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Friday, October 18, 2013

Bolt Action - Review: Mixed US Marines

(Professor Aruba is back in town to let us know what he thinks about a variety of different US Marines manufacturers. - Judson)

Hello students! Let us begin our review for our Bolt Action models exam. Today we have a review of three different companies with a common theme: The United States Marine Corps. Normally, when the Marines show up on your doorstep, it’s a bad thing; but once in a while, you can be pleasantly surprised, like I was.

The first company in our review today is Battle Honors. Now, I’ve been to a few historical miniature conventions, and no matter what convention it is, you see someone, somewhere, selling these miniatures. These guys are a staple of the historical miniature gaming industry, though I’ve never really seen their Napelonics for sale. I personally had overlooked them in the past, because I thought, their prevalence somehow meant that their models must not be of the highest quality, I mean how could they make great models for almost every war ever? (Impeccable logic, Professor. - J)

Well boy, was I wrong. I finally got some Battle Honors Marines from our friendly neighbor Craig Baxter in a trade, and, I was blown away. It was just the little things that made these guys stand out. For instance, when they sculpt a bag onto a Marine, they just don’t sculpt the bag closed; instead they put a smoke grenade in it. Or when they make a sniper, they make sure he has the tube to protect his scope it isn't attached to his rifle.

The guy on the left is West Wind. The rest are Battle Honors.
I have not seen many companies in Battle Honors' price range that offer watches on their soldiers. Just about every pose of a figure has been done with both a regular helmet, and a canvas covered helmet. It is this level of attention to detail that shows that these guys must love their work. I give Battle Honors' Marine range a 9.9/10. They lose a point for some flash issues. I had a lot of guys with massive flash that covered the whole area between the body and their arms, and it was thick flash, but this is a problem I've also had with Warlord Games. I consider them the bar to which others are measured. (Most generous 0.1 points ever deducted for an issue like that, I'd say. That would've ticked me off. -J) They make up .9 of those points for having such great detail for the price. They retail for 17 some dollars but you can find them online for as cheap as 13 dollars. (Please note, these are also 25mm and not 28mm models! - J)

The next company up is West Wind Miniatures. I was less impressed with these models. While some of the models are serviceable, some sculpts are not. The proportions of the human body are just not up to the level we expect these days from a miniature company; though it is important to note that some sculpts are just fine, and one rises above the rest into the realm of good. They were the only company I reviewed to produce the standard “gunny sergeant” type Marine, which is strange considering how well Battle Honors captured the Marine theme with their line.

The sniper is Battle Honors and the crouching guy is West Wind.

I give West Wind a 7. Yes, some of the models are bad - there is not any way to paint that in a better light, but there are many that are good. Some, as I pointed out, even rise to capture a particular theme that I wanted. I feel that it is incredibly important to point out that I have bought some of their Fallschirmjager range and those models are all good. Perhaps these Marines are older models, in which case I hope they redo the line at some point in the future. Just make sure to look at the pictures of the models on their website before you buy.

The last company is a bonus subject for you students out there. I had a chance to score a Company B M3A1 Satan, and some slide transfers for this review. I, for one, have been excited to give these guys a try. I mean, they have a very extensive 1/56 scale range, and make some of the most interesting armored fighting vehicles of World War Two. Fitting with the Marine theme of this review, I picked a Marine special, the M3A1 Stuart variant, the Satan. While the Marine Corps produced only 20 of these tank variants, they saw action in several major battles of World War Two. One of the interesting things about the Company B model is that you get a little facts sheet about the tank you bought, which provides for some great reading while you’re waiting for glue to dry.

If I have one complaint, it is that they do not include detailed assembly instructions. However, since it is a historical miniature, there are references out there to look at, and there were only a handful of parts to assemble. There is a moderate amount of flash on the metal tracks, but nothing you cannot overcome with a little elbow grease. Additionally, I've used Company B decals on the tank, and I have nothing negative to say about them.

Company B gets a 10/10. Do not hesitate to buy from these guys. I cannot relate how great this company is just from my experience; you have to order from these guys yourself. I also want to take a moment to say they have amazing customer service. From both handling my user error with their site, to an issue with shipping, these guys took a great amount of time to make sure all of my questions were answered and I knew everything they knew about what was going on with my order.

Alright students, that is enough for today. If you have any further questions, make sure you let me know on the message boards and I’ll be happy to answer. Good luck on the test guys, do me proud. 

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