Sunday, 27 January 2013

Buyer's Remorse: FoW "Achtung" Starter Set

Christchurch's sole remaining Friendly Local Comics-&-Games Store, Comics Compulsion, recently put some Flames of War stuff on sale at heavily reduced prices, so I nabbed some. Among the stuff I got was a copy of Achtung, a starter set for FoW put out by Battlefront a while ago, marked down to thirty bucks.

It includes an A5 softcover copy of the rules, an A4 pamphlet aimed at absolute beginners, some dice, and — the reason I bought it — five 1:100 plastic kits; two StuG III and three Sherman V. I thought that $30 would be an OK price to pay for five more basic vehicle models.

Boy, was I wrong.

I haven't tried building the StuGs yet, but the Sherman is a truly awful kit. The fit of the parts is terrible, with great gaping gaps being left in unmistakably obvious areas, even after considerable trimming and dry-fitting.

The hull needs a LOT of filling right along both edges to make it look anywhere near acceptable, and the glacis doesn't even come close to marrying up to the drive housing.

The starboard track/hull-side component is especially bad, and needs a lot of attention before it will sit square to the hull.

Although in theory these simplified models are supposed to provide a quick and easy force for a new player, they are not by any means suitable for a beginner modeller in spite of the low number of components.

To be absolutely fair, once all the work has been done, it does make a fair representation of a Sherman for wargaming purposes. But as a model it leaves much to be desired.

Note also that the Sherman on the cover of the box is not the same version as the kits provided inside, and there are no parts provided for the Cullin Hedgerow Cutter as shown in the box art.

I regret buying this, even marked down to half price. If I'd bought it for full price and found this kind of crap inside, I'd have been furious.

With cheaper, better quality competition in the 15mm WWII plastics market from companies like Zvezda or PSC now readily available, Battlefront are really going to have to lift their game considerably to stay around. This sort of poor-quality product just isn't going to cut it.