As a fan of Osprey’s Black Ops I was looking for some generic merc-types and came across these plastics from Warlord.

(Miniatures painted by Shaun at Little Ninja Painting, by the way)

This box is sold for Warlord’s zombie game Project Z. I know literally nothing about that game, so all my comments will be about using these miniatures as faceless mercenaries, Special Forces or paramilitary badasses in other games. So the first thing I did was take all the Project Z cards and booklet out of the box and throw them in the bin. What you’re left with a single plastic sprue that can build up to eight soldiers. Warlord will try and charge you £15 for that (so nearly £2 a mini),  if you’re not interested in all that extra Project Z stuff then try and pick them up on sale somewhere, as I suspect you’re paying a bit of a premium for the included rules and cards.

Stop Press: In fact, right now you can  get the original 4-man version of this sprue, and it’s currently on sale at £4. If you read on below you can see there are some real problems with the 8-man version of this sprue that I’m reviewing here, so grab the cheaper better one while it’s hot!

Sculpting/poses

Sculpting on these miniatures is pretty good. The poses suffer from the same problem as most multi-part plastics, in that they tend to look like a conglomeration of human body parts, rather than an actual human being. Overall though I’m reasonably happy with them. The upper bodies aren’t very dynamic, but the legs all look like they’re in motion, and you get two kneeling guys. One of the heads is shouting, the rest are all stony-faced. The weapons are a little oversized, but not too bad. Included are some round plastic bases, but being plastics you can put them on anything.

There was minimal flash on them, and most arms mated up cleanly to the bodies, I think I only had to fill one or two gaps.

Height wise they’re about average for 28mm, and as you can see aren’t too chunky so should work with most other stuff out there.

Building

This is hands down the biggest problem with this kit. Frankly, the instructions are not very clear. Body A is missing the correct labels for its left arm, but you can sort this by process of elimination if you build all the other ones first.

The only way to suss out how to build these figures is to consult this slightly cryptic guide:

Bottom line: each pair of legs and torsos match, but you’ve got multiple arm options. All I can say is PLAN YOUR BUILD FIRST, or you might run into trouble. There are limited amounts of various weapons and equipment. For example, you can’t have both your guys using body D using right arm D (of which there are several) because there’s only one left arm D that matches.  If you’re playing a game where exact equipment doesn’t matter then you’ve got a lot more freedom, but for most skirmish games involving special forces such as Black Ops or Skirmish Sangin it’s going to matter.

Sprue options

These are multi-part plastics, although they aren’t really multi-pose. Unless you start cutting and converting there’s not really much leeway in how they assemble. Each body has a set of legs that match, and while there are multiple different arm options for each body, the arms really only attach in one position. You also don’t get any spare arms, all the right arms are holding a weapon, and all the left arms are matched to that (I’ve slightly tweaked one to make it look like he’s giving a hand signal. What you do get plenty of are heads, and you’ve got plenty of choice of bare heads, balaclavas and various helmets.

All the bodies are wearing armour and an little assault pack, and everybody has knee pads on so they’ve got an urban look.

The range of weapons you get on the sprue is OK, but not great. You get several M4 carbines and AK/Galils, and rather oddly you also get several SA80s (both L85 and L86, plus UGLs), which is an odd choice as they’re not a weapon that’s widely used by anyone. Even British SAS/SBS tend not to use them much. The other main issue with the weapons is that there aren’t enough of any one type to equip all your guys the same. You can’t have them all with M4s, for example, as there are only 4 right arms holding that weapon. What you do get is several spare rifles of each type, so if you want to represent a military outfit all using the same weapon then you’re going to be converting right arms by cutting away weapons and adding the spares. This is a bit of a faff, but it’s only plastic so conversions are very doable.

Support weapons are a bit patchy. You get a couple of L86s and Type 95 LMGs, but nothing like a Minimi or an RPK. The Type 95 seems an odd choice, as there are no other Chinese weapons included. There’s also an M27 and an AK with a drum mag; again both quite unusual kit. A Minimi would have been a much better choice than any of those, as they’re absolutely everywhere.  You do get an RPG which is good, and also an AT4. Both have a shouldered version and a slung one, plus you get a backpack with spare RPG rounds that fits neatly over the existing backpack. One shotgun is included.

There are a few glaring omissions: no sniper rifle? No suppressed weapons? No PDWs? Only one handgun? No breaching equipment (well, apart from the shotgun)?

A few little accessories are included. There are four NVGs, and four mean can have extra groin and butt panels for their body armour, but again you don’t get enough for the whole team. Personally I’ll be using these guys as mercenaries (sorry, I mean “Independent Security Contractors”) so I’m not that bothered about a lack of uniformity, and a lot of military special forces are quite eclectic too, but a lot of the weapon choices (AT4, M27) seem quite specific to the US military, so it would be nice to be able to make them look a bit more regimented. For things like NVGs it would definitely have been nice to have enough for everybody, because if one guy is wearing them everybody else would be too. Because, you know, it’s dark for everybody at the same time. What you do get are two of the mahoosive old-timey starlight scopes, which is odd considering all the other gear is modern.

Personally, I think they should have dropped the SA80s from the sprue and swapped the Type 95 for a Minimi which would have left enough room for a sniper rifle, an RPK, maybe a P90 and/or an MP7 and a few alternative left and right arms. While the current sprue isn’t at all bad, this would have been a lot more versatile.

Pretty much all of the problems with this sprue are down to the fact that it was originally a Wargames Factory sprue designed to have four miniatures. There are pics of the old sprue available online, where it included four bases. Warlord deleted the bases and used the space to add in four extra torso/leg combos. While this means you now get eight blokes, there’s really only enough gear to equip four of them the same. Warlord seem to have decided to retool (expensive!) and produce a sprue that’s not as good as the original one. I would have been happier to get two of the WGF sprues in the box instead of one of Warlord’s ones. Given that retooling is expensive and plastic is cheap I can’t really see where this makes sense financially for Warlord, but ho hum.

The verdict?

This kit has some problems, but as long as you know what you’re getting and are aware of its limitations it’s not bad. For my purposes it works fine, your mileage may vary. At the normal price of nearly £2 each for plastics it’s not cheap, but you do get more choices in weapons and gear than you’d get in metal. Right now you can pick it up for half that in Warlord’s sprue sale, which is a much better deal I reckon.