15mm Scale Product Review
A whistle-stop tour of a range of WW2 15mm objective markers available to the Flames of War enthusiast
One of things I didn’t realise when I started playing Flames of War was that on top of buying and painting my own army I’d have to get hold of some objective markers if I wanted to play the game properly. This became apparent at my local club when I had to borrow some from my opponent. I was handed some oil drums and boxes of ammunition and told to place them on the board. I had no idea what I was doing!
Fortunately, I was able to dig up some oil barrels of my own from some 20mm figures I’d collected some 10 years earlier, but with a company boxed set of Soviets to paint and a rapidly mounting pile of blister packs the prospect of completing objective markers quickly retreated to the back of the painting queue.
Now, with the bulk of my army painted, I’ve become increasingly interested in what other players do for objective markers. I’ve seen a range of examples from military patches, flags and medals to themed dioramas. I don’t have alot of time to create something from scratch so I thought I’d cast a quick eye over the range of options I’ve discovered and review a couple of my favourites.
If we start with Battlefront’s current (September 2010) Special Order catalogue 2008 with have, in addition to the afore mentioned
- fuel (MSO104)
- ammunition (MSO105) dumps
a range knocked out mid- late-tanks and, that include a
- destroyed Crusader III (MSO106)
- Sherman III( MSO109)
- Panzer IIIJ (MSO107)
- M4A1Sherman (MSO111)
- Marder IIIM (MSO108)
- M14/41 (MSO112)
- T34 obr. 1942 (MSO110)
I purchased the T-34 obr. 1942 and enjoyed the challenge of painting a burnt out hulk. The model itself is fine, required very little work to clean up and painted up adequately.
Battlefront also produce a range of HQ dioramas for each of the major protagonists in World War II, including models
- British (MSO117)
- German (MSO113)
- Italian (MSO116)
- US (MSO114)
- Soviet (MSO115)
I find the Italian set the most evocative, but many of the figures derive from other sets rendering them less than unique for the £6.75 asking price.
In addition to these models, some of the Army boxed sets include their own objective markers that I won’t cover as I’ll discuss feasible alternatives.
For more creative types, there’s certainly potential in some of the special order castings that Battlefront produce, like the German Tank Turret / MG Tobruk fortification or US ‘Commando’ Kelly character, if you have the time, inclination and ability to model a diorama.
It is also worth noting that Battlefront have recently made there newly re-tooled artillery scenic bases available, but I find the price (£4.05+) disappointingly extortionate for what they are.
A trawl of several online forums turned up a range of objectives markers by escenografia epsilon, a Spanish manufacturer of resin wargames scenery. escenografia epsilon’s online objective catalogue contains a range of
- US objectives
as well as those for particular divisions, including
- Afrika Corps
- 101st Airborne
- 29th Division
- The Desert Rats
- Panzer Lehr
- Das Reich.
Personally, the presence of the nationality’s flag or unit insignia is not my cup of tea, but the pieces appear to be sculpted on large bases, look presentable and can, uniquely, be ordered painted or unpainted for approximately £10 / £2.50 respectively. 5 other sets are available, including
- a small ammunition dump
- a fuel depot, a radar station
and a set containing a mixture of scenic items, including
- ammunition dump
- a well
- a sentry box
all for around £4 - £5.
UK manufacturer, Kerr and King produce more orthodox objectives markers with some interesting departures. Kerr and King are renowned for producing some of the most highly detailed resin casts around and their take on the now obligatory fuel and ammunition dumps (European and North African variants) are no exception.
A spiked Jadgpanzer IV (KK-173) adds a further variation to the knocked out tank theme and a useful wooden HMG bunker (shown at start of article) is also available. 3 downed aircraft, including
- Spitfire (KK-05)
- Messerschmitt Me109
- Fiesler Storch (KK-097)
are wonderfully realised and offer something a little different. All markers are single piece castings on the regulation 65mm x 50mm size bases and retail at £5.50 with free shipping on orders over £20.
Staying in the UK, I’ll focus now on some useful models produced by Peter Pig. Peter Pig’s destroyed Tiger 1 (404) currently retails at £4 and is sculpted on an irregular one-piece scenic base. Measuring 90mm by 65mm at its widest point makes it larger than the stipulated size of objectives but, outside of tournament games, I wouldn’t have thought anyone but the most ardent rulebook lawyer would find that objectionable. The depth of the base allows the model to be sculpted at an angle representing a thrown track.
The level of detail is good with
- the hull mounted 7.92mm MG34 machine gun port
- Bosch headlight, towing cables
- tools, a bucket, boxes
- jerry cans
- fire extinguisher
- spare track all detailed on the turret and hull.
Significant service is inferred by
- the damaged side skirts
- a lost exhaust shield cover
- impact marks
It may not be to everybody’s liking, but 3 members of the crew are represented hanging from the hatches, possibly, shot dead whilst bailing out. Uniforms and personal equipment are all well represented.
On the downside, my Tiger will require quite abit of epoxy putty work
- to fill the numerous air pockets left over from casting
- significant damage to 1 of the road wheels
- the remaining exhaust shield cover.
Some fine work will also be required to remove flash from the M34 and, unfortunately, the face of one of the crew members. These deficiencies do not detract from what I feel is an excellent value for money piece. It is worth noting that Peter Pig also make
- a destroyed Panzer III (376)
- Panzer IV (early F1 528 and late H 529) models
- SDKFZ 251(322)
for those pesky grenadiers. For the Allies
- destroyed US Sherman (241)
- a US jeep (313)
- T34/85 (312)
Staying with Peter Pig, let’s have a look at the destroyed Kubelwagens (510) and (565) Universal carrier destroyed both of which retail at £4.
As the name suggests, a pair of shot-up kubelwagens are depicted on a single well-cast scenic rocky road base measuring 86mm x 28mm.
Again, the level of detail is very good with items clothing and equipment stowed on the chasis and the 4 crew members slumped in their seats or hanging out of the careered into the rocks and its windshield is shattered. Objective can be painted up for early-, mid- or late war.
Sculpted to the same standard and in a similar vein to the 2 models above, a Universal Carrier is represented on a very well cast rural scenic base measuring 65mm x 38mm. Depicted in late-war battedress, the 4 man crew lay scattered on or around their carrier which appears to have sustained unidentified damage to its front right suspension.
Whilst both pieces make fine objectives, they come in to their own when combined with other figures from the same range. For example, when I have time, I plan to add figures from the
- German late-war Medics and casualties (464)
- German cavalry HQ (525) packs to create a small diorama.
A comparable diorama can be built around the universal carrier model utilising figures from
- Brit LW Medics (497)
- LW Brit Surrendering (496)
This principle is invoked in our final piece, KK- 208 Brits 'Brewing Up' Objective Marker, a co-operation between Kerr and King and Peter Pig.
A CMP 15 CWT Truck is represented parked up as its crew, Peter Pig’s 151 Brits having a Brew, drink a well earned cuppa. Whilst the level of detail is high, my sculpt suffers from a number of airpockets in really unfortunate locations, including the milk jug!
The base, measuring the stipulated 65mm by 50mm, includes space for 3 figure bases.
The figures themselves are cleanly cast, well detailed NWE British infantry men, including an officer, an NCO with a Thompson SMG and an rifleman.
These could easily be substituted for Germans having lunch (116) if you wanted to depict a captured vehicle. Whilst I have to admit to being disappointed by the quality of the casting, the quintessential nature of the piece makes it a must for my Late-War British armoured brigade currently languishing on the shelf. But it isn’t cheap with the base retailing at £5.50 and the figures £2.40 plus p and p.
In summary, whilst the same recurrent themes crop up, there remains a good variety of alternative objective markers out there, including
- 17 variants on AFVs or soft skin vehicles
- 3 downed aircraft
- 5 HQs
- numerous generic scenic items.
This offers both the time-strapped wargamer and the more creative modeller type ample opportunity to field some real local colour that will no doubt excite comment and make a superb objectives for any army.