by: Gareth McGorman [ ]
Originally published on:
At some point in the mid 90’s Dragon started to release kits representing elite units within various police forces around the world. Along with NYPD, LAPD's SWAT team, German GSG-9 and a full two sets of Hong Kong's special services unit. It was an interesting idea which presumably didn't really take off releasing sets of gangsters, triads and terrorists for them to face would have been in poor taste. Whatever their reasoning was, this seems to have been the last time that Dragon really stepped outside of their World War 2 comfort zone.
Since there always has been a somewhat limited selection of civilian vehicles and figures in 1/35th scale (especially in the modern era) this series was doomed to fail. Despite that, the fact remains that Dragon produced several decent (for the late 90s) figure sets depicting elite police units of the era and since these sets are easily found at a reasonable price they are worthy of consideration.
As usual for Dragon, inside the box is one larger sprue with four figures and one smaller weapons sprue.
The set consists of four NYPD officers posed as if they are in the midst of a standoff or a hostage situation. Overall they look just intimidating enough that I might consider keeping well worn jokes about the boys in blue to a minimum.
Figure A is exactly what you'd expect to see in a SWAT team. It's a guy with an MP5. This comes from before the era when manufacturers figures out an elegant way to portray figures handling weapons with pistol grips, so you will need to cut away the grips from all such weapons included (including the pistol). Detail is what you'd expect from the era. There's nothing exceptional here and you will have a decent looking figure once everything is painted and assembled.
Figure B is aiming a Ruger Mini-14 rifle. At the time this kit was released the Mini-14 was popular in law enforcement (and with the cast of the A-Team) but has since been phased out by most police departments in favour of the M4 carbine. This is (as far as I am aware) the only representation of the Mini-14 in 1/35th scale - so if you really need one for a Rhodesian Bush War scenario or some other idea you have in mind this is the only place you'll be able to get it. If you want this figure to look a little more modern and you have some M4s in your spares box there's nothing that should prevent you from using that.
Figure C is hiding behind a corner with a shotgun ready to burst out from cover. Everything about this figure tells me that he is one week from retirement and about to get killed. Hopefully his partner will avenge him.
Figure D is aiming a pistol from behind a riot shield. Some cops need more than a badge to hide behind. While dynamic, I am not entirely convinced that the posture reflects tactics taught in police academy. Both hands are cast with clenched fists so you will have to cut away the grip on the pistol and find a similar solution for the shield. Without the shield it will look as if he is pumping his first while aiming his sidearm – unprofessional conduct that would be unbecoming of an officer in the line of duty.
Three of the four figures are shown sporting thick, bushy moustaches that would not look out of place on a police officer of the late 80s and early 90s (or on a member of the Village People).
For some mysterious reason a hairline is sculpted onto each officer's head. It's a nice detail, and it is appreciated that they went to the trouble of portraying figure A with a receding hairline. Unfortunately, you don't really have the option of leaving these guys hatless since the chinstraps for their helmets also happen to be moulded on.
This kit, as with all of Dragon's other police sets, is something of an odd duck. On its own merits, everything is up to Dragon's usual standards, which for the time was very good. The chief drawback here is the question of what you will actually do with these figures. They are all law enforcement officers in 1/35th scale. There's never really been much of a selection in civilian vehicles or figures in this scale, and especially not covering the modern era, so there's not really much available to help put these figures into context. To make the modeler's fantasy of a Miami Vice style cartel drug bust come to life you need modern cars, maybe some drug dealers and maybe a few plainclothes officers for the idea to work. Without that you have a reasonably nice set of police officers without a bigger picture to insert them into.
At 1/24th scale this idea might have made a bit more sense, but that didn't happen and Dragon probably missed an opportunity. Law enforcement is a difficult and often unrewarding job and the idea of being able to build dioramas or vignettes of police officers doing their duty is a compelling one that I wish Dragon and other manufacturers had been able to explore with a little bit more depth than they did.
If that's not your thing and you're a modeler who likes to think outside the box, then consider this: If you want to create a diorama or embark on some other project that is either inspired by or somehow vaguely reminiscent of movies that either starred Arnold Schwarzenegger or had the word “Robocop” in the title then these figures make an excellent starting point.