As some of you may be aware, my focus is currently firmly on the Cold War and the development of a version of TooFatLardies excellent Chain of Command rules to allow me to represent that conflict. I’ve decided on 20mm and needed some figures, so I fired up my browser and went on the hunt – this is about the results.
First requirement was for some Soviet Motor Rifle troops. I wanted to be able to represent a platoon and all the usual supports and I wanted to be able to portray both the pre-PKM structure and the post-PKM one (the Soviets introduced PKM machine guns into squads starting in the early 80s). Anyway, first port of call was, as always, Elhiem Miniatures. I’ve always been very pleased with what I have had from them and the excellent service, so I usually go there first. However, for me to buy (literally) into a range I need to see that the range covers all the key requirements. All too often I find ranges that just don’t meet all the basic requirements. Now I do appreciate that manufacturers invest a lot in ranges and some figures will never be big sellers and that’s a conundrum. Do they make a comprehensive range and accept low sales of some figures in the hope of the range selling well, or do they just produce the ones that sell well? I really can’t answer that except to say that there are a number of occasions when I have not gone with one range and selected another based solely on the range of figures available.
However, this was not an issue – Elhiem had all the figures I needed and a good range too. I was especially pleased to realise that not all my squads would look the same and that there would be no duplicate figures in any squad. Really chuffed by that.
And so, with all the bases covered, what about the figures? For me it is all about style, sculpting and casting.
First of all, I really like the style of Elhiem Miniatures’ figures. I don’t know if all the proportions are absolutely correct, but they LOOK right and that, for me, trumps everything. There is no ‘chunkiness’ about the figures but nor do they look ‘slender’. The weapons also seem in good proportion. I know this latter is a really difficult issue for sculptors, but these weapons look far closer to the mark than most whilst also not being too delicate; these are wargames figures after all and will get handled. There was also something else about these figures that I just couldn’t put my finger on until I started work on the BAOR figures and had a ‘flashback’. The poses were perfect, bringing back the memories of soldiers carrying weapons and webbing. The latter for infantry in the British Army is defined as a standard 44lbs and weapons are not light; these figures don’t look like they are wearing webbing and holding weapons, they look like they are CARRYING them. The slight lean on the man with the Carl Gustav on his back is just perfect.
And now the sculpting and casting as, for me, these 2 go together – the former can be severely compromised by the latter. With Elhiem, both are of the highest standards. The detail of vents on the stocks of weapons is clearly visible, faces are distinct, hands clearly defined and uniforms ‘creased’ in the right places, all with enough depth to really reward a wash/dry brush method but without being pronounced. Webbing straps are precise, straight edged and distinct – just run a paint brush along and the sculpting does a good chunk of the work for you. There is also a tremendous attention to detail – on the BAOR figures I noticed a small ‘bump’ on the back lower edge of the respirator pouch – hmmmm. And then it came back, the little pouch with cord tucked in it!! Superb. And that accuracy is another of my key requirements and is something that I always find with Elhiem.
But all of this would be pointless unless the casting was of the same standard – and it is. Cleaning the figures is easy. There are a few casting run offs but these snip away cleanly and easily. You can just about make out the odd mould line, but these are not pronounced and a quick ‘tickle’ with a file and they are gone. This is REALLY important to me, all too often I find myself deciding whether to get rid of mould lines and lose detail or leave the line and keep the detail. No such dilemmas here. And the voids in the crooks of arms? Nothing major – a little thin flash on rare occasions but a quick trim with a sharp knife and done.
And I really like the thin and flat bases – no trouble to blend into the final base.
You may have guessed, but these are wonderful figures and I really like them. They are a joy to work with and are amongst the very best figures I have ever worked with. I can only give the highest possible recommendation. I can only hope these photos do them some justice.
And how did I paint them?
First off, a spray with Plastic Soldier Company British Khaki
A base cost of Vallejo English Uniform
A wash with diluted Army Painter Strong Tone
A dry brush with Vallejo US Field Drab
Leather is Vallejo leather
Webbing is Vallejo Russian Uniform washed with Olive green
Weapons black/light brown
Helmets Russian Green with a dry brush of lightened Russian green
Patches – Army Painter Pure Red and Vallejo Flat Yellow
Flesh is Flat Flesh washed with dark sepia
And that’s about it!
Monty the Desert Rat