As mentioned in Breaking News (19th Feb 2000), Britannia Miniatures are in the early stages of preparing a new range of 20mm Vietnam figures and vehicles. Although the anticipated release date is not until December 2000, I have been fortunate enough to obtain some of the first pre-production figures from David Howitt of Britannia for review. See Price List and Availability
I received the following samples;
The figures are all well balanced and cleanly cast, with little or no discernable flash. The moulds must also be well aligned since there is very little evidence, if any, of mould lines or misalignment.
The figure poses are visibly animated, in particular the VC figures which are advancing at a low, crouching, run.
Detail on the castings is also excellent with accoutrements such as water bottles, ammo bandoliers, bayonets, rice sacks etc all in good relief and clearly visible.
Weapons are easily identifiable, solidly (no easily broken barrels) cast, and accurate in their presentation. The VC figures are carrying clearly discernable SKS carbines while the US figures carry easily identifiable M16's. The M60's of the helicopter gunners and the 'Pig' team are also very well done. The detail on the 60's is good as are the weapons proportions. The M60 team are festooned with ammo belts, as they were historically. The ammo belts, like other detail, are in good relief and look impressive when all those brass cartridges are painted up.
Overall detail is similar to that found on the excellent FAA figures although the relief of the detail is better and will make painting the figures and achieving a good result that much easier. The Britannia miniatures are not as 'tall' as FAA and Britannia appear to have gone for a uniform figure size (20mm foot-to-eye regardless of the relative real-life size) so that the VC / NVA are of the same size as the US figures. Personally I prefer this and see little reason for making the VC / NVA / ARVN appear as diminutive.
US figures are depicted in 'light order', wearing flak jackets and helmets, and are not carrying their 'rucks' although it is planned for such figures to be produced.
One nice touch was that one of the US figures has a tear in his fatigues at the knee. I like this sort of attention to detail which, if you enjoy painting, affords one the opportunity to individualise models. It also acts to break up the uniformity of parade ground condition uniforms. Most pictures of GI's show them to be a pretty rag-tag bunch after being out in the boonies for several weeks.
As mentioned, I was particularly impressed with the local force VC figures. They look like they mean business and the poses are fluid and natural looking - there is a sense of urgency and stealth in their well sculpted advance. Wearing traditional PJs and conical straw hats the figures are quite clearly local VC.
The US helicopter crew is also very well done although I have some concern over the size of the door gunners and whether they will fit most models. I have Hueys by Hasagawa, Revell and Italiari which I shall be testing for fit with the gunners. I think the door gunners will fit most kits but they will be standing partly in and partly out of the cargo bay, as in actual fact they did do. Most gunners either had to crouch down or else stand partly outside, or on the skids themselves. The M60 door gunners are very good and are modeled on a quite famous photograph. The pilots will also fit in most Huey models. I am told that in order to fit them in a loach it may be necessary to file down the inside arms a bit. On a more positive note though, the gunners and pilots, like the rest of the figures are excellent. The M60's look menacing. The crew are all wearing their flight helmets, with visors up.Having painted the figures I can say that they are very pleasant to work with. Since the relief on the figures is good, it makes it that much easier to paint them. As a former GW store manager I know from experience that if you have a lot of figures to paint it is always made that much easier if the figures themselves are pleasing to the eye and to the touch and offer lots of opportunity for individualising the painting. The Britannia miniatures certainly possess these qualities in abundance and I really enjoyed painting them.
These are the first figures I have ever seen from Britannia and I do not know who is responsible for the sculpting. Suffice to say that the have obviously done their homework and the research is evident in the figures themselves. If this sort of quality is to be the standard for the entire planned range, then I think Britannia are on to a winner and I shall certainly be buying these figures in preference to my old Platoon 20 figures.
As far as release dates are concerned, I was originally told it would be early next year but it now appears that demand has been such that this has been brought forward slightly to December. The figures I have received are the first of approximately 200 in the range and if they are all as well modeled and animated as these then we are in for a treat.
Figures supplied by Britannia Miniatures, painted and photographed by Mike R © 2000