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…

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.