Miniature Ordnance Review looks at the world of historical and fantasy miniatures wargaming and model building. From 15mm Flames of War, to Warhammer 40K, to 1/35th scale tanks, with some potential surprises on the horizon - you'll find them here!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Battlefront's Panther/Jagdpanther Platoon (GBX84) Reviewed!

I'm finally getting closer to finishing up my Polish Black Brigade, so I decided to clear the palette a little and work on another project - namely 654. Schwere Panzerjäger-Abteilung from Remagen (as detailed in a previous blog entry)! For this I (generally) need very late Jagdpanthers, and the new Panther/Jagdpanther Platoon (GBX84) from Battlefront fits the bill nicely. The plastic Panther/Jagdpanther was one of the first of the "all plastic" new kits Battlefront promised us at the beginning of 2014. It took a while for them to get it to market, so was it worth the wait?

The box itself contains enough parts to build a total of five vehicles. You can choose either a very late Jagdpanther or a very late Panther Ausf G. Industrious individuals will likely find a way to use rare earth magnets to perform upper hull swaps to get double duty out of the kit. The first sprue will be familiar to anyone who has experience with the newer Panther variants with the plastic tracks. This sprue includes the tracks, gun tubes, hatches, Jagdpanther rear hull stowage box, as well as parts which would be needed for earlier variants of the Panther.

The second sprue is all new and includes the lower hull, hull rear, and upper hulls for both the Panther and Jagdpanther as well as detail parts, gun mounts, the Panther turret, and some spare track. There are some rather inconveniently placed ejector pin locations resulting in dimples on the spare track and on the exhaust mounts. Because of how Battlefront has set up the exhaust and jack combination, it creates a seam where none existed on the Panther, though to be honest it is barely noticeable on the final product. The only drawback I see at this point (and this is an extremely MINOR nit to pick) is you lose the detail on the circular engine access hatch.  Honestly, this can be added fairly easily if you're so inclined (and I likely will).

The most notable ejector pin issues are with the side skirts, though with some putty these can be easily filled and sanded. Most of the Jagdpanthers of 654. Schwere Panzerjäger-Abteilung seem to have had these missing almost from the outset, so I may end up skipping them on most of my vehicles.

There are also some pin marks on the spare track links:

... and the exhaust - you can see the lack of detail on the engine access hatch clearly in this photo:

Overall the fit of the miniature is spectacular. The rear hull and lower hull mate up with the upper hull of the Jagdpanther (which is all I've built so far) perfectly. I've had no real issues with fit on the kit at all, the engineering is really that good.

When the kit was first released there was at least one user on the forum who seemed to believe that there were major scale issues especially around the height and tracks. To test that hypothesis I sized a set of plans from Jentz's Panzer Tracts to compare with a photo of the miniature. Granted I took the picture of the wrong side, so I had to flip the image, but we're looking for scale here, not fine detail. 

Overall the miniature lines up nearly perfectly with the plans. Most of the variation is likely due to photographic and photoshop issues rather than any intrinsic failings in the miniature itself. The track to hull ratios look fine to me.  If anything, the Battlefront miniature is sitting a bit heavy in its tracks as compared to the plan. There are a couple of minor issues at the rear, the Battlefront miniature lacks the secondary tow cable shackle connection points, and the exhaust cans should likely come out further away from the hull. Top detail on the exhausts is also absent, but again, this is a very MINOR detail.

Overall I'm extremely impressed with this miniature. The detailing is excellent, which a couple of minor simplifications. Assembly and engineering is rock solid, and the scaling is also exceptionally good for a 1/100th scale kit designed for hard use, not display. I heartily recommend the kit to anyone building a very late war German Army - you won't be disappointed.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Weathering Magazine - 1945

Now that I'm mostly recovered from a nasty sinus infection, I'm starting to get back to the various projects which have been neglected for the past 3 weeks. Look for future blog posts on progress on the Polish Black Brigade, a review of the new plastic Panther/Jagdpanther from Battlefront, and more!

Ammo of Mig publishes a periodical entitled The Weathering Magazine. The magazine has covered a variety of topics, and is available in multiple languages including English, Spanish, French and Russian. The most recent issue is simply entitled "1945" and covers a variety of unique subjects and hypothetical subjects from the final months of World War II in Europe. Ammo of Mig covers both aircraft and tanks, so there's a little of something for everyone in this particular issue.

I found the article on painting and weathering the Waffentrager particularly inspiring - especially since it looks like we're going to get at least one variant of the vehicle for the upcoming Berlin supplement for Flames of War. There is also a great article on weathering a Panzer IV/70 (V) as well (see image below), which I may just have to actually try on a few vehicles. As always, each article provides step by step instructions.

As Mig Jimenez himself states in the preface to this particular edition, the year 1945 provides a wide array of unique modeling opportunities. The staff of individuals contributing to The Weathering Magazine is truly talented, and while I'll never reach their level, their work always serves as a source of inspiration for me. I've found that even with my far more modest skill set I can pick up tips and tricks which I can apply to the 15mm miniatures in Flames of War. I highly recommend this issue to anyone wanting to model or wargame with a force from the last desperate days of World War II.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Heading to Norwescon

This weekend I'm heading up to Norwescon for a weekend of mostly non-historical fun and games. Most years I've gone to this I could say for a weekend of non-historical fun and games, but this year is a bit different, there are at least a few panels devoted to wargaming and others dedicated to military subjects in sci-fi and fantasy. I'm actually on one of the wargaming panels (Saturday at 11:00). I'm also on a Military Motifs in fantasy and Sci-Fi panel on Friday evening.

I really hope to see some of the military and wargaming panels start taking off. Large general conventions are a great place for historical (or psuedo-historical) wargames to get some great exposure. If you're planning on being at the con, pop on by the panels!