seen, because quite simply it isn’t, but then that isn’t the point.  This figure is not mean to be an exact likeness of him, but still serves its purpose well.  With the mouth slightly ajar, this sculpt is a little more expressive than the blank stares of many…  I like it.

Uniform

In the uniform department, if I include in this section the ballistic vest and corresponding pouches, then we have plenty to talk about so I will keep it as brief and to the point as possible.  Before we go any further I would like briefly discuss the ‘configuration’ of the figure, in terms of where best to place the items.  One thing I learned fairly recently is not to become too concerned as to where all the items ‘should’ go.  It is after all YOUR figure and you can do with it as you please.  Obviously it’s nice to have them displayed as accurately as possible, but if there is the odd item that you’re not aware of the correct placement, don’t worry, ‘freestyle’ it somewhat.  And that is exactly what I’ve done with this figure.  You will be able to see from some of the photos that not all of the items are placed where perhaps they were intended, or in some cases I’ve not used the included parts entirely.  Also worth pointing out is the weathering that I have applied to the figure.  As I assembled the pieces, I carefully applied a light dry-brushed coating of light acrylic paint to give a more realistic appearance; please bear this in mind when looking at the final pictures.

The GEN2 combat uniform is exactly the same as the one provided on the CIRG figure, except for of course, this one is in OD and not black.  I like the fit of the Soldier Story uniforms, I often find they hang quite realistically from the bodies and as loose items for kit-bashing they are very desirable.  Also included is a black t-shirt which I removed from the figure, why?  Because you’re not going to see it so I’ve kept it back for a figure where you might.

The vest, as per the uniform, is the same as the CIRG figure (again, bar colour) with the addition of molle shoulder pads.  The vest is sturdy and well constructed to the usual high standards, with features such as internal pockets, retention straps, mesh ‘breathable liner’, but oddly no ceramic plates.  Affixed to the front of the vest is a Velcro backed FBI patch which we’re going to take off, as the admin pouch sits on the chest which already has the wording upon it.

As you can see from the pictures, there are a variety of pouches to choose from, but not all are entirely necessary depending on how you choose to display the figure.  In my particular configuration I have opted not to use the dedicated pepper spray and flash-pouches, and use the triple pouch instead.  There simply isn’t room on the vest to use all of it, so how you choose to display it is entirely up to you.  As with a large portion of this release, we find here the same pouches as per the CIRG figure with the exception of the ‘modular assault pack’, essentially a molle back-pack which affixes to the rear of the vest.  Provided with this is also a hydration tube, so we can assume the back-pack also ‘contains a bladder’ (it actually doesn’t it’s just foam filled, but we can imagine now can’t we?).

One of the nicest pieces of kit on this figure are the ‘Fugitive’ boots.  Again, very much like the CIRG release however these are not plastic moulded, these are fabric boots and extremely realistic at that.  From the photo you see here, it is hard to tell whether they are real or not, absolutely amazing detailing.  What is nice about these is they will also be popular as a loose item, as the problem with Soldier Story moulded boots for pegs, is that they are only really compatible (without modification) with Soldier Story bodies, whereas these boots work with all brands, so long as you have some feet! 

Some other small items of note to mention under the heading of ‘uniform’ are the included leather rappelling gloves, again included on the previous release.  There are also some smaller items some as the safety harness lanyard with quick release carabineers.  The Safariland thigh holster is also the same as included on the previous figure, but one would not expect this to change as its standard issue kit for this type of figure.

Equipment and Accessories

There are a plentiful supply of accessories and parts with the HRT figure, so lets a brief look at some of the items of note, starting with the primary weapon, the 416 rifle.  In the 1/6th world, the 416 is becoming as popular as the SCAR did a few years ago, as a consequence we’re seeing a lot of them.  Additionally this rifle platform has been adopted by military and law enforcement agencies worldwide, so it is likely we’re going to be seeing a lot more of them too!  Yes, yet again it was a 416 on the previous version, but this one offers some slight variation.  Firstly, the colour scheme, it’s kind of a slapdash green camouflage look and one can’t help but wonder whether this was done to help alleviate the troubles Soldier Story have found themselves in recently regarding the use of licensed trademarks?  I merely speculate, but either way I’m not overly keen.  Call me old fashioned but I like my weapons in black!  A different stock on this piece than the CIRG and a lovely addition of the magpul industries ready-mag system, which is fairly rare piece in the 1/6th world.  A total of 6 magazines are provided with the rifle, 5 of which are the standard NATO 30 round, and oddly the inclusion of a 20 round magazine too.  We’ve also got a fully functional grip-pod on there too, and as you would expect from Soldier Story who make some of the nicest rifles on the market, all of the usual touches and moving parts are present.  The sliding stock DOES move on this model, but be warned it is very stiff due to the paintwork so care is required to not break it.  You will need to first remove the stock-release lever first to ensure the small pin is not engaging into one of the holes on the buffer tube.

The M870 shotgun is included again and this really is a lovely piece, probably one of the best examples of its type in 1/6th scale.  Not only is it fully metal (aside from pistol grip and slide), but it has a very satisfying and realistic cocking action.  The ejection port opens and sprung metal cover on the loading port too, it is so realistic you’d be forgiven for trying to load the shells in and chamber a round… but don’t, they won’t quite fit and will get stuck!

The M1911 makes another appearance, and why on earth not, although I have to be honest I’m getting a little tired on seeing them on all of the ‘SWAT’ type figures, one would have thought they’d have opted for a different side-arm by now?  Comes with two chrome magazines, you’ll find room for that spare mag on the radio pouch.  The usual moving parts on this pistol and it does come apart should you see fit, and you can appreciate the free-floating barrel etc, but be warned, very fiddly to put back together!

With regards to the radio and provided headset system, I have to admit this is where I made my biggest deviation from the original intended set-up, as I did on the previous figure as well.  I’m afraid I found it entirely too confusing to assemble and this is where I would really value a small instruction sheet from Soldier Story to assist, and I don’t think I’d be alone in that thought!  One would presume that the radio is somehow connected to one of the pieces on the gas mask?  But if you’re not displaying the figure using the M45 gas mask then how else it would be displayed is beyond me!  In the end I put together my own simple system and cut one of the cables off of the control unit (I can here some of you physically cringing at this point…), it is after all as said above, my figure.

The MICH helmet is quite nice, but I have to admit that I do prefer the FAST helmet of the CIRG figure, which does somewhat have more of a tactical appeal to it.  Following the corresponding box pictures to work out the placement of the items on the helmet, you’ll notice that the box pictures show the strobe attached to the helmet by a piece of Velcro; unfortunately such a piece of Velcro was missing from my set, most likely a small oversight when it was packed in the factory.  No matter, a small spot of super-glue gel worked nicely (are you cringing again?).  As per the comment above regarding instructions, you’re left to your own devices to work out the placement of the helmet liner pads.  I’m pretty sure I got it right, but who knows to be sure!

There are a few other smaller items included with the figure, but the photographs should adequately describe them without the need for commentary.

Conclusion

So that concludes our look at the Soldier Story FBI HRT figure, and what a lovely figure it is indeed.  Now you will have noticed many references to the similarities between this figure and the previous CIRG version, and you might be asking yourself, do I really need both?  Ordinarily, and especially as my display space is not infinite, I like to avoid ‘duplicating’ figures on my shelves.  For example, recently a friend asked me why I had not pre-ordered the latest Hot Toys DX-13 battle damaged T-800, and my answer was quite simple, because I already have the DX-10.  How many Terminators do I need to display?  Especially the same character from the same film, albeit a little bashed about…  I would apply the same logic to the Soldier Story figures almost, BUT, the difference is that Soldier Story figures are simply excellent value for money.  The sheer amount of kit that you get with them along with the satisfaction and enjoyment of putting it all together, in my opinion represents great value for money.  So on this occasion, having previously enjoyed the CIRG figure so much, I decided it only right to pair him up with the latest HRT figure too.

As mentioned at the beginning of the review, I pre-ordered my figure through Collectable Kitbash at the discounted PO price of £109.00 and at the time of writing this, the figure is still available in stock at the slightly higher price of £114.99; but still excellent value.  Loose parts are available too!  Special thanks to Darren at CK for the excellent service as usual.

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