Some may recall an earlier blog praising the 3D printing revolution and Butlers Printed Models in particular? Well this one was meant to be a celebration of finding a cheap (ish) route to fielding the myriad of versions of ‘technicals’ (Toyota Hilux or Toyota Land Cruiser) in 28mm for actions in the Middle East. Unfortunately……
The starting point for this adventure was us reflecting, after a few Benghazi games, on the need to beef up the jihadists in a way that reflected historical reality and the widespread use of ‘technicals’ seemed to be the obvious route forward. A quick search showed that there were models out there but they all seemed a bit pricey; Spectre Miniatures have a couple retailing at £18 plus separate weapons varying from £2 to £10 depending on the amount of ‘beef’ you want, so you could spend £30 on one vehicle! Empress Miniatures have three different versions complete with weapons at either £18 or £19, Grubby Tanks have a single model with one weapon version from the Britannia Mogadishu range retailing at £9 and Evil Bear Miniatures have a single model at £9 or a set of three for £25 but this doesn’t seem to come with a weapons option and you obviously have to be members of a secret cult to get hold of them! All, in one form or another, bill them as 28mm compatible either by expressing as a scale (1/56 or 1/50) or just listing with a 28mm range; common parlance seems to be that 1/56 is 28mm but more of this later.
Being ever in search of a bargain, and the moral of this post is ‘never a cheapskate be!’, we looked around on e bay for cheap Chinese die casts but no such luck so in a eureka moment we thought “hey what about the guys at Butlers, they do everything and we loved the Soviet stuff” (and we still do). Sure enough they do a Toyota Hilux in 28mm (1/56) in six different variants or just the vehicle as is, retail price £10. Fantastic, any version we want, plenty of variety, we’ll have three please!
So money went off, vehicles arrived promptly and ……
To say we were underwhelmed is a bit of an understatement. We genuinely thought they’d sent us 20mm versions such was our disappointment, in fact one of the guys thought they were 15mm! We then went through a whole load of hoops to make sure our eyes weren’t playing tricks.
We lined up a Spectre jihadist awaiting painting against a vehicle.
We put them against some painted Mongrel mujaheddin.
We put them against other 1/56 vehicles.
We put them against a 20mm die cast truck.
What do you think? We were absolutely convinced the vehicles were 20mm at best. So a quick e mail and a very nice reply saying here is the Toyota Hilux Wikipedia page that gives the dimensions and here are the scaled down dimensions your vehicles should be; I even counter checked by dividing by 56. A real life Toyota Hilux should be 4435mm long and 1621mm wide giving a scaled down version of 79.2mm x 28.9mm and guess what? that’s exactly what our models are and we still don’t believe they’re 28mm!
Our disappointment didn’t finish there unfortunately. The 3D printing process essentially involves laying down strands of molten plastic to build up the shape which not surprisingly leads to a lot of flash – no problem, discussed removing that in the last blog but also ‘layering lines’ which on the soviet vehicles we bought were so discreet as not to worry about but on these they are absolutely in your face; heavy on the bonnet and windshield but also the body sides and this stuff does not file or sand off easily.
The final disappointment was the weapons. Two of them, the HMG and the recoilless rifle, are both pintle mounted but you literally have to glue one on top of the other, there is no hole for one to fit in to (like a simple Airfix kit for example) you have got to rely on the glue being strong enough. Now lots of years of gaming with careful and not so careful gamers tells you that is not going to last more than one game, not a good decision chaps. The AA gun that sits across two planks just doesn’t look right and from a reality check point of view would just fall off from the recoil after the first shots.
So now what? Well as customers we’re kind of stuck, we ordered 28mm technicals and that’s exactly what we got, precisely to scale. The poor moulding was very disappointing and it will make us think carefully about ordering future products. What to do with them? At the moment just stare at them on the painting desk hoping they will grow! Beyond that, probably paint them up and offer them as 20mm at a bring & buy to try and recoup some of our investment. The “should have gone to Spec Savers” jingle does come to mind and if anybody from Spectre or Empress is reading this please feel free to laugh.
On another note this does bring up the thorny issue of scale. What is 28mm? Is 1/56 truly representative of 28mm? More importantly have some manufacturers used the 1/56 scale as a loose interpretation just so gamers have got some idea of what to generally expect but everyone is indulging in a mutual nod and a wink so long as the figures look about right with the vehicles? Empress very clearly specify their vehicles as 1/50th which in terms of ‘looking right’ is probably more transparent and I guess that is probably what a lot of the Corgi die cast WWII vehicles are, certainly when mixing with the Warlord Games and Rubicon Models at 1/56 you do have to be a bit careful – the US half tracks are a good example but not to the extreme we have seen with these technicals, we just can’t use them.
Hopefully a more positive blog next time. In the meantime enjoy your gaming.