September 17th, 2010
Review - MERCS Minis USCR Models
MERCS Minis burst on to the scene with some really impressive models when they released the Yellow Jackets initially. It's been a while since the release of the 2nd faction the Kem Var, but just last month at Gen Con the MERCS Minis crew finally came through with the latest models. Today I'm here to introduce you all to the USCR faction models from MERCS Minis.
First up is the Commissar model. This is essentially the leader of the squad. The model itself is a single piece casting, so there's no assembly to speak of, aside from gluing the model to its 30mm round lipped display base. Clean up isn't very involved either, as there was a couple of mold lines to tend to, but that's it.
He's advertised as being 32mm tall, and these are quite bulky models. Actually these are the largest models they've created so far, as they're all wearing some really thick and bulky looking armor. Quite frankly, these guys look tough as nails!
The model is standing posed quite dramatically firing his rifle with his right arm, and armed with a pistol in the left. It looks like he's laying down some suppressing fire, cutting a path for his squad. The level of detail really is amazing too, as he'd decked out with lots of pouches, pads and armor plates. He's an excellent leader piece for sure.
This is also another single piece casting, so there's no arms, legs or anything to assemble, aside from the model to its included 30mm round lipped display base. He's advertised as 33mm tall. Minor mold lines are present, which took all of 2-3 minutes to file down and hack away with my hobby knife. Therefore he's a pretty clean model, nothing out of the ordinary to report.
Again like the others in this squad, he too is also a rather heavily armored fella. He's supposed to be the sniper of the squad, but I don't really like his rifle much. The rifle is short, and it really doesn't look much like any sniper rifle I've ever seen, even counting those that have existed in various first person shooter video games. If anything it resembles a grenade launcher, or automatic shotgun, not a sniper rifle.
Setting aside how the rifle looks, this is still a very impressive looking model. I was sold on the look of this squad the minute I saw the Commissar, and he's part of the squad, so I can't help but like him. He too is very detailed, complete with loads of strapped on pouches and armor bits, all sculpted in very crisp detail.
I also think the whole sniper motif would have been conveyed a little better via a pose on one knee lining up a shot, and a different rifle. Although considering how bulky the model is, I guess a USCR sniper wouldn't be flexible enough to stop, then get down on one knee to pull off a traditional sniper-like profile. Overall it really is a nice model, and it definitely fits in with the rest, but he's probably my least favorite of the squad. It's also really hard to top the Yellow Jacket sniper, as they set that bar SO high with the Yellow Jackets.
This is essentially the grunt of the squad. He's advertised as being 33mm tall, and like the other two models mentioned above, he too is a single piece cast model. Once again there's next to no assembly required, aside from mounting him to his base. Also like the rest, clean up is pretty non existent, aside from a couple of minor mold lines, so he's almost ready for some primer right out of the package.
Like his USCR brethren, he's also bulked up hidden underneath some intimidating looking heavy armor. He's a really amazingly detailed looking piece too, although so are his squad mates, so there's no surprise there.
I also saw a really nice conversion where a guy turned the Assault guy into the Medic, since there's no Medic model just yet for the USCR. Actually the way this model is posed, it was too easy to convert. The model is posed with his right arm firing his rifle forward, and his left arm outstretched, with his hand clinched into a fist. So all the guy did was modeled up a medic bag as if it was being held in the closed fist.
Okay this is the model that visually has the biggest impact, no pun intended! He's called the Behemoth, and just looking at him you can see why. He's advertised as 42mm tall, and he's quite a bit larger than the other USCR models in this squad.
This is a multiple piece model. Three pieces make up this beast, as there's a lower torso, upper torso, and some big guns to assemble the Behemoth with. Clean up wasn't overbearing, as expected, these are all quite clean, aside from minor mold lines. He was ready for primer in minutes.
Assembly for the most part is easy going, as most of the parts fit together quite nicely. However, it's hard to “feel” the right position at which the upper torso is supposed to be bound to the lower torso. It's just a bit hard to line up the proper position at which he's meant to be assembled. It took me a little trial and error getting it right, and I'm still not sure mine is exactly the same as the MERCS Minis model at their website.
That aside, the pose is simply amazing, and very dramatic. This guy looks like he's ready to smash up some opposing squads, and I for one wouldn't want to be in the path of that hammer if I were them. Those are some really sick monster-size guns mounted on his shoulders too. His left foot is also mounted on top of a pile of rubble, giving you a little bit of scenic base to work with when you base him too.
Of all the MERCS Minis models I've seen so far, next to the Yellow Jackets faction squad these are truly my 2nd favorite now. Actually it's so close, some days I really like these guys even more. Visually these guys look like they were bred to kick major ass. They also look like they can withstand some serious damage, while dishing a hefty dose of whoop-ass out in the process. The idea behind the the USCR is that they're sci-fi Russians, and I like the route they took. Thank god there's no big fury Russian hats, because the USCR design could have been a lot worse.
I'm somewhat of a military aircraft and aviation enthusiast, and when I look at he USCR I'm reminded of the design philosophy behind Russian aircraft only on a smaller scale. Take the Su-27 Flanker, or the MiG 29 Fulcrum even for example, they're both built to take damage, and keep on working, plus in the cockpit the bells and whistles found in Western aircraft just aren't present.
Russian and former Soviet aircraft design is all about getting the job done and nothing more. There's no pilot comforts, or extra gadgets that have nothing to do with the task at hand, instead they develop an aircraft that's extremely durable, with only what's needed to get the job done, and done efficiently. At the end of the day how it looks is the last thing on the list too. That's how I see these models, because if you look closely, they appear to have just what they need and nothing more, and the armor looks like it was designed for extreme combat conditions, not soldier comfort. Very cool stuff if you ask me.
The Commissar, Assault and Sniper models are $9.99 USD each, which I think is quite fair considering how much white metal you're getting for the money. The Behemoth is truly much larger than his other three squad mates, but he's even priced at just $12.99 USD, which for as big as he is, that's more than fair, it's almost a steal.
There's also a Squad Deal available direct from MERCS Minis giving you the Commissar, 2x Assault, Sniper, Behemoth and the card deck needed to play the MERCS Minis Skirmish game for $54.99 USD.
At present the faction deck is available for purchase separately as well. With the cards you have the means to play the actual MERCS Minis skirmish game with the currently available beta rules in .pdf format. These basic rules are a free download from their website, and the card deck is $7.99 USD by itself.
At present there are plans to offer 6x models total for each of the four existing faction squads. Therefore the USCR may end up with the remaining two models missing from their lineup around November from what I'm told. I've also learned that the rulebook is off at the printer right now, and the MERCS Minis crew expects it to be ready for shipping also in November, that is if all goes as planned. Once each of the factions have been expanded to six models each, there will then be one model for each card provided in the faction decks, and then they'll move on to begin creation of two new factions for the game.
Stay tuned for more on MERCS Minis. The FCC Models review should be ready soon, and after that as soon as I can get my hands on the rulebook I'll cover it in great detail as well.