Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Review of Wargames Factory "Apocalyptic Survivors: The Men"

Today I’m taking a break a break from DreamForge’s Eisenkern and reviewing another new Wargames Factory kit, “Apocalypse Survivors:  The Men”. 

Picture courtesy of Wargames Factory

I’ve always been a fan of the “All Things Zombie” game from Two Hour Wargames, but a good experience usually involves having lots of unique NPC figures available to represent the various humans you meet.  There are plenty of wonderful metal figures on the market from Coppertone, Hassle free and others, but if you want plastic, you’re usually stuck with lackluster figures from Wizkids Heroclix line.

Wargames Factory has put out a new set of plastic civilians that will fit right at home in the post apocalypse.  The box contains four plastic frames containing enough parts to build thirty armed male civilians in modern dress.


Picture courtesy of Wargames Factory
Each box has three copies of this frame which includes ten bodies, ten bases, all the heads and a selection of arms and weapons combinations.  As with all of the recent Wargames Factories kits I’ve looked at, the casting quality is top notch with no visible flash and minor mold lines.  Even though the mold lines are small, they will in some cases be a big pain to remove.  With all of the cloth and flesh detail on the figures there are lots of inside curves and hard to reach spots that will make it time consuming if you want to get the best figures out of the parts.  Also, some of the parts are very small and fine.  A trend with recent Wargames Factory kits has been a move from whacky gaming scale proportions to more of a “true” proportion look.  In this case that means some very thin and fiddly parts.  Two areas that are of concern are the gun barrels and the handle on the cricket bat, they will bend and break much more easily than your average Games Workshop plastic part.

Another trend with their other kits, the frames have slots and pegs so that the frames can stack together nicely and the standard 25mm bases are molded directly on the sprue with the WGF logo sculpted on the bottom.

Although there are no instructions in the box, WGF has thankfully labeled the parts with numbers and letters.  Each body is labeled with a letter and then each set of arms has a letter and a number.  I haven’t tried all the combinations to know this for certain, but the combinations I have tried look like the letters on the arms match up with the letters on the bodies.  This is important because not all of the arm combinations will work on each figure.  For example, the suit body (C) fits with the the arms in the two handled pistol grip (C1 & C2).  It makes things much better than trial and error.

One design that I dislike about the kit is that the bodies are single piece, not two pieces.  I know this would have added extra cutting and cost to the molds, but it would definitely helped making the figures a little more unique if you could have swapped some of the torsos and legs around, or at least gotten some rotation into them.  There is one set that is separate (the figure in the duster) but that was only done to facilitate the flowing coat.  A diligent modeler could saw the figures apart and putty them back together, but that would be a mighty chore.


Picture courtesy of Wargames Factory
The box has only one weapons frame, which is a shame, as there are some arm and weapon combinations that you will probably want more of.  It also makes splitting the box with a friend a painful proposition as dividing up this frame would be impractical.  As with the other frame, casting is crisp, with no flash and small mold lines.  Also, the same thin parts are present so be wary as you cut them out.   The numbering system for the arms is carried over from the other frame.

This frame also has a number of packs, pouches and other supplies that is a bit odd.  These are copies of military items for the most part which will work for some of your figures that you assume raided a military post at some point, but what is lacking is any civilian packs.

This frame also highlights one of the big weaknesses that I have seen crop up on recent Wargames Factory kits.  They have too much of a tendency to copy and past parts.  Some of the arms are direct copies so that it will be difficult to get real variation to your figures.  Take the grenade launcher for example.  It is already a fairly unique item, and being held the same way in each arm is annoying.

Also, there is copying between kits as well.  All of the pistols and some of the pouches in the kit are direct copies of the Colt 45 and pouches from the WWII American soldier kit.  It is not a huge problem, but an annoying one that keeps a good kit from being a great kit.  I also had a little head scratching about the quantity and type of extra weapons included.   There are seven each AK-47, M-16 and I85A, but only two each of the rifle and hunting shotgun, a better mix, with a combat shotgun and a double barreled shotgun would have been appreciated.  Being as these are civilians, you'd expect a greater variety of civilian weapons.  There are not any spare pistols, but as those would have been tiny, that is probably just as well.

The sprue attachment points are generally small and in good locations, meaning that trimming parts is a snap.  However as stated above, take your time with some of the thinner and more fragile parts.  Assembly of the figures is straight forward, but you should definitely plan things out before you start cutting and gluing parts.  There are some figures and arm combinations that work and some don’t.  I highly recommend test fitting arms before you glue them and leave the heads until last. 

The sprues are standard hard polystyrene so solvent style glues (think Testors orange) work just fine.   I found that the heads fit pretty well, but on the arms, even the intended arm and body combinations left small gaps.  If you use novel combinations, the gaps are even bigger.  I added a little green stuff to each joint but it is not strictly needed depending on the amount of time you want to invest in these figures.

Here are my first sets of assembled figures.  The WGF bases are serviceable  but as all of my other humans are on 30mm bases I did the same here.  These are a mix of bases from Fenris, Secret Weapon and Black Cat Bases.  I haven’t gotten to the point of naming any of the figures, so I just assigned them a name based on their body type.  Here is the first group (from Left to Right):

CARGO PANTS – This body is fairly versatile, in that you can use either long sleeves, short sleeves or even sleeveless arms and it looks like most of them will fit.  With the crossbow and sleeveless look you can make a fairly convincing Dixon from The Walking Dead, although I do not think there is a head in the set that matches dead on.  On this one I went for a head with a little more age and a cap.  I believe I can easily get three unique figures out of this body.

THE HOODY – This is another body that has good versatility in that the shoulders are generic and you could get away with any of the sleeve combinations in the kit.  I went with a hunting shotgun and ballcap on backwards.  The shoulders are a little squarer than the arms allow for without modification, so the hands don’t quite line up.  If I was to do this over again I’d probably shave down the attachment points a little bit to get a better fit.  Again this is another good body that will easily make three different figures.

THE TANKTOP – This is one of the cool but less versatile bodies in that the wife beater shirt leaves you with only the sleeveless arm options.  To top that off the shoulders are pointed inward such that you can’t use all of the sleeveless options (like the crossbow) without modification.  Although I went for a generic Asian guy, you can put together a pretty good Kurt Russell from “Big Trouble In Little China”.

KAHKI PANTS – This body is another less useful body as his shoulder’s are set in the “swinging for the fences” pose.  That means only the baseball bat and cricket bat will fit without some serious modifications.  This is also a little frustrating because there is only one baseball bat (on the weapons sprue) and three cricket bats (one on each body sprue) so I’m stuck with at least two cricket bats or major surgery.  The third body is definitely a candidate for converting into a zombie with some parts from the Studio Miniatures plastic zombies.

THE SUIT – This body is a good one with a generic look and good shoulders, but you are limited to the long sleeve arms.  I definitely like the two handed grip on the pistol and wish it had fit onto the cop body better.  There is also a set of arms with a bible raised up, which the commission painter for WGF turned into a priest.  That’s something I intend to do with one of these bodies.

FLIP FLOPS – This is another body that looks cool but is only good for one figure.   The problem here is that the big fat guy was sculpted with big fat shoulders, meaning that the normal sized arms don’t work.  So far the only arms that I found that fit are the ones I built here and one of the long sleeves with a machete.  Combine that with the distinctive look of beer belly and flip flops and I think this is another candidate for a zombie conversion. I really wanted to give him the arm with the soda can but I’ll have to work a bit harder to make that fit. 

THE COP – Another good body with potential this one has the belt and shirt of a police officer.  There is the head with the brown round pictured here and one with a wheel cap.  You might be able to make the arms with the two hand pistol grip fit, but you’ll have to do some puttying and cutting to make it work.  The arms with the M-16, shotgun and grenade launcher all seem to fit as well.  For this figure I cheated a little bit.  I didn’t like any of the hands on the set so I took one of the arms with the bible, cut off the hand with the bible and added a closed fist from one of my Eisenkern accessory sprues.  It didn’t work out quite like I wanted so I may go back and fix it later.

THE KID – This is an interesting figure.  I had not thought about it before but I do not have any non-adult figures in my collection.  I guess I put it down to the fact that most of my ATZ characters die messily at some point and probably was not too keen for even imaginary kids getting killed.  That aside, this body comes down on the less than versatile side.  I only found two sets of arms that work, the SMG shown and one with a hunting rifle.  I think you could make some of the other heads work, but it might give him a bobble-head look.

COVERALLS – I am not a fan of this body.  The set of the shoulders and the gate just don’t match the arms WGF sculpted for him.  There is the set shown and another set with crowbar and Molotov cocktail.  Both of which look awkward in my opinion.  I tried rotating the arms around a bit but it did not look much better.  This body is another where I think the third one’s going to be a zombie.

THE DUSTER – I think this body along with the fat guy contrasts how we all want see ourselves versus how we probably look.  Instead of the cool guy in motorcycle boots and trench coat we’ll show up for the end of the world with flip flops and a beer belly.  As he needs long sleeves, you’re competing with the suit body for arm combinations.  All in all he is a useful body that you could be built into neo from the matrix.

This is a nice set and even at full retail price it’s still pretty cheap.  It also fills an empty niche in the market for plastic survivors.  The kit has some problems in that the combinations of bodies and arms are not universal and the bodies are one piece, but in my opinions those are minor concerns.  For me I figure I can build twenty four to twenty six reasonably distinct figures and have a good pile of bits left over for a very reasonable price. 

The bad news for Wargames Factory is that I don’t ever see anyone needing more than one box of these guys, so unlike rank and file military figures, I think this will be a light seller for them.  There are confirmed rumors that they are already in producing a set of female survivors, so hopefully those will be just as good and have a different selection of weapons.  I also hope that they redo the male zombies. 


  1. Congratulations on a very thorough review. I'm still waiting on my set to arrive in the post, though I am now slightly disappointed to learn that there aren't more melee weapons. It seemsthat this set gives a lot of choice for firearms, though!

    1. Thanks! I love your blog too, just wish you spent more time on ATZ.

      Although I think the choice of extra weapons was odd, it's still good enough. Hopefully when the female survivor kits come out they lean more to the melee side.

  2. only found this set online now and am planning to get it . cheers for the great review .just one thing i have never heard of the brand of glue you you talked it a super glue or plastic glue?