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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Review: Battlefront's Hohei Chutai Boxed Set and Hohei Platoon Blister

by Jeff Flint


The Far East theater in Early War is open with the release of "Rising Sun" (FW304) and it is my proud honor to bring to you a review of Battlefront's Japanese Hohei Chutai (JBX01) boxed set and the Hohei Platoon blister (JB702).

What was that?  You don't know what a Hohei Chutai is?  Truth be told….neither did I until I read the "Rising Sun" book and had it all explained to me.  Hohei is the infantry arm of the Japanese military.  Chutai is a Company sized force.  And that is what you get in this boxed set.  Two full Hohei Platoons and the CiC and a 2iC….just what you need for the compulsory troops for a Hohei Chutai.  This review also covers the Hohei Platoon blister as these are the same figure makeup as the platoons in the boxed set.

New tray design (Editor - Looks like re-use of the old plane box tray.)
For more detail on the special rules associated with these soldiers of the Emperor check out the Tactical Tips article over at Battlefront's website.  They give a good breakdown of the rules as well as a sample 1500 point list.

Now on to the review!

Accuracy:  Accuracy here is high.  The proportions are very good…even the difficult kneeling shooting rifleman is close.  This pose, in previous reviews, has been a reason for lower scores for accuracy…with over-sized hands, arms and legs.  Here they were almost spot on.   Uniforms appear to be very close.  Even though I have a black belt in Google Fu, finding good color photos of the actual uniforms was a bit hard.
Japanese Officer:
(Notice the star in the center of the Officer's don't see this in the sculpts, but it is easily added with paint)
Japanese Marines MG:
Japanese Soldiers marching:

While not color pictures, we do see the uniform basics were captured by the sculptor as well as a couple very nice extra details like the rank tabs on the officers' shoulders!

They also got the Arisaka rifle pretty close…this is a l-o-n-g rifle...and pretty thin as well.  Battlefront beefed it up a bit for durability, but it doesn't detract from accuracy (a design choice I wholeheartedly support).  On several of the poses, the rifle seems a little short, especially on the Light Mortar crewman.  The kneeling shooter pose I think has it spot on. 

One note on painting the rifles...if you divide the rifle painting into 4 sections... Stock...breech... center...front, the only metal sections are on top of the breech and front section.  The box art shows these painted correctly.  The painted models on the Battlefront website have the front section top painted wood as well, with only the breech section and very tip of the front of the rifle painted metal.  There were some versions of the Arisaka that had wood to the front, but these sculpts are very close to the Type 38 Arisaka, shown below, with the front section having the top of the barrel exposed.  This would have been the rifle for this period.
With bayonets everywhere this goes to show these guys have the assault mentality.  But is it accurate?  I mean EVERY figure, except the machine gunner and light mortar team has a bayonet mounted. This picture sums it up:
Accuracy Rating:  9/10

Quality: This was a hard category to rate.  So right in many areas, but with one big "whoopsie."  Again, very nice figures.  Almost no flash or mold lines.  The few mold lines I found were mostly on the helmets and could be filed off very easily as there was no underlying detail to worry about.  The flash was limited to in between figures legs and was easily removed as well.

Not perfect, but almost.  There was one problem figure, however.  The prone shooter drove me nuts to get right. Which is sad because this is one of my favorite figure poses and in other kits hasn't been a problem.  The figure's feet are sculpted at an angle with the toes pointed straight down. When mounted on a base gives a very awkward position.  To get him to fit properly on a stand you either have to CAREFULLY bend his knees and ankles to a more realistic position  or elevate the figure's midsection with a piece of scrap or jam his feet into your basing mixture (my actual method in this case).

The worst issue was the feet being attached to a metal "tab" that has to be cut away and then the feet filed down.  This has to be a design decision as this happened to EVERY prone shooter and the prone squad leader I had. The way the tab is attached makes it rather difficult to get rounded edges on the boots.  This could be unsightly depending on how you base the figure (but if they are jammed into a basing mix it doesn't matter as much).

NCO on the left

Quality Rating:  8/10.  I had to knock off a few points for the prone shooter issue

Versatility:  The mix of figures I had in the box set for the 2 platoons was exactly the same, so my 2 platoons look sort of similar, however there are at least 20 different poses.  Some are roughly the same pose with and without banners.  This gives you a good mix such that the platoons do look different on the table.  The website shows another sculp that I did not see in either the boxed set or the blister....I call him "Air Guitarman":

From Battlefront's Hohei Platoon Spotlight.  Air Guitarman is on the Far right
Not sure if other blisters or boxed sets got this figure or not, but if he is out there he would only add to further diversity of the figures.

The only exception to this is the light mortar team.  Each team (and there are 3 per platoon) is exactly the same. The platoon blister had the same poses (yes, even the light mortar teams).

Versatility Rating:  8/10 for the light mortar clones but bumped it up to a 9/10 because of the great variety of other figures in the platoon.

Paintability:  These models continue the excellence I have seen in detail.  I love seeing actual faces…with detail just deep enough to show through the paint.  This really made me happy.  This detail continues to other areas of the figures as well. Nice and crisp details with folds in the uniforms, clearly defined webbing. Everything you need to paint to make the figure pop is there.

Paintability Rating:  10/10 as stated. These take paint very well. The depth of detail is excellent..

The Paint Plan I used is shown below.  I leveraged the skin tone I used in my Nam Local Force review.  I spent a fair amount of time trying to hit the uniform color and Weland on the WWPD Forums (thanks mate!) turned me on to Middlestone as a base color. Problem solved.  On August 15, Battlefront posted the Japanese Painting Guide that presents their method (I look forward to trying this out) as mine came out a little too green for me.  I'm going to blame it on the Chinese laundry seeking a little revenge for their country being invaded.

For basing I had to change up my usual basing mix. It was too green having been geared for Western Europe.  So for a steppe feel I went with more yellow/greens and browns:

Overall:  9/10   Great set.  Really it was just the prone shooter issues that the brought the score down.  

One other bit of info to share:  beware of the bayonets. Many will be sticking out over the front edge of the base.  It reminded me of blocks of pikemen when I played WRG Ancients back in the day.  As long as you use the holes in the new brown bases, you will have bayonets sticking over the edge. If you use the old bases or fill in the holes on the brown bases and mount anywhere on the base then this can be greatly minimized. Not a negative; just something to keep in mind as you mount your figures.

Now to picture time!!!!!

Headquarters Section:

Up close like this, I see i need to touch up some red lines  :-(

1st Platoon:

 Platoon Leader:

1st Squad:

2nd Squad:

3rd Squad:

I really look forward to continue building this force and getting them on the table.

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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