Tuesday, 6 January 2015

From GregB - 20mm Warsaw Pact Soviet Motor Rifle Platoon (144 Points)

Warsaw Pact era Soviet Motor Rifle Platoon in BTR-80 APCs
My newly discovered mania for 20mm figures continues but it has jumped to another period, from WW2 to another favourite setting of mine - the fictional "cold-war-gone-hot" of the 1980s.  Interest in this period with the Fawcett Avenue Conscripts goes back to around 2007 or so - I can't remember exactly how it started, but once Eureka released a line of 28mm Soviet troops wearing MOPP gear, it seemed suddenly Dallas and I were in an arms race. Today we have clouds of 28mm stuff, including a bunch of helicopters, and we enjoy rolling it out for local gaming events.

A Soviet motor rifle section - figures from Elhiem, vehicles from S&S Models
Anyway, my hobby interest in this setting spread rapidly to 6mm (for Modern Spearhead), and because I dabble constantly, I started to play the setting in even more scales, from 15mm down to 3mm. I even have painted 10mm and 40mm.  The last one I haven't tried was 20mm - and since I was diving into this with WW2, I figured why not modern too?

My mania in one picture - from left: 3mm modern Soviets from Oddzial Ozmy, 6mm modern Soviets from GHQ, 10mm modern Soviets from Minifigs, 15mm modern Russian from Eureka, 20mm modern Soviet from Elhiem, 28m modern Soviet from Mongrel Miniatures, and a 40mm modern Russian from the Honourable Lead Boiler Suit Company
Another view of the group photo - all scales accounted for :)
So this entry includes a 20mm scale Warsaw Pact-era Soviet Motor Rifle platoon.  The infantry figures are 20mm sculpts from Elhiem Figures, and the vehicles are (supposedly) 20mm-size BTR-80 APCs from S&S Models. The colour palette for these figures is almost identical to the WW2 Russian troops, so I was able to bear down and get this little points grenade finished during my holidays last week.

Ready to fight NATO lackeys

The platoon has three 8-man sections and a small command group.  Each section contains one trooper with a PK-LMG, an RPK-74, an RPG-7 anti-tank launcher, and the balance armed with AK-74 assault rifles.  The commander has a radio man and a trooper carrying an SA-7 shoulder-launched surface-to-air missile unit.

Officer with a radio man and a trooper carrying an SA-7 SAM
Elhiem's Cold War era Russian line is admirably complete, with a wide selection of troops wearing body armour, so most of the regular infantrymen are from that section of their line.  I love the look of the body armour and it really fits the setting to my mind.  One of the things I respect most about this Elhiem range is just how complete it is - most modern collections (or those north of 10mm in size) are very limited, often lacking in key areas, with strange mismatched assortments of figures (Eureka has a lot of this).

NCO on a square base for quick recognition during the game

The Elhiem sculpts themselves are an uneven quality.  Some of them have very soft details.  And the castings themselves are heroically resistant to primer.  But its a strange thing - in spite of the many challenges and limitations to these sculpts, these figures have an excellent overall appearance - I think that is the magic of the sculptor! The Elhiem poses are nice, the figures are not too heavy or too chunky, and there is a great selection. Even with their challenges, I strongly recommend them.

Elhiem figures...they have their challenges, but I really like them

I can't say the same for S&S Models.  My first concern is the size of the model - these are allegedly 1/72 scale models, but it just doesn't add up.

Actual BTR-80 - cramped, yes, but still larger than the men - unlike the S&S Models

Soviet-designed APCs and IFVs are notorious for cramped conditions, but this is still supposed to carry 10 men (including the crew) and the MG in the turret is supposed to be a heavy calibre 14.5mm weapon. Looking at it beside these 20mm figures, there is just no way this is a 1/72 model.  Do you see a whole section of these guys crowding into that vehicle?  This looks to me more like a 1/87 scale model - the effect is similar to seeing 1/56 scale vehicle models beside 28mm figures.

I rusted out the exhausts...make them look a little used
Beyond the size of the vehicles, there are serious quality issues with these models as well.  It is not readily apparent in the photos, but there are numerous flaws and small bubbles all over the vehicles.  Many small details - like vision ports, hatches or headlights, are missing or have holes due to small bubbles that formed during casting. One fender area on one of the vehicles was particularly weak. And at 12 GBP per model (which works out to about $20 Canadian as our stupid third-world-petro-dollar plummets in value, and that's before shipping) let's just say I'm way less than impressed - and this was a surprise as I had always heard good things about S&S.

Note the gap over the front wheel, and the missing headlight in the same area - an example of the shoddy quality of the S&S casts

The BTRs received a very basic green paint scheme and some mild weathering, mostly on the exhaust, which I can imagine rusting out in almost no time.  The armour on these vehicles is almost non-existent by modern combat standards, enough to deflect light bullets and shrapnel and little else.  I don't think these would have lasted long enough to look worn out!

We must protect our revolution...
Units like these would have filled the armoured and motor rifle divisions from the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany, and would have been at the forefront of any assault toward the Rhine by the Warsaw Pact.  Thankfully for the world this remained a fictional event - but it is great fun to game.  I understand the Too Fat Lardies are working on a modern variant of their Chain of Command Rules - I hope to try that with these fellows!

This submission includes 27 infantrymen and three vehicles, all in 20mm scale (although I don't know about the vehicles).  Now I just need to get some opponents finished off for these fellows.  Gotta love 20mm!

From Curt:Ah, I was wondering when we'd see the modern stuff begin to roll out as a result of your new 20mm mania. Seriously beautiful stuff Greg! I really enjoyed the pictures depicting your mental 'I love every scale known to man'. Nonetheless, it's a wonderful, wonderful madness. 
Don't even get me started on vehicle scales as the topic usually makes me want to snap my crayons. Okay, I'll start anyway... I think the only companies that come close to getting relative scales right are the old-school model making companies like, Esci, Revell, Tamiya, Milicast, etc. Otherwise the 'new kids' often seem to subscribe to a mythically elastic sense of scale where the figures would need a healthy dose of pixie dust to be able to fit into the vehicles that are 'designed' for them. My memory of this starts with the 'Rhino' APC in 40K (introduced in 1988) where a squad of huge, genetically-tampered armoured freaks were supposed to fit into the equivalent of an Austin Mini. Talk about a clown car. Anyway, apparently S&S has this same level of 'scale optimism' that we see so much of in the hobby - it's too bad because, quality issues aside, they look quite nice on their own. 
The Elheim figures look very nice. By your description Greg, they seem to fit that class of figure that at first looks a bit questionable out-of-the-pack but once painted, based and seen as a unit they really 'bloom'. The great groundwork has really benefitted them as well. 
Wonderful work Greg!


  1. Fantastic work! Another setting I'd like to try one day... must.resist...

  2. too modern for me, there is no rocks nor beards;)
    but they are very well painted, you done a great work!

    Kind regards

  3. Excellent work Greg.

    This is definitely the year of the Russkis :)

  4. These are great and again I would have thought them to be 28mm. I salute you


  5. It takes a lot to make modern uniform and vehicle colors "pop" but you've somehow managed it. Beautiful work!

  6. Great looking models. Your paint job does, as Curt says, make them bloom. I makes me want to paint up some GIs to shoot them.

  7. This is so impressive. A real pleasure to see. I like that pic of all the different scales you paint in. The 28mm looks like a giant!

  8. You call it a mania, I call it awesome!

  9. Thank you for showcasing the wide range of modern figures. I only do 6mm Cold war era (But 20mm Afghanistan). But I could oh so easily start doing these. That's Wargames ADHD in action for you. Shame about S&S casting I like wise had only heard good things. But I know in a few spare moments today I will check all the ranges you have mentioned. Great Painting mate. Just Great painting.

  10. I agree with you about the size of the vehicles and the figures. But then, on the table the bigger vehicles don´t look well near the "common" size figures...

    Great painting work.

  11. yup spot on re vehicle scale.. but then you can also say the same re building , bridges etc.. They do however look cool!

  12. Thanks everyone for the comments. I have to agree with Curt - the issue of vehicle scales makes me snap my crayons; I can tolerate variability with the buildings and other terrain bits, but the vehicles are extensions of the troops, and should fit them properly - particularly the ones that are actually supposed to carry the soldiers!

  13. They all look great, Greg! Even though the armor is a touch off for 20mm, I betcha it'll look grand with your 15's! Probably the best reason to have all those scales, as you can find a home for every impulse buy...or is that a bad thing? ;)

  14. Very nice work indeed Greg - as usual! Shame about the S&S models as I am looking to them for my own foray into 20mm Modern Russians, but you have done a cracking job with these