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25mm/28mm Figures for Modern Conflicts
I have recently been working on a set of rules for doing modern-era conflicts, and had a fairly hard time finding figures for the game. I game moderns and post-War in 15mm, but I wanted the larger figures for smaller-scale games: 25mm, or, preferably, some really nice big 28mm figures. I am happy to report that there are several sources of figures, and quite a good selection. The bad news is that finding a good range of tanks and vehicles is much, much more difficult. It is possible, however.
There are several ranges available (and this may not be a complete list - if you make these figures, and you're not here - please let me know!). I am not going to review the figures, but will try to characterize what they offer.
- The Assault Group: These guys do a set of US Marines and Rangers, with corresponding enemies for Somalia, Afghanistan, and Iraq. These are nice beefy figures, and there are lots of pictures on their site, so you can see what they look like. They are made in the UK. They do some of the heavier weapons that other ranges don't seem to offer: particularly Marines with DRAGON anti-tank.
- Devil Dog Design: These do a full range of figures for various US forces, packaged in "fire teams" of four (to match the skirmish game they produced). Thus, no heavy weapons (although they do some recon ATVs). They also do Mogadishu figures, Iraquis, and Al Qaeda/Taliban figures. But best of all (from my particular perspective) are their non-US figures: British, Germans, etc. They also have some Soviet infantry, and Speznatz. The only thing I'm not crazy about here is that they have those slotted plastic bases (which didn't stop me from ordering a few, of course...). Based in the US, they were unavailable, but are now owned and distributed by Brian Shein of Pacific Sky Games.
- Mongrel Miniatures: Another UK outfit, these guys just came out with a line of Soviet motor-rifle troops in Winter and Summer uniforms. And it looks like they'll be producing some NATO figures as well, soon. Also, they say on their site that Sloppy Jalopy will be doing some vehicles in 1:48 scale to match the figures. I certainly hope so.
- Mo*Fo Miniatures: This is a line of modern miniatures that covers 1990s US Rangers and Delta Force, along with some African militia, but it looks like they will be doing a full range for Mogadishu, some mechanized British figures, Eastern European mercenaries, and figures for both sides of the Falklands conflict. They are by the same sculptor as Mongrel, apparently.
- Britannia Miniatures "Special Operations" Ranges: Britannia does two ranges, one for Mogadishu (complete with HUMMV, pickup truck with MG, and a crashed Blackhawk model) and a Congo 1960's range (with Jeep). Another UK outfit.
- Chiltern Miniatures These folks make some interesting figures: SAS, modern African, Balkans, Soviet Airborne, etc. Not a huge line, but interesting selection.
- Eureka Miniatures: Eureka has ultra-modern Australians, and a couple of sets of generic Soviet-equipped opposition - great for modelling Cold-War opponents in conflicts like the Arab-Israeli Wars. These generic figures are termed "musorians". Also, they do US Marines.
- First Corps: A bit off-topic, perhaps, but First Corps makes Korean-War Chinese, which may come in handy for a lot of Asian conflicts in the Modern Period.
- Brooks Miniatures: Some interesting figures here, notably a "generic" Soviet-type line with some good MG poses. Also, Brits, Taliban, and more.
- Black Scorpion: These guys have a range of Iraqi militia and US Marines. Nice sculpting. They are available also from Scale Creep Miniatures in the US, as well.
- Viet Nam Figures: This is a less-complete listing, but I just wanted to name a couple of the sources I use, especially since you can get some weapons packs and so on which are not otherwise easy to find. I've gotten 25mm Viet Nam figures from two sources: the West Wind NAM range, available in the US from Old Glory, and the Battle Honours range (available from 19th Century Miniatures in the US). The West Wind weapons pack has some recoiless rifles which may be useful, as well as a 105mm gun. Both ranges offer mortars, etc. West Wind produces some Soviet vehicles in their "Berlin or Bust" range which may also be useful (T-34/85, etc.)
- Dadi & Piombo: Here's an obscure one for you - Modern Italians! Sculpted by Mark Sims of Crusader miniatures, these figures look pretty nice - and one thing's for sure: you can't get them anywhere else. Includes a quite-complete range of 1:50 Italian vehicles, including MBT - priceless!
I should point out up front that I don't make plastic models from kits, so I am not going to talk about whatever may be available in that form. What I will focus on are die-cast collector miniatures, an idea which I (not-so) cleverly picked up from the Old Glory website, where they sell some of the really excellent Corgi models in 1:50 and 1:43rd scale to go with the West Wind Vietnam range. The scales for collectible vehicle miniatures are pretty variable. I have found that anything advertised as 1:43, 1:48, or 1:50 works fine on the tabletop. Sadly, 1:64 is too small (more like a largish 20mm).
I will not give an exhaustive list, but I will provide some of the better websites for these collectible models. It is easy to find soft-skinned vehicles, some APCs, some tanks, and helicopters. While there are also some aircraft models, these tend to be very expensive (around $80 US). Overall, these models are not cheap ($20 to over $100 US), but there's a catch: they come painted (many are very beautiful), and at an average cost of around $30, they're not much more expensive than the unpainted metal and resin models available explicitly for wargames use.
There is a lot of US equipment out there: M-48s, Mutt jeeps, M-35 trucks, ACAVs, M106s, and similar US equipment from the Vietnam era. These can all be useful, depending on the conflict you are gaming. There is also a lot of French equipment out there: AMX 30s, AML 90s, VABs, etc. This is because many of the major manufacturers for these collectibles are French. There is a company called Sun Star, from China, which makes HUMMVs, but they are hard to find. [Note: An Italian company called WEMI has picked up these models.] Corgi has good Vietnam and Korea lines, including a line of "clean" and "field" vehicles - the "clean" vehicles have very few markings, which means you can modify them to suit your own purposes. If you are looking for Soviet equipment, it is difficult to find. There are beginning to be some Iraq war collectibles, including T-72s, M1A1/2 Abrams, and M2 Bradleys, but because they are new they are very expensive ($80 US).
I suppose it is the nature of collectible die-cast models that they are both expensive, and available for only a short time. This is really too bad, but there it is. Below are listed a few useful sites:
- Quarter Kit Model Shop: This is a French outfit that has the most complete line of Solido, Verem, and Gaso.Line models I've seen, along with lots of the modification kits that are sold, and the more-expensive specialization models from re-packagers. This site also allows pre-orders of models that have not yet been released. Check out the new Schucco models in 1/43 - they've got some excellent modern vehicles.
- The Motor Pool: This is an outfit from New York, and it has a very complete listing of all the different ranges available, as well as good prices and service, and an excellent website.
- Diecast Hobbies: This is a good site for comparison-shopping with the above or others. Note that prices can very widely, and these sites all seem to have specials. Definitely a case where comparison-shopping can save you some money.
- Onsite Diecast - Wartanks.com: This is a great place to go first, because they have an "explanations page" that makes really good reading if you are just getting into this kind of shopping. Lists out all the lines, with good explanations.
- Eureka Miniatures: This Australian company makes a lot of out-of-the-way figures, but among them are a pair of M-113s, part of their 28mm Vietnam range. These are not diecast, but models you put together from resin and metal. They cost about $37 USD ($50 Australian).
- Russian Souvenirs: This is a Russian import shop that happens to sell diecast ZIL-131s and some other pretty cool Russian trucks.
- New Zealand Wargame Miniatures: These folks have traditionally done a 1:56-scale set of WWII resin kits, but I have seen recent pictures of some modern vehicles. Keep an eye out for these! [Note: It turns out that these are the models being done for Sloppy Jalopy - link above. They have BMP-1 and BMP-2, and will have a T-55 soon.]
- Honourable Lead Boiler Suit Company: These guys make a set of resin kits in 1:48 scale for some British vehicles (Scimitar/Scorpion, etc.) as well as a BRDM and a Stingray. You can get them in the US at RLBPS.
- Force of Arms: I haven't seen the vehicles, but they come highly recommended. The list is one for Vietnam, but includes Mutts, M113s in various configurations, and some other Vietnam-era models. (The website is currently under construction, but if you go to this url you may be able to access a PDF of their catalog.)
- Imprint Models: Not cheap, but very nice - these are resin 1/50 vehicles to go with ultra-modern figures. They have a Challenger, a T-80, a Hummer, a Warrior, and a BMP-3, with a Bradley on the way.
- Academy Snap-Together Kits: I don't have a link for these, but Academy is making some important snap-together kits in 1:48 scale: an M-60A1, a T-72, a Merkava, and maybe some others. Do not confuse thses with the radio-controlled versions, which are more expensive. (Hey, even I can put these together - no glue!)
- Russian Diecast: This is maybe the best of the Russian diecast sites. I've had good luck with them, including speedy delivery. They have some amazing (although quite expensive) hand-built models and conversions, but also some more reasonable stuff.
- Propaganda Kompany: This is a French creator of custom resin kits - and they aren't particularly cheap. What they are is very nice, if you're a good modeller. The sculptor is Marc Le Bayon, which is not a name I've heard before. Take a look, however - there is definitely some stuff here which you can't get anywhere else, including a nice Soviet AA gun.
- S & S Models: These guys do a range of modern vehicles in 1/60 scale - metal and resin kits. They have a handful of vehicles out now, with more on the way. Perhaps a bit small to mix with 1/48 diecast, they are also cheaper than same. Judging from the website, they have plans to do lots of vehicles not available elsewhere.
- Armorcast: This company mostly makes science-fiction vehicles, and terrain for a variety of science-fiction and historical periods, but they put out a 1/48-scale M-113, too.
- Tarrant's Toy Soldiers: A bit obscure, perhaps, but this place sells resin and metal 1/43 kits of a Humber pig, armored landrovers, and a Saracen. They are not particularly cheap, but are extremely cool - great for a lot of Africa scenarios as well as Northern Ireland, which is what they are designed to be.
- The Assault Group: These guys have started producing some resin vehicles to match their 28mm figures - a Warrior APC, Land Rovers, HUMMVW Ambulance, an M1025 "Turtleback", and hopefully more on the way.
- Hobby Master Ground Power series: Hobby Master is putting out a line of 1/56 scale armor and 1/72 scale WWII planes. So far, they have released an M1A1HA in a couple of camo schemes, as well as a series of different Tigers for WWII. These are diecast models, assembled and painted. For the price, they're a bargain, and in the perfect scale to match 25mm figures. (I have to suspect that the people behind these models are themselves wargamers...)
I kind of like the fact that you can't get vehicles in this scale very easily. It reminds me of the days when it was incredibly hard to find any figures at all, and none of my Airfix plastics would hold paint for more than about two games. It's exciting when you do find something you can use, and it makes spending the money a bit less painful. At least the die-cast models are beautiful, and they're ready to go the minute the package arrives at your door.
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