Monday, February 8, 2016

Team Yankee - (Some) Russian Are Coming!

Up next for the "Team Yankee" project
I'm keen to start playing some "Team Yankee" soon.  My initial US forces are finished off - Battlefront releases are so slow to arrive there is nothing much to add right now other than US tanks and helicopters anyway. But we are keen to start shooting up some bad guys, and that means Russians!  So I have made a start, working my way through some of the Soviet forces on the painting table.

T-72 test model - plastic kit from Battlefront

The main starting force for the Soviets is the "Potecknov's Bears" box - seems to be named on a Soviet character from the "Team Yankee" novel, although I haven't read the novel, so I don't know for certain if he is in there :)  The box is a big ol' pile of plastic models - 9 T-72s (you get a bonus one if you purchased the box early enough) and two Hind attack helicopters.

Plastic is soooooo overrated for 15mm gaming much effort to reinvent the wheel
As ever, the focus on multi-part plastic models is, in my view, a very mixed blessing. On the upside, the miniatures are fairly straightforward to assemble.  On the downside, the plastic can be brittle (see photo), and there are some challenging parts to assembly which, while far from impossible, are needlessly fiddly.  On the T-72s, the extra fuel drums are multi-part exercises...the fit is not great, and you usually end up with a big seam that needs filing down. 

A completed T-72, before receiving primer/base coat
Even harder to work with is the attachment of the so-called "bog log", the unditching beams common to Soviet MBTs. The connection for this component on the T-72 models (at the rear, below the fuel racks) is mostly a fantasy, and so tenuous that it doesn't survive any dry-brushing, and they will usually fall off .  On the 10 tanks I have been working on, eight of the beams have fallen off in the first pass with the brush, and I have been re-mounting them in a different spot on the back of the tank.

A final, very delicate frustration with these models is the smoke launchers, which sit on the front of the turret on either side.  You will need some very, very delicate clippers to get these removed safely from the frames, and while there is flash on them, the removal of that flash, without snapping them apart, is almost impossible. Fortunately, once you paint them, the flash is not that noticeable.

T-72 test model - note the "bog log" had to be re-glued to a part of the model which was more realistic for extended use...
Is there upside? Sure! I mean, 10 tanks is 10 tanks, and as long as you have some patience and some really good clippers, you will have a T-72 company in no time at all.  There are decals, and there are lots of tank commanders that come with the kits as well.  And the inclusion of mine plows is a really neat touch - you get a set with every frame, so you could have a whole bunch of the suckers if you like.

Soviet motor rifles - infantry from Eureka, BMP-2 from Battlefront
The Battlefront Soviet infantry is nowhere in sight at the stores yet (although they have been released).  Fortunately there are some options out there for impatient folks like me, namely the excellent 15mm modern Russians from Eureka.  I expect these models are a little later along in their kit (more late 80s, early 90s) than the kit envisioned for the Russians from the Team Yankee novel (which I believe is 1985).  But in 15mm, it's close enough for me. The figures are beauties, and Eureka is super easy to deal with.  Really, the only issue is they do not have figures using the RPK, but I'll overlook that.  I've been working on a company's worth of the lads for a couple weeks now.

To be "motor rifles" you'll need, well, something with a motor! Enter the BMPs.  Battlefront has released multi-part plastic models for these, which you can build as either a BMP-1 or BMP-2.  Again, very fiddly to assemble - and in the case of the BMP-2, the assembly instructions overlook the IR searchlight beside the gun on the turret.  But 10 BMPs is 10 BMPs, and so the work goes on...again, with patience and a careful set of hobby clippers, you'll be in good shape.

Just need to repeat this another 20 times or so and I'll have a motor rifle battalion ready!
So, all told, for my Team Yankee Soviets I've got over 100 infantry castings and 20 vehicles in different stages of painting completion right now.  I also have the two Hind helicopters from the box underway - will ruminate on those separately in a later post. I'm hopeful of making a submission in time for this Saturday in Curt's Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge, but I'm getting so badly killed in that race that my motivation to stay close has died down significantly, so it'll be done when it's done, whether this Saturday, or another one...


tacobat said...

Definitely looking forward to the T-72s, although I'm tempted to try and combine them with the Zvezda kit to make some proper T-72 1989s. All the parts are there to make up for the deficiencies of the latter kit and I am a bit fan of the K5 ERA.

Stanley Martens said...

Good luck...your painting looks outstanding. I can certainly feel your pain, keep on painting on.


Greg B said...

Thanks guys - tacobat, do I need to be nicer to Battlefront to get on their distribution for product reviews, or what?

Be sure to tell them to include some ERA - that is the sexiest stuff in the whole period!

tacobat said...

I couldn't possibly comment!