Monday, February 1, 2016

Seventh Painting Challenge Submission - "Bannon's Boys" for Team Yankee

"Bannon's Boys" - 15mm Moderns from Battlefront
Switching a few gears, in this submission for Curt's Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge we head over to another favourite period of mine (I seem to have a lot of those) - 15mm "Cold War Gone Hot".  Of course, the big news in this space has been the release of "Team Yankee" by Battlefront.  While I can't say much about the novel which inspired the rules, (I had to settle for the comics, and they weren't great, although I wish I still had them), and "Flames of War" style rules have a lot of warts, I am pleased to see a serious entity like Battlefront enter the space, because it means some ready access at last to a consistent line of figures of decent quality. 

"Army" box from Battlefront
M1 Abrams sprues...I, for one, do not bow down to our new plastic overlords

Battlefront's first releases for this range were for the US and Soviet sides.  The US box is called "Bannon's Boys", named after the US Commander of "Team Yankee" from the novel.  This submission has the whole box painted - six M1 Abrams tanks, two AH-1 Cobra helicopter gunships, and a resin terrain marker, an M577, a command variant of the ubiquitous M113 armoured personnel carrier.

Seriously...f*** plastic, I tell ya....this was the mounting for one of the flight stands
With the exception of the M577, the models are all plastic, multi-part kits.  So many gamers seem to be thrilled by this, but I have never seen a plastic model in 15mm that would not have been better in metal, or even resin, and these were no exception.  Battlefront has improved the quality of its plastic (although that's faint praise), but the assembly, while straightforward, is a real, fiddly pain in the @ss.

After all the cursing is M1 Abrams, ready for action

Each sprue of M1 tanks has two of each MG you will need (I stupidly interpreted this as an option to mount two .50 cal MGs on the cupola, seen on my first test model here - oops!).  But they actually do this "in case one of them breaks".  Um...isn't that telling you something about your plastic?  I can't help but imagine what one of these things would be like if done by the great folks at Peter Pig. Beefy, proper metal with nice definition that you can just paint the sh*t out of.

And yet, well, they are not done by Peter Pig, so my wishing is irrelevant! The competitors here are really QRF (with very variable quality), and Khurasan potentially, depending on your flavour of M1 Abrams. I believe Khurasan has the M1A2, which is a most current version of this beast.  The "Team Yankee" setting, in the mid 80s, has the original M1, with a 105mm gun.  So whatever my issues with plastic models in 15mm, I do have to say, vs. the competitors, Battlefront wins here in my view. YMMV.

AH-1 Cobra - assembly of the rocket pods and TOW missiles is super fun - NOT
Assembly of the Cobra helicopters was even trickier.  Again, in many ways - wow! Having useful helicopter models is cool.  In fact, having helos racing around the table shooting sh*t to bits in a key appeal of this period. And hey, if these were metal, mounting them would be a serious pain - but multi-part rocket pods and TOW missile racks for a 15mm model? Who is out there going "yay, can't wait to glue my fingers to these!" F*** that!!!  Just make one piece castings for God's sake! 

And again - are there competing models? Maybe some 1/100 kits out there, but those would not be less complicated than these ones.  So, my ranting aside (and MAN did I HATE putting multipart rocket pods together), these things whip the available competition.  YMMV. 

Tank commander in the cupola, good way to mark out a command tank
I have a photo up above there in the post of what happened to one of the plastic flight stands during assembly.  That was the mount for one of the had to be glued to the stand in pieces! That was a lot of fun!

Col. Reynold's Command Post - this is a one-piece deal done in resin
They give you magnets for the helicopters - very thoughtful - but again, sooooo tricky...I
just went without them.  The rotors will last as long as they last, and they sit well on the flights stands, even the broken one, without the magnets. But you hobby aces out there will be able to detach your rotors for storage - a neat idea overall.

This was a neat piece, nice for the table
So, anyway, voluminous amounts of cursing aside, it all got built, and primed, and under the paint brush over the past two weeks. I tried to copy the "MERDC" paint used by the US forces in the time period the "Team Yankee" novel is set...the results are OK.  I don't like to bother with airbrushes, so I just used the plain old brush, and it turned out alright, good enough to stand against the Soviet hordes!

Propaganda photos - the M1s have knocked out some T-80s and are rolling out...
The decals on the ground vehicles are hard to see...would have been nicer if the numerals and chevrons were white, but I'm not sure they actually were...I don't know the US forces of this era well (hence my screw up with the .50 cal over the loader's cupola).  They also did not include enough decals for both helicopters, so one of them is missing the hilarious "danger" sign pointing to the rear rotor - this is a more danger-mind crew, perhaps?

Looking forward to a game with these fellows
I already have a smattering of Russians in 15mm, so I wanted to paint some US troops first in the hopes of getting the rules out for a test drive sometime soon with our group.  Since I have run out of Americans (the infantry and other models are still riding on whatever snail-managed hot air balloon Battlefront uses to ship products to retailers), the Russians will be up next. In the meantime, hopefully our friend Mike F might be amenable to bringing out his awesome 15mm WARPAC Russian collection for a game soon...

The command post is a great little item
Battlefront is planning to do West Germans and UK forces for this setting as well.  Both sides are way more interesting to me (Chieftains! Leopards!), so I hope those models appear soon, but with Battlefront, it could be six months at least before we see anything - so for now, we will prepare for the US and Soviet Union to fill the table with flaming tank wreckage!

Cobras cover the US advance

These nine 15mm vehicles gave me 54 points for my little side race with Byron and Curt. It's good to see a jolt of new modern 15mm stuff rolling out into the market, and I'm looking forward to getting these fellows on to the table.  Whatever my frustrations with plastic models in this scale, at the end of the day I do recognize Battlefront is making a major effort here, and it's in a period I'm really keen on.  Proceed carefully with the fiddly bits, and you will have some fun forces to collect and shoot up on the table.  Already these six tanks and two helos comprise a fairly significant force for a game of Team Yankee.

What's next for "Bannon's Boys"? As newly painted miniatures, I'm confident they will dominate the tabletop whenever they make their debut :) Hopefully we'll have some WARPAC Soviets ready for submissions later this week, and a game in a couple of weeks!  Or sooner, if Mike F is around :)


The Angry Lurker said...

Quality work Greg!

Don M said...

Good job Greg, I'm with you I prefer lead or resin for my gaming pieces!

MFraser said...

The dreaded January schedule is over, so availability should be back to normal.