Beach Bums: A 15mm U.S. Marine Mega-Firefight! | Print |  E-mail
Written by Don MacVittie   
Tuesday, 24 July 2007

* These units are painted as Army support units and built from Army figures

It's Wargames @ Nordalia.com's one year anniversary, and we wanted to do something special, so we built a review/painting guide/army list article all in one for you.


Starting in 1942, U.S. Marines jumped from island to island across the Pacific, driving the Japanese out. With Army support, they cleared island after island at a cost that some would call unbearable, and yet they boarded ships again and again, moving ever closer to mainland Japan.

From Betio to Iwo Jima they hit the beaches, knowing that many would not come home, but also realizing that they were the primary force standing between Japan and the free world. Their bravery is nearly unparalleled in the annals of World War II, and their ability to win�both when outnumbering their enemy and when outnumbered�was vital to the retaking of the Pacific.

Special thanks to Todd (ace1rush) for reading this monstrosity for us, he offered great feedback that made a better article - and had solid suggestions for future articles.

The Review

This article is different from most of our reviews in that it includes both an army-building exercise and a review of the available WWII U.S. Marines. There are a lot of pictures, because there are a lot of figures, and there's a lot of information because we're offering our painting guide along with the notes on using this army in Poor Bloody Infantry, Flames of War and I Ain't Been Shot, Mum! rulesets.

For this review, we brought Marine infantry by Battle Honors, Command Decision, Eureka Miniatures, Peter Pig and Resistant Roosters into our painting area to give you an idea of which works with which, one way to paint them, and which vendors' sculptures are best. Because we were bringing in all of these product lines, we turned to Battlefront and Command Decision for support units, making those units be U.S. Army�since they are.

We took our pictures before finishing out the bases, the better to view the figures. Rest assured that we'll have them all palmed and bouldered up before they hit our table. Along these same lines, you'll notice the occasional dot of white on a figure�that's where we slipped with plaster, and we normally clean that up when we put the finishing touches on the bases.

First Platoon, Mixed Company



Our first platoon has three different types of figures in it, from Eureka, Peter Pig and Command Decision. One well-mixed platoon is good for seeing how the figures look together, but this was not by plan. Before this became a full-blown review, we started by picking up a few Eureka Miniatures and a platoon of Resistant Roosters, then decided that with only a few vendors offering 15mm Marines, we were halfway to a review. Instead of ordering enough Peter Pig and Eureka to fill out a platoon each, which would have been one too many platoons, we made a mixed unit. Seeing them all together, we're glad we did.
Eureka


These Eureka miniatures are brand-new sculpts (or were in January when we bought them), and they're beautiful. A little bit on the small side, the only figures they do not fit with at all are the Resistant Roosters and Battle Honors minis, neither of which is in this platoon.

These figures come in small packs of two to eight figures with a huge variety of poses, including shotguns, grease guns and more.



All of the poses we own are anatomically accurate, and the figures are extraordinarily well-crafted. The details are proportional, yet still have enough sharpness to paint up reasonably well. In all, you'll be pleased with these figures. We found them to be among the best available, and the only thing we would change would be to give them landing kit so that they'd be more natural in beach-assault scenarios. But frankly, we don't intend to build separate armies for beach assaults and inland assaults, where the marines generally took off the extraneous kit and left it in the rear, so this isn't a big deal.



If you want to see more of the Eureka line, never fear � we did too. You'll find some pictures and commentary below in the Support and HMG (heavy machine gun) sections, because we purchased those also.

Eureka Miniatures
U.S. Sourcing: Eureka Miniatures USA
UK Sourcing: Fighting 15s
Eureka Miniatures come in very small packs of three to 10 figures at reasonable prices (in the U.S., $3.25 to $8.00).
Peter Pig


Peter Pig has a wide range of miniatures, so it's no surprise that the company makes U.S. Marines. Our first thought on pulling these out of the box were that the poses looked eerily similar to the extensive Peter Pig U.S. Army range. So we pulled out the Army figures that matched our Marines, and gave them a quick comparison. We're happy to report that Peter Pig scaling is simply that consistent, and these figures do not have any overlap. This wouldn't have been a major issue for us�we don't know about you, but we've painted up 28mm U.S. Army figures as Marines�but many people want the kit to match up perfectly with the historical version.

These Marines fit well with those from Eureka and Command Decision, with Eureka figures being just a touch thinner and shorter than the Peter Pig figures, and the Peter Pig figures being just a bit thinner and shorter than the Command Decision figures. Mixed together, the difference is small enough that you won't notice it.



Like the Eureka Miniatures, none of these figures comes with full kit on his body. Again, not a major issue, but it is something you should be aware of.

The poses are anatomically accurate, possibly a bit chunky for their height, but not enough to matter at three-feet distance. The figures we purchased and used for this platoon are all firing riflemen, but Peter Pig does offer a nice enough range of figures in a variety of poses.



As with Eureka, if you like the look of the Peter Pig figures, check out the machine-gun platoon; we have some HMGs from Peter Pig also. The 37mm and 57mm AT (antitank) guns with crews that we purchased did not fit with our finalized versions, so they're being reassigned to the Army.

Peter Pig
U.S. Sourcing: Brookhurst Hobbies
UK Sourcing: Direct from Peter Pig
Peter Pig figures come in packs of eight men for �2.20 in the UK or $4.85 in the U.S..

The remainder of the platoon is Command Decision, but because Command Decision has an entire platoon, we will not cover it here.

Second Platoon - Command Decision



Command Decision offers a good range of Marine figures, with the caveat that in the United States, the smallest number you can order is 50 figures. Note also that they're packaged by troop type�infantry with hats, infantry in helmets, LMGs (light machine guns), mortars, HMGs .... While they're nice enough, and overall the price is right, we have nearly full bags of LMGs and HMGs from CD sitting around taking up space. We'll use them eventually, but wish that we had an outlet in the States like Skytrex that would allow us to purchase just what we need of the specialized units. Of course, we used the entire bag of riflemen in this army, so that was a bargain.



We ordered a bag advertised on WarWeb as "Marines in soft caps," but in reality, the bag is only 50 percent soft caps�exactly 25 soft cap and 25 helmeted figures came in the bag. That's okay though, it let us put some variety into the platoon.



We were very pleasantly surprised by the variety of poses and the sculpting style. The figures are well proportioned, perhaps just a bit bulky for their size, but like Peter Pig, not enough to notice at tabletop distance, and if you hold up a stand and just look at it, it looks just fine, so this may amount to an opinion rather than a review observation. Take a look at the pictures and decide for yourself.



Frankly, all of the games we built this army to play in, except for Poor Bloody Infantry, use a ton of Marines, so a bag of 50 figures is a great way to bulk out your army. Having the majority of the figures come with full kit means that they look great on a beach, so if that matters to you, Command Decision is definitely the route to go. These figures require more cleanup than any others, but it's not too much.

As with Eureka and Peter Pig, we used some of the LMGs and one command figure in the machine gun and weapons platoons, so if you want to see more, check out those sections of this review.Command Decision
U.S. Source: Warweb
UK Source: Old Glory UK

For smaller packages of the same basic figures in the U.K., Skytrex is useful.
Command Decision comes in packs of 50 figures with a good mix. USMC Pack #2 contains an even greater mix as the figures are half soft-cap and half helmeted. In the U.K., Skytrex sells smaller numbers of figures.

Third Platoon - Resistant Roosters



Some people swear by Resistant Roosters. We purchased a platoon pack that comes with an entire historical infantry platoon and found them to be acceptable. The one thing we struggled: command figures. The package comes with men bearing satchel charges and flamethrowers, but no obvious command staff. There are men with carbines, and we tried using them, which is good for the later-war TO&E, but we wanted to use this army for all island-hopping, so we substituted Command Decision command staff � in fact, all of the Marine command teams come from Command Decision.



The figures are larger than any others in the review, and while they can be used with Command Decision figures, the size difference is more noticeable than the other combinations. Still, the figures are well-proportioned and smaller than 20mm figures (yeah, we checked). They're just bigger than most figures in this review. There are a few with oversized arms, but that seems to happen relatively often with 15mm figures. When put together in the platoon, they sure look pretty good.



The variety of poses offered by Resistant Roosters is nice enough, and the figures look good when painted up. The ratio of BARs (Browning automatic rifles) is a little high for standard TO&Es, but not too high�just over two per squad. None of the figures has full kit, but again, that is or is not a problem for you as your tastes dictate.



We did not use Resistant Roosters figures in any other platoons for this review, but there are enough left over that we'd have a good start to an engineer platoon in a Type F (very late war) TO&E.

Resistant Roosters
U.S. Sourcing: Scale Creep Miniatures
UK Sourcing: none, but you could try direct from RR or through Dream Factor in France.The Marines you see here are the smallest amount you can buy directly from Resistant Roosters, as they sell in platoon sizes. Historifigs offers Resistant Roosters singles, a good option.

Weapons platoon, mix and match



The weapons platoon is an integral part of the Marine company under most TO&Es, and we built it as such. The platoon consists of three 60-millimeter mortars and three LMGs. They were assigned as needed to combat platoons, or retained by the command staff to provide cover for the entire company, depending on the situation.

Our weapons platoon is composed of three Eureka 60mm mortars, one Eureka 30-caliber LMG and two Command Decision LMGs.



The figures go relatively well together; of all of the Eureka figures, the prone LMG team included in this review is the only one that's a little long for the rest of the body, making it fit in well with the CD figures.




Eureka figures are a little more expensive than most products in this review, but their poses are realistic, they're nicely crafted, and the company is a good source of those "just need a few" figures. At a few dollars a pack, it's certainly less expensive to outfit a single company�or even two companies�with LMGs through Eureka than through Command Decision.



The CD figures are nice though, and include a wide variety of different standing, sitting and prone poses, so if you're looking to deck out a couple of armies, they're definitely worth the cost.



Overall, the weapons platoon works well for us. We also had some Battle Honors light mortars, but frankly, the mortars were too thin, and the figures were also. They would work okay with Eureka figures, but they're obviously an older product, and the lay of the uniform and level of detail don't approach today's sculpts.

HMG Platoon - Eureka and Peter Pig



Our HMG Platoon consists of one Eureka HMG, three Peter Pig HMGs and a Command Decision command team. Note that Peter Pig comes eight figures to a pack, so we ended up short one gun commander. CD to the rescue again, we snagged one from our bag of Marine leaders and put him on as a gun commander.



The Peter Pig guns are nice enough, very solid, but we felt they were a little bulky. That is absolutely open to interpretation, and as you can see, they certainly look good enough. They also go well with CD figures right on the same stand, as this picture shows.



The Eureka figures are nice also, offering a different pose for the HMG. We like the look and feel of the Eureka miniatures, but the Peter Pigs work just as well. Overall, we're pleased with the HMG platoon, but we're looking forward to decorating the bases so that the differences in the figures are less glaring�the Eureka figures have more creases in the uniform, and they're more sharply defined.



Still, a good group to have together:





U.S. Army 81mm Mortar Platoon, Battlefront

Honestly, the finish needs some work on these figures, but they're Army support, so we went ahead and used these pictures. Worse, while writing we realized that we didn't have a standalone picture of just the mortar platoon after they were finished. As such, we're giving you the "under construction" picture. Unfortunately at this time our photographic studio does not have a permanent home, so it must be set up and stripped down each time we use it�a lot of work for a single picture. When next we take pictures we'll update this one.



The rest of the pictures are of the finished product. This platoon is the normal Battlefront U.S. Army Mortar platoon with enough transport to support the four teams used by the Marine army. Note that the BF blister comes with the six teams required in the core Flames of War and Afrika books.

The teams are nice enough, though for some reason we grew tired of that figure bent over covering his ears�likely because the artillery platoon has those figures also.



A group of 81mm mortars were part of the battalion support unit assigned to companies as needed, so this army has four mortar tubes assigned to it.



Honestly, the transport is the best part of this platoon. Though painful to paint, the jeeps are really very nice, complete with all sorts of stowage.



On the flip side, because so much stowage is crammed in there and the jeep plus trailer are on a single stand, painting can be painful. But the results are well worth it, in our opinion.

Antitank Platoon

Division also held mobile antitank resources, mostly M3 GMC 75s, but late in the war the options were more varied. Because we had an excellent selection of unused M3 GMCs from our M3 GMC 75mm Review, we chose two that we liked and used them to form the mobile AT.



The Battlefront model is nice enough, in fact, we think it's great with the figures in place, they definitely add a lot. Because we've already reviewed this product, we'll refrain from getting all talkative about it, and just offer you the other picture.



The Quality Castings M3 GMC 75mm is excellent also, we like the way the figure is carved and the stowage that comes included. Again, just the pictures:



Artillery Support - BattleFront 105mm guns



The Artillery Platoon is two sets of the Battlefront 105mm blister. That's a lot of lead, but they do look nice�with the exception of the guy bent over covering his ears. He looked OK the first few dozen times we saw him, but we got tired of the pose and now despise the figure!

Staff


The staff is BF's usual very-well-done table arrangement, and we like building these as well or better than the guns themselves.


Observers
The Observers are a neat little trick, one stand per two-gun section. They're good-looking little figures that give you the feeling of two guys hunkered down somewhere.


Artillery Teams
Artillery is a regimental support unit that will give this company a definite punch. Personally, being on the receiving end of a 105 bombardment would not make us into heroes.

The Artillery teams themselves are very nicely done, with the guns having a good amount of detail. The crew is pretty standard for Battlefront figures.





Battlefront Miniatures

U.S. Sourcing: Brookhurst Hobbies
UK Sourcing: Battle Honours UK

Light Tank Platoon, Command Decision



Attached from Division, a small unit of M3 Stuarts is ideal to take out Japanese machine gun nests and bunkers. Mobile enough to get to the right spot on the battlefield quickly, armored enough to stop almost anything the average Japanese infantry company can offer and with enough firepower to root Japanese out of bunkers, they're just the ticket.



We purchased a bag of three Command Decision Stuarts and were very pleased with what we received. The only negative from our perspective was the lack of a commander�after purchasing bags of HMGs and LMGs and using only a few of them, we didn't want to purchase a bag of tank commanders. So we took one of the infantry commanders that fit what we were after, cut him off and mounted him up as the tank commander.



These must be from relatively new masters, because they're very crisp and had little in the way of mold lines. All in all, these are some great-looking little tanks.



When these bad boys roll across the beach, the Japanese better find some cover, or have a field gun nearby.

Company Command


The company command team is where the bazookas are placed in the historical TO&E, along with the commander and the second in command. For ours, we pulled Marine command figures from our CD bag and took two bazooka teams from Battle Honors to fill out the team.



The command figures are nice enough, and as with most CD command figures, there's plenty of detail, and they paint up nicely. The variety of poses is always a bonus with CD.



The Battle Honors figures, on the other hand, are too skimpy and lack in detail. We believe this is an old sculpt due to the size and look forward to the resculpting of these figures. While they pass as bazookas, we also ordered advancing figures, mortars and machine guns ... and chose not to use any of them in the army due to poor positions and size issues. In particular, all of the advancing riflemen are aiming at something in the trees. Not uncommon in the Pacific, but 24 figures all looking the same place? Too much for us. Combined with the size and detail issues, it did them in.




We're planning on using these stands only until we can replace them with figures from Command Decision or Eureka.

The Wargames @ Nordalia.com WWII Marine Painting Guide

Marine HBT�the cotton herringbone twill fabric�was a much brighter green than anything the Army used, looking almost like a pale pine or sage when first issued. There are reports of it fading rapidly, and reports of dirt covering up the colors, but that gives us a solid place to start.For these Marines, we chose the following color combinations:
  • Uniform - American Uniform
    • Drybrushed with 2:1 American Uniform and White
    • Some figures were further drybrushed with 1:1 American Uniform and White to show fading
  • Helmet and other camo
    • base color: Khaki
    • camo colors
      • Flat Brown
      • American Uniform
      • Iraqi Sand
    • If you like, a very light drybrush of 1:1 white to khaki will make camo look faded; we didn't do this with these Marines
  • Leggings, helmet straps, cloth gear and belt
    • Stone Grey
  • Radio boxes
    • Russian Uniform or Bronze Green
  • Rifles
    • Howard Hues Rifle Butt (could be replaced with Vallejo flat brown)
  • Metal
    • Black with a drybrush of gunmetal gray
  • Boots, Canteen and leather gear
    • Saddle Brown
  • Canteen top
    • Gunmetal Gray
  • Flesh
    • Sunny skin
  • Artillery Shells
    • Reaper bronze base, black head

Vehicles

The vehicles are just painted as vehicles, we'll save that paint guide for the next U.S. Vehicle review we do.


Each Rifle Platoon has a Command Decision soft-topped 2.5 ton GMC 6x6 truck and a Battlefront 2.5 ton GMC 6x6 truck. This truck is not the best�based on the shape it's clearly a soft cab, but it's very difficult to find the bottom edge of the soft top, even when you have excellent references to see where it should be. Otherwise the truck is fine.

The Weapons Platoon has a single Battlefront 2.5 Ton GMC for transport.

The Mortar Platoon has jeeps as pictured with the platoon.

The HMG Platoon doesn't have dedicated transport at this time, we're stealing it from a Ranger company.

The Artillery Platoon is using Battlefront M2 GMCs as tows.


For painting U.S. Military vehicles, primarily softskins, we highly recommend Allied Liberation Vehicles by Francois Bertin. This book is crammed with color photos, specifications and insignia information. We've got a lot of solid references, but on this specific topic, we think Mr. Bertin is tops.

This book is printed in English by Casemate who sells it in the U.S., it is distributed in the U.K. by Greenhill Books.

Height Comparisons

Due to the huge size of this article we are not going to offer detailed measurement analysis, but so that you know which figures work with one another, here are some comparison pictures.



Note that we did not have a painted standing BH figure, so you get a black primed one.



None of the Resistant Roosters figures were kneeling, so they are left out of this picture.

Notice how when the figures are kneeling, the height differences are not as pronounced, but are still there. Yes, we know, stand heights and all, but you get the idea.

The Freebie Part:
Do you need some Marines? We've got some extras! We'll ship you a mixed pack of 50 Marines (mostly CD and BH, mostly LMGs and HMGs) for free if you are the first person to fulfill the following:
  1. Must have been registered on the site before 24 July 2007
  2. Must not be a part of the core Wargames @ Nordalia team (Todd, you're eligible, writers and editors are not).
  3. Are willing to share your street address with us (because we have to ship it somewhere!)
  4. Can answer the following question on the forums:
"According to Gordon L. Rottman, how many allied troops did the Japanese IGHQ estimate were on New Caledonia and how many were actually there?"

That's it. We've got the extras, and we like to reward those who take the time to register and participate. Thanks for a GREAT year, and hopefully we can do more give-aways in the future.

This giveaway is not sponsored by a vendor, these are figures we purchased for this review and for one reason or another did not use. We will not bury you with 50 of the BH figures we did not like - unless that is your preference - though some may be BH. This really is a "Sure, we'll use them one day, but all these great people visit the site, let's give them to one of them so these Marines can be used today!" thing.

Sample Armies

This army is built to work with Flames of War utilizing the excellent lists assembled by the FoW Pacific Group, I Ain't Been Shot Mum!'s In the Shadow of the Rising Sun supplement, and Poor Bloody Infantry. With different basing, these same figures could be used to make armies suitable for CrossFire! and Abtielung, but we don't cover those two rulesets here.

We developed this army from the following lists:

Flames of War
FoW D-Series     FoW E-Series     FoW F-Series  
Platoon Points   Platoon Points   Platoon Points
Company HQ 20   Company HQ 65   Company HQ 190
Add Sniper Team 50   Plt 1 165   Plt 1 300
Plt 1 145   Plt 2 165   Plt 2 300
Plt 2 145   Plt 3 115   Plt 3 300
Plt 3 145   Weapons Plt 155   Weapons Plt 170
Weapons Platoon 125   HMG Plt 70   Mortar Plt 170
HMG Platoon 125   Mortar Plt 125   Cannon Plt 70
Mortar Platoon 125   Cannon Plt 120      
Cannon Platoon 120   Artillery Plt 180      
Artillery Platoon 180   Lgt Tank Plt 320      
Light Tank Platoon 320            
               
  1500     1480     1500
               
Scout/Sniper Plt * 250            
AT Platoon 75   Lgt Tank Plt 325   Lgt Tank Plt 325
Priority Air Support 175   Artillery Plt 175   Artillery Plt 175
               
  2000     1980     2000
               
*Figures not in this article              
               
Poor Bloody Infantry
Platoon Stand Points
First Plt    
  Cmd Team 24
  3 Rifle Teams 24
  2 LMG Teams 30
Second Plt    
  Cmd Team 24
  3 Rifle Teams 24
  2 LMG Teams 30
Supt Plt    
  Cmd Team 24
  3 HMG Teams 51
Mortar Plt    
  Cmd Team 24
  3 Med Mortar Teams 51
Artillery Supt    
  4 105mm Howitzers 96
     
    402
     
     
No transport is included in this list.  


I Ain't Been Shot Mum! (changes required for full-strength company)
D-Series         E-Series      
                 
Changes for a full IABSM Supported Company:              
                 
HQ   6 riflemen 1 bazooka team   HQ   6 riflemen 1 bazooka team
Rifle Platoons HQ 4 riflemen     Rifle Platoons HQ 4 riflemen  
  Rifle Squads 2 riflemen       Rifle Squads 6 riflemen  
  Auto Rifle Squad 9 riflemen 2 BAR          
  Weapons Plt Remove 1 LMG and 1 Mortar        
                 

You can discuss this article on the forums.

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