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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Team Yankee: Contemplation and Collecting; the Soviets

Back in December 2015 I covered the Team Yankee demo put on by the guys from Battlefront.  While I liked the game I did state that the period wasn’t my thing and I would pass on fielding an army.  While I read the book Team Yankee and was a fan of the game, I just did not want to collect either army - I never play Americans, and while I have painted a ton of WWII Soviets for friends, I do not have a Soviet army in my collection.  What changed?  Well a few things actually changed my mind which should not surprise anyone.

My first worry stemmed from my work on the Great War line. Ehile I love the period and the game, few folks I know have built a Great War army, and I found it tough, even in the player rich I-95 corridor, to find a lot of folks playing the game. I did worry that Team Yankee would not gain the popularity it deserved. However after a few months, I have seen the popularity of the game grow and a bunch of folks I know play the game.

The Army on parade, oops no Hinds..
The second issue I had was that neither of the two initial armies did much for me.  I cannot explain why this was, but after reviewing Leopard, I got excited about the game and it caused me to look into collecting a Team Yankee army.

The last two issues are the same we call have: time and cost.   I stopped serious painting well over a year ago, the last army I collected was my Napoleonic Brits, which I sent to Ceylon for painting.  When I clean my storage room, and moved my painting area to my part time man cave, I had tons of unpainted men and vehicles.  While I love the Great War stuff, I have a full French and American army in boxes and blisters.  I have 5 each of Plastic Soldier Company and Battlefront Panthers which I won at tournaments still clinging to their sprues.  I just lost the desire to paint.  The other is cost, since starting a new army can cost anywhere from $250-$500.  While I am not cheap, I just wondered if starting a new game after I made a huge investment in Malifaux was worthwhile.  This changed when I realized I had some credit coming from my Great War work with Battlefront, and July being my birthday. I decided to treat myself to a few boxes of Team Yankee.
What put me over the edge was helping Luke put on the Team Yankee demo at Historicon, I realized that the game is way to fun to pass on.

I wanted to create a West German list, but I also like having an OPFOR to play as well, so I also decided to make a Soviet list since everyone I knew was also jumping on the West German bandwagon. 
What a haul, still waiting on 2 boxes of Leopard 1's, 1 box of Leopard 2's, M109 Arty,  Gephard and Roland boxes
So here is what I got for my Soviet army;
  • Protecknov’s Bears
  • Two T-72 Tankovy boxes
  • Three BMP half company boxes
  • One Shilka box
  • One Motor Rifle Company box
  • One 2S1 Carnation box
  • Two packages of Soviet tokens
  • One Gopher box (Actually won by my son at the WWPD recording at Historicon)
  • One Zvezda T-72B plastic model
So this adds up to 21 T-72s, 15 BMPs, full Motor Rifle Company, 2 Hinds and of course full platoons of AAA and Artillery. Not a bad start, obviously I plan to play the Soviet Tank formation since I would need more BMPs to make a Motor Rifle force. Could I really ever field this force? At 100 points I could field all 21 of the tanks, leaving one point left over.  At higher point totals I could field some of the support elements I bought or make a sensible list with less than 21 tanks.
Here is what I came up with as far as a list I would like to try;

Soviet Red Banner Tank Division (Tank Company) 100 Points
-T-72 Tank Battalion HQ - 1x T-72 (5 pts)
-T-72 Tank Company - 7x T-72 (32 pts) 1x Fit t-72 with Mine Clearing Devices (1 pts)
-T-72 Tank Company - 7x T-72 (32 pts) 1x Fit t-72 with Mine Clearing Devices (1 pts)
-BMP-2 Motor Rifle Company - 7x AK-74 with RPG-18, 6x RPG-7, 2x PKM LMG, 9x BMP-2 (18   pts)1x SA-14 Gremlin AA missile, 1x BMP-2 (2 pts)
-BMP-2 Recon Platoon - 3x BMP-2 (5 pts)
-ZSU-23-4 Shilka AA Platoon - 2x ZSU-23-4 Shilka (2 pts)
-SA-13 Gopher SAM Platoon - 2x SA-13 Gopher (2 pts)

You need the AAA assets because they air so deadly; and I also feel that arty has less utility in Team Yankee than in Flames of War, well unless you have American artillery.

The first box I tackled was Protecknov’s Bears. I found both models easy to build and painting Soviet tanks is a breeze.  I used the Soviet spray put out by Battlefront - in fact I had to get an extra can since this list has so many vehicles.  So after a black primer I used the spray, washed the model with some Magik Mud from Russ Levey at CGR Painters, then dry brushed the model with a mix of Iraqi sand and Green-Gray paint.  After reading Sonbae’s article on tips and tricks, I also got into the magnet craze.  Instead of permanently gluing the min plows on some of the tanks I used magnets and I found it easy but time consuming, since you really have to hold the magnets in place.  I placed two magnets inside the hull before I glued the top on and then placed a magnet on the mine plow.  You will have to clip off the “bump” at the rear of the mine plow to make the magnet sit just right. I like the way it turned out and recommend this for others as well.  I did about 6 tanks with the magnets and marked them by paining lines on the can in the rear of the T-72.
Mark the spots for the magnets
Note the tan bands on the gas tanks

Awaiting plow placement

The plows
We are have attachment! 

It actually works

When I asked Luke for a recommendation on a Soviet list, he said “21 tanks”.  With Battlefront only selling them in groups of 5 I looked around for an alternative for my last tank.  I have always liked Zvezda models, but I know that sometimes they look funny next to Battlefront’s, and their quality is sometimes not as good.  This is not the case with the T-72B, it is a great model that is the same scale as the tanks from Battlefront.  While scale matches up, the tank is a later model, the T-72B has a reactive armor plates and a smaller turret in real life and it is beautifully re-created in the model.  This would work well as a command tank since it is different.  Since the Zvezda model does not come with a commander or an open hatch, I cut off the top of the Zvezda models hatch, then shaved the hole I made with a knife and stuck in the open hatch and commander from extra Battlefront T-72 parts.   I did mess up the spraying, so the model could have looked better.  In the past I found that Zvezda and Plastic Soldier Company models offer us a cheaper option than Battlefront, not the case here.  The lowest price I found online was $8.99, add in shipping my T-72B cost me over $10, while the Battlefront version goes for about $9 each.

T-72B on right, unpainted, note West German Luchs in background, that's in the next article
The sizes match very well

For a commander cut out a hole

Insert hatch from the Battlefront kit 
And we have a command tank
The next job was making all those BMPs.  Ordered my first box from John over at Little Shop of Magic - that box got lost in the mail and John quickly sent me another, and included some of the Team Yankee objective markers from the roll out weekend.  So by the time John’s box arrived the two from Battlefront showed up.  Once again on the magnet craze I wanted to make it so I can swap BMP-1s for BMP-2’s; so once I realized I had all of these huge magnets I placed one at the bottom of the chassis and one on top of each of the 30 decks.  Since the magnet was so strong all I had to do was put one small magnet in the turret and the job can be done on three magnets. The decks swap out easily, however I noticed that some of the turret magnets get stuck to the deck after a while.  This could be to poor gluing, or that the magnet in the hull is way too strong.  I recommend that you keep the turrets off the hull when in storage and this may fix the issue.

The next big take was paining the infantry, which I dreaded.  I know, these are Russians, so they are easy.  Well I can tell you that painting is a perishable skill and that my project became easier as time went on.  I painted the box in two days, and even added some detail.  Not to leave anything into chance I slathered on some Minwax shade to cover my mistakes. The Gopher, Shilka, and Carnations were easy to build and paint; these are real boring models.

Spray color A, place Bluestick on the model then spray color B

The other challenge I had was the Hind.  I have never had much luck in painting my Flames of War aircraft and I love Wings of Glory so much because they come pre-painted.  I have to say it was easier than I thought.  I panted the model bright green and stuck blue tack on the parts I wanted to keep green then hit the model with a spray of tan paint.  I removed the tack and it looked great.  I did later realize that the actual Hind has way more green on it so I made some more spots using some Russian Tank Green paint.  I did the bottom in Sky-Blue freehand and I cannot complain how it turned out.

Next was the decals.  I picked up some Soviet water slide star decals from E-Bay and started to detail my models.  I recommend soaking the Battlefront decals in water for some time, I had a tough time with them, especially on the Hind.  Using the decals from the Zvezda T-72, I was able to give each of my tanks a unique number.  I also was able to use the smaller decals from Battlefront to number each of my BMP-1s, and I decided to only put the one of the larger numbers on rear of my BMP-2 turrets; I saw this in many pictures online of the BMP-2 and thought it was a nice touch.  The Red Banner decals went on all of my BMPs, the Carnations, and my command T-72B, with the others getting a red star.

Using the Zvezda numbers and the Red Star decals
Barring any new and cool Soviet lists in the future, I think I am set on Soviets for a while.  Next up on my table is my West German force, and of course I will be back to tell you all about that.

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