by: Darren Baker [ ]
When it comes to model kits IDF offerings must be near the top of the demand list as every new release tends to attract a lot of attention. ICM has recently released something very different as regards Israeli Defence Force which I believe has a wide range of appeal. This new release features a Special Forces IDF K-9 Unit or known as ‘OKETZ’.
The Following information is from the https://www.idf.il website and I have included a couple of images from that site.
Oketz (“Sting” in Hebrew) is the IDF's canine unit. It operates with specially trained dogs for missions in the field of counter-terrorism, search and rescue, and other specific purposes. The unit operates in all regions of the country. Joining the unit is voluntary and therefore soldiers undergo difficult selection and testing before joining the unit. Each dog is trained to have a specific specialty (attack, search and rescue, locating weapons, detecting explosives, etc.).
Oketz was set up in Sirkin Base in 1974, following the wave of terrorist attacks that hit Israel in the early 1970s. The unit then had just 11 soldiers. In the 1970s and 1980s, the unit participated in dozens of secret missions. It operated in total secrecy until 1988, when the unit was revealed to the public for the first time following an operation in Lebanon.
The connection between the dog and its trainer is very personal. Soldiers receive their dog during their training and spend a lot of time with the dog. The links between dogs and soldiers are very important during a military operation and are an integral part of the unit's characteristics.
This release from ICM is supplied in the usual way of a robust cardboard box and flip top lid with an additional card lid with the artwork on it. Inside the sprues are packed inside a re-sealable plastic bag; this is also accompanied by an instruction sheet and box top colour poster. All of the items supplied with this sample are as intended I believe. An examination of the sprues does not reveal any concerns what so ever as regards the mouldings.
The main structures that make up this figure follow the usual breakdown with the exception that the torso is in two halves. The hands are moulded attached to the arms, but ICM has supplied three of the fingers of the right hand separately to enable the holding of the personal weapon to be realistic. The head has been made of three parts consisting of two halves for the rear of the head and a separate face that is split along the helmet straps to avoid a difficult joint. The facial details are good and should be up to the standards that figure painters and fans will be happy with. The portion of the head that would be under the helmet has been left out and so no issues with attaching the helmet well. One comment that was made about this figure when news was released is that the waist was too small, so I found myself taking the waist measurement of a scale figure! The figure has a waist of just under 38 inches and so of a good size; I feel the added equipment throws the eye out depending on the angle the figure is viewed from.
The uniform depicted on the figure is a very good match for photographic reference. ICM has opted to have the figure in boots and I was surprised and pleased to see the tread for the boots supplied as separate parts despite being hidden for the most part. The shirt and trousers are basically light weight with nothing specific to identify it as Israeli that I can observe. The body armour looks appropriate, but the side straps may need some work to improve definition. The various pouches on the front of the torso have been very well replicated and a great match for reference. Moving to the rear of the figure and I was unable to find an exact match for the webbing set up; with that said I was surprised at how many variations there are to how pouches are placed and the limited reference of photographs from the rear.
Looking at the legs of the figure and I am pleased with the level of detail on the knee pads and the straps that hold them in place. The side arm holster is I believe the Orpaz Glock 19 Holster that also fits the Glock 17, but from what I can fathom this was used by security and police in Israel with no reference to the armed forces. The side arm supplied could one of a few different Glock side arms and the Israelis use the Glock 17, 18 and 19. The helmet provided is an excellent representation of the item seen in several images; I cannot identify the shell of the helmet as it is hidden, but the cover is I believe the Zahal cover as issued to Israeli Special Forces minus the torch on the left hand side of it.
The rifle supplied with the figure is an IWI TAR-21 (Tavor) and this has been provided with two optional barrels as in the version for the weapon I have identified and a barrel for the IWI X95 (Micro-Tavor). These weapons are very similar at first glance with the difference in barrel length being the obvious change, but closer inspection of the two weapons indicates the one included with the offering is an IWI TAR-21 (Tavor) and so use the longer barrel with it.
The dog offered looks suitably aggressive as in more of a war dog than a search and rescue animal. There is a subtle fur texture to the cote of the animal that will need some added work due to the joints being in need of filler and the seam lines will need some work in order to achieve a realistic finish to the animal before paint is even looked at. The front paws will benefit from some pad detail being added by the modeller as it is a fairly featureless area. The pose of the animal is excellent and I would not want to be the target of its aggression as everything says ‘Go on let me at them’. The harness detail has been well done and much improved from the original images released by ICM.
This is one of those models more than many others where your effort will pay huge dividends with the finished look. Work on the seam lines on the dog will really lift the end result as will some work on with the filler and getting the texture right on the beast. As for its appearance I would not like to come up against it. The figure is a nice offering with a well represented look of control over himself and the dog.