Review of FMG Italians and HBG Axis Minors



  • Well, I received my 3 sets of Italians from FMG and my 10 sets of Axis Minors from HBG, and I wanted to write down a review/comparison of both, with the aim of helping both FMG and HBG tailor their product and improve any issues that are present in the first sets.

    I will note that I am very picky, and most of you will observe that some of my points border on nitpicking. The idea is to point out everything, and let the reader decide what is important. I will be doing this review on a unit class by unit class basis, preceded by an overall summary and opinion.

    Overall Review

    FMG Italians - Good first effort out of the gate, some very good units, primarily air and sea, but some puzzling choices on land units. Low piece counts for some primary units are disappointing (6 tanks?), and sizing issues are also a low point, such as the truck and armored car units. Lack of variation between infantry pieces is also a poorly thought out choice, as it is hard to distinguish between the two. Low value per dollar is also an issue.

    HBG Axis Minors - HBG may be benefiting from this set being their second to market, as there are a lot of very good units and great sizing choices. The negatives in the set are an overly large anti-tank infantry, a fragile artillery piece, and perhaps a slightly overworked fighter. For $8 a set, I feel there is good value per dollar in this set

    Infantry

    FMG’s Italian set includes a very well designed and sculpted leader piece, as well as a good infantry mold and a good sub-machine gun infantry mold. There are several points about the infantry pieces, however, starting with the bases. Rather than use the 1940 series standard base, FMG used a slightly lower base, which makes the infantry look smaller. Compounding the problem is that the FMG infantry are roughly 95% the scale of OOB infantry units, so they look rather small next to other OOB units. Lastly, it is nearly impossible to tell the two Italian sculpts (Inf/Sub-machine Inf) apart as they share nearly identical poses and weapon positions.

    HBG’s Axis Minor infantry have the same base and size as the 1940 series, and is a very good mold. It fights right in with the OOB pieces and has good detail. The anti-tank unit, however, has the opposite problem of the FMG pieces - it is too big and slightly oafish looking, particularly the helmet. The anti-tank unit also has less detail than the infantry unit.

    Armor

    This is what I feel is FMG’s weak point, as the best sculpt, the Carro Armato, is only 6 pieces in a set of 150+. It has great detail and perfect sizing, fitting right in the range of medium tank sizes from the OOB pieces. The anti-tank unit also has great detail and good sizing, except for the fact that it should be the exact same size as the tank, as they shared the same chassis. If you ignore that detail, both are good sculpts. The really poor sculpts are the armored car and the truck, I’m not sure what the sizing metric was but they are laughably large. In A&A Battle of the Bulge, the US and Germans had truck units, and instead of mimicking the size, FMG chose to make the truck almost double the height of it’s tank and anti-tank units. In this game, size should mean something, i.e. a destroyer is smaller than a cruiser, which is smaller than a battleship. Size has a relationship to strength, and a support unit (transport/truck etc) should not be bigger than a front-line unit. The armored car was also disappointing, rather than make it smaller than the tank/anti-tank, FMG went with the same size. Given the height of the armored car, it is actually bigger than the tank!

    HBG, conversely, has it’s armored units as the star of the show. The Panzer III is an absolutely great sculpt, as well as the Stug III. HBG uses scale in an innovative manner, using a light/medium tank size difference, as the Pz 38t is smaller than the Pz III or the Stug, and easily recognizable at board height. The armored car is also well sized, roughly the size of the OOB mech infantry pieces. The truck, unlike FMG’s, conforms to the size convention of the OOB units and fits right in, being a good size but not overpowering the armored units. The addition of a self-propelled artillery piece is also a great feature. I really can’t say enough of the armored units, they are truly a great set and range of pieces. If HBG continues with the scaling and ranges in this set, we will have some great pieces for all countries soon…

    To be continued, FMG’s air pieces are great BTW.


  • Customizer

    Reloader,

    I’m glad you’ve started this thread to verbalise your opinions and encourage others to do the same.  I feel that this should end up being a great way to give “Feed-Back” to FMG and HBG for their future products.

    Also I agree with most everything you’ve said.  All off my units will be painted and I feel that will undoubtably make the different units much easier to distinguish from each other.
                                      –--------------------------

    And it seems that HBG does have an excellent “grasp” of their market and the production “savy” that you remarked about.  FMG’s first set has some great choices and produced them well.

    On whole I would like to say a big THANK YOU to both HBG and FMG.  And I hope that they’re not only able to continue to produce more of these fine units but to “improve” some of them as you suggest.

    “Tall Paul”


  • '10

    I also enjoy feedback.  Much of the set has come from ideas/opinions expressed from members of this forum.

    Just a few points if I may opine also?

    1. In regards to “value per dollar” I would have to say HBG and FMG give almost EXACT value per dollar:
      FMG 156 units: $39.99  (39.99 / 156 =  0.25 cents per unit)
      HBG 28 units: $8.95 (8.95 / 28 = 0.31 cents per unit)
      = Almost exact

    2. The Scale of the units.
      Axis and Allies units have never been to Scale.  The size of a Destroyer next to a Battleship?  Infantry to a Tank?  We decided to keep all of our vehicles to the same LENGTH (bumper to bumper) regardless of scale.  You may say our Truck size is “laughable” but I can not stand the tiny…  almost “dinky” size of the Trucks from BOTB and the OOB Mec units.  We believed that they needed to be something larger and more easy to handle as a game piece.  But then again, this is only my opinion.

    We value your comments and your opinion.  Hope to see more here on this thread.
    This has been a community project from start to finish.

    Thanks

    Jeremy


  • Customizer

    FMG Jeremy,

    It’s very encouraging to see both you and Doug (of HBG) so “involved” in all of these projects.  I know the “Coach” is an A&A fan and I imagine it’s safe to assume you are too.  It’s also interesting to hear your sides of the stories.

    I would imagine that sometimes decisions might be influenced on production values/costs/etc. that we customers don’t have to consider.  All in all I would say that both of you have hit “home runs”.

    I’m looking forward to all of the new units to come from both HBG and FMG.

    And like you,…I think that frank feed-back will help customers(us) and producers(you) in seeing that good products made by both of your companies.

    Thanks again and “keep up the good work”.

    “Tall Paul”



  • reloader i actually agree with you in every point that you made


  • Customizer

    I have a few opinions of my own:
    Overall
    I have to disagree with reloader on the value per dollar.  I think FMG is giving very good value per dollar.  156 pieces for $40 is really not bad considering the high quality of these pieces and as Jeremy pointed out, it’s actually slightly better than HBG.  Of course, it is a little easier since FMG’s sets are a much larger quantity.  The bigger you go, the easier it is to get more value/lower cost per unit.  However, I do think FMG’s inventory control could use a little work.  I know with so many sets and so many pieces that there are going to be a few missing or a few extra here and there.  One of my sets was missing 4 out of 6 aircraft carriers, one of the biggest pieces of the sets.  That’s just getting sloppy.
    Infantry
    I think FMG’s infantry and commander pieces look just fine.  Perhaps I didn’t look hard enough, but they look just fine next to OOB pieces to me.  Also, I personally don’t have a problem with the choice of sculpts between the two different infantry pieces.  The only infantry piece I don’t care for is HBG’s anti-tank infantry for pretty much the reasons reloader stated.
    Vehicles
    I VERY MUCH agree with reloader about the truck.  It is too big.  Should have been made smaller.  A truck should not be as big or bigger than a tank.  Yes, Jeremy, you said that you don’t like the “dinky” trucks from BOTB but that is how they should be.
    As for the Autoblinda, it doesn’t seem wrong to me.  From what I recall, the Autoblinda was pretty big and the Carro Armato was small for a tank.  Personally, I think it is just about the right size.  I don’t think they could make it much smaller, especially with the rotating turret.  Actually, I think the SdKfz 222 in HBG’s Axis Minor set looks too small to me.
    In fact, I think that just about all of HBG’s armor pieces are a bit too small.  I first noticed this with the Sherman tanks from his Marines sets.  They are quite a bit smaller than the OOB Shermans, albeit with much greater detail.  I think the Panzer III and StuG III might be just a bit too small as well.  I know they are supposed to be medium/light tanks but the Panzer III is the same size as FMG’s Semovente and the actual vehicles the Panzer III was a fair amount larger.
    Oh yeah, the Carro Armato is NOT the best sculp, the Semovente is, so “Nyah!”.


  • '10

    Keep it up!  We value your comments both positive and negative.

    I know that “Overall” everyone loves these product from FMG and HBG, but we want to know what you really like…  and like not so much.

    Thanks again


  • Customizer

    I’m glad I bought them.  I’ll buy more sets from FMG.

    I would have prefered the trucks were the same size as the trucks from Battle of the Bulge, and teh Italian heavy tank be larger than the regular Italian tank.

    My only real beef is with the Italian battleship, which has an inaccurate profile because of it’s B turret. It can be fixed, though.  See this thread:
    http://www.axisandallies.org/forums/index.php?topic=25190.0



  • Thanks for all the feedback so far.

    Regarding my “value per dollar” comment, I still stand by it. Instead of looking at it on a piece cost basis (notice I did not say “pieces per dollar” - if you want cheap pieces just order 150 of these, it will cost you $7.50… http://www.historicalboardgaming.com/Gato-Class-Submarine–United-States-Europe-1940_p_91.html), look at it on a value per piece basis.

    For a $40 Italian set, do I really need 6 carriers or battleships, or 12 subs, transports, and destroyers? Also, perhaps I will need more than 6 tanks or tank destroyers…

    In most A&A games, I very rarely see a fleet larger than 3 or 4 of any type of ship, other than the US or Japan. It is, however, very common to have stacks of units in different territories. It is not very hard to see that 6 Italian tanks in different territories is not very much, and I have exceeded it in a good portion of my games.

    All I am saying, is for $40 do I get the units that I need, and can use, or do I get units that may not be usable for A&A? For example, I am not going to use the FMG truck unit, or armored car. Rather, I will use the OOB Italian mech, and wait for HBG to make their Axis Minor set in Italian brown to replace the truck.

    By my count, there were 3 bad molds (Truck, Armored car, one of the two inf as they are identical) and roughly 26 other unnecessary duplicates of pieces (6 transports, 6 subs, 6 destroyers, 2 carriers, 2 battleships, 2 cruisers, 2 cargo planes). Counting the Truck, AC, and one of the inf sculpts that is 56 units that are not “adding value”, for an adjusted cost per piece of $0.43.

    I understand the difficulties of molding, the fact that each run had to be done 6x, etc. I am just going on a value basis.

    HBG suffers from a poor inf mold, a so-so fighter mold, and a fragile arty mold. Taking those out completely results in a value adjusted cost per piece of $0.40 -BUT  you don’t have to spend $40 to realize that value, just $8 (20%).

    I’ve put my money where my mouth is, I bought 3 sets of Italians and have already given away 2 of those sets minus the tank and anti-tank units, and I got rid of all the mechs and trucks.


  • Sponsor 2017 '13 '11 '10

    Thanks all for your feedback, I am sure we will take it and improve where we can.
    I would like to touch on scale of HBG pieces.
    Before I started with my project of making pieces, I have taken in consideration the many variations of scale that AAA has in the game.
    Very few pieces are in scale to each other in the OOB game, not even in the same tank for tank or ship to ship so we had to make some assumptions and decisions.
    I have decided to go with a 17-18mm in light tanks, 19-20 in medium tanks and 21-22 in heavies. This small 2 millimeters in length adds height as well as width to the model which gives the gamer a quick look at the board to distinguish light, medium, and heavy.
    I am using this concept for my Aircraft as well as ships.

    You will see that when the U.S. B-25(2 engine) comes out, it will be the same size as the German and Japanese Bomber (2 engine) from OOB. This will give you options to use them as medium Bombers (2 Engine) and the 4 engine Bombers as a Heavy. The German Heavy Bomber in the Late war set will compliment the existing B-17, wellington, etc.
    I hope you see where I am going with scale and hopefully you will understand my color choices too.
    Future sets will be done in same colors so that you can build armies from like colors
    Thanks,
    Coach


  • '10

    The axis minors look great to me. Absolutly no problem with the anti-tank infantry. That helmet looks Rumanian to me. In the aircraft spotter cards deck the P-51 mustang is not represented. The seven of diamonds is the ME 110 not the 11C. Must be a missprint. Great looking axis units Coach!



  • Caoch and FMG, Great work, you have taken on a task that AH/Wizards of the Coast is scared to death to even try. 
    FMG your Italian sculpts are great playing pieces for the value.  I understand you can only do so much with a small minature.  Your Naval units add more firepower to the Italian Navy and look great on the game board.  I see the issue with the BB and there is a fix if someone really wants to bother with it.  Coach your Marines add a different aspect to playing then using basic OOB units.  I am really looking forward to all your future sets and and seeing many desired units for all nations produced by you both.  Your Sets give more choices than standard OOB units.

    Keep up the  fantastic work, You have my support

    WARRIOR888


  • '10

    I can tell you all that Coach puts a lot of thought and reasoning into his unit scales.  From our conversations he is very passionate about it and has good reasoning behind every scale decision.

    FMG units follow a more “standard” scale concept.  Every Destroyer will be the same length regardless…  All vehicles are the same size “bumper-to-bumper” etc…

    These are two different philosophy’s on the subject, but we aim to make both our sets COMPATIBLE with each other from a “Board Game Piece” stand point.

    Scale is difficult as this is a Board Game, not a Miniatures Game.



  • I completely disagree with making all vehicles the same size “bumper to bumper”.

    In the same post, you confirm that sea unit classes will be different lengths, based on class, but on land you will not make the same distinction?

    So a Tiger II will be the same size as an Italian medium tank?! I know this isn’t miniatures, I am not asking for exact scaling but rather what HBG has wisely done and standardized unit scaling, i.e. medium tanks smaller than heavy tanks.

    Your “standard” bumper to bumper sizing makes no sense whatsoever.


  • Customizer

    I agree with Reloader and also think HBG has the best “formula” as far as “scale” goes.

    –----------------

    I heartily believe that all of these exchanges of constructive criticism and viewpoints will make the future units better for all of us.  And this is a great forum for all of the player/customers to verbalize their wishes/complaints and the producers to gain from that “market research”.

    -------------------

    Again, a big Thank You to both HBG & FMG for their efforts.

    -------------------

    Also, a big Thank You to this A&A.Org forum for everything available here.  When the 2012 Fund Drive happens I will gladly sign up for a Gold level sponsorship.

    “Tall Paul”


  • Customizer

    HBG & FMG,

    This seems a great place to ask both HBG & FMG a question.

    Hey guys,…Do either of you have future plans for Airborne Paratroop units for each nation?

    “Coach”, you’re making the US Airborne units in your US Supplemental Set,…Do you have any future plans for other nation’s Airborne units???

    If not I plan to paint your US Airborne units for all of the “other” countries.  It wouldn’t be optimal, or correct by any means, but their unique paint jobs and national insignias would differentiate them from one another.

    “Tall Paul”


  • 2018 2017 '16 '15 '13 '12 '11

    Tall Paul

    HBG should be doing the german Fallschirmjäger with his German late set, target date : March 31st 2012. There should be 4 of them in the set. Cheers

    J.  8-)



  • reloader what do you mean by “a fragile artillery piece, and perhaps a slightly overworked fighter” for hbg’s minor set?


  • Sponsor 2017 '13 '11 '10

    @Tall:

    HBG & FMG,

    This seems a great place to ask both HBG & FMG a question.

    Hey guys,…Do either of you have future plans for Airborne Paratroop units for each nation?

    “Coach”, you’re making the US Airborne units in your US Supplemental Set,…Do you have any future plans for other nation’s Airborne units???

    If not I plan to paint your US Airborne units for all of the “other” countries.  It wouldn’t be optimal, or correct by any means, but their unique paint jobs and national insignias would differentiate them from one another.

    “Tall Paul”

    Yes, there will be Airborne Units in the sets.



  • Lunar, the fighter is probably me being nitpicky, I feel it has a couple more detail lines than necessary (hence “overworked”). The artillery is a two-piece mold, and while most are glued pretty well some are not it is something that might break down the road.

    Both have great detail, however.

    FMG - just a final note that I am very appreciative of your pieces, along with many other members here. Honestly, improve the sizing of the land units, and increase the number of land unit slots in the mold and you have a great product on your hands. My criticism is only to make your future sets better!

    The same goes for HBG, scale your anti-tank infantry better and perhaps make the artillery pieces a one-piece unit and you also have a great set.



  • Figure I’d add my unit count and review for posterity as well:

    NAVAL:
    6 BB
    6 CV
    1 CA
    17 DD
    12 AP
    12 SS

    AIR:
    12 Fighters
    6 Tac
    6 SB
    6 Transports/Med Bomber

    LAND:
    5 Commander
    11 Infantry 1
    13 Infantry 2
    12 Art
    12 Mech
    6 tank
    6 tank destroyer
    6 truck

    the Bad:
    Many units suffer from deformation.  I suspect this is due to the plastic mix and cooling unevenly (bottom faster than top), causing differential stress in the figures. Worst offenders are subs (maybe one didn’t need to have the ends be gently bent up to stand easily) and the SM79.  I’d recommend in the future that every plane mold incorporate a slight dihedral - the SM79 wing is molded flat, so the wings cooled with a pronounced droop and out of plane with the tail (which appeared to have cooled with a twist in many pieces).  I suspect the droop is is also due to the unneccesary flap lines on the top surface but not underneath, exacerbating cooling stress.  The BR20 doesn’t have as many flap lines, and a thicker wing mold and held its form much better.

    The fighter is too small.  I understand the wish to establish scale standards, but it’s far smaller than the OOB mold and feels harder to handle on a board (to me).

    The truck is really too big and in the future other nation trucks should NOT be molded this large.  It looks cartoonish and heavy next to the other land units, which are very delicate. There’s no reason to keep wheelbase the same, especially when the fighter is so reduced beyond the other air units.

    One cruiser?  That’s some seriously questionable QC.  4 would have been acceptable, 1 is just lame.

    The Good:
    Several of the molds are just outstanding.  The Tac, Naval Transport and Air Transport (BR20) are very very nice with just the right amount of detail.  I have no complaints about the tanks in size or detail, the infantry are well proportioned, and the artillery is delicate but stable.  The Armoured car, while perhaps deceptively similar to the tanks, is a very nice mold itself, and distinct enough in my opinion.



  • yeah the fighter is to small, i too agree it makes it harder to handle when its that small. hopefully fmg will make them a little bigger


  • Customizer

    I don’t know that the fighter is necessarily too small.  Look at the OOB MiG-3 piece for Russia.  It’s pretty tiny too.  My only complaint on the fighter is the wings are too straight.  They should be more tapered so they get wider the closer they get to the fuselage.

    reloader,
    You mentioned HBG’s artillery pieces being too fragile.  Well, so are FMG’s and so are the OOB German and Italian artillery.  The Allied artillery piece (105mm howitzer) is just a little sturdier, but still fragile.  The only exception is that little compact Japanese artillery.  I think that is one piece that is always going to be very delicate and fragile for just about every nation’s arsenal, especially at the scale that we need for the game.
    I do agree with you on the piece counts for specific units:  eg. more tanks, less capital ships.  I would have liked to see more tanks in the FMG sets as well.  For myself, I have set a number of 5 sets of pieces for my inventory.  I just like having a lot of pieces to play with.  Unfortunately, that will give me 30 aircraft carriers and battleships for each nation.  Italy will likely NEVER use 30 carriers or battleships.  For that matter, neither will France, Germany, Russia, ANZAC or England.  Japan and USA are the only ones that might possibly come close.  However, this is the set count so to get the larger amount of men, tanks, artillery and planes, we have to take more capital ships as well.  FMG has decided on a uniform piece count for each set and I think that is a good idea.
    Granted, I suppose they could have different quantities for different nations – eg. 6 carriers for USA but only 2 for USSR, etc. – and for those nations with less capital ships, give them more men, tanks, etc.  However, you have to remember the difficulty in getting these molds made.  Changing the piece count from nation to nation would add an unacceptable level of complexity to creating the molds for these sets.  Think about all the problems Jeremy has had with the Chinese factory already just in getting the Italians finished.  He’s got to keep things as simple as possible for them so we have as few delays as possible and we get all the sets sooner.
    Also, with the current sets and piece counts, each mold makes 1 of each piece that has 6 quantity and 2 of each piece that has 12 quantity.  So each full set requires 6 stampings of the mold.  With that in mind, each set HAS to have 6 carriers, 6 battleships, and so on because it is already set in the mold.  To make a set that only has say 2 carriers and perhaps more tanks would require two different molds which would make things more complex for the factory.  Who knows what  we might end up getting – some sets with no carriers at all and others with 12 carriers.  Maybe that’s extreme but you get my point.
    Your best bet if you want more of certain units would be to go and buy them individually from HBG.  They are reasonably priced.  As for your “extra” capital ships and the like, see if you can sell them on ebay and maybe make back some of the money you spent for the pieces you buy.



  • Knp - it’s not that hard to reduce the number of ships.

    Currently, the Italian mold has 1 slot for carriers, 1 for battleships, 2 for destroyers, 2 for transports, 2 for subs, etc.

    In future molds, just cut down one or two of those extra destroyer/sub/transport etc mold spaces, and swap in a land piece. Obviously, for the Italians the mold is done, but for future sets I believe we still have time.

    All china does is bag each mold run in a separate bag, it would add no complexity whatsoever if the mold swapped a couple of slots.


  • Customizer

    Oh, so you are talking about subbing out the smaller ships, the ones that we get 12 of per set, for more tanks?  I thought you were JUST referring to the capital ships.  You are right, that would not be as difficult for the factory to make a mold like that.  So you would get a set with simply 6 of each naval unit in exchange for more land units.  Well, I could see that being desireable for USSR and Germany since those countries generally build more tanks, mechs and infantry.  Although, Germany also often builds lots of subs too for convoy raiding.

    So when it comes to countries like Japan and USA, would you want more naval units and less land units in those sets?

    Personally, I still think all sets should have a uniform count, but I do better understand your reasoning.  As for getting more tanks, I am seriously thinking about going over to HBG and boosting up my tank force that way.  I really would like more of them myself.  Another idea would be to buy a few more complete sets from FMG and try selling off all the units I don’t want.


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