I’d be glad to hear your opinion of HBG’s custom sculpts… if I just want to enlarge my copy of 1942 SE’s available force pool… are there any must haves or must avoids?
I think that there are definitely some must-haves. Personally and I may be alone on this, but I’m not too crazy about HBG’s very early releases, such as their first German set. I find that the quality of those sculpts is just a bit “off”, but HBG totally won me over with their last few sets, starting with the Russian Early War set. IMO, that’s when their quality level jumped up noticeably, and the sets that they’ve done since then, the Japan, UK, and US Expansion Sets (as opposed to the Supplement Sets), have been excellent/A+.
Also, just in case you don’t know, some of their battle pieces are of various scales to the effect of: Heavy Tank, Medium Tank, Light Tank, in order to accommodate games which incorporate those. So, right off the bat, I want to let you know that the US Pershing and the custom German Tiger are large pieces, so if you’re just playing A&A and you want to keep the piece size to a minimum to save space (like I am), that’s something to be aware of. Likewise, the Japanese G8N Riga and UK/ANZAC Sterling Heavy Bomber pieces are relatively large, and so is the 155mm M1A1 Heavy Artillery.
There is one piece that I would advise you to avoid, which is the Swordfish Naval Fighter. I really want to love the Swordfish sculpt, but many of mine have tails that are slightly twisted… and I’ve read on this forum that you might be able to fix this by dunking the piece in hot water, and then cold water, but I haven’t had the time to try this yet. If I do, I’ll post about it.
Anyway, on to the recommendations! The following are pieces that I particularly appreciate and would like to recommend.
United States —
The M4A3 Sherman is my favorite piece. I replaced all of my original US tanks with these. They’re solid, they’re molded really well, they “fit right in” and look awesome on your board.
The US Late War Infantry look fantastic. Again, this one fits-in on your board perfectly, the proportions of the trooper’s head, boots, et cetera, are spot on. A+
I’m very happy with my P-80 Shooting Stars. They’re a nice solid sculpt with thick features that won’t bend or warp.
The Type 89 Cannon is very solid. Grade A.
The J9Y Kikka Jet is solid as well and looks absolutely vicious! It’s a great opponent for your P-80 Shooting Star. This one deserves an A+.
UK / ANZAC –-
The Humber Scout Car makes for a great Mechanized Infantry piece, IMO. I use them alongside my original out-of-box M5 half-tracks in that role. In my experience, about 1 out of 5 of these seem to have a crooked gun or a bent turret, but the coolness of this piece is worth it anyway. It’s otherwise solid, the wheels look great. It’s an A-.
The Churchill Heavy Tank is a somewhat large piece, but I had to get this one anyway, and I’m glad that I did. Again, about 1 out of 5 of mine had issues, again with the turret. Just want to let you know that if you go with these, you might end up benching 1 or 2 duds like I did. However, the ones that look good, look great! So, they’re worth it. A- for these.
The KV-2 Heavy Tank is a beast. It’s about the same length as the out-of-box T-34, the turret is appropriately tall. The piece feels very solid and weighty. Highly recommended.
Hope this has been helpful. Have fun with your new collection! Let me know what you get.