Saturday, May 30, 2020

Wargames Atlantic: Plastic Afghan Warriors Reviewed!

Today we will take an extensive look at the brand new Wargames Atlantic Afghan Warriors! These new 28mm hard-plastic multi-part miniatures are the first set of their new Imperial Conquests: Battles in the Age of Empire 1815-1914 miniature range. This range primarily focuses on colonial warfare although they may branch out a bit within the time frame but starting with these very useful Afghan Warriors!

The “Great Game” between Russia and Britain in the 19th century led to Afghanistan becoming a focal point of European interests. Little were British soldiers prepared for the ferocity and tenacity of these hardy mountain warriors. This set includes warriors typical of the North-West Frontier during conflicts with the British from 1830s-1920s. Depending on weapon choices they would not be inappropriate from 1700 up to the present time.

The Afghan Warrior Miniatures

The boxed set contains enough hard-plastic parts to create 40 28mm infantry with weapons including pulwar and khyber swords, daggers, shields, muskets, jezails, and Martini-Henry rifles. These miniatures are supplied on 8 identical sprues each containing enough parts to create five warriors with an assortment of edged weapons and firearms. The miniatures are supplied in a nicely illustrated box with artwork by the talented Peter Dennis and pictures of the painted miniatures by Matthew Leahy and Andy Zeck which are a great painting reference. The miniatures were digitally sculpted by Thieu Duong and are tooled and manufactured in China.

As mentionned before each sprue contains five bodies of which one is kneeling while the other bodies represent walking, charging or leaping warriors ready to engage in close combat with their lethal swords. Most warriors are dressed in loose tunic and trousers for ease of movement and comfort with a cummerbund around the waist holding swords, daggers and pouches. Some of the warriors are also equipped with should-strapped bags and what looks like shoulder belts. Overall a good variation of useful body poses despite the inclusion of only five different bodies.

Next to the bodies, the sprue contains no less than 11 heads, of which 9 are supplied with turban headbands and 3 with skull caps. The facial expression of the miniatures is great and the variation is very good as some of the heads are also represented with beards and cloth-covered faces. So plenty of useful heads are included to create some truly unique and warlike tribal warriors! Check the close-up pictures below for a better view of the included heads.

One of the coolest parts are of course the weapons of which the sprue contains plenty such as pulwar and khyber swords, daggers, shields, muskets, jezails, and Martini-Henry rifles. The weapons are either supplied separately or being hold with either one or two hands in case of the firearms. Of these included firearms, my favorites are the iconic long-range Afghan jezails which were simple, low-cost muzzle-loading weapons used with great effect against the British Army during the Anglo-Afghan Wars and were also common in British India, Central Asia and parts of the Middle East. These guns were very often handmade and carefully decorated by their owner and came in several shapes and sizes with either a matchlock or captured flintlock lock mechanism.

The breech-loading single-shot Martini-Henry rifle and successors was the standard weapon of the British Army and saw service for no less than 47 years in the British Empire, featuring extensively in Afghanistan and the neighbouring Northwest Frontier Province of British India. Afghan Warriors also used these rifles against their former owners and tribal enemies. During the Second and Third Anglo-Afghan War, poorer quality copies of the Martini-Henry rifle were first produced locally by North-West Frontier Province gunsmiths and later on an industrial scale at the Kabul Arsenal. Last but not least included is the humble musket, simple to manufacture and easily handled.

As you see on the pictures there are also four small round shields and shield arms included, these shields were made of hide or metal and used on the Indian subcontinent and Afghanistan. Also included are some swords in their scabbards which can be used to further equip your warriors. I think that covers all the sprue components so lets now move on to the assembly of these fierce warriors!

Assembling your Afghan Warriors

The miniatures look a bit fiddly to assemble due to the large amount of small parts but I was happily surprised that the assembly was much easier and quicker than expected despite some issues that I will list later on and might have been avoided with some more planning in the design and tooling phase although I'm certainly not an expert but will just mention some issues that I noticed while assembling. For this review I have assembled two full sprues so in total 10 miniatures to get an impressive of the possible options and ease of assembly.

Although the boxed set doesn't contain an assembly leaflet, the arm pairs are marked with a number and side so for example arms 1L and 1R are a matching pair and should fit with each other. This really made the assembly much easier as you don't have to try and match suitable arms but you can just take the arms you need from the sprue and start assembling your miniatures with no further hassle.

Another point worth mentionning is that despite the many small and thin parts, I have managed to assemble the miniatures without broken parts. I was really worried about snapping the thin rifles and swords but was again happily surprised to see that the plastic was really sturdy and took the handling and cleaning of the parts very well which is point certainly worth mentionning.

The miniatures are easy to assemble but could have been even more easier and quicker to assemble as I have noticed some issues with the design of the sprues mostly the placement of the sprue vents with the rifles, heads and swords. These are placed in difficult to clean places such as in fold of the turbans or on the thin sword blades and also often in more than one part of the component. Another point of attention are the very fine but noticable mouldlines on the sides of the bodies which are more difficult to remove in the clothing folds.

Another curious point that I noticed is that the kneeling miniature is smaller than his standing brothers in arms and several heads are also smaller to fit the kneeling body. Not sure why this particular body and matching heads are smaller but this might be caused by the larger turbans on the other heads. Just thought this was worth mentionning but looking at the pictures the difference looks less noticable than when you handle the miniatures but at tabletop distance they should be entirely fine.

So to conclude the assembly phase, the miniatures are good quality and the casted details are deep enough to make the painting easy using washes or drybrushing. There are some issues such as the mouldlines and the sprue vents but those are minor compared with the ease of assembly thanks to the numbered parts and the good quality of the plastic. Was happily surprised with the possible poses and the speed in which I managed to assemble the miniatures as shown below.

The Scale Comparison

In the pictures below I have added some miniatures from other well-known miniature companies such as Warlord Games, Perry Miniatures and Wargames Foundry along with the new Wargames Atlantic Afghan Warriors. Note that the Warlord Games Zulu has his plastic base removed so he's a bit taller than shown compared with the other still plastic based miniatures. Looking at the overall pictures these new miniatures are quite usable with all the shown brands as the size is comparable within these brands.

I have tried to compare the miniatures with other companies that also produce miniatures for this period so the included ranges are Wargames Foundry Anglo-Sikh Wars, Anglo-Afghan Wars and Indian Mutiny. For Perry Miniatures I included their Anglo-Zulu War plastic British miniatures which are the same size as their other British Infantry kit for Afghanistan and Sudan. Also included is the Warlord Games Zulu to give a better idea of their size compared to the large Warlord Games plastic ranges although not much figures are available for this period for so far that I'm aware of in those ranges. So as you can see these new miniatures are non-heroic 28mm miniatures so scaled for historical ranges and not the larger 28mm heroic miniatures ranges such as from Games Workshop to name the leading company in that scale. Although their newer releases are even bigger but just to give you an idea on compatibility for conversion purposes.

The Conclusion

This first model kit for the Imperial Conquests: Battles in the Age of Empire 1815-1914 miniature range is most certainly very useful as these warriors have only been available in more expensive metal up till now. These hard-plastic multi-part miniatures can be fielded as Afghan Warriors for the above mentionned period but can easily be used as conversion material for other periods and uses.

Next to their original role I can see these miniatures being used to represent for example Indian Mutineers during The Indian Mutiny, Sikh Irregulars during the Anglo-Sikh Wars, Baluchi Mercenaries in Africa and India, Bashi Bazouk for the Mahdist War, Jazz Age Afghan Warriors, and Modern Insurgents with some minor conversions and addition of other model kit parts such as heads and weapons.

The quality and price of these miniatures is good, with one boxed set containing 40 hard-plastic multi-part miniatures retailing for £25.00 with further discounts for larger amounts of boxed sets. I can see these miniatures being very popular due to their affordability and usefulness for plenty of different settings and periods. You can buy these miniatures directly from Wargames Atlantic or from other distributors and retailers worldwide. Picture of the painted miniatures below taken from Wargames Atlantic.

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Disclaimer - We received these miniatures from Wargames Atlantic for reviewing purposes. Please note that this doesn't influence our review as we always strive to supply you with our own independent and honest opinion about the wargame products reviewed.

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