Nuts! Army Boxes V: The Battlefront 15mm US Parachute Rifle Company | Print |  E-mail
Written by Don MacVittie   
Friday, 08 February 2008
When the Battlefront U.S. Para Company box was released, there was a bit of a flap about the nature of the poses, oversizing and dwarfism. Of course, being product reviewers, this piqued our interest, so we picked a box up for review. The WebMistress is a fan of American paras and has two companies already. We figured we could make a third for her and perhaps have enough left to build one for ourselves.


The topic of review.

U.S. paratroopers fought over and over in circumstances that were, to put it mildly, less than ideal. They often took losses on jumps, and then were used as infantry long after they should have been pulled back to let regular infantry take the front. And yet, they kept at it, again and again, even heading into Bastogne short of practically everything—particularly ammo.

So painting up this box was not a huge imposition for us, just time consuming.


First up, let’s talk about contents. Battlefront advertises on the front of the box that there are 159 figures inside. In our case, that’s a lie. There are a lot more than 159, and we suspect there will be more than 159 in your box also. Here’s why: There are six bazooka teams at two men each; six command stands at two or three men each; three mortar stands at three men each; three two man (plus cart) cart stands; and 32 four man infantry stands, for a total of 182 figures just to fill the bases listed on the back of the box. One of the command stands gets only two figures, including Lt. Turnbull.

And they do fill the bases completely. We had four extra figures: a casualty, a rifleman, a second rifleman (who was miscast), a commander and a mortar crewman. We used the fact that there was an extra commander to pick out one command figure that made a nice-looking pathfinder, and placed him with the signal unit.  One thing we enjoyed about these figures is their armament. They're loaded. Nearly every one of them has a boot knife - something that Holland civilians note over and over in their memoirs, and many of the figures bear pistols - another thing oft-noted that many of these men had traded side-arms from air force buddies. No mention of what they traded to get them though.


The completed box set.

One of the reasons some were disappointed with our Resistant Rooster Japanese Army review was that we showed only the figures we mounted up to make our Poor Bloody Infantry (PBI) army, and just talked about the others. So for this review, we took a couple of pictures of the overall army sitting on the provided bases, then took some pictures of select figures to bring out the detail. We did not finish the bases because we will be using these figures in PBI armies, and we like to keep our PBI figures on square bases.

A little of this, a little of that.

When we first opened this box, we found some figures that we thought were sadly misshapen, and some that we thought were great stuff. During the process of painting, our impressions were reinforced. There are a couple of figures with no torsos, the bazookas are huge, and some helmets are oversized for the heads they’re on. But at the same time, there are some lovely poses, and some—no, all—of the “add on” items are very nice. 

When we presented the finished product to The WebMistress for inspection, she duly reported that “they still look like cartoon characters.” Thankfully, some of that was the last few days of pregnancy speaking, and some of it was ephemeral reaction. We were able to pick out a few that she really likes, and we’ll be basing them up for her new company.

We’ll get the ugly out of the way first so that we can talk about some of the really nice figures that are included in this box. 


Selected Rifle and BAR figures from the box.

Notice the leftmost figure. We affectionately call this figure “BAR gunner in the outhouse.” He is the chief example of “no torso” syndrome mentioned above. While all of the figures in this picture have longer legs than seems natural, the BAR gunner’s pose makes it most obvious, while the kneeling rifleman on the right minimizes the impact.


Riflemen and Thomson figures from the box.

This group has the same problem, but it’s not quite as noticeable. The leftmost figure has no torso, and the other figures suffer from the same condition to a lesser or greater extent. The middle two figures pass muster as normal men easily, and the rightmost figure does pretty well also.


Command figures from the box.

In our opinion, the command figures are better looking across the board. This small selection shows how even the worst of the officer figures (the leftmost one) is far better than the BAR gunner or the SMG gunner on the left of the previous two pictures

Next are the bazooka teams. There are three distinct pose sets included in our box, two of each. Below is a picture of two of these distinct poses, the third being kneeling and firing.


Sample BF bazooka teams.

While nearly all 15mm personnel weapons are oversized—think of a Luger with all dimensions reduced by 100—this bazooka is a monster! That tube can hold quite the round … what do you think, around 100mm or 120mm? With that said, the figures do not look bad on the tabletop, so if you’re an “overall look” person, this oversizing won’t bother you too much. 



Mortar team from the box.

Airborne companies simply must have their mortar teams. Most games do not adequately represent the terror that mortars can rain down upon an enemy; if you want examples see 101st in Holland, where one man with one 60mm mortar broke up a German attack nearly single-handedly, or 101st in Bastogne, where they suffered horrible casualties from small-caliber mortars due to frozen ground. Bottom line, an Airborne unit without mortars is … not an airborne unit. These figures are nice enough, and the gunner is somewhat unique, but he’s also difficult to paint. He’s in a perfectly natural pose and well proportioned, but the crossing of arms and legs is something you have to be careful about if you use different colors for pants and tunics (we do).

And that crosses us out of the realm of complaint, nitpicky or not, and into the praise section of the article. Some of the special units BF has provided are great stuff, and credit-where-credit is due and all …



The first sniper team.

The kneeling sniper team is great fun. The hand pulling back the bolt on the sniper rifle is too large (as the pictures shows), but that is the only complaint we have. It’s a pretty set, and we’re looking forward to basing it and the following two sniper stands for the WebMistress to use as PBI snipers; currently all of our PBI snipers are 1:72 figures to differentiate them from our 1:100 armies, but we’ll use basing to differentiate these. 



The prone sniper team.

This is another sweet sniper set. We really think BF did a good job with all of the snipers included in the box.

And then we have the bundle gatherers. These guys aren’t listed on the back of the box, but they should be—they’re a definite plus of purchasing the set.


One unmounted bundle gathering team.

We haven’t glued the open hands to the cart handles because we don’t yet know how we’re going to mount them. These figures are nice enough, but the pose is what we really like. Note: When first we started on this review, we assumed the carts went on stands alone to represent where parapacks fell, but nazrat set us straight in this thread on TMP (http://theminiaturespage.com/boards/msg.mv?id=131470). Thanks to nazrat! 

The pathfinder beacon is a nice bit also:



The pathfinder beacon.

We’ll make this into an objective. It’s simple, but again, relatively unique. We think it was a good call including it in the box.

And finally, one of the key features of the company box, Lt. Turnbull.


Lt. Turnbull

This is a nice figure, but we didn’t think he was the best-looking command figure in the box. It is pretty unique, and certainly nice enough, but not anything to rush out and buy an entire company box for. Now of course, that combined with all of the other bonuses in the box might well be worth it. If you don’t hate the figures, anyway.

 

A Note About Flames Of War Compatibility.

If you purchase this company box for use with Afrika, make certain that you buy some extra small bases. The box is marked as mid-to-late war, but does not conform to the Afrika configuration. To make it fit, you’ll need more than five command teams: one to two bases for company command and two per platoon. There are three platoons worth of figures, but only five small bases included. Alternatively, you could mount your command teams on large bases. Just make certain they’re identifiable. 

The box works as-is for D-1, though you’ll want some support units.

Overall, we’re not displeased with the selection, though the oversized weapons and torso-less figures are a heavy weight upon the army. Check the pictures and decide if that’s a deal-breaker for you. The extras are very nice, and we particularly like the snipers.

 

US Source:  The War Store

US Price (MSRP): $60.00

UK Source: Battle Honours UK

UK Price (MSRP): £39.00

 

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