To say I have an interest in Black Powder Red Earth is putting things mildly. I think it’s an incredible series that, despite having a few issues with the pacing sometimes, details the activities of a PMC named Cold Harbor operating in international hotspots, all detailed in a striking (and sometimes very unpleasant) art style. It feels unlike any other comic book, presenting a realistic take on the world packed full of action and operators operating operationally.
More importantly, I love the look of these operators. Equipped to the nines with the latest military kit, their faces covered by bandannas, these guys look operators. Hearing that Spectre had managed to sign an agreement with Echelon Software to bring these guys to the wargaming table made me very happy indeed.
The first pack represents several operators from Ember team, a force shown in the Black Powder Red Earth Yemen series. This set includes 6 operators, all equipped with heavily modified 5.56 carbines. As someone who has an interest in all the latest gear (such is the curse of the airsofter) it was easy to spot that these guys are covered in all the latest and greatest kit. The carbines are decked out with parts that you may recognise if you have been on the BCM website recently, including cool details like offset red dot sights alongside short dot scopes or upgraded stocks and rail kits. The operators themselves, over their civilian clothing, have Haley Strategic rigs and belts. Even their side arms, a tiny detail, are setup like they are in the comics, in custom holsters and with red dots on their slides.
It’s important to note that this pack includes the NOD sprue – you don’t need to buy additional packs unless you want to swap some of the two tubes out for the panoramic versions (maybe your operators got a particularly well paying client this time).
As with all these Spectre figures, the posing is one of the unique features that sets them out from other manufacturers. This pack has a neat variation in terms of poses with two in the firing pose, two in the rapid movement and the last two readying up. Out of all of them though, I really have to say I’m a fan of the guy using his backup optics (pictured here in his red shirt). However, all of them look as cool and dynamic as expected.
It’s well worth looking at the selection of operators currently available from Spectre and showing off the different options each of them provides.
From left to right:
US Rangers – Much more uniform look. Everyone wearing the same uniform with similar kit
Task Force Operators – Varied style of uniform and equipment. Everything from full-sized plate carriers down to low profile chest rigs. Also the widest selection of weapons and poses
Ember Team – Civilian clothing mixed with a very specific set of gear and weaponry
Tier 1 Operators – Military-style clothing (can be painted as camo or plain colours), a wide selection of modern weapon systems, chest rigs and soft headgear.
SWAT – Older style of kit and weapon however still pretty uniform.
Painting wise, I decided to set these guys up as the QRF for my other Tier 1 guys, having stopped long enough to grab their helmets and NODs before going out on the street. As part of this, these guys were once again treated to the irregular force painting scheme I’ve used before, By picking a small number of colours and making sure each is used in different locations on a few models, it helps to make the team look a little more unified. With these operators, there was also a third region (as well as the shirt and trousers) with the bandannas to populate and I’m pretty happy with the overall look.
So what do I think? Well, I think Spectre has done a fantastic job of capturing the style of the Ember team operators. These guys look exactly like the team from the comics, and if you go hard on the original scheme you could make some really impressive looking models.
If your warzone doesn’t include Cold Harbor, then these guys would still be ideal for any number of heavily armed and well trained groups, from private military contractors to special operations forces. And best of all, you get to put the very latest in gucci kit on the board
I’m also looking forward to what comes next from this partnership. Ember is from the Yemen books but there are other operators from the earlier books that are also pretty stylish looking, especially as someone who loves the baseball cap and ear defender look. This first pack also only includes troops armed with assault rifles – it would be handy to get some alternative weapons for different situations. Either way, I’ll be keeping a close eye on them.
So remember – All Kill No Capture.
As an aside, I also recently ordered the Ember team ID patch from Echelon Software itself. And when it arrived, this spilled out of the packaging (along with a few stickers).
A frequent question people have when starting to collect Spectre figures is which range to get first. For those wanting their own tiny Special Forces team, the Task Force Operators range is obviously the first stop. However, for sheer versatility, I really have to recommend the Tier 1 Operators.
The common identity to all these figures is for a set of operators in cutting edge gear while wearing practical clothing that makes them useful for a whole selection of paint schemes, from camo to the latest in Operator fashion, plaid. All of them are wearing modern chest rigs and belt kits, with retention holsters for their suppressed Glock. The weapons are all upgraded with the usual mix of attachments perfect for sweeping and clearing. I really like the variation in this range – the Task Force Operator guys are much more uniform while these figures look much more like they have chosen their kit based on personal preference.
The core of any force is your riflemen and in this range you have seven of them. Each pack is a different style of pose, from enaging the enemy to moving under fire. There is a nice mix of bare heads and caps, as well several figures equipped with shades.
With all these figures, the main assault rifle is the Sig Sauer MCX with all the trimmings – suppressor, laser, red dot and various sights. This makes them a pretty powerful rifle when clearing rooms. The MCX is also usable with the specialist .300 Blackout round, designed for superior performance while suppressed.
The final rifleman is actually a female operator, which is a neat addition and perfect for representing any number of characters in your special operations force.
As cool as the riflemen are, the specialists are where the fun begins. There is a definitely feel of close range firepower to these guys and the first specialist, armed with a MPX SMG, is perfect for being a pointman. The SMG’s bonus in close quarters makes it perfect for popping sentries or being the first through the door.
Of course, you may want something a little more dramatic for room clear and there is where the two shotgun equipped figures come in. The first is armed with an Origin 12, a rapid fire shotgun that can be used as an automatic in Spectre Operations. If you need to put the suppression down at close range, this weapon is great.
The second figure, we covered in an impressions piece last year, is going a different approach with his shotgun. The Six12 is only a combat shotgun rather than an automatic but comes with a suppressor. This figure is also wielding a tomahawk perfect for breaking locks and busting heads.
A great bonus to both these guys is the fact they are still carrying their assault rifles, so they can easily join in the mid-range firefight while moving to the objective.
Of course, not every firefight will be at close range. So, you’re going to want some guys to bring the pain at longer rangers. First up is the LMG – every squad needs a base of fire and a suppressed LMG fills that slot. It also has a the usual optics upgrade, making it very useful went approaching the objective.
On the other hand, you might need to take out a few enemies in one go. To help with this, the Tier 1 range includes the ever useful MGL. As well as explosives, multiple smoke grenades can help to cover a rapid exfiltration. In addition, he still has his assault rifle when you need a little more precision.
As I said at the start, I really like the Tier 1 range. I’ve also loved how many different variations of them that people have painted on the Spectre Operations group – everything from guys in full camo to run as advisors down to the plaid look more commonly seen on competition shooters. For a new player, 12 figures is actually a pretty sensible amount and gives you plenty of options when building a mission.
In terms of who to use them as almost anything – Western Special Forces, highly trained PMCs or federal agents ready to steal some money from the cartel (if you’re a fan of Sabotage). What is really cool is putting these guys up against other Special Forces, meaning both players have to be much more careful when trying to fire and move as everyone is pretty effective.
Honestly, this range is pretty complete. It’s a nice mix of poses and equipment. So apart from the stock answer (give me more!), it would be cool to see some more variation, or maybe even someone with other futuristic SIG guns like the tiny MCX Rattler for some real close quarters action.
One thing that’s great about wargaming is just how broad you can be. From 54mm games where players control single figures, all the way down to tiny scales where you are basically playing with painted pins to represent your armies of soldiers, there is something for everyone. And even within relatively niche periods, such as Ultramodern wargaming, there can many different settings that let you play out the whole breadth of modern-day gunfighting.
One setting that Spectre provides for is the modern day cops and robbers, thanks to their range of both criminals and armed police. These are ideal for anyone interested in this setting and today, we’re going to take a look at their SWAT team.
The Spectre SWAT range at the moment consists of 6 figures. All of them are geared up, based on very latest kit US police departments are issuing. Every officer has body armour, FAST helmets, eye protection and more kit on them, including their trusty sidearm. The uniforms are a mixture, but there are plenty of trousers with built in kneepads to show the operators among the bunch. All of the figures are posed aiming or at the low ready, perfect for stacking up on each other.
The differences come with their equipment. The bulk of the force is armed with AR15 pattern rifles, covered in rails and mounting a selection of accessories. Some figures have magnifiers behind their red dots, while others are just using the EoTechs.
The other two officers are your specialists, ideal for winning in a close-quarters firefight. One is carrying an MPX SMG, great for when you need manoeuvrability in tight spaces. The other carries a KSG shotgun, perfect for breaching and clearing. Both of these guns also have red dots, ideal for actions where close quarters combat is expected.
So, let’s talk about how I intend to use them. I have to admit, my focus when wargaming is really military or SF operations in MENA and Africa – partially because I have the terrain and figures for it and partially because that style of action is more interesting than drug cartels and police actions to me. So, how best to use these guys in a more militarised setting?
Well, the figures are definitely well equipped but are not quite as well armed as the Task Force Operator figures – these guys have standard M4s rather the 416s of their better funded/trained brothers. This means that the SWAT range is ideal if you need some local SF figures with western style equipment – similar to your main operators but still visually distinctive.
I’ve gone the contractor route with my guys. Thinking these are the QRF sat waiting to rescue the principal or drag their buddies (possible from the Tier 1 Operator Range) out of the fire when things go wrong. Alternatively, they may end up being the bad guys when the inevitable third act twist takes place and suddenly the operators have to fight against almost near-tier adversaries.
Although wargaming for most is focused more overt actions (complete with all the firepower you might want), for most of history covert action has played an important role. TV, films and games are filled with deeds of low profile agents fighting wars in other people’s countries where they are not supposed to go. The frequent refrain of “we’ll deny you even exist” is probably becoming a trope at this point. If you’re wanting to bring some low profile guys to your own tabletop, the Spectre Deniable Operators are perfect.
At the moment, Spectre has four packs available – two for the rifleman and two for each of the specialists. All of the operators are dressed in civilian outdoors clothing and are wearing rucksacks. If it wasn’t for the AKs in their hands, they could easily be hikers out for a day’s stroll. The chance to paint some civilian clothing means that you can add the odd touch of colour that you might not normally see when painting more regular troops
There are a total of four riflemen available, giving you a nice variety of poses. All four are armed with a rail-equipped, crane stocked 7.62mm AKs, complete with all the usual bits of kit that operators love to have when fighting in urban terrain.
The rucksacks are ideal for representing any number of kit, from grenades to medical equipment to laser guidance systems for bringing the rain.
Of course, every squad needs special weapons. For the Deniable Operators, you don’t get quite the same heavy firepower as some other ranges. Instead, it’s a bit more of a scalpel (in relative terms). One operator has an M203 under his AK, ideal for taking out groups of hostiles or enemies in cover. The other is designed for reaching out and touching the bad guys at long range, the larger optic ideal for representing a DMR.
As much as you might want a machine gun, I think keeping the specialists with AK platforms make a lot of sense for operators working in small groups behind enemy lines.
The best thing about ranges like Deniable Operators is just flexible they are. These guys can represent anything, from heavily armed criminals up to special forces seeking to hide their origin. Mix them in with some irregulars and you have some advisers mentoring their more ill-equipped buddies.
Like all of the compact ranges, the wishlist is just more. AK armed operators have a certain attraction, something different from the usual AR15s and FAST helmets. A few more figures, perhaps in some different poses, would be nice. Some guys pointing out enemy targets would be ideal when using them as advisors.
When looking at most people’s collections, it’s safe to say that Western SOF units make up most of them. However, for players looking for something different to bring to the table, the Russian Spetsnaz provide an elite force with some changes that make them visually and doctrinaly distinct. Spectre currently have a large range of Russian Spetsnaz available, and with a new group coming soon, now seems a perfect opportunity to look over the current range.
Please note there is a pretty big jump in painting style between these figures so expect to see some paint schemes done back in 2015.
The current Spectre Spetsnaz can be split roughly in half, with the first wave of release designed for general field operations while the second is more focused on urban operations.
The general operators look a little similar to their Western counterparts, with fast helmets, modern BDUs and plate carriers. However, there are plenty of changes to make them stand out. Some of the figures are wearing Russian designed helmets while all the load bearing equipment (plate carriers and vests) is slightly different from those on the Task Force Operators range.
The close quarters operators share much of the same basic kit but have a few additional items more suited to fighting room by room. The most obvious is various operators with different helmets, including several equipped with visors to protect the users face. Another addition is that several models are wearing fragmentation protection suits designed to protect against blast fragments – a useful bit of kit when clearing rooms. Finally, more of them are wearing armour protection that includes a pelvic plate. Basically, these are the guys kitted up for kicking your front door in and then working their way through every room.
As always, the bulk of your force will be your riflemen. These guys, armed with assault rifles and carbine are most of the figures you’ll need when assembling your force. For the Russians, the riflemen are armed with a selection of AK variants from the AK-74SU up to various AK-100 series weapons. These guns are kitted out with a selection of red dot types, lasers, torches and suppressors. They also have rail kits and stocks that look like Zenit products to make them look even more Operator. Overall there are 6 riflemen in the first release (4 with assault rifles and 2 with carbines) in a selection of moving and shooting poses.
For the second release there are only two riflemen, both with assault rifles, but both are also wearing the additional protective gear (including one of them in a frag suit).
There are also a selection of Russian figures armed with SMGs. In the first wave, there are two figures equipped with suppressed SR-2s. These are great for pointmen on covert operations, taking out targets at close range quietly.
The second wave also has two SMG figures, but these are not armed with tiny SMGs designed for room clearing. Instead, these two are armed with AS VAL, an integrally suppressed rifle firing the specialised 9x39mm round. The round is subsonic (so perfectly for use with a suppressor) while also remaining capable of piercing armour at a reasonable range. Both of these figures have pretty well modified VALs, with sights and torches. These actually present a pretty interesting weapon seeing as they can easily fit the role of assault rifle (especially in terms of lethality) at close ranges.
When thinking about support, the first stop is suppression. Wave 2, more foucsed on urban operations, doesn’t include a machine gunner but Wave 1 does. This figure is armed with an RPK which is great for a putting some extra fire down as part of a rapidly moving force.
Of course the other way of suppressing is to start blowing things up. The Spetsnaz range includes three figures armed with explsovie weapons. The first is an AT Gunner, armed with a RPG-18 with a slung Vityas SMG as backup. The RPG-18 won’t kill an MBT but is perfect for taking out technicals or busting structures.
The other figures are equipped with one of my favourite bits of Russian kit, the GM-94 grenade launcher. With a minimum distance of 5m, this launcher is designed for use in urban fighting, letting the user throw rounds into rooms in the same building as them. The Wave 1 launcher figure is also carrying an AK for backup (for example when you don’t want to wake the neighbourhood) while the Wave 2 operator just has a pistol, relying on his team to engage the enemy once they are reeling from the blast.
As you’d expect, the CQB operators have a few more interesting options for specialists. As useful as the SMGs are at close range, a shotgun really can bring the pain. Wave 2 includes a breacher armed with a red-dot equipped Saiga 12, a semi-automatic magazine fed shotgun perfect for room clearing. This figure also has breaching tools ready to go. In other words, this is your go-to guy for FISH-ing.
As a bonus, thanks to the Saiga’s design, this figure could pass as someone armed with an assault rifle – just in case you find yourself needing another rifleman.
One piece of kit that is more practical for the close quarters fighting than most battlefield is ballestic shields. The Spetsnaz range includes three figures using them. The first two are using partial length shields (the BZT-75T). These only cover the users upper body but makes room entry slightly less risky. Both operators are armed with small compact PDWs (one with a SR3 and the other with a PP2000) perfect for use handed
The final figure is equipped with a full length shield, leaving only his boots exposed. This shield has a vision slit and torch modeled letting you easily lead the team into darkened corridors while still being able to see possible threats. For self protection, the operator also carries a SR-2 SMG.
Of course, the GRU are not just about kicking doors and going kinetic. The range also includes a few lower profile operators, perfect for your special operations. There are 5 figures in civilian clothing, complete with packs full of equipment or ready to hide your firearms from the locals.
The first three figures are more lightly armed, perfect for a crew moving covertly. These three are armed with SMGs including a suppressed AEK-919K perfect for being very quiet. Of course, on the other hand , you can just go loud. For this, the last pack has a pair armed with AKs
As well as being covert operatives, you could use these figures as part of a criminal group. They also fit together well with the Agents and Deniable Operators for more special forces shenanigans.
So what do I think of the range? Overall, pretty great. There is a large variety of kit for players to pick from, with everything from covert agents up to heavily armed door breachers. It also gives players the opportunity to collect a Special Operations range that isn’t just fast helmets and railed M4s – now you get a chance to do some fast helmets and AKs! By combining the different waves together you could build some really cool scenarios utilising the different focuses such as clearing a town with the more mobile operators before the heavily armoured force assaults the stronghold.
I think the only downside I can see is very minor and it’s regarding several of the wave two figures. There are several with quite obvious mould lines down the centre of the helmet which are plain to see even after I attempted cleanup and painting. These won’t matter from gaming height and I’m sure I just needed a bit more elbow grease to remove them but they are definitely there. Apart from that though, the rest of the figures are Spectre usual great casting style, with plenty of detail in the webbing and on the guns.
When it comes to painting, I decided to go for SURPAT, as something different from all the multi-cam. Honestly, I’m not sure I was successful. The massive time difference between painting the two waves doesn’t help (although good to see I’m improving). This is definitely a case where the camo is there to mostly give the impression of camo rather than trying to replicate it exactly at 28mm. On the other hand though, these figures are very visually distinctive when put next to my Task Force Operator models.
Of course, just as I finish this range the next one is coming up. As you can see from the preview above, we’re looking at some brand new weapon systems and updated gear. The new range seems to be based on AK-12 pattern guns in the various roles (assault rifle, LMG and DMR) as well as the PKP Medium Machine gun for extra firepower. It will be interesting to see how the range continues to evolve from here – the Russian arsneal is packed full of strange and unusual kit and the sheer variety of roles they Spetsnaz find themselves means we could see a lot of exciting stuff for years to come.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.