H&R Dana SP Gun
Raiden Battle Of Britain Set
H&R Bushmasters (Updated Oct 2013)
Heroics & Ros Dana 152mm Self Propelled Gun
The Dana SP gun was a primarily piece of armament for a number of non-Soviet Warsaw Pact armies during the latter half of the Cold War. In the post-Cold War world, it has survived as in the Zuzana variant, which replaces the 152mm gun with a NATO-compatible 155mm gun. Prior to the release of the H&R model this fall, there was no 1/285/6mm/1/300 model of this important piece of equipment.
The model itself is well-detailed, and appears to be appropriately scaled. The only weak point is the gun itself, which is a significantly more complex arrangement than represented by the model. However, I'm not sure that the detail would be doable at this scale, and it doesn't really detract from the model in any meaningful way. Overall, the model is a fine addition to the new H&R range, and fills an important niche in Cold War armies.
Here is the unpainted model:
Here's the painted model, done in a typical Warsaw Pact mono-color scheme:
Raiden Battle Of Britain Set
Raiden Miniatures is a relatively small player in the micro armor hobby, but their line of aircraft has a number of things going for it -- they are reasonably priced, of high quality, and cover a lot of subjects not done by others (or at least not done well by others.) The line was recently purchased by I-94 miniatures, makers of the Panzer Keeper storage boxes and by far the most extensive (and highest quality) line of micro armor decals. According to the Raiden web site, their designers will continue to develop new models for the line. As of this writing (September 2012), there is no mention on the I-94 website of their plans for the line.
I've long eyed their various battle sets, and finally took the plunge and picked up the Raiden Battle of Britain set. While the prices are currently in flux, I paid about US$30 for it. The contents of the set are a print out of a set of rules (Thunderbolts and Lightning), which I've not yet tried but look interesting, and a set of resin and pewter bases (hex-shaped) for each model. The models in the set include 6 JU-88A1, 4 BF-109E, 4 BF-110C, 3 Spitfire I, and 3 Hurricane I. Also included are a pair of colored 6-sided dice.
Overall, the model quality is excellent, though a bit variable. The two UK fighters are truly excellent, with deeply incscribed panel lines and good, crisp detail. They are easily in the same category as anything made by GHQ, and generally a fantastic value. The same could be said for the BF-109s. The BF-110s are not quite as good, though not by any means bad. The JU-88s are a bit rougher, and appear to be an older model. However, they do have indentations for mouting wire to represent guns, something more model makers should do. Most of the models have etched panel lines for the cockpits, which is quite useful if you are attempting to drawn in the lines using a paint pen, as I have done. On the BF110, however, the lines on the models I received were not particularly well etched, making the job significantly more difficult.
Here are links to several large photos of the full set of models (painted up): Photo A, Photo B
Here are the completed shots of the various aircraft, which I attempted to paint in appropriate colors, though really I was just guessing.
The aircraft come pre-drilled with the proper size holes, which is quite useful if you're the kind of person perpetually breaking the tiny bits for the pin vise... Beyond that, they are easy to assemble and pain, and fit the models well. Here is the full set painted up:
H&R has continued to release new models made by sculptor Ian Armstrong. Earlier this year, they came out with three version of the Australian Bushmaster Infantry Mobility Vehicle.
The Bushmaster is in broad service with Australia, which has ordered over 1,000 of the vehicle. It has also been used in small numbers by both the British and the Dutch. It has seen significant service in Afghanistan. Based on a design by Irish firm Timoney, the Bushmaster has a monocoque lower hull that gives it some resistance to mines and roadside bombs.
The model itself is quite good, showing a crispness in detail and accuracy not always associated with British manufacturers in the past. There is good detail and minimal mold lines. I appears to be quite an accurate model overall. Each base model is the same, but feature different drop-in turrets. The quality of the turrets is good, though the figure is a bit thick, as are the machine guns. The RWS, however, is excellent.
Here are the primed but unpainted models:
AUM1 (standard vehicle)
AUM2 (crewed with machine gun)
AUM3 (Remote Weapon Station)
Here are the painted versions. In general, the model paints up well, though the front windscreen would be easier to paint if had a bit more definition. As for paint color, I think the base here should have been a bit browner, but hard to say from online photos. Overall, I highly recommend this model.
(Update, October 1, 2013)
Currently, H&R and GHQ are both releasing a number of models of the same vehicles. In the past, a comparison would have been no contest -- GHQ's edge in quality was so massive as to offset the higher price. However, with Andy Kirk running H&R and Ian Armstrong doing the sculpting, the situation has changed a bit.
The GHQ model remains significantly more detailed than its H&R counterpart, but the gap is nowhere as large as it has been with comparative models in the past. The advantage there goes to GHQ, though not by the margin you would have expected. This isn't to say GHQ's models aren't as good as in the past, in fact, they continue to improve every year, its just that H&R is closing on them.
After considering quality, I look at two other categories: price and variants. On both of these measures, H&R is the clear winner. The GHQ models remain about $10 for 5 models, though this can be reduced some with certain vendors, but still comes out around $2 per model. H&R sells them for £0.65, which translates to about $1 apiece. In addition, you can order them individually, so you get the number you want.
H&R also scores on the variants measure, offering three -- hatch closed w/o MG, MG with gunner, and remote weapon station. GHQ (at this point) offers only a MG w/closed hatch. That said, that hatch and MG are separate pieces, so it is possible to substitute alternatives.
Overall, I'd go with the H&R if I were trying to collect a large force, and GHQ for a smaller one. That said, I'm glad that both companies are producing fine products and giving buyers options -- its a great sign for the hobby that looked to be down to one serious manufacture only three or four years ago.