At last the stuff arrived from Warlord and I’ve been able to crack on with some additional support units for my Chain of Command Soviet SMG platoon. The Scout section was my main priority as Artizan only have four Scouts in their set and this is really about as much use as a chocolate tea pot. A Scout section of four rifles, four SMGs and a Junior Leader as ninth man, also SMG armed, would involve a lot of figure duplication if I’d stuck with one manufacturer, especially as only one figure is rifle armed in the pack! So, the Warlord figures were much needed.
Apart from the fact that I don’t like them. I am not sure what Warlord’s plan is with their 28mm figures. Some of them are absolutely superb sculpts. Take, for example, this 50mm mortar team which arrived at the same time as the Scouts:
These are not just nice figures, they are absolutely full of character. All figure ranges have their own hallmarks when it comes to sculpting style; this is what I was talking about when I said that combining Artizan and Crusader gave me a great mix of the flamboyant (Artizan) and determination (Crusader). This mortar team from Warlord seem to combine some of the best attributes of figure sculpting – they have a “movement” which brings them to life and are full of character. Fantastic. The Scouts, on the other hand, look like they have been selected from a second-rate Wurzel Gummidge look-alike competition as they have sprinted past the point where they could be described as having character to the stage where they are simply caricatures of a cartoony nature. It is, I am sure, a matter of personal preference, and my preference is that I find them too over the top for me.
But what do you do? I want to field some Scouts and no other bugger makes them, so I select the best ones from the mix and paint them up, thus:
Let’s be honest, these ain’t exactly Artizan’s finest hour either. Left is the Artizan squad leader. You can tell by the way he uses his walk he’s a woman’s man, no time to talk. Apart from the rather Saturday Night Fever look it’s a solid sculpt and he does appear, at least, to be doing something vaguely military, signalling to his dispersed troops. Next, reading the map, is a Warlord figure. It’s a nice sculpt, the map is nicely executed, but these are Soviet Scouts probing forward, not on an orienteering weekend in the Brecon Beacons. The middle figure is the worst of the best bunch for me in that he again is sneaking about rather than probing forward. His outfit is not the camouflaged “onesie” which the Scouts should be wearing, but seems to be something he has picked up at a jumble sale which is six sizes too big. Second from the right is a truly terrible figure, one finger to his lips to tell us to “shush” while he sneaks forward, knife in hand, to liberate Frau Schmidt’s knickers from her washing line. Again, I am not feeling the love for these in terms of them doing what Soviet Scouts should be doing – probing forward remorselessly and with a determination and emphasis on haste. This lot are the Bash Street Kids at Scout Camp. And finally a bloke lying down on the job. Yes, he has wire cutters, and to tell the truth it isn’t a bad sculpt at all. The fact that I don’t like lying down figures is not helping me here.
Oh look, another bloke lying down. And then the rest are Artizan. Very work-a-day sculpts for me from Artizan, but they do lack a bit of character, something one can almost never say about Artizan’s work. However, at least they are advancing forward with grim determination. I am truly and deeply unhappy with the overall look of the Scout Squad, I can only hope that Artizan will do another pack with a bit more oomph about them then I can quietly discard the Gargoyles. But, for now, they will do the job, and with luck I will come to love them. Ugly bastards that they are…
So, here’s the gang as they stand. One SMG platoon in the middle. Top left we have a flamethrower team, the Scout Squad and the 50mm mortar. Top right is the “not quite finished” HMG team. I need two more crew for this which I hoped to pick up from the Warlord Soviet HMG set. Sadly I wasn’t keen on those sculpts for the same cartoonish reasons, so I have ordered their Maxim MMG team which appears less gargoylish. I picked that up on EBay so my hope is it will arrive PDQ. Next to them is the AT rifle team, another flamethrower team and Doris the Sniper.
Here’s a quick snap of the 50mm mortar team…
Then Cool and the Gang, off to the disco…
…and finally Commissar Igor and the team with their tank supports. In Chain of Command it is assumed that we’re fighting at close quarters, so the SMG men will dismount before the game begins. As such, tanks are a support option. However, my one and single wargaming truth is that you can never have too many tanks!
So, not much left to do before I can field my Soviet platoon with a whole raft of supports for our 1945 campaign. I was going to build my own Soviet jump-off points, as mentioned the other day, and I set about scouring the spares box for suitable stuff. I didn’t have enough to hand so was looking at buying some battlefield bric-a-brac and general clutter to make these, until I did a bit of maths. Jump-Off Points are easy and cheap to build when you have a load of bits to hand, but if you don’t they can be bloody expensive. I recall building my original ones during playtesting took a whole box of Tamiya 1:48th scale bits and bobs and that was time consuming and not cheap at all. Rather than reinvent the wheel I grabbed a pack of the standard Jump-Off Points what we sell and looked at converting them, after all, the barrels and jerry cans are pretty generic.
One of the advantages of using the high quality resin when we got these done was the fact that if you drop them they bounce rather than shatter. The next advantage I discovered is that you can carve them pretty easily, and actually without any specialist tools. I used the kitchen bread knife to cut off some of the most prominent bits, such as the Teller mine and some ammo pouches and used a set of nail clippers to cut off thinner things like the rifles and other weapons. With that done (and all of five minutes spent doing it) I trimmed off any remaining left-overs and sanded them down to get a smooth finish. To that I then added some 1:48th scale Russian weapons, helmets and pouches I had in my spares box and the job was done:
Are they unique and singularly beautiful in their novelty? No, but they are very cost effective and they took me ten minutes, which in itself has a beauty of its own!
Finally, I picked up a BA 64 armoured car on eBay in 1:48th scale. I am in two minds about whether I should have gone for the Warlord Games resin model, but the next day delivery won me over. I’ll be building that when I return from the Czech Republic next week and then it’s time for toys on the table! I can’t wait!
As readers of Lard Island News will know, there is nothing I like more than a game with narrative; apart, that is, from a game with really good tactics AND narrative. A good story can often be heroic, sometimes amusing, sometimes poignant, but a display of good tactics when combined with a good leadership narrative