28mm on the cheap: Mega Miniatures
Though not as cheap as the dollar-per-miniature goal that we strive for, a few companies today make quality metal 28mm miniatures that range from $1.50 to $3 a piece. Building a 100-figure, Warhammer 40k-style army can be expensive even at this low price — though less so than with Games Workshop products — but warband and platoon skirmishes are quite manageable, and being able to choose exactly what you need is a definite benefit.
Mega is owned by Johnny Lauck and produces a large selection of fantasy, modern and sci-fi miniatures. MegaMinis has some proprietary figure lines, some of which are as low as $1.89 a piece!
In the opinion of the author, however, Mega's best offerings are the defunct figure lines it has acquired and rereleased. This includes ranges of figures from Grenadier, Metal Magic, Demonblade Games and Alpha Forge.
This review will give you a brief look at some figures from the Demon Blade and Alpha Forge lines as well as a couple of Mega Minis' proprietary designs. Though they have been selling off the molds to many of their older fantasy ranges, Johnny has been re-releasing Demonblade figures at a rapid rate and assures us that he plans to keep releasing nearly the entire line in the near future.
These figures were originally released as Shockforce Megacom Troopers. They're well sculpted, though perhaps with not quite the same level of clarity as the classic Games Workshop Cadian troopers that they are fairly obviously based on. So far there are 15 to 20 sculpts released for this line, covering all manner of troopers armed with a basic lasgun and a selection of special weapons such as grenade launchers, missile launchers and flamethrowers.
These figures were originally scupted by the great Bobby Jackson to supplement the K-Force troopers that Demonblade had acquired from Grenadier. These earlier troopers are similar in style, but a bit bulkier and not quite as crisp (I have almost the entire line) but have not yet been reissued by Mega.
Here's a trooper leader and a kneeling trooper.
Despite its similarities to the smart gun from Aliens, this long-barreled weapon has a hose on the bottom of the barrel and is attached to a set of tanks on the back of the model, all of which strongly suggests that it's a flame weapon. That said, with a magazine and removal of the tanks, this would make a great SAW.
Mega also makes a flamethrower trooper with a more traditional GW-style Flamethrower that they call a vaporizer.
As a nice touch, these figures come with separate backpacks. I liked the backpacks so much that I contacted Johnny, who sold me some separately.
Here's a pair of scouts. There are four of these in the figure line. Each is armed with a sniper/assault rifle and is posed in a crouching or kneeling position. The backpacks for these figures are cast-on.
All in all, I'm very pleased with these figures. I ordered about 10 of the Demon Blade trooper miniatures
I liked all the figures that I reviewed, but these had the sharpest detail and were the best sculpted.
I picked these animals from a few different product codes and packs just to give you an idea of the size and sculpting of Mega's animals. Even though many of the larger animal molds have been sold, at 166 different codes, Mega still has what is probably the largest selection of 28mm animal figures on the market today. The cat and dogs pictured are all only $1.43 each!
Overall, I'm very pleased with these figures. No one is going to confuse them with the hyper-detailed high-end figures from companies like Infinity or Privateer Press, but they are all well sculpted figs that are a good representation of their subject matter.
While many of Mega's propriety sci-fi and designs and reissues of classic fantasy figures are somewhat dated in scale and style, the ranges they have acquired from Demonblade and Alpha Forege are mostly from the late 90s and early 2000s and still compare very well with current styled figures in size, style and proportion.
It is also worth noting that the casts are very clean. Mold lines are no more than you would expect from the major brands, which is surprising when you consider that Mega does their own casting!
I do have to mention that one of my troopers did have a very small miscast hole in the side of his boot that will have to be filled with putty, but it was not a major issue.
— Karl, Chicago Skirmish Wargames club member