Welcoming a new range to the world of Ultramodern Wargaming is always fun, getting to take a look at new models, new styles and really dig into them. Alan from White Dragon Miniatures, a scrappy new company from Nottingham, very kindly sent me a pack of goodies. Contained within was a selection of models from the Courage in Contact range he is producing, giving me a chance to sit down and take a look at them.
Wait, what do you mean that White Dragon Miniatures isn’t new? And I first talked about his stuff back in 2018? And I’ve bought models from him before, including at the last Salute in 2019? Wait that can’t be…
So yeah, I need to start off this impressions piece with an apology. It has taken me FAR too long to actually take a look at these models and this range in it’s entirety. Which is a real shame because god damn, these are some lovely models.
Before we start, some required disclosure: All the models in this impressions piece was sent to me by White Dragon Miniatures to take a look at.
First, some background. Even if you haven’t picked up anything specifically being sold by White Dragon Miniatures, it’s highly likely you’ve already touched something that WDM has had a hand in producing. Working with companies like Modiphius, Mantic and North Star, they have assisted by printing and casting miniatures. In fact, they even printed some of the vehicles for Spectre, as seen on this blog. In other words, they know how to play with resin and make good, high quality models.
On top of that, Alan (the man behind it all) is a great guy to chat to. He is always 100% on the top of the list to hunt down at shows (remember those?) to find out what he’s up to and see his latest tricks. Even down to pulling models off display to show me the clever way he worked out to print his vehicles without being 100 tons of resin.
Courage in Contact is the main range they are working on at the moment, focused on 28mm ultramodern warfighters. At the time of writing, there are four ranges – British in Afghanistan, Taliban, IDF and Russians. Thanks to the press pack being setup well, I’ll cover each of the ranges in more detail as we go along as I have examples of each to share.
As a rough guide however there are some common things to mention. All of WDM’s models come in resin, relatively stiff but with a little bit of give to prevent any breakage. They also all have slotta base style strips so you may need to tweak them slightly if you use MDF/washers/small local currency as your base. Cleanup is minimal – no flash, no mould lines to clean (because how how they made) and the only extra material is a few support structures that can be easily trimmed away.
Now, I know that when I say the word “Resin”, a collection of people somewhere on the internet is angrily writing about how Resin sucks and metal is the way forward. As much as I like the weight of a metal piece in my hand, I think that resin has it’s place and that place is detail. I am very pleased at how much detail you can spot on these figures, such as ejection ports on rifles and buckles on belts.
That said, these models aren’t overly detailed, covered in so much texture that you physically can’t paint the damn thing. The Courage In Contact models are 3D designed, the production quality fantastic and through their powers combined, you end up with a model where paint easily flows over the surface. As someone who just came off a year of painting Games Workshop models (and just after having painted some Empress US Marines) it felt like I was painting the GW models again, finding it very easy to pick out details and let shades do their shadowy work.
Something else that is exciting is that most of the range is available in both 28mm and 20mm (the exceptions being vehicles and heavy weapon teams). As someone who only plays in 28mm, this fact isn’t hugely important for me. But, 20mm (or 1/72) is a scale that makes a lot of sense for wargaming – there is a vast amount of plastic model kits and terrain available, the smaller figure size gives more room for manoeuvre and you still have a fun time painting on the details without wishing for a bigger magnifying glass/a faster death. The figures have the same level of detail on the smaller size, without going into stupidly thin pieces wishing to break. However, I’ll leave it to true fans to enjoy the tiny soldiers.
Right, with all that out of the way, lets look at the actual minis.
The first and most complete range is the British Army forces. Depicted using the gear in service between 2013-2014 (meaning it’s the land of rail systems, nice new UOR toys and MTP) the range gives you more than enough troops for an Infantry platoon with some add-on elements. There is a good mix of weapons and poses, providing you everything from the humble L85 up to the GPMG and a light AT weapon. There is even a soldier with the pistol, for when things get incredibly scary during your compound clearances.
A nice feature with many of the ranges is that they come with different head options (a benefit of 3d sculpting as it’s easy to swap parts in and out). For the Brits, you have a choice of three helmets – The Mk6 (with helmet bands), a Para helmet (with netting) and a helmet covered in scrim. As I own models with all three, they are pretty great and distinctive, helping to change up the appearance. I’m not sure you’d want to mix the three of them too much in one army (the Sgt Major may get annoyed), but it does give you some options.
The Brits also have some additional pieces to their platoon for 28mm gamers. For heavy support, both the venerable L111A1 .50cal HMG and the HK GMG are available, with each kit including a pair of gunner with the weapon and a loader. To assist with lugging these things around (or providing you a fancy model for jumping off points in certain popular games) there is also a quad bike (with rider or without) and a set of trailers filled with cargo.
Finally, the Brits have two vehicles in the collection. The Foxhound (a protected patrol vehicle with two GPMG gunners up top) and the Mastiff (a six wheeled MRAP with a .50cal in a protected turret). These vehicles are lovely, covered in fantastically crisp details and easy to assemble thanks to clever design and high quality production with very little flash. The Mastiff even has bar armour, made from brass etched pieces that nail the look while being perfectly sized for both assembly and gameplaying. I’d recommend them whole heartedly… except that they are in 1/56 scale and so look adorable small next to the 1/50 of Spectre/Empress/my 3d printer. This is entirely a personal opinion though – I just like my vehicles slightly on the chunky side.
As you might expect, these guys are painted up in MTP, the British Army camo. For me, this is just multi-cam with more swooping lines. I used the Spectre colour list, although part of the way through realised I was using the wrong Vallejo Green Grey, and have been for several years. Because of this, it’s much more Green than it should be. In future, I’m going to investigate a different colour scheme.
Facing the Brits, you have the Taliban forces. A slightly smaller number of individual packs but thanks to the more irregular focus, and trio of head options, you have enough variety here to create a similar (if not larger) force. Ideal if you need to make an insurgency from scratch!
Packs 1 to 3 contain a mix of AKs and PKMs with a smattering of other support options. I do really like that packs with the RPG gunners also include a sperate figure carrying the ammo, setting up as team. Pack 4 is a set of commanders and leaders, complete with radios, maps and the ever useful Mk1 pointing arm. Finally, Pack 5 gives you some of the weird options. As well as the classic blind firing pose, a double barrel shotgun, revolver and hand grenade will help to break up your force and give you some variation among the sea of AKs.
There is also a sixth pack made up of an IED team. As well as the IED itself (and the poor devil carrying it), there is a dicker/triggerman model, a cameraman to video the effects and a man with the shovel looking suitably annoyed at having to dig the big hole to put it in. I think this pack is deceptively useful – I’m especially thinking about “Route Clearance”, one of the best Skirmish Sangin scenarios that is in Dispatches 2, which features US Special Forces attempting to arrest an IED maker while he places his bomb. Or use the digger figure as one of the locals out tending his field… just don’t ask too much about the chest pouches.
Of course, as well as the gunmen there are a few support elements. A range without a heavy machine gun is a sad one, and so here you get a Dushka (or DShK) team, including a loader with two cans of ammo under his arms. Perhaps more interesting is the pair of motorcycle packs. Each one has a rider and two passengers (armed with an AK or an RPG) but doesn’t actually require the rear passenger to fully assemble. With just how popular motorcycles are in Afghanistan, these bikes are handy for setting the scene, making players concerned about road traffic or just letting the OPFOR player perform drivebys on enemy convoys.
As mentioned, there are a trio of head options. I quite like the local headwear (a mix of the Pakol and Kufi hats) but there are two versions of the turban with faces uncovered or covered. This variety, when combined with the multitudes of paint schemes that can be done on civilian-esque figures, would let you easily assemble any Taliban force from Tier One hardcore nutcases down to the Local Militias that have been paid a couple of bucks to pop out, shoot some invaders and disappear. A definite bonus to any collector.
This was probably the simplest model to paint from the batch. The main thing with Taliban is to make sure that the tops and bottoms under the vest (which are normally sold together) are the same colour. The vest over the top helps to add some contrast, as does the black turban. This is another figure where the blacks are Eshin Grey with Black Templar Contrast Paint over the top, which I think comes out rather nicely without requiring too much work.
Stepping out of Afghanistan, we have two other smaller ranges which are no less exciting to play with. First of all, we have the IDF (or Israeli Defence Force). With their bullpup Tavors and floppy Mitz… Mitznefet on their heads (if you choose to take them), the IDF has a style all of their own. Especially because there is a mix of female and male soldiers in each pack, with some ponytails easily spotted at the back of heads. Weapon wise, there are all the guns you’d expect including the Negev LMG and underslung grenade launchers. I also quite like the mix of attachments on the guns – the Tavors showing both Mars close quarters sights and ACOG midrange optics.
As you can see, the range is a bit smaller than the more mature British and Taliban sets, focusing only on the basic infantry. However, the five packs give you a good selection of poses and equipment, easily able to assemble the IDF infantry squad (which is similar to the US Marine equivalent with three fireteams and a separate squad leader.) However, looking around at a few of the pictures of Israeli troops in action, I think you might be able to get away with mixing the various head options – although the Mitznefet is distinctive, the two styles of helmet (smooth cover and additional banding) are also fantastic and easily can go together.
WDM also has two Merkavas designed and possibly coming soon. These will also be 1:56 scale but knowing Alan, there will be some lovely design work in them to make them easy to assemble but keeping the weight down.
The IDF issue single colour khaki uniforms for most of their troops and thank goodness it makes it easy to paint. I used valejo khaki for clothing, green webbing and then painted the helmet cover in a vague pattern using the colours I also use for Desert MARPT. Unfortunately, I forgot to shake my Agrax Wash before applying, leading to some very shiny boys and girls that need some matt varnish to reduce the effect.
Finally, we have the most recent release – the Russians. Comprising of two packs for now with more planned (two of which have been previewed), this is probably good enough for a skirmish game. If you’re wanting multiple squads, waiting a little bit will give you a few more options. Once again though, each pack is a good mix of weapons – each has one man with a UGL on their rifle and you get an RPG in one pack and a PKP in the other. Put them together and you have a full squad ready to roll out of their BMP/BTR.
The Russians are another range where you can mix and match the head options. Rather than changing away from the Ratnik designs, the heads are just variations on what they are wearing on their face. They take you from uncovered face (the most regular version) before adding a balaclava (for the classic polite people look) and then finishing off with the full seal balaclava and goggles look.
So this is where I get in trouble – Digital Flora is such a pain in the ass to paint I chose to go for evoking the visual of it rather than the specific camo pattern. For this reason I did a few layers of different Greens – US Dark Green, Agrax wash, another layer of US Dark Green and then a heavy drybrush of Russian Uniform. Finished off with the usual Iraqi Sand drybrush and it’s good enough for army work. Yes, I’m that sort of painter.
So, with that as the rundown, lets talk about how they look next to other Ultramodern figures. Sadly, I ended up with mostly crouching figures so alas I couldn’t compare standing figure in Combat Gear with the other standing figures, so this taliban gunner will have to do.
So as you can see, the White Dragon Miniatures figures are definitely bulkier than most of the other sets. I’m not sure that, from standing over the table, I’d be able to really spot the differences so I don’t feel too bad about mixing them. Although maybe you’ll want to push them a little further back so the old perspective trick can kick in if you’re taking photos.
As you can see, White Dragon Miniatures is an exciting company on the Ultramodern scene. I’m a great fan of the sculpting style, reminding me a lot of how newer Games Workshop have managed to make 3d designed models with lots of details but in a certain way that doesn’t seem to need any overly fiddly painting style. With the various head options, you can easily build forces from the currently available ranges, making them perfect as a way to get into wargaming. This holds especially true for anyone playing ISAF operations in Afghanistan, as the Taliban and British ranges are a good one stop shop for all the combatants you’d need.
With 3D printing, I’ve definitely found myself buying less physical models. But even with that change, I’m really excited to look into getting whatever new stuff White Dragon Miniatures releases.