Impressions: Sarissa Precision Industrial

Sarissa Precision are pretty high on my list of favourite terrain companies thanks to their wonderfully detailed buildings. Among my favourites in the range are two buildings from their Industrial range, the factory and the office. I first saw these thanks to Spectre’s playtest report and was immediately interested in them.

Like all Sarissa buildings, both arrive on A4 sheets of laser cut mdf. In addition, they also have some cardboard detailing panels that sit inside the MDF. Unusually for an MDF building, the kit actually includes instructions which is massively appreciated to make sure no mistakes happen during assembly. For both kits, the MDF parts were cleanly cut and came away from the sprue really easily. The cardboard is a useful addition and easy to place but I’m less happy with the doors, especially the larger warehouse ones. The hinge is quite thin and just asking to eventually fall away if constantly moved. I will probably end up glueing or taping them.

Both kits include gantry items which can be combined together. As you can see above, this lets you bridge between the two buildings or just make a bridge. The gantries are simple to construct and look very effective on the tabletop.

In terms of scale, the Sarissa kits fit perfectly with the 28mm figures I have. The gantries are perfectly sized for 26mm bases (and would probably fit the 30mm bases used by Batman and other games) and the warehouse door easily fit most of the vehicles I have.

Factory – Office/Warehouse

(Please note, the metal air conditioning is not part of the kit but was added to make removing the roof easier)

This building is two stories and designed to be the perfect side building alongside larger factory units. The ground floor is slightly taller than usual and  has two large warehouse doors and a side entrance. Above it, the top floor has a side door for use with a gantry . The top floor also has a slot through the floor but I’m not sure it’s suitable for a staircase – it’s also too short for the height of the building and would block entryways in either alignment. However, a ladder or pulley system could be fitted depending on the building’s purpose.

The roof and top floor are removable with the roof resting on the top of the cardboard detail layers. Inside the building, the top floor rests in two slots in the cardboard and is surprisingly sturdy if a little fiddly to place correctly.

On both floors, the detail cardboard has lots of windows meaning the building has plenty of fire points. The outside also has a chimney or water pipe. unfortunately I managed to mess up construction of this and so on mine it’s slightly misshapen.

 

Overall, I really like this building. It works both with other industrial buildings or settled amongst more civilian dwellings for a little variation. The two floors also make it interesting to play through. As the description on the website, it could be warehouse with a storage area upstairs or an office depending on how you want to decorate the interior. This is a building I’d be interested in picking up a second.

Factory – Large

If you’re looking for a centrepiece to your wargaming board, the Sarissa factory is perfect. About 1ft square and two stories high, the factory just toes the line between “terrain feature” and “play area”. The interior is dominated by the open warehouse floor but there is also a smaller room under chimney (perfect for sneaking in through) and a second floor balcony so you can take the high ground and get a good view over anything inside. The balcony can be accessed by both a gantry on the outside and also from a ladder from within. The balcony is not removable.

The two end pieces are mirrored and both include two warehouse doors and a standard door.

A cool feature of the factory is the interior crane. This is composed of three parts – a frame, central gantry and the crane unit itself. I do not recommend gluing the frame in place if you intend to actually play through the interior as it sticks out and can prevent gamer hands from being able to place figures. Similarly, the gantry and unit can also be left unglued thanks to how well they grip the tracks which means the crane can be repositioned depending on the scenario. I’m a big fan of it. Especially if you get someone up on top of the crane, just asking to fall to the ground once he is taken out.

Finally, here are all the bits that make up the warehouse. The roof is easy to take on and off (resting on the struts you can see in the interior photo) and also feels very solid once constructed. The gaps in the roof could be filled with plastic for glazing if you want to add that extra detail.

 

Conclusion

So, overall how do I like the buildings? They are fantastic kits to build, easy to knock up over an evening. Once constructed they just look great, giving even the barest of boards a cool edge. I have my reservations about the cardboard doors but having played a few games using them, they are very gameable items of terrain letting you sweep and clear without having to carefully balance figures on strange angles.

There is however one thing to think about and that is the price. The factory is £50 and the office is £20. You get a lot of stuff for that cost but it is definitely on the higher end of MDF pricing for this size.

Overall though, a big thumbs up from me! Now I just need to go paint them…

Impressions: Evil Bear Wargames Foxhound

https://i1.wp.com/www.themanufacturer.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Foxhound.jpg?resize=688%2C491
Image from http://www.themanufacturer.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Foxhound.jpg

The War on Terror has seen a massive rise in the use of IEDs against conventional forces and as such, there was a much greater interest in the development and purchasing of mine resistant vehicles. The British Army purchased a whole fleet of vehicles designed for different roles, including a replacement for the Snatch Land Rover. Named the Foxhound, this vehicle is currently in British service.

Evil Bear Wargames have previously released another vehicle from the late 2000’s refresh (The Panther) and I was very impressed with it. Lots of detail, hot swappable weapons  and super easy to assemble and paint. They have since expanded the range by adding another vehicle, the Foxhound. Although I purchased mine second-hand, it was basically fresh out the box.

The Foxhound model is comprised of resin and metal pieces. The core hull, unlike many wargaming vehicles, is actually two parts –  the base plate and nose are one piece, the crew compartment the other. As well as hinting at the possibility of future variants (as shown on the Evil Bear facebook page) it also does a fantastic of covering up any marks from the casting process.  There is a banding texture to the resin but it should be easily covered by an undercoat.The wheel assembly is very similar to the Panther (metal central structure and two resin wheels) allowing for a great deal of detail around the axle. Most of the metal details do not have any form of mounting slots or guide positions. However, this can be a benefit if you wish to skip certain elements (such as the rear mounted boxes) and reference images are easy to find. The GPMGs on the top of the cab do have mounting guides and the top hatches can be mounted either open or closed (the hinge is attached to the hatch). There is also a good depth underneath each hatch so crew figures (such as Evil Bear’s Virtus or Empress’s British figures) can easily be mounted.

Assembly is super easy. Attach the two body parts, assemble the wheel units and attach and then add details. As I mention above, I recommend doing it with plenty of reference to make sure everything goes in the right place. Once built, it’s an impressive beast. As you’ll see below, it maybe on the smaller side of Mine Resistant vehicles but it’s still huge.

The completed vehicle all good to go.

Some of the texture is visible here, expect an update once painting begins.


Seen here next to some of Empress’s SAS figures. It’s a real monster.

Empress US Ranger and Spectre Task Force Operators to show the height of this thing.

Next to its little brother in the series, the Panther. Looking forward to these two rolling round the board together.

Next to the Spectre buggy and Technical Alpha. Shows just how tiny the buggy is.

Finally, the Foxhound next to a Spectre Civilian Car. Expect to see the Foxhound doing a monster truck impression when the bullets start flying in a crowded street.


So overall, what do I think? Once again, I’m consistently impressed with Evil Bear’s output. The Foxhound, despite its very minor flaws, is lovely to build and great to look at once constructed. I am seriously thinking about getting a second one for larger games and to add to any convoy I might need. Additionally, it’s generic enough to work as a protected vehicle for any contractors needing a protected patrol vehicle.

Wanting one of your own? Evil Bear has two version in stock – a vehicle by itself (at £31.50) and a version with two crew figures in the British Army’s new body armour (at £33.50). There is also an offer comprised of two teams of infantry and two Foxhounds for £75.

Impressions: Spectre’s Razor

Salute saw me picking up a few things, one of which was a very exciting upcoming release from Spectre Miniatures. For months we have been teased with render and prototype images of perhaps the most complex kit they have produced. Perfect for Spectre games of special operations, this new vehicle will be perfect to transport your operators around the board at high-speed.

Picture from http://www.utvguide.net/polaris-launches-turbo-diesel-mrzr-d2/

I am of course talking about the Razor, the lightweight 4WD that has been recently introduced into use by the US Special Forces Community. Airportable and capable of transporting four troops across rough terrain with all their kit.

 

As much as I can talk about the real life thing, what’s more important is how the kit is. I need to first mention that I built mine without the instructions sheet that is coming along soon (probably when they are put onto the Spectre site for sale).  As a testament to the guys at Spectre, they have done an excellent job, packing the resin and metal kit with detail and minimising the number of fiddly bits.

The parts split into a mixture of resin (main chassis and wheels) and metal (everything else). There are some cool design features (seats at the back have a recessed bottom, seats in the front have an exposed plug to slot in place) and it’s mostly simple to put together once you start using the locator blips on the underside. As with all kits, a dry run is a great place to start.

The reason why this is a preview and rather than a review is that I’m waiting for a few additional items before I paint it up and get it into action. Spectre have mentioned crew and stowage are coming and this is a vehicle that is begging to be covered in gear.

As you can see at the back, I was a little overzealous with my trimming when trying to fit the outer suspension legs (something I’ll fix before painting). The rear section required a bit of dry fitting to put into place, working out its exact arrangement. However, this should be much easier when following the instructions

A view of the underside shows off the wheel arrangement and the join between the two pieces of chassis. Most of the seam is hidden out of sight thanks to positioning under the front console.

Not a great picture, but it does show a pretty good view of the dashboard and it’s detail. The M240 will sit on the right hand side on a two-part arm, giving it a wide range of positions.


So comparison time. As you would expect, it’s quite a bit smaller than most of the other vehicles currently available.

Comparing against the Spectre SUV and Technical Alpha, the Razor is tiny.

This is even more obvious when compared to a fellow vehicle in US arsenal, the Humvee (this one from Empress).

Finally, lets look at who else will be using it. Model on the left is a Spectre Tier 1 Operator. Model on the right is an Empress US Army Ranger.


To conclude, I think this is one of my favourite releases from Spectre. For such a small vehicle it has a very nice weight to it, prompting none of the fear you would normally have with something this small; I can’t see it being knocked off the table by a stray arm. It was fun to put together and now just needs some final details. Then it will be off to go cruising round the deserts of Bazistan.

As for its role in the game, it’s going to be a taxi – getting your team in to do the mission and then back out again. As you can see, there isn’t much armour so leaving it exposed is an invitation for anyone with an explosive weapon. However, the MMG and crew guns will put some fire down and you can always just drive really fast. Just remember to leave a space for any “buddies” you might want to pick up.

Final thought? I’ll probably be getting a second one for the rest of the squad once they are available to everyone.

 

Technicals – Heavy Ammunition

As mentioned in my previous post on the Spectre technicals, I hadn’t picked up all the weapons. As part of my cartel order, I put on two more weapons ready to give the bad guys something else to handle my Challenger 2 or other armoured vehicles.

The common thing between these two is the base. Simply, the base is plasticard with slots cut out for the wheel arches. Main tweak is cutting the gap slightly longer so the base can be put in either way, allowing for some adjustment.

TOW

The TOW is a wire guided missile, used worldwide as tank killer as well as hammering bunkers when the gunners run out of targets. As dangerous as it is, the wire guided nature put the crew at risk until it impacts unless they cut the guidance wire early.

The Spectre kit is in three pieces – the launcher and sight, the base and two tripod legs and the third leg. Construction is simple – attach tripod leg, add launcher. The only tweak I ended up doing was I trimmed down two of the feet on the tripod so I could fit it easily onto the base.

As for crew, I added Crew Charlie and Cew Delta. Charlie is designed for the launcher whole delta is more intended for the SPG9. However, I think he works well as the loader. Now just to assemble a reload…

M40

The M40 is a heavy recoilless rifle, launching a 105mm projectile to smash armour and the predecessor to the TOW. It lacks the guidance and doesn’t have the penetration of a TOW but it still packs a punch.

The Spectre model comes in four pieces – the main tube, the elevation wheel, the tripod and the wheel. Again, super simple assembly.

To crew it, I picked up the set designed for the weapon (Crew Foxtrot) and set them in place. I’m a big fan of the guy holding the next round.

Conclusion

As with the previous weapons, Spectre has done a great job making these systems. Both are packed full of detail and the crew are great additions to them.  It was also super easy to mount them on quick swap bases with only minor alterations. I still have a few more systems to look at but at least now the Militia have some heavy support on the field.

Spectre Technical Review

As if summoned by my last post about them , my Spectre technical order turned up.  I know some people in the Kickstarter have been waiting a long time for these but don’t worry, I think they were worth the wait. I’m going to do a quick overview of them and the weapon systems I’ve picked up in my first order.

Before I start I just wanted to comment on the service. This order arrived via 1st class delivery and was wrapped in protective bags for all the components. Larger weapons with longer barrels were wrapped in such a way to prevent major components from bending or breaking which can be a frequent worry when purchasing models.

The Vehicles

There are currently two models of chassis that can be chosen: Alpha and Beta.

Two Alpha Technical bodies

The Alpha chassis is the older version of the pickup, closer to what have been filling our TV screens from the early 2000’s onwards. It comprises of a resin basic model with resin wheels, bumper and tailgate. The frame behind the cab and the wing mirrors are metal.

 

I have to hand it to the guys at Spectre, the Alpha was a dream to put together. The main body of the vehicle is incredibly crisp with lots of detail, the slot fit the metal details great and even the wheels went on with no wobble.

The Beta is a more modern vehicle with a larger cab and small transport bay at the back. Unlike the Alpha, all the details are resin. There was a bit more work to be done to prepare this model and I noticed the resin had an oily sheen to it that needed washing off. In addition, the rear tailgate on mine had some very thin sections which had almost been broken through – annoying but should be easily covered up when painting. Despite the issues it’s cool to have a two styles of vehicle available at launch.

Size comparison with Spectre MENA Squad Leader and Empress Insurgent
Size comparison with other 28mm vehicles From left to right: Empress Challenger 2, Evil Bear Wargames Panther, Spectre SUV, Spectre Technical Bravo, Spectre Technical Alpha

The Guns and Crew

There are a massive range of weapons currently available. However, wanting to keep under my hobby budget for the month, I only picked up a smaller selection. As a basic rule, all of the weapons can be mounted in both chassis types or on a separate base as a static heavy weapon emplacement. Weapons and crew are bought separately from the chassis on the Spectre website making it easier to increase your options when building forces without requiring you to buy a load of the vehicles.

HMGs

There are two types of HMG available, the Russian DSHK and the American M2. As they are the most commonly used guns in most of the scenarios I own, I picked up one HMG for each vehicle.

The M2 is mounted on a high pole which has a rectangular base for sitting on the truck bed (the pattern on it matches the pattern on the bed so it sits properly). There is a slot in the top of pole, letting you elevate the gun when mounting. There is a minor downside – the M2 doesn’t have spade grips on the back of it.

The DHSK is on its usual high mount. The tripod come with two legs already attached requiring only the final one and the gun to glued on. The gun itself fits onto a point, while the gun itself has the elevation dial meaning it will look right no matter what angle you put it at.

I’ll also mention the crew figures for these guns. As you can see there are two available, one in a firing pose and one resting on the weapon (or some other surface). I struggled to get the crew man resting on the guns to balance properly but I think part of this was my own lack of skill. You’ll need to trim the DSHK slightly for the firing gunners hands to fit in the right place.

As I’m wanting to hot swap the various weapons, I’m going to mount the gunner and the MGs on a small rectangular base to just give them a bit more strength and stability and also to prevent any bipod legs from bending.

The Big Guns

Although the HMGs will be the most commonly used weapons, it’s the bigger end of the scale where the real fun begins.

ZU-23

ZU-23 in pieces for assembly

The heavier AA gun requires a bit of assembly and I ended up using a fair amount of force to get it into place. However, once assembled it sticks together, forming a nice weighty gun that looks great when on the vehicle. The separate crew member means you can build it empty if you want it to decorate the battlefield.

 

ZPU-4

The ZPU-4 uses the same base as it’s bigger brother. However, the assembly process require far less faf. Instead it’s just placing the four barrels onto the central pillar, adding the ammo boxes and bracing strut. The crewman is moulded onto the central pillar but looks fantastic

BMP Turret

So mixed bag with this as it comes out the wrapping. It’s a wonderful and characterful gun, perfect for making your force look rather ragged and good to go. It’s also easy to assemble. However, once assembled it seems to be a system that is designed for gluing in place. The turret has some rings to prevent the turret from sliding laterally but nothing holds it in place from falling off if tilted. I’ve also found the frame itself doesn’t sit particularly well. Worse news is that the crew member underneath doesn’t seem to fit when you place the frame in and rest if on the wheel arches. None of these are problems if your glue it in place but I’m going to do a few tweaks (adding a base, extending the struts) to make it swappable.

Final Thoughts

Overall, 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.

In terms of economics, £18 for the chassis works out fine (the closest equivalent is Empress’s bare-bones technical at £15 but with less detail to it). Weapons and crew are priced sensibly, with the £1.99 .50cals being perfectly priced for use in conversion jobs.

I’ll add a second article once I pick up the remaining weapons which will be soon based on my first experiences. I’m also very excited for what comes next. Some stowage items and passenger figures would be awesome but we shall see what Spectre come up with. As always, I’m praying for miniguns.

Kickstarter Review – Spectre Miniatures

Welp, the long-awaited Spectre Miniatures Kickstarter models just turned up today. Before I begin, its important to point out that the guys in Nottingham managed to almost nail the delivery date – the models turned up just under a month later than planned which works out among the better delivery differences than many of the other Kickstarters I’ve backed.

The figure range that Spectre showed off is focused currently on special forces operations in Africa with a selection of PMCs and specials forces teams going off against some African militia. I wasn’t too fussed about the militia guys but every single operator set looked sweet. I pledged for one of each of them, a total of 8 packs or 32 figures. Near the end of the Kickstarter, I upped my order to include an additional pack (the Nigerian Army team) to extend out the collection as they look like they will work for generic AK armed goons. Sadly, the Nigerians got left behind at the evac so I’ll be adding them in a separate review at a later date (should be in the next few days thanks to the excellent customer service from the Spectre guys)

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So first things first, I LOVE the packaging. Rather than the blister pack format most companies provide their figures in, the spectre models come in small neat boxes filled with packing material. Even opening the boxes feels special. Having a stack of them to work through is also pretty cool.

First of all, the overall impression of the models. They look superb. There is a very high level of detail across all the figures, with details like the strips of molle on some of the PMC guys easily visible. The guns are particular look great, with a selection of optics and other accessories that really help to give the impression of a well equipped force. The weapons do pose a problem though – as they are real scale rather than heroic they do have some rather thin barrels. Nearly all of mine ended up okay but sadly one of my Delta troopers got his SCAR upgraded to CQC version by accident. It’s not too worrying but it might be a concern for any future models. Cleanup was minimal, with a few bits of flash to prune. Most models are a single part but several of the models facing forwards (like the delta guys) need the gun gluing into place. In addition, the Bergens on the SAS and the NVGs for the delta boys also need gluing but most of this was super easy. As someone bought in wargaming by Games Workshop, I do find it a little odd the figures are based on their own small bases rather than the round bases but it’s not too much of an issue.

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For comparison, I used one of the Hasslefree guys I bought a few months back. They both look okay alongside each other, with the main issues being the weapon sizes and the fact the Spectre models are just under a head taller. At most tabletop distances (and once they are painted up) they will be fine, but you’ll probably notice it when you rank them next to each other.

The sets:

Deltas

Lets start with the two delta force sets. Both groups have the guys in body armour and helmets (including the cool NVGs that have to be attached). Set one is the Delta Direct Action Team. These guys are a pretty plain fireteam all armed with some pimped SCAR-Ls (PEQ boxes, flashlights and EOTECHs included). Most of them also needed their guns glueing on:

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Set 2 is the Delta Close Support Team. Swapping one guy out for a four-legged friend, the rest of the team bring an AA12 (and MP7, a detail I love by the way), a SCAR-H (now CQC version) with ELGM grenade launcher (along with an AT4 for any vehicles or buildings you might find) and what looks like an M110. In other words, the perfect backup team while the Direct Action are kicking in the door.

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SAS

While the Deltas come to the party tooled up for door breaching, the SAS look a little more sneaky recon. The first squad is the SAS Recce Patrol. These guys look like the atypical long-range patrol – Bergens and packs on, soft caps and bare heads while carrying L119s with laser units and a selection of scopes. One even has a underslung grenade launcher just in case.

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To help out, the other SAS squad is all Ghilled up. The SAS Close Observation is a great stealthy set up. Two guys are carrying L119s (again with the grenade launcher) while the other two pack marksmen rifles. One is the new L129A1 (a cool addition) while the other is the L96. The two marksmen figures look great as a spotter sniper pair but they also fit with the squad as a whole.

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With the conventional guys done, lets move onto the slightly more shady guys.

CIA

To help out with your special operations, the CIA Field Agents bring some cool Special Activities Division looking guys and one rather flustered dude in a shirt. The SADs are armed with SMGs and PDRs, with one guy using a Vector, one using an MP7 and the last using a PDR. The Field Agent looks to be wielding a pistol with both a silencer and a light unit. The level of detail is incredible, with the slide serration on the pistol clearly visible.

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PMC

Now we move onto the contractors. These guys work well as both the intended contractor role and as dressed down special forces teams or more SAD operatives depending on the game you want to run.

Private Military Contractors Alpha are all armed with Vectors and look pretty damn cool. Baseball caps, goggles, headset and face masks are in abundance and they seem the perfect addition to the CIA guys. I did have issue with one of them on a small base constantly falling over due to his dynamic pose (obviously too many beers in the bar for this guy) but nothing a larger base won’t fix.

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Private Military Contractors Bravo favour the AK, with all four squad members carrying them. They are also pretty pimped with optics, M4 style stocks and grips galore. One of the guys also carries a pump action shotgun for close encounters and his AK is also equipped with a grenade launcher making him the best armed man in Africa. With the bandanas and chest rigs, these guys look pretty cool. To stereotype, they might take the role of  a few Spetznatz operators when the situation demands.

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Private Military Contractors Delta might as well be called Green Berets. They look just like the stereotypical operator look – big beards, ball caps and oakleys. All of them have M4s, one with a grenade launcher underslung and another equipped with an AA12 in hand ready to clear some room. These guys look pretty damn perfect alongside both the CIA agents and the Deltas.

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Extras

In addition to the figures I ordered, there was also a few additional figures that arrived due to my pledge level. I had a total of 5 additional guys and four ammo caches. The additional guys are a cool range, good to add VIPs to rescue or cool extra fighters for a squad. The figures are a deniable asset with an AK and an RPG, a Blood Diamond-esque contractor with AK and an ISA operative with an M4 to work with your Delta boys. I was also supposed to receive a VIP and bodyguard but accidentally ended up with two bodyguards. Luckily, it’s a pretty cool model so they may spend their time backing up the CIA agent. The four ammo caches are superbly detailed although a feel a little sorry for the one that is just a pile of AK mags and two grenades.

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Overall

To conclude, I am really impressed. The level of detail in the models, the ease they went together and even the poses just scream quality. I am very excited to see what comes next from them. They have mentioned other sets and other theatres – I’d love to see some police and thieves packs (some SWAT guys in poses like this would be fantastic) but I’m interested in anything. I only have a few concerns like the thing barrels and the bases but nether of them are deal breakers. Price wise, they are at the higher end but I think they are worth it. Still debating the technical though – it is a large amount for a kit that won’t get a huge amount of use in an infantry focused game but it is pretty swanky. I’m also still waiting for the final set of rules which, based on the beta, should be a blast to play.

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Now, I just have to persuade them to make a model like my current airsoft kit.

If you want to pick up your own team of operators or african milita, you can buy them from Spectre’s website at http://www.spectreminiatures.com