For those of you like me, never having heard of the F.S.S.F. before, I've provided a bit of background information on the unit. The Devil's Brigade (also called The Black Devils; The Black Devils' Brigade; and Freddie's Freighters; officially the 1st Special Service Force), was an elite, joint American and Canadian unit organized in 1942. The brigade fought in the Aleutian Islands, Italy and Southern France, before being disbanded in December 1944.
It’s rather neat having some special models to represent this unit. Even if I don’t field them
as F.S.S.F., I can use them as any other US infantry squad. Believe it or not, im more aplastic model fan. These were also my first minis from Artizan, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.
After popping them out of their blister packs and taking a look at them, I saw they needed some cleanup work. Now, I know this is normal with metals, so I set about with my files. It didn’t take too long, so I was rather pleased. Overall, individual Artizan metal figures involved less cleanup time than assembling a single plastic mini, so I after a few minutes of cleaning, I was coming around to metals - especially Artizan metals.
The level of detail on the minis is exceptional; I would go so far as to say scary! These details were intimidating for a basic painter like me, so I was very worried how they would turn out with all the pouches, pistol holsters, folds in the cloth and other special features on these pieces. First, I tackled the guys in parkas. I went for a dark fur lined hood, as I had a seen a few images of parkas like this. The joy is, I could have gone white for the parkas for some epic winter troops! However, I kept them green issue parkas, so that they matched the rest of my force.
It bears stating that as they were lined up for photography, I must have rolled a 1 for air support, as my little one charged into the display table during photographing. They were all bowled over, but I must say that they didn’t break, unlike the my plastics that have suffered a worse fate in the past.
Here they are next to some plastic Warlord Games models for size comparison
As you can see they are slightly larger than the Warlord Games plastics, though it’s not too noticeable, as most of the Warlord Games models are in a hunched over position. The detail level on the Artizan models really popped for me when I applied different inks, the folds in the uniforms took it really well and gave them the look I really like in my troops.
The SMG troops have the Devil's Brigade badge moulded on their arm, and this little flash of colour really sets them off.
Overall the detail level on these miniatures is superb. The faces don’t have some of the "silly" expressions that other manufacturers' minis at this scale do. Initially, I was a bit worried about how detailed they were, but in the end they were not overwhelming for a basic painter like me. Admittedly, though, I would have loved to have seen what a pro painter could get out of these models. I fear I didn't do them the justice they deserve - but take that as a great sign of their quality. Even a self-proclaimed mediocre painter can get something special out of these Artizan Design models. They have clean, crisp, castings, and are a joy to paint. A fine and worthy addition to any force, they can mix well enough from tabletop level with WG models, and add some real character to my previously all-plastic American force.
Am I now sold on metals? Yes! Especially Artizan Design metals! I still love my plastics, but hey, there's nothing wrong with a healthy mix. If you were a plastics fan before, like me, you owe it to yourself to go check out Artizan Designs' WWII catalog.