Sunday, September 15, 2013

Fiend From The Pit by Center Stage Miniatures

I had the pleasure of busting the chops of the main man responsible for Center Stage Miniatures at Gen Con this year. In exchange for my ribbing on the late 28mm Demons and Devils KS, and the fact that I used to actually do a lot of reviews back in 'da day', he provided me with an advance copy of Fiend from the Pit. Seeing that puppy's price on the Center Stage Miniature website reminds me of what a fantastic deal everyone got in terms of metal miniatures.

So what do you get when you buy, or receive this sucker?

First off, from what I understand, we'll receive our Kickstarter miniatures similar to this. Much like Bones, we're not getting full packaging. That's okay as extra packaging just means more stuff to throw out at the end of it all.

Breaking it out of the packaging, we have a main body with a tab. A tail. A head. Three wings. At first I thought that it was a mispack. I mean three wings? Especially if you look at the painted image at the Center Stage Miniature website.

Nope. Two of those wings glue together.


Let me repeat myself, ugh.

I would place this model at an intermediate to advance modeler pick. The head pops on with no problem. The wings do have studs that join to the back. The problem is that there isn't a lot of space molded to the wing outside of that stud. I'll probably add green stuff to support it.

The hand with the mace is a flat surface. You should probably pin that SOB or you're going to suffer.

The tail on the bottom? Another flat surface. Again, you should probably pin that.

In terms of putting the wings together? Man, there was a ton of bending on both wings to get it lined up fairly decently. I would love to see a tutorial on this. I am however, now terrified that other miniatures with wings will have the wings split like this and to be honest, I don't see a good reason for it. The other wing looks great. There's the join problem, but hey, this multi-piece wing has the same problem. To me it's just plain old bad design.


I snagged a few different shots of the miniature. I threw him on a resin base. It's not that the round lipped base it came with didn't fit but since I already had it out as I was considering putting it on one of them but didn't want to cut all that base work out... it wound up here.

In terms of sculpting... I'd have a hard time justifying paying the full price knowing what a PIA it is to assemble. Don't get me wrong, it's not impossible. I used some Kick Zap or Zap a Gap or whatever it's called because I hate assembling in the first place. But after playing with the Reaper Bones, which are all slotted? Oh yeah, this became an exercise in F*&*! you!

I've gone in to edit the post. I realized that I was a bit too down on it because of my anger at the assembly process. In doing so, I failed to note some of the other bits that are important to people.

Mold lines were invisible. This must be a very fresh miniature from the mold. I didn't have any clean up in that aspect. In terms of flack and excess from the vents? Minimal. Some on the wings and on the inside of the arm with the fire ball but very minor, very easy to clean and very quick to fix. If the other models in the series come this clean and ready to go, it'll make up for a lot of the short comings of the design.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Malifaux: Plastic Versus Metal Round 2

First off, another big thanks to Miniature Market. With the recent introduction of Malifaux 2e, and all of the new sculpts of old figures, done up in plastic, Miniature Market saw the writing on the wall and put an immediate 50% off sale. I picked up quite a bit of stuff, mainly in bases and some larger figures that I wanted to use as monsters. The order was quickly delivered and came at 100% fill rate. So again, thanks to the employees of Miniature Market. Good job again.

Speaking of monsters, some of those I picked up included Ama No Zako, a large plastic piece and the Avatar of Vengeance, a large metal piece.

I put them on some of the 'fancy' bases I picked up in the sale as well.

Now in terms of pieces, the plastic one has something like fourteen separate pieces. The metal one? The main body is like four. Add in the figure it's rising out of and the hand and we're at like six? In terms of ease of assembly, not bad on either of them but I find that super glue tends to have a melting effect on the plastic. On the official forums I've seen it suggested that Gorilla Glue is the answer. I'll have to check that out soon.

Ama No Zako, the big oni looking thing, is regularly priced at $16. Kirai, the avatar of vengeance, is $30. This is a plus of the plastic. The last time I compared plastic and metal, the metal was actually less expensive. Might be a result of the metal figure here being newer and having a more 'realistic' price.

Height wise, Ama No Zako also towers over the Avatar by at least a head.

But in terms of detail?

Let's take the hair for example.

We can easily see numerous different strands of hair. Different lengths. Different flow. Different depths.

Here not so much. There are a few individual strands that poke out.

How about cloth?

Again, lots of difference here. Lots of raised areas. Lots of uneven curves like cloth might have.

And the plastic? Again, very smooth with a few folds in the material.

Mind you, I'm not saying it's impossible to paint smooth surfaces or anything of that nature. I am saying that I find it visually boring. I find it a step back in progress. That this multi-pieced plastic figure could have a lot more potential if it actually had some more character as opposed to the smoothness of the plastic.

I'll be looking to try out some more plastic as time goes on but the metal buyout on my part from Miniature Market insures that I'll have plenty of metal to come for a long time.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Red Box Zombies Finished

Sixteen zombies done! These are Trollcast material by Troll Forged Miniatures. They have a lot of detail to them. Lots of folds and clear distinction for fingers, eyes, and noses. Something that the Reaper Bones material sometimes failed to have. They are also light and easy to cut although I didn't try any modifications.

The only problem is that they are small.

Here we have two zombies. I picked one in a bent position and one standing straight up. The cleric is an old Grenadier figure from the 80's. The one next to it a Games Workshop Lord of the Ring Figure. The next three are all Red Box figures. I included them because Tre mentioned that his zombies were in keeping with his own sizing. I didn't think so based on my previous painting of Red Box figures and well, maybe the height is there but they fail, in my opinion, in terms of viability due to the sheer thinness.

I know that they're zombies. I know that they should be emaciated and narrow but as miniatures, even with other figures against the same company, they appear off. I wonder if they 'shrank' in the process of being cast in Troll Cast. Anyone have any metal ones they can do a comparison with? It could also just be the in close stance that most of them have. No arms wide open here. No zombies with weapons. No zombies with lots of clothes. Just lots of bare chested, arms at the side, slouching zombies.

Not a problem for me as I'll probably wind up using them as minions or something along those ranks whenever I get around to doing some role playing again as Red Box, at least at this time, doesn't have it's own skirmish game.

Anyone finish their Red Box stuff? I'm waiting on stuff from the second successful Kickstarter so hopefully I'll be painting up some weird monsters soon!

Reaper Bones Kickstarter: Reflections

Before the Kickstarter, I had painted some Repaer Bones and posted the work at the old 52 Miniatures 52 Weeks. I found it to be relatively inexpensive and fair detail. Took to the paint well. The larger figures seemed better off while the smaller figures lost some detail.

During the pledge, I saw an opportunity, like many, to get many figures for a good value. Being someone whose already painted them, I spoke up about my experiences with the material where I could and what primers and paint I'd used on them.

I was a backer of Reaper at the very high levels. I went with the get the metal for a year deal. I did this because I specifically asked, "Hey, with the whole Bones thing coming along, what's up with metal?" and was informed that "No dude, we're awesome and it's going to be like metal Nirvana for the next year. So much awesome." Not quite but it was assured that the regular release schedule would be kept up in metal.

So let's look over what actually happened?

First off, there was some bit where the shipments were supposed to be broken out and there were some problems with that. I didn't pay attention to that because it didn't really effect me.

Then the metal figures were initially late, but Reaper made good on that by sending all the back log of stuff that had come out. Thumbs up!

Then the metal figures stopped and Reaper was like, "Dude, we are not as awesome as we thought but we will be awesome again real soon or... you can take what's behind door #2!" I like metal miniatures so I stuck with the year of metal that will hopefully one day continue. It's not like Reaper has stopped making metal miniatures as they have rereleased the old Doom miniatures and even done some stuff for Monte for his Numera game. I've always appreciated the fact that Monte usually tries to get some miniatures done for his RPGs.

My initial shipment arrived, late as usual for a Kickstarter and I didn't even go through it until Reaper had finished. I knew that they would be bombed with a ton of issues from doing this whole scale thing.

When I finally did go through it, I was amused and angry and baffled. All of my add ons were present but my actual Vampire level pledge was not. When I asked about it, it was immediately correctly. Apparently some people at my level got passed over on the actual Vampire pledge. I wondered why, since there were only a handful of us, Reaper didn't get in direct contact with us and go, "Hey man, is everything all right? We know that you're at a particular pledge level that has some potential difficulties and just wanted to check in on you." But whatever.

In terms of the actual miniatures themselves?

Quality is all over the place. I guess there were enough of them with complaints that some figures have been pulled entirely. The biggest problem seems to be the noses. Some of the figures just don't plain have their noses at all. Flat and smooth features. At the same time, there are still people jumping into the air screaming that there are no quality issues. Look dudes and dudettes, you're not doing Reaper any favors by spreading false information out there. There is a loss of detail. In some cases a significant loss of detail.

There is also the wacky factor or pieces bent backwards. This is relatively easy to handle for the most part though as long as you have access to very hot and very cold water you can bend them back. Sometimes its more tricky with the larger figures as you have to figure out where you want it to be when its done.

The material takes well to glue though. It's also easy to cut or modify. I know this as I've cut a few off of their bases and glued them onto other bases. The glue actually seems stronger than the material at that point as when I cut too high on a foot and then had to go back in and cut the rest of the food off and misplaced where the foot and ankle should met and was like... nope, it's stuck and this is a hell of a bond so freak ankle it is.

Another nice thing is that a lot of these are one piece figures. Even where before it might have been multiple pieces, it's now, or at least arriving as, one piece. Makes assembly a much easier thing. My frustration level with Malifaux and their terrible plastic is very high so taking a few minutes out to play with some single piece figures makes my painting day.

Satisfaction level overall? High. There are so many figures with so much potential in there that I'm going to be spoiled for options for a long time. The price and affordability are what really sells it. I'll be curious to see how they do in the retail level if the quality control issues are there in the same level.

At the same time, Reaper has pulled their P65 line. I believe it's P65? Their old 'formula' so to speak that wasn't as costly to Reaper in terms of what their figures were made out of. Bones will probably replace that for sure in the future. Good material for that as there are a ton of large figures that will not lose a lot of detail due to scale and will hopefully be more affordable.

I can't see this stuff becoming a 'painter's' choice of figure medium though. It's just not crisp enough. Now that may change in the future, but for example Trollcast? There is some fantastic detail in that material even though the guy doing it is having issues getting it onto painter's hands. Resin will probably be the medium of choice for 'high end' stuff for a while though. This doesn't mean that there aren't uses and fun stuff with metal still.

I myself may go back and buy some of the figures I have in Bones in metal after it's all said and done. Like I said, the loss of detail on some of them is high.

I think that in the future, if there are going to be 'exclusive' Bones figures, that they will need to be designed more 'old school'. Minimize the buttons, the buckles, the straps, the pouches, the elaborate hilts, the numerous pieces of clothing that go no where. The old '80's' look of Citadel for example might be perfect for these as they were often one piece figures with exaggerated poses and stances.

At Gen Con 2013, I heard that Reaper is doing Bones 2 very soon. I'm actually kind of surprised. I thought that they may go a few months normal mode to catch up on everything. I've heard complaints for a few online retailers about the customer service levels but I personally haven't had any issues with them so take it with the internet grain of salt.

I haven't backed a few miniature projects that I was very interested in to see what Reaper will be offering. If the value is similar, not even as good mind you, but similar, to what they did with the initial Bones Kickstarter, I'll be in. Mind you I won't back any 'metal' pledges because I've still got many moons left on my metal pledge but anything else is fair game.

How about other people? I know that the off shore backers aren't happy and I'm wondering if they'll be back for a second round? Any other metal for a year people that stuck with the actual metal for a year? What's your experience been with the material? Buy more or forget it?