Review: FoW: Open Fire! Plastic Infantry

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Sometimes it’s good to save the best for (closer to) last, and for that reason I decided to review the Open Fire! plastic tanks before I got to the main event: the new plastic infantry.

The big questions that were on my mind while waiting for this new boxed set were:

-Are they more detailed than the metal FoW infantry?
-Do they meet the standard of other great plastic minis, such as those made by GW/Citadel?
-How easily can they be assembled?
-How do they compare to Plastic Soldier’s 15mm WWII minis, which have been taking a good chunk of FoW’s precious market share over the last year?

The short answer is these models are amazing.

Let’s start with detail. These new FoW plastic infantry are far more detailed than metal FoW infantry, with excellent fidelity, rifles that always have their barrels (unlike metal) and details that are sharp. Models now have fully-featured faces, aside from lacking true sculpted eyes, which at 15mm is a mercy. You can actually tell when a model has a mustache “built in”, and there are no more “mystery appendages” or three-fingered hands holding a nebulous blob.
Their guns have barrels now!
How would I compare these minis to other miniature companies? I would say they are about where GW is in terms of detail, but just short in terms of true plastic molding mastery. There are still a few places where there are deliberately “stretched” details on the model to accommodate the plastic molding process. This is something they do sparingly and is not particularly noticeable, and is something even GW still does, however infrequently, when the limits of molding a particular form are reached.
The new bases are a serious improvement.
Not only are these models better in terms of appearance, they are also far easier to assemble. Not only do they carry the advantage of being plastic, i.e. easier to clean and identify individual parts, they also come with new pre-slotted bases that the models fit right into. The bases come with a variety of positions and numbers of slots, as well as coming in every size of base used by the game. Of course, the bases will be available separately very soon and work seamlessly with the metal models, which have the same size round tabs on bottom. The real advantage, however, is that you do not need as much texturing, if any at all, to give the new bases a good appearance. With the old bases, you had to use a texturing material and pile it high on the base to cover the old tabs. With the new bases, you can simply use a thin layer of, for example, Vallejo texturing pumice or, if you are going for 100% static grass cover, simply paint the base and glue on the static grass, no texturing necessary. Occasionally a base may have a hole you don’t need to put a model in. I simply fill these with putty and move on (out of the entire Open Fire! set, you will only have to do this four times, once for each PaK 40 gun team and once for each prone paratrooper MG team).
The few extra slots you may have left over are a cinch to fill.
What does this mean for Plastic Soldier? These new Battlefront plastics for FoW are definitely a game-changer. While Plastic Soldier does make very nice true-scale miniatures, FoW’s new plastics are more dynamic and have emphasized heroic-scale features that draw the eye and make painting them a true pleasure. Some people don’t like heroic-scale, but I personally think that an infantryman’s appearance at 15mm is going to be somewhat impressionistic no matter what, so it might as well look badass with a permanent, constipated grimace on its face with its bared teeth and all.
This tank commander comes off the same infantry sprue. I gotta say, he really classes up the otherwise ordinary tank.
So yes, Battlefront is definitely back in the infantry game, but it needs to keep making more of these bad boys for different forces and nations if it really wants to stay competitive. I think of the new Open Fire! box as making a statement that Battlefront is ready to take their game to the next level. 3rd edition FoW has already shown that they are ready to put forth a serious game, not perfect, but constantly improving. These models show that they have even greater ambitions. I am eagerly anticipating their next move with plastic infantry. I’m sure it is to be something remarkable, be it Soviets, Americans, Germans, or whatever.
Just a fraction of the new super-detailed infantry sitting on my painting table. More painted stuff coming soon!
That’s all for now! Tell us what you think about the new plastics. Which force do you think we should see in plastic next?

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