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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Bolt Action - Review: Warlord Games USMC Plastic Box

Hello guys and girls. (Tobu of The LRDG is here to bring you some more Marine madness - Judson)

I was fortunate enough to score a box of the new Warlord Games US Marine Corps plastics at Conquest last week and thought it was my duty to bring you a review. So load up that Thompson, cut off those sleeves and let's ram this LVT straight into the thick of it. Semper Fi!

What's in the box?

Cracking open the box you will be pleased to find it packed-to-the-brim with sprues. There is 1 main sprue to the kit which contains the guts of what is on offer - you get 5 of these sprues in the box. There are 6 bodies on each of these sprues, making for a total of 30 Marines.

Some important things to note about the main sprue:
 - The torsos are connected to the legs
 - 5 sets of arms come with both hands holding a weapon (per sprue)
 - 5 different sets of arms come with one hand holding a weapon (per sprue)
 - 1 soldier per sprue is lying prone, with 2 variation on how the legs can be positioned.

So what weapons are included?
 - 16 x M1 Garand Rifles
 - 17 x M1 Carbines
 - 9 x Springfield Rifles
 - 17 x Thompson SMGs
 - 1 x Grease Gun SMG
 - 8 x Pistols
 - 11 x Shotguns
 - 1 x Bazooka
 - 1 x Scoped Springfield Rifle
 - 6 x BARs

Of these, 10 of the M1 Garands, 15 of the M1 Carbines, 5 of the Springfields, 20 of the Thompson SMGs and 5 of the Shotguns come pre-attached to at least 1 arm. Some of these weapons come from the included weapons sprue, which is the same as that found in the Warlord US Infantry plastic kit (also found in the Assault on Normandy boxed set).

Model Quality and Assembly:

Immediately upon pulling the sprues out of the box I was struck by the quality of the casting. The detail is noticeably more crisp than the older Warlord plastic kits, such as the US Army Infantry and Late War German Infantry boxes. In my opinion, the casting quality is also superior to the Russian plastic kit - although not by much. The new-ish Japanese box is equal in quality to my eyes.

Working with the models is a breeze! Assembly can be very easy:
1) Glue body to base
2) Glue arms with pre-attached weapon to body
3) Glue head to body

However, if you want to keep it as simple as above you will be limited in the amount of poses and weapon choices. In order to unlock the full potential of the kit, you will have to glue weapons into hands much like with older plastic kits.

There is a copious number of ammo pouches, water bottles, knives and the like with which to festoon your troops. However there are only 10 backpacks in the kit, meaning not every solider will be able to have one.

After putting together a few guys, I was very happy with the amount of variation and character that could be easily achieved.

The box also comes with 30 x Round 25mm bases in the Renedra style. Be warned: the tops of these bases are not textured at all - completely smooth. After some issues with other similar bases, I will be scratching mine up with a hobby knife to give the basing something to cling to.

Comments and Criticisms, and a Conclusion:

Time to address the elephant in the room: Warlord has for some time offered an amazing range of metal Marines, of which I own A LOT. Are the new plastics worth buying over the metals? And for those of you, like me, who already own a tonne of the Warlord metal range; is this kit still worth picking up?

Unfortunately there is no easy answer to either of these two questions, as a lot of it will come down to personal preference. However, you may wish to consider my lists of pros and cons for both the Warlord metal and plastic Marine range, which I'll try and explain a bit afterwards:

Warlord metal Marines:
+ Great sculpts
+ Ease of assembly (glue 'em on a base, glue on the head - done)
- Limited poses, especially when it comes to special weapons. For example, there are only 2 different BAR gunner sculpts. If you want to have 3 in a squad, you are going to have a lot of double-ups across your army.
- Lack of choice regarding equipment.

Warlord plastic Marines:
+ Great sculpts
+ Price - cheaper than the metal range
+ Reasonably easy to assemble (not quite as easy as the metals, however)
+ Great variety in achievable poses, even without conversion
+ Lots of choice regarding equipment
- MORE equipment would have been nice

For me, the ability to add more variety to my metal Marines made this kit worth it. In my order of around 60 metal Marines there were 2 varieties of rifleman that I could see on the Warlord website that I didn't get any of. This meant that I had a lot of clones going on - it was so bad in fact, that I got 10 copies of the 1 sculpt, meaning 1/6 of my army was the same dude. Now, I might have just been unlucky but I would not have had to deal with this if I had of waited for the plastic kit.

The plastics aren't perfect, however. I was very disappointed to find that there were only 6 BARs in the box, for example. If you were to maximise the number of squads you could make from the box (7 men minimum = 4 squads + a 2-man command squad or weapons team), you have more than enough SMGs and only 1 too few Shotguns to max-out the number allowed in each squad. However, if you want to take the maximum of 3 BARs in a squad of Marines, you are going to have to find some more from somewhere else because you only get 6 in the box. Granted, the metal boxes suffer from the same problem and you could always order the metal BAR gunners individually to fix this issue, but it would have been nice to have the full array of options available straight out of the box. That said, the metal boxes are similarly problematic - I had to order more riflemen even, as there were so many dudes in there with SMGs and shotguns!

Something else that may bother some people about both the metal and the plastic Marine ranges from Warlord is that they are only really suitable for portraying the 'Raggedy-Ass Marine' look. This is totally fine with me as I like that aesthetic, but I could completely understand someone wanting an army that wasn't entirely comprised of ripped dudes giving away free tickets to the Gun Show. The plastic kit doesn't come with enough heads without the camo helmet cover to equip every guy - so if you're looking to build a Guadalcanal era Marine army, you will have to get your hands on some bare-helmeted heads (if you care about stuff like that).

In summary, the new Warlord plastic Marines have stolen my heart and I highly recommend them. While the metal range is full of fantastic sculpts, the plastic range is equally good and does not suffer as much from lack of options regarding equipment. It also solves the 'clone' problem! Unless you desperately need the 'stick it on a base and go' ease of assembly that comes with the metal territory, the plastic Marines - at least for me - are the clear winners! And for those who are already flush with Marine lead, the kits mix together just fine - and so are a great way to fill out an existing collection.


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