onsdag 5 november 2014

Warlord Games 28mm Universal Carrier review + build

I'm taking a short break for all the Shadows of Brimstone stuff to bring you my views of Warlord Games' Universal Carrier.

Looks quite alright, doesn't it? But yet it looks strangely familiar...
When Warlord released their plastic SdKfz 251 Hanomag about a year ago rumours emerged that it was really made by Italeri. A rumour that I can't substantiate or offer my own views on since I haven't built the kit and as far as I know Italeri does not have a Hanomag in 28mm or 1/56th scale. However, early this year Warlord and Italeri announced a partnership that would involve Italeri making four vehicle kits for Warlord Games: a Sherman, a Panther, a Cromwell and a Puma (you can read my views on the Panther here). The deal allows Italeri to sell the vehicles as well as Warlord Games plastic miniatures under their own brand while Warlord also can sell the vehicles under their own brand. Both companies are credited on the box covers though, so there is no doubt.

So when Warlord Games released a plastic Universal Carrier I was intrigued. Was this too manufactured by Italeri, or was it something else? I was then utterly confused when I saw the box cover, it looks exactly like the Plastic Soldier Company model available in 1/72! (You can read my review of that kit here.) So I had to order one to compare.

The sprues for the Warlord Universal Carrier.
The sprue for the Plastic Soldier Company Universal carrier.
As you can see from the pictures above, there is no doubt what so ever that the Warlord carrier is an upscaled version of the PSC carrier. While the sprue layout differs somewhat the parts are identical. The only things that are different is that the Warlord sprues contain a second Bren gun and it's AA mount, and that the two passengers have had ammo pouches modelled on their bodies. Apart from that the kits are identical, except for the scale of course.

The extra Bren gun in the Warlord kit.
Now this wouldn't have been such a problem because the PSC carrier is a good kit, if not for the fact when upscaling a kit you lose detailing. This is especially evident on the crew figures' faces. Which still are identical triplets just as they were in the PSC kit. And we still only get three helmeted heads and one with a beret, because nobody fires at the driver, right?

The driver and gunner's bodies need to be painted before mounting the front glacis plate.
Assembly is straightforward without any problems except for an error in the PSC kit that is replicated in the Warlord version; if you fit the rolled up tarp on the rear stowage box you can't fit the two smaller tool boxes as shown in the building instructions. It's a minor problem easily solved by leaving either the tarp or the boxes off. The configuration changed in the field anyway.

Size appears accurate; here compared with a Foundry 28mm figure.
The front glacis still isn't glued in place. On the right is the tool box that didn't fit.
But something had to be done with the crew. The pose of the passengers were bad in the PSC kit already, and the low detail made them even worse. So I went to my friendly local hobby shop to see if they had the Italeri version of Warlords plastic british infantry but to no avail. I did find something else though...

Might as well get me some real models...
Yup, in the spur of the moment I decided to buy some 1/48 scale figures and scavenge their arms, heads and equipment. I figured the difference maybe wasn't that big and since 28mm figures usually have oversized hands and heads it would work. Back home I cut out some pieces and started to compare sizes. Oh how we men are obsessed with the size of various body parts...

Lots of goodies: backpacks, ammo pouches, tools, holsters, helmets and weapons. You get two of these sprues in the kit.

Tamiya British infantry. Also includes a gunner and a radio man for the Tamiya Universal Carrier.

And a set of British tank crew. Will come in handy when I get that Cromwell.
The Tamiya set is a marvel of fine sculpting just like a detailed model kit should be. A bit of a mixed bag with the poses though, we get four action poses and three walking poses as well as two figures meant as crew inside Tamiyas Universal Carrier kit -- what a coincidence. Also included are four tanker figures and a french farmer offering a bottle of wine! It's obvious that the kit is meant to provide suitable figures for a variety of diorama subjects.

Comparing the firing pose with a Perry miniature it appears a bit taller but not wider or thicker. 

Perry parts in brown, Tamiya in light grey, while the dark grey bren gun is from the Warlord kit.
Comparing the parts revealed that while the Tamiya miniatures were taller their heads and hands were the same size as the Foundry figures heads and hands. Also, ammo pouches, backpacks and water bottles were a perfect fit. Weapons typically were a few millimetres longer and marginally slimmer in the Tamiya set. This was good news and I went ahead with my Frankenstein-esque plan. 
Unfortunately the original crew for the carrier is a bit over sized which spoiled my plan of just using a couple of tamiya heads and arms. Instead I cut the passengers in half and only used their legs, grafting tamiya torsos on them. This required a lot of scraping since the Warlord figures were real wide asses. 

In the end I used the Tamiya gunner completely since he actually fit in the carrier without modifications. On the other hand I only used a Tamiya helmet on the driver as he would have looked like a pinhead with a Tamiya head. As it's easier for the sculptor detail them, heads and hands tend to get more and more oversized the smaller the scale. This is more noticeable when upscaling miniatures and of course another drawback of doing so.

While the figures are overscale the carrier itself appears to be spot on size-wise. I also sprinkled a lot of equipment inside the carrier, including one of the wine bottles. As the crew were expected to also fight on foot they had the same kit as ordinary infantrymen.

The transfers included are nice!
So what did I think of the kit? Well the Universal Carrier is quite good, but the crew is bad. If you don't mind the clunky poses I guess they do their job. For £12 it's a nice little kit, but I feel there are better alternatives out there, like Perry Miniatures' resin model with metal crew for £15.50. (Yes it's for Africa, but it illustrates my point.)

All in all I give the Warlord Games 28mm Universal Carrier 3 out of 5. Not bad, but a bit of a disappointment.

2 kommentarer:

  1. How odd that it uses the PSC model without the box saying so. Shades of a forthcoming annoucement? Some sort of third party selling the digital models to both?

    As for your kit, looks like you rescued it from being quite terrible.

    1. Yeah I thought that odd too. Maybe the sculptor -- I have no idea if PSC has an inhouse sculptor or not -- has retained the rights to the sculpt and sold them to Warlord as well. Or maybe PSC has no intention of releasing it themselves in 28mm so sold the sculpt to Warlord.


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