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Friday, October 25, 2013

T-28s by Battlefront

Well, hi there dear reader. As a joke (I think) Dirty Jon sent me a bunch of Russian T-28's. [Editor:  Someone had to do'm! =)]  If you know anything about me you know Russians simply aren't my bag. I kind of think IS-2's look kind of neat but otherwise I'm distinctively cool on the faction that sports the red action.

However, Flames of War's new expansion Rising Sun has some pretty neat early war kit in it for each of the three armies and who am I to say no to reviewing and painting up some tanks!? I mean, painting is my favorite part of the hobby and every time I knock out tanks I try a new technique.

So, when doing some research on the T-28 and realizing that, like the western allies, nearly all Russian tanks come under the broad heading of "Green" I decided I would start playing around with color modulation.

What, I'm sure you're asking, is color modulation? Well, CM is a painting technique where you take colors in the spectrum of the base color that slightly deviate from the base color and use them on different bits and pieces of your model in order to spice them up visually. Like this:

It may help if you click on the pic to see the bigger version. 
Picking out pieces to be a touch lighter or a touch darker or creating subtle gradations in color (center T-28 left hand little turret) gives visual interest and a warm look to the model that goes one step beyond simple weathering.

I'm sure you're not only looking for more time consuming things to do to your small models however. You also want to know how the kit stacks up, builds up and paints up. Am I right?

From what I've been able to figure out (and please do correct me if I'm wrong) the T-28 is an older kit repackaged for Rising Sun. The tank is pretty neat actually, here's the stat line for the first version, the obr 1933:

And for the obr 1938 and E models:
Praise be to

How many machine guns would you like? All of them you say? Well, I think we've got something in your size good sir. What this thing is though is an infantry killer. And coming in around 58 points per tank (for the first 4) I think it's a reasonably costed one at that. Now, keep in mind Russians do have that sliding scale for tank costs. For 10 of them they go up to 81 points per hull. The '38 with the better gun will cost you 45 points per hull and the E type will cost you 50 points per hull (up to half the platoon).

Points for value wise I think you're solid taking a mix of 6 '33's and '38's. Although, I could just roll with the '33's and be a happy machine gunning camper.

Now, let's check out the box:
 3 Tanks, which can make both versions of the tank, right on. Wait.. Wait just a minute...
 KAHHHN! Minimum squad size is 4, making it silly you only get 3 in a box. Throw an extra one in, charge 10 more bucks and give us something we can use right out of the box. Jeeze...

All the Gubbins, pieces and parts to make three tanks with either main gun. 

 Now, the first construction problem presents itself. All of the turret MG's are deeply bent. 

Of course with my meaty fingers, I end up breaking off 2 of them. If you're feeling industrious and this happens to you, shave the area down flat, take a small pin vice, drill a hole and insert some thin copper wire. 

Seriously, it's like someone purposefully bent all this stuff. But at least you get AA machine guns. 

The second problem presents itself. One of my turrets got mangled. You can green stuff over the flat bit there next to the hatch but two pieces of the turret somehow got snapped clean off. 

OK TIME OUT: I seriously seem to regularly run in to some defective product that others don't get. I asked around about this kit and others gave it a much more positive review, clean mold lines, no stuff broken off or mangled metal. This isn't the only time this has happened to me either (Puma's, Tigers, NVA, and on and on). I really do think I have the curse of unluck when it comes to BF tanks, infantry and airplanes. But I also think I'm an outlier. A statistical anomaly in an otherwise relatively excellent line of models. 

/Rant, back to the review. 

 Here they are all built up as they look on the box. Key thing there, the box doesn't actually show what those extra MG's are for so I had to do some digging (keep in mind I'm not a Russian player, so these things aren't instantly obvious to me). And realized that, well, there's an MG on the front of the turret, an MG on the back of the turret and an AA MG on the top of the turret.

That's a ton of things missing from the official box pics. Also note, there's not actually space to put the rear turret MG on, so you'll just have to wing it.

Here we are with all the MG's on. 

And primed flat black. 

Then base coated Yellow Green

Color modulated (see above) with some of the details starting to come out as well. 

More details starting to come through. 

Starting to add in weathering, pin washing and streaking

And here they are all finished up. Apologies, I had to pack up my gaming table for a bit so there's no "on terrain" shots. 

All close up on the command tank with the light weathering, streaking and color modulation all finished. 

I really think the color modulation technique turned out pretty great. It's a good way to get visual interest on models that tend to be one color throughout. Now, it does take a bit of time and blending to get right, but when you do I think the effect makes it worth it.

As for the kit, in the final analysis this is a good, not great, kit. If you need to get your T-28's these are certainly the way to go but watch out for defects, and you'll need to pick up a second kit to get up to even minimum platoon strength.

Detail, 3/5 MG Turrets: Mangled metal, pock marked MG turrets and a busted main turret really knocked this down a couple of pegs for me. That being said, the tracks (all metal) were crisp and clean as was much of the body.

Build, 4.5/5 MG Turrets: Easy as pie, except for the rear turret MG and the AA MG which have no obvious place to go these guys went together fast.

Value, 4/5 MG Turrets: Big, Churchill sized tanks in boxes of 3 is nice, when the OOB calls for 3 in a platoon. However, when the minimum is 4 you should kit us out with 4 in the box. Platoon boxes come with at least enough for a full platoon of infantry give us the same deal with the tanks!

Overall, 4/5 MG Turrets: Mostly, this is a great kit at a great value. They're cool looking early war beasties with tons of guns. There's just a few issues that keep these from being a solid 5/5.

"Throckmorton is a reclusive cactus farmer living somewhere in the frosty northern climes of Alberta, Canada. When not pricking himself on pointy caryophyllales, he occasionally deigns to climb down from his northern 'Cactus Throne' to play some Flames and very occasionally writes about his adventures on Throck Of War, his personal blog."

Models provided by Battlefront Miniatures.

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