Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Ideas for 28mm Starship Troopers Mobile Infantry

I recently reread Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers. Alongside Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War, this has to be a seminal novel featuring troopers in power armour. The vision of a mechanised, armoured and highly-skilled military elite has featured in many books and movies since, but Heinlein’s view of the mobilised trooper really started this idea.

When you consider the level of detail Heinlein gave in Troopers, though, you’re left with scant little hard detail as to physical appearance…

“Our suits give us better eyes, better ears, stronger backs (to carry heavier weapons and more ammo), better legs, more intelligence (in the military meaning...), more firepower, greater endurance, less vulnerability. A suit isn't a space suit - although it can serve as one. It is not primarily armor - although the Knights of the Round Table were not armored as well as we are. It isn't a tank - but a single M.I. private could take on a squadron of those things and knock them off unassisted...
Suited up, you look like a big steel gorilla, armed with gorilla-sized weapons.” (Starship Troopers, Robert Heinlein 1959)

We also know that power armour comes in (at least) three varieties – the Marauder suit, the Scout suit and the Command suit.

So, spurned on by a re-read of one of my favourite books, I decided to take a look at my vision of the Mobile Infantry “fighting suit” and here is a run-down of some of my preferences. 

1. Antenociti’s Workshop: Komodo Personal Assault Suit @ £15.99

This model has to be my favourite. The chunky style seems to suit Starship Troopers just right, and the model comes with a variety of weapon options as well. The example above shows how it paints up well too; I hear that Antenociti’s great customer service, and intend to buy one of these quite soon. The model certainly gives the impression that 3 of them, in a wide dispersion, could take on a veritable army of Bugs… Cast in metal, and I’ve seen forum posts indicating that an open hatch version will be sculpted soon.

2. Blackball Games: American Buffalo @ $13.99

Another contender for “best Starship Troopers stand-in figure”, the Buffalo screams US military and again seems to reflect the aesthetics of the book. That large open casket-type body gives a nice opportunity for weathering or decals. From the photos, I'm not sure whether this figure has a jetpack, but the backpack area certainly seems bulky enough to accommodate one. 

Again, it paints up well and also looks nicely convertible if you wanted to add different weapons (the book is certainly a little loose with availability of particular weapons, and suggested different load-outs became available). Cast in metal, no open hatch version available to my knowledge.

3. Sedition Wars: THI Mattock @ £21.99

This is a slightly bulkier version of powered armour, and looks more like a close combat variant or power loader-type model (I’m not familiar with the Sedition Wars game!). It could even be used as an "engineers" variant I guess.  

I am slightly put off by the lack of a jetpack or propulsion system on the back, which to remain true to the MI would be required. Cast in metal, and I’ve heard many good things about the level of detail on this model. A nice feature is the option to build the model with an open hatch, revealing the pilot.

4. Sedition Wars: THI Maul @ £21.99

Another Sedition Wars model, this time with heavier weapon mounts (but again no jetpack). As with the Mattock, you have the option of building the suit with an open hatch.

5. Mongoose Publishing: Starship Troopers Exosuits OOP
I’ve rolled these two options into one entry, because they are sadly no longer available! The only official choice, the Starship Troopers range by Mongoose was the only licensed miniatures game within Heinlein’s universe. The models were mostly based on the film and movies, but these two were original entries created to reflect the book’s vision. There were two types available – the Grizzly and Cougar – and both came with a variety of weapon options. The underarm mounts again gave lots of opportunity for conversion, and the two types gave some latitude for designating particular models Command or Scout versions.

As an aside, although no longer available as Troopers models, the Grizzly suit is now available from Mongoose rebranded as a “Holocaust Judge” in the Judge Dredd range (priced £9.99)...

6. Westwind Miniatures: Secrets of the Third Reich Wolverine @ £15.00

Westwind Miniatures have a large range of weird and wonderful World War II-type mechs and walkers, and two models that particularly caught my eye as appropriate were the Wolverine and Sarge. These look very nice models, and having ordered from Westwind in the past I’ve found them to be a reliable company.

Should your personal vision of the MI involve larger walkers, then again Westwind has a nice range of bigger vehicles that could fit the role.

7. Westwind Miniatures: Secrets of the Third Reich Codename Sarge @ £15.75

This is another Westwind creation, and I couldn't see the scale from pictures I found on the website but it looks a little bigger than some of the other miniatures considered here. It has no jetpack, but the hunched posture seems to fit Rico's description of a steel gorilla. The arms would probably need some conversion work to make them really fit Troopers.

8. Khurasan Miniatures: Terran Strike Infantry @ $20 (for 5)

I really like so many 15mm models on the Khurasan website, but often forget that they also have a growing range of 28mm scale figures. The Terran Strike Infantry seem to be created as opponents for the similarly-scaled Arachnids available from the website.

I really like these figures, and the hard, clean lines and retro-styling really reflect the look and feel of the MI in my view. They come with a variety of options and also leg variants, and the price can’t be argued with (these are the cheapest in this list). The design-decision on the models was apparently to keep them clean, with lots of open areas to allow of extras to be glued on as required. Cast in metal.

9. Copplestone Castings Power Armour Troopers @ £8.50 (for 2)

Copplestone Castings makes some awesome and very characterful futuristic, historic and fantasy miniatures, and their power armour troopers are a welcome addition to the range. These appear to be single-piece castings, and as with the Khurasan offering the style is very in-keeping with Starship Troopers. The posing is a little too static for my liking, though, although they might mix with the Terran Strike Infantry for a bit more choice. Cast in metal.

10. Games Workshop Tau battlesuits (price varies)

This last entry covers several power armour-type entries, available mostly in plastic from Games Workshop. Isn’t it ironic that the sometimes the best “human” models are actually from the alien ranges?

The Tau range includes the Crisis, Broadside and new Enforcer battlesuits, but my pick from the range would have to be the Stealth suits. The major advantage of these models is their medium; being plastic, they are easy to convert – and being GW, their availability is high. The feet would likely need some work (Tau have hoof-type feet), and the look is a but too high-tech for me but with some converting they might be suitable. 

The GW range of course includes lots of other iconic “power armour” type figures, such as Space Marines (both in standard power armour and Terminator armour), but these too far too Gothic for the Troopers style.  

So, that's my rundown of possible Starship Troopers stand-ins.

Have I missed any miniatures that you think would do the job? Drop me a comment below and I'll add them to the list if so.

1 comment:

  1. This is one set I'm eyeing: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/defiancegames/28mm-power-armor-hardsuits-defiance-games?ref=category