Here’s my first impressions of another recent purchase. Just a run through of what you’ll find in each set and some initial thoughts before I decide what to do with the models.
US Navy SEALs
SASM’s SEALs come as a set of ten figures for $45. The set, in broad terms (…ah, because I don’t know the specific mod of M16 these are, there’s a lot guys!), contains 6 men with Assault Rifles, 2 with ARs plus Under Barrel Grenade Launchers and another 2 armed with General Purpose Machine Guns. Additionally each figure has an optional pair of Night Vision Goggles (the package included 12 of these).
That’s how the set comes out of the box, no clean up, etc. At a glance only one figure had any sort of flash on the model itself (with most of it being on the sprue connecting the M16 to the figure’s base, so in an area which would be cut off anyway). The figures themselves are cast in pewter, whilst the NVGs are resin. The resin pieces have more flash, though again mostly on the sprue so detaching them shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
As for removing the bits of sprue. Out of curiosity I had a go at just twisting the bits off with my fingers, and the connection seems loose enough that you can do this without big chunks of sprue coming with the model. I’d recommend a bit of cleanup afterwards, as after trying this a few times some remains of the sprue were still attached to the model, but not really anything which you wouldn’t normally be cleaning up anyway. Some of the bits were thicker than others however, so I’d recommend having a craft knife / pair of pliers to hand if some extra persuasion’s needed…
So what do I think of the actual models? Well, overall they seem to have a decent amount going for them. Now I’d have to say that they look sort of generic, in that modern Special Forces kind of way. They’re “All American Boys” as it were, kitted out with what you’d expect when it comes to US made Special Forces gear – with that iconic Bump Helmet which everyone seems to be using these days. I’m not sure if that’s SASM’s intention with these, but they definitely seem to be geared up so as to work for multiple National’s Special Forces.
From what I understand, like the GMV Flyer which I recently wrote about, these were designed in a 3D modelling program, printed on an STL Printer, before a traditional mould was created and these cast in pewter. Is it obvious that the master were 3D printed? Not really. I mean some of the details certainly look “cleaner” than you typically see with traditional sculpting – like the hardness to the edges of their radios or how small the electrical wires connecting the electrical components are.
Now in particular I’d draw attention to their rifles. They’re very “tacticool”, with all sorts of attachments. At first I assumed that the rifles would all be the same print used across the figures, but there’s a slight variation in the configuration of the attachments on some of them. Generally they have a dual set up with their scopes as you’re seeing becoming increasingly common in the civilian and military markets, along with some form of laser sight. Compared to Empress’ M16s the Picatiny rails are much more subdued – scaled true to the real rifles, rather than to make them super obvious to modellers.
There seems to be a lot of similarity between the faces on each figure, potentially all the same identical face with little variation in the stoney faced expressions. It would have been nice if there was a couple more sculpts of these, even if at the scale they aren’t really an area which you focus on, especially with helmets. Empress Miniatures does a similar thing with re-using heads, though they tend to have a bit more going for them.
Now, height wise these guys stand a bit taller than what the other manufacturers are putting out. They aren’t as tall as CP Model’s WWII range, or reaching the 32mm end of things, but are definitely taller than the Spectre Miniatures models I have. Personally. I like this. Whilst they aren’t completely in scale with the 1/50th vehicles that I already own, they definitely don’t look as out of place next to them as my other 28mms do. Neither are they so tall as to look like giants besides the other models when placed on the board. We’re talking about a half head taller than the other ranges generally.
Spectre, SASM, Eureka, SASM, Empress, Tiny Terrain (Igor Karpov)
The poses are maybe 60/40 between combat movements and standing at ease (to be expected). In the systems which they’ll likely be used having this variety probably fits the dispersed set up which people will be using, rather than having them a bit incongruous if you were setting them up in a more Napoleonic regimental fashion – all bunched up. They seem natural enough, with none of the “man spreading” you see with certain lines (looking at you Games Workshop), with some interesting poses like one dropping a spent magazine into a dump pouch, or one which which would be suitable for a Sergeant doing a kind of “eyes on” hand gesture. So overall nothing really out of place or silly looking.
When I’d said that the SEALs had that generic special forces look about them, that’s perhaps ratified with the GROM. From what I can tell the GROM are the same base models as the SEALs (3D models that is), but done up to a bit.
The Poles come in the same quality of casting and level of flash, etc as the SEALs did, so that doesn’t bare repeating. Instead let’s look at how they’re differentiated.
First off let’s talk about what you get in the set.
The GROM come as a smaller set of 5 figures, costing $22.50 (half the price of the SEALs, half the price, half the models). These are 3 Assault Rifles, and another two with UBLs. The rifles are the same models at the ones which came on the Seals. With the GROM I noticed that the rifles were a bit more bent out of the box than the SEALs, though a few seconds twisting them back into shape was good enough to fix that issue (the metal seems decent enough that I didn’t notice any broken off pieces from the shipping …or me accidentally sitting on them at one point).
What’s distinct about the GROM is that rather than having a minimalist setup with their webbing (most of the SEALs just have a few spare mags and a radio), these guys are laden with a bit more kit. Bits and bobs like pistols, knives and extra pouches. These parts appear to be hand sculpted on, rather than having been added onto the 3D masters (if I had to guess they’d be done by the same sculptor as the one who did SASM’s original Spetsnaz, but I can’t confirm that). The sculpting quality on these bits is acceptable. Some of the lines could be tidied up a bit here and there, but overall they add a bit of detail which otherwise wouldn’t be there.
They also come with NVGs attached to their helmets. These are made from pewter like the base model, rather than being an optional add on like with the SEALs, and are a different stye as well. From my rudimentary understanding of what’s out there, I’d guess that these are American derived, rather than being a Polish style (…at least based on all those guys I’ve shot in video games who were wearing them). Like the rest of the details on these figures, they’re fairly titchy in a nice way; not a massive pair of beer cans attached to their foreheads.
Pose wise they’re a bit more dynamic looking – one running, one shooting, another “eyes on” (which is a cool pose), one with his hand held out like he’s saying “stop”, and another with his gun held up in a high ready pose.
So what do I think? Well I’m largely positive over the two sets. The GROM are maybe the better of the two, with more “dynamic” poses and uniqueness when it comes to their webbing. The SEALs seem like they’re deliberately generic with their equipment so that they can be used for anything, so whilst I would have liked if they had more pouches and other bits, that’s maybe that’s not what their design goals were.
And that’s the key takeaway from these sets I think. Both are close enough to one another that they could easily represent the same force (ever if you gave them different NVGs, those things are expensive…). America’s set the standard with the equipment the World’s Special Forces are using these days (perhaps in part due to their inter-force training programs. If the guys training you are telling you what to wear, you …go buy it off Ebay). As long as your country uses M16 style rifles (and at this scale these guns could do for similar guns with minimal changes, its not like anyone could tell if these were 7.62 instead of 5.56) these would be perfectly acceptable for representing their special forces.
Its handy then that the arms come separately as well then, so if you say wanted them to have Kalashnikovs you could try replacing their guns or whole arms with say Warlord Games Project Z Spec Ops pieces. Finding guns of the same scale would be difficult however, as only really Spectre and Empress miniatures have similarly sized stuff, and neither of them sell their guns separately.
What’s my plan for these guys then? I’m considering doing something similar to what I did with my Russian Spetsnaz. There’s 15 of these guys in total here, which could be combined together with maybe some other figures to bring them up to two squads of eight. They’d then do for Americans (possibly with that GMV Flyer), or some other similarly geared up Nation.
The thought’s to return to a concept I was thinking about a while ago. I’d like some Spetsnaz for my Nationalist forces as part of my modern project. The idea had been to use Mike Bravo Miniatures Israelis with Tavors for this purpose, ah, but as that company’s fallen off the face of the Earth, I’ve had to go looking elsewhere. I had set aside some older Empress Americans which I’d painted ages ago, but these seem right up that alley instead.
So, they may well serve as some Ukrainian Spetsnaz. That country uses both a locally produced Tavor, as well as their own AK/ M16 hybrid (which visually just has a different hand guard, which could be achieved by shaving off the side picatiny rails). In which case I’d maybe do one squad up in modern multi-cam (which the Ukrainians are wearing in greater numbers these days) along with older British Desert DPM (the cheap stuff which was rushed into service at the start of the Iraq war). That’d then allow them to work both as Ukrainians serving locally, as well as potentially other forces in other settings (I don’t think most people would care or notice if their camo’s wrong). I do have those Ukrainian BTRs which could do with some passengers….
Ah, and if you want to get weird, you could always use these guys as say guys at a two gun match, for some really out there miniatures gaming. 😉
Now that the Flyer’s off my painting table these are up there as the next set of infantry to paint. I’m still trying to do my best to work on some terrain, but … buildings don’t have guns, and guns are funner to paint. 🙂