Range Impression: Empress US Army Infantry

When going back to do my Range Impression on the Empress SAS, I found myself delving into the release history of Empress. Which of course reminded me of their second release set, the US Army Infantry. Having just finished the Strykers, now seemed the perfect time to get the last couple of figures finished and take a look at this range.

The range of figures is designed to represent US Army Infantry around 2010. Weapons are M4s for most, with M249 SAWs and M203 UGLs to extend your firepower. As you’d expect, these are the usual Empress style, with four figures in a pack and mostly separate heads. The heads included in the packs are wearing ACH helmet (some with additional light units) with some also wearing eye protection. There are also a pack of heads with monocular NVGs if you want the alternative look for doing business after dark.

You may notice a few of these guys are not wearing their issue helmets and have instead have donned MICH and high cut helmets (sourced from the US Rangers collection). Now, I must admit the addition of these may be partially down to playing a lot of Modern Warfare 2; I really like the combination of kit and just had to add the variation to my force. It also makes it easier to pick out specific figures on the battlefield.

Painting wise, I went for the UCP look. The technique I ended up using was designed to be super quick  while still being effective at communicating the look, in particular of well used kit. The end result is not as crisp as it could be but (like most of my painting) I think does the job and gets them ready for the tabletop.


Team 1 shows off a fireteam on patrol. They have a good mix of guns, including a M4/M203, M249 SAW and even a M14-derived DMR. The pose are all great for troops at the start of an engagement or moving alongside a vehicle.

And then there is the flipping team leader who seems to have become entirely jaded with the concept of being in the middle of a tiny firefight and is instead enjoying a smoking break. I can see the point of including this figure in the pack (especially for those wanting to build dioramas) but he does look a little out of place in the battle. Even if I’m not a fan of him, he does fit in with the rest of his squad.

Team 2 is another fireteam. However these guys do not have the DMR backup but are instead posed as if they are moving under fire. There are also some nice details such as the pelvic plate on one of the figures.

The final fire team pack has the team engaging. The grenadier and rifleman are aiming down sights while the Automatic Rifleman and team leader are preparing to get into the fight. As with all the figures, there is a nice variation in terms of webbing gear based on the role.

Pack 4 gives you a few extra figures perfect for more command roles. These can be either used as attachments to to a squad (with one figure being the squad leader) or as a separate command element. The two riflemen could be either an officer or NCO while the two specialists (medic with kit bag and radio operator with aerial sticking up behind his head) are perfect for bring some force multipliers to the battlefield.

The first support pack is really designed for guys that are perfect for fitting into your squad. The AT rifleman (with M4 stashed on the ground) is just what’s needed for destroying light armour or wrecking enemy positions. The shooting DMR rifleman is a great replacement for the rifleman in a squad, especially if you need to reach out and touch the bad guys. Finally, the pack includes two figures (as well as belts of ammo) designed to form a M240 team when you need to create your base of fire for an assault.

As an aside, I decided to replace the AT4 with one from the Spectre vehicle stowage pack to make it look a little closer to other AT4 users in my collection. Having done the conversion, I’m not 100% sure it’s needed but it’s a relatively easy upgrade.

If the main support pack isn’t hard enough for you, then this pack really lets you go across the board and cause havoc before the enemy get into main combat range. The four figures are split into two teams – a marksman team with a M110 rifle (or something similar) for long range infantry work and a Javelin ATGM for blasting hard targets (or maybe a tank if one turns up)

A great addition with this pack is just how much kit is included to really add to the bases. Both sets include enough M4s for the crew to return fire with their small arms. I also really like discarded helmet for the Javelin gunner.

The last pack is a bit of special one. Perhaps inspired by a certain film, this three man pack gives you an EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) team. Two riflemen provide covering fire while the third figure is in his bomb suit ready for the long walk. I love this pack – it’s a great set of characters and is perfect for setting up a different style of game.

A great other use is if you only want to build a single squad. Two packs (chosen from team 1 – 3) and this EOD pack give you a full squad with one additional rifleman. Perfect for building on a budget.


If you are looking for US Army Infantry, this range is pretty good. Some equipment has changed (more people would probably be wearing kneepads and the helmets have been slightly tweaked) and you’ll need to be painting them in Multicam rather than UCP but they are still worth picking up. The US Army has been pretty prolific so would be perfect for anywhere from Eastern Europe to the sands of Iraq to the mountains of Afghanistan.

So what would I add? As with any regular forces, you can never have too many variations – another pack of infantry would be a neat addition and let you build up two squads using pack 1 – 3, the EOD pack and an additional one. The only other thing missing from this range (compared to the US Marines or the Brits) is a lack of heavy support weapons like the .50cal and MK19. That said, if you’re willing to work on it I’m sure you could do the conversion work with what is currently available.

If you’re wanting your own US Infantry force, you can pick them up from Empress here.

If you’d like some heavy metal to help out your US Army guys, you’re going to need some vehicle crew. I took a look at the dismounted US vehicle crew in a post last year.

Empress stocks several other ranges of US Infantry for different groups. If you’d prefer devil dogs and suppression through accuracy with the M27 (or maybe you just want massive 13 man squads), the USMC range is pretty comprehensive. If you prefer special operations, there are several small packs of US SOF teams (for both Army and Navy) as well as a comprehensive range of US Rangers. Expect to see articles on all of them soon as I work my way through the lead pile.

Impressions: Empress Bundeswehr

Empress releasing a new range in their modern collection is a pretty major event, especially when it introduces something entirely brand new. Going for the all in approach, a new range gives you plenty of toys to get ready for the tabletop. Earlier this year, just before Salute, they finally released one of their most anticipated ranges. First teased at the end of the Empress Kickstarter back in July 2013, the German Bundeswehr is now available from their website.

These Germans are also not your standard 2000’s era Afghan ground pounder (if you’re wanting them, Eureka have a suitable range). Instead, Empress has gone with these incredibly modern looking guys equipped with the IdZ system, a product of the German Future Soldier program. You can see this throughout their gear, from the Ops core helmets with vision systems to various details on the G36s (such as new stocks, optics and laser units). As you’d expect, all the figures in the range are the usual Empress quality and sculpting style. The figures do come with detachable heads of varying styles (no vision system, NVGs and heads up displays) and separate heads are available if you want to equip all your soldiers with the same type.

Empress notes on its website that the packs give you 6 man fire-teams by combining Pack 1 and either Pack 2/Pack 3. This number roughly matches up to dismounts for the Puma IFV but there is nothing to stop them represent foot troops or those using other German Army vehicles.

Pack 1

The first pack is your command and support pack. This has two Team Leaders (armed with the G36) and two Light Machine Gunners (equipped with the new MG4). Much like the other two packs, the figures are split into advancing and engaging poses. The pack does include one of my wargaming pet peeves (a prone figure not part of a support weapons team) but thanks to the MG4’s short length you can just about fit him on a standard size base. On the other hand, it’s rather cool to see one of the team leaders holding an optical viewer up to his eye, showing him taking advantage of the IdZ system.

Pack 2

The first fire team is posed advancing on patrol, with weapons held relatively low. The team has a selection of weapons, including a Panzerfaust 3 AT weapon (complete with optic) and UGL. Every soldier also has a G36, with an optical sights and lasers.

Pack 3

Fire Team 2 is posed engaging (or preparing to engage) the enemy. Weapon loadout is the same as Pack 2, except that the AT gunner in this squad is equipped with an MP7 SMG rather than a full-sized assault rifle.

Pack 4

Every new range needs support packs and the first of them gives the some anti-armour/anti-bunker support in the form of the MILAN ATGM. It’s a nice change from the Javelin featured in many of Empress’s other forces. It’s also nice that the pack includes a MP7 for the assistant to use (great for systems where weapon teams can still engage with personal weapons). The Milan also

I had a bit of difficulty trying to get the crew figures to line up properly on the launcher. Eventually, I unfortunately managed to break the legs off the tripod so it’s now operating in an incredibly low profile mode (with one of the gunners covering up the most damaged leg). I’d recommend taking your time assembling it, rather than trying to rush it, and to dry fit all the parts.

Pack 5

In a fantastic case of “Something Old, Something New”, the last pack in the range gives you a three-man MG3 team, with the venerable weapon design on a tripod many WW2 players will quickly recognise. This Feldlafette tripod actually lets the team fire the gun from the prone position thanks to the optical periscope system. The pack comes with three figures – the team leader is directing the team (and could be used as part of a foot patrol), the assistant is feeding the belt of ammo (while carrying a MP7) while the gunner is adjusting the elevation of the tripod. I had a bit of fun trying to fit the team on my standard weapon team base, leading to the unusual positions you see above.

As with the MILAN I found this a little fiddly to assemble. I’d really recommend taking your time assembling it, especially if you want to prevent it being slightly tilted.

Painting

This is my first time painting Germans so I had to work out how on earth to paint their camo up. Seeing as I play mostly in desert settings, I went look for how best to paint Tropentarn. Luckily, Eureka has a guide (including Vallejo colours) for both temperate and desert flecktarn. In order to reduce complexity, and seeing as I end all my paint jobs with a copious amount of Agrax Earthshade, I decided to tweak it slightly:

Base Colour: Vallejo Game Colour 34 Bone white
Green: Vallejo Model Colour 894 Cam Olive Green
Brown: Vallejo Model Colour 818 Red Leather

The process was base colour, large dots of Green and Brown and then cover up slightly with smaller dots of the base colour. This give the impression of the camo without it being dominated by the pattern. I’m also not sure the colours are 100% correct but it provides the right look (as well as being different from any of the other nations I’ve painted so far.

Conclusion

Overall this is a pretty different release. It’s a strange blend of old and new, combining old kit like the MILAN and MG3 with the ultramodern elements of future soldier program. It’s great to get some ultramodern Germans, providing an alternative to the older Eureka figures. It also gives the Empress Leopard 2 some dismounts to escort it. It’s also great to have some G36 equipped bodies. These could be a great jumping off point for some conversion work as a whole host of nations use the G36.

Aside from my usual comments about my cack handed lack of fine motor functions in regards to the finely detailed Empress support weapons, my only other comment is that a pack of additional patrol suitable support weapons would have been a nice addition to the range. A pair of guys with the G28 DMR or G22 rifle would be handy for giving some long-range punch while a version of the MG3 or the new MG5 MMG on the move would give some additional fire support for a patrol. We’ll have to keep an eye on the future to see what Empress get up to.

If you want to pick up your own German Infantry for fighting the Russians or training the ANP in Afghanistan, you can find them on the Empress website.

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.

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!

Impressions: Spectre MENA Regulars

It’s safe to say that most ultramodern games will probably end up with high tech Western forces up against irregulars. However, sometimes you’ll need some more uniform looking MENA forces to either act as the OPFOR or to act the role of the locals being advised or assisted. At Salute, Spectre released their first wave of MENA Regulars and I just had to pick them up.

The release goes for the classic look of these forces, with the combination of PASGAT helmet, body armour and Russian weaponry. There are three packs available, with a six figure squad set armed with assault rifles and two support packs. There is a nice variety of poses for a squad in combat (with a combination of shooting and moving under fire). As you’d expect from Spectre, there is a really nice level of detail to the squad; things like different types of body armour and a variety of AK patterns (including some with folding stocks) help to make the squad look a little better equipped than their militia opponents while not quite being up to the same level as their Western advisers/opponents.

For painting, I went for the classic 3 colour desert camo along with green body armour and helmets. I used a few slightly different shades of green for the armour and helmets (although its hard to see on the final models) which was then dusted with Medium Grey to make it look a bit dustier. The desert camo is a little different from other models as I made the Camo Beige splodges slightly bigger than I have previously. I quite like painting this camo as it’s relatively easy with only three steps and simple shapes.

As well as the main squad, the first release includes two support weapons – an RPG gunner and PKM machine-gunner to help deal threats that the normal squad can’t.

As a little bit of extra firepower, and after seeing the pose on the gunner, I realised that this squad could do with some mobile backup. For this reason, I built up a technical weapon using some bits box elements and the base template I’ve used on previous weapon systems. I’ll go into more details in a future post (as well as looking at other weapons designed for Technical Bravo) but I’m happy with how it came out. It will also be a nice backup for other Bazistan Army vehicles.

Of course, you may already have some troops for your MENA Army. Eureka and Empress also produce figures in similar kit. As you can see above the sizing is pretty close. Although the Eureka figure is a little on the small size, the helmet and gun are still to scale. Overall, I wouldn’t have any problems using them together (for example when you need the whole Bazistan Army).


Bazistan Army troops (accompanied by Bazistan SF elements) engage an opposing militia on the streets of Bazi City

So what do I think of these guys? I really like them! They have Spectre’s usual high quality with great poses and detail and are perfect for any less well equipped nations – I’d even be tempted to use them for nations outside of the MENA region such as African Forces. Apart from one guy with a slightly elongated neck, my only other comment is this group could be a little too uniform if you were wanting some really crap Indigenous Forces. However, this won’t be a problem for long – from talking to the Spectre guys, we’ll be seeing more MENA regulars coming soon with different weapons and kit. I’m really looking forward to getting these guys on the table.

Impressions: Project Z Spec Ops

As a rule, most modern wargaming figures are either metal or resin. Due to the relative niche amount of interest in ultramodern wargaming, it’s never really made financial sense to release plastic multi-part kits. There is however one place where a modern wargamer may find some suitable figures. Of course, it’s inside the subject matter that always sells, the genre that has a habit of spreading.. like a virus. Zombies.

Project Z, Warlord Games’s entry into the zombie market, contains several kits of multi-part plastic figures designed to give you the widest option for assembling your gang of survivors. I’m going to look at one of them which seems the most interesting for gamers looking to build military forces, the Special Operations Team. From researching, these plastic kits were originally from Wargames Factory; the Special Ops frame was one that didn’t quite make it out the door before Warlord bought and repackaged the entire range.

Alongside the Project Z specific components, the box contains one pack of 10 bases and a single sprue of operators, with enough bodies and legs to make 8 operators in total. The frame has a quite large number of weapons included (both attached to arms and unattached), giving you a wide variety of options. As well as the classic M4 and AK families, there are also weapons for the Chinese and British. For a bit of extra kick there is also a combat shotgun, what’s supposed to be an AT4 and an RPG (both in the hand and stowed alongside some extra rounds). All the parts are nicely moulded, showing off all the little details on the guns such as rail sections and various attachments. On the other hand, the plastic is super soft and I managed to bend almost all the barrels when cutting them off the sprue. Although I like the sheer variety of guns, it does mean you don’t have enough combined arms and weapons to make a full 8 man team with the same style of weapon – you’ll either need to make two small teams or be willing to do some additional cutting up.

The sprue includes some other handy details. There is a nice selection of heads with multiple types of helmets (US Army ACH and British Army Mk6 ish), balaclavas, bandanas and boonie hats. You can also add some extra details to make the squad look even more operator with NVG monoculars, belt mounted stowage and pelvic armour. There is even a block of C4 and some assembled IEDs for base detail or creating ingame markers.

For all the positives, things get worse when you start actually building the guys. All the bodies share the same basic design (hydration bladder and plate carrier) with different shoulder positions designed for different arm/weapon combinations. There is a fancy guide available from Warlord for showing which arms go with which bodies. Documentation is nice but there seems to be a miscalculation in terms of arm sets. There seems to only be one of most of the lettered arms which can leave the second round of guys to be left with the more unusual arms. Combined with the limited leg options, this can lead to some really strange poses.

After a relatively quick construction process (complete with plenty of frowning) and a painting sprint, here are the finished models. As I was losing my interest in them, I decided to go with the quick and dirty single colour clothing schemes covered up with some washes. Due to some of the issues I had with the parts, I had to create two themed four man teams rather than building one full size squad.

Team 1 is done in a Western look, with AR15 pattern weapons and a combat shotgun. For all of these, I used the ACH heads (except for the mandatory “marksman in boonie”) and added the crotch armour and extra stowage. Tan armour and weapon details offset the green of the clothing.

For Team 2, I went for a more Russian/Irregular look with the AK variants and a RPG ready to go. As an opposition to the tan tinged Westerns, these guys are all in greens and blacks. I’ll admit, I quite like the RPG gunner. With some arm tweaks he looks like he is ready to pop out and take down a vehicle or two.

And of course, here is the classic “new figure range” comparison. From left to right: Empress recent, Empress older, Warlord Games, Eureka, Spectre


Honestly, I don’t think I’ve bought a set so far that I’ve hated the process of making as much as I did working. There is definitely some good points about this set but between some of the design decisions and the soft plastic bending left right and centre really soured me on the box. The main thing though is that, apart from pieces for conversion work, the set gives you nothing you can’t get from other manufacturers at better quality.

If you really, really want some plastic modern troopers (or need some of the guns for conversion work) I’d skip this box. Instead, you can buy four figure frames directly from Warlord. I get the feeling that (with the limited arm selection) this was how the sprue was meant to be sold before being redesigned. I still don’t think it will solve the posing problems but it does give you a few more options. On the other hand, if you play Project Z, the main box does include the cards and extra details you’d need.

If you’re reading this on release day (13/04/2018) or while catching a ride to London on the following day, I’m going to be at Salute in London on the 14/04/2018. I’m always happy to meet and talk with anyone who reads my site, so keep your eyes open for the bag shown in Monday’s Wargaming Week