I was carrying out one of my regular searches for somewhat obscure 15mm vehicles, here the Morris CS9 armoured car used by the BEF (12th Lancers) and in the Western Desert (11th Hussars), when I was directed to the Gaming Models website. I've never really considered their models before, as I've only ever read negative reviews whose overall opinion seems to be that they are cheap...and that you get what you pay for!
However, there was the Morris CS9, and also the AB40 version of the Italian armoured car more usually seen as the AB41 - the difference being that the AB40 was produced first and with two MGs in the turret, found to be under-gunned, and then upgraded to the AB41 with its 20mm Breda autocannon.
I decided that it was worth a punt, so bought three Morris CS9s and four AB40s. Here is a review of both models, along with pictures and a comparison with the Battlefront AB41.
Let's start with the basics: both the AB40 and Morris CS9 from Gaming models are $4.00 each, compared to the Battlefront AB41 that can be bought for $11.25. That's a big plus point for Gaming Models.
Service & Delivery
Gaming Models' service was excellent. Although they have no inbuilt shopping cart, it was a simple matter to drop them an e-mail with what I wanted, receiving a PayPal money request almost by return. Not only that, but the chap who replied, Craig, said that he would drop in a free model on top of my order and what would I like. So far, very good.
Gaming Models are in the US, I'm in the UK, and it was Xmas...but the package from them still arrived in what seemed like a very short time. It seemed like a very big box for only eight vehicles, but opening it I discovered that the models were individually packaged to a standard that I would use for shipping glassware rather than plastic vehicles!
Top marks to Gaming Models for service and delivery.
The AB40 Armoured Car
I am really only interested in how a model looks on the table, so this review will deal only with my final painted and based versions of the models. For those who are interested, however, the AB40 model comes in only two parts: the body (with wheels already stuck on) and the turret (with MGs already in place). The only assembly required was putting the turret on top of the body - something even I could cope with!
As can be seen, the model paints up very nicely, with plenty of clearly raised detail to take the wash and dry-brush technique that I use. It certainly looks as good as the Battlefront AB41 but, more importantly perhaps, how would they look sat next to each other on the wargames table?
The three photographs below show a direct comparison. Each model is mounted on the same "biscuit of death" base. It is clear that the Gaming Models AB40 is slightly smaller than the Battlefront AB41: although it is the same length, it is marginally shorter and definitely thinner.
These pictures, however, are of two models right next to each other. On the gaming table, there is only the slightest of discernable differences and, anyway, perhaps the new and improved AB41 version should be bigger and bolder than the obsolete AB40 model! One reference I found does state that the AB41 is four inches taller anyway, so perhaps the height is okay as well.
My verdict: definitely worth buying the Gaming Models AB40. The slight difference in size with the Battlefront AB41 isn't really important, the model paints up well, and at that price you can't go wrong.
The Morris CS9 Armoured Car
I have been looking for 15mm Morris CS9 models for some time. Ironically, I came across the Gaming Models vehicles only a couple of months after Battlefront announced their Blitzkrieg early war revival which, doubtless, will eventually include the Morris CS9. Anyhow, here is the Gaming Models Morris CS9:
The same comments apply to this model as to the AB40: two piece set (body and turret, with Boys ATR already attached); nice level of detail that takes the paint very well; and, as mentioned above, priced extremely competitively at $4.00 each.
There is, however, a problem with the size of this model. Let's look at its statistics compared to the AB40:
|Length||5.20m or 205"||4.77m or 188"|
|Width||1.92m or 76"||2.05m or 81"|
|Height||2.48m or 98"||2.13m or 84"|
So let's now see the models together:
As can be seen, the Morris CS9 should be shorter, wider and less high. The Gaming Models' Morris CS9 armoured car, however, is too tall and too long. The height is particularly worrying, as the Morris CS9 shown here is mounted on a thin metal base, unlike the AB40, which is mounted on a standard Battlefront medium FOW base.
Now originally my review ended here with a comment that it was a pity the Morris CS9 model was so tall, but fellow TMP-er Allen suggested that actually I should be comparing the model to Battlefront's Marmon Herrington rather than to the AB40. Well, I happen to have a Marmon Herrington or two in my collection, so got one out and got snapping again. Let's first look at the statistics of both vehicles:
|Marmon Herrington||Morris CS9|
|Length||5.18m or 204"||4.77m or 188"|
|Width||2.00m or 78"||2.05m or 81"|
|Height||2.67m or 105"||2.13m or 84"|
So the Marmon Herrington should tower over the Morris by some 20". Now let's see the models together:
As can be seen, the Gaming Models' Morris CS9 is at least the same height as Battlefront's Marmon Herrington, making the model distinctly too tall. And that's again with the Marmon Herington on a Battlefront base compared to the Morris CS9 on a thin base.
My verdict: nice model, but a pity the height is over exaggerated. I shall keep the three I have for use with my BEF, as BEF armoured cars should be strange looking "between the wars" machines, but probably wait to see if Battlefront produce a Morris CS9 before getting any to use in the Western Desert.