Impressions: Spectre’s PMC Insurgents

After the drought of last year (a combination of many mostly obvious factors), Spectre is back with a second release of this year, bringing out a rather high tech (and better trained) set of additions to the Insurgent range. These guys are inspired by a collection of groups that have sprung up around the War on Terror, such as Malhama Tactical or the Taliban’s Red Group – high trained veterans outfitted with more modern kit either purchased online or recovered from better equipped fighting groups.

Similar to the Delta release earlier this year, the set is split into a squad pack and supports. What is new is that some of the supports are of a different style of character, expanding the undercover range further.

As with the Delta figures released earlier this year, these figures are in the new design that Spectre seems to be working with – 3D sculpted and multi-part. Although there was some concerns about the scaling of the Delta models compared to the existing Spectre miniatures, these models are much closer to regular guys – turns out the Delta were just some big old corn fed American boys.

Packing and assembly is of a similar standard to the Delta as well. The move to multi-part has meant a massive decrease in the amount of broken barrels or just overall bent pieces that need fixing. In the squad box, each figure came wrapped in their baggy, so you don’t end up with a pile of arms and a pile of bodies to play jigsaw until you find the matching pair. Unless you really want to, that is.

Fit of the multi-part models is also better than the Deltas. I didn’t have to do any work with liquid green stuff. Additionally, thanks to the setup there was not quite the same level of miscast thin stocks that I had with the MCXs of the Deltas. Only one part had a bit of material missing, but it was able to be assembled with no issues.

And there we have one of the model fresh out the box. As you can see, there is a lovely texture to the metal, nice and smooth, easily showing the detail off. I only had a tiny amount of flash to clean off the models.

There will be more detail on this guy later but I adored this model when I pulled him out the box. This guy comes as a single piece of metal and is gloriously detailed.

So lets take a look at what the range actually includes, especially after I finish painting it up. The squad pack is made up of six Insurgent Operators. They are all equipped with body armour, ballistic helmets with NVG mounts, gloves, balaclavas and sturdy boots. If this sounds like most of the Task Force Operators from Spectre, they you’re right – these guys are pretty well equipped. A nice detail is that a lot of it is older gen – the kneepads are separate rather than integrated into the BDUs, the helmets leaning more MICH style than the latest and greats FAST helmets. There are also a few of them with shemaghs/longer scarves – not quite full on tactical capes but definitely long enough to hide some gear.

Weapon wise, the team is carrying some pretty modern assault rifles, all from NATO countries. Four of the team are armed with G36Cs, the stocks swapped out for the more modern IdZ style and with Angled Foregrips, while the other two have the FN 2000. All the guns are suppressed, mounting force multipliers such laser designators and optics. Most have Eotech style holographic sights (red dots in the rules) but one of the G36 wielders has a thermal optic, ideal for putting the odds in their favour.

The rear of these models show off a few more touches of detail to the models, the classic molle look to the back of the vest, as well as the collection of pouches you might expect to see from operators with plenty of gear to store. As the Spectre guys mentioned on the site, these guys are going to be equipped much the same as their Western counterparts, with kit like medical gear and various grenade types. Not quite so fun for the operators when they get flashbanged is it!

Of course, every squad needs some support options, both to bring them up full squad numbers and add some force multiplication. The first three match the rest of the squad, giving you a PKP gunner, an RPG gunner (complete with MP5 as a side arm) and a squad leader/commander with a P90. This lets you bring the squad up to 9 models (ideal for a US Army inspired squad layout) but also gives you access to some additional force multipliers – the medium machine gun for suppression, an RPG for anti-armour/counter-fortification fire and the radio comms of the Commander to give you a connection point to off board assets.

Honestly, though, my favourite model has to be the sniper. There are just enough hints to tie him to the rest of the main squad, with the chest rig, boots and helmet poking out of the shroud, but he has gone to town on the camouflage. Covered in thermal camo defeating sheets, set up on the wall, he’s a fantastic little model. Additionally, he comes with something bearing the classic muzzle break and magazine size that tells me there is a semi-auto Barrett hidden under there. I am already planning to put him on the field for the Skirmish Sangin Sniper Hunt scenario.

Regarding paint scheme, I decided to paint these guys up as part of the Special Forces of Bazistan, my fictional Middle Eastern country (that will still be part of my custom setting). While the regular forces of Bazistan make do with US three colour desert, the SF guys (thanks to one of the Royal Family’s patronage) get to use Desert MARPAT. As well as the colours on the uniform, I also decided to apply each colour of the camouflage to the helmet in the same order, giving them a dappled look I’m really impressed with.

So, the paint list:

  • Undercoat – Black
  • MARPAT Camo
    • Base Layer – Vallejo Deck Tan
    • Camo 1 – Vallejo English Uniform
    • Camo 2 – Vallejo Medium Grey
    • Camo 3 – Vallejo German Camo Beige
  • Webbing/Kneepad – Vallejo US Field Drab
  • Shemagh – Vallejo Iraqi Sand
  • Boots – Vallejo Burnt Umber
  • Gloves/Balaclava/Commander Rucksack – Vallejo US Dark Green
  • Glasses – Vallejo Basalt Grey
  • Weapons – Citadel Black Templar Contrast, Drybrush of Vallejo Iraqi Sand
    • Attachments – Vallejo US Field Drab

Of course, not every addition to the range is full overt. There were two additional figures added that would be perfect on a less Overt battlefield. These two undercover operators are in civilian clothing with rucksacks (probably full of gear for breaking/entering/causing mayhem) while carrying smaller, more easily hidden SMGs. I always like the Skorpion machine pistol but the Uzi Pro is a cool addition to the range, giving a concealable weapon that still mounts things like red dots.

As well as supporting the Insurgent PMC, these undercover operators would also look pretty great alongside a few other figures in the Spectre range. They are really close to the Cartel Siccarios (with the facemasks and hoodies) and the mix of weapons wouldn’t look too far out of place. They would also look pretty good alongside the GRU low profile operators as well or maybe even the ones leading a FSB kill team (before getting the hell out of the way of those high calibre rifles).

Overall, I’m really happy with this release. It’s showing off another side of the irregular forces you wouldn’t see, as well as providing some useful figures for a whole host of potential forces. I’m really excited to get these guys on the board, especially in a battle that might pit some near tier forces up against each other – a nice change from the Elites wiping the board.

In terms of the overall “health” of the Spectre range, this is another great release from the new “era” of Spectre. The multi-part models are much more resistant to damage in transit, while still letting you have the detail. The new casters continue to provide high quality models which always help. Perhaps the only thing left to see is how quickly the stock levels can be replenished – these models are back on pre-order, so there maybe some wait if you want some of your own.

Fantasy – Rhazgra the Seneschal and Retinue

The dark armoured warriors stepped further into the darkness of the tunnels, moving carefully over the loose sand and scree that covered the incline. There were four of them, the rest of the band left above to guard the entrance against any intruders while the chosen few ventured deep into the tombs. They were looking for something, something to bring their lord greater power.

At the bottom of the stone ramp the warriors paused, listening. The tunnels around them were inky black, not even the strange glowing crystal the cave above had contained. It was also quiet, still, not even the sound of the wind whistling through the caverns.

“Rhalar, light.” The tone of the leader of the band, Rhazgra the Seneschal, was short and to the point, the brisk words of a commander used to seeing her action done. She didn’t bother to turn, instead crouching behind her shield, her mace held low in the enclosed space.

“Of course, sister” the taller mage answered, her voice with an ethereal edge to it, the greenish glow of the scars in her cheek become stronger as her hand ignited, green fire wreathing it like a beast desperate to flee. With a delicate motion, she place the fire inside the top of the staff, letting it writhe over the metal as in it was in pain.

“Where to now Seneschal? These tunnels all look the same.” The Dour asked, his voice like the grinding of stone against stone, his axe resting against his shield as his helm leaned forward.

“Rhalar will guide us, won’t you beautiful?” Arkfel the Slayer, the pelt of a great scaled beast over his shoulder moving as he laughed quietly to himself, only stopping when he felt the glower from his leader.

Ignoring such pedestrian things, the sorcerer lifted her glowing hands, the magical energy now spilling fully from her eyes and the scars on her face before evaporating into the air. She turned to look down each of the tunnels, the glow seeing to burn away the darkness, before she focused on one in particular. “The way ahead. There is something dangerous, old, long dead but now disturbed.” Rhalar lifted up her hands, letting the staff float beside her as she pushed her mind forward, attempting to understand the presence before her.

“The treasure’s guardian? Or something else those damn Templars have disturbed?” Rhazgra asked, turning slightly to look at her sister. Spotting the way her hands shook and the way green fire was emitting from her eyes even as her face creased with the effort, Rhazgra placed her shield down and delicately guided her sister’s hand back to the staff, the cold metal bringing her back to the present. She seemed to sign, her shoulders heaving as she drank in the cool air.

“Careful, beloved sister. It would be unwise for you to push yourself too hard before we have reached the prize. I’ll need your mind to unlock it’s traps.” She pulled her taller sister’s head down so their brows met, the anxious sweat of the mage resting against the cool of the warrior. “Besides,” she smiled “I would hate to have to leave you behind in favour of the treasure.”

Rhalar smiled. “I know sister, but I do not think you will need to. I know The Patron smiles on us this day. I can feel her whispers in the air.”

Yep, it happens to the best of us. Eventually anyone playing Sci-fi or Fantasy finds themselves looking at Chaos Warriors and reflecting on just how cool they look. They combine the glorious appeal of knights in armour but with that dark fantasy baroque look that means they just drip with character. They are the warriors that burn down the hero’s village as child, thus setting off the story. They are the Dark Figures that chase your heroes across the plains, slaying anyone in their way. And right at the end, they are the army you fight through to take on their leader. As you might guess, I adore the artwork and mental images, even if the normal models (released back in Warhammer Fantasy Battle days) are very static/designed for ranking up.

Seeing as I’m now working on very small (honesty) fantasy collection, and after seeing the Underworld Warband back when it was announced, I decided that these much more dynamic warriors were exactly what I wanted. Each of them looked like a real threat, a champion of the dark gods assembled alongside allies and rivals to take the fight to the enemy. What better troops to follow my Chaos Lord (who I’ve designed as some kind of Cursed Warrior/Undying King) than a collection of highly skilled individuals who just happen to be able to work together.

As a test bed, I decided to paint up the Underworld Warband “Khagra Ravagers”. Comprising of three warriors and a mage, it’s a great little introduction into the range. There are lots of shared character design elements among them – the armour and cloak combination, the multiple weapons and shield all ready to go, the smattering of decorations showing their allegiance.

As an aside, before I get into the figures, I’m just going to mention that I’m using my own names and descriptions for them. As much as I like Games Workshop’s setting, I’m one of those people who really like writing their own settings, characters and stories. As part of this, these four warriors will form the leaders of my Chosen Warriors, set to accompany the Lord into battle (seeing as he fights on foot). Additionally, as the greatest warriors among them, they are sent off to do specific tasks for their leader, ideally setting them up for small skirmish games.

First up we have a Warrior with shield and axe, ready to attack but in a relatively guarded pose. This is “The Dour”, an old warrior in a profession where that is a rarity. He’s basically Rhazgra’s main advisor/strong man, ready to offer the blunt opinion when required but then following her orders to the letter.

He’s also just really fun to paint, a relatively open pose with lots of finer details to add to. As the first figure painted, this was where I decided on the colours I would be using. Going for Valejo’s Royal Purple for the cloak really helps to make them look regal. I also used the classic Leadbelcher for the armour but after a quick look, a layer of black contrast over the top made it look the classic black armour that the Chaos Warriors are known for. On most, I decided to use mostly brass colours rather gold, helping to make them look less “fancy” than any Templars I am doing. The exception was the leader and mage, the gold marking them out as a little more important.

Next, with a weapon in each hand and animal pelt over the shoulder we have Arkfel the Slayer. With a pose like that, leaving himself entirely open and daring his enemy on, he seems like a real charming bastard of a warrior. Combine that with the pelt over his shoulder, I worked up the idea of the charming asshole who knows he has the skills to backup his boasting. Plus, if I’m doing the writing, a perfect partner to the mage, standing there to taunt attackers away from his beloved.

This guy is really similar pose to the Slambo figure from the olden days and I kind of love it. It was really fun working on him, especially with the scales over his shoulder. I originally started off with the colours reversed, only swapping to a more realistic look once I double checked some reference.

Rhazgra the Seneschal is of course the leader of this warband, standing in a dynamic pose to command her warriors forward. Her gear is more ornate than her fellows, she goes to battle without her helmet and that sneer of command. In her role as Seneschal, she is responsible for making sure her Lord’s affairs are in order, as well as enforcing his commands and protecting him with the help of the Chosen. At other times, she will go and do important tasks and quests herself. As for her (and her sister’s) origins, they are shrouded in mystery. Some say she is the daughter of a northern tribal chief, others say she ran away from the Templars as a teenage trainee to protect her sister. Either way, she’s a formidable warrior and great leader of her force.

As the figure that attracted to me this band, I was very careful to try and get her done just right. As well as the ornate details, the face is really well sculpted. Normally, my faces are apply base colour, wash, finish, barely even bothering to do the eyebrows. With Rhazgra, I used the Reikland fleshshade but then went back, adding eyebrows, highlights for the nose and cheek bones as well as a touch of gold though the piercing on her eyebrow. The markings on the side of her head were an attempt at tattoos which I think have the right effect. I also spent a lot of time on the hair, working from the black basecoat to the strip of white. In sort of the opposite way, I started off the wolf pelt with a very light grey, working my way down until the layer of black contrast paint over the top portions. Overall, I’m really happy with this model, one of the ones I’m most proud of.

And then we get to the mage.

So at first I originally painted her up using the original head. This sculpt was my least favourite in the set. I understand the visual of the cursed mage with the horns and hairless, and it makes sense for Warhammer. But in my head, this wasn’t the look I was wanting for the warband. These are supposed to be well trained and skilled warriors, not yet corrupted fully. The other issues was that the head lacks a lot of the details I’d usually rely on when painting – it’s not got much topological features to let the wash run into. I tried my best with the black and gold bands but it just looks so agressively… eh.

After a weekend of staring at the model, I decided enough is enough and went looking for an alternative head. I had, a while ago, purchased some alternative Stormcast heads (which are now being used in my Templar forces which I’ll be showing off soon) so I could get away from the “nope, we’re totally not space marines” look. Those heads, waiting for me to finish the box of Paladins I got for cheap from the local corner shop back up in Edinburgh for a tiny price, have been in my bits tray for a while. Pulling them out, I found one which was ideal, matching the look of Rhazgra while still looking a little magical. The only problem was that all the detail was on the wrong side of the head, forcing a slight change in pose.

Removing the head without damaging the paintwork was one of those butt clenching moments of hobby, trying very hard to scrape as little away as possible. Luckily I made a clean cut, cleaned up the resin part and then re-assembled the head into the slot, undercoating it via brush.

And now, here she is finished – Rhalar. With the new head, she looks like a true battle mage, just as likely to kick your ass with her fists than she is with magic. This better suits the mental image of her, working as her sister’s magical aid right next to her in battle. Her origins are as mysterious as her Sister’s and she shows promise of an even greater level of magic than she has already shown.

I’m really happy with the headswap, elevating this figure from okay to something I’m really happy with. I like how similar this model is in terms of gear to the actual warriors (such as the armour, cloak and the fur around her neck) while still having plenty of pieces that are different enough to make her stand out. The flames were especially fun to paint – I used the Hexwraith technical paint over a white basecoat and it worked out exactly as planned. I also managed to drip a little bit into the scars on her face, just to show the magic beginning to seep out.

Overall, this Underworlds unit was a fantastic way into painting more fantasy figures. I really recommend anyone interested in trying out a new Warhammer army take a look at these figures – they have some really nice details and it isn’t a huge amount of models to paint up. I’m also pretty happy with how the group has turned out, with a paint scheme that is relatively simple but looks awesome.

Next stage with these guys? Well I have 10 warriors, 5 knights and a lord on angry crocodile to finish off in a similar way to this warband. Beyond them, there are a few more less armoured chaos fighters to paint before I can move onto the big parts of the force – my Lord and his Patron.

Only a little terrified at the prospect of those two.

March 2021 Project Update

Welcome to April! Lets take a look at how things are going.

Project 365

To start, lets take a look at the count.

Painted: 40

British InfantryEmpress36
Chaos Warriors (Underworld)GW4

Purchased: 19

SwashbucklersWargames Foundry12
Keeper of SecretsGW1
Darkoath ChieftanGW1

A good bit of progress! I’ve now managed to paint more models than I’ve bought this year (always a good side of the equation to be on) and made a considerable dent in the Empress WW2 brits. Purchases… well we’ll talk about them in a sec.

I also managed to do enough models above and beyond the target value (31) helping to bring me a little closer to the intended progression. At the moment, I’m only 5 models below the target progression – I could have pushed to actually hit that target this month but honestly, it’s not the point of it. It’s a goal, not a requirement. As another positive, I’ve now hit over 44% of my collection painted, a percentage I haven’t beaten since 2018.

Project WW2

Project WW2 was the key focus of March, especially after the test painting of the month before. And I managed to finish the core platoon of my force! Three infantry sections, a PIAT team, a light mortar team and the two Senior Leaders (NCO and LT), all painted up and based. I’m really happy with how these models have turned out – the painted scheme is glorious muddy and grim, just right for a 1945 force. I’m also really happy I decided to go with the snow bases, helping to offset the darker colours. It’s also impressive to have the force finished – I could now (if the world wasn’t mad) go play a small game of Chain of Command with no extra units.

Finishing the platoon was Phase 1 of my WW2 Brits. Phase 2 is now to paint up the supporting Infantry I currently own, beginning with the senior leadership (and medic) above. The rest of the stuff to work on includes two vickers guns, two radio crew acting as JOPs, SMGs users and a few figures with soft caps I’ve converted. Phase 3 will be me working on my platoon of Churchills and friends. Phase 4 is the end game; there are a few force elements that are missing from the Empress Range (such as the 6pdr crews) that I’m hoping they will release some in the future.

Of course, this month I also ran the numbers on preparing some OPFOR for the Brits. The Empress Volks Gren range is really good looking…

Project Fantasy

I’m rapidly finding myself thinking about and painting up more fantasy figures. WW2 is definitely fun to paint (and I’m really looking forward to playing with the Brits/building up another force) but Fantasy is really filling the niche of fulfilling both interesting things to build/paint and getting my world building/design elements. I’m in the middle of writing up a post on the Chaos Warriors I finished this month, where I actually get to stretch my writing skills.

The big quantity of purchases this month is from Wargames Foundry’s Swashbucklers range. This is mostly due to the fact my Sister expressed an interest in possibly playing some games of soldiers. Based on her interests (and a love for buckling swashes), I decided to pick up these wonderful figures. Along with the three figures in this style from North Star, they will form my Sword Masters, spies/assassins for the empire in my nebulous fantasy setting. Once painted up, and the ruffians 3d printed, there will definitely be some fun games coming.

Also part of this setting is a way to use GW’s Stormcast.

Okay, stop running.

The Stormcast Eternals are definitely aggressively iconic for Age of Sigmar and I hadn’t really found a use for them. However, after seeing some Stormcast painted in a more realistic (i.e. less gold) style, I was suddenly captured by the idea of using them for a Templar like force, aggressively over the top fanatics to go toe to toe with the Chaos Warriors. I’ve also decided to go with exposed head look – it’s definitely among one of the weaker points of my skill set but I did really enjoy working on the head for my Chaos Warrior champion I painted.

Now. I am a simple man. I like little treats. And I set myself a goal that, if I finished my WW2 Brit Platoon, I would start on a nice kit for my fantasy range. Having mentioned my Chaos Lord and his cursed warrior details last time, I decided to push the button and get a model for his patron. The Keeper of Secrets from GW is one of their finest figures, nailing that merger of lethality and beauty. I decided, after a little bit of sweating aggressively, to go for more of the “four armed warrior goddess” rather than the traditional claw arms of Slaanesh demons. The picture above shows the WIP form, stuck together with some white tack. I still have some work to do, mostly with adjusting the left shield arm to cover her chest more. I am really enjoying building this model, and it will definitely be pushing my skillset forward.

Now… I am a little worried that this month is going to shred some of my gains from last month in terms of improving my completed percentage. Games Workshop is going hard on adding vampires to Warhammer fantasy and man, they found my weakness. I was already on board with the four new vampires in the Underworld box (a superb entry for great figures) but then they announced Cursed City, a board game using Games Workship miniatures just dripping with character. I adore the models they have announced, the gothic horror/low fantasy setting spot on for what I love. This is going to be a big chunk of change, but definitely worth it. I’m going to curb my new purchases soon, but I think these vampires (and maybe a few other vampires/undead for fighting in skirmish games) will be in the collection soon.

Project Moderns

I wrote a post in March about some decisions I’ve made regarding how I’m going to be playing my Ultramoderns, stepping away from the real world and into real-world adjacent. You can find more in the post. As for extra work, I’ve done a little bit of development on the aims/rules for the nations, more coming soon.

That’s it for this month’s update, I’ll see you in a month!