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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Bolt Action - Review: Artizan Designs Devil's Brigade

(Contributor Martin "marticus" Bond has painted up and reviewed some sweet, sweet minis from Artizan Designs. I'm one of the rare few that have yet to try some of Artizan's amazing products. After this review, that's definitely going to change! - Judson)

I was lucky enough to get my hands on some of Artizan Designs' WWII range recently; from their "Devil's Brigade" range, to be precise. I received two different blisters - the "SWW6006 F.S.S.F. in parkas with rifles" blister, and the "SWW604 F.S.S.F. with SMGs" pack.

For those of you like me, never having heard of the F.S.S.F. before, I've provided a bit of background information on the unit. The Devil's Brigade (also called The Black Devils; The Black Devils' Brigade; and Freddie's Freighters;  officially the 1st Special Service Force), was an elite, joint American and Canadian unit organized in 1942. The brigade fought in the Aleutian Islands, Italy and Southern France, before being disbanded in December 1944.

It’s rather neat having some special models to represent this unit. Even if I don’t field them as F.S.S.F., I can use them as any other US infantry squad. (Sure, you could use them as any old American infantryman; but after seeing these models, I want to put together an entire FSSF force! - Judson) Believe it or not, these are my very first Bolt Action metal minis. Yes, I’m a plastic fan, alone on my island, please don't hold it against me! These were also my first minis from Artizan, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.

After popping them out of their blister packs and taking a look at them, I saw they needed some cleanup work. Now, I know this is normal with metals, so I set about with my files. It didn’t take too long, so I was rather pleased. Overall, individual Artizan metal figures involved less cleanup time than assembling a single plastic mini, so I after a few minutes of cleaning, I was coming around to metals - especially Artizan metals.

The level of detail on the minis is exceptional; I would go so far as to say scary! These details were intimidating for a basic painter like me, so I was very worried how they would turn out with all the pouches, pistol holsters, folds in the cloth and other special features on these pieces. First, I tackled the guys in parkas. I went for a dark fur lined hood, as I had a seen a few images of parkas like this. The joy is, I could have gone white for the parkas for some epic winter troops! However, I kept them green issue parkas, so that they matched the rest of my force.

It bears stating that as they were lined up for photography, (someone, somewhere - J) must have rolled a 1 for air support, as my little one charged into the display table during photographing. They were all bowled over, but I must say that they didn’t break, unlike the my plastics that have suffered a worse fate in the past.

Here they are next to some plastic Warlord Games models for size comparison.


As you can see they are slightly larger than the Warlord Games plastics, though it’s not too noticeable, as most of the Warlord Games models are in a hunched over position. The detail level on the Artizan models really popped for me when I applied different inks, the folds in the uniforms took it really well and gave them the look I really like in my troops. (Very noticeable, even for a hack modeler such as yours truly. - J)

The SMG troops have the Devil's Brigade badge molded on their arm, and this little flash of color really sets them off.


(That's an amazing level of attention to detail. The FSSF patches are modeled on! Color me impressed. Here's one last comparison picture between Warlord Games and Artizan Design models. - J)

Overall the detail level on these miniatures is superb. The faces don’t have some of the "silly" expressions that other manufacturers' minis at this scale do. Initially, I was a bit worried about how detailed they were, but in the end they were not overwhelming for a basic painter like me. Admittedly, though, I would have loved to have seen what a pro painter could get out of these models. I fear I didn't do them the justice they deserve - but take that as a great sign of their quality. Even a self-proclaimed mediocre painter can get something special out of these Artizan Design models. They have clean, crisp, castings, and are a joy to paint. A fine and worthy addition to any force, they can mix well enough from tabletop level with WG models, and add some real character to my previously all-plastic American force. 

Am I now sold on metals? Yes! Especially Artizan Design metals! I still love my plastics, but hey, there's nothing wrong with a healthy mix. If you were a plastics fan before, like me, you owe it to yourself to go check out Artizan Designs' WWII catalog. (And if you thought you were a fan of metals before, but have yet to pick up something from Artizan, what are you waiting for? Whether you've purchased Artizan Design stuff before or not, come chat about it on the Bolt Action forum by clicking below. I was blown away by Mart's review, but would love to hear everyone's opinion. - J)

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