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 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.

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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

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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

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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

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