FULL METAL MINIATURES - PT76 Tank and Female Photojournalist
It was a delight to receive a couple of more models from the growing range of Vietnam War figures and vehicles from Full Metal Miniatures. We reviewed some of their initial figures back in January and were smitten then by their attention to detail. Will these match that high standard?
The first item we unpacked was a PT76 Light Amphibious Tank. This came in several pieces, the hull and turret moulded in resin, while the main gun, machine guns, antenna, hatch lids and tracks are in metal. Everything was crisp an detailed with absolutely no flash on either the resin or metal components, my only slight gripe was the absence of any assembly instructions, with only a handful of parts it was fairly obvious where things should go, but the wheels/tracks for instance could be put on back to front in error without a quick Google of what it should look like. That said the actual assembly was seamless, everything fitted and paired up perfectly without having to file bits off or use fillers. The precision is superb.
This particular model retails at £25 and personally we think it is worth every penny. It is one of those more unusual and less common tanks but has without doubt been thoroughly researched and crafted with an outstanding attention to detail.
The other model in the box was that of a female photojournalist. My immediate thought was that of playing RECON thirty years ago and how this model could be used in some rescue mission, or she could simply grace your battle field as photographers did despite the hail of bullets and booby traps they faced along with the troops.
The figure is of a lady in loose fitting clothing and with that "hot jungle" look about her, she holds an 35mm SLR camera and can only be described as brilliant. I'm sure that painted up she would look like she had just stepped out of a photograph herself, she is that good. At £3.50 she is at the top end of 28mm prices but again, worth every penny for her realistic detail and character.
FIX BAYONETS - German Fallschirmjager - World War Two
It's been a very long time since I even considered playing Vietnam games, like I said previously, for me it was RECON back in the early 1980's, but this range is certainly making me think more about this conflict and maybe starting a new period. For anyone already into this war and even if you already have your "preferred supplier" of figures, you NEED to look at this range too and I guarantee you won't be disappointed at all.
5/5 for FULL METAL MINIATURES - Vietnam Range
Fix Bayonets are another new company to the industry and are based in Cornwall. First impressions of business theme is "green", with a very public emphasis on eco-friendly packaging, which we haven't really seen in the wargaming world so far, so Brownie Points for that.
The first range of figures to be produced are 28mm German Fallschirmjagers and although a succinct range compared to other companies, the phrase "Quality over Quantity" springs to mind. The figures are perfectly proportioned and packed with detail, they stand an accurate 28mm foot to eye and will compliment the ranges of the most popular 28mm figures.
Uniform wise, these figures are "Early War" which is nice to see. There seems to be a thing re German troops to always favour late war, which personally I'm not a fan of, but these these guys are the ones who still used to use parachutes before being relegated to just being used as elite infantry, so perfect for playing the invasion of the Low Countries, France and even Crete.
There are initially three sets of figures available. The first set has three rank & file and two NCO's. The second set is three rank & file and an especially nice two figure machine gun model. The third set is a three figure HMG. Each and every figure is bursting with detail and in superb real action poses. Each set sells for £9.99, so at £2 a figure they are top dollar, but considering the outstanding quality and realism, they are worth every penny. I for one feel inspired to put a Fort Eben-Emael game together on the back of these. We have been informed that a second tranche of figures is in the pipeline, so anyone wanting to put a force together that looks literally like miniatures really in the heat of battle, give Fix Bayonets a look.
5/5 for FIX BAYONETS - Fallschirmjagers
FULL METAL MINIATURES - US Marine Corps - Vietnam War
Full Metal Miniatures are a relatively new company in the wargaming world based in Deal in Kent. Their passion is the Vietnam War and they have produced a range of figures and vehicles in 28mm (1/56th) for all the major combatants. We were sent a selection of US Marine Corps figures to review which arrived well packaged and sent recorded delivery, which is a bonus.
First impression of the figures was good. There was minimal flash on the bases which was easily removed with a quick file down and all the separate pieces such as weapons and some arms were complete and very crisply moulded. This allowed the multi-piece figures to be assembled to check posture etc prior to being super-glued permanently.
The first set was of of two marines forming an M60 machine gun crew, one standing firing the M60 from the shoulder whilst his partner stands alongside with an M16 assault rifle. Both figures are loaded with belts of spare ammunition. The detail on these figures is superb, right down to boot laces and the fastenings on holsters - it's all there ! The postures are extremely realistic; I understand that the company's owner, Simon, is a true student of this conflict and has sculpted his figures studying some of the most iconic photographs of the era. His passion for the period is certainly evident in these models.
The second set, again of two marines, form a sniper team as would have been fighting in Hue during the Tet Offensive of 1968. Like the M60 team, this duo are bursting with lifelike detail and are anatomically spot on. But the piece de resistance of the models sent to us has to be the stretcher/medic team. This is a six figure set comprising of four marines carrying a stretcher, bearing their wounded comrade while alongside strides a medic administering a drip. This model is the most dramatic and brilliant piece of miniature sculpting I have seen in a very long time. The postures of the four carriers are perfect, each looking like they are lugging a dead weight whilst trying to move in haste. The detail in the muscle tone in the arms under the strain of weight is especially is impressive.
Now for the crunch bit - these figures are a 'tall' 28mm and are certainly bigger than the old Platoon20 figures I used to play RECON with back in the 1980's, that said, most other suppliers of this period are a similar large 28mm like these so they should fit in well with other modern collections of Vietnam figures. Price wise they work out just over £2 a figure which is at the upper end but then the quality of the figures more than makes up for that. From my experience this period is usually fought either as a role-playing game or a large skirmish battle using tens of figures rather than hundreds and the detail and poses in this range are perfect for that. We will certainly be following up these review figures with some extra purchases to play some "Nam" in the near the future and would recommend without hesitation that anyone else wanting to play this period invest in this range. Wargames figures don't come any better than these.
5/5 for FULL METAL MINIATURES - Vietnam Range
PENDRAKEN MINIATURES - Indian Mutiny 1857
The Indian Mutiny is without doubt one of the most varied and exotic periods for wargamers, with European forces fighting both traditional native and western trained native troops with a good dash of cavalry, artillery and elephants too (my favorite). What is there not to like? So it has always been a surprise to me why it is not seen more on the gaming tables. Well maybe this new range from Pendraken Miniatures will raise the popularity.
The name Pendraken is now synonymous with 10mm wargaming, and you can see why as soon as you pick up one their figures. Each one is full of detail, is flash free and in a perfect anatomical pose. We were sent a selection of figures from both the British and Mutineer ranges which are quite comprehensive, with 25 different packs in the British and 24 packs in the Mutineer range. These include infantry, cavalry, artillery, elephants and personalities too, so everything needed to field both historical and "what if" battles.
The British selection we were sent (above) included infantry in service dress, campaign dress, gurkhas, "gentlemens"cavalry, casualty marker and my own personal favorite, a Sutherland Highlander. As you can see from our picture they are all spot on 10mm foot to eye.
The Mutineer selection sent (above) was of a similar mix of troop variations to show off the diversity of the range as well as the consistent quality in the sculpting, which in each and every case cannot be faulted.
As is fairly standard with Pendraken Miniatures the figures come in packs of a type, typically 30 infantry (27 soldiers and 3 command), 15 cavalry (12 troopers and 3 command) and 3 artillery guns complete with crew. All these packs are very affordably priced at £5.25 each. Personalities and the beloved elephants are all packed and priced individually.
To make it even easier to get started in this period Pendraken also sell ready made starter armies. These contain the most common troop types fielded by both sides and are perfect way to start building up forces. These ready made armies are £33.00 each so for £66.00 you can venture into the Indian subcontinent with both armies.
To complete the atmosphere just order a takeaway !
We absolutely love these new additions to Pendraken range and blown away by the detail on such small scuplts. I know that we all have our preferred scale for whatever reason, but if you haven't yet tried either 10mm wargaming, Pendraken Miniatures, or The Indian Mutiny, then we can only suggest that now is the time to try all three - you won't be disappointed.
5/5 for Pendraken Miniatures Indian Mutiny Range
To see the full range visit
BLACK SEAS Master & Commander by Warlord Games Limited (part 2 - playing the game)
Having made up and painted a few ships we decided it was time to play a game and see how it went. Never having played these rules before and also playing with a six and eight year old who also had never played before, we opted for the "Basic Rules", which despite their name are still quite detailed.
The first thing I liked about the game was its player turn sequence; not an IGOUGO, nor even the lucky dip method used in Bolt Action, but something that actually makes so much sense when you consider the game. The player whose ships are closest to the wind go first. I'll elaborate. At the start of the game the wind direction is decided and is noted on the game table by a compass and arrow pointing in that direction, so lets say the wind is blowing in from the North East therefore the ships closest to the North East edge of the table go first, gradually working across the table to the furthest away to go last. Now the wind isn't fixed for the game, each game turn there is a dice roll to determine if there is a change which although unusual, can and does happen. Take also into account that the ships are moving around the table during play and that in itself leads to changes in the player turn sequence as the game progresses. It's a clever touch and as I say so obvious when you consider this is all about sailing ships.
Each ship comes with a wake card, that is placed under the model and it is marked off in three levels of sail, Light Sail, Battle Sail and Full sail, each one having its own move distance. At the start of each turn the commander says which sails are being deployed and adjusts the wake card accordingly then begins moving. Unlike most rules, the move distance for each sail setting is not an optional maximum distance, but rather a compulsory distance that must be completed, albeit with allowed angle turns and firing along the way. However it means if you judge your speed badly you could not reach your desired position or worse, as I discovered, leave your vessel in range for being mauled by the enemy on their turn.
In addition to the wake cards, each vessel also has its own "Ship Card" which each respective player keeps with them during the game. This is a reference card noting the ship's gun strength, the ship's speed in knots, its break value where the crew may suddenly run the colours and surrender, its angle of turn and finally its overall strength, which decreases with damage sustained. This card comes with some little red card sliders which can be moved to show the strength value decreasing. My only criticism of the game is that these sliders are made of card and we found easily damaged when punching out initially, also unless we had used them incorrectly, we found them prone to be easily knocked off the desired numbers. As I say, maybe we were not using them as intended but for future games we are going to use coloured paperclips instead. Not a major gripe, just one to be aware of.
So in our game it was me with two brigs against a combined team of my 8 year old son with a brig and my 6 year old daughter with a frigate. I was hugely outgunned, but my thoughts were my forty years of wargaming experience would give me the upper hand . Little did I appreciate how quickly primary school kids learn and employ new skills; that coupled with a surprisingly viscous streak in their personality I'd not witnessed in them before (must be from their mother) meant I was in for a tough time at sea. The wind was blowing in their favour and so they both moved first at Full Sail to race across to me, I did the same to meet them, only not quite reaching them to shoot. This meant the next turn they both dropped to Battle Sail, moved along either side of me and at point blank range opened up broadsides on my port and starboard (that's right and left in sailor speak), before continuing their movement away from me. Shooting is decided as with virtually all rules by a series of dice rolls, one to hit or miss and if a hit, then another to determine damage. There are numerous variables to the hit/miss throw such as distance, speed, size of target, crew experience and whether aiming at the hull or the masts, masts being harder to hit but causing chaos for movement if successful. In my case both ships scored hits and being just 3" away from me, classed as point blank range, the damage inflicted is doubled. Now maybe it was just beginners luck......in seconds my brig was reduced to a sinking hulk, losing all its strength points in one double blasting. The kids looked smug, I tried to look as though it was all part of a cunning plan of mine, which sadly it wasn't.
"OH FRIGATE !"
Another nice touch for the game is that when ships do shoot they are marked with puffs of cotton wool to denote they have fired that turn, again a simple thing but to me it added a certain realism to the look of the game. Likewise I am sure my children appreciated the cotton wool smoke plumes rising from my sinking ship too.
Our battle then turned into a cat and mouse game, or rather two cats and one mouse, as I now very carefully considered my movements and occasionally managed to fire off some long distance shots at the frigate which concerned me the most. Despite a couple of shots landing on target my damage dice rolling skills seemed to have vanished and I was only inflicting chips to the woodwork. I was even considering some advice I picked up from Middlesbrough Wargames Club in the 1980's on how to be guaranteed to roll sixes each time; spread butter on the number one side and proceed to roll the dice over the most expensive carpet in the house, a suede sofa or failing all else, clothing that can only be dry cleaned. Anyway, I digress in an attempt to make light of my dilemma. It was only a matter of time before these two cunning little......darling children had me cornered with their guns closing in. They seemed to have mastered estimating distances in imperial measurements very quickly too and soon while my son's brig came alongside perfectly as my daughter's frigate positioned perfectly across my stern and again delivered devastating fire. My strength numbers disappeared once again as did my pride. Brig number two was sunk and game over for Dad.
As I lay in bed that evening thinking of the "if onlys" of the earlier game I reflected on its merits. It is certainly a game that is easy to learn quickly and with the basic rules it is fast paced, exciting and with unlucky dice throws, sometimes brutal, in how it plays. The subtle details like wind changes and sail speeds add a realism even in the basic mode that makes the whole game seem an exciting synergy of skill and chance which we as a family loved. I'm sure more experienced naval wargamers may find the basic rules too basic, but there is a host of additional rules that can be applied for the more purist gamer out there. As I said in Part 1, Warlord Games usually pull off a blinder with their games and this will be no exception. I for one will be investing in some of the bigger ships ( I will beat the kids!) and accessories and look forward to putting to sea again soon.
5/5 for Warlord Games BLACK SEAS Master & Commander (part 2 - playing the game)
BLACK SEAS Master & Commander by Warlord Games Limited ( part 1 - the box set and assembly)
Black Seas Master & Commander is the latest game release from the wargames giant, Warlord Games Limited.Following their recent trend in pushing the boundaries out in "popular wargaming" from traditional land battles to first, the air with Blood Red Skies and then the seas with Cruel Seas, both WWII based games so finding popularity with their enormous fan base of Bolt Action, they have now ventured into a realm previously quite niche amongst wargamers - late 18th/early 19th century naval wargames - the "Age of Sail".
They have lept in with a reasonable sized product range of plastic ships ranging from tiny gunboats to the mighty 1st rate ships like HMS Victory which could by some be seen as a bit of a commercial gamble, however I feel sure that their professionalism in product detail and marketing will soon convert a huge new draft of customers for this range.
We are sampling the games "starter set" known as Master and Commander and retails for £50. It's not pocket money prices for younger wargamers but is comparable I guess to new release console games, so should be affordable to most. Value for money wise though this really excels.
The basic game comes in a superbly inspiring artwork box, as all Warlord Games games do these days, and inside is literally everything you can imagine to get started in naval wargmaes. There are six 1/700th hard plastic model ships ( 4 are small brigs and 2 are very elegant frigates) complete with sails, rat-rails and even rigging thread, there's a fold out "sea" mat on which to fight your battles, there's various pop out islands and reefs to complete your sea battle field, there are all the required counters, markers and dice required and finally a beautifully illustrated softcover rulebook that covers everything from easy to learn basic rules and more detailed advanced rules to a brief history of naval warfare throughout the sixty year period (1770 -1830) that the rules cover, to national painting guides and advice on building and rigging your ships. It truly is a very comprehensive bit of kit for £50.
Starting with the ships, they are hard plastic on sprues and require cutting out and some basic gluing together, They are moulded superbly. No flash, no abnormalities, and once cut from the sprues fit together perfectly. I have to say that the detail on these models is also outstanding; gun carriages, figureheads, gun port doors, and even sail ties, are all there in true to scale detail. The quality of the mouldings means these can be assembled very quickly and with little "master modeller" skills.
After assembly with plastic modelling glue I undercoated these with grey car primer and then left overnight to dry. There are various thoughts on painting wargames models - I have to admit my thought is "I don't enjoy painting as much as playing " so I tend to go for a more basic but acceptable look to get men or in this case ships on the table and into battle. In this month's Wargames Illustrated (October 2019) there are free ships and inside a detailed painting guide running through undercoats and primary layers and detail layers and shading layers etc etc. In contract these were painted with a primer undercoat and then just one layer of Vallejo paints. The detail in the mouldings are easily picked out by the paint and in my mind make it very easy to speed paint a flotilla or fleet in a just few hours.
This last picture shows to of the smaller brigs (about 2" (5cm) in length that were very speedily painted
From unpacking the delivery box and seeing the boxed game right through to assembly and painting of the ships in their various sizes, this game set is absolutely fabulous. As I said before, I've been exclusively for forty years a land battle wargamer; I've often thought about this period after reading a Richard Bolitho book or watching Hornblower, only to be put off by not really understanding what I needed to buy in the way of models and rules. This all in one set solves that and I am sure it will be a first purchase for many more wargamers who watch an inspiring film or read a good book, or maybe just even visit Portsmouth where I lived for for a few years under the shadow of the mighty HMS Victory.
Looking at this starter set and other models and accessories I go back to my first remarks about Warlord Games taking a risk into a new and relatively underplayed period/genre. I think Warlord Games have nailed it right from the start with a brilliant boxed introduction to a period that is full of emotion and history but to most so far has seemed out of reach.
5/5 for Warlord Games BLACK SEAS Master & Commander (part 1 - presentation and assembly)
next week having played a few games with both experienced and novice gamers we will review how it plays.
BLACK SEAS is available to pre-order from our online store with exclusive offers until Trafalger Day (21st October) and also directly from Warlord Games.