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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Flames of War Vietnam: Local Force Company Review

As soon as the Dia Phuong Quan (Local Force) Company (VPABX10) box set was released by Battlefront for Flames of War I snagged it...and wasn't disappointed.

One reason was the packaging.  This box has EVERYTHING you need to run a full up Local Resistance Company with all the options (AK upgrade, LMG upgrade, Light Mortar upgrade and BM upgrades) for a 3 platoon company.

But wait sports fans!!!!  Not only do you get this wonderful set of Ginsu knives....whoops....the full up company, but you also get 6 Resistance Teams!  I will do a separate review of the resistance teams in a few days.  This is how I like to see boxed sets packaged! (nudgenudge, winkwink... KnowWhatIMean?  SayNoMore, apologies to the Monty Python Candid Photography Skit)

My 'Nam history is limited I am sorry to say, but growing!  Battlefront has a fairly good writeup on the Local Force Company in the "Tour of Duty" book on pages 68-69. The Local Force Company represents the fighting force The Free World Forces engaged in South Vietnam.  The PAVN are the forces in Cambodia/Laos or post-Tet South Vietnam after most of the Local Force units were spent and replaced by PAVN units.  These are the bubbas in Black Pajamas that caused havoc...just like in the movie "The Green Berets."

From "Tour of Duty" you can get up to 2 full Local Force Companies which consist of:

Accuracy:  Guys with a mix of weapons (AKs, SKS, Mosin Nagants, RPG2 & 7) and local garb... proportional figures...a few female figures thrown in as well (those are the ones with long hair and the Ao Dai dress).  It all looks to be there and matches what I have read in the few  books I have read on the war as well as the movies I have seen  :-)

Rating:  10/10

Quality: Very nice figures.  There was very little flash on the figures.  There were some mold lines, but those were few and far between and not too bad...easily handled with a file.  The only mold lines that were hard to remove were the ones on the straw hats...the detail there was hard to maintain and remove the mold lines...but that was only on 2 or 3 figures.  Several figures did have excess metal on their bottom of their bases that needed to be removed with hobby knife and file.

Rating:  8/10.  Knocked off a few points for the mold lines especially on areas with detail (like the straw hats).

Versatility:  Within the list you have a lot of options and the box set gives you the capability to make all those options.  You have the options for adding an LMG and/or Light Mortar team to the HQ section as well as upgrading all teams to AK teams, or adding BM40 or BM41 (RPG2/RPG7) to each platoon.  The big difference between these guys at Confident Vet and a PAVN company (Fearless Vet) is the PAVN get more bubbas per platoon and more BM40/41s and LMGs...but you get a nice little blocking force for a lot less points.

Additionally, WHEN they make the Special Forces list (and you know they will), several of these figures are PERFECT for an A-Team Member (No, not Hannibal, Face, Howling Mad Murdock or BA Baracus but a real A-Team member).  All you have to do is paint them up with tiger stripe cammies... or you can even keep the black PJs and just change the skin tone.

Rating:  10/10

Paintability:  These models have some very nice detail...the straw hats, weapons, uniforms...very crisp and clean.  MUCH better than the PAVN figures.  The facial detail is very nice on most of the figures...a few have shallow facial detail and that makes it a LITTLE more difficult to paint those.

Rating: 9/10  A slight dock for the shallow detail on several figure poses. 

To paint these guys I had some research to do.  First of which is I haven't painted Asian let alone SW Asian flesh tones before.  I didn't really like Battlefront's approach either. I found a very nice article on Cool Mini or Not on skin tones that blew me away.  This article is really geared for 28mm and larger and needed a little adaptation for 15mm (namely cutting back on the number of different color layers). So I had a little testing to do...luckily there are a few extra models in the box set.  I settled on a base coat of Vallejo 982 Cavalry Brown, hi-lite of 912 Tan Yellow/880 Khaki Grey and a final hilite of 847 Dark Sand/918 Ivory...not too bad and is at least different enough from my standard European flesh tones to make me happy.

The other thing I wanted to do was to show the difference in the earth.  For my WWII figs I have used the typical brown dirt.  Looking at pictures of Vietnam you can see the earth has a red clay look.  I wanted to capture that.  So I went to my local Michaels and found my favorite Craft paints...the Americana Line.  I used their Georgia Clay which is nice and orangey/red and after a Black Wash with a final Americana Mississippi Mud for a hi-light, the result very close to the effect I was after.

One other thing to keep an eye on...Even though these guys are in "Black Pajamas", the black is really a very dark grey at this scale.  With that said, I used the following Paint Plan:

Overall Rating: 9.25/10 Excellent boxed set!  The inclusion of the Resistance teams moves it up a 1/2 point to 9.75/10 in my book.  Who is going to field the Local Force guys and NOT field a few Resistance teams?  Kudos of my favorite boxed sets yet.

Now to the pictures!!!!!!

Command Section:

Hand painted the star...a lot of the flags were hand made including a rough cut star

1st Platoon:

Female BM40 (RPG2) gunner in Ao Dai

Every good Commie has to have a red neckerchief!

2nd Platoon:

The little "bomb" on the end of the rifle is a rifle grenade

3rd Platoon:

A nice semi-tactical green for this young lady's Ao Dai...have to be fashionable after all

If you run North Vietnamese...this boxed set is a MUST buy.

SonBae (AKA Jeff Flint) is a long time gamer and painter and runs a blog at Journey Back To The Table where he posts photos of his work, reviews, BatReps and the “Painting Miniatures Declassified” modeling and painting tutorials.

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