Through the Snow: A 15mm WWII Late War US Infantry Firefight! | Print |  E-mail
Written by Don MacVittie   
Tuesday, 15 July 2008


The CD Figures without Greatcoats.

 

When the United States fully mobilized for World War II, the men drafted were a cross-section of American society. Rich, poor, handsome, ugly, fit, unfit… All were drafted, run through training, and sent to fight and die. Equipped with a variety of equipment depending upon when they were last re-equipped, and sometimes even being under-equipped, they fought on.

This review is our attempt to give you a cross-section of late war 15mm US Infantry. We ordered all of them that we could find, brought them into our painting area, and whipped them up, bringing you notes on what to expect from each vendor’s offering. Originally this review was slated for “US Infantry in Greatcoats”, but it’s been on the books for a while, and there were only a couple of vendors that provided that specific style, so we changed it to both with and without.

We were able to track down BattleFront, Command Decision, Essex, Historifigs/Resistant Roosters, Quality Castings, Quick Reaction Force, and Skytrex. This is quite the array of figures, and amounted to more than 200 individual soldiers.

After much examination and discussion, we have decided that Old Glory and Skytrex split the win on this one, with the winner if you live in the UK being Skytrex, and the winner if you live in the US being Old Glory. These figures are nice enough, and while in many ways Essex figures are better, there are some weaknesses to Essex that, for us, put them out of the running, and the variety of the CD line of figures clinched it in their favor.

Flames of War/BattleFront


The complete BF Unit.

BattleFront came as a unit-package as is normal for them. The benefit of purchasing these figures as a unit (which only BattleFront and Historifigs offer) is that you receive commanders and support figures right in the package, no need to pop off and purchase them separately. Of course, the weakness of this manner of delivery is that you need to use what is provided or “pop off and purchase them separately”. Since both BF and Historifigs/RR stick close to the actual TO&E of US infantry, this isn’t likely to be a problem for most of us.

The package came with 19 poses totaling 42 figures. This is a nice diversity of poses, and there were no more than four of any given figure included. These are signature BF figures in style, so if you like them overall, you’ll love these, and if you don’t like them, you won’t like these. The figures that come with this package but you won’t find included with most competitors are bazooka teams and leadership teams.

These figures are nice enough, with one figure having a miscast weapon and several having barrels bent so far that they broke on straightening. But the detail is BF-standard, with lifted straps that are readily paintable and expressive faces that look good even close up – something that is difficult at 15mm. Several of these figures had no shovel handles on their entrenching tools – which are the late war variant.

Of course, if you play Flames of War, this package is exactly what you need for a Late War US Infantry Platoon. None of the figures are in greatcoats, which is too bad as far as we’re concerned. Some greatcoats would have made this a perfect platoon, though they do limit the usefulness to winter battles if you’re touchy about that.


 

One of each pose from BF.

Manufacturer: BattleFront /Flames of War

Model: US702 - US Infantry Platoon 

US Sourcing: The Last Square

US Pricing:  $ 18.00

UK Sourcing: Battle Honours 

UK Pricing: £ 11.00

 

Command Decision/Old Glory


The Old Glory offering in Greatcoats.

For this review, we picked up both the 1944-1945 version of US Infantry and the Greatcoat version. That’s 50 of each, making up about 40% of the figures painted up for this review. You can’t knock CD for volume, and you can’t knock them for variety – the Greatcoat package had 10 poses, sending five of each pose, while the Mackinaw Jacket and shirt version came with 12 poses and 3-4 figures of each pose.

These are prototypical CD figures – flashy, and with bases that tend to be a little tippy for many poses, all of which cleans up pretty readily.


The Old Glory offering without Greatcoats.

The best thing about these figures is (surprise!) the variety and volume. 10 or unique 12 poses in a package and 50 figures in a pack is pretty good. Considering that they’re definitely “good enough”, that makes for a nice army for most games out of two to four bags. You’ll be short commanders and special units, but you can pick those up elsewhere or if you play a lot of Americans, keep a bag of each on hand (which is what we do) for use with every army. You may not need 25 LMG teams for a single army, but if you build three or four, you’ll waltz through an entire CD pack of 50 figures/25 teams.

The worst thing about these figures is the flesh. All of the fleshy bits are undersized and hard to paint. Or perhaps they’re not oversized enough – 1:100 of the human hand is tiny after all – either way, the hands look like skeletal little appendages on many of the figures, and the faces on some are tiny because the sculptor was working around collars, helmets, and in some cases scarves.

For figures without greatcoats, we found the delineation to be odd between tunic/Mackinaw Jacket and trousers. Some poses have clear jacket tails sticking out from under the belt on the front, but nothing similar in the back, others the line is there but not well done – even under primer we struggled to find it. We did manage to resolve the problem by painting these details in where they didn’t exist and using what was there, however faintly, where it did exist. And once they’re painted in this manner, the problem is no longer an issue – they look great because the eye expects that bit of tunic to be there, on most figures you can’t readily tell that it’s just painted on.


One of each figure in Greatcoats.

By contrast, the figures in greatcoats have some wonderful detail where the coat, leggings, and pants all come together. We think this feature of the figures is wonderful, and that it couldn’t be more well done. The scarves interacting with coat and helmet is nice, but the bottoms are excellent.


One of each pose without greatcoats.

 

Manufacturer: Old Glory/Command Decision 

Model: CDAI-14 Infantry in Greatcoats (50 per pack)

CDAI-08  Riflemen 44-45 (50 per pack)

US Sourcing: Warweb/Grandiosity

US Pricing:  $14.00 each pack.

UK Sourcing: Old Glory UK 

UK Pricing: £ 9.00 each pack.

 

Essex


The Essex figures.

This is the first time that we’ve had Essex Miniatures included in a review, and we’re happy to have them here for this one at least. Essex does a lot of 15/25/28mm miniatures, but overlap with our reviews has been sparse. Thankfully for this one they lined up nicely. The figures come in four poses, two figures of each pose. These are the only figures in this review that must have a base for painting – be it paint stick or their final base. They will not stand on their own, one of these figures having a base the size (exactly) of the figure’s feet with no depth to it at all.

The best thing about these figures is scaling. You get soldiers that are tall and thin, something that was quite often accurate in WWII due to ration strengths and farming lifestyles. We’re not saying that we think all figures should be Private Lanky Longlegs, but some of these mixed into your army will look grand. The rest of the figures are appropriately scaled also, making them look great on-table. Note though that these are the tallest (though not “largest” by overall scaling) figures in this review, so that may be a negative for you.

The largest negative is that these figures are just plain buried in kit. While backpacks were not generally worn into combat, combat wasn’t always planned, so we’re good with backpacks being included, but these figures are so laden that we wonder how they can stand up to shoot.

Also not a great feature, many of these figures come with carbines instead of rifles.

But they’re pretty, they have that lanky look that screams very fit, under-fed young man. Since you can get them in small quantities, mixing them into your force wouldn’t be a bad idea.


One of each Essex pose.

Manufacturer: Essex Miniatures 

Model Number: US1 - Asst Advancing with Carbine

UK Sourcing: Essex Miniatures 

UK Pricing: £  2.06

US Customers order direct from Essex.

 

Historifigs/Resistant Roosters


The RR Platoon.

We have not yet been able to hook up with Historifigs for a review, when there was overlap between their product and our reviews, they inevitably couldn’t meet our deadlines or were discontinuing the line in question. So we’re reasonably happy to have this product in the review – though having one less 15mm vendor isn’t the best, at least Resistant Roosters product line went to a vendor that will try to do them justice.

The pack comes with 43 figures in a total of 16 poses – a nice mix. It is set up as a platoon-style formation, so command and support are there. Most figures wear greatcoats, a few do not. The mix is nice, as the heavy use of greatcoats makes it clear this is a winter unit, but the figures in Mackinaw jackets add color to an army that might otherwise be dark.

Resistant Roosters figures are generally larger and have more character than most figures, and these are no exception. Whether you like larger and full of character is up to you. The figures have good poses and aside from over-sized hands are generally anatomically well done. The hands are large enough to seem like they’re in gloves, but since riflemen didn’t generally use gloves in combat, we didn’t paint them that way. There is this one figure, a commander, who has The World’s Biggest Arm ™. Since the arm is up in the air, we think this figure is included in the set so that you can super-glue him to your army tray and use the hand as a handle, but likely we’re wrong.


The figure with The World’s Largest Arm™

The worst thing about these figures is size. This doesn’t matter if you’re making an all-RR army, but if you like the amazing amount of character in these figures, but use other vendor’s products, these figures are much larger than other vendors. You could conceivably use them with BF figures if you were willing to accept that the RR were your larger soldiers.

The helmets on these figures are oversized, but you can actually see the helmet liners. If you like that type of detail, then they’re fine, while if the helmet size matters to you, you won’t like this feature.

We love the weapons with these figures. The BAR Rifles are great, the rifles are in line with the 15mm heroic scaling, the only quibble we have with them is that there seem to be too many carbines, but that’s a taste issue to some extent. Carbines were lighter weapons with less range, so whether they were used or not depended to some extent on availability and the taste of the soldier.

 The item that is truly off-scale on the Resistant Rooster figures is the pistol holsters. They’re at least twice as long as reality would dictate. Since only a few figures have the oversized holster, and it’s not obvious, you could leave them, or file them down, as suits your needs.

Like other figures in this review that are properly dressed in heavy winter gear, the faces on some of these figures are difficult to paint well. We recommend painting flesh first and not getting too worked up about overflowing onto scarf and shirt, and then painting the shirt – though we didn’t do this, we touched up the uniforms.


One of each pose form the RR set.

Manufacturer: Historifigs/Resistant Roosters

Model: AM-100 US Infantry Platoon in Greatcoat

US Sourcing: Histoirifigs 

US Pricing: $19.25

UK Customers can order direct from Historifigs. 

 

Peter Pig


The Peter Pig figures.

Peter Pig has a way of making figures look great with a few poses. They come eight figures in a bag, and these figures are fully geared down. We’d call it “full kit”. As always with Martin’s figures, they are well crafted and seem to be designed with the painter in mind – particularly the drybrush painter.

None of the figures have greatcoats, and their dress is summer. We received three poses with a total of eight figures. If you like other Piggie sets, you’ll love these figures, they have all of the tell-tales you’ve come to expect of Peter Pig products, right down to the open-mouthed look that some love and others hate.

The best thing about our eight little Piggies is that the poses look like you’d expect. Perhaps we’re spoiled by our experiences with Army Men at a young age, but these are the poses you want in your army – kneeling and firing, standing and firing, advancing with weapon ready. That combined with the level of detail makes for a nice effect. Other vendors have some wonderful poses that we really like, but these are archetypical, and we like that.

The worst thing about these figures is the fact that these figures have no necks. Seriously. There’s no space that you could call a neck at all. Their helmets rest hard on the shoulders. Not too far behind this fact is the guns. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Peter Pig always makes their guns – all guns, vehicles, figures, AT, whatever – thicker than reality. That’s to guard them from the wear and tear that wargaming inevitably places on figures. We’re okay with that, it’s a stylistic choice and at least there’s a solid reason for it. But we look at each figure or model when we review them and decide if they pulled it off without looking too fake. In the case of these figures, the weapons, all rifles in the set that we purchased, look far too short and fat for the figures.

The point that could be a strength or a weakness, depending upon your tastes, is that all of these figures come loaded with kit – backpacks, entrenching tools, you name it. As we said earlier, it’s rare that a soldier voluntarily went into battle so loaded down, but sometimes when battle was brought to them or they feared the ability to recover their gear (as in Bastogne), then it did indeed happen.

All in all, if your army is Piggie, you’ll be happy with these, but if you’re trying to mix and match figures, the Peter Pig figures will be out of place because of their weaponry.


One of each PP pose.

Manufacturer: Peter Pig 

Model Number: 8-59 US Riflemen Firing 

US Sourcing: Brookhurst Hobbies

US Pricing: $ 5.35

UK Sourcing: Peter Pig

UK Pricing:  £ 2.20

 

Quality Castings


The BH/QC set.

We received 24 figures from Quality Castings, and they came in seventeen poses – which is a huge percentage of unique poses. That wasn’t the only pleasant surprise in the Quality Castings package. These are definitely not your father’s QC. The figures are a head taller than most of our QC figures, and they still look like other QC figures. Of course, if you have a large investment in QC US figures, this may not be good news to you, but QC consistently came across as the small-fries of 15mm gaming, this is the first infantry we’ve received that had be re-sculpted to be more in line with other vendors.

The best thing about these figures is without a doubt that change in size. They have all the look and feel of BH figures, but they’re larger – thus the details are more clear and easier to paint. Maintaining the look keeps line consistency, when you look at these you instantly know that they’re QC/BH figures.

The worst thing, believe it or not, is the weapons. It seems odd that coming out of the Universal Carrier Review (http://wargames.nordalia.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=174&Itemid=65), where the Bren guns were absolutely wonderful, it is unfortunate that even the rifles amongst these figures are not quite what we would expect. It is like someone cut them out of pie dough and slapped them on there – they are squared, and the back of most guns have no detail at all, they’re just flat. Since there is no real “Back side of the gun” for a man firing a rifle, it is noticeable.

Still, the plusses outweigh the negatives on these figures, and we were very pleased with them. The necks may be too thin for you, but that would be true of nearly every figure in this review if it is true for BH, so check out the pictures carefully if this is a concern for you.


One of each pose from QC.

 

 

Quick Reaction Force


The QRF Figures.

QRF is generally hit-or-miss on quality. We think that the items that are new or have been re-sculpted are great and those that are older have variable quality. These figures must be from the “older” club because they are somewhere between the best and the worst we’ve seen.

We received eight total figures, two of each in four poses. While the poses are not bad at all, and the figures paint up well enough, they do remind us of 28mm Super-heroic figures in that the weapons and hands are oversized. There is a thing on the end of the barrel of each rifle that we are uncertain as to what it is supposed to be. The possibilities are a sighting mechanism of some kind, and the bipod. While the bipod won the argument, it is not a clear win since the bit extends well above the barrel of the weapon.

Interestingly, one pose has a weapon and hands that are properly sized to the figure, but only one. These are otherwise good-looking figures that you’ll enjoy, and if you like your machine-gunner to look like he’s carrying a 50 at his waist and firing it, you’ll be extremely pleased with these figures.

The best thing about these figures is the faces. A tiny bit of over-sizing on the nose makes them very easy to paint up and achieve a good look. The faces are expressive, and the nose bit is something no one else in this review did.

The worst thing is the pose of the arms and weapons. They feel un-natural in that amateurish way that our figures tend to turn out when we try our hand with sculpting. Except we’re not being paid to make rubber bandy arms. We think this is due to the oversized weapons because the best looking pose is the one with the weapon sized correctly.

They’re also a little sharp on the cloth folds. It becomes difficult to accurately shade figures if the edges of the cloth folds are too harsh, and these are right on the edge. While painting can fix this, it takes a bit more time to cover, and you should be aware of it.

Overall, these figures will do you well enough, and if you like your figures to look like Rambo in pose and weapon size, or like very expressive faces that are easy to paint, you’ll be more than pleased with QRF. If you like lifelike poses, right-sized weapons, and clean sculptings, then these are probably not the figures for you.


One of each QRF pose.

Manufacturer: LKM Direct/Quick Reaction Force

Model Number:  AMI 03 US BAR Teams

US Sourcing: Wargames, Inc

US Pricing:  $ 3.90

UK Sourcing:  LKM Direct/Quick Reaction Force

UK Pricing: £  2.00


Skytrex


The Skytrex figures.

In most ways that matter, these Skytrex figures are the same as the CD figures reviewed above, with the important difference being that you can buy them in 10 packs. Which we did, ten in greatcoat that came in eight different poses, and ten in Mackinaw Jackets that came in six different poses.

Like CD, these are pretty figures with a few oddities. While lots of people rave about how much less flash there is on Skytrex figures than CD, we just don’t see it in the figures we receive. These were no exception. They’re certainly not worse than CD, but they’re not much better either.

One thing that is true for both CD and Skytrex that we held out so that the Skytrex write-up wasn’t empty is this – both vendors have figures with holey greatcoats. It’s only one pose, but it is very cool. The entire greatcoat is ratty, holes, frayed ends, etc. And it is a very cool effect. We definitely classify this as the best thing about the Skytrex figures.

The worst thing about Skytrex is, like CD, the flesh. Small hands, pinched faces, etc.

Straps on these figures are a bit lame – thin, sometimes to the point of non-existence. While we don’t mind a missing strap at 15mm due to scaling issues, we don’t like having one that fades away.

We’re pleased with the Skytrex offering overall, and have to say that being able to order just as much as you want instead of bags of 50 is appealing, but since Skytrex is in the UK and OG/CD is in the US, we’re guessing that you will not be using both vendors to build your armies.

If you like CD figures and are in the UK, Skytrex will please you – though for a change, these and the OGCD are the smallest figures in the review.


One of each Skytrex pose.

Manufacturer: Skytrex 

Model Number:

CD AS2 US Rifle Squad Assaulting

CD AS7 US Rifle Squad in Greatcoats

UK Sourcing:  Skytrex 

UK Pricing: £  2.00

US Customers can order direct from Skytrex.

 

Comparisons


Measurements


Measurements with paint and no painting bases.

Discuss this article on the forums, here 

Painting Guide

Helmet – Brown Violet

Backpack/Greatcoat – Olive Drab

Backpack/Greatcoat highlight – 2:1 Olive Drab and Gray Green.

Jackets/Shirts – Khaki

Jacket/Shirt highlights – 2:1 Khaki and Deck Tan.

Web Gear/Leggings – Khaki

Wood – Flat Brown

Metal – Gunmetal Grey

Leather – Saddle Brown

Flesh – Reaper Master Series Tanned Flesh Triad.

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