Saturday, April 27, 2013

Disposable Heroes: An army on the cheap

     Okay, so this is a bit one-off for me. Usually I tell people to support a company's game by buying their models, not 3rd party products. However, I happened upon some really cool Army Men at the best price imaginable, and felt the need to share.

     Alright, so I'm kinda breaking one of my own rules here and I know it.  I'm always the "buy models from the company that makes the game" guy.  Well, these aren't made for any specific game.  Technically, they're not even really models- not in our normal sense.  However they are very keenly made, and you'll see why I'm on my digital soap-box in a minute.

    I was with the g/f the other day on a shopping trip through Walmart, and saw... these.  I probably wouldn't have even given it a second look, except there was one sitting there unwrapped at the moment.   

     Okay, so the "box" is kinda neat... wait, the box is terrain?  And stackable? with three completely different panel facings, not just a front and another front? And it comes with a piece of scatter terrain?  And a soldierdoll?  All for 97 cents??? [Hey Belgarath97, they're using your trademarked number, you should sue them or something.]

     Okay, I'm sold. I grab a couple, and immediately pop them out of the wrappers. While I'm not a fan of the material used for the model- it's that "Heroclix Rubber" crap- I really have no leg to stand on for $.97 a piece, with terrain included. The terrain piece and box is injection molded plastic. It wasn't until I got the model primed that the amazing detail of the piece really hit me.  

    An advantage of rubber models is the fact that the molds don't need as much of a "flat side" as they can be worked and pried out of the mold if need be. This lends itself to much more ornate castings for little or no additional cost. Trust me, these models are impressive. Really impressive. Dangerous-to-producers-of-28mm-figures impressive.  

     As you can see from the images right and above, these models have a very high degree of detail, and take paint very well.  In this case, the model was primed with Army Painter black, and then painted using a variety of model paints. At no time has the amount of play in the rubberized model caused the paint to warp or flake thus far, and I've really tried to make it happen, so I think it's going to be fine.

     Now let's get to the scatter terrain.  You guys know I'm huge on terrain pieces, and these deliver. Not only do you get the box- a wall section in the making- but you also get one randomly selected piece of scatter terrain. So far I've seen a broken wall, a signpost, a dead tree, a barbed wire fence section, a piece of cover made from rubble and a busted barrel, a tank trap, and some rubble with a tire on it.  For terrain purposes, the dollar store cost isn't a bad deal right there.  These pieces are really sweet, and oddly they really give any current model line's scatter terrain a run for its money, even if they are a bit limited in variety.  Someone was smart enough to go with classic designs that would replicate naturally across a battlefield, and it really works. 

      Now for the bad news: everything is random. No rhyme or reason. The box colors mean nothing, the "box lid" which forms a nice diorama base is six flavors of random and all molded the same color, the scatter terrain is random, and the figures are random- 8 "common" guys and two "rare" ones. If you like the "unwrapping at Christmas" feel of not knowing what you're getting, this can be a good thing. If you're trying to flesh out a unit on the cheap and have bad luck, you might need to pull a decent amount of times before you get the one guy you're looking for.  Personally, if I could guarantee a tank trap or barbed wire fence with every kit... let's just say my table would have a big NO YOU DON'T sign across it!

        I based them on 25mm bases hoping to maybe use them as Infinity stand-ins, or for some Gates of Antares testing.  (I didn't think the look and feel really worked for anything else I have right now, although I guess with a little work I could have pretended they were Capitol from Warzone... but their dubious lacking of crazy 80's shoulderpads meant it didn't feel right).  As you can see from the images, they came up really well.  They are just smaller than "traditional" 28mm figures, which I'm chalking up to their "truescale" tendencies.  I found if you left them on their tiny half-base and glued that onto the 25mm rounder, they now exceeded the "you must be this tall to not look goofy on the tabletop" requirement.   Here they are pictured next to a Spinespur and a Dark Age model.

     Is this the best way to build your next "Horde o' Guys" modern, near-modern, or sci-fi army?  Eh, probably not.  There's not a lot of variety of figures (at least not yet), specific weaponry would be difficult, and there's no vehicles in the line nor will there be.  However, if you're looking for a different painting challenge, or a couple small skirmish units, or a nice diorama piece to work on, these guys are a great option for an incredibly reasonable price.  I'm going to give them five bullets out of five- they deliver exactly what they say on the tin, do it with a load of freebies, and nothing is wasted- I like that.  If you pick them up (or have already), comment below and tell me what you think!

See you on the other side of the table.

The Second Class Elitist


  1. Goddamnit. Now, I have to set foot in a Walmart...

  2. My local wal-mart did not have them...

  3. Sad Face! Keep trying. According to Zerboz's website (which is nearly useless btw) they are available at Walmart, Rite Aid, Toys R Us, Kroger, and Fred Meyer- whatever that is. I kinda imagine some dude named Fred Meyer sitting in a dark basement (probably his mother's) hording all the little tiny rubber toys... but that's probably incorrect. :-)