My recent additions.
Last week I got another two large boxes in the mail and happily tore them apart to reveal the Operation Zverograd campaign box and the Mil Mi-45 helicopter that also comes with a squad of Chinese Volunteers. Of course the Zverograd box also contains the SSU hero Koshka and her modified walker Grand'ma (aka Babushka) as well as a single storey ruined building. So by now I've managed to acquire all the currently available SSU miniatures! They amount to about the same as what you get for one faction in the original starter set, except for twice the cost. Haha! Well, at least they look better.
I don't want to repeat myself too much here as most of what I wrote in my last review still applies. Naturally the same colour and the same, somewhat soft, plastic for the Chinese infantry. However the vehicles are made from sterner stuff. The plastic is a lot more similar to what you're used to seeing in regular model kits - much harder but a bit more brittle. While I wouldn't worry if I dropped a Dust infantry model on the floor I think dropping a vehicle would inflict quite some damage!
I've always thought of the walkers (and now helicopters) as the big stars of the Dust line. While I quite like the look of the infantry and they're fairly well sculpted, the walkers is the big draw for me. So it's nice that they're given a bit of extra attention with the better plastic and additional detailing.
That being said let's have a look at the miniatures! Hopefully with some better pictures this time around...
Mil Mi-45 Helicopter
It looks big and fat...
When I first saw the Mil Mi-45 helicopter in the FFG previews I thought it looked horrible (and I said as much here)! But then as more pictures surfaced of it from different angles I started to feel less adverse towards it. I still worried it would look weird, but not as much as I did when I first saw it. Now having been able to examine it for myself I'm glad that my fears were (mostly) unfounded. While it still looks a bit awkward it's more awkward in an ugly duckling sense than in a this-looks-like-a-toy sense. So, fairly similar to its real world counterparts, the Mil Mi-4 and the Ka-25.
but it's quite thin actually.
It comes pretty much assembled with only the torso of the pilot and the cockpit window left to put together. I was happy to see this as I was a little worried that those things would be pre-assembled hence more difficult to paint. There is a little bit of detailing in the cockpit, enough to get the point across. The pilot looks like a pilot and has the same head as the Medvedi mechanic (goggles are goggles I guess). The vehicle is fairly thin if you look at it straight on but this actually helps to lessen the toy aspect of it. There are three round hatches on each side but unfortunately they are simply holes and not actual windows. Bit of a shame I think but easy enough to add yourself I suppose. The rear doors look a little unpractical I think, removing a bit of the floor as they open, but that's exactly what the real Mi-4 looked like so par for the course I suppose.
The rear doors, and no windows.
The pilot looking rather smug up there in the air!
It comes with a walker sized base and a clear plastic flying stand. It can be easily attached to the helicopter and snaps fit close enough that you can actually lift the model and the stand and base will follow. It's just about the right height to convey the sense of flight and look impressive on the table while not so tall that it'll get in the way.
When it comes to in game performance we need to wait for the Zverograd book for sure, but it seems to be able to take a bit of punishment (six hits) while dishing out a decent amount of anti infantry fire. Of course the main use of it is its eight model carrying capacity (which I wonder if it might be a hint at the numbers of infantry in an Armor 1 squad).
I'm actually a lot happier with the Mil Mi-45 than I thought I would be! While there still are a couple of things that I'm not thrilled about it's a pretty cool model overall. Also, I'm sure it'll provide valuable duty as a transport to get my powerful, but short range, infantry into engagement range.
The wonky gun guy is on the right.
Now let's have a look at the Chinese infantry that comes with the helicopter as well. They have the same onesies and cuirass as the regular Russian infantry but have cute little caps instead of helmets and a proper looking backpack instead of just a... sack. They are all armed with submachine guns so no exciting heavy weapon unfortunately, but one of them is in a grenade throwing pose that helps adding some diversity and dynamics to the squad. The Allies could do with a bit more of this! The Axis have their panzerfausts and gasmasks to mix things up a bit but the Allied Armor 2 infantry all look the same!
Anyway, in spite of their simplicity I really like these minis! They feel like a group of boy scouts with guns, that the Russian commanders then simply use as cannon fodder. The heads actually manage to have an Asian feel to theem without going into stereotype/charicature territory. There's about the same amount of mold lines as the other infantry, so a little bit but nothing excessive. They came with one bent gun that I think got bent because of how the arms attach to the body. This is worse than a bent barrel as I imagine its harder to fix, althoguh I haven't tried yet.
Their game stats looks to be fairly modest. No heavy weapons and no impressive special skills besides Agile (meaning they're good at running away basically). However, they are very cheap so could easily be used as a screening squad to protect better, more expensive troops.
I'm not entirely sure why FFG decided to only sell them as a package deal with the helicopter as I imagine that will mean you'll rarely see more than one of these squads on the battlefield at once. Maybe that was the whole idea. Hmm...
Anyway I quite like them and I'm just trying to decide how to paint them. They do look good in the light blue of the studio models so I might go with that if I can't come up with anything better. I tried Googling Chinese volunteers as I imagine they're based on some historical infantry force but couldn't really find anything. Any WWII buffs out there who care to help?
Koskha and Babushka
Good to have some backup!
In the Operation Zverograd campaign box you get the SSU hero Koshka, her walker Grand'Ma (or babushka as I'll refer to it) and a one storey semi ruined building. Then there is the rule/campaign book itself and two large poster maps for use with Dust Tactics. As these aren't much use for Dust Warfare player (besides fluff and some hints at future releases) I won't go into them further. I'll actually leave the building as well, even though it does have lots of use for me as well. I simply want to concentrate on the models.
Koshka comes sporting some tight fitting piloting overall (with ample cleavage) and a pilots cap. She's aiming her grenade pistol and looks like she means business! It's a quite modest model, no big weapons or armour pieces but I like her in this way. As I said, she's does look like she means businesses. I might do something about the fur collar though as it's kind of hard to make out what it actually is from a distance. In fact, I thought it was her hair sticking out from under her cap until I actually had the model in my hand. It might work simply bending it downwards so the collar is resting more on her shoulders. Apart from that she looks good, while not spectacular.
She's nothing really amazing in game but she is the first hero with the Pilot skill. She also has Fighting Spirit meaning she can pack an extra mean punch once per battle (preferably while in her walker). Besides that her most practical feature is likely her grenade pistol since it will remove the benefit of cover from the target squad. However she's not meant to run around on foot, she's supposed to pilot Babushka!
Stomp, stomp, stomp!
Which leads us to her personalised walker! Apart from the Otto from Dust Models this is our first look at the new Russian KV-47 walker and it's a lovely piece of plastic! Quite a bit smaller and sturdier than the Axis and Allies walkers the design is just as good or better. It comes fully assembled except for the arms which need mounting. Babushka comes in a running pose which gives it a bit more of a dynamic look than the regular, static KV-47 model. However the legs are all jointed and I imagine you could probably take it apart and pose the legs anyway you wished with a little bit of work. This is certainly a plus in my book as I would like to try my hand on some different poses!
The body is sturdy and combined with the lack of a head and bent knees make the whole model look quite squat. The hatch at the top of the body is glued shut, but again could probably be forced open fairly easy if you want to put the pilot looking out or something. I know I will do that on one of mine at least. It's interesting that the KV-47 actually has hands holding the triggers for the guns, putting it more into Japanese VOTOMS/Gundam camp than the western Mechwarrior camp we've seen so far. I really like this but I know that some of you out there don't like the slight "humanization" of the mecha. Oh well, this just makes me more curious about the Japanese and their samurai walkers!
It has two large tanks on the back, similar to the Fury of Ivan, which I guess is the reason your walkers get no armour save when shot from behind. Haha! In its right hand it carries a howitzer and in its left a "Sulfur Jet", aka flamethrower. I think the model looks its best (and most realistic) when the arms are actually posed like a human running. This way you get the right balance and it really looks like Babushka is pushing forwards! I've seen her posed with both arms forward which I think just makes it look like its waddling and/or falling over. The arms are quite long as well so you need to position them correctly or they'll touch the ground. Again you could easily crack the joins apart and glue them together any way you want.
There are a few mold lines and a little bit of flash here and there that needs cleaning, but it's nothing excessive. The only real flaw I could find was a small area right in front of the hatch where there's a small gap in the hull. Easily fillable, but there nonetheless.
Looking at Babushka's Dust Tactics stats the most eyebrow raising item might be her five hit points, which I've heard all KV-47 walkers will have. It's not a big different but it does mean they can take a bit more punishment and still keep going. That's Russian redundant engineering for you! It has the Assault skill which I think seems to be a tricky skill to use wisely. Maybe I just need to figure it out. One other valuable bit is that the howitzer is a grenade weapon, meaning you don't get any cover bonus when shot by it. I think this can be a quite a big thing as getting entrenched infantry out of a building can take some time, especially if they have armour 3! It seems to me that the way you want to use Koskha and Babushka is to make it up the table, firing at infantry as you go and then quickly close the gap and go to town with your sulfur thrower. It should be enough to toast most infantry and should you come across another walker you can use the Fighting Spirit to be able to knock it out.
I really like the KV-47 models and I imagine I'll be getting a few of them at least! Babushka will surely get some extra attention during painting, and will hopefully make for a nice centerpiece. I think this is the way to make Dust Tactics expansions attractive for us Warfare players as well. Pop a walker and some terrain in there and it'll be worth getting for all of us.
Koshka in a slightly different position.
Like I said in the beginning the walkers and vehicles are the stars of the Dust line and the Mil Mi-45 and the KV-47 certainly underlines that. The helicopter is nice and clunky and not as toy-like as I first feared while Babushka is simply awe inspiring as it's lumbering across the battlefield. The Chinese Volunteers are fairly simple, but for some reason I'm eager to get some paint on them as I think they have a lot of character. Two boxes worth getting if you plan on making an SSU army. Financially I feel I must recommend the helicopter box more as you simply get more bang for your buck and as you can easily assemble Babushka from the parts in a regular KV-47 box. However, the Koshka model and the ruined building makes for added value for sure.
The SSU Ohotniki - Rifle Squad - and the SSU Specialists have just been released and I want to get my grubby little hands on them! Their snipers sound really cool with their long range rifles that can even damage medium walkers. So you can expect seeing reviews of those squads later in the month and perhaps another after action report or two as we're probably getting stuck in again tomorrow with some more Judge Dredd and some more Dust Warfare.
Now if we could just get some news, any news, about the Zverograd book for Dust Warfare. I want to read up on my little plastic men! Haha!