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Friday, April 10, 2015

Bolt Action - Review & Painting Guide - Soviet Naval Brigade from Warlord Games

Welcome to Black Friday Bolt Action Fans! Friday the 13th it ain't...but the Soviet Naval Brigade is here, the infamous Black Death!...I'll give you a review of the recently released squad box from Warlord Games, as well as a full step by step painting guide for your own Soviet Naval infantry.

What you get in the box 

Warlord games has re-packaged their Naval Brigade infantry from a blister pack of 9 miniatures into a boxed set of 10. I think this is great as you could feasibly split your squad into two squads of 5 if you are playing small games, common when you are new to Bolt Action.

The miniatures are white metal and all one piece, with minimal flash to clean up. I personally love one piece metal miniatures over their multi-part plastic brethren. It allows me to get an army painted much faster with next to no assembly time. I also enjoy painting the more defined and robust detail on metals that are often lacking in the plastics. But, this is of course subjective, and each will have their own tastes.

One major drawback of metal ranges is the inevitable repeats in the sculpts across a platoon from the same range. Here thankfully Warlord have got it very right, providing 10 different and unique sculpts. 4 Naval troops armed with SMG's, 4 with rifles, 1 with an LMG and an NCO with an SMG. No repeats within the squad box, enough poses to make a full army from this range in my opinion.

Also supplied in the box are 10 round 25mm bases made from laser cut MDF. Very helpful not having to source the bases separately.


Do yourself a favour and have a read of  Cbax's previous article on the Soviet Naval Brigade here, for a brief history of these famous hard fighters.

So now you have cracked open your squad box, how do you paint them? Read on!

Painting guide

Historically the Naval infantry's uniform was black. However I wanted a little more variety in colours than just this for my miniatures, so I searched out some artwork to inspire me. I found this piece above which shows that while the trousers, hats and indeed most of the jackets are black, there seems to be a lighter 'shirt' in a dark blue. I really like this colour palette in the painting and so I am going to attempt to emulate this look on these great miniatures.

Step 1 - Primer and main Uniform 

Let's get started! Before using the undercoat primer I added texture to the bases and covered the metal tab at the miniatures feet by smearing 'spak filla' over the base, just regular gap filler from the local hardware store. Next, I sprayed the miniatures with a black primer.

I usually start by painting the main uniform colours, in this case the black is already done, so I actually put on the first highlight, using VJ995 German Grey. I will say this up front, painting black was really tricky! I had a number of failed attempts before I settled on the technique you see here. You see, you can't get darker than black to shade it, and if you highlight too much it just looks grey, that's the challenge when most of your miniature is black!

My technique is based around really controlled, and extreme highlights, then followed by a heavy black wash to darken and blend these highlights. For now, begin with the VJ995 German Grey highlights.

Step 2 - Equipment

Next up let's finish base coating the rest of the figure. Use VJ880 Khaki Grey for the webbing, bags and SMG ammo pouches, VJ941 Burnt Umber for the leather belt and ammo pouches and the base itself. Paint the dark blue shirts with GW Necron Abyss. The Sailor scarfs with VJ965 Prussian Blue and the flesh with VJ875 Beige Brown. Wooden gun stocks are VJ984 Flat Brown, metal is GW Boltgun Metal. Finally, the bullets and buttons are GW Sycrorax Bronze.

Step 3 - Uniform highlight

Before I use washes to shade the base colours I have highlighted the black a second time. This time using VJ886 Green Grey. It is worth spending the time to be really careful and deliberate with this highlight. If the grey is just slapped on everywhere the uniform will end up looking grey instead of black.

If you are worried about how much time you are spending on painting the unit, this is the one step where you can slow down and it will pay off later. Be aware that the highlights will look very 'over the top' and almost ridiculous, don't be scared! In the next step we will darken and blend them with a black wash. After this step, the rest of the model is very simple and quick to paint. At this stage I also painted the blue shirts with GW Mordian Blue.

Step 4 - Washes

Now it's time to shade your model with some washes. First I use GW Black Ink to wash the black areas of the uniform. This was an older style ink that is quite strong, so just look for an equivalent black ink. This is an important step, as you will notice those outrageous grey highlights from the previous step really blend back and look much better.  I used Army Painter Strong Tone ink (from the bottle not the dip) to shade all the non-black parts of the model.

Step 5 - Highlights

The black uniform is finished! Now it's time to highlight the remaining areas of the miniature. Highlight in stages where each lighter colour you use, paint a smaller area.

Canvas webbing: VJ880 Khaki Grey, followed by VJ988 Khaki, lastly VJ819 Iraqui Sand.

Flesh: GW Cadian Fleshtone, followed by VJ955 Flat Flesh, then VJ928 Light Flesh. Lastly wash the flesh with a light sepia ink to blend it all together.

Wooden gun stock: Use a fine detail brush to draw 'squiggles' VJ984 Flat Brown onto the wooden areas of the weapons stocks imitating a wood grain. Do this a second time mixing a little VJ819 Iraqui Sand with the VJ984 Flat Brown.

Winter Quilted Jacket: One of the sculpts features a winter quilted jacket. This was base coated VJ921 English Uniform, washed with the strong tone ink, then highlighted with VJ921 English Uniform, then VJ914 Green Ochre.

Step 6 - Finishing details

Okay, home stretch guys!

I think these final details really make the Naval Brigade miniatures pop, it's well worth the effort. I used the picture of the Naval cap above for reference while painting these details on.

White trim: Carefully paint a trim around the cap edge and brim with VJ886 Green Grey, then a highlight of GW Skull white. I found a fine detail brush using a slightly watered down paint worked well to create smooth lines.

Red stars: The Naval uniform featured a Red Soviet star on the cuffs and the cap. I simply drew little asterix type shapes with a fine detail brush using GW Mechrite Red.

Eyes: Always the hardest part of any miniature for me. Once again a fine detail brush and slightly watered down paint helps get the eyes done in a single stroke. First with GW Skull White, then a final pupil dot of black after this dries.

Ships name: I really love the Russian writing along the sailors cap brim, I assume it's their ships name or that of their Naval base. To replicate this I simply painted squiggles along the cap front using VJ914 Green Ochre.

Step 7 - Varnish and bases

Varnish your miniatures now! Just do it and save your brilliant paint job forever! I always use Testors Dullcote. Using a matt varnish will take away the gloss of the black ink wash.

I wanted a winter base scheme to match my opposing Hungarians here. You can find the step by step guide to these bases in the article link.

The Warlord Games Naval Brigade miniatures are simply beautiful sculpts. I really enjoyed painting them, they have such well defined detail and easy to highlight features.

I will definitely be painting up a full platoon of the 'Black Death' now, there are 10 individual sculpts in the squad box, plenty of variety to make up many squads without to much repetition. You can see them all here close up, plenty of variety in look and equipment.

I also really like the mixture of weapons supplied in the box, 5 SMG, 4 rifles and 1 LMG. I think you can build a very flexible squad with this. One that is able to put out a pin at range and is very devastating in point blank range with those SMG's...not to mention they are Tough Fighters and nasty in assaults!

If you are planning on adding more than one Naval Brigade squad to your Soviet platoon you could very easily purchase multiple squad boxes and mix the weapons more to your tastes. You could, for example, make one squad of rifle armed Naval troops with an LMG for ranged fire and then an entire squad equipped with SMG's for close in work.

Overall, I am very happy with the Naval brigade Squad box and give it 9 out of 10 sailor caps.

If you have any pics of Naval troops of your own, or want any more painting tips then drop me a line here on the forum:

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