Thursday, 23 November 2017

AB Russians and Germans - the replacements

The problem with buying beautifully sculpted figures is that they soon make your other figures look rather plain, and so it is with the AB figures that I've been buying.  When I first got back into miniatures I had no figures at all and so the pressure was on to quickly put together some allied and axis units without breaking the bank.  I found the Plastic Soldier Company figures were a great way to do this.  They were decent figures, that came in a variety of poses and in sufficient quantities in a single box to meet my needs. As such, they soon populated my initial British, Russian and German regular infantry units.

My first Russians, based for Crossfire

The moment I wanted a variation, say some British Airborne for the Chain of Command Kampfgruppe Von Luck campaign, then I decided to get hold of some AB figures.  Once I started painting these, then AB became my first point of call when I needed to add anything additional to any existing units - be it tank crews, artillery crews or specialists like engineers.

AB Waffen SS crew with a Zvezda Pak 40

AB Russian tank crew with an S-Model IS-2

It is, of course, a slippery slope, so I'm not telling you anything you don't already know.  So, to cut a long story short, I've slowly been replacing some of my plastic figures with AB.

With the PSC Russian figures all the Serzhants (Junior Leaders, if you are playing CoC) carry pistols and I wanted mine with PPsh 41 SMGs.  I originally used some of the regular SMG figures from the PSC Russian infantry set, but none of them had particularly leader-like poses, so that apart from a larger base they didn't really stand out on the table.  Once I saw the new Russian figures from AB and their very attractive set of leader figures, I knew what I needed to do.  While it seems like a bit of an indulgence, the figures stand out so much more than my earlier leader figures that I think it's been well worth the effort.  The PSC Russian senior leader is a nice sculpt that certainly does the job, but as the AB set comes with two leaders with pistols it seemed churlish not to add them in as well. Since I initially painted these and posted them on the blog I've revisited how i do faces. Previously I'd settled for a flesh base coat and then a wash of GW Ogryn Flesh, but the results weren't always that great, so now I've tried a base of dark brown and then blocked in the flesh to leave the eyes and other features in the dark base colour.  I've then touched up the highlights with a lighter flesh colour.  A bit more effort, but a nice end result with a stronger level of contrast that works well when viewed from playing distance.

Faces prior to the new technique

And in action in a recent game
Nothing wrong with this PSC Russian Leytenant, but you know how it is.....

The PSC Russian Infantry set includes both riflemen and SMGs.  The problem is that generally a Russian infantry unit will be made up entirely of riflemen or entirely of SMG men.  Which means the Russian platoons, be it a rifle or SMG platoon, tend to be made up of too many figures in the same pose.  The problem is not quite as acute with the PSC German Infantry set, which includes a higher proportion of riflemen, but there is still a bit of repetition when you make up a full platoon.

Again AB figures to the rescue.  For the Russians I have added sixteen of the AB SMG figures so I can work them into the mix and add some variety to an SMG platoon.  These figures are close to completion, they just need to be varnished (coat of gloss followed by a coat of matt) and have their bases flocked.  I haven't bought any replacement riflemen. Yet.

For my Germans I've added two regular squads.  I could actually do with more variety in my MG34/42 teams, as the PSC range only include two offers - one team prone and the other marching and with six teams in a panzer grenadier platoon there's a lot of duplication of the same pose.  I'm still trying to work out the best way to deal with that.

Aside from adding variety to my units, my entire painting style has changed since I bought those original PSC figures several years ago.  The technique I used back then was partly based on speed, but also on my limited experience of painting miniatures (I've been painting 54mm figures for many years, but that's a completely different approach and technique).  I relied heavily on Army Painter dip, which was satisfactory enough and combined a wash with a tough varnish all in one hit.  However I did find it dulled down a lot of colour and my figures didn't particularly pop out when viewed from a distance.  The good thing was I cut my teeth painting relatively inexpensive figures and now that I've developed a style I'm happier with, I'm applying it to the more expensive figures.


  1. Wonderful painting- makes for an impressive collection.



  2. Your paint work on the 20mm is very impressive, brings out the detail on the AB figure which are excellently sculpted.
    I liked the original PSC German Infantry before they beefed up their other figures.
    cheers John

  3. Really well done. Terrific painting style. You are tempting me to do something about my PSC Germans and British.

  4. Great stuff TP. An inspiration. I've got all sorts of odds and ends, figure wise: a few by Zvezda (these tend to be really nicely sculpted/posed, but overpriced per figure, IMO), a load of PSC, all kinds of soft-plastic figures (Caesar, Airfix, Revell, plenty of others, mostly not up to par), some white metal by Britannia Miniatures. Resin figures by Milicast (a really great range in some respects, e.g. interesting outfits/poses, but rather poorly sclupted/unnaturally posed). I do love AB. Tony Barton sculpts my favourite white metal figures. I'd love my Napoleonic armies to be made up of his figures. But they just cost too much! Have you ever tried Preiser? German plastic figures in 20mm. They have a massive range of WWII German stuff. I just bought my 1st box from them.