Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Zvezda Katyushya

I was hunting around for paints the other day (how many colours of Khaki can there possibly be?) when I came across this little gem hidden in the corner;

Zvezda 1/100 BM-13 'Katyushya'

I had made a deal with myself not to buy any new models until I had painted the current force, but at only £3 I could not help myself.

I have seen the Zvezda models on the Plastic Soldier Company's website, and even considered buying a platoon of the KV-1e models, figuring that it would be rather unique compared to the ubiquitous horde of T-34s.

In the end I demured on three grounds,

1) I never buy a model unless I can see what it actually looks like, PSC only show the bow art

2) While the KV-1e served for most of the war, the KV-2, KV-1s and the KV-85 superseded it, and I would quite like some of the later options.

3) I heard that PSC might be making their own version, with the additional options

 The Katyusha, on the other hand, is a rather standard piece of kit that changes little over the years and is the most iconic piece of WW2 Soviet artillery.

 The sprues are rather simple, snap fit so little chance of variation from the basic model. The most annoying part of the construction was the bonnet, which needs to be carefully bent into shape. Some of the components were very tight fitting, requiring a little shaved off for them to fit snugly.

The same master must have been used for the ZIS truck Zvezda also sell, as the cab lacks the blast shields normally mounted on the Katyusha. Some of the other simplifications of design that are aimed at making it work as snap fit kit also reduce the accuracy of the model. The most obvious chose is to have all eight top missiles connected together rather blatently, and to not include any missiles underneath the rails. With a bit of cutting and glueing this can be partialy corrected.

 The model fits well on the large artillery base, with enough room either side for addition crew.


Cheep and cheerful, there are some obvious inaccuracies to aid the snap fit system.

On the plus side, the supports for the missile rack are in far better proportion than I have seen in any metal or resin model of the same vehicle.

I will be buying more in the future, but I will have to do a fair bit of conversion work to make them look proper, and to create variation within the unit.

The problem with the PSC Russian Infantry Company may well be that it offers too much indirect artillery, 4 light mortars, 4 medium mortars and 4 heavy mortars up to plus 8 battery guns, how does one expand into rocket artillery without going overboard?

~ Bob

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Unboxing the Germans (Part 2)

Returning to the Panzergrenadier Company Deal which contains 3 boxs of 5 SdKfz251 for a total of 15 halftracks and one box of 130 German infantry

SdKfz 251 Ausf D Halftrack

 The box is fine, although there are no pictures of the actual models on front or back

I've assembled four of these so far, but the other two I converted a bit.

The models come together quickly and easily, with some fiddly bits like the machine guns

There are no options for the alternately armed forms of this vehicle, four of the options come in a separate 'conversion' box that I'll have to pick up at some point.

 With sensible glueing the models can come apart to make it easier to paint the interior, and to keep the fragile machine guns safe during storage.

The vehicle on the right has four sprues worth of passenger riflemen. There are four passengers (not counting the machine gunner and driver models) on each sprue, but  the guys with MP40s don't  fit together as tightly as the knee to knee riflemen.

German Infantry

 This time there's a photo of one of the models on the back, and it even seems to be the right scale.

 As with the Soviet box there are 10 Riflemen and 8 Submachine gunners on each sprue, but some of them are officers and two have optional weapons

K98 riflemen

R1 is two part with separate rifle and arm, he is also in a slighty different pose from; 

R2 & R3 duplicates with different hats

R4 & R5 are Exactly the same & R6 is a hat change duplicate, but it's a standard shooting pose.

R7 Standard kneeler

R8 Advancing and shooting guy

R9 two part advancing guy

R10 two part squating guy, same pose as the Soviet R2

 MP40 Submachine gunners

S1 looks to be an officer

S2 & S3 Hat change Officers. 
Look here PSC, I don't mind some duplicates in the Rank and File, but Characters Get Looked At!

S4 & S5 Disco duplicates, same as the awful Soviet grenadiers

S6 Two part, same as the Soviet S3 & S4

S7 & S8 Two part, these can have either a rifle or submachine gun

Slightly more poses here than the Soviets, which is good, the majority are re-dressed and improved soviet poses.

Comms guy is an odd three-part model (left side, right side, radio backpack) and looks rather good

Medic is wearing an obvious red cross tabard.
One medic for ever 26 men will look a bit repetitive, I'm sure there are other ways I can use him

G1 & G2 are twin Machine gunners

L1 & L2 are their twin Loader, cool models none the less, but I'd prefer a duplicate of;

G3 & L3 in their cool firing pose

It is nice to have a third squad MG per sprue, especially as you'll need a lot for the well equipped German forces.

No other heavy weapons, the anti-tank stuff is all in a separate box, which is another purchase I'll have to make as I expand.


Overall a nice set, less duplicated than the Soviets, but still a few bum poses.

The half tracks are easy to assemble, with crisp detail and a ton of stowage options.

I plan to use the spare halftrack machine guns to up arm my infantry, and the stowage backpacks will add even more variety to the infantry.

~ Bob

Friday, 22 February 2013

Unboxing the Soviets (part 2)

This is the Russian infantry box, and today I'll be showing you the models from one of it's five sprues.

The Box art is just that... art... so I can forgive them showing models that aren't included, such as the Maxim and PPSh officer.

Now to the Sprues.

Russian Infantry

On the top row we have the Submachine gunners all armed with the PPSh-41, on the second row we have the Riflemen.

Quite a few duplicates here, abet with a change of hat for each:

S1 & R1 are the same pose, but have the weapon separate. One has to have the Spagin and the other the Rifle.
tPSC missed a trick in not offering multiples of both.

S2 is pretty cool, the head is separate for casting reasons, I can see using him as a junior officer

S3 & S4 both two part models with the arms and gun separate

R2 & R3 two part again, each with a join at the waist, so at least you can twist them to look different

R4 has a separate rifle for casting reasons

S5 & S6 in the awful "disco dance with a grenade" pose

 R5 & R6, and R7 & R8, are twins, but in fairly standard poses.

S7 & S8 & S9 & S10 are all the same kneeling position, I suppose there are only so many ways you can kneel.
 The rest of the sprue is officers and specialists:

The obvious Officer, pointing and shouting, has a separate shouty arm. This will get repetitive once you have all 5 commanders in the same pose. Again PSC missed a trick; alternate left arms with a Spagin or Tokarev to liven things up.

The Female (M) in the group is a fair addition.

The soviets allowed women to serve in frontline infantry units as medics, snipers, radio operators and machine gunners, all tasks that would keep them just behind the cutting edge of a fire fight.

This model seems to be a medic, directly correlating to the medics in the German box set.

Tokarev man 1&2 seem to be junior officers, but there are too many in the same pose for my liking.

The 2 Degtyaryov gunners each with their own loader are fairly good, the firing pair both have separate heads, and the walking gunner has a separate arm with the gun on.

45mm Anti-Tank Gun

The 45mm Anti tank guns, this time with 4 sprues in the box. I have some problems with the box art now that we have photographs of actual models.

It's obvious that they used a larger scale model for the photo, possibly their 28mm (1/50ish) box. The loose shells are a clear give away as they aren't in this set.

I can forgive that on the aesthetic grounds, but the fact that the photo has also been reversed annoys me.

 The crew is fairly good with one more model than necessary for Flames of War, so I can add one to a command/spotter group or to the heavy mortar teams

The gun here is assembled with the later long barrelled 45mm, at the front are the early short 45mm and the 76mm infantry gun. It is nice to have the extra options.

The to ammo crates, one open, one closed, are another good addition.

ZIS 2/3 Gun

The ZIS 2/3 art, again 28mm scale, and again it has been flipped left-to-right.

The  Gunners are exactly the same as in the 45mm gun set.

I don't think they've even changed the shell size, not that I'd notice the difference much at this scale.

Rather lazy mister PSC.

The guns are rather good, again select the gun you want to build, but this time the wheels (and shell boxes) are specific to the version. A nice bit of historical detail that I didn't know. 

Infantry Heavy Weapons

4 Sprues again, well at least this time the artwork hasn't been flipped

 A lot of multi part models for the heavy weapons, as is to be expected.

Not sure I'll use the 50mm light mortar as it only appears in a few lists, it would have been better to have a moving maxim in it's place.

The PTDRs are in exactly the same poses as the Degtyaryov gunners (D1, D2 and L1) from the Infantry box

The second Anti-tank rifleman (PTDR2) has no loader, but I'll probably use some of the Degtyaryov loaders (L2) for the task.

This time PSC is taking the biscuit, all these guys have twins on the same sprue and half of them are just copies of the artillery crew (G1 & G4).

Of the new guys I like Gunner 6 and his twin, but  not Gunners 7 who is about to throw his binoculars at someone.


I'm rather good at poking holes in the choices PCS have made, but on the whole I like these models for a number of reasons;

1: The detail is Crisp and Sharp; no pudgy hands or swollen gun barrels here.

2: It's plastic; no worries about chipping paint, bent guns and brittle super glue.

3: It's ridiculously cheap compared to the competition

4: While I've complained about the repeat models, how many different poses do you actually get in a Flames of War infantry set.

~ Bob

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Unboxing the Germans

The German force was a much more automatic decision, allowing my inter painter painter and modeller to take control, rather than my gaming side.

WW2 Late War German Panzergrenadier Company Deal

Three boxes of German SdKfz 251/1/D halftracks and one box of German infantry, making 130 infantry and 15 vehicles for them to ride in. All for £57, a bargain for the sheer number of vehicles, but not a very scale-able force for reasons I'll come to later.

WW2 Late War German Infantry 1943-45

 One sprue from the Infantry box. Slightly better than the Russian infantry with more options, fewer duplicates and the same number of men.

 I still note a few who have swapped their hats, but done little else.

The Gamer complains that for a proper Panzergrenadier force we'll need more light machine guns than are in this set, but the Modeller has a cunning plan

WW2 German SdKfz 251 Ausf D Halftrack

The Halftracks make my inner modeler jump for joy thinking about all the conversion possibilites, and my inner painter is going to love doing some interesting camo schemes on these babies.

The inner gamer keeps complaining that this force will need additional halftracks every time we buy more units.

And we will need more units as this force only works out at 750 points compared to the Soviet 1000.

The historian wishes there were an option in the deal to replace SdKfz 251/D with SdKfz 251/C, as the D was only produced from late 1943, while the C was around from the start of the war.

This restricts the set to the Flames of War late period, unless I'm feeling a little unscrupulous

 The Vehicles each come with a solid set of occupants allowing some excellent opportunities.

There is the option to have the forward MG manned or unmanned, and the Modeller plans to use the spares to bulk out the infantry squads.

There are also tons of stowage options to add variety to the rather bare exterior of the vehicle

The assembly plans are a little over simplified, it would help if PSC made it into a step by step, but I have enough knowledge of the vehicle to get things right.

All in all rather nice deal, it can form a solid basis for a panzergrenadier company, but on it's own it lacks the support options to make a viable gaming force.

~ Bob


Unboxing the Soviets

This set is the Russian Rifle Company Army Deal from The Plastic Soldier Company:

It costs £68, which may seem a lot for a starting force, but it contains a lot of models.

Having worked out a rough list this set can easily bring you up to 1000 points in Flames of War, with a varied and expandable force.

Now I spend hours searching around for pictures of sprues before I purchase any models so that I know exactly what I'm getting.

Time for me to give back to the community I suppose;

WW2 Russian Infantry in Summer Uniform

One box of standard Infantry containing 5 identical sprues, each with 26 guys, for a total of 130 infantry in the box. I'll show exactly how each guy is armed in a later post.

They look rather good, but some of the models seem to be cloning:

To be quite honest the instructions in this box aren't quite up to scratch either


WW2 Russian Infantry Heavy Weapons

One box of these in the set with four identical sprues.

No command team I note, but there should be enough guys in the standard infantry

I also could have done with a second maksim on the sprue rather than the 50mm mortar

Much better on the instructions though

WW2 Russian 45mm anti tank gun

One box of these in the set, again with four identical sprues. One gun per sprue with options for 3 different versions of the gun.

Russian Zis2/3 anti tank and field gun

Two boxes of heavy artillery in the set, my inner gunner cries with joy!

four identical sprues per box for a total of 8 guns. Each sprue has barrels for both the ZIS-2 and ZIS-3, but as the gun shield attaches to the barrel you can't swap them over once built.

I'll be showing the German sprues later today, then assemble the Soviets sometime tomorrow


Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Flames of War: a backwards step

Well I have finally made the move away from 40k, and games workshop’s waning community support.

It’s time to move backwards. I first became interested in wargaming at the tender age of 10, with Airfix 1/72 WW2 models. My friends and I made up our own rule set using a hit point system without any dice, and played on a pair of pasting tables, often in the middle of a muddy field (don’t ask).

More recently I’ve invested in Warhammer English Civil War in 28mm, using the fantastic models by Warlord games. However every time I mentioned playing historical wargames I’ve invariably been asked if I play Flames of War leaving me somewhat irritated and also a little intrigued.

I’d looked at Bolt Action with some interest, but 15mm had never really stuck me as an exciting scale. I like each model to be his own man, to care if that man lives or dies and for each model to have their own character. I love converting models to accentuate their own personality, for this reason I love 28mm games and eschew smaller scales.

But looking through the Flames of War range brought back those happy memories of Airfix kits and pasting tables.

So I have brought a copy of 3rd edition Flames of War and have begun looking around for cheaper models, mainly at The Plastic Soldier Company.

The main Rulebook is hardback, full colour and beautifully illustrated. Bundled with it comes a stapled ‘how to build and paint your army’ Hobby booklet that I will not pay much mind to, and more importantly a paperback Forces book, which gives a concise set of army lists for each of the four main powers for the Late War, 1944-1945, period.

The inclusion Forces book is a great bonus, not instantly having to buy a specific Codex is a great thing, though it has its limitations. As stated before it only covers the Late War period, focusing on American, German, British and Soviet forces, and only covers each force in moderate detail. For example the British Armoured Company list sticks to American Sherman and Stuart derivatives, with the only fully British tank available being the Churchill.

For more depth in your army selection, for, different periods of the war, and for other nationalities you have to buy the campaign books.
The second problem with the Forces book is the cheap Chinese binding, while the hardback Rulebook appears fairly solid, the Forces book began shedding pages within days.

 I looked at the possibility of returning the item; I would have had to send the whole three volume set back, then wait a week and hope that the replacement had better binding or be forced to repeat the whole process indefinitely. In the end I opted to have it ring bound at the local Staples for less than £5.

 At least this way I can lay it flat without worrying about the binding.

My order from the Plastic soldier company arrived early and I shall be properly un-boxing them from tomorrow.

~ Bob