Miniature Review – Battlefront vs Plastic soldier company Panzer IV boxed set admin August 18, 2011 Flames of War 14 Comments Hi, Firstly, thanks for reading! I hope you enjoy this review, it’s just going to be my honest views about these products, I’m not entirely sure if I will be sticking to any kind of writing ‘style’, or whether this will be a particularly good review, it is after all my first ever real product review! But, here goes! This review will focus on two boxed sets, both boxed sets are 15mm scale German WWII Panzer IV tanks miniatures, one produced by the new Zealand company Battlefront Miniatures , and the other by a British company The Plastic Soldier Company. The Battlefront miniatures boxed set (product code GBX10) is specifically designed for the wargame (which battlefront produces) called Flames of war, which is where my interest in 15mm scale models comes from. While the PSC boxed set (product code ww2v1502) is aimed at either wargamers, or miniature modellers (it even states so on the box!) Here’s a picture of the boxes, Panzer IV boxed sets typically, I forgot to photograph the back of the boxes, which actually has some interesting info on the back of each one. The PSC box has a couple of pictures of different styles of panzer IV (all of which can be made with this kit), with the vallejo paint references for each style so you know which paints you’ll need to paint your miniatures. While on the back of the Battlefront box we have a great photo of some painted versions of the tank in use, and the assembly instructions for the tank. This is a pretty pathetic diagram to be honest, as it misses out a few parts, and shows a couple of them incorrectly (such as the guide rail for the side skirts is incorrect, and it shows the back mud flap as pre assembled to the track, when it isnt). On the whole, I like the packaging of the battlefront box best, even if the instructions are rubbish. I think its that picture on the front, It just looks a little bit more “epic” than the one on the PSC box, its got a whole platoon on the front showing part of a massive battle, and I like the way they texture the green outlines. Thats not to say that the PSC box isn’t good, it is good! but, based on looks alone I think I would pick up the battlefront one every time. Luckily, I don’t judge everything by the box cover! Each set contains Five miniatures, which are supplied in parts, unpainted, glue and paints are not included in either of these sets (as is the norm for most wargames related sets) The Battlefront boxes set is a mixture between Metal, Plastic and Resin parts, whereas the PSC box is completely plastic. (each tank comes on its own individual sprue, which contains all the parts needed to make one tank) Here’s the inside contents of the Battlefront box, as it comes out of the plastic wrapping. As you can see the parts are all really well packaged, I actually took a couple of bits of foam out of the box so you could see the contents. Each tank has its own little portion of the box to sit in, so its nice and protected from knocks and bashes it may sustain before it gets to you. The first major difference between these two kits that I noticed was the price. I only picked up the Battlefront box because I got a bargain (a shop I sometimes visit is stopping selling Battlefront products, so was selling off the stock they have “cheap”). The recommended retail price for the Battlefront boxed set is £35 (based on their website price), I didn’t pay this amount, and if you shop around online you can pick it up anywhere between £25 and £30 (+ p&p). The PSC boxed set has an alarmingly different price, with an RRP at just £16.50 (+ p&p)! which is less than half that of the Battlefront miniatures boxed set. This would normally set alarm bells ringing as to why this box is so cheap compared to other companies. I mean, wargames are always expensive for what they are, if I told my none wargaming friends I was paying on average £7 for a 200g lump of resin they would think i was mental, but, thats the way it goes. Even smaller companies like Skytrex miniatures charge roughly the same amount for vehicles as what battlefront does, Peter pig are usually slightly cheaper, but I find I like the skytrex and battlefront minis better anyway. So, its half the RRP, and there is no such thing as a good deal, surely? why is it a cheaper price?? well, If i hadn’t saw this guy’s first ever boxed set on display at border reiver show last year I would have probably just taken that as being that, and ignoring it just in case. But, having known the previous excellent quality of this guys work, I thought I would give it a shot. The PSC box comes with five sprues, one for each tank, which has all of the parts on it that you need to make your tank, as well as some extra pieces. It also has an A4 instruction sheet on how to put your mini together, I thought that this was a really nice touch, as usually in historical minis (from my experience anyway), you usually just get a box of parts and have to figure everything out yourself. The inclusion of a very comprehensive instruction guide was a welcome addition to the boxed set, Especially the layout picture of the sprue, which had a colour coded key down the side so you know exactly which part is for which tank! excellent! Heres a couple of photos of the inside of the PSC panzer IV boxed set. as you can see there are quite a number of parts here, but luckily none of them are too fiddely, I would say that the wheels that go into the tracks are probably the wost part to work with though, they each have four contact points to the sprue, which are all very close together, and the plastic of the bit you are trying to get out is only about as thick as the actual contact point, so be very careful when getting these bits out, its even tricky using a craft knife. I only bent mine, but it could be easily snapped. other than that, all the parts were well laid out on the sprue and came off it very easily, with each part then being very easy to clean up with a craft knife and pair of clippers, this is where the kit could have quite easily fell down, if the material was cheap it can often be difficult to clean up, but this was very good quality plastic. the parts needed to complete each model is quite a few, compared to the very low number of parts needed to complete each of the battlefront versions. So in terms of speed to put together, I would have to say that the battlefront one wins, but, in terms of ease of putting together, I would say that the PSC box comes out on top. As you can see from the photo above, there are only a few parts to the battlefront panzer compared to the sprue for the PSC box. The PSC hull is in about 4 parts, where as the battlefront one is one solid piece for example. The problems comes when you look at the fact that there are three different materials there, and each one needs slightly different tools and glues to get the best results when making the model. With the PSC box I managed to completely glue the mini together only using (humbrol) polystyrene cement, and I managed to clean it up using only a craft knife and a pair of clippers, you could have just used the craft knife, but I prefer to cut the mini from the sprues using clippers, they are a bit faster, and are more forgiving when you are still on the sprue. Whereas with the battlefront box, for the metal parts you really need to wash the resin before you start, as there is usually some release agent (the stuff they use to get the mini out of the mould it was made in) left on the model, then for the metal parts a set of needle files is the best way to clean them up. Also, poly cement will only bond plastic, it’ll melt resin, and it wont do anything with metal, so, you’ll also need some superglue to glue these minis together. This usually isnt a problem, and most model kits for wargaming these days come with a variety of parts, but, it is rare to find one that comes with resin, plastic AND metal. The above picture shows the gulls and turrets of the Battlefront Boxed set panzers, all of the hulls are the same, which is quite a disapointment considering with most of their boxed sets they come with a variation of hulls in each one, and with the Panzer IV being one of the most widely recognised (and widely used) tanks in world war two, I would have expected that if ANY box had varient hulls, it would be this one. But, no matter. You can also see that the tanks have a great deal of detail to them, the hulls have zimmeritt coatings, which in my opinion looks brilliant. I love it, especially on tiger tanks. The PSC box versions don’t come with zimmeritt, they are all plain, but, I think this might be to do with the fact that this tank can be made into THREE different varients of panzer IV. Something which I was REALLY impressed by, personally, for this box at least (oh yes, I WILL be purchasing more), I was going for the PZIV- Ausf H varient, mainly because I love the the shield round the turret, and also because thats what varient I want in my flames of war army! I should probably take a moment to say that this is the only box I have come across that lets you do this with the panzer IV tank, if you want the F1/D varient from battlefront you would have to pay an RRP of £19 + p&p for three of these tanks, whereas with the PSC ones, you get FIVE for £18.15 posted. If thats not value for money then I really don’t know what is!!! I would also go to say that other than the added zimmeritt on the battlefront tanks, the PSC ones have a much better sense of detail on them, they are alot crisper and cleaner sculpts. as you can see from the image below, While the battlefront mini has the added tow rope on the back the detail of the exhaust system and the suspension mounting is FAR more detailed on the PSC kit. I believe that (and i’m taking a wild guess here), that the battlefront minis were hand sculpted, then cast from a prototype, where the clean cut defined lines of the PSC mini (and the 3D render in the instructions) suggest that this mini was designed on a computer, or, at least refined on a computer before the mould was made. This shows in the detail, the lines are just that bit more crisp, clean, and, straight. The other detail on the models which can be seen in this photo is the rear mud guards. On the battlefront mini these are separate, and need to be glued on, yet there is hardly any contact points to glue them too, and no clear instruction on which way up the parts go, so, I had to guess. this also seems completely pointless to make this part separate, it’s easy to break it, and its difficult to fix it on, I understand that this is a model KIT, and i don’t want it to be a one piece toy, part of the fun of the hobby is glueing the models together, but sometimes there is a part on a kit where you just think “Why on earth is this separate?? it should just be part of this in the first place. oh great, I just stuck it to my finger….” I also have a love hate relationship with the gun barrels on both of these minis. The battlefront one is a metal barrel, I think this one is going to survive a lot longer than the PSC one, at the end of the day, I purchased this model to be a component of a game. It’s going to be used, handled, put in a case which will slide around the boot of my car, and then it’ll get used to game with, so it’s going to be handled, which means there is a real posibility that it will get damaged. With the metal barrel, it has a bit more strength to it, but, when those things get bashed they NEVER go straight again, meaning after a while yu end up with a platoon full of droopy, wavey, bent barrels, which is a personal bug bear of mine, one that I wish I knew how to fix. (especially after the mini has been painted). I won’t have this problem with the PSC ones, as its plastic! However, this means that with the same treatment, it’s probably going to get broken at some point. so, what I think I might do, is replace the barrel with a piece of brass rod, which should be a bit stronger. I’ll only do this after the first one fails though. I’m saying that like it will definatley happen, I really don’t know if it will, but, judging on past experience, I think its a pretty sure thing that it will at some point. When it comes to putting these minis together then. I would say that the prep time is probably the same for each, the plastic model has more parts, but they are easier to clean up, and use fewer tools. Where the resin and metal parts of the battlefront mini take a bit more time and attention to get them ready, and need a couple of differnt tools. As for actual build time, I would say that the battlefront mini goes together way quicker, as it only has a very small number of parts. The PSC one takes a bit longer, but, the parts fit together PERFECTLY, unlike the battlefront minis. The problem with using different materials is that they don’t always go together as well as you have planned, and, when a model has been designed on a computer, you can get them to exceptional tolerances, which shows in the PSC kit. I can honestly say that the PSC kit was an absolute joy to put together, I have only put together one of each before writing this, so I will post photos when I’m finished with both platoons, but when you’ve put together countless 15mm shermans, cromwells, stuggs, panthers, and then get this kit, it is a very welcome and refreshing change to see a kit that goes together perfectly like this one. even some of the “big players” in the wargames industry, most notably games workshop, manage to get it wrong (quite often) and produce kits that don’t always fit together perfectly. To be fair, over the past couple of years GW seem to have invested heavily into CAD modelling for their newer products, so they are getting better at it, but its nice to see a smaller company like PSC also managing to get it right, with only such a small product range. One thing that the box does lack however is a transfer sheet. Thats a big plus on the battlefront side. to be fair though, if I bought an individual tank from battlefront, or a tank from peter pig or skytrex, I wouldnt get transfers either, but, I get a transfer sheet in the Battlefront boxed set, and I’m reviewing the differences between the boxes, so, I kinda have to mention it. Here’s a few pictures of the finished minis side by side so you can tell the difference. Overall, I think I would have to say that my favourite of the two sets is definately the Plastic soldier company set. The main reasons for this are that it’s all plastic, so its less fidly to put together, you can make multiple varients of tanks out of it, where you would have to buy multiple boxed sets from battlefront to do the same. and, its less than half the price of the Battlefront one! I also personally feel that the quality of the mini is a lot higher in the PSC box, you just need to look at the definition in the tracks to find that out. I was a little upset that I didn’t get a transfer sheet, but, on the website in the news section it states that he’s working on one, and even if I buy this seperatly, its still going to work out a hell of a lot cheaper than buying the battlefront version. Also available from the Plastic Soldier Company is the russian T34 tank boxed set, as well as a Sherman boxed set, and very soon will be some german halftracks! I really hope they will be represented at this years border reiver show too like he was last year, its always great to be able to meet the people who make the minis we love so much, and pick their brains a little to see whats in the pipeline! as well as being able to give them face to face feedback about their products, which is usually well received, and hopefully grab a bargain or two at the same time! Check out the plastic solider company via their website HERE, and check out what other product lines he does, and whats in the pipeline. Also, if you haven’t already, check out the fantastic and ever expanding range of products available from Battlefront miniatures at their website HERE, where you will find one of (in my opinion) one of the finest wargames currently on the market, and even if you don’t play the games, the books related to the games are worth picking up for their fantastic attention to detail, and the histroy segments in each one. I hope this hasn’t been too boring a review, and if you’ve got this far then you probably deserve a medal. Thank you very much for reading, and please feel free to add a comment below, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org Chris 14 Responses Frank March 12th, 2012 Thanks for your detailed review! Now I know that the products from the plastic soldier company have pretty good value. Reply Chris May 3rd, 2012 Awesome, really glad you liked the review! thanks for the link on your blog! greatly appreciated! Reply Mike March 25th, 2012 Hi Chris, A great review. I have just started playing FoW since V3 came out. I have bought the Pz III’s, IV’s and Panthers from PSC and they are fantastic products. Thanks for the great review. Mike Reply Chris May 3rd, 2012 Glad you liked the review! If you’d like me to review any products in particular then let me know and I will do my best. Hope you are enjoying Flames of war too! if you haven’t already, check out http://wwww.wwpd.net, they have loads of excellent battle reports and articles about FoW and they do a brilliant podcast every few weeks. Thanks again. Chris Reply Eugene August 3rd, 2012 Chris, thanks a lot for your review. Firstly I spent a money for FoW, but then I noticed PS, and I had hesitate. After your article I’ve understood that PS is more cheeper, and I can save some money and collect models. Thanks a lot. I’m going to change my preference and order PS. Sorry for my English, I learnt it in my childhood in Russia. Reply Chris August 4th, 2012 Thanks for your comment, I’m glad you liked the review. Your English is a lot better than my Russian so don’t worry about it! Reply Martin September 11th, 2012 Hey thanks for the cool review. I boughyt some PSC Panzer IVs but noticed a few things are not color coded on the sheet to show which variant to put them on, one of them looks like gas tanks – any idea where they fit? Reply John O January 2nd, 2013 I know the piece you mean Martin. It fits on the right hand side of the PzIVH about 1/3 of the way from the rear. You don’t often see it in photos due to the schurzen. Unfortunately PSc does have some issues with it’s instructions at times missing pieces in many kits. Reply Cameron February 2nd, 2013 Great review. Thanks for all the useful info. I love how the PSC Panzer IV looks. The details are really crisp. Reply Chris April 1st, 2013 Thanks for the review. My box of PSC Panther’s just arrived with the PSC 3rd SS Totenkompf Decals. I can’t wait to get home and build them. Reply anthony May 31st, 2016 This is obviously an ancient post but I wanted to make sure that PSC was a legit site also, never messed with these war game things so I might get into I haha I’ve just been doing models for fun ;P I can paint pretty well now, and I can’t wait to order these and who knows maybe I’ll take up the game portion of the models too Reply Chris Sutherland June 2nd, 2016 Hi Anthony, thanks for your comment. Glad to see this post is still helping people! Yes, plastic soldier company are legit. Their prices are a lot more favourable than some of their competitors too. Plenty of options for games with 15mm ww2 as well, so if you wanted a game there’s a few to try! Reply anthony May 31st, 2016 This is obviously an ancient post but I wanted to make sure that PSC was a legit site also, never messed with these war game things so I might get into I haha I’ve just been doing models for fun ;P I can paint pretty well now, and I can’t wait to order these and who knows maybe I’ll take up the game portion of the models too Reply Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email.