Monday, March 19, 2012

15mm T-34s from The Plastic Soldier Company

Photo in my improvised Optex Studio - i.e. the back yard.
Some more WW2 15mm stuff as part of my last gasp in the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge - the 1000 point is in sight!  These are plastic T-34s from the Plastic Soldier Company. I have seen these guys come out with scads of new releases over the past several months (in different scales - 15mm, 1/72 and 28mm) and I thought it was time to see what all the fuss was about.  Here are some photos of the finished products, and some thoughts on the kits.

One up front note - I have already noticed that I screwed up in terms of placing the square fuel cans - they should be higher up on the hull.  Oh well - next time.

T-34/76s ready to roll.

A tank commander popped out to give instruction.

Rear aspect picture of the T-34/76s. On to Kiev!
You get five vehicles in one box, along with stowage and bits for a tank commander popped out of the hatch for each vehicle.  The price is 17.50GBP (which works out to about $27 in Canadian dollars, depending on the state of our petro-dollar on a given day).  Compare this to the approximate major competitor - Battlefront, in which you pay 35GBP (or about $54 in Canadian dollars for five vehicles with associated bits and decals etc).  I'll return a little later to more of a comparison. 

Assembly is fairly straightforward, and highly idiot-resistant, even for me.  I found the track assembly to be a bit fiddly.  Don't get me wrong - it's still pretty easy, but I struggled to get the joints on the two track sections (there are two section - a top and bottom on each side) to match properly.  AARGH!

One enormous positive of this box is you get sufficient parts to ensure a T-34/76 or T-34/85 for each vehicle - it's not a "one or the other" choice.

Just switch the turrets, and you are in the late war period!
I painted some improvised tactical markings on the turrets.

I love the over sized look of the T-34/85.

On to Berlin!

Painting was very straight-forward - these are, after all, Russian tanks.  I had no decals to use, so I did my best to bodge a couple of commie sayings for some of the turrets.  I also decided to do one tank as a captured T-34/76.  The others are all Russian T-34/76/85s.  I did one commander figure with the hatch open on one of the T-34/76s.

Under new management.
I wish I had saved some of the extra skirting from the Panthers...
Ready to serve against its former masters...
Some things to consider if you want to purchase these.  First all, the models themselves are very, very light compared to the sturdy-feeling wargame models of other suppliers.  Dallas suggested adding some ballast in the hull or something before assembly - probably not a bad idea. I'm not sure how well these will handle the wear and tear on our gaming tables without losing a track piece, or stowage.

Second, the detail on these models is not too crisp in some areas. An example would be the tow cables on the hull - the detail is there, but not as sharp (or easy to paint) as it would be on a Battlefront or Peter Pig 15mm model.  This is no big deal for the tanks, but I suspect a significant issue for the infantry models - the tank commander was hard to paint, because very little detail on the model survived the primer.

Third, in terms of size, these models seem to be "true" 15mm models, whereas Battlefront's scale creep has actually created it's own "Battlefront Scale".  I don't have any Battlefront T-34 to compare, but I suspect they would not mix perfectly.  Not an issue for every gamer - just something to remember.  Finally, as above, I suspect it will matter more for the Plastic Soldier Company infantry, assuming they are slighter than the BF (or Peter Pig) sculpts.

A final comparison point - Battlefront box sets are great for including decals. These don't.  Not a huge deal for Russians, but I love them for the German tanks, as the tactical numbers, crosses etc. really finish off the model and I SUCK at painting those by hand (for proof, just look at the hack job on the captured T-34 in this post).  I should note here that PSC appears to be offering some of their own decals separately, however.

But on the whole, these are minor quibbles.  PSC destroys the competition not just on price, but on value.  You get five tanks. You get turrets for BOTH variants, so with the quick switch of a turret your drive to the Dnieper becomes a drive to the Oder.  Can you imagine GW - or BF for that matter - ever doing something like that with their models? I like the look of these tanks, and I'm sure I'll get better at assembling the tracks.

My assessment - buy these things! I am looking at covering a table in 15mm T-34s from some kind of WW2 tank shoot-a-thon later this year, and I think these will do nicely.

Up next - a box of PSC Panther tanks!


Curt said...

Great stuff, Greg! I really like that the box provides you with enough stuff to swap-out the turrets - nice touch.

Dallas said...

Nice models, man.

Think of the havoc that your extra turrets could've caused with Curt's painting comp... five T-34/76s become 10 completed models with a simple turret swap and re-photograph! ;-)

BigLee said...

Very nice. I've been looking at the PSC sets with envious eyes for some time now. The problem is I already have all the tanks I want for my Panzer Lehr and US 2nd Armoured forces. If only the PSC Sherman sets had come out 18 months ago!

I've no doubt I will eventually contrive a reason to buy one of these sets. Even if it means starting a whole new army!

Greg B said...

@ Lee - if you need help contriving, PSC has these company-sized deals for Germans and Russians....great way to start Russians. That is how I'm getting my next batch of T-34s!

DHC Wargames said...

Great stuff!

I have used the turret swap on some of my 28mm tanks as well (incidently mostly on my T-34s as well) and it really comes in handy!