For me it was mainly a shopping trip. The day before Salute I was taking a leisurely lunch break in central London, before finding myself in Waterstones, flicking through a copy of Force on Force's Op Enduring Freedom expansion. Despite the cost, I couldn't resist picking up a copy and I have to say I was very impressed. Very realistic and reasonably playable as well. I couldn't order online due to my busted rubbishy computer, but I slept well in my bed that night, knowing that Empress Miniatures had a stand inbound the next day at Salute.
I've never been before, being a past aficionado of Partizan, but I was very impressed by the range of stuff available. As I say I didn't have the time to look through everything or, alas, play any of the games (although I was accosted by a number of people in fancy dress). I headed straight for the Empress Miniatures stand and promptly parted with £60, which got me five packs of UK and five of Terry Taliban (with a motorbike thrown in).
After reading a great review of Mantic Zombies, I've resolved to be a bit more constructive and do more comprehensive reviews when I try out a new games system. So here goes.
These models cost £6 per pack (roughly $9.50 for US, Canadian and Australian dollars or €7.30), which gets you 4 models. This is a bit more expensive than my own self-imposed target of £1 per model, but still very reasonable. 10 packs (getting me 20 men per side) cost £60 which again is quite reasonable for two factions of a skirmish game.
7/10 - good value, but some 'box set deals' might be nice
I only got British and Taliban, but the modern range also includes various SF as well as a full range of US Army and Marines. The packs are not named, but seem to include sets of models 'at ease', moving, firing, support packs etc. There were five different packs available, and getting them all gives you a decent range of support weapons and a nice amount of regular riflemen. The range of UK vehicles was a little disappointing with only the Warrior AFV on the site, but speaking to the people at Salute yesterday I was assured that more are on the way.
8/10 - all bases covered, support weapons and basic vehicles all readily available
Delivery - N/A
I can't comment on this, since the website wasn't available and I got them over the counter, although the site says 75p for delivery. I assume that's for UK customers and overseas may pay a little more. Apparently, Mac users like myself confuse the website's checkout system, but again speaking to the Empress people I was told to e-mail in or phone and something could be worked out.
|Bit blurry, but you can see the exquisite detail on the SA80,|
particularly cocking handle, sling loops and bolts all in
exactly the right place.
This is where Empress really pull out in front. I can say unreservedly that these are the best quality models I've ever bought - even topping Forgeworld and GW Finecast by a long shot. Only the very smallest of mould lines which are easy to miss they're so small, and absolutely no warping. The rifles can be a bit delicate and were slightly bent, but this may also be due to me bashing them around as I ran home excitedly like I'd just won a Golden Ticket to the chocolate factory. The realism is absolutely unparalleled, I can testify that every last detail is on there. Pouches, helmet scrim and weapon detail are excellent (and very current, including picatinny rails and ACOG sights which UK forces only started getting mid-late 2010, as well as the new MTP UBACS which are late 2011). Taliban are obviously a little easier to get right since their 'uniform' hasn't really changed since... well, ever, but the clothing is very realistic right down to the flip-flops. Even the change levers on the AK series of weapons have the layered detail exactly right.
10/10 - a new standard has been set!
Not a lot to say here, most models are either one piece, except the British. Each pack comes with 5 helmets, giving you a choice for your four models. Arms can be glued on, but these are mostly in set poses with no real scope for conversions. Having said that there is a 'male-female' socket joint to make gluing a really easy operation.
8/10 - easy, sturdy constriction but fairly limited poses
That's as far as I'm going to go, I won't be so narcissistic as to review my own painting ... that's for you guys. I've only painted one of each so far, but you can have a look below. I'm doing the UK forces in MTP, which is very hard to get right as there are relatively few paints out there for this modern camo, especially the light olive green. My main colour is a 70:30 mix of Knarlock Green : Skull White. The photos show up a lot of my hurried, sloppy painting but they do look a lot better from a distance. The Taliban fellow looks a lot better, I'll just need to have a nice supply of browns and inks to get varying shades of cloth.
Overall - 10/10. Despite a few hiccups in ordering and the lack of any boxed sets, this is more than outweighed by the absolutely unmatched detail and faultless realism on these sculpts. A real pleasure to paint. FW, you have lost your Number One spot!
Thanks again all for tuning in, I have plenty more up my sleeve: Mordian IG, Chaos Renegades, Navy Boarding Teams and now modern Afghanistan, so there will be lots more to follow. Stay frosty troops!