Wednesday, 27 February 2013


By Harold

Hi everyone,

My name is Mr. Harold and I'm a 15mm miniatures addict.   Some of you might recognize me from TMP or my blog,, but now I've come to invade and contribute to Dropship Horizon...

I'm going to start up a new feature, with this as the first installment, that I'll be calling "Quick Look".  The idea is that I'll take a product and post several picture of it in an unpainted/un-built stage with some discussion of quality, price, availability, etc.  I will then post a painted/finished picture of the product.

I hope that this will allow me to contribute more often, and perhaps get to some of those miniatures that don't sometimes get reviews.  

I look forward to hearing any comments or suggestions you might have!

First up:

Quick Look,  Ground Zero Games 8-Wheel MICV

 (available at: Price:  £7.50

This is a great vehicle model, that would be at home in anything from near future to far future.  There are four different "types": an APC, the MICV (like a Bradley), a command vehicle and a fire support/light tank.

The MICV comes with a turret that goes in the middle, you could use some system of magnets, or just not glue it on and you would be able to easily switch it out with the other top plates.

The parts include the two wheel sprues, the axles, the body, the top plate, the turret and the tank commander.  The sprue with the tank commander also includes the top hatch, in case you wanted to do a button-down look.   

I had a little bit of trouble putting the wheel on the axles and then the body, but I was told that if you glue the axles on the body first, and then glue the wheels on it's much easier.  Even though, it didn't take me very long and everything else went together nicely. 

These vehicles have a lot of character to them, and remind me very much of the Stryker class of vehicles. I have another MICV and a fire support variant that I need to finish up to make a small patrol force.  

These would work great as a patrol detail for a Planetary Defense Force, or any force that needs high-mobility, low-cost vehicles to patrol areas with roads.

I've painted this up with a three tone camo using tamyia masking tape cut into little triangles and such.  I then went the easy route and just used spray primers.   I really like how it turned out and I think the colors lend themselves to both urban environments and a "Mars" type planet. 


Building a 15mm Army Part 1 - Where To Begin

The end of February is upon us, which means those Ground Zero Games Christmas Vouchers are about to expire. 

While trying to figure out my order, I started to realize just how disorganized my 15mm collection has become. So I took a few moments to think about how I organize my forces. Then I thought it might be fun to share this process - especially since the scale has expanded far quicker than our abilities to buy, paint, and play with everything that's out there.  Here is my attempt at a common-sense approach to building a 15mm science fiction army. 

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Dropship Upgrades, Spec Sec Mecha, and Buildings That Aren't Square

Rebel Minis, in conjunction with Ravenstar Studios, has released an upgrade kit for the Titan Marines Dropship/Gunship Kit.

Sculpted by Chris Lynch, the Conversion Kit contains resin components to "upgrade" your dropship. Each pack contains an intake hood, a set of landing gear and 4 weapon mounts. The weapon mounts are especially nice, especially if you have any "spare" weapons from your Earthforce Dropships or Gunships, or from HAMR suits of either faction.

Keep an eye on the Bitz section of the Rebel Minis website. We're going to see quite a few new items to customize our 15mm forces in the coming months.

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Darkest Star Games has added the first releases to the anime-inspired Spec Sec range. The Vantage Drive Armor (pictured left) is "a budget-friendly alternative to combat type mechs like Landmates, for low-impact urban use." The larger Mastiff Drive Armor (pictured right) is utilized by the Spec Sec police forces for heavier operations. It includes a wide variety of weapon options, and can be customized for several urban combat roles.

The Scorpios (pictured left) is larger than not only most Drive Armor, but most combat tanks as well. Its design is something of a paradigm breaker for the Spec Sec police forces - sacrificing visibility and protection for size and weapon capabilities. Finally, the Parma battle armor (pictured right) offers a more conventional Landmate-styled design. 

The first 15mm figures in the Spec Sec range - a 5-man Response Team and the Agent Ionia character figure - have also been released. Darby promises to have their photos on the webstore soon - but you can see the work-in-progress pictures on the Darkest Star blog.

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And apart from the Spec Sec range, Darkest Star Games is steadily growing the Colony 15 line. Two character figures - the Household Guard Adviser and Colonist Scout - are now available. Also, pre-orders are available for additions to the Star Marauders, Zonii, and Magravate Militia (first packs reviewed here), along with the first pack of Colonists:

The characters are available now, and the pre-order packs should be released in the next two weeks. The Colonist figures are particularly inspiring to me. There is some wonderful Space Western potential with them - whether used in an original setting, or used directly in the Firefly/Serenity universe. Combine them with some other armed and unarmed colonists from GZG and Khurasan, throw together a few buildings from Krazy Ivan's Wired West range, and you're ready to play.

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Jonathan at CorSec Engineering noticed something about the latest wave of MDF buildings - they are all very rectangular in shape!

So, creative guy that he is, he started experimenting with flexible styrene instead of MDF. His idea was to curve the styrene around solid columns, giving a unique (and more futuristic) appearance to 15mm buildings:

Once he worked out the basics, he fired up the laser and etched the styrene in the same vein as his flat-pack building fittings:

And after a few successful tests, the Small and Medium 15mm Styrene Habitats are now available in his online store. Here's an exterior picture of the finished Small Habitat:

And an interior picture of the Medium Habitat:

All buildings in this series will have removable roofs, so the insides can be filled with goodies from places like Khurasan Miniatures and the National Cheese Emporium

Kudos to Jonathan for these - it's a completely different way to look at laser-cut terrain! He promises more buildings will follow in the coming weeks.


Friday, 15 February 2013

New Octopods, Wasteland Goons, SHM Creatures, and a Sale from 15mm.Co.Uk

15mm.Co.Uk has been busy this winter!

Earlier this week, three new figures were added to the SHM Range. First is the Criat Mercenary - described as strong and resilient creatures who will eat anything - even the flesh of their own kind. If you're looking for something a bit less conventional, we have the Biomorph - a 7mm-tall pile of genetically-engineered flesh, teeth, and claws. And if you really want a unique figure, the Jelly Cube might be just what you have in mind. While primarily intended for fantasy dungeon crawls, this 24mm-tall monstrosity would be equally at home on a derelict spacecraft or an abandoned colony.

Criat Mercenary, Biomorph, Jelly Cube (not remotely to scale!)
And today brings us expansions to two popular factions in the HOF Science Fiction range. The Wasteland Uber Goons, perfect for games like USE ME UM007 and Mutants & Death Ray Guns, receive a pack of Heavy Weapons. This mix of figures is armed with a fusion gun, a cool boxy-looking missile launcher, and a flamethrower - the true staple of any henchmen force. 

HOT89 Octopod Assault Troops

The popular Octopods, not known for subtlety or finesse, have been reinforced by this pack of assault troops. They are armed with pistols and hack-and-slash weapons, and would make great mercenaries or auxiliaries even in non-Octopod armies.

HOF88 Octopod Jetbikes

But with all these foot-sloggers (or is that tentacle-sloggers?), it didn't seem like the Octopods can match the speed of other HOF forces like the Retained Knights and the Shia Khan. So they grabbed some surplus starfighter thrusters, bolted saddles to the top of them, and called them Jetbikes. These look like some of the fastest light vehicles to be found on the 15mm tabletop, and should be a lot of fun to paint. 

To support these latest HOF releases, 15mm.Co.Uk has announced a 10% off sale on all Octpod and Wasteland Uber Goon packs. This offer is good through March 1st, and covers all codes in those ranges (not just the new releases). 

Gavin has promised even more releases in the HOF Science Fiction range in the coming months. Stay tuned!


Sunday, 10 February 2013

Cataloging Sci-Fi Buildings in 15mm

Today we have a guest post from Hans over at Trojan Points. Based on the Catalog posts that we did last year (and need to update!), he compiled a definitive list of 15mm Science Fiction Buildings available today. Let us know if anything was overlooked in the comments, and then we'll copy this article over to a permanent sub-page like the others.

As both a complement and an homage to Dropship Horizon's very useful miniatures catalogs (Extraterrestrial Lifeforms, Non-Biological Lifeforms, Human Power Armour and Non-Military Humans), and generally awesome blog, the Architecture Department of the Trojan Institute of Technology has been busy reporting architectural trends in the 15mm future! Excluding unique scratch-built designs, our specialists have classified most buildings in the galaxy under five categories: Prefabs, Industrial Buildings, Third Wave Buildings, Shanties and Alien Buildings. Furthermore, they've identified a new trend: buildings scratch-built from local materials but upgraded with standardized Parts and Fittings...

While the concept of ready-to-live dropped-from-orbit buildings has often been discussed, most colonies start with some sort of Prefabs.

Prefab Military Base from GZG's store
  • round Zero Games Military Prefab and Base Modules is available as a Basic Module, a Command Module fitted for extra aerials, a Communication Module with a large satellite dish, a Module with Air-Defense Canon and a double-length Barracks Module. Don't let the “military” appellation fool you: they're often available in surplus and bought by the no frill budget conscious colonist!
  • The options with Gamecraft Miniatures Tommorow's War Structures seem endless. Several sizes of habitation modules you order by the floor (and thus buildings you make as high as you want), several landing pads (large, small, rooftop, elevated), a garage, a mech hangar, cargo pods, radio mast, security walls and walkways... And I won't even go into their modern but so easily re-purposable buildings or into their spaceship interior modules: this post is already becoming much longer than I expected.
  • Antenociti's Workshop currently offers a single MDF Colony Habitat, but their large offer of Made for Infinity buildings hints to more in the future. They also have some concrete barriers and some rather “scale virgin” 28mm terrain that can easily be re-purposed for 15mm: air filters and movers, holo ads, info hub, missile silos, generator, alien artefact and various crates and containers.
  • Constantly pushing the envelope of laser cutting, CorSec Enginering mixes the flexibility of styrene and the ease of assembly of MDF to promise shapes unseen so far... Starting with a Quonset Hut

Most colonies (although not all of them) are created to take advantage of some local resources. So once basic lodgement has been taken care of, the next order of business for more colonists is Industrial Buildings.

CMG incredible Kyushu Bay refinery at Salute 2012
  • With 16 different resin models (all with simply detailed interiors), Critical Mass Games produced Arc Fleet Buildings are ready to seriously boost your colony industrial base! I especially love the Otilium Refinery and its 3 sorts of assorted storage tanks! Don't forget their Comms Towers and Satellite Dish accessories.
  • In need of a command center for your base or of a control tower for your spaceport? Combat Wombat Miniatures makes a resin “pile up the levels as high as you want/can” modular building!
  • Blue Moon Manufacturing makes 4 different industrial looking resin buildings (one of them with a clear plastic dome).

Third Wave Buildings are so called because after prefab and industrial buildings, they constitute the third wave of building on most colonies, usually as a replacement/upgrade to the first wave prefabs.

Old Crow Apartments Blocks on ClearHorizon
  • Old Crow Models might be on temporary hiatus but their resin 2 and 3-stories matching apartments blocks are, in my opinion, (among) the finest 15mm sci-fi buildings ever produced!
  • Designed by Krazy Ivan's War Games Emporium and manufactured by GameCraft Miniatures, the Wired West range brings Space Western (boardwalks and false fronts, Firefly style): 3 small, 3 medium, 3 large and 3 corner buildings, each with 2 accessible stacked floors (ground and first), covered boardwalk and false fronts.
  • They walk the line between early Third Wave and Alien: Brigade Models produces a dozen desert buildings (various houses, a landing pad, a workshop, a research lab and a bunker).
  • Again early Third Wave or Alien, 5 original Desert Dwellings made by The Scene .
  • Mad Mecha Guys produces a rapidly growing range of MDF condos, shops, bunkers, garage, containers, barriers, roads and signage... Relatively simple blocky design, but with plenty of variations in size and shapes,don't they just beg for some Parts & Fittings?

Shanties are improvised dwellings made from scrap materials and build to compensate the lack or scarcity of other types of building. Unsurprisingly they're usually inhabited by the poorer fraction of a colony (which on certain planets might be most people).

A GZG Shanty Town, complete with bars and containers

  • Made of walls (5 front, 5 back, 3 left and 3 right) and roofs (5) that can be assembled in any combination, Ground Zero Games makes just over 1000 (more if you count the chimneys) different Colonial Settlement Buildings. They are often encountered amid discarded shipping containers, some of them re-purposed as the colony watering hole (sometimes with the addition of a lean-to side extension  for the kitchen or store).
  • I was lucky enough to grab 8 out of the 9 unique resin shanties produced by Battle Works Studios before they went off the grid. With removable roofs and a unique system of telescopic masts they look even more improvised than GZG's. Rumor has it that these will go back into production someday...

Alien Civilisations bring with their culture unique takeson architecture. One can indeed lear a great deal about their way of thinking and living by studying the way they build their dwellings.

CMG Tokaan IV board at Caronade 2011, 
picture from Iron Mammoth's Studio

  • Critical Mass Games does it again: 2 sets of 2 buildings (one medium, one small), a large command center and 2 different 3-storys high Great Pyramids; enough variety for a full table pyramids-obsessed-alien colony! Matching power nodes and converter in the accessories section.
  • Officaly Licenced for Tomorrow's War (who cares frankly?), Gamecraft Miniatures Marshborn Crusties Structures are available as 3 different MDF building and matching elevated walkways, ramps and docks.
  • Although listed under 28mm Scenic, Scotia Grendel Productions offers a nice range of domes (command, landing pad, quad bunker, hospital, power plant, observation tower and various turreted ones) and corridors to link them that are much better scaled for 15mm than for 28mm. They also have some standalone missile silos and weapons emplacement.

You want to upgrade that local materials (read scratch-built) or traditionally constructed (read building originally designed for historic games) dwelling with the comfort of whichever century you live in? You need parts and fittings!

A foam core box with various GZG Parts and Fittings, from GZG store

  • Doors, windows, hatches, air conditioners, vents, exhausts, comms dishes, aerial bases, solar arrays, circuit panels, junction boxes, power units, drums, palets, containers: Ground Zero Games has them in all manners of shapes and sizes. They might well have invented the concept too...
  • Antenociti's Workshop also offers a whole range of doors, windows, hatches, vents, grates, fans, air conditioners, solar panels and crates.
  • Khurasan makes Street Lights, Dumpsters and a single set of Air Conditioners but also furniture and civilian Street Cars to fill your streets.
  • The Scene has a range with plenty of doors, windows, vents, hatches, and roof fittings.
  • CorSec Engineering also offers you a strudy fence system, complete with gatehouse and watchtowers, which posts can be used with metal, wooden or laser beams to keep those nasties in. Or out... Not to mention their mention their flat styrene doors, windows and vents.
I voluntary restricted myself to production models (not custom builds), sci-fi (not anything else usable for sci-fi) and buildings (not natural terrain). Even so, I probably forgot a few items: I stand ready to be corrected and to discover new gems!
Hans from Trojan Points

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Critical Mass Games announces Kickstarter for ZAS Army

Big news today, everyone. Critical Mass Games has launched a Kickstarter campaign to expand the popular ZAS Mercenary pack into a complete, standalone army. If you don't recognize them by name, the ZAS Mercs are the very same figures in the Dropship Horizon banner image.

For those who aren't familiar with Kickstarter, the process is simple. You contribute a "pledge" to the project, and that "pledge" equals a pre-order of the items in that project. Once the initial goal is financed, additional goals are added. If you pledge to a level that gets fully funded - you will receive that item once it enters production. If you pledge at a level that doesn't make its funding goal - your credit card will never be charged for that item. Kickstarter is a great way for small-scale operations (such as the entire 15mm manufacturing community!) to finance their sculptors, 3d prototyping, casting, and painting services without a major investment. And it's risk-free for us, since unfunded goals will never get charged.

For the ZAS Kickstarter, here's a quick overview of the initial offerings.
  • Squad Leader (£8) - 12 ZAS Figures divided into two fire-teams. Each team consists of a rifle-armed leader, three rifle-armed troopers, a squad support weapon, and a special weapon.
  • Platoon Leader (£18) 28 ZAS figures including a platoon commander, comms specialist, medic, and drone, plus four 6-man fire teams.
  • Company Commander (£33) - 57 ZAS figures including a company commander, two platoon commanders, two comms specialists, two medics, two drones, and eight 6-man fire teams.
  • Mechanised Infantry Commander (£85). Everything from the Company Commander pledge, with the addition of four of the existing Bastion IFVs and three Havoc tanks - grav or tracked. I'll be reviewing these vehicles next week to help support the campaign.
There are more options available, including forces that are expertly painted by Craig and Dale. Each of the above pledges includes shipping, and will include "stretch goals" such as heavy weapon and mortar teams as they are unlocked. 

For full details of the pledge levels and stretch goals, along with concept art taking the ZAS from a small team of mercs to a fully-fledged army, visit the Kickstarter page by clicking here.


Wednesday, 6 February 2013

New GZG - UNSC Hardsuits

Attention dropship passengers...

In today's news, UNSC Hardsuit Marines are on the move. Deploying to a conflict near you. Here's what their supreme commander Jon Tuffley had to say about them...

The long-awaited new sculpt UNSC Hardsuit Marines (UNSC/H) are NOW AVAILABLE! They are all up on the webstore and fully available.

(Inc. VAT prices apply to all customers in UK and other EU countries, ex VAT prices apply to all customers outside the EU.)

SG15-U10  UNSC/H Marines in Hardsuits - Plasma Rifles pack A (8 figs)
                  £3.00 inc VAT, £2.50 ex VAT.

SG15-U11  UNSC/H Marines in Hardsuits - Plasma Rifles pack B (8 figs)
                  £3.00 inc VAT, £2.50 ex VAT.

SG15-U12  UNSC/H Marines in Hardsuits - Plasma SAW gunners (8 figs)
                  £3.00 inc VAT, £2.50 ex VAT.

SG15-U13  UNSC/H Marines in Hardsuits - Micromissile Launchers and
Laser Snipers (8 figs)  £3.00 inc VAT, £2.50 ex VAT.

SG15-UX       UNSC/H Grav Jump Packs to fit Marine Hardsuits - 24
backpacks               £3.00 inc VAT, £2.50 ex VAT.

The SG15-UX pack contains 24 individual grav-packs, designed to fit any of the Marine Hardsuit figures in packs U10-U13; each UX pack will therefore be enough to equip 3 packs of Hardsuit figures. In MOST cases the Grav-pack will simply glue on over the small cast-on backpack of the hardsuit - it has been designed to be a very quick and simple fit with a drop of superglue, and most figure poses will require no cutting, filing or other work to fit the grav-packs. There may be just a few cases where a little filing and fitting of the pack or the suit is required to make it sit correctly on the figure, depending on the pose of the arms and shoulders and the weapon that the figure is carrying, but we have tried to keep this to an absolute minimum. PLEASE NOTE that the picture shows examples of the grav packs fitted to several UNSC/H figures - the UX pack does NOT contain the figures themselves!

We also have a little special offer intro deal, for a limited time only - by buying the deal you get enough grav packs for all the figures FREE!

UNSC/H "mini intro" deal pack: 2 x SG15-U10, 2 x SG15- U11, 1 x SG15- U12, 1 x SG15- U13  (total of 48 figures) plus two FREE packets of
SG15- UX grav packs!

Deal price £18.00 inc VAT, £15.00 ex VAT.


Since the first sample figure of the new UNSC/H got previewed a few weeks ago, several people have commented on the major differences in weapons and equipment between the new UNSC/H and the UNSC/L Light Infantry - well, here's why....

The UNSC/L (Light) Infantry are the regular ground troops of the UNSC forces, under Army Ground Forces command; they are equipped to a fairly high tech level, using full-body light armour combat suits and carrying rapid-fire gauss weaponry (the IGW-68 infantry rifle and SGW-75 support weapon). The flexible combat suit gives the wearer reasonable protection against shrapnel and some small-arms fire; it is also fully sealed and has sufficient life-support for short term operation in hostile atmospheres, though for hard vacuum operations it is more common to deploy the Hardsuited Marines where available. The large overhead-curving faceplate of the combat helmet allows excellent optical vision, supplemented by head-up displays projected on the inner faceplate by the suit's sensors and comms links.

The UNSC/H (Hardsuit) Marines are a separate organisation completely, under UNSC Fleet command and used as a primary strike force, often dropping from orbit in individual ablative capsules or deploying via high altitude grav-pack drop from atmosphere-skimming transports. The UNSC Marines are equipped to the highest tech level available to any human infantry, each Marine wearing an advanced power- assisted combat hardsuit sealed against vacuum and most hostile environments, and carrying High Energy Weapons tech in the form of the IPW-80 Plasma Rifle and the SPW-82 Rapid-Fire Plasma SAW. The very distinctive bulbous helmet of the Marine hardsuit contains extensive sensor, comms and AI support for the wearer, with panoramic head-up displays for full situational awareness at all times - the narrow "visor" slit in the faceplate is normally protected by an internal armoured shield when the Marine is in combat conditions, and is usually opened for direct optical vision only when out of combat, or in emergency circumstances such as sensor equipment damage.

The Marines are considered the elite of the UNSC forces, highly trained in all combat situations including vacuum and microgravity environments, and there is certainly a strong inter-service rivalry between them and the regular UNSC light infantry - somewhat exacerbated by the fact that they are organised under completely separate command structures. As throughout history, this rivalry has lead to many a bar-fight when troops are off duty;  to the Marines, the Light Infantry are "just a bunch of dirt-grunts", best suited to the jobs of garrison duties, peacekeeping forces and the like; the Light Infantry, in their turn, see the Marines as "cocky glory-hogs with all the best toys", who "drop in, kill everything then bugger off to space again". In action, of course, all this is forgotten - it is not uncommon for Infantry and Marines units to be found fighting shoulder-to-shoulder, and even to be cross-attached to each others' units right down to platoon level when the situation warrants.


So, there we go - lots of you have asked for these, so we've done them!   :-)

Monday, 4 February 2013

Pangalactic Legion Platoon Pack, Hadai, Starship Consoles, PacFed Reinforcements

Rebel Minis now offers the extremely popular Pangalactic Legion in a platoon pack. From Rebel Mike:

Rebel Minis is proud to announce the next release in our Star Army pack series, the Star Army: Pangalactic Legion Platoon.
This is everything you will need to run a Pangalactic Legion Platoon in 5150: Star Army. The set contains: 24 Infantry, 4 Command and a bonus Extra Heavy Weapons asset! SRP$: $15.99
Sculpted by PF, these are highly detailed and a must for any Sci-Fi gamer! Painted by Jeff Racel! You can see it here: along will all of our other Star Army packs. You can check out the rules for Star Army here:
Kudos to Rebel Mike for offering these platoon packs. They're a great way to start an additional 15mm faction, or introduce new players to the scale.

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Speaking of aliens, I neglected to mention the release of the Hadai Scout Pack from ArtCrime Productions a few weeks back.

Sculpted by PF, the Hadai are a great new felinoid race for your 15mm games. Or a possible range to serve as Aslan for all you Traveller gamers, or as the Emirate of Hacan for fans of the Twilight Imperium board game.

*     *     *     *     *

 GameCraft Minis has added a set of resin computer consoles to their Spaceship Interiors range.

This is a handy little pack - good not only for the GameCraft MDF interior sets, but they would work fine with Khurasan's resin system, any print-and-play set of rooms and corridors, or even the interiors of 15mm buildings.

*     *     *     *     *

Hot on the heels of the new Cougar MBT and Wombat APC, Brigade Models has expanded the PacFed vehicle range. The Ocelot Light Tank follows the overall Cougar design, but reduces the overall profile. The result is a combat vehicle that looks very nimble - ideal for escorting the Wombat APCs.

Then there are two variants of the Minigwal Recce Vehicle. The crew compartments on these are fairly small - intended for two crew sitting in tandem. As David B. so pointed out on the Google+ community, these really blur the line between ground combat vehicle and support aircraft. Both versions have two beam weapons attached to the front of the hull. The first variant has a small twin-gun turret:

And the second has a light missile turret.

They would be great hit-and-run vehicles for attacker/defender scenarios, and would be ideal for outflanking a more ponderous opposing force. The entire PacFed ranges is shaping up to be a very advanced force. It would be ideal for high-tech human infantry - Rebel Shalur and EF Droptroopers come to mind, as do the new Tomorrow's War DPRG from Ground Zero Games. They would also match well with alien factions - something just like the Rebel Pangalactic Legion or ACP Hadai mentioned above.


Review - Critical Mass Games Star Marines

Critical Mass Games added the Star Marines to the Mercenary range a little while ago, and Craig kindly sent me two packs for review (along with a ton of the newer Mercenary vehicles - coming soon!). I was pretty excited when they were first released. Just from looking at the catalog photo...

...I could tell these were going to be some nice, bulky figures with thick armor and awesome shoulderpads. Since I have an odd tendency to paint figures in football team colors, these should have been a dream come true. In full (and somewhat embarrassing) disclosure, I didn't immediately recognize their influencing design. 

My initial opinion changed a bit when I first had them in-hand. I didn't like them as much as I did from the photo. The visored helmet looked great in the photo, but seemed hilariously undersized compared to other figures. There was something vaguely video-game like about them, but I still wasn't seeing it. While contemplating how to put them into service (robots, a headswap, etc), someone over at the Google Plus 15mm Sci Fi community dropped three words that immediately changed my opinion.... Starcraft Terran Marines.

Once I stopped smacking myself in the head, I knew just what I was seeing. The human operator's torso is recessed, with bottom of the figure's visor at roughly nose level. When I compared it to slender-ish figures (like Critical Mass ARC Recon and Oddzial Osmy NVL), the armor's proportions worked almost perfectly. So, with the new image in my mind, I wondered how to give these a paint scheme that fit their video-game nature. Well, what about washed silver metallic with solid-color accents?

Just what I had in mind - simple to apply, and it did a good job of showing off the details. And there are loads of details to be found. There were no corners cut when these were sculpted - caps on the toes and heels of the boots, extended plates covering the knees and elbows, perfectly proportioned fingers holding the weapons with realistic grips, and nice greeblies on the back, chest, and outer shoulders. A skilled painter could spend hours on these, picking out the individual components. And the castings are excellent. A couple figures had some flash between the upper thighs - easily removed with a hobby knife. And a few did have a noticeable mold line across the top, but it was easily cleaned and didn't cut across the visor (one of my biggest complaints with other visored figure ranges). I only have one real gripe with these figures - the cast base is about 2.5mm thick, and I learned that the pewter Critical Mass Games uses doesn't file as easily as some others. So my Star Marines sit noticeably high on their bases. But I do know that thicker bases help keep the castings cleaner, so it's a trade-off I'm happy to live with.

There's good variety among the five poses. But for now, all we have are the rifle poses. If these prove to be successful, hopefully we can talk Craig and Dale into adding another pack or two. These would definitely benefit from heavy and support weapons as well as a command figure or two. I could see these being fielded as complete armies with those additional figures. But as it is now, they are great additions to larger forces or good for smaller skirmish games. Especially, in my mind, skirmishes fought in starship interiors. Which inspired me to try a secondary color scheme before painting the rest:

I decided to paint a "red team" and a "blue team." That would give me some extra flexibility with them - they could be cooperative or competing protagonists in a game, racing against each other through rooms and corridors, slaughtering aliens and small automatons. Or, on a proper tabletop setting, one team could be hired as mercenaries for the attacker, while another team is hired by the defender. 

The Star Marines compare pretty well to other 15mm Power Armor figures. Here they are with Critical Mass' own ARC Fleet Augments and with GZG NAC, Brigade Models PA, and Kremlin MANITOU. They look just as protected and lethal as any "equivalent" trooper they might encounter.

And they do stand out compared to non power armored infantry. They could have been just slightly larger for that instant "wow" effect, but it's quite clear that they have more armor than most fatigued 15mm figures. Here they are with a Critical Mass ARC Fleet Recon trooper, an Armies Army Rusk soldier, a Rebel Minis Homeguard trooper, and a Blue Moon Orion Republican.

And just for fun, here's the Red Team battling some Astagar Fighters aboard a Paper Make It Space Base. I can't think of a more suitable environment for the Star Marines.