Impressions: Spectre SF Technicals – Initial Thoughts

Earlier this year, I wrote a load of stuff covering Spectre’s first vehicle release for the technical. In it, I commented about miniguns which was a stretch goal from the Kickstarter that was sadly missed, as well as the illusive “Tactical Technical”. Well, it looks like it was merely being sneaky and it is now out as part of this latest release. And oh boy, is there a lot of cool stuff on this release.

Sadly, due to my desire to get the vehicles in a state where I can hot swap the various weapon systems and cargo, I don’t yet have them painted. However I can cover the initial impressions on every part of this release, detailing any issues I may have found during the initial build process and looking at what I like and don’t like. You’ll just have to wait to see the final product.

The Trucks

The vehicles that form the base for the SF Technicals range are the exact same ones released earlier in the year. Alpha provides a larger truck bed while Bravo is a more modern style but has a smaller cargo capacity. When building the kits for the SF vehicles, I assembled the two part chassis and then added the rack behind each cab. The remaining parts were left off to make assembling the upgrades much easier.

A few things have changed with the vehicles since the original release, presumably to ease production and save on material. Technical Bravo is comprised of much less material, with the cab now mostly empty space. The other thing I noticed was that some of the resin was slightly misaligned. This was quickly solved by a quick bath in hot water and some gentle bending.

The Upgrade Packs

The first part to look at when building your new technicals are the upgrade packs. These additions build off the pieces in the main kits and help to make them look more suited for off-road activities or military action.

Alpha

Alpha is perhaps the simplest of the upgrade packs. It’s a pack of wheels, sporting improved tyres. These are a good way of showing off upgrades (such as run flats) or extending the stowage in a vehicle by covering it in spares. These wheels replace the ones from the vehicle packs and come with enough to fully outfit one vehicle and have two left over to mount as stowage or for a gunner to stand on. They are a little bigger than the default wheels so the finished vehicle will be slightly taller than normal.

Bravo

Bravo is designed to make your vehicles really standout from the civilian pickups while also letting you really load it up with stowage. The pack is actually two sets of upgrades in one. The first is a long-range fuel tank. This is assembled around the rear door to the cargo bed. After placing the tank, a cage comprising of three parts is placed around it. The main thing when building it is to make sure the curved edges of the two side pieces clip onto the round sections of the back of the cage (it will make more sense when you are building them). Then simply glue the construction on the back of the cargo bed. If you don’t want the giant tank of flammable liquid behind your operators, the cage could be assembled to hold other stowage such as jerry cans or hard containers.

The other part of the upgrade are the racks that mount on the side of the cargo bed. These create the mounting points for all sorts of gear, from spare tires to sand guards. As well as hosting these bits of gear, the rails could also be used to support plasticard armoured panels if you feel the need to up the protection on your vehicle. I’d recommend putting the vertical part of the mounting area on the inside of the cargo bed (as you can see below) as it looks a little better

The rails mount on both types of chassis but are really designed for the Alpha technical. However, it does also work on the Bravo vehicle as you can see below. In this case, the side rails ended up connecting to the top of the cage around the fuel tank. This style does look similar to some troop carrying pickups you might see in places such as Mexico.

Charlie & Delta

These two packs perform the same role – adding bullbars and a snorkel to both types of the base chassis. These upgrades really add to the off-road style on the vehicles, turning them from a street truck to something you would expect to see bounding through the desert.

Charlie is for the Alpha technical. The pack includes a new bumper that features the bullbars, a snorkel and a roof top storage rack. The bumper fits on really well and I think looks awesome. The snorkel has a notch in the side to help with alignment when placing it, something that is appreciated during construction. However, my favourite feature is the roof rack. It has a slight ramp on the mounting block so it sits flat on the sloped roof and it looks rad. Combined with the stowage pack, you can fill it with all sorts of hard cases, anti-tank weapons and gear (all the goodies a team of operators might need) while leaving most of the cargo bed free for weapon mountings.

Delta is for the Bravo vehicle and contains a replacement lower front and the snorkel. It would have been cool if it came with a roof mounted storage rack to match the other pack of this type but it’s not a deal breaker. Again, the snorkel has a nice notch to help with placement and the resin front end only needed very minor cleanup.

Weapons

Of course, a major part of the latest release is giving you some SF suitable weapons for your new rides to roll around with. You could choose to mount the standard weapons (perhaps if your team is less well equipped) but honestly, there is a minigun option literally right there.

Crew

I hate taking photos of unpainted figures. An ink wash helps!

In every release from any wargames manufacturer there is a slight disappointment and I think this time, the crew selection is the slight let down. When the first technicals came out there was a nice selection of generic crew standing next to the various weapons. For the HMG alone there were two options seemingly designed for it (one shooting and one leaning on the weapon spotting). For the SF release there is only one option – Crew Hotel, an operator in combat gear in the aiming pose. It’s a good basic option but having a second choice (perhaps a character pointing out a potential target or gesturing at some civilian trying to overtake) would be a useful. Even a simple head swap would have been nice. At the same time though, this is probably the most commonly used pose so in the end for many people it won’t matter.

One thing to note is that you will need to carefully bend the arms to line them up to the trigger locations. It requires just a little more force than you would think it would need but the metal Spectre uses is very good at being slightly manhandled.

Common Elements

The new guns listed below share a common feature – the mount. Unlike the pole on the original M2, the new guns use a much more sturdy looking mount. It comes in two heights; the tall one clears the top of cab and allows for a forward fire arc while the other is better for rear or side firing guns. The top of each pole is split in half and matches up to the bottom of each of the weapon assemblies. This requires some patient holding while waiting the glue to dry but seems to work quite well.

No matter what height you choose, both mounts will require that a rear gunner stands on something in order to reach the spade grips. Having seen one of the Spectre models at Cardiff, it seems that a spare tyre is a good option.

M2 .50cal SF

Yep, you can’t release a technical without a 50cal. This one however is rather special. Wrapping the barrel is rail system onto which two attachments have been mounted. On top of the gun is an Eotech style holographic sight (or red dot in Spectre Operations) while underneath is the giant Hellfire torch capable of illuminating targets much further than other light systems. Combined together, these provide a useful setup to pair with the HMG’s lethality and range on the tabletop, letting you engage targets accurately no matter what time of day it is.

Without a doubt this was the simplest weapon to assemble out of the group. The gun is one piece so all it required was gluing it to the mount and it was good to go.

Mk47 AGL

The only thing better than a 40mm grenade launcher is an automatic one complete with rangefinder. An upgrade over the old MK19, the MK47 AGL is the hottest new thing in automatic grenade launchers. With basic stats its great for suppressing large groups of unarmored enemies but the addition of an aiming system (run as either a scope, red dot, thermal sight or some combination of them) really helps to make it a precision area weapon. If you are feeling especially high-tech, the MK47 is capable of programming MK285 rounds to airburst over a target. So if you want to make an opponent cry, mention you want to use those rounds and start dropping grenades every turn that ignore cover saves thanks to the airburst rules.

The gun is made up of three parts – the barrel and main sight piece, the side mounted sight (including rails for other sights) and the stand/ammo box assembly. Glueing these three together required a few tweaks to get them lined up. By default, the launcher is slightly tilted upwards ready to lob rounds at the enemy downrange.

Dual M240

Why have only one medium machine gun when you can bolt two together, stick a sight on one and then add a chute for spent shell casings? Like the SAS jeeps from WW2, the simplest way to increase firepower on a mount is just to double what you have. The MMG is a good gun to begin with thanks to Sustained Fire and a 3+ lethality but turning it into a dual weapon means double the shots. Add to that a scope/red dot and you’ve got a great weapon for engaging infantry.

Building the gun was the most fiddly of them all, consisting of five parts. The two ammo boxes clip on the outer edges while the guns themselves fit into the slots in the lower mount. This mount then attaches to the tower using the usual method. As always, do a dry fitting run before getting the super glue out.

Now if only there was another way to get a ton of shots on targets…

M134 Minigun

Okay I’ll admit, this is something I’ve wanted since the kickstarter. Miniguns in all their forms are super cool and having one on the wargames table is just too tempting. Assembly is relatively simple despite the multiple parts. The gun sits in an arm that attaches to the column. As well as this, there is an optional red dot to mount on the rail on the top of the gun itself and two parts to form the ammo supply. The belt is the usual strip of metal that can be freely trimmed and twisted to line up with the large ammo box.

As an aside, one of my favourite things about the separate weapons that Spectre produces is the fact I can use them elsewhere. I have two Empress Humvee where I have replaced the gun mount with a magnet. Combined with Spectre’s stock of guns, this means I can swap out the standard M2 HMG for a DsHK (for when the Bazistan Army gets to use them) or, as you can see, for a Minigun. This versatility means you don’t have to buy 101 different vehicles for all the combination of weapons you might want, instead only needing as you might want to be on the tabletop. One thing with the Minigun, I had to trim some areas so it would fit properly on the magnet and trying to fit the ammo box in the turret is going to be hard.

In game, the minigun is a nightmare to go up against, no matter what the ruleset. Spectre Operations gives it 6 shots a turn that let you roll through a squad and easily put on the suppression. 3+ lethality and a decent range interval finish off a good package, espeically if you add a red dot.

Stowage

This release didn’t include any new stowage options (other than the new tires). However, last month we got Stowage Alfa which is packed full of stuff to cover your vehicle in. You could use the Razor stowage packs but they are not really designed for this style of vehicle.

If you want more details on Stowage Alfa, you can find my impressions here.

Final Thoughts

I ended my post on the initial Spectre Technical release by saying “The Spectre technicals are a great start to a new range. Apart from the minor issues, all the models are beautiful to behold and will be fantastic additions to anyone’s collection.”. It’s safe to say, the same idea carries on here.

With the second major release there are now a collection of parts that let you take that initial release and direct it to be more suitable for a different use. Although designed for Special Forces teams, the upgrades mean the vehicles can now be used for other groups (such as well-trained OPFOR, contractors or cartel members wanting a cool off-road vehicle) by simply varying many upgrades and how much stowage you add. There are a few tweaks I would make (more crew options, stowage racks for Technical Bravo) but these can be easily be added in future releases. For now though, all the new bits open up a world of exciting possibilities. I can’t wait to see the sheer variety of vehicles people come up with.


So now I’ve done the initial thoughts, it’s time for me to do the fun stuff and start finishing them. There will be a whole post on the process of getting the group of vehicles finished in the next few weeks. The main delay is setting up the series of plasticard bases that will let me swap guns and cargo sections between vehicle while hopefully looking better than the first version used for the militia. In addition, the militia equipment is being rebased and repainted after they got banged up during the trip to Cardiff. So keep your eye on the blog for more stuff on Spectre Miniatures releases and all things dedicated to ultramodern wargaming.

Impressions: Spectre July 2017 Release

The end of July saw a new release to expand Spectre’s MENA Militia range. These new figures are designed to give your militia a bit of an edge, either by adding some tougher guys or bringing some new gear to the party. If you’re building a militia force, these fighters are a must buy.

Militia with Assault Rifles

Ready to add to the bulk of your force, these guys look hard as nails. The new packs (MENA Militia Echo and MENA Militia Foxtrot) both contain figures armed just with a standard assault rifle. However, they have a very different look to them making them perfect for use as squad leaders or better trained fighters, characters that need to stand out slightly in the middle of a battle. In particular, I think the guy with the baseball cap would work really well as a local contact or fixer for your CIA agent in the field thanks to the combination of traditional and western clothing. I also really like how they are wielding folding stock AKs rather than the standard version, ideal for urban guerrillas engaged in CQB.

Militia with RPG

One of the great things with the RPG-7 is the variety of warheads available. Up until this release, the only options with models were either the standard HEAT round or the tiny AP warhead. The two new miltia RPG packs (MENA RPG Bravo and MENA RPG Charlie) help to expand the munitions available to wargamers. Three of the four warheads are variations on HEAT rounds, however all of them are much more modern or unusual (some of them look like the Iranian NAFEZ and Slovakian PG-7M). The fourth figure carries a thermobaric round, superb at destroying bunkers and buildings.

Out of the four figures, one of them looks very similar to the rest of the MENA militia range, clad in his t-shirt, but he holds his RPG and ammo in a very different pose. . The others look much more unique, providing some improved weapons for when you need to knock out the enemy vehicles or clear a fortified position. Spectre doesn’t currently have any new rules for improved or more modern HEAT rounds but expect cool things in an upcoming supplement.

Militia Sniper with Anti-Material Rifle

I have a pet peeve with the model industry when it comes to prone figures. With most games I play focusing on real line of sight, having a figure being much lower than any other can be real paint. Additionally, a prone figure can a pain to base. They can’t do much about the figure being hard to spot, but Spectre have done something clever with the posing on this prone sniper (MENA Militia Sniper Alfa). By having him lying on his side, the sniper fits more easily on a round base, a look that is closer to the various other weapon teams. To help fill in the base, I ended up adding some MDF offcuts to form some rubble.

In terms of armament, the Militia Sniper is using a Russian Anti-Material rifle. This is another weapon which should help even the odds when going up against lightly armoured vehicles or troops in cover. In Spectre Operations, the Anti Material Rifle has several useful special rules such as Armour Piercing, Frag and Incendiary that make it a real terror. Alternatively, you could choose to downgrade it to a Heavy Sniper rifle which is still a massive threat to anyone who crosses the shooter’s line of sight.

Painting Notes

As with the rest of my Militia guys, the painting plan is to use a mixture of earthy colours with an occasional bit of camo or colour. I ended up just using the earthy colour. There is a lot of black on these figures so my tactic of Black then a drybrush of Basalt Grey was in full effect. The big change was a new colour for the wooden sections on the AKs and RPGs. Rather than using GW’s Rhinox Hide, I tried Valejo’s Cavalry Brown. After my initial panic, the final effect works very well.

 

One thing I did notice was one of the models had a bit of flash that needed cleaning up. It’s unusual to see on Spectre models but with the pattern on the jacket it’s easy to see how it happened. A quick file and the pattern is gone.

Impressions: Spectre’s Razor Part 2

Before you read this impression, I really recommend going back and reading the original impressions on the Razor. I only intend to cover the new stuff and most of what I talk about in the previous post covers building the Razor now.

It’s taken a while but the Razor is now available from the Spectre website! Although it’s currently out of stock due to everyone buying them, they are now actually on the site. In addition, there are now crew and stowage available so you can make your vehicle look even more operator. We’re going to take a look through these new arrivals, and then have a quick update on my own Razors.

Razor 2

Building the Razor that arrived in the post was almost exactly the same as in my original post. I had to do a little clean up on the parts (you can still see the flash in the picture above) and I had to fix a cracked mud guard. Apart from that, the various pieces assembled easily. It was helped by the instructions now being online which mostly matched up to my procedures

There were a few things I tweaked but these were mainly due to the other releases that came out the same day. Primarily, I left off the seats, roll cage, steering wheel and GPMG. The other thing I left off is what sits in front of the passenger to make it match up with my pre-built one. I think it’s a handle (something to hold onto as the driver guns it) but I think the original part went missing somewhere between the Salute showfloor and my flat.

Razor Stowage

Image from Spectre Miniatures as someone forgot to snap photos when the models turned up

The first new addition is the Razor Stowage pack. The pack contains three items (two jerry cans in storage racks and a spare tire on frame). Both objects come with mounting brackets designed for specific places; the spare tire clips onto the top of the roll cage while the storage racks slot into the slits on either side of the cargo frame. However, you can easily trim them down if you want to place them somewhere else, such as cutting the supports off the racks so they can be placed on the rear gate of the cargo bed.

As for the looks, it really makes the Razor look a lot more suited for the off-road life and less civilian. The design features of the elements (in order to help place the items) is really smart and helps a lot with placement without giving a hard and fast “ITEMS MUST BE PLACED IN THIS LOCATION”.

Razor Crew

The other major addition is the crew. Unlike the technicals, the Razor is open to the elements and so really requires crew figures for use on the tabletop (it’s a bit strange rolling an empty buggy around the world). The two crew packs give you four figures in total; Alfa with the front crew (Driver and Gunner) and Bravo with the two guys sat in the cargo bed. Splitting the crew into two packs let you easily pick the crew you want, especially if you want to fill the rear cargo section with some form of cargo without having spare figures left over. The figures have the same shapes on the bottom of them that match up with the seats so that the crew fit in the correct place. The crew designs fit with the rest of the Spectre range, looking closest to the Task Force Operators or Rangers collections.

Now, the crew do come moulded into the seats and this was a minor annoyance as someone who built up their vehicle before they were available. However, after having seen the final product, there is no way I’d have wanted the figures separately as you would not have been able to get the same level of posing as these guys have. It’s cool how the crew members actually feel part of the vehicle (such as the driver with one foot on the outside of the buggy) rather than just resting on top of it. Also the guys in the back do not look massively

Fitting the steering is a pain in the neck and the getting the GPMG into location required some careful balancing of three separate pieces. But overall, these guys are a must buy if you have a Razor that you intend to have rolling round the battlefield

My Razors

So that’s cool for everyone else but what am I doing with mine?

So first thing – I made my first Razor before the crew were available and so it’s fitted with the seats. This means that without serious surgery (not something I want to try on resin) I can’t mount crew on it. But this gave me a plan. Razor 1 would become the dismounted version, ready for use as an objective or when the team dismounts. Razor 2, the brand new one, would get the crew figures. I would then make sure both had the same arrangement of gear and spare tires and paint them up in the same way.

This did throw up a minor issue. On Razor 1, the GPMG is stowed against the side of the cargo deck (primarily to make sure there isn’t a fragile piece of metal sticking out at a right angle). On Razor 2,this GPMG is now in an active position as the gunner starts hammering away. This leaves a giant empty space on the side of the vehicle where I can’t mount a rack as it wouldn’t match. However, the other release of the week came to the rescue. I stuck a bag over the space on Razor 2 – the thinking is that the team has grabbed their assault pack after dismounting (hence why it’s missing on Razor 1). It’s a cool little thing that no one apart from me will notice.

The next step was painting. Both the vehicles got a black undercoat and then followed by a desert tan spray. I then painted the details. I also painted up the crew using the new multicam pattern separately from the vehicles so the shadows on them would still be black. I then got the joy of assembling them onto a mostly finished buggy. This is a painting method I hate but in this case I think it was the best option.

As you can see in the photo above, I didn’t quite finish them before going to press. However, I should have them done for Monday’s Wargaming Week.

Conclusion Part 2

The Razor is an exciting kit to build and looks great when finished. However, I think the additional packs really make it. The stowage gives them a cooler feel while the crew is basically vital. Total cost for a fully equipped Razor (buggy + both crew packs + razor specific stowage) is around £33 which is quite expensive for such a small vehicle. However, it is packed full of detail and makes a nice centerpiece/tactical option for an elite force of operators.

Looking ahead, I hope we get more stowage and alternative crew poses. The rules page has some interesting points on it (such as a mount for heavy weapons on the roll cage which seems nuts) and even mentions some more variations on the Razor design. As I said in the first impressions piece, the Razor shows off a super exciting and interesting direction of releases that Spectre can go in.

If you are wanting your own Razor and accessories, you can all the bits over at https://www.spectreminiatures.com/collections/vehicles

Impressions: Spectre’s Vehicle Stowage Alfa

Alongside the release of the Razor, Spectre also released a set of vehicle stowage. Designed to let you personalise and add detail to any form of hobby project, the stowage kit comes with a pile of things to weigh down your vehicle of choice. It also hopefully points to future plans from Spectre which are exciting for anyone with a pile of Humvees or objectives that need some extra detail to them.

So for your £7.50, what do you get? According to the site description:

  • 1 each of large, medium and small cooler/storage box
  • 1 x long gun Pelican case.
  • 2 x mid-size Pelican cases.
  • 1  x laptop Pelican case.
  • 2 x ammo boxes
  • 4 x NATO Jerry cans
  • 1 x SatCom Antenna
  • 2 x Sand Boards
  • 2 x Multi-Barrelled Smoke Grenade Dischargers (MBSGD)
  • 1 x AT-4
  • 4 x Light Antitank Weapon (LAW)
  • 4 x packs

The models arrive in a small plastic bag and, apart from a quick trim of some flash, are good to go. Most things are pretty obvious, the only sticking point being the ammo boxes – for a while I couldn’t work out the second one but it’s a smaller one (more designed for grenades) as opposed to the more common design.

For highlights, I really like the AT-4 and the LAW; they are a really simple way of adding some AT firepower to any squad while still looking really cool. The MBSGDs are also really clever with the perfect shape to fit under the bull bars of an SUV. There are also some nice variations in the rucksacks, giving you everything from a daysack up to something bergen sized. Finally, there are the pelican cases – not great for your militia forces but that long gun case might have a nasty surprise in it when on the back of an SF Pickup.

So what did I use them for? Well, the first order of the day was fixing a mistake I made way back in the early days of my collection. I picked up the SAS Recce Patrol support back when the Spectre webstore started (consisting of a LMG gunner and a marksman) and then didn’t use their bergens. This was so the figures could pull double duties with the SAS Low Profile team (the packs themselves ended up in the hands of several British squaddies). Having just stripped the early paint job, now seemed a great time to give them an upgrade.

The LMG gunner took the biggest pack while the marksman  got a smaller pack put a pair of LAWs ready to knock out tanks (and to cover the joins). The packs have two parts of the strap at the top and, although they don’t fit as well as the original, they do look pretty effective. Even better, they work well with the rest of the squad making them look as heavily laden as their buddies.

The other first use is adding some detail to my 2nd Razor. I cover this in the second Razor post but it went into place very easily, requiring almost no clean up while making it look like it latched over the top of the frame.

For the future? Some of the boxes will be going on my existing weapon teams to give them somewhere to store the ammo while others will be saved to really laden down a few upcoming releases. I’m also looking at getting the plasticard out and making some fillers for the truck bed covered in gear – perfect for supply vehicles or objectives.

In the end, I think this stowage pack is one of the best on the market. There are lots of bits you would end up using and its a worthwhile purchase for anyone wanting to add a little extra to their vehicles, soldiers or terrain. When combined with the ammo boxes already out, it will be easy to give everything the right level of clutter.

If you’re wanting some stowage for yourself, you can find it on the Spectre Webstore at https://www.spectreminiatures.com/products/stowage-alfa for £7.50

Impressions: Empress Dismounted AFV Crew

When you start to add vehicles to the tabletop, it’s just a matter of time until you need crewman figures thanks to some lucky rebel with an RPG. For light vehicles the standard line infantry will do but as you start to get to the heavier end of the AFV’s available, crewmen start wearing different helmets and vests.

Luckily, Empress have just released some packs to help you out. Available for both the US and the UK armed forces, each nation gets both a mounted and dismounted version. As I haven’t got any vehicles waiting to assemble, I just picked up the dismounted version.

IMG_20170620_191356.jpg

I then made a fatal mistake. Rather than just relying on unpainted figures, I decided I could get all of my figures painted in a week. WHAT COULD GO WRONG? Well, the delayed posting time on this should tell you all you need to know

US Crew

IMG_20170620_185228.jpg

The US Crew has a pretty even split weaponwise, with two armed with M4 carbines and two with just pistols. There is some nice variation in the poses although the injured crewman clutching his arm reminds you that this is very much a scenario pack rather than figures for a standing army. The crewman with the pistol has a bandana across his face, similar to images you can find online. As you can also see from the photo above, three of the figures in the pack are multipart using Empress’s usual system of a pin and hole.

There seems to be some variation amongst US Army crewmen as to if they wear coveralls or camo uniforms. To keep things simple, I went with the ACU pattern I used for rest of my troops, relying on the different poses and helmets to distinguish them.

Of course now I really need to paint up an AFV for them to use – the two Strykers I picked up at Salute will be perfect for them to use.

UK Crew

IMG_20170620_183905.jpg

The British crew is much more ready for a fight, with three soldiers with L22 AFV carbines (a tiny variant of the standard L85) and one with a pistol. Two of the figures have separate arms but it’s only one arm rather than the matched sets. Interestingly, with the right paint job the British Downed Pilot set that Empress do (BRIT07) would fit in perfectly, giving you two additional figures.

When the models first arrived, my initial thoughts was to use the old method of MTP painting. However, Spectre have released their multicam guide so I finally bit the bullet and tried. The process was easy and I’m really happy with the end result. I made a few alterations to the listed method:

  1. Used larger brown areas to give it a browner tinge
  2. The dark brown and white patches were thin lines rather than smaller squares.

I like the scheme enough that there is going to be an interesting part to Monday’s Weekend Warfare.

Outro

Overall these are fantastic models. They are obviously designed to standout on the battlefield. I don’t think you would use these models in every game but they really help to make scenarios standout, giving you something more interesting to defend than just a counter. The fact they match up to their mounted counterparts is even better. If you have any AFVs and there is even a chance that it might need bailed out crew, these models are a must buy.

If you are on the Russian side, Empress already does some Russian AFV crew on foot as part of their Red Star range. I don’t have these models but from looking at them at shows and on other people’s’ blogs

Impressions: Scatter Terrain Part 2

In my previous Scatter Terrain post, I looked at everything resin. Now however, we move onto the world of MDF. Some of these may hit the boundary of what you class as scatter terrain but are included anyway.

Knights of Dice Cell Towers

Made of lots of little parts, these towers once built are perfect for making a building into a command post or data centre. Instructions are provided on the Knights of Dice store.

Knights of Dice Crates

Some of the cleverest design for building crates, these are made of flat sided 3D shapes with an detail layer sat on top. Perfect for filling warehouses or loading onto vehicles. Instructions can be found on their site.

Knights of Dice Pallets

Found everywhere, these are my favourite pallets. As well as the cool loader, the five pallets just look perfect and can be assembled super quickly. The instructions for both the pallets and the loader can be found on their website.

Sarissa Precision Market Stall

Easily assembled, this pack contains three stalls and six tables. The stalls are simple to build and can be easily tweaked by adding a cover to the top rail. However, the stars of the show are the tiny tables. They can be glued down but a better idea is to leave them free to move, perfect for your troops to flip when the bullets start flying.

TTCombat Site Fencing

Perfect for setting up obstacles and marking out the exterior of a facility, this site fencing is really great. The packet contains a load of sections (10 in total) and plenty of parts to link them together. The total length is quite long making the set a great deal.

TTCombat Intermodal Containers

You always need more containers. These are assembled from seven pieces and include opening doors. Each pack contains three making them a fantastic deal.

TTCombat Security Office

When building your industrial site, you’ll need somewhere for your guard to sit out of the rain and to check car entering the site. The office has one interior room and also includes two stop barriers. Simple to build and great looking on the board.

 

TTCombat Builders Office

Somewhere else for the guards to hide from the rain, this little office is simple but effective. I really like it as kit. In addition, you can place it inside a large warehouse to add some more detail.


As you might expect, my scatter terrain collection will continue to grow. Expect more parts coming soon!

Impressions: TTCombat Distribution Depot Set

Okay, this is a big one.

Normally when looking at buildings for wargaming, the focus is on making the outside look great. The inside becomes a second thought. However, TTCombat’s latest release is a visual treat both inside and out. It’s also ridiculously huge.

The Distribution depot is designed to be a centrepiece of a game, allowing gamers to play both inside and out, fighting through the cargo bays and across gantries. As an airsofter, it already feels like some of the urban sites I’ve played through. It’s on the more premium side of TTCombat’s releases and it’s obvious a lot of design went into it

Before I get into the impressions, you may have noticed (if you follow my Facebook page) I had an issue with the baseboard for the depot. However, within a day of telling the folks at TTCombat I had new one in my hands. Interestingly, the broken original arrived as a single piece while the replacement was in two pieces like the baseboard for the extension. I’m not sure how this happened and it’s quite possible I got something that missed QC. However, big positive on customer support.

Additionally, I haven’t got round to adding all of the cardboard detailing panels to hide the joins so excuse them missing from the photos below.

Common Parts

So the first thing I advice before building the depot is to read through all the instructions for the various bits you may have picked up. There are quite a few ways to assemble them, depending on if you want the office connected to the rest of the depot or separate, or if you want to use one or more extension kits.

As with all MDF kits – YOU NEED TO DRY FIT EVERYTHING. This is the biggest and most complex MDF kit I’ve seen (ignoring the truly gigantic galaxy building) and so there are lots of places where it can go horribly wrong. I really recommend not rushing it and taking your time as you assemble it.

Across all the buildings, the construction is primarily MDF with cardboard detailing panels. The most common use for the cardboard is covering up the various places where the MDF slots together and bridging the gaps in the roof. I think this is a very clever use of the materials but as a final step it is a little bit laborious as you slowly but surely add the straight pieces after having just assembled an entire thing. Both the MDF and Cardboard are quite securely on their sprues, require them to be cut away rather than simply “popped out”.

The Depot

The depot is the key to the entire setup – there is no reason to purchase the other two kits without first getting this one. By default the depot has two cargo bays and a double entry door at the front. There are also two other exit doors, one at the rear and one in an end wall. The internal area is about 40cm x 20cm.

As you can see while building, the basic structure is a two piece baseboard, two single part end pieces, and two long pieces made of triangular roof pieces added to wall pieces. These form the key structure with each clipping into the other and providing a good framework. From here, you start adding additional elements, fitting the sliding shutters (moveable in their rail container), adding the front loading steps before adding the shade over the bays. This shade shows off using cardboard to cover joins as well as the numbers that mark out which bay is which.

Inside, most of the floor space is left open but there is a gantry level. It sits quite high off the floor level, easily letting you fill the ground floor with containers and more. The gantry is assembled from MDF base pieces with a layer of cardboard on top. Both pieces are expertly cut out, making it easy to fit them together and allow additional elements such as ladders to be put into place. Around the gantry are is a railing, that holds the gantry’s surface up.  The gantry also include another ladder heading to the roof.

As you would expect, the roof is removable to let you access the interior. The roof has some nice details such as fluorescent lights and open panels. More importantly for something you’ll be moving on and off, they feel really solid. I don’t feel concerned about putting them down while playing.

For all the great parts of this kit, there are one or two little issues. I think the instructions are useful but there are lots of places where it took a while to work out exactly what is going on. There are also some strange issues with parts. I seemed to be missing parts of the stairs; instead having shorter stair props, I instead had duplicates of the stair with banister. This was easily fixed, requiring a quick snip to prevent them covering up the front entrances but was a little unexpected. In addition, there is a set of four holes in the backboard which look like somewhere you would normally attach the banisters to but are not used. Finally, as with other TTCombat kits there were one or two places I had to trim a part or two, most notably on the banisters where they connect to the front wall. Another reason to test with dry fits.

But wait there is more! The depot also comes with some additional bits to help fill the large interior.

I really like the fork lift included in the set. It’s just about the right height for my 28mm figures and is packed full of character. There is a slight downside in that they only really work well carrying the TTCombat pallets – anything heavier on the forklift just tips over. Even so, just look at it!

The depot also includes three shelving sets. These are really cool and help to fill the interior without blocking all the lines of sight. The gap between the shelving is perfect sized for the various crates you may buy, including a large pack offered by TTCombat.

I’m less excited about pallets. After having assembled the entirely MDF Knights of Dice ones, these are just disappointing. Rather than made out of just wood, they are instead combinations of MDF “legs” and a cardboard top. Having made a few of them, I have little faith in them maintaining their structure as they seem to flex a lot..

More exciting is the ramp that lets you wheel things up to the level of the front doors. MDF side pieces hold up a cardboard surface. It looks very cool. The only downside? It would have been nice to have a second one to allow for one to be placed on either side so vehicles could drive in and out of the depot or have them lined up at both bays.

The Extension Kit

Okay so the depot is big. But what if you need it to be EVEN bigger?

Fundamentally, the extension kit is another set of front and back walls with a slightly different layout and a method of attaching to the original building. The kit does require you to use the end wall from the Depot meaning you can’t easily switch between a single depot building and one that is extended. The new layout moves the gantry into going only along the back wall and increases the number of bays from two to three. Everything else, from initial frame to assembling the roof is made using the same techniques as the main building.

As with the depot, the extension kit also includes three shelving units, a ramp and a pile of pallets. These are the same as the main depot so check above for my impressions.

Finally, after looking over the plans (and realising how far the detailing numbers go), it looks like you could easily extend the depot to have even more bays simply by adding another extension kit in between the original depot and the kit you have assembled with the end wall. It’s a cool idea, but seeing as the depot + extension is almost 3ft in length, you will need a giant board.

The Office

Going from the huge buildings in the rest of the series, the office is a bit of a step down. Designed to give you somewhere for the security guards to hang out, the office is two storeys high but only has a ground floor. The building also has a normal door and a vertical moving slide door. The roof is also removable. On the other hand, the office does not include any interior furniture.

It’s a cool little building and I think any depot park without would be a bit lacking. It’s also a nice change of pace to build after the complexity of the rest of the depot.

If you assemble it without the back wall, and don’t install the light above the entrance to the depot, you can clip the office to the main depot. This lets you easily create a reception area (perfect if you’re trying to make a Royal Mail depot).

Final Thoughts

Overall, I’m very impressed with the range. Once fully assembled, it a true centrepiece, drawing the eye to it. With the roof on, it towers over the rest of the board. Remove the roof and you suddenly have a large interior space that can easily be filled with scatter terrain to form a complete battlezone.

It also seems a decent price. For all three kits, you’re looking at around £80. If you compare it to Sarissa’s factory (around £50), that £30 difference gets you a huge increase in playable area and a pile of scatter terrain. Of course, you could just combine them to build up an industrial park, all ready for your troops to fight through.

For as much as I like it, it would be cool to be able to have a bit more depth to it, letting you have a much larger warehouse to fight through. You could try to custom build it by sawing a hole through the back walls and adding an additional depot but it would require a fair amount of bodging to get it fully working.

If you’re wanting something to make you board stand out or have a certain desire to fight through parked HGVs and shelves full of crates, then this kit is for you. Of course, it does now mean I’m terrified to see what TTCombat is going to bring to Salute next year.


I hope you all enjoyed that as much as I enjoyed building it. Next weekend, keep your eyes open for a battle report showing some dodgy business going down at the depot…

STOP THE PRESS: Just as this goes to be posted, TTCombat have released a range of new sets to complement the depot, such as additional machinery and shelving units. Expect an impressions in the future!

Impressions: TTCombat HGV Truck

(Hey everyone, as a special treat thanks to me hitting over 2500 views this month, I thought I would bring a post back from the future and put it out on this Bank Holiday Monday)

There is something about a toy lorry that takes you back to being a kid. Of course, as a wargamer, you then want to skirmish around them and use them as terrain. You could go and get a diecast truck from the toy shop but there is an alternative if you want to get them even cheaper. TTCombat does several vehicles (including armoured trucks and a taco van) and all for a good price. I picked up two of these HGVs ready for the tabletop and was very excited to get started on them.

Construction

The HGV comes on two sheets of laser cut MDF, as well as an instruction sheet and a front page showing a completed model. Removing the pieces is easy – the laser cutting in the MDF is spot on, leaving only two corner bits still attached. A quick twist and the pieces separate needing only a minor bit of pruning to get them in shape.

The main body of the truck is a long thin baseboard and the shorter squatter upper level that forms the bottom of the cargo bay. From here, the upper panels are attached to form the box structure. The only niggle with this is that the upper part of the wheels protrude into the cargo section, leaving them exposed if you choose to open the back doors. I’d recommend either leaving the doors sealed closed or be willing to break the MDF out and tweak the inside.

Speaking of the wheels, each wheel unit is made up of an axle with two connecting tabs (for the body) and two rods, two plain wheel plates that attach to the rods and two detailed wheel plates that fit onto of the plain ones. I am not 100% sure about the assembly on the wheel – should the inner and outer be lined up or alternating? There seems to be a mixture on the site between the vehicles so I would guess it’s down to personal preference (I went with matching).

Once the rear box is done, the front section is then added. I did a quick trim down to the bottom tab on the front panel as it didn’t seem to fit 100% but in the end it was all alright. The lid for the cab is removable so you could leave it unglued to allow placement of crew figures. There is a tiny gap where the upper and lower windscreen meet but it’s barely visible.

 

Modification

So as you can see in at this point the crew compartment is visible and accessible. However, as the rest of the vehicles in my collection have painted over windows and the cab is a massive space lacking in detail, I decided to fill in the gaps using off cuts from my spare pile of MDF. This was super easy, thanks to plenty of space on the inside. Just make sure you pop the slots out for the mirrors before you glue the interior panels in place.

Final Result

Add on a few detail pieces (headlights, mirrors and the grill) and the kit is done. Now for the pictures you all wanted!

The rear shows the detailing for the lights. This is actually slightly cut out of the MDF, so it should still be visible once the basecoat is applied. There is also details on the rear door and the number plate.

At the front you can see the details on the grill, more cut in details on the lights and the wipers in place. Comparison time. Here it is next to the Foxhound (now undercoated) and standard reference figure from Empress. It’s a big old vehicle, slightly oversized for 28mm so it fits with 35mm games but should still be fine as a terrain piece.

The container is slightly smaller than the truck’s cargo bay. You could use the truck as a starting point for a container carrier but you would need to build a bed that sits over the top of the wheels.

Final Thoughts

The truck kit costs £5.95 from TTCombat and I think it’s worth every penny. There are a few places where some tweaks had to be made but the end result is a really solid HGV that is great to play around. It’s a good starting point if you’re wanting to make some more decorative like an Afghan Jingle truck requiring less of the prep work that a diecast replica would need. Overall, I’m very happy with my purchase.

Now, if only I had some sort of depot for them to park up in and load cargo from…