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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Bolt Action - Review: Warlord vs Mad Bob Miniatures, A Tale of Two Katyusha's

By Guest Poster: Tyler

Hi folks! Tyler here, coming to you all the way from Austin, TX. After hearing Dan Carlin's Hardcore History podcast on the Ostfront, I recently have become smitten with the almost science fiction like exploits of the Red Army. After being warned by several well meaning people that if I embarked on painting a soviet army I would probably never again see my friends and family let alone the sunshine, I jumped right in. 2000pts later and the old friends do seem to come around less and less.

  One of the first items I went on the hunt for when I began assembling my red hordes was a proper Katyusha. I have long been enamored with this magical machine since my youthful days playing Sudden Strike (anyone?). Anyway, for a while there seemed to be only the one model available from Mad Bob Miniatures. I ordered it the minute I came across it. Then, while awaiting its arrival, Warlord came out with their own. The Germans were advancing on all my flanks and I did not have time to wait so I put in for a Warlord model, fearing that they might sell out. As a reward for my impatience, I now have every young Ivan's dream: two Katyushas!

  There are several contrasts between the two, and the model you prefer will likely come down to what kind of hobbyist/gamer you are. The realism is what got me into Bolt Action in the first place so, I appreciate little details on models. The details on the Warlord Katyusha are stunning. There is a crank shaft, aiming device, and stabilizers located at the rear of the truck.

  The interior of the vehicle cab is visible. It even comes with a couple of decorative crew members, adding that much more realism to your gaming table. The truck is modeled in the ready-to-fire position (as soon as the crew member reading the manual can figure out how to work this damn thing)  

  The Warlord model also comes with some metal parts which cause it to have a very satisfying weight that people who like resin models will appreciate. The final pro is that it is consistent and looks very nice with the other truck models from Warlord.
 The cons to the Warlord model? 

  The metal scaffolding did take some fiddling (and cursing) to finally get it to fit right. The stabilizers, crank shaft, and aiming device that add so much flavor are delicately attached. The stabilizers on my model are glued in the up position because I never could get them to hold in place on their tiny hydraulics. But the finished product was worth the finagling.

That being said, many of you probably want to get those models on the table as quickly as possible regardless of style. According to my jaded local hobby store owner, there is no such thing as a Katyusha kit that is easy to assemble. I guess he has yet to assemble Mad Bob's Katyusha. The entire kit is resin and the pieces went right together. The scaffolding is much easier to assemble and has fewer pieces. Assembly took roughly 20 minutes. However, I did have to spend some time cleaning up the rockets, and gluing them individually to their mounts. 

  Also, since the general assembly was going so swimmingly, I decided to do a little conversion. The Mad Bob Katyusha appears to be modelled in a driving position with the rocket scaffolding lowered and resting on the cab of the truck. I wanted it to be raised like the warlord model, but to do that, I had to add some parts to the scaffold. I used a Perry Miniatures cavalry flagpole for the lift bar. One of the crossbars is molded onto the truck, so I just sawed it off and attached it to the now raised scaffolding. Boom! Ready to rain terror! I feel like this is something that won't bother most gamers, but I just wanted to let everyone know that this conversion is possible. 

The cons on Mad Bob's model for me?

  For starters, the resin surface is not quite as smooth, and may require some sanding. Aesthetically, the Mad Bob miniature lacks some of the eye candy featured on the Warlord model. There is no crank, stabilizers, or aiming device, no spare tire, the windows are solid blocks, and there is no decorative crew.  As stated before though, all this only means less to paint!  The rockets seem less researched. I am probably wrong on this but I could not find any pictures that lined up with the missiles featured on the Mad Bob model. 
One last thing that is 100% subjective: the tire fenders on the Mad Bob model are rigid, and do not curve in that classic 1930's/40's fashion. Turns out this is 100% historically accurate. I found lots of pictures of both; it's purely a personal preference.

In conclusion, the model you like the best will depend on your own preference. For the kind of one-man operation that Mad Bob is running, his Katyusha is quite admirable despite it's simplicity (which I know many will prefer). Also on that note, the Mad Bob model may take much longer to reach you. That doesn't mean you shouldn't order it! These models look great next to each other. Their differences are actually complimentary, and in my opinion will add some variety to my table next time I decide to use a whole Katyusha battery to support a full frontal assault of inexperienced hordes! Oh the humanity! For more pictures of my red masses and other projects, check out my Instagram page @boltactionaction . 

  One more thing: special thanks to Brad (aka Old Man Morin) for asking me to tell y'all all about my Katyushas, and to the whole Ghost Army Podcast team for giving me hours of listening pleasure while painting miles and miles of khaki! (Editor: Anytime my friend!)

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