Spectre Miniatures is company that is based out of the U.K.; they produce a table top war game that uses 28mm miniature models to simulate modern combat scenarios. The game is designed to be played by multiple players running through reality based missions where an opposition force and assault force compete over objectives. The other side of Spectre miniatures is that the models are incredibly detailed but require the buyer to paint them to actually achieve their intended completed state. Both of these aspects have drawn me into the hobby and have proven to not only be fun but stimulating in other aspects as well.
The miniatures themselves are cast metal and, as I stated previously, incredibly well detailed. The smallest things are visible on the individual model’s equipment and everything has been rendered accurately. Immense research was done to ensure each figures loadout was done realistically with great attention to authenticity. Things like a bundle of chem-lights (glow sticks) or an infrared strobe on a helmet — even the cables that connect communications equipment and night vision to battery packs can be seen clearly on a character. These little details correlate directly to the capabilities and loadout of a figure while actually playing the Spectre Operations game.
The painting of miniatures, while tedious, is rewarding in its own way because it absolutely caters to the painter’s imagination and at the same time is greatly dependent on their ambition. Sure, it will take some time to perfect the skill of painting miniatures, but with practice and experience the skill will grow and the end result will be equally rewarding. The models require you to prime them and then apply acrylic water based paints in various layers and colors to achieve the desired result: a realistic looking miniature “operator.” The options are as limited as your imagination; while the models are cast and fixed, what they accurately represent can change greatly by what color scheme is chosen for them.
Personally I have found that the act of painting miniatures, although admittedly I have not delved into larger models, to be assuredly therapeutic. Something about shutting out the world and focusing my attention on a singular object brings me to an almost meditative state. Part of this is because, as a form of self-expression, I get to create something truly unique and original but also the object of creation is entirely tangible. I can see exactly what my time was spent on and how well it turns out is a direct reflection of the effort i put into it. I’m sure this holds true for many hobbyists and can be found in a variety of other activities, even those excluding direct forms of art, but painting Spectre Miniatures has done it for me.
Spectre Miniatures have a diverse line of collections featuring a variety of styles/classes of models, or playable assets depending on how you look at them. Everything from Russian Spetsnaz and Naval Special Warfare DEVGRU team members all the way down to Mexican Cartel sicarios and Islamic extremist jihadist models are available. Of course, as I spoke of previously, with proper application of paint and technique, these figures can become anything within the realm of modern military operations. Each of the individual figurines has specific equipment they carry as well. From M4A1s with M203s to AKMs and light machine guns, they have it all. Additional equipment such as night vision and crew served weapons are available too but vehicles are definitely the most significant addition. Toyota Land Cruisers with DShKs or small special forces based vehicles can be had and utilized to great effect in games; there are actually producers of helicopters, tanks, MRAPs, etc. outside of Spectre Miniatures that can be acquired too.
War gaming, as I spoke of in a previous article, has serious benefits to practicing strategy and employing simulated tactics, but it is also incredibly fun. It’s almost like playing a video game that you can control any aspect of. Spectre Operations, the war gaming aspect of the miniatures, focuses on small unit tactics based off of specific scenarios. The scenarios are often devised around a squad of special operations commandos attempting to elude or defeat a larger enemy force. Everything from breaching doors and windows to equipping suppressors and throwing flashbang grenades are all viable options in a Spectre Operations game. Tactical options are essential to navigating an environment and accomplishing objectives in war gaming of this style. Pretty much everything you can imagine is on the table and if it’s a somewhat more common maneuver, then Spectre Operations has almost certainly included it in their rule book. The rules, movement and actions are all based off six-sided dice rolls paired with individual character statistics and equipment modifiers. It makes for a thorough but fluid mix that keeps you invested in a current campaign while still taking the time to plan out your teams actions accordingly.
The possibilities for this game are appreciable enough that you may never run the same scenario twice if so desired. Spectre Miniatures could be utilized for articulate terrain models (however unlikely that is, I’m just saying) or an inclusive rendering of a historical battle/conflict. Not only can they be done in this mock-up fashion using detailed terrain and building models but can also be used in conjunction with cardboard structures for a friendly force-on-force game. With the selection of “factions” available, and among them multiple models to choose from, plus the combination of scenic preferences, the options are unlimited. It’s literally all dependent on the end-user and their personal presences which is something I have seriously come to appreciate. The creators of Spectre Operations encourage players to create the reenactment of favored movies, books, historical events, or whatever you can come up with that’s applicable to the game.
The negatives for Spectre Miniatures is a short list, but one I feel should really be made apparent. First and foremost, as a U.S. buyer, the shipping and handling time is excruciatingly long — it’s just the inherent nature of purchasing a product produced and shipped out of the U.K. On top of that, the customer service was not to my level of expectations, especially from a small niche upstart business like Spectre Miniatures. Out of several emails I sent, only one was responded to and it was to inform me that tracking was not available because I had not selected it as an option during the shipping portion of the “check-out” during my online order. I really like the product and the concept but with such a small customer base, I believe greater care should be taken in customer relations. The models are brittle and must be handled with care; this is true of all cast miniatures but still a pain in the ass when a rifle barrel breaks off during an accidental drop or something gets bent the wrong way in the packaging. Lastly, the paints and brushes can be stupid-expensive; there’s some leeway here but the cheaper you go, the worse your finished product is going to look.
There are some things I think that should be noteworthy to anyone looking to get into Spectre Miniatures too. If you intend to war game by the numbers or as the developers intended by the rule book with your first order: you won’t find the complete rules online and it’s an excellent book, well-organized and handy as hell when in need of a quick reference. To mount them correctly you will need to purchase miniature bases separately, 20mm to be specific, because they are not included and often sold out on the Spectre Miniatures online store. If you are a U.S. buyer like me, then it’s worth spending the 60GBP (approximately $80) to get the free international shipping that normally costs around 10GBP otherwise, in my opinion. Finally, again, it takes time and practice to get good, so be patient and watch a lot of tutorials or look at other people’s work on YouTube and similar social media outlets.
Personally, I have genuinely enjoyed my overall experience with Spectre Miniatures and Operations and have gained a newfound hobby. I can decompress or “meditate” while I paint miniature art or engage my critical thinking skills in a simulated conflict scenario with a friend. Above all, the hobby is extremely fun for myself and for the friends I have brought into its world. I hope by writing this piece, someone else can find the same level of satisfaction I have from the world of Spectre Miniatures. I hope to see more from the company in the future in regards to models and expansion. One thing I didn’t count on was the sense of community and human interaction involved with the game; it’s been a great overall experience.
If you would like to check them out, you can look them up on the usual social media sources and their website is: www.spectreminiatures.com.