Range Impressions: Eureka ANP

It’s hard to wargame Afghanistan without involving any of the locals. There are many situations where missions should include elements of the local government, either being instructed by the coalition or providing assistance to make an operation seem less outsider focused. Among the variety of Afghan Security Forces, the Afghan National Police have been a consistent sight in reporting from that part of the world, wearing their (predominately) blue uniforms and kepi hats while manning checkpoints or guarding strategic locations.

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Eureka has released two pack of figures designed for the ANP. Each set comprises of six figures, containing 4 riflemen, a PKM gunner and a RPG grenadier. The two packs includes some slightly different poses but the main difference comes down to their equipment. Pack 1 features the ANP in caps while Pack 2 has them wearing PASGAT helmets and kneepads. All of the figures are wearing BDUs and a tactical vest, although the style of this vest varies from character to character.

Riflemen

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As you’d expect, the bulk of any ANP force is it’s riflemen. This range has 8 figures in a variety of poses (from low ready to steadily advancing). A neat feature, and vital for an ANP force, is the fact that several of the guys are not armed with standard AKs; instead, they are using the AMD-65 complete with the distinctive fore-grip.

Support

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The ANP is policing in a warzone and as such, the squads include some special weapons. The machine gunners in the pack are armed with the PKM and posed holding it at the hip. Each gunner has a slightly different pose a cool addition to the range and not just being the same figure with a headswap.

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It’s hard to overstate the usefulness of the RPG and so it’s handy to see the ANP also get an RPG gunner in each pack. Both gunners are only equipped with the RPG-7 launcher (so no backup weapons when you need to reload) but they do at least carry backpacks with plenty of rounds. I like the nice touch that the capped gunner has turned his hat around so it doesn’t cause an issue while aiming down the sights.

Usage

I mean, do I really need to spell it out for these guys? If you’re looking for Afghan National Police figures, these are the guys to go with. However, if you’re not fighting in Afghanistan, these guys would also work for many police forces throughout the MENA area. If you paint them in a camo scheme, they could also work for regular army forces. Thanks to the weapons in the range, you can actually put together a pretty well equipped squad while the PASGAT is common enough in that region of the world.

On the tabletop, these figures give you plenty of situations to use them in. ANP forces have acted in multiple different operations, from both a security role (guarding locations) to more offensive postures when fighting various criminal groups. In many cases, they would also be working along with ISAF personal. Germany in particular has played a large part in training the ANP so there will be situations where a ANP checkpoint may have a OMLT (Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team) alongside them. The Dispatches books for Skirmish Sangin includes some more details on the ANP, with book 1 including the ORBAT and book 2 a scenario featuring a checkpoint attack.

One comment I’d make is that, if I was to go back and repaint them I’d probably mix up the tone of the uniform. As well as the blue, uniforms can also be more grey or green. Adding a bit of variation would certainly give the force a different look.

Conclusions

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The Afghan National Police has played a sizeable role in the fighting in Afghanistan and, if you were wanting to put them on your table, these figures are certainly a great option. Some people have expressed thought’s about the sizing and sculpting style of Eureka figures but I think these guys look really good. From tabletop height I think they fit just with other manufacturers (helped in part by the real life size difference between the Afghans and Western forces) and the team at Eureka have done a great job with these guys.

Wishlist

I think this range is complete and honestly I’m not asking for more. Twelve figures with a mix of poses and weapons is very good. The only possible addition might be some figures designed to be added to the back of pickup trucks for patrolling, either passengers or gunners.

More generally, this has reminded how we are currently lacking some good figures for Afghan National Army soldiers. Although we have plenty of MENA figures armed with AKs, no one has released any figures armed with American equipment and the slightly slap-dash look many images of the ANA include.

Range Impressions: Empress SAS in Afghanistan

Despite being a blog that plays around with new releases, it’s always important to look back at some of the older figures. Today’s range covers some models which are probably among the oldest sculpts in my collection but I still rank them among my favourites. We’re talking, of course, about Empress’s SAS in Afghanistan range.

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Released back in 2010, and the first modern figures produced by Empress, these figures were modelled on some of the SAS operators spotted in Afghanistan. The guys are wearing a mixture of civilian clothing and military equipment (with most operators wearing nothing heavier than a tactical or safari vest, while wielding a mixture of weapons with optics. The poses are a mix of firing and at rest.

Packs

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Pack 1 includes four operators. Two are armed with L119A1s, one is armed with a L119A1 and UGL while the final is equipped with a Minimi LMG. These guys are all at rest, with guns low. I do really like the inclusion of a radio operator, perfect for an operator working alongside less well trained troops.

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Pack 2 is for when the action starts kicking off. All four figures are engaging, with two L119A1s w/UGL, a L119A1 and a Minimi. This is probably my favourite pack in the range thanks to all the poses, with the guy in the blue baseball cap above being my sculpt of choice for the range.

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Pack 3 is your SF O-Group, ready to run the battle. Pictured above are the team lead (with binoculars and L119A1), the number 2 (with L119A1 w/UGL and binocular) and communication specialist on his laptop and surrounded by kit (the pack includes a satellite antenna to provide data for the laptop). Although not the best for figures in combat, it can make spotting your HQ element much easier when in a firefight.

This pack also includes a local interpreter, complete with folding stock AK and cigarette between pointing hand, but I haven’t got round to painting just yet. He’s sat in the box next to the rest of the Afghan forces from Empress.

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The final pack I own is the sniper pack. The comprises of two figures, with the marksman sat next to his rifle bag and the spotter with a L119A1 and UGL, pack and spotting scope. In order to fit him on a standard base, I decided to glue the spotting scope to his hand. This pack would also work really well together as weapon team on a single base.

The range also includes two quad bikes piled high with kit. The crew figures, and their guns stored while riding, match up to two of the figures on foot so you can model them both in contract and or driving to the fight. I really need to pick these two vehicles up, and even though they may not end up being used in combat, they will make great jumping off points or scene setting pieces.

Usage

Once you have these guys, whats the best way to use them? Well time has been rolling on so this combination of kit maybe isn’t the most suitable for the ultramodern setup. However, if you’re wanting to set your games back at the heights of the war in Afghanistan, these guys are spot on. They could be in a whole host of situations, from rolling through the desert in landrovers and pickups to close recon on suspect compounds in Sangin.

One of my favourite things about these guys is how cool they look when combined with regular troops. One of the first videos of troops in contact I remember watching on youtube was the footage of US Marines and a few guys in t-shirts and DPM with British accents being engaged. That contrast is quite striking in terms of look and would present some interesting tactical situations – if you only have a few operators, what’s the best way to use in order to max out their utility when the rest of your force is less well trained. Also having a SF JTAC can be pretty handy.

Alternatively, the slightly older kit and lack of heavy gear means they would work quite well as contractors running private security gigs. I’ve used them several times, as contractors guarding locations and escorting VIPs (until the vehicle breaks down in the bad part of town. In fact, they are the creator recommended figures for the scenario “Our Man on the Ground” from the Skirmish Afrika book.

Conclusion

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Despite being on the older end of the models I own, I continue to really like using and playing them. The poses and details are crisp, foreshadowing the rest of the Empress range and I just love this style of character. I heartily recommend these to anyone wanting figures in this style.

Wishlist

Time has moved on – Empress has gone on to make several lovely ranges cover the rest of the Ultramodern world. In the real world, the kit on these models have become out of date, with other manufacturers making more modern version of these figures. But still, it would be nice to see a few more guys in a similar style to this with the older kit for when you want to turn the dial back to 2010.

Range Impressions: Spectre Task Force Nomad

In the past my impressions on this blog have been focused on the brand new, the recent arrivals, the purchases just made. However, there are plenty of figures that I have sat in various boxes that haven’t been written up on the blog (especially in this new format). So I think it’s time to break open the old model boxes and take a look at what’s inside. To begin with, Task Force Nomad.

I’ll admit, this was not a range I rushed out to purchased. When they were first shown (back in 2016) I though they were neat but not quite was I was looking for at the time. In fact, it would take me a year (and seeing the figures in person at the Spectre event) before I’d drop my money and jump on the low profile train, picking up all the figures in the collection.

Task Force Nomad is based off multiple images of SOF troops in the Middle East wearing a mixture of local clothing and modern kit. This allows them to pass as locals at distance, without affecting their combat capabilities in the same wear as wearing entire local clothing and equipment would. Much like another range I’ll be taking a look at soon, these guys are all rolling rather fancy setups – from the Crye Precision style clothes to the SIG MCX rifles and other, more exotic support kit. As a rule, they all also have silenced pistols stowed in their robes, perfect for when you need to switch to the more offensive stealth. Spectre has done a feature video showing off the inspiration for the range that is well worth a watch.

But now, lets take a look at the models

Riflemen

First up, we have core of any range of figures – the riflemen. Despite maybe not having all the cool gadgets, troops armed with assault rifles form a multi-purpose block in any fight that can be vital for winning the day

Task Force Nomad is no exception. The range currently has four operators just armed with rifles, split into two packs. There is a nice mix of poses from up and engaged to directing fire (a shoe in for the squad leader figure). The guys are using SIG MCX rifles and these are tooled up, with red dots, magnifiers, lasers and suppressors all equipped. The MCX in this case is, according to the description on the Spectre site, using .300 blackout. This chambering is designed to easily switch between subsonic rounds (for ultimate stealth action) and supersonic rounds with only a minimal drop in performance giving the user great flexibility when operating covertly. On the tabletop, this just means they are going to be really good for stealth missions.

Support

Once you’ve built your base of shooters, you can then add your toppings of specialists. The Task Force Nomad range has no shortage of team members with special kit to help out.

The first pack builds upon the covert nature of the group giving you a pair of troopers armed with suppressed MP7s, complete with the usual package of red dot and laser. The SMGs will have less hitting power but are better at the quiet work, so these guys are ideal to lead your forces in, able to pick sentries off at close range without waking up the neighbourhood. Just a warning though – the barrels on these are liable to bend slightly so I recommend careful handling, especially after they first arrive.

The rest of the support options seem to have forgotten the whole “stealth” thing; they are really there for when the shit hits the fan and the silenced pistol won’t cut it. Case in point: the shotgunner. Armed with the Origin 12 semi automatic shotgun, the version modelled is the short barrel (without even a suppressor) but with a PEQ box (laser) and red dot. Now, I’ll admit, the Origin 12 offends me on an asethic level (and the fact it seems to have replaced the AA12 in the role of “cool combat shotgun” doesn’t help) but it does get results on the tabletop. Normally when you need to cut your way back out of a situation.

The other way of getting out a bad situation has got to be the airburst grenade launcher. This is one of those guns that screams “ultramodern”. The XM-25s abilty to detonate at a preset distance helps to remove the effectiveness of cover, something that comes in handy when having to fight through a defended position. The only downside to this model is that he doesn’t seem to have any form of secondary weapon other than his pistol, making him much more of a long range and loud pick for the team. He is also the one that is most obviously wearing Crye Precision kit, as you can tell from his kneepads. Fitting that the gucci looking operator would have the future tech!

The final option, and one that has appeared on the blog before, is the Task Force Nomad Sniper. Armed with a Barrett XM500, a bulpup and modernised version of the classic “Light Fifty” M107, giving your covert team a long range reach with a bit more precision than the XM25. Either as a heavy sniper rifle or an anti-material rifle, this gun is a monster when used in the game, especially when combined with an elite character’s high shooting skill. I really like the figure, especially when you start picking out the details like the rifle bag he is currently sat on.


Usage

These guys are cool, but how best to add them into your games? Well the big thing about them is that these guys is that they are special forces operators through and though. You might be able to get away with using them as high end contractors (the type usually seen ambushing the SF heroes when the conspiracy is revealed) but these guys are going to be near the top of the skill chart. They do however work for pretty much any western nation (the MCX, while not a service rifle, has been purchased by USSOCOM amongst other).

You could use them as low profile operators on a mission, sneaking around an enemy settlement and trying to avoid guards. Alternatively they could be rolling around the desert in local vehicles and meeting in the middle of nowhere for a prisoner exchange or to gather intel on a target. Finally, you could scatter a few amongst a militia force as mentors, teaching the local force the best way to carry out their objectives. I’ve used these guys as the stealthy team trying to reach the hostages while the main group of operators kicked in doors and made lots of noise – you can read more in my battle report covering the “rescue” of the Geordiestan Ambassador.

Something else to think about is how you’re going to paint them. They are designed for the middle east but a few tweaks and a different paint scheme can totally change their feel. Going for a darker, more urban look and they might even fit into a “The Division”/post-apocalyptic game as a team waiting to ambush unaware groups.

Conclusions

Overall, this range provides the option for an elite force that uses many of the same painting skills you may have gained while getting your OPFOR together. The cloth detail from the cloak adds some interesting textures and the combination of old clothing and modern kit is great once the paint job is finished. On the table, a Task Force Nomad team is probably going to the point you break out the covert rules and add some patrolling guards to make life interesting. You can really use them to push the scenario side of play, rather than just being more operators in multicam to hit the table with. As I’ve said above, I wasn’t too fussed when they first released. But after getting them home and painted up in my style, I really like them! Although I do need to go back and repaint the sections where the wash has pooled a lot.

Wishlist

No range is perfect however and when I take a look at the options available right now, a few ideas stick out:

  • A LMG figure would be a handy addition when it comes to tactical options – letting you set up a proper base of fireteam that can still be suppressed, rather than immediately revealing yourself if the XM25 is used.
  • I’d really like to see another set of guys with carbines to give a few more of the basic team members. This would be even better if one is in a crouched position, ready to act as spotter for the sniper that is already released.
  • This might be more suited to being another range but it would be cool to see the operators slightly further down the scale towards looking like the locals and instead armed with Russian kit. Now this isn’t to say it should be totally militia-esque (the AK looks rather cool with a suppressor on) but a truly covert team (with just enough identifies to make them more than “well armed militia”) could be a neat addition to the collection.

Impressions: AM General HUMVEE Enthusiasts’ Manual

In a complete reversal to my previous vehicle based project, I decided to pick up my reference material at the start of the project rather than just as it was coming to an end. Osprey does produce a New Vanguard on the Humvee series written by Steven J Zaloga (Amazon link: HMMWV Humvee 1980–2005: US Army tactical vehicle (New Vanguard)). However, it’s a little outdated now thanks to it’s cut-off of 2005 but provides a good jumping off point. With the Spectre HMVs being more designed for the later armoured versions I started looking for an alternative. And then I discovered that Haynes had a manual available for the vehicle.

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If you are unaware, Haynes have been producing reference books designed to assist drivers in repairing their own car. Through the years I’ve seen a fair number of the practical guides. They also do some more unusual books in the series, such as for the Star Trek Enterprise, and several historical vehicles. For Christmas, I received their Churchill Tank book and found it a great read (although sadly I’m not sure I’ll be in a position to use it’s maintenance tips). I quite like their books, both for the technical information and photos, so I had to pick it up.

The Book

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The book was .published in 2014 and is in the usual Haynes style, in hardback, full colour and a whopping 154 pages. It starts off with the history of the Humvee program (including a look at it’s predecessors) before moving on to cover the production and the various variants that have been created off the basic vehicle. It also looks at the stranger selections including some words dedicated to the Hummer. A short chapter looks at more details of the manufacturing process. The bulk of the book then looks at the internals of the Humvee (including plenty of close up shots of internal systems).

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This section covers literally EVERYTHING you’d want to know about the mechanics of the vehicle, from details of the transmission to the number of bolts used to hold the wheels together. Perhaps more useful for wargamers, it then moves on to look at the variety of body types and accessories available for the Humvee chassis. Most importantly, this includes the various weapon systems available for the Humvee. The following chapter expands on this detailing the Humvee in action, not just with the Americans but also with a few other nations. This chapter is packed with images of vehicles in action

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Haynes book without some practical information and so the final chapters are designed for those who may be actually interested in purchasing one. As well as detailing how rare if it to buy one (in part due to some of it’s civilian unfriendly features) and how to import them into the UK, it moves on to look at more practical matters such as how much it’s going to cost (back in 2014). A short chapter looks at the mechanics point of view, including the ever important serving schedule, before finishing off with a few pages of appendices.

Thoughts

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Overall, I think the book is certainly worth a buy. It provides a nice deep dive into one of the iconic vehicles of the 20th Century, covering every aspect of it from development through to it’s many uses. It’s also a nice easy read, giving lots of information without having to chew your way through it. The only downside is it’s price – if you’re used to Osprey’s reference books, it will seem expensive. However, there is lots of information to make it worth your while.

Coming at it from a wargaming/modelling point of view, I think the book has plenty of use. There will be big chunks that you’ll breeze past (I’m not sure you need to know the exact details of certain internal systems if assembling a resin kit) but there are so many images of the vehicles that it’s a perfect jumping off point for detailing your own vehicles. As well as overall shots, there is a great deal of information and examples of where to place your stowage in order to both look cool and realistic.

If this book interests you, why not pick it up off Amazon using one of the associate links below?

Project Humvee – Initial Impressions

You know, after the 9 posts that was Project Technical, I think it’s safe to say that pickup trucks with guns mounted on them are pretty great. On the other hand, there is something to be said for a vehicle that is actually designed to carry a group of infantry over rough terrain while carrying a heavy weapon and not assembled in some backstreet workshop. The Humvee is an icon of the post Cold War conflict, be it on the streets of Somalia, the dusty highways of Iraq or attempting to climb the mountains of Afghanistan.

I’ve talked to Spectre for a while and when they mentioned they were looking into making a range for the HMV, I was immediately interested. This interest grew with every update, especially when they showed off the various elements to the range. More importantly, I started planning out all the various combination of turrets and weapons I would need, gather reference material (see below) and soon enough the realisation hit home that this would be a brand new project.

The first wave arrives – along with some reference material

As with all projects, we’re starting with the initial impressions. We’re going to take a look at the basics of the range in their rawest state and act as a basic primer before moving on to tweaks and painting in future posts.


Construction Details

First up, the basic details. The HMV range is mainly produced in resin with the only required metal parts being the various guns you attach. From talking to the Spectre team, I discovered that this is the first product that Spectre have produced in resin in-house, primarily as a way of fixing the supply issues previous resin releases have had and allow them to do more in that area. In fact, if you check the vehicles collection page, you may notice a lot more things in stock.

Most of the finished product is great, with nice deep detailing in most cases. I did noticed a few air bubbles and slips (including a chunk out of a bumper) but no more than you might see from other similarly sized producers. In most cases I was able to hide the issues during construction or fix later with green stuff or thin plasticard. As with all resin models, I recommend cleaning them in warm soapy water (especially the wing mirrors). There was a fair amount of cleaning up to do with most pieces and some of them (such as the doors) were very easy to crack or damage while removing from the sprue. Overall, the experience was pretty much what I would expect when buying a wargaming ready kit – it rewards a little bit of careful planning ahead.

Base Variant

Of course, all vehicles have to start somewhere and even in a modular system there is a core set to buy. In this case, the HMV package includes what is in the picture above. Most of these parts are used in all variants although some, like the rear bumper are replaced in various upgrades. As always – DRY FIT EVERYTHING BEFORE PICKING UP THE GLUE.

Once assembled it looks like this. Immediately you can see just how detailed the vehicle parts are. I have my doubts how long the wing mirrors will last under constant gaming use, but there is at least more material to glue together with these compared to the metal bits in the technical sets. I’ll talk about the turrets more later but it’s great to see them spinning pretty freely.

The rear view shows off the special piece you add just for this version. The armoured section behind the cab turns this truck into the light cargo hauler/utility variant. Not one you’d always see in combat but it could be useful in a convoy situation. With the right turret setup, it could also be pretty great for various NGO forces that want something tougher than an SUV while offroading.

One comment is that this kit is only £16 for a good-looking vehicle. Combine this with Upgrade Alfa and a M2 and for around £20 you get a classic Humvee all ready for somewhere not many people are going to shoot back at it.

Chassis Upgrades

Of course, as cool as the basic version is, it’s highly likely you’ll be needing more than just a 4×4 pickup truck. So to help this out, Spectre have three upgrade packs available that take advantage of the modular design

HMV Upgrade – Alfa

If you’re wanting to make the classic design, this is the back you need. Sloped back covering the boot (or trunk) and a front mounted bullbar for smashing your way through any obstacles you might meet such as parked cars or insurgents getting in the way.

One simple install later and the shape seen on a thousand news broadcasts arrives. I can see this upgrade is probably going to be quite popular.

HMV Upgrade – Bravo

If you’re finding the Technicals to be a little too vulnerable for karting your operators around, than Upgrade Bravo is certainly worth looking at. Like Alfa it upgrades two parts of the vehicle, adding an IBIS TEK style front bumper (for even more smashing potential), a new rear bumper and an armoured open-topped box to surround the cargo bed. This box also includes a new rear hatch, allowing assualters to quickly mount and dismount when on operations.

Assembled and you can really see the change in shape that the new rear section adds – perfect for adding stowage to (either inside or on the sides). Additionally, the front bumper looks mean although the sheer size of the thing might make turning a little interesting.

HMV Upgrade – Charlie

The last upgrade pack is an interesting idea. Rather than new chassis, this just adds some new extra detailing elements. These are:

  • 2x Smoke Grenade Launchers
  • Spare Tyre
  • Spare Tyre mounting point
  • Additional weapon mount
  • Microwave Antenna (for jamming primarily)
  • 2x aerial mounting point

One thing with these is that most need a fair chunk of material removing before they were ready for use on the vehicles – the actual items are actually quite small so take care when preparing them.

When mounted on the vehicle, these elements really add the little bit of extra detail. The aerials go into slots at the rear of the common hull, meaning they can be used across any vehicle – the second aerial base went on the other Humvee I’ve been working on. The additional gun mount simply adds another post with the mounting system many of the newer weapon systems have while the spare wheel just looks cool. I had mounted the smoke grenade launchers on the vehicle (you can see the super glue marks) but they were removed so I could spin the larger turrets 360 degrees without the front shield clipping.

This pack feels like it’s designed to go with Upgrade Bravo, but I think it could be used with other variants. For example the spare wheel mount could go on the back of the boot panel and the additional weapon mount could go inside a turret for mounting some close in firepower. I really like the fact the aerials fit into slots on the base chassis making them incredibly useful.

Doors

A key part of the Humvee throughout it’s life has been the arms race between where the vehicle is deployed to (and what people shoot at it) and what sort of armour it carries. This has led to some interesting changes in visual profiles of the vehicle as more and more armour has been added to what was designed as a utility vehicle. Luckily, Spectre have included some options to let you up armour your vehicle.

By default, the core vehicle comes with lightly armoured doors moulded into the chassis. These doors have lots of detail on them and look pretty great, even down to the towing hooks needed if the doors are jammed shut. In most cases, these doors should be pretty great. The only comment – these doors are flat sided which means that a basic level of armour is on them. They are very much designed for post 9/11 and onwards. Depending on your local group, you might have a few people pulling faces if they turn up in early ’90s Somalia.

However, if you are rolling into serious trouble, you might want to invest in the more heavily armoured doors. There are two version available:

  • Door Armour Alfa (left) upgrades covers the windows, making them bulletproof while still able to open for troops inside to shoot out of.
  • Door Armour Bravo (right) covers more of the door making it more resistant to damage although it does prevent the troops inside from shooting out

As much as I like these additions to the vehicles, I did find the doors troublesome when removing from the excess material. There wasn’t a major cut off point visible to say “this is model” and “this is flash”, leading to some irregular edges and some overzealous trimming. It might be a case of me using the wrong tool for the job so I recommend being careful, otherwise you’ll be hanging some damaged armour off the side.

Turret Options

Of course, the other major feature on these Humvees is the turret on the top. As wargamers, this is probably the most important detail for us – we need to know what heavy weapons we’re rolling in to games with! The main common fact is that these turrets all have the usual notch that all the Spectre modern weapons fit into. I haven’t managed to run a full test of all the weapons to see what fit but it’s safe to say most of the sensible ones will work just fine.

All of these turrets are quite light, with only a thin ring to attach to the vehicle rather the plug some other companies use. I’d recommend being very careful when moving vehicles around off the table, lest the turret drops off and onto the floor. Adding a crew figure and some other upgrades should help to rebalance them. Speaking of crew, the distance between turret ring and the “floor” of the turret section is relatively short so expect the crew to be trimmed slightly, probably at the knees. Also, several pictures on the Spectre website show a plug covering up the turret ring. This is currently unavailable but may be released soon if you’re wanting to make a more civilian looking 4×4.

Final point, be careful when accessorizing your vehicle – positioning certain upgrades (like smoke grenade launchers) may stop the larger turrets from swinging freely.

Turret Ring

Included in the base variant, the turret ring is super simple to set up, with only two parts (turret ring and hatch). The hatch design is common across all the turrets and although it doesn’t close completely (the front half of the hatch is moulded onto the other half) you can still assemble it buttoned up or open.

Turret Alfa

Building on the turret ring is Turret Alfa, including a half height armoured panel and a gun shield. The gun shield fits onto the rest of the turret really easily with a big solid bar and socket. I also mounted the basic M2 .50cal – although it’s not designed for the half circle mount like the more recent guns, it has plenty of resin to bond to.

Turret Bravo

For proper armoured protected, Turret Bravo is the way to go. Based on the OGPK kit, this system has bullet resistant glass in both the gun shield and protective turret, giving the gunner both protection and visibility.

For this turret I added the SF version of the M2. As you can see, the under weapon light makes it a quite tight fit with the armour shield but as you can see – it looks pretty beefy.


All this analysing is cool but what am I doing with my vehicles? I haven’t yet got round to painting or adding the stowage (that will come later in the series) so for now, here are my first two Humvees.

Vehicle 1 is the first of what will be at least a pair of “Patrol” Humvees. This style is probably the most common in use and can stand in for pretty much any force. The Patrol Humvees will probably end up wheeling around US Army or Marine troops, especially if I get round to playing some of the Skirmish Sangin scenarios I’d previously avoided due to lack of Humvee. Similarly, the turret I built with it is all about being the most used setup I’ll go to.

Vehicle 2 is expanding out the SOF vehicles I have in my collection, giving them something a bit sturdier than the RZR or Technicals. It’s using both Upgrade Bravo and Charlie which, combined with the armoured doors, make it perfect for getting into the midst of the action and dropping off the assaulters on the X.

The original plan was to mount a minigun in either the turret or the rear section but due to stock issues I settled on the SF M2 in the turret (also a test to see if the two extremes of large weapon and massive turret would work) and one of the M240s from the twin GPMG mounts. The idea was to make it look like a proper mount and more like one of the troops had put their own MMG in place for the ride in before dismounting it later. I also placed it close to the spare tyre, working off the idea that it will provide a little cover. This is a vehicle that will definitely need a lot of extra stowage added to it.


Of course, no vehicle is ever used by itself so I’m going to do the photo comparisons and talk a little about cross compatibility.

EDIT: I realised that I missed out a photo showing off the vehicle compared to infantry figures. Here is the Spectre Humvee with a Empress SEAL (WIP) and a Spectre Ranger.

Can’t have a new release without some comparison shots. First up we’re looking at the Spectre vehicles, in particular the SF set. As you can see the Humvee is massive compared to the RZR and still chunkier than the Technical.

Looking at another Humvee available, you can see the Empress and Spectre vehicles are pretty similar from a distance. Up close, the Spectre vehicle is slightly larger, both in length and width. The M-ATV continues to dominate over all comers.

Speaking of other makers how do the Spectre parts compare? Well I’m not sure I’m rushing to replace all my turrets just yet. The Empress turret rings are slightly larger and, although the Spectre turrets fit and mostly cover up the hole, it’s not quite as smooth as the original. However, this could be easily fixed with some plasti-card.

Going the other way, I think the Empress vehicle crew will work well but you will need to build a floor up for them as they are cut off at the waist and maybe a little too short for your liking.


So after a first look, what do I think of the range? Well, the HMV set is the set to get if you want the most detailed Humvees currently on the market. Apart from a few minor issues (and those flipping doors) everything was really easy to get out, clean up and build. The end results look great, and I can’t wait to break out the paint and get them on the table. It would have been nice if all the weapon systems had been in stock on release day and a few new crew figures would have sweetened the deal. I’m interested to see what is coming next for this range – hopefully extra weapon systems (like a MK19 for the less SOF looking teams) or maybe a few smaller weapons (like a PKM or a M107 on pintle mount) ready for mounting in the back of the Bravo upgrade.

NEXT UP

That aside, what’s coming next in Project Humvee? Step one is going to be looking at adding the stowage and getting painting on these vehicles. Next month I’ll also be picking up some more turrets (and hopefully crew for them) to give me all the options I might want. I’ll also be picking up two more vehicles to build. One will be the other Patrol Humvee but I haven’t decided what to do with the last one.

Some people have made some really cool mothership Humvees laden down with cargo for other vehicles but I’m tempted to go a little more “Middle Eastern Militia” with my fourth vehicle. Battlefield 3 has a really cool DLC called Aftermath which included some jury rigged vehicles. The Humvee based system, the Phoenix, has a MK19 launcher in a forward facing turret in the back of the vehicle so I may work from this and create something suitably bodged. I’m going to have a think, but keep your eyes open for more updates from Project Humvee coming soon!

Empress Mercenaries Pack 1

Although most modern wargamers take inspiration from current events, it’s fair to say it’s not the sole jumping off point. Games, TV, books and film all play a part in whetting the appetite for wargaming. Empress have noticed this and decided to give us a group of four mercenaries inspired by a certain group of films focused. As someone who plays really small scale games, adding a few outlandish characters was something that just had to happen and I picked them up.

Of course, when painting up more characterful figures, you really need to find a way to fit them into your games in a bigger way than just some standard profiles. Seeing as I’m already writing a setting with multiple PMCs, adding a few hired guns to be hired when things go wrong made perfect sense. I also decided to change up their pant schemes – although all kit black looks classicly cool, and Typhoon camo is a neat design I really didn’t feel like painting them in the same style as their onscreen counterparts. Instead, I went for the same plan as my other mercs – solid colours.

This rear shot shows off some of the extra kit each of these guys is wearing such as various knives and sidearms. A great bit of detail and possible jumping off points for ingame rules to make these guys feel like real heroes.


Kruger

Ex-American Special Forces, veteran of several operations in Val Verde. Keen interest in politics.

I really like this guy – but then again, I say that about anyone wielding an AA12. Combine this models height with the calm, shotgun held at the waist pose and you’ve got the perfect merc to slowly advance down the street while you make the slow “CHUNK CHUNK CHUNK” sounds of the automatic shotgun.

Cortez

The polite term for Cortez is eccentric. But he brings a surprising amount of agility and luck to a team despite his ways and advancing age. His other nickname is Zorro.

Another cool sculpt of someone not quite wearing the usual amount of kit. I could see this guy ending up actually with the various insurgents or pirates thanks to his slapdash and low profile look. Obviously his 416 was “borrowed” from somewhere.

Weaver

American Special Forces veteran, recently returned from a contract in Myanmar. Keen boxer.

Well you couldn’t do the team without the big boss. AS well as the pimped M4 in his hands, he has two pistol holsters on his legs and a big old knife behind his back. The crest on his beret showed up really well despite only painting it in the single colour and then washing. Much like Cortez, I could see this guy being used among the pirates/insurgents as a leader figure.

Bishop

Former Royal Marine, expert in knives and guns. Weaver’s right hand man.

Probably the most useful of the figure, thanks to his uniform – paint it in camo and you’ve got a great figure to act as a trainer for the ANA or other forces. Not sure how you’d explain the knives to the CO but it could be useful when trying to mentor troops on the table top


Commando Global Solutions contractors and local support in Bazi City during the Marketplace Incident

As you’d expect from Empress, these are some really nice sculpts. You can easily see the inspiration when you pick them up and the level of detail is great as usual. When you spot the double holsters or the pair of knives, its obvious that the sculptor really did study the inspiration well and brought over the kit that makes the characters stand out.

The real question now, will we be seeing any more of the crew? Perhaps a Swedish Grenadier or an American with half an ear and a SAW. Heck we might even get the young bloods seeing as this group are all wearing kit from the finale of that film. I’m excited to see what else Empress releases that isn’t quite 100% historical.

You may have noticed I’m trying something new with the images – doing some post production work on them (i.e. trimming off the excess around the photo). I think it shows the models off better but does reveal all the little bit. What do you guys think – prefer images this style or the wider shot? Tell me in the comments below!

Technicals – High Speed, High Calibre

One of the more interesting systems you’ll see on technicals is the use of anti-aircraft guns. Requiring a bit more engineering work than a simple PKM or a HMG (unless you want to flip your vehicle) these AAA guns are pretty useful to an irregular force seeing as they are able to easily engage a whole host of targets from infantry to light armoured vehicles to helicopters and aircraft. Spectre have three of these weapons in their range and I’ve finally got round to finishing them off.

Pedestal

A common element of all the AAA weapons is the square pedestal mount. When it arrives from Spectre, each of the four legs has a slight cut out so it fits into the slots in the cargo bed. This makes sure that it gets a proper fit when glued into place. However, with me wanting to hot-swap the elements, this locator lug would probably start ripping through the paintwork. So, as with all my other weapons, I decided to mount on plasti-card pieces

I have three pedestals (one for each of the guns) – for two of them I simply cut out the usual “I” shape out of plasti-card so it fits around the wheel arches. For the final pedestal though, I had something else in mind.

Chopped Pedestal

By default, you can fit the pedestals into the cargo bay of the Technical Bravo chassis by either sticking it on top of the cargo bay or by trimming the legs and sliding it into position. However, both these options are pretty permanent. For hot swapping, I had to do something else. The plan was to cut down the pedestal to fit inside the cargo bay while still having a method to lift it out when changing weapons.

Unfortunately, my cutting wasn’t as precise as perhaps it should have been and so made a bit of a mess. Worse, the trimmed legs ended up not fitting correctly as I had worked off the wrong height for the wheel arches. So I had to re-do it; The intact legs would now rest on the wheel arch while a plasticard framework would hold up the other end. Overall it’s a cheap nasty fix but seeing as I’m close to finishing this project I kind of just wanted to get them done.

As you can see the it works pretty well, with most of the bad construction hidden by the cargo bed. It does mean I can’t mount all three weapons on Technical Alphas but it’s unlikely I’d be using all three of the heavy guns without having access to a Technical Bravo chassis.

ZPU-2

The ZPU-2 is a two barreled version of the 14.5mm KPV machine gun I mentioned in one of the earlier posts. The dual mounting upgrades it with proper anti-aircraft sights and large boxes for each gun to feed from. As you can see above, when it first arrives, there are plenty of pieces to put together. The main thing is getting the central section around the gun barrels and on the base and then work up from there.

Once assembled, the painting was pretty simple. I worked up from various metal shades before topping off with the usual Russian green. I painted the figure up while assembled although I can definitely see the advantage of painting him separately.

ZPU-4

If the two barreled version wasn’t nasty enough, the four barreled variant is designed to get as many rounds as possible down range in a short amount of time. With two massive ammo caskets on either side feeding each barrel and firing 4x the fire rate of a single gun, this is a nightmare to go up against in Spectre and other games.

I covered the basics in the first technicals post so I’ll focus on the painted side. Its the same process as the other Russian guns – metal and Russian uniform. Unlike the other guns, this one has a gunner already attached to the main body of the mounting.

ZU-23

The ZPU works by getting lots of rounds on target. The ZU-23 works by getting rounds on target that cause massive damage to whatever they hit. Rather than slinging the 14.5mm round, this dual barreled auto-cannon fires 23mm rounds with a variety of ammo types such as high explosive and armour-piercing. In game, this makes it very effective against groups of infantry and can even damage light armour and APCs. A real danger to most modern forces.

As with the ZPU-4, this was covered in the initial post back in 2017. One point I didn’t mention is that I seem to be missing the AA sight that sits in front of the gunner – luckily with these being for insurgents it’s easy to imagine it was snapped off at some point. Painting up was similar to the other AA guns.

THE END?

The AA guns are another way to help give the Insurgents a bit more firepower and increase the challenge for the more regular forces. A quad HMG or auto-cannon can really wreck a squad’s day, forcing them to actually use cover and smoke to prevent being caught in the open. It also gives the militia something that can take out vehicles with a bit more reliability than poorly trained troops popping up and firing RPGs. Finally, much like the improvised weapons from last week, these are also something that screams “militia” – they look gloriously ragged on the back of the pickups.

And we these finished, I have now painted up at least one of every weapon system offered by Spectre for their technicals. I’d say at this point, this is the final main Project Technical entry. From working away on these posts, I hope I’ve shown off what you can do with the range, from the conversion to add a PKM gunner for the MENA Regulars up to the heavily laden SF technicals and their massive selection of weapon systems. I’ve now got a nice selection of weapons that I can easily jump into most scenarios and pick out which weapons I want to use depending on the situation at hand. It also means that, I think, I can now fill a board with vehicles.

The real question is what modelling project to work on next. If only there was another range of modular vehicles coming soon to form a project I could really sink my teeth into…

Technicals – Bravo Equipment

Ah, time to go back to old faithful. It’s safe to say that writing about pickups with guns has been pretty successful so far. This time, I’m taking a look at three new pieces of gear designed for the more modern of the technical models offered by Spectre, Technical Bravo. The Bravo has a much smaller cargo bed than the Alpha which can make mounting certain weapons (like the rocket pod) very hard. With some careful planning though, you can use this disadvantage to make some really cool weapon setups. Here are three that work best on the Bravo chassis, all purchased from Spectre Miniatures.


ZPU-1

The ZPU is a 14.5mm HMG usually used for AA purposes. Spectre sell three variants using this gun, from the quad version down to this single gun.

When it arrives, it comes 4 pieces; the gun, tripod, gunner and seats. The gunner figure actually has a seat built in making it easier to assemble. If you don’t mount the seat, the gun can freely turn on the central pivot.

Assembly was simple but took a little bit longer than expected. A bit of force was needed to line up all the pieces so the gunner had his feet on the footbars. When building the hot-swap base, I had to add some extra height – this was so the gun would clear the rear gate on all vehicles when it was closed, letting me use it on all the vehicles and not just the three that have lowered gates.

And there we are done. Obviously this gun is only going to cover the rear arc, but it might end up being pretty handy covering the rear of a convoy or setting up for a hit and run ambush. HMGs are pretty handy in every game for both infantry and vehicles and the 14.5mm ZPU can be really nasty.


SPG-9

A recoiless rifle designed for killing armoured vehicles, the SPG-9 is common sight around the world. From skiffs off Somalia, to fighting positions in the Ukraine to the back of technicals almost everywhere, these weapons are a step up from the RPG. Although not quite as powerful as the M40, it’s still no push over.

When it arrives from Spectre, the SPG-9 comes in two pieces – the launch tube and the low profile tripod. This setup is great for a stationary support weapon (and is perfect for some of their crew figures like Echo and Delta) but limits it’s use on vehicles. So I decided to use some spare bits (the stand from one of the M2 .50cals I used on my Empress humvees) and built a slightly higher mount.

Luckily the bottom pin on the SPG 9 fits perfectly into the top of the stand. After gluing, I added some green stuff to add some support. However, to prevent it breaking, I also used a Crew Alpha figure to help support it. I also added a Crew Echo figure (seeing as I hadn’t used one in my collection so far) to help balance the weight and prevent it toppling over during gameplay. You can also see here that I originally planned this as a full-size weapon system. However, I soon realised I could clip the base in half and tweak the wings to turn it into one that would fit on both types of vehicle.

Here it is mounted up and ready to go. This weapon system actually fits in different directions depending on the vehicle – on Bravo it faces forward but, due to the height of the mount it only faces backwards when used on Alpha (meaning that the crew cabin would get wiped out if fired in this setup). No matter how it’s setup, it’s going to be a cool way to give the insurgents some AT firepower without wheeling in the Heavy Ammunition in the form of the M40 and TOW.


MENA Regulars PKM

The final item has already been teased in the MENA Regulars impression. Designed to give the Bazistan Army some backup before their Humvees arrive, a pickup mounted PKM should give some good covering firing and give an opportunity for some simple conversion work.

When I built my SF weapons, I used the high mounts for all the weapons leaving me with a pile of smaller but structurally stable looking weapon mounting positions. By combining this with the PKM gunner, a simple vehicle mounted system could be made. There was only one problem – the PKM figure is really leaning into the gun. So to make sure it actually fitted on the base and attached to the mount in front of the box mag, the gunner had to on a slant. Additionally, I had to put the pintle as far forward as possible. Without some tweaks it still didn’t fit correctly. In the end, I trimmed flat the front side. This means on Technical Bravo it looks like pintle is partially bolted into the back of the cab but can be a bit strange on Alpha.

Once assembled, it was looking good. Unfortunately, putting the crewman on the slant shifted the centre of weight making it likely to fall off the back when moved. To correct this, I added one of the boxes from the stowage pack and painted it green, ready to stow all the loose belts of 7.62x54mmR for the gunner to grab.

Finally here is the end product. The crewman and weapon are painted up in the same style as the rest of my MENA Regulars while the mounting pole was the usual metallic paint plus some roughly applied green paint. Overall I’m really happy with how this guy turned out – it’s going to be great putting him on a normal technical and rolling alongside the SF Technicals or Humvees in convoy.


Conclusion

That’s three more weapons for me to pick from when assembling a group of technicals. The fact they work great on the both technical models really opens up the types of forces I can make, expanding the options available (which is kind of the point of the whole project). As with all Spectre technical bits, there is a really nice level of detail on all the parts and it was great fun assembling, converting and painting them up. Keep your eyes open for when I wheel them out of the armoury.

And speaking of armoury, here is how the options currently stand. From the Insurgent heavy weapons to the SF options to the piles of kit, I’m really happy with how the whole hot-swappable system has been working. I’m actually looking at what else I can add to the technicals using this setup for other purposes, like water tanks or covered cargo bays. I might even add a few more weapon systems in there.

Keep your eyes on the site for another Technical Project article coming soon and focusing on the last weapon systems I currently need to paint – the AA guns!