Empress did a rather cool thing back in July and put out a list of things they planned to release. When I first saw it, I assumed we would see them dribbled out over a period of months. Empress instead dropped them all at once, leading to a rather exciting day watching the Empress Facebook page as lots of shiny new things were shown off.
For a change, I didn’t pick up all of the kits that were released; Empress also brought out a pack of pilots all ready to sit in 1:48 helicopters. As I’m currently focused on crashed aircraft right now, I didn’t see much need for this set. However, I’m tempted to pick up a Little Bird at some point and these guys would be perfect for it.
But for now, let’s focus on the guys sat on my desk.
TV Crews are an element that is always an interesting addition to the battlefield, often as a way of forcing some restraint on a more powerful force. Empress’s is perhaps my favourite rendition of this role with a fair amount of inspiration from the real world that a British tv watcher would recognise.
The pack contains two figures. The first is the bald-headed, sunglasses wearing presenter. He is wearing body armour and has a bare helmet under his arm. His cameraman is also wearing body armour and a helmet, with a shoulder rest camera and rucksack with all his gear
Both models are packed full of character. I only have one tiny issue and that’s the presenters nose. When it arrived it looked like it had been knocked off. I simply added a tiny blob of greenstuff to correct this. Apart from that, I really like this set. It should be handy to include in photos of the game and be a concern to the BLUFOR player. Although I get the feeling the presenter is well ‘ard and might have done some time with the SAS. Hopefully this is the first pack in a range that might include other figures in civilian roles such as photographers or journalists. They really help to bring the battlefield to life
Paint wise, the aim of the game was something deserty but not camo. Tans for everyone and blue vests to mark as civilians. Inspired by a photo online, I also free-handed “TV” in grey paint on the cameraman’s helmet to represent someone frantically taping identifying marks onto their helmet. It’s a fun detail no-one will notice except me but it’s still cool.
US SF Character
Empress already has a pretty fantastic range of figures suitable for the US Special Forces Community, from the Rangers to the US Frogman team and everything in between. Their latest release includes a character figure for the US teams but with an intriguing addition. In tribute to an iconic photo of an injured special forces soldier who has returned to the fight, this character has a prosthetic lower leg.
There are lots of little details easily visible, from the attachments on the gun to the NVG shroud on his fast helmet. Like the Rangers, the new character seems a little taller than some of the older US Special Forces figure. Much like the US Navy SEAL sniper from last year, he would be an ideal squad leader or to represent a more veteran soldier.
My figure is painted in multicam and three colour desert with tan gear, the same scheme I plan for the rest of my Empress Rangers. As for the leg, I went with a base metallic colour and then painted over the top in tan to represent a cover over it.
Okay, so here is the big one. Empress announced they were looking into making some third world armies which led to a flurry of questions based on what they would be like. Having now arrived, they are a neat combination of US gear and Russian weapons, very similar to the ANP models released by Eureka. I chose the MICH helmets as they are one of the most modern and western option but the M1 and Soviet helmet will be very useful.
The two packs currently available are split, with pack 1 being four riflemen and pack 2 being a pair of riflemen, a machine gunner and an RPG gunner. Details are super crisp, even down to buckles on the mag pouches. There is also some variation in terms of guns, with one of the rifleman having a folding stock AK rather than the standard one, an ideal chance to show off a squad leader or more veteran guy.
As with many Empress releases, most of the models look awesome and then there is one who just looks slightly off. The winner in this pack is the chap moving with gun down while reloading – with a minor tweak it would look really cool but at the moment he just looks really odd. The RPG and machine gun gunners are both moving – it would be nice to have them in a firing pose but that is what future releases are for.
I’m not 100% on the way they are selling them. Rather than offering heads and bodies separate, they are assembled into product codes combining bodies and heads. On the one hand, I can see the appeal for this. On the other, as someone with lots of spare heads from other upgrade packs (so many British helmets), this would be a cool way to be able to reuse them. It would be awesome to be able to pick up the heads separate, especially for people planning to build their own imagination. But no matter how they are sold, the combination of gear and guns make them a really cool idea while the separate heads gives you a huge amount of customisation.
As for me, these universals are going to represent the Bazi Army. This meant oldish AKs (hence the wood) combined with black MICH and 3 colour desert camo. These are the first figures I’ve actually done fully in this camo and I’m happy with the end effect. Requiring only three steps, it’s also a pretty easy camo to do. When more universal figures arrive, they will be swiftly joining the Bazi ranks. As for the heads, the plan for the Aden Defence Force (the British backed guys south of the border) will be British gear but MICH helmets. Hopefully I can pick up a few sets once they become available by themselves.
Overall, a really solid release from Empress. Rather than a simple expansion, most of the sets show possible future routes for Empress to go in. Universal have me really excited about the combinations we are going to start seeing people make, it now just needs more bodies. As for the TV crew, getting Empress’s excellent sculptor to start working on some civilian figures is a genius idea – more journalists would be a great way to bring the board to life. As for the SF figure? It’s something unique – I’m not sure many other companies would bring out a figure in this style. Of course, I’m now interested in see what comes next…