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25Oct/210

Great Escape Games – Dead Man’s Hand Plastic Gunfighters

Great Escape Games, the company behind Dead Man's Hand, released a plastic set of Gunfighters earlier this year. They sent over a sprue of these and we're going to cover it today.

Great Escape Games - Dead Man's Hand Plastic Gunfighters

Dead Man's Hand is not the only game they carry, beyond the Western skirmish, Great Escape Games has a broad variety of rulesets, like the world war 2 platoon sized Rules of Engagement, 1920's gang fights in The Chicago Way or Clash of Empires, a mass-combat rule sets that covers the Ancient to Medieval era. Most of these games are not only supported with rules and supplements, but miniatures as well and in the case of Dead Man's Hand they released this new set of plastic gunfighters. Two sprues per box at 15 GBP.

As mentioned above, we have one of these sprues on the table and it covers five gunfighters. From the layout this is produced by the same company, that does a lot of work for Plastic Soldier Company, Warlord Games or Frostgrave. So, the quality is very comparable to what you receive by Renedra. Low amount of mould lines, good details and proper use of the sprue itself.

Great Escape Games - Dead Man's Hand Plastic Gunfighters Great Escape Games - Dead Man's Hand Plastic Gunfighters Great Escape Games - Dead Man's Hand Plastic Gunfighters

Let us start with assembling five gunfighters. We have moving poses, with rather wide stand and one kneeling. The upper bodies are either wearing just shirts, vests or a coat. At this point, you already have to do a dry fit, as not every upper body properly fits with each of the legs.

Great Escape Games - Dead Man's Hand Plastic Gunfighters Great Escape Games - Dead Man's Hand Plastic Gunfighters Great Escape Games - Dead Man's Hand Plastic Gunfighters

There is a variety of rifles and pistols available. Some of the rifles have to be assembled, as you only have to glue the barrel to the stock. Here are some minor issues. Not every arm fits to every body properly, especially those closer to the body or carrying items, don't always fit without cutting either the body or arm. Having rifles held in two hands is not as well done as for example with the latest Bolt Action kits. It is not a horrible fit, but as we are building gunfighters for a skirmish, the miniatures are closer in focus compared to platoon sized games for example.

Great Escape Games - Dead Man's Hand Plastic Gunfighters Great Escape Games - Dead Man's Hand Plastic Gunfighters

As the body and arms guide the movement and especially the perspective of each character, I decided to wait until then for the heads. 11 different heads for 5 bodies, or 11 different heads in total for a box of 10 is not that much of variety. Especially as the designs are not that different from each other. The heads in hats are very similar in design, and I am missing some younger faces or variation in general. At this point I am not sure, if this is the first gunfighter set and we may see some further kits or sprues, with different designs.

Great Escape Games - Dead Man's Hand Plastic Gunfighters Great Escape Games - Dead Man's Hand Plastic Gunfighters

The final step is adding some additional details, like holsters, a bundle of dynamite, rope or badges. There are enough badges to make everyone a lawman, but to be honest these badges are quite big. As with some of the items like the rope or dynamite, there are no proper hands holding these items, so you simply glue them into empty hands. Which is not the best design choice.

Great Escape Games - Dead Man's Hand Plastic Gunfighters Great Escape Games - Dead Man's Hand Plastic Gunfighters

How do these new plastic gunfighters fit with other miniatures on the market? Quite well as you can see. In the first picture they are with Artizan Design, the second pictures shows them with Wargames Foundry (who's range varies a bit in height) and Boot Hill as well as Brigade Miniatures in the last picture.

Great Escape Games - Dead Man's Hand Plastic Gunfighters Great Escape Games - Dead Man's Hand Plastic Gunfighters Great Escape Games - Dead Man's Hand Plastic Gunfighters

And of course, the random assortment of gunfighters, completely build, so just show you what is possible.

Great Escape Games - Dead Man's Hand Plastic Gunfighters Great Escape Games - Dead Man's Hand Plastic Gunfighters Great Escape Games - Dead Man's Hand Plastic Gunfighters

Conclusion
It is always good to see new plastic kits on the market. They give you more room for your own creativity, but have some limitation due to the modularity. And this is unfortunately a bit the case with this sprue. In other systems, a plastic kit enables you to build rank and files on a lower budget and unlocks you from maybe the few poses that you have for a certain type of unit or soldier. As Old West is very popular among wargamers, you already have a broad - possibly among the broadest - selections you can choose from, mostly in metal of course. And as you're not going to build a platoon sized project or similar for the Old West (unless you want to do things like wars from the 19th century in northern American, but then again you would need soldiers in uniforms and not gunslingers) I was a bit surprised about the announcement of these. Especially as Great Escape Games already have mostly complete ranges for their rule set.

But I know many people prefer handling plastic nowadays. It is more appealing to newcomers to the hobby and it is easier to distribute a book and a box of plastic gunfighters, compared with half a wall of blisters. This kit covers that, you can build a proper posse. The poses are dynamic and fit as well as level of detail is good enough. But there is room for improvement. Especially with the variety, that could be better. If you want to build a band of gunfighters around a Sheriff and his Deputy, this is a good choice, but if I was looking for some Outlaws or more generic Cowboys, I am missing some parts to be honest.

Unfortunately, we only had one sprue of these at hand, but we would have loved to tinker around a bit more. As these bits, in combination with the latest addition of plastic sets for Osprey's & Northstar's Stargrave open up an entire new chapter - Space Western, like Galaxy Rangers or Bravestarr. Especially the later created a lot of positive feedback with the editors, as the combined project names of BraveGrave (or StarStarr) came up for the kitbash of these gunfighters and the Stargrave range. As I'll cover the initial Stargrave plastic kits, and I have some leftover bits from this review, I'll see what I can do and supply later.

Dead Man's Hand is a game by Great Escape Games.

The reviewed product item was provided by the manufacturer.

Posted by Dennis B.

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  1. I’m a big fan of mixing those western figures with sci-fi kits (Wargames Atlantic produces a number of sci-fi kits that would work nicely as alternatives or supplements to the Stargrave kits!)

    I didn’t know about Galaxy Rangers or BraveStarr, but some Space Western ideas that occurred to me that seem to lend themselves well to rules sets and settings like Stargrave, Starfinder, Pulp Cthulhu, Space: 1889, Deadlands, and others:

    – Firefly/Serenity is a very popular “Space Western” franchise with very few (if any) of its own miniatures, and I’m not even sure whether a licensed tabletop RPG or skirmish game was ever made for it – the Stargrave skirmish rules seems like a natural fit, and these miniatures seem like a great base to build a warband from!

    – Star Wars is perhaps one of the original “Space Western” franchises, and a mix of Stargrave bits – such as those alien heads – with a box of these western figures would surely supply enough bounty hunters or Han Solo-esque smugglers to fill a Mos Eisley cantina!

    – Before Star Wars, there was Dune, and before Dune, there was Edgar Rice Burroughs’ western adventurer John Carter, who finds himself transplanted to Barsoom – the locals’ name for a post-apocalyptic Mars! Only a little home-brewing would be needed to turn any of the “old school” revivals of old D&D into a Barsoom-themed tabletop RPG, and miniatures like these would mix well with fantasy miniatures to support such a game.

    – “Space Western” as a genre isn’t too far off in spirit from Steampunk; Reaper miniatures (and plenty of other manufacturers) produce some fine Steampunk characters, who would mix in quite nicely with these cowboys with sci-fi bits. (Beyond D&D’s Eberron setting, I don’t know of too many games to support these miniatures, but Stargrave and Dead Man’s Hand might work in a pinch, Space: 1889 seems like a great fit, and maybe Deadlands would work as well; Savage Lands and Pulp Cthulhu might also work.)

    – Wargames Atlantic produces a fantastic kit of “Classic Fantasy Lizard Men” which include a couple different kinds of guns ranging from flintlocks to Victorian style rifles, to sci-fi assault rifles; these guys would work great as villains for a Space Western! See also Wargames Atlantic’s “Death Fields” line for their historical-armies-IN-SPAAAACE figures (especially the Accessory Sprue, which can be used to kitbash any Victorian-style army – such as American Civil War figures – or even such early 20th Century armies as Wargames Atlantic’s WWI Germans, Italians, British, or French – into villains or other NPCs for a pulp Space Western (see again Space: 1889!) WA also produces a great kit of giant spiders, which include sci-fi weapons and other bits to produce a space-spider army that would fit a pulp Martian or Venusian setting….

    – Why stop at sci-fi bits? Try kitbashing these gunslingers with Frostgrave wizard or Frostgrave cultist bits for Call of Cthulhu or Pulp Cthulhu investigators and cultists, or for Deadlands spellcasters, and more. These might also make a fine foundation for heroes for a Dresdon Files RPG, and they would fit in just as well in Space: 1889, Stargrave, Starfinder, Star Wars….

    – Just a few others I can think of where some variation on a “Space Western” or “Weird Western” aesthetic works include Star Trek, Babylon 5, the Trigun anime, Battletech, Battlestar Galactica, retro sci-fi like Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon, Westworld… and I guarantee that well-read gamers can think of many others that would never occur to me!

    Hopefully, this will be the first of many western-themed hard plastic miniature kits – historical gamers could perhaps really use some great plains and other native tribes, Rough Riders, Pancho Villa bandits, ACW militias, federal soldiers/cavalry, frontiersmen, train and bank robbers, cowgirls, and so on, and there’s surely plenty of room in sci-fi, fantasy, and pulp adventure gaming for more of these sorts of characters, in the settings mentioned above, and elsewhere!

    And, with that in mind, we can really use some more great Space Western aliens and monsters, and maybe some open-ended RPG and skirmish gaming rules in the spirit of “Stargrave” and “Frostgrave” to make better use of the Weird Western and Space Western genres of miniatures (maybe Dead Man’s Hand is on its way to helping to fill this void in the skirmish gaming side of the hobby?)

    Anyway, thank you for the review and the great ideas – can’t wait to see what gamers and game manufacturers come up with next!

  2. Just a quick follow-up to my longer comment above: for anyone who might wonder how well these figures mix with Wargames Atlantic’s “WWII French Resistance” kit, the answer is: “mostly great!” The French Resistance figures have more of a realistic “historical” than an exaggerated “heroic” proportion, so the Resistance weapons are going to be noticeably more delicate than the Dead Man’s Hand equivalents, and the heads attach differently at the neck, but mostly the arms will mix-and-match between these figures alright, so you can mostly use a mix of these figures for genres that cross over between western and early 20th century costumes: later westerns, pulp adventure, Call of Cthulhu’s Jazz-Age horror, and that sort of thing. The French Resistance characters’ handguns, along with spare Dead man’s Hand handguns, lever-action rifles, and double-barreled shotguns, paired with the bowler hats, flat-caps, and fedoras, really sell the French Resistance as CoC investigators and the like, while head-swaps from other wargaming kits, paired with shotguns, rifles, revolvers, or semi-auto handguns can really sell the gunfighters as pulp adventurers (for example, the bare head with wild hair, beard, and mustache that I found among my stash of fantasy bits, probably from Frostgrave or Warhammer, really worked well!)

    And that brings me back to Frostgrave wizard and cultist bits, and other fantasy bits: a Frostgrave wizard’s arm holding a spellbook easily turned one gunslinger into a fire-and-brimstone frontier preacher, a hand holding a potion bottle looks more like a fistful of rot-gut liquor in the hand of a rowdy gunfighter, magical wands, staves, and other gear turn these guys into Weird Western cultists, sorcerers, and the like… the wizard hand holding a human skull looks especially creepy in the hand of a gunfighter wearing a flour-sack mask for a pulp villain!

    I’ve also seen someone somewhere convert the French resistance figures into zombie apocalypse survivors, using some Dead Man’s Hand bits – great stuff!

    Frostgrave “Tribals” make some great pulp-style “natives”, both friendly and villainous – a little more creativity might be needed for arm swaps for magical gear or gunsm since the “Tribals” have bare arms, compared to the sleeved arms for most characters, but such swaps are possible if you swap hands at the wrists instead of the whole arms. In any event, hand those “Tribals” some ray guns, swords, or magical gear, and you’ve got John Carter of Barsoom-style Red, White, or Black Martians! (The Tribals’ optional Tiki-style war-masks lend a great retro-pulp touch to these guys!)

    And furthermore, some arms with sci-fi weapons from the Stargrave kits – especially sci-fi handguns – mostly fit alright on Oathmark “goblins” – these guys are a big taller than other fantasy goblins, and a bit smaller than Warhammer orcs, more like Tolkien’s orcs or goblins than Warcraft or Warhammer orcs and goblins, in other words – so they stand in reasonably well for roughly human-sized aliens for your space westerns… sort of like a great stand-in for Klingons and the like, and they ought to fit right into a Flash Gordon or Buck Rogers type of retro sci-fi setting! With that in mind, it seems “logical” that Oathmark’s elf kits – or plastic elf kits from other manufactures – could probably be souped up into “space elves” for your wagon-train to the stars!

    From what I’m seeing of Wargames Atlantic’s “Cannon Fodder’ kit, and the Frostgrave “Crewmen” kit, it’s going to be really easy to fix up great little Federation Starship style away teams of “redshirts” for Stargrave and other games, and the Dead Man’s Hand bits can only add more variety and characters!


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