I have always wanted to tackle the ERDL camouflage scheme. It took some time to figure out which figure I wanted to use. I tend to favor large scale figures, and I wanted my foray into ERDL to be big and bold! Furthermore, the figure had to be reasonably within the timeframe that ERDL was more or less commonplace. I decided to go very big and use my 200 mm Verlinden Vietnam 82nd ABN grunt.
Contrary to popular belief, the ERDL was not exclusively used by LRRPS/Rangers, SF, SOG, SEALS and the USMC. By 1969 it was not uncommon to see random grunts in line units who acquired a set. Admittedly, it is hard to find photos of line troopers in the 82nd wearing them, but there is evidence that men in the 3/82nd ABN had ERDL uniforms during the brigade’s nearly two years in the war.
The ERDL pattern is phenomenally difficult to reproduce, either in scale models or in real clothing (reproductions of the uniform). From my perspective, this comes down to scale, shape and color. I find it much more difficult to paint than the tiger stripe patterns, even though tiger stripes are visually much more complicated.
I did my best to copy an unissued ERDL uniform in my collection. Again, the scale is troublesome as eyeballing the pattern and its location on the garment does not lead to precision, particularly as the pattern starts to repeat itself. Verlinden’s sculpting does not assist this process. I still hold a special place in my heart for Verlinden due to childhood nostalgia, but I recognize some of the brand’s frequent and glaring errors. Verlinden’s tendency to sculpt Vietnam jungle fatigues as WWII jump uniforms remains baffling. When the scale of the pockets and the length of the tunic is way off, it frustrates said attempts to precisely eyeball the placement of the pattern based on an original. The lack of sculpted seams in some places also necessitates guesswork.
Some final notes on the progress: I painted the head in pastels. I am a true convert to pastels for large scale figure head sculpts. The helmet is a “Nuts Planet” 1/10 scale steel pot for the Charlie Sheen “Platoon” bust. The original Verlinden helmet more closely resembles a WWII Soviet helmet. It’s so ridiculously bad it’s funny. While the helmet itself is beautifully rendered, I’m not a huge fan of the “Nuts Planet” helmet. The grunt with a ton of junk in his helmet band is a cliche. In reality, most grunts only carried a couple of items in their helmet band - if anything at all. The visual of a helmet loaded with playing cards, toilet paper, Rosary beads, bore cleaner, bug juice and matchbooks is aesthetically cool, but it’s a Hollywood affectation that is largely balony.
Comments are welcome. More to follow!