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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Review: Battlefront Heavy Rocket Mortar Battery (SBX32)

By Christopher Hecht

With the revisions to Red Bear and the addition of Desperate Measures, Battlefront created a new artillery piece for the Soviet forces: a powerful rocket artillery that is a massive threat to anyone dug in and holds the ability to remove its smoke trails with its special rules.  The release is the new box set of Soviet Heavy Rocket Mortar Battery (SBX32)! Moving into the realm of the heavier rocket support that the other nations have already had a taste of, the Soviets are given a bit of a treat.  Let's take a look at the kit.

Included in the box is the two different full truck/base sculpts, 5 crewmen for each Katyusha, 2 man spotter team, and a 3 man command team. Extra bits are included for a little flavor on the base's extra spot (there are 6 mounting points) as well as a 2 piece mounting bracket, rocket pods, and rocket front plate for each truck.

Katyushas of the past have been notorious for being the most difficult model to build in Flames of War.  I am happy to announce that the BM-31-12 variant of the Katyusha (the Heavy Rockets) are quite a bit easier, but by no means are they a walk in the park.  The mounting brackets can either be built up from the trucks as I did them, or glued into the rocket pods where there are specific notches for them.  Either method is do-able and the brackets fit together fairly easily to the point that they will not be any noticeable misalignment.  When it came to painting, I used Steven's painting method with slight modifications for the washes yet again.  I cannot swear by this method enough for painting anything that uses Soviet Green as it's base, but instead of doing washes and inks, I went with my traditional Army Painter Quickshade (aka dip).

The models have a great definition to them, all were quite clean and have very good detailed recesses to hold the shading.  As reluctant as I was to initially build these from past stories of the horrific original Katys, I was quite happy that they went together fast enough and still looked great.  Sadly there is no way to make the Katys any easier to build as a model, just how the bracket is that holds the rockets.  Once detail that is easy to overlook is the fact that there are rockets sculpted into the rocket pods, they are not best and the sides do not line up well with the top, but over all they are certainly not that bad.  The individual crew members can be a bit confusing and the rockets must be rested on their shoulders, and one set has the arm from one of the figures on the rocket that a different figure is holding.  This requires a bit of tweaking to get everything to line up, but the metal is flexible enough to make it work.

- The models are very clean and crisp.
- One piece resin base and truck
- Flexibility in layout for crew, extra bit for added detail
- Price

- Assembly can be difficult between aligning figures and assembling the rocket gimbal

Conclusion: 7 of 10 Rockets Fired
The model is sharp and quite cool despite the fact the construction is a bit complicated.  It is a great model, but perhaps I am just not personally attached or invested in it do to in-game utility, but this isn't a review of the ability or rules of the platoon.  The MSRP price of $29USD, so at a shy under $15 a piece for both Katys along with the crew and command, it certainly is a great deal.  While a cool model that was very quick and easy to paint up, I cannot shake the feeling that it wont see much play time; but you never know, it could easily be a sleeper unit that could impress.  If you're looking for a flavorful unit to add to your army this certainly would be an excellent choice for it!

Christopher Hecht is WWPD's online community manager, and leader of the 1st WWPD Panzer Division in World of Tanks.  In addition to playing both Flames of War and Bolt Action, he runs a YouTube channel under the handle of Darqueling that features many videos related to video games. 

Models provided by Battlefront Miniatures.

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