Impressions: Gringo 40’s NVA – MENA Style

A wise man once said – “You will never have enough insurgents for wargaming”. And it’s kind of right! With such a variety of groups around the world, as well as the breadth and depth of equipment available to them. Due to this, ranges listed for Ultramodern can only go so far before you start wanting something a little fresher.

This led me to take a look at the Gringo 40’s range of NVA. Just glancing at the range, you don’t see the stereotypical Vietnamese look of the more rural fighters, and after seeing them painted up by Volley Fire Painting services, I just had to take a look. I picked up six figures (all that were available from the site when I purchased them) and started to begin my work with them.

First of all common features – the range is focused on the NVA fighting during the battle of Hue City. You don’t see the stereotypical pyjamas and conical hats that fill many other ranges. These are the NVA who moved into the city and then fought through the streets. As such, they are in shirts and trousers and all are equipped with chest rigs and a whole host of other kit to give them a well trained and supplied look.

As a minor note, I made a few modifications to them to make them a little bit more suitable for MENA. This was mainly me covering up sandalled feet. Although probably suitable to fighters in the region, I think the full covered feet is a more professional look, suitable for such a group of well armed fighters. Personally, I think I went a little heavy on the green stuff leading to some oversized feet, but I can work on that for next time.

The first four are standard AK armed fighters, their poses putting them in the midst of fighting. It’s a nice mix and they do look really good put next to each other, like a small group in the middle of the action. All of them wear the same shirt and trouser combination, with plenty of detail on the sculpting.

The rear shot shows off just how well equipped these guys are – a string of grenades across the back of their webbing, as well as a pile of pouches, water bottles and knives. I’m a fan of this look, especially when put alongside less well-equipped troops (such as the Spectre Militia ranges).

There is also a double pack of an NVA Leader and a female Runner. This pair works really well for my setting, including as it does a female fighter and a figure dressed in military garb. It’s easy to see the leader as an ex-regime fighter, still in his fatigues to show his experience and stand out among his irregular comrades.

As you can see, I did a few little green stuff tweaks. The female fighter received shoes and a headband, while the officer had the most vital addition – a moustache, to show his authority and make him look a little more suitable for the MENA area.

Of course, as with any range, some comparison shots are required. Here we have the classic lineup. From left to right: Empress, Eureka, Gringo40s, Spectre and Eureka. As you can see the Gringo40s NVA fit the size range perfectly, and from a distance, they will easily blend in with the rest. Weapons are a similar scale to Empress or Eureka, so don’t worry about them bending or breaking. Similarly, the figures arrived and needed barely any cleanup. Another win for them.

To conclude, I am very happy with the new additions to my milita collection. These guys (and girl) are nicely posed, fun to paint and packed full of character. The price per figure is very reasonable and postage is charged separately, meaning you aren’t overpaying for it, and arrives very promptly. Overall, I can heartily recommend both the company and the figures, no matter what setting they end up seeing action in. You can find them on the Gringo40’s site at http://www.gringo40s.com/north-vietnamese-army.html

Wargaming Week 16/09/2019

Let’s start this Wargaming Week, covering the 9th through to the 15th of September.

BLOG STUFF

New post on the Gringo 40’s guys coming tomorrow! Just need to do the finishing touches to it.

NEWS

This week is a week of Spectre news! First of all, a massive tease from them – it looks like we have a big Spectre release coming this weekend seeing as they are assembling a new board for it. Including a hanger and a new pattern drone, it’s quite an interesting tease – guesses for what the new release is on postcards!

Spectre also put out some releases. First up, the Contraband pack is the last set of objectives that were first available back at Salute. A pile of money and a pile of drugs are perfect for decorating any classic criminal hideout.

The other release is a new upgrade for the technical range. Containing a new set of bull bars, a snorkel and a roof rack with prefilled storage, this is a neat addition to the range that has been a long time coming (you can see it in the version 1 rulebook on the African technical). I have to admit, I’m tempted to pick up another technical to include it.

PURCHASES

If you are just here modern stuff, you might want to keep scrolling…

Okay, so the Games Workshop hammer hit me pretty hard this week. First up, after seeing my friend Matt assembling some Aeronautica Imperialis stuff on the weekend, I decided that I quite fancied a few planes myself. I’ve always wanted some of the flyers from 40k but Forgeworld was always too expensive. 8mm is also a more sensible scale. In addition, I’m very interested in the game itself – I like X-Wing and other games like it but always disliked the range guessing. Bring on the hexes. Now I also have to wait for some Valkyries…

The other GW thing was this pair of sun bleached boxes. They have been in my local newsagents window for the last year and a bit and frankly, I could never see them getting sold. So I decided to go in there and make the man behind the counter an offer for them. In the end I got them for a third of the actual price which is a pretty good deal. Not 100% on my plans for them but it should be interesting to play around with.

HOBBY

As you might have guessed, first thing was finishing off my NVA figures. It still amazes me just what a wash and a dry brush can to do a paint job. I’m actually quite happy with the final result and I like just how well they fit with my other insurgents.

New boxed game meant new things to build so I started making planes. I’m taking my time with them, enjoying the feel of plastic kits again. So far, I’ve done the Thunderbolts you see above (a nice mix of air to air and air to ground under the wings) and two Marauder bombers (one with a mix, the other loaded with bombs). The Ork fighter sprue is out and will begin assembly this week. The plan is not to buy any more until all my planes are painted but we shall see how that goes

Finally, more assembly work. This time on my Canadian LAV-III. There were a few fun bits (like the turret rear cage) and it’s still missing the crew and pintle MG but I really like the look of this thing. It will be a terror on the tabletop as well!


That’s it for this update, expect more updates next week!

Wargaming Week 09/09/2019

Let’s start this Wargaming Week, covering the 2nd through to the 8th of September.

NEWS

Empress has had a pretty busy week with a literal pile of releases! First up, the M113 ACAV is now available in 1/50 scale as part of the Vietnam range. Coming with the all the parts you need to cover it in machine guns and perfect for rolling around the hills and streets of Vietnam, this is a cool looking piece of kit. I can see plenty of use for it outside of Vietnam and in Ultramodern settings as well, especially if you take off a few machine guns.

Following on from Spectre releasing some of their Kickstarter exclusives, it’s time for Empress to do the same! Unlike the frantic ebaying that happened for me to get mine, you can now just order your own NZ SAS figure from Empress from the limited quantities left. I really like the look of this guy – he’s perfect to add as a leader to other Empress SF figures. Get them while they are still in stock!

Empress are also entering the Afghan civilian market with their first two releases. With a pack of Afghan women (ideal for decorating any village scene) and a pack of an Afghan man and boy on donkey (something for an ISAF convoy to encounter or to approach a checkpoint), these two packs are an exciting start to assembling a full village worth of civilians.

Finally for Empress, they ended the week with an additional Vietnam vehicle – the terrifying and odd looking M50 Ontos. One of the strangest vehicles to be deployed and only really used in Vietnam, the six recoiless rifles are perfect for delivering a volley of high explosive rounds. Perfect for when you need to fight through Hue street by street. I think it also looks a fun kit to build – it’s going to be a neat addition to any board.

Finally, the UK has a new Eureka stockist! FIghting 15s for a long time was the best way of getting Eureka’s rather excellent range here in the UK but earlier this year they had announced they were no longer stocking them, However, Eureka have managed to organise another seller, who has just opened this week. They already have the full range up, so get buying!

PURCHASES

Nothing, still working through the piles of stuff I currently have.

HOBBY

Not much hobby this week but but I did get to spend my weekend down in Leeds for some dental work. However, I used the Sunday afternoon to head over to York and meet up with my Usual Opponent and friends to sit down and paint. And I managed to get some done! As you can see above, I took the Gringo 40’s NVA from undercoat all the way up to mostly done (apart from wash and final drybrush). More details coming this week.


That’s it for this update, expect more updates next week!

Wargaming Week 02/09/2019

Let’s start this Wargaming Week, covering the 19th of August through to the 1st of September.

NEWS

New releases from Spectre! This selection of four High Value Targets lets you add a really great character to augment a scenario. Each takes a different role, ranging from the Salesman gesticulating to a possible buyer, the Adviser perfect to lead your militia fighters while still remaining hands off, the General huddling the cold in his classic Russian coat and the Dictator in military regalia and with his cane.

What’s quite interesting is where each of these figures are actually from. The General is one I haven’t seen before but the other three have been glimpsed. The Dictator was in one of the packs in the original Spectre Kickstarter (alongside the African Militia Warlord, African Rebel Warlord and a Sapeur themed leader) while the Salesman was one of the Kickstarter stretch goals. It took me a while to realise that the adviser had appeared first all the way back in 2015, appearing in the display stand as part of the WIP greens (you can see the photo in my Unreleased models post way back in 2017). Overall, I think it’s great to see these figures being released and become much more easily purchasable.

Empress also released some new figures for their WW2 range. The Late War Brits I’ve started collecting now have two more packs. The Support pack includes a rather fantastic sniper model, the vital 2inch mortar and a few command figures. The Radio Pack has two Radio teams. Overall, I like them a great deal. That said, my project has slowed slightly, both due to a lack of time but also the fact we’re missing some vital figures from the range. As someone who likes picking up the Vickers machine gun in my Chain of Command games, I’m eagerly waiting to see Empress’s version of them.

PURCHASES

First up, I picked up a set of Gringo 40’s NVA after seeing them on Facebook. They are missing many of the key Vietnam farmer/fighter look, due to focusing on Hue, so they could actually fit very well with an ultramodern setting. With a super fast delivery, I already took a look at making them fit the Middle East a little more.

Of course, with a new Spectre release I just had to pick them up. I already have the Salesman waiting to paint, so the other three were added to the collection.

HOBBY

First up, I got a pile of Canadians! And more importantly, an LAV-III has arrived after a long journey through the delights of the customs series. A slight downer at accidentally receiving two of the same pack was elevated by just how cool they look. I can’t wait to get them all assembled (especially the LAV-III after the dry run I did with the parts) and ready for operations in Bazistan.

As mentioned above, here are the NVA figures from Gringo40s. I’ve done my rookie green stuff job on them. Shoes for everyone, a bandana on the female runner, a scarf for one of the fighters and (with it being the Middle East) a bushy mustache on the leader to assert his authority with. The next step will be getting them based and painted, making sure to vary their colours to give the militia look. These guys look perfect for slightly more well equipped fighters, seeing as all of them are wearing chest rigs and carrying lots of grenades. More details when I finish them.


That’s it for this update, expect more updates next week!

Wargaming Week 19/08/2019

Let’s start this Wargaming Week, covering the 12th through to the 18th of August.

NEWS

First up, news from Spectre. Price rises hit all of us, and it looks like it’s now time for Spectre’s metal figures to go up in price. You’ve got until the 1st of September to enjoy the current prices.

Additionally, they are working to improve their resin production, mainly to keep their stuff at better stock levels for as long as possible.

Of course, as soon I mention them quietening down, Spectre drops off this little preview onto Instagram. Two new HVTs for your tabletop. The figure on the right is a reproduction of the African general from the original Kickstarter, so this re-release might explain why a few people found. some resin versions of him in the last set of Covert Packages. I’m more interested in the General on the left, a very Russian looking gentleman in a warm coat with a big hat. This will be perfect for any Russian separatist games where you might want to play the Russians as the good guys.

TTTS is coming out with another vehicle to add to their increasingly large US vehicle garage. This time it’s one of the Special Forces support vehicle motherships, nicknamed Warpig. It’s a fierce-looking vehicle and is coming to Kickstarter later this month. I like the TTTS stuff but buyer beware, it is 1:56 rather than the 1:50.

Finally, Blacksite has a brand new range coming ready for Stalingrad. If you’re looking for some bombed-out Soviet buildings for other modern warzones, these look pretty great. Pavlov’s house especially is just incredible – a game board all by itself.

PURCHASES

Infamous JT has slashed their prices as he clears out other product lines to focus on his own range. While still waiting for my Canadians to arrive along with the LAV-III (which is taking its sweet time through the postal system), I decided to pick up the rest of the Canadian teams to complete my collection. Fingers crossed the sudden arrival of a block of Canadians will summon the rest of them.

HOBBY

With a bit of free time, I finished off the last two Spectre civilians that had been sat on the painting desk. I do find solid colour stuff is perfect for a quick bit of evening painting, and these guys were a nice bit of relaxation. Also, I now have a decent crowd to fill the streets of Bazistan, ideal for annoying…everyone.

Finally, the big thing was assembling more MDF. I’ve finished the three buildings from Knights of Dice and as you can see it’s looking like a proper city now. I’m working on the article now and then it’s going to be a lot of work to tweak and prepare them.


That’s it for this update, expect more updates next week!

Wargaming Week 12/08/2019

Let’s start this Wargaming Week, covering the 5th through to the 11th of August.

BLOG STUFF

No blog posts, but the first Forces List for the Bazistan Project is now up on the Patreon. Seeing as I already had them mostly planned out, I started with the Aden Defence Force. Being based on the British Infantry arrangement with a few tweaks, I’m looking forward to actually getting these squads on the table

For the moment, everything on the Patreon is going to be free – so if you want to take a look you’ll find it here. Donating will let you jump in and comment as well as showing your support.

NEWS

No news! Everything has gone a bit quiet.

PURCHASES

No purchases!

HOBBY

Not much in terms of painting and gaming (mostly too busy finishing the article for the Patreon) but my order from Knights of Dice did finally arrive! After sucking air through my teeth at the VAT bill, this collection of MDF landed on my desk with a crunch. The apartment buildings are going to be a big chunk of work but I’m really looking forward to sitting down with them.

As you can see, I managed to get all of the market stalls constructed. Building them was really nice, the kits are wonderfully designed as always. More details coming soon.


That’s it for this update, expect more updates next week!

Wargaming Week 05/08/2019

Let’s start this Wargaming Week, covering the 29th of July through to the 4th of August.

BLOG STUFF

I published a new post on the Tabula Rasa villas from Knights of Dice! Overall I’m pretty happy with them, I just need to actually get them detailed up before painting. But once ready, it’s going to make fighting through some city streets pretty interesting.

Become a Patron!

Over on Patreon I posted an update on what I’ve been up to in regards to my ongoing project. I’m still working out the best method of presenting the information but I’ve also been getting some content finished off. The Aden Defence Force document is almost ready, I just need to finish writing some of the words around the actual useful information.

NEWS

It’s still summer! Apart from Spectre detailing a slight thermal issue with their resin production (it’s really warm), there is no news.

PURCHASES

Nothing! Still working through my current list of items such as eyeing up the pile of MDF all over my flat.

HOBBY

This week has been pretty hobby quiet – I’ve been focused on other things (mainly video games and preparing for an airsoft weekender in August) or writing up stuff for the Patreon. Come back next week and I might have done a little painting!


That’s it for this update, expect more updates next week!

Initial Impressions: Knights of Dice Tabula Rasa – Desert Villas

Way back in the November of 2017, I wrote an initial impressions of the Knights of Dice Tabula Rasa range. And approaching two years later… I haven’t advanced very far. However, Knights of Dice has continued to work, producing much more in their ranges. One thing especially interesting for me, however, is the Tabula Rasa villa range. As someone who is starting to really like buildings, you can actually fight through rather than just around, adding some larger multi-room buildings should help to make my games more interesting.

As a rough overall point, all three buildings are wonderful things to assemble. They pop easily from sprue, with very little work needed in terms of clean up. The construction is also nice and easy, in many cases tight enough to dry-fit the entire thing before only adding a little glue to secure them . One comment is that the sprues this time around are definitely on the larger side to support the larger footprint for the buildings, so expect some larger delivery boxes.

I did have a few issues with some missing pieces from the sets. None of these would have stopped construction (a missing step and a barrier) but both could be easily replaced from offcuts. In addition, Knights of Dice support is fantastic so missing pieces will be quickly sent out.

Above you can see the rough scale of the doors and windows. You can also see the details – these buildings are really just shells, lacking in pretty much all detail except structural elements such as interior walls and staircases. This is not a negative, it’s just pointing out the feature of this range.

Most importantly, stairs! In the original review, I picked out the almost smooth stairs a major negative. Well, it seems that KoD heard all about it and decided to tweak them to make them look a little more playable. I think the compromise makes them playable while not ruining the look.

Pictured here on the left is Compound 1 from the original release next to the villas. As you can see, the new buildings are on a larger footprint, with much larger second floors and often access to the rooftops. They feel a lot more like some of the hard work is done to make them into interesting games.


Villa 1

The first building up is a two-storey structure with access to the roof. This building looks like some town centre building, with a covered outdoor walkway and flat roof above. The interior is split into several rooms, two on each floor.

The pack also includes a removable ladder, ideal for quickly accessing the roof. You can also see just how many firing positions this building has, perfect for defending and a nightmare to assault.

Broken down you can see just how much floor space is available. Although only two rooms per floor, there is plenty of space to move through, with plenty of choke points to fight through. Additionally, I like the stairs having a little cover when you climb them.


Villa 2

Villa 2 is a bit more modern, offer a two-storey building with balcony and roof access, ideal for sunbathing, filming enemy forces or siting a heavy weapon.

Interesting to note, this building only has two ground floor doors on this side which could be an interesting tactical challenge. This building also supports the ladder from building 1, if you want to vary it up.

Broken down, you can see this building is mostly larger rooms, with the upstairs being only one interior room before leading outside.


Villa 3

Villa 3 is a bit of strange one. Apart from the very different style and fancy steps, this feels like a building from the original releases. However, with the sloping roof and elevated window, it is pretty distinctive on the tabletop.

Looking at the rear, you can see the side entrance. This passes under the stairs, which I should warn you includes a perfect hidey hole for ambushing assaulters.

Broken out, both floors only have a single large room. It’s also interesting to note that both floors have blind spots the other floor manages to expose – something to think about then placing them.


Villa 4

Finally, VIlla 4. This one looks and feels like a very modern building, a gently sloping roof combined with an exterior balcony

The backside shows the entrance locations and the multiple windows, as well as a better shot of the gently sloping roof angle. As you can see, there are plenty of firing points on this side, making assaulting it a genuine challenge.

This is probably the busiest of the four buildings, with a total of 5 rooms and a balcony. It also provides multiple entry points. on the two floors (ignoring the action movie technique of setting up a ladder onto the balcony itself. The two smaller rooms at the back of the house will be pretty interesting to take control of, especially without grenades.


Conclusion

So what do I think of them? Well, I love seeing the improvement to design these buildings show – they feel like Knights of Dice have learned from the original release and these now feel more like real buildings. As I keep banging on about, having buildings you can actually CQB through, rather than just treating as “occupied” or “unoccupied”, really lifts games from just simple skirmishes to feeling much more interesting.

At the same time, these are Tabula Rasa buildings. If you want something you buy, spray paint and then put on the table then I don’t think these are necessarily the best idea. They would be fine but they are really asking to have all the little detailing work, to give them that extra touch. But that said, I think these are the perfect starting point to just go wild with it.

Now, time to go get some more air con units and and bits of plasticard…