(Apologies for the photos)
Back when I was a kid, I used to makes tons of models. Airfix commandos and tanks gave way to Lord of the Rings which for a while traded places with full-blown Warhammer 40k. Tiny soldiers I get to make myself? Sold.
More recently, I’ve been flitting around – Flames of War is really sorting out my WW2 kick and now I’m looking for something different. This popped up with the Spectre Minatures kickstarter and its brand new, high-speed rules based around modern spec ops battles in Africa. I have a huge interest in the black ops and merc wars of the world (I’ve just finished Dirty Wars by Jeremy Scahill which is a great book on a terrible topic) and the models they included look great (see my last post).
While looking at the models, two other brands were mentioned – Empress Miniatures and Hasslefree Miniatures. Empress make a really good set of figures, great for many of the small-scale rules floating around such as Skirmish Sangin or Force on Force. Hasslefree on the other hand do a much more personal set of figures, better for the world of PMC and special forces that Spectre sets you in. So I decided to pick up a few models. Looking through their fantastic website I ended up choosing Mongrel, Badger and Freak from the complete set of figures. In addition, I picked up a standing VAL body and head to go with it to look at the hydration pack soldiers. The overall price was about £6 a figure if we include postage and packing.
The initial order was (as the name says) was Hasslefree but it took a while for the figures to arrive. I ended up emailing them to double-check what was going on and ended up with an email later on. Once they finally arrived, the company apologised to me by adding an additional figure (Bergil) into the pack. It should also be noted that Hasslefree includes sweets in the packet, always a nice surprise!
So these five figures each come in a small plastic packet with the character’s name on it. Inside, each pack consists of:
- a body missing head and arms and with a pin for a rucksack
- a sprue containing two weapons, a head and a rucksack
- A slot base, similar to what you would find in a GW blister
Similarly, for the separate bodies with single weapon options, Hasslefree will pack:
- A body missing head and arms with a moulded hydration pack (and some detailing to match it such as hydration tubes
- A pre-cut weapon arms set matched to the body
- A head selected by myself as part of the order
Once the model were unpacked, first impressions were wow. These models look fantastic, packed full of characterful detail. From the character’s knee pads up to the their neck, every inch is covered in details to make them really look like a modern trooper. The character’s all have holster on their right legs, with a selection of different combinations of pouches decorated across a load carrier. You can see the outline of the shirt under the body armour in many cases.
The guns are really where the details stands out. From the tiny VAL shown above up to the rather gucci looking G36C on Bergil (complete with optics, silencer and torch), each and everyone is very easy to recognise from a distance thanks to their slightly oversized proportions. They do not look too bad compared to the figures but when looking at the figure comparison with Spectre and Empress, it could stand out.
Assembly was relatively quick and easy. The arms and bodies fit together very well with no major issues. A fiddly point for someone with giant fingers is the head. Luckily to assist with that, the heads fit very well into the gap thanks to the heads containing head, neck and parts of an undershirt. Once assembled there are few thin lines between parts that will disappear under paint.
With a basic look at the models, lets take a greater look at the individual models.
VAL Character – “Ivan”
This character, nicknamed Ivan by myself, is a custom setup. Using the body of a character designed for the VS Val with a hydration pack and the head of the sniper character Hassle, this setup looks very similar to the Recon character from Battlefield 3.
This character is a direct build of Freak from Hasslefree. I selected the shotgun for its close quarters role as opposed to the alternative, an M4 carbine. The pose is little bit odd for such an aggressive stance but it makes him look like he is moving down a street aiming. The combination of baseball cap and headset along with SMAW is more than obvious a nod towards the engineer class. All its missing is the repair torch.
To add some fire support to the squad, I chose the M249 SAW over the USAS 12 shotgun. With a heavy rucksack and SAW, its obvious this character is more than inspired by the Support class in Battlefield 4. It is interesting to note that the SAW has both a retractable stock and a rail on top of the loading tray.
I swapped out the rucksack from a SMAW style one to the standard trooper pack to change this guy into more of a recon trooper. The G36C is pretty impressive in terms of its detail. I look forward to using this guy on the field.
This guy is my personal favourite – L85, helmet, bandanna and goggles. I wanted to make him look a little different from standard by giving him the SMAW sack from Bergil.
Conclusion and Future Plans
So overall, I really like these figures. They are really nicely cast, with a wide selection of weapons and heads to choose from. In addition the customer service is great. Despite the small size they obviously have some fantastic talent behind
So lets talk about one of the cleverest things Hasslefree has done. Each pack comes with two weapon choices, meaning that at the end of the process you have a set of arms left over. Luckily, Hasslefree sells bodies designed to fit for a slight knock down. It actually gives you a greater deal of control, as each weapon has two different poses to suit it with another two variations to include built in hydration packs. I’ll probably be looking to pick these guys in my next order.
Speaking of next orders, I’ll be picking up a few more. In addition to the posed range, the military troopers range include a selection of troopers styled after a certain SciFi television series featuring the US air force and their next round of updates will include two additional figure types with an RPG and 416. With this level of quality, I will definitely be keeping an eye on Hasslefree. I know a few of my friends are looking at the zombie range for some fun at an event.
There are two things I would like to see from them though:
- Boonie hat heads
- Some more variation in the bodies and guns – at the moment their look very western. Some guys in gorkas or Russian siege armour would be interesting.
I’ll be updating the blog with some more photos when I have these guys painted up or added some extra ones.
Hasslefree Models are available from http://www.hfminis.co.uk/