While browsing at the Triples Wargames Show/Convention in Sheffield (U.K.) in April of this year, I happened to spot a strange sight on the Gripping Beast Trade Stand. Now anyone who knows their miniatures knows that Gripping Beast are renowned for their Dark Ages and Ancients 28 mm figures, but no, my eyes were not playing tricks, it was there for all to see . . . a 28 mm Modern U.S. Ranger, in full combat order, complete with Goggles and Minimi.
"What’s this" ? I demanded of Darren, who was run off his feet serving customers. "Tell me about this" I almost screamed at him, pointing to the Ranger. He smiled coyly and handed me the figure to have a good close look at. Yes, no doubt, a Ranger, straight out of the Blackhawk Down movie!
Ok, I’d seen enough already and I wanted some of these. After interrogating Darren further, it turned out to be the only figure of it’s kind at the show and was a pre-production sample, painted up by its creator SOAPY, who normally sculpts other stuff, but who I found out later has a secret passion for modern toy soldiers.
I was informed that the first release would be at Salute later that month and that there would be four packs a month released thereafter, with four figures in a pack. Needless to say I pre-ordered the first four packs. They cost £4.00 per pack, or £1.00 per figure, which is pretty much the going rate in the U.K. these days for decent 28 mm figures.
When my order arrived I was examining them in no time and prepping the first pack for painting. I told myself that I would be disciplined and paint them in order of pack number, so set about pack one.
The figures are beautifully animated in poses that you would expect to see modern soldiers in, crouching, advancing with caution, weapons at the ready. Great stuff !
Anatomically they have got to be as near to perfect as I have seen on figures of this scale. No barrel chests, no tiny feet or huge hands, just bloody lovely figures all round. I immediately did something, which I have never done in 40 years of collecting and painting toy soldiers. I telephoned Gripping Beast and placed myself on a standing order for every release in this range. As it happened the next release coincided with the famous Partizan Show in Newark, where I also got to meet Soapy in person and discuss his future plans. Exciting times lie ahead for collectors and gamers of 28 mm moderns I can promise you.
All packs are available only through Gripping Beast at:-
32 Union Court, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 1AW England U.K.
Tel: 020 8948 1002
Packs released to date are :
MoFo 1.1 1990s U.S. Ranger fire team – Advancing
MoFo 1.2 1990s U.S. Ranger fire team – Giving fire
MoFo 2.1 Mercenaries – AK47s and RPK support weapon
MoFo 2.2 Mercenaries – AK47s and Sniper (The sniper is a little beauty !)
MoFo 1.3 1990s U.S. Ranger M60 team – Advancing
MoFo 1.4 1990s U.S. Ranger M60 team – Giving fire
MoFo 1.5 1990s U.S. Ranger Sgts and Team Leaders
MoFo 1.6 1990s U.S. Ranger Platoon HQ
The last four packs listed above were released this month (May) and for June we can expect to see ‘The mobs of Mogadishu, Warlord Militia, civilians and more . . . .
In July Soapy is hoping to release 1990s U.S. Delta Force teams and then on to another theatre, although he tells me that he is prone to rushes of blood to the head, so more mercenaries or other one-off packs could make a crafty appearance along the way.
The photos are of the first pack, painted up by me to try to do the figures justice.
The MoFo mission Statement goes like this :- Our intent is to offer high quality 28 mm miniatures representing the fighting man of today. We plan to cover troops participating in the most up-to-date theatres of conflict as well as those of the recent past. Plans are afoot to bring you troops of the ongoing and 1990s Gulf conflicts, the Balkan wars and the Falklands campaign. Ranges will concentrate both on the ‘line troops’ and more specialized or special operations formations.
If you are into modern war gaming at the squad, platoon or even company level, then fellas, these are the troops you gotta have ! Like I said earlier, I am on the standing order list for the first time in my life and I want to have every figure in this range. I thoroughly recommend them to you, and not only that, the lads at Gripping Beast are such nice fellas and have a good mail-order turnaround, so wherever in the world you happen to be, these lads will get them to you and quick!