Thursday, January 8, 2015

Sixth Painting Challenge Entry - 20mm Warsaw Pact Motor Rifle Platoon

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. To keep it simple, I just blame Dallas. Today we have clouds of 28mm stuff, including a bunch of helicopters, and we enjoy rolling it out for local gaming events. Mike F jumped in as well - be sure to check out his awesome 28mm, 6mm and 15mm stuff elsewhere on the blog.

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 gaps and holes 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!

Up next will be some opponents finished off for these fellows.  Gotta love 20mm!


Sander said...

As a 20mm enthusiast myself I can only agree: you gotta love them and yours are just pretty good!

Millsy said...

Another cracking entry Greg. I'm loving your 20mm stuff.

Dallas said...

Outstanding work as always dude. D'you think that basing the BTRs might "scale them up a bit" to the eye?

Kull said...

Actually S&S models were never meant to be 1/72 (25mm)...they are actually 1/76 (20mm)

Greg B said...

Thanks for the comments guys.
@Kull - if the S&S models were never meant for 20mm, I suggest they shouldn't say they are on their web site, and further I would suggest they should not claim they are 1/72 on their web site.

Vehicle scale preference is a subjective thing of course, but I know of few gamers who would attempt to use 1/72 or 1/76 vehicles beside 25mm or 28mm sculpts as the vehicles would be grossly undersized. The infantry in this post is 20mm, and the S&S BTRs look way too small - can't even imagine them with 25mm or 28mm troops. YMMV.