Saturday, February 6, 2016

Paintup Review: Battlefront BMP-1/2 platoon

Its rare that something in Modern war-gaming truly flies out and hits me for six. I've been curating this blog for seven years now and in this time I've never really seen anything revolutionary emerge in the field. While new kits and rule sets release sporadically, until now, no company has taken a major swipe at going the whole nine yards and providing the full 'experience' - rules, minis, paints etc - under a single brand.

With the release of Team Yankee, I think we are seeing just such an attempt - the potential for a single source of everything we need to cover us in gaming a late Cold War setting. With the FoW brand we see moderns moving out from the niche they have long occupied and into a true mass market. Although some look upon such an shift with consternation, I am extremely excited. Already we are seeing popular wargame blogs like Beast of War and Bell of Lost Souls pick up on this shift. Such populism will only add to the zeitgeist, producing more sales and, in turn, more new kits and future expansions and national factions.

This is certainly not an End of History moment; Battlefront are a powerhouse, but they aren't hegemonic, even with WW2. Nevertheless, I see Team Yankee as a game changer and look forward to this new period producing greater impetus in the market for competition in output, scope and quality of future released across numerous companies. Now that Battlefront has entered the fray, the stakes have been massively raised.


This post will be the first of a series looking at the new products offered in Team Yankee, the kits of which were supplied for review by Battlefront.

Background: 

As long time readers of this blog will know, I am a big fan of the BMP series of IFV. The BMP-1 was a revolutionary design for its time and there is just something about the aesthetics of the vehicle that speak to me.

The BMP was a staple of the Cold War WARPAC arsenal. The 80s saw the deployment of the formidable BMP-2, a vehicle that attempted to correct many of the flaws of its predecessor through further development on its basic chassis. While there were numerous internal modifications, the main visual changes were the replacement of a turret with a larger iteration, the move from a single shot high caliber main gun to a rapid firing auto-canon and the induction of a newer tube-based ATGM that employed SACLOS guidance over the joystick-style configuration of the Sagger.

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The Battlefront kit is all-plastic and distributed across two sprues, plus an optional crew frame. It allows for the construction of both the BMP-1 and BMP-2. The box set contains 5 X vehicles, meaning a full motor rifle company will require the purchase of two - two and a half boxes. The latter will leave extras for force expansion in the form of scout vehicles and Observation Posts, as per the Team Yankee rules. For the truly bonkers among us, one can easily construct and paint both hull types and swap them out with magnets.

Discounting the crew, each kit consists of 22 standard parts, of which only around two thirds will be required to construct one of the two vehicles types. Part groupings are logical and aim to minimise effort where possible, particularly noticeable in the single piece tracks/suspension. There is a little 'fiddliness' when it comes to constructing the BMP-2 Turret, as the smoke launchers and spotlight are separate attachments. However, this was unavoidable to preserve casting quality and its really a minimal niggle.

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The kit doesn't include any form of stowage or optional external extras, although the commander's hatch has the option to be modeled both closed or open on both vehicle types.  In this regard the box set has six  commanders included, all cast in nice detail.

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The kit also includes an extensive set of numerical decals, allowing for the outfitting of up to ten vehicles.

Quality: 

Both sculpting and casting quality is excellent. The style is the usual 'mildly heroic' approach of Battlefront, with chunky barrels and exaggerated details, an approach I am absolutely in favor of. Styling aside, this means that the models are much more survivable on the table top and that nitty-gritty elements like exhaust grills and road wheels are actually perceptible and are not a nightmare to paint. At the same time, the sculptors haven't skirted on the detail. Even the tracks, so often neglected in 15mm, appear to have close fidelity to real versions of this vehicle.

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Mold lines - always a potential hazard with plastic - were minimal and only took a few minutes to clean up. Overall, assembling an individual unit to my typically pedantic standards took around 10-15 minutes. Nice and easy.

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Where possible I'm always a fan of producing vehicles in plastic. It saves weight, tends to be more robust, holds paint and is generally cheaper than metal or resin alternatives.

Conclusion:

I feel like these kits have really cornered the market on BMPs in 15mm. At this point there is nothing that really compares and its going to take considerable effort for other companies to rise to the new standard. At $45 a box they represent a mid-tiered price for an industry-standard setting item. I'll definitely be picking up another one or two boxes of them to outfit a whole motor rifle company.

Painting:

Given the Cold War subject matter I decided to paint my BMPs in standard Soviet single-tone green. I realise a lot of people have been opting for a more olive drab approach to Team Yankee stuff, but this just doesn't sit well in my mind with the more aqua/emerald shades we see in the Soviet greens of this period. Case in point:



At the end of the day this is another "what is US olive drab?" debate, but for my primary palette I opted for Tamiya's J.A. green and applied my usual weathering techniques after a modular undercoat.


Highlight chipping was achieved using Vallejo Afrika Korps green.



ATGM and crew uniforms were based and highlighted with standard Khaki.

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Weathering was kept to a moderate level. I didn't want to go too overboard with them and err towards a real nasty 'Chechen theatre' style, but at the same time I didn't want a 'fresh off the factory floor' sheen.


To break up the pure monotony of the green I went with a heavily amount of mud on the suspension and used some texturing paint to add a bit of 3d grit and clog.


Looking forward to employing the same approach with some T-72s



That's it for this round. On the next review we will be checking out the Banon's boys box set, in which I will be employing the NATO woodland tri-tone in place of the standard MERDC camo because I'm a huge Operation Flashpoint nerd.

4 comments:

  1. Beautiful stuff! I like BF's exaggerated details style too.

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  2. Outstanding stuff. NATO tricolor is the way to go with the M1s. The MERDC schemes I keep seeing just seem "off".

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  3. Well done, great stuff as always. I love the exaggerated style as well, but I did have a little bone to pick in that the IR lamp on the BMP-2 was confusing - they missed it in the assembly instructions (although they included it on the frame, at least)

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  4. I'd already made my mind up about these terrific models, but I do love your pithy and accurate summation of the contribution of Team Yankee to the 'Cold War gone hot' genre, and the consternation of those who would prefer to remain big fish in small ponds...the whole BF project can only be good new to those who enjoy a good WW3 bash...

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