I am trying out Plastic Soldier miniatures for the first time. Overall, my impression of their Soviet Infantry box is that it provides great plotnost. On opening the box, I was immediately impressed. I’m used to metal models being crammed into blisters, not that there is anything particularly wrong with that, it’s just that it’s a change. The sprue does lead to significantly less bending of weapons etc on the models though the debate of metal bendage vs. plastic breakage once assembled goes on. Two things immediately stood out to me as being very impressive. One is the painting guide, the other is the packaging.
DEAD LORD, WHY DON’T MORE COMPANIES DO THIS? I know that everyone and their dog has their own Space Marine paint scheme but for historical miniatures, there is a pretty set way of painting Even with Napoleonics you have a relatively limited color scheme for the models included in a box. The one included with the box recommended Vallejo paints but the guide and color swatches are an absolute time saver as are the examples of two painted models.
Yes, I’m using my own colors and paint scheme but it’s still pretty useful, especially for the beginning gamer. Kudos Plastic Soldier company, kudos.
The front artwork is pretty darn good as well as giving you an idea of what color scheme to use. It’s not the overdone CGI infused artwork that GW provides or the overly Gothic fantasy that Privateer Press provides on their boxes. It’s a pretty decent battle scene that could have very easily come from some historical painting. I feel like I’m doing a review of Christina Hendricks: while the front of the package is really nice looking, it’s the back end that really floats my boat.
The back end is where the aforementioned painting guide is. The thing that is a “killer app” for me is the clear window. Why more companies don’t do this more often really surprises me. I imagine it’s not a design issue but a fiscal issue. Being able to see exactly what the sprues look like is a real amazing thing. I hate buying a GW box and only having the CGI enhanced artwork on front to let me really know what’s inside. With Plastic Soldier Company, you get to see exactly what you are buying. Yes, you get to see what you’re buying if you get a Battlefront or Battle Honours blister but they are usually pretty jumbled in there. Lastly, I like being able to see that these models are indeed multi-part models that are going to need to be assembled. This is a change from most of the metal 15mm models I’ve done recently.
As a retailer, I would LOVE this as it really gives me a big up on trying to sell these to a customer. Being able to actually show product to buyers is a real plus. If I’m not doing the sale, the customer picking up the box and seeing the actual contents for themselves is a huge selling point. It really does give you a great impression of the quality of the models and the quality of the sculpts.
Here is my one minor criticism of the packaging. The front illustration does show quite clearly a Maxim crew. For Flames of War, the Maxims are heavy machine guns and would not come with an infantry box. The back of the box very clearly states that there are 6 NCOs, 45 riflemen/submachinegunners, and 6 LMGs with loaders. The LMG sculpts are a departure from the way Battlefront and Battle Honours have their sculpts laid out. For game purposes, it doesn’t matter. Personally, I live the variation. It does break up the monotony of having the same sculpts over and over.
The first thing that stands out to me is the fact that they include women soldiers. /soapbox It really chaps my hide that people really downplay the incredibly important role that women play in war, especially in the Great Patriotic War. sidenote: Dr. Ruth was a trained Israeli sniper. She can cure your sexual disfunction and shoot you at 800 yards. While women were used primarily as support personel and snipers, they still did play an important role and I like that they include them.
The models, and this may be just me, are a bit thinner than others. I believe this is due to the fact that PSC is using plastic injection molding and not metal spin casting. That does allow for some finer casts IMHO. The officers are decent. I will most assuredly be painting them with blue pants. Not historically accurate per se but I really love the look. The DP-28 gunners have a great amount of detail on their stomachs but it hurts that nobody will ever see them. Riflemen are in, by my count, 5 seperate poses. That is a nice bit of variation. Now one real gem is the soldiers throwing grenades are equipped with PPSHs. I’m debating separating them and just mounting them as PPSH squads but probably won’t given I don’t need them.
I will admit, when I first pulled them from the box I was a little bit worried. The edges of the sculpts seemed “soft” compared to most. However, once I primed them I realize it’s largely an optical illusion because the plastic is a really light, almost translucent white/grey color. The plastic itself is pretty lightweight but then that impression may stem from me being used to working with heavier 28mm sprues. The plastic is a bit softer than GW plastic so it is a good bit easier to work with. Oddly enough, I’m used to having to remove mold lines on my models. The PSC models I have don’t seem to have that problem. I couldn’t imagine doing 130 models with GW plastic and not spending a good while cleaning up mold lines. Again, this may be explicable that they are from new molds but there also seems to be a real lack of flash. Now that I think about it, my Battlefront miniatures didn’t have the level of flash that I’m used to working with. Odd.
I think that casting in plastics (and that does include resins) is a delicate art that encompases a fine balance between speed of casting, cost of production, sharpness of lines, brittleness, and risk of casting erors (which includes mold lines, flash, and bubbling). The Plastic Soldier Company models really very near if on indeed in the center of that Venn diagram.
They do come off the sprue pretty cleanly thanks to the softer plastic. That really is a huge advantage if you are painting on the sprue like I am. Just make sure that your clippers are sharp and lacking pock marks from having clipped pins during pinning projects.
Overall, I can’t stress how much I really love these Plastic Soldier Company models. I am blown away by the overall value that provide. The plastic on the models seems to be a real sweet spot on the soft/brittle scale. The sprues lack the flash and mold lines I’m used to dealing with when doing GW models. The sculpts themselves are perfectly sharp and detailed for 15mm and fit in quite nicely with my Battlefront and Battle Honours miniatures. Overall, it’s a win/win for me. I look forward to getting my hand on some of their Soviet armor and giving them a spin.
I’m in the process of painting them right now. I’m going to do a week long once a day post showing my progress showing how to use assembly line painting techniques in order to get a large volume of painting done while maintaining your quality of work. The first of the articles should post in a couple days. I’m giving myself a bit of a head start just in case I don’t actually finish painting and basing all 130 models in a week. When it comes to painting, I am indeed a machine, much like the glorious Soviet state