I usually spend money on miniatures somewhat sparingly. Or rather, I do consider price quite a lot when making my purchases, although I end up spending lots of money nevertheless. Usually this means I steer away from keywords such as “limited edition” or “boutique” or “for collectors” when it comes to miniatures. Despite this, every now and then I run into something exceptionally interesting that makes me break this rule, and I end up doing a review like the one that follows after this unnecessarily long intro.
As regular readers know, I’m working on a project inspired by the movie Pacific Rim, and thus I’m on the lookout for interesting monsters and giant robots. I visited Salute 2014 a week ago, and I ran into a miniature I’d seen on a news site before and noticed, but which had slipped my mind – Genbu by Zenit Miniatures.
Genbu is a giant, bipedal turtle monster with a snake for a tail, and a part of Zenit Miniatures’ Kensei line. If the concept sounds strange, it has its roots in Chinese (and later Japanese) mythology, and you can read more about it here. Genbu also links directly into the kaiju genre, as it’s undoubtedly the inspiration behind Gamera.
The model comes in seven parts: main torso, shell, tail and four limbs. Normally I would classify this as a nightmare, as I loathe putting metal miniatures together after too many cases of ill-fitting and poorly cast parts requiring literally hours of filing, sanding, cutting, pinning and filling to fit. Zenit Miniatures’ offering was a positive surprise in this respect: the parts fit together well right out of the box. There are joins that need filling, but the model doesn’t appear to require pinning – although you may want to do that with the tail due to the small surface for attaching it. The shell especially snaps into place in a very, very satisfying manner. The one glaring exception to this is the left leg, which I simply couldn’t get to fit well, and will require filling of the joint.
Both the torso and the inside of the shell are hollow, in a smart move to reduce the amount of metal needed. Genbu stands at 45-46mm from soles to top of head, so the model is impressively sized and will work as a giant monster in smaller scales or an ogre sized one in 28mm. There’s a separate square plastic base included, but I mounted mine on a standard 40mm round base.
Sculpting on Genbu is excellent. The sculptor has managed to make a wonderfully characterful giant turtle monster with a gnarled, well textured skin. My only complaint is that the model was originally supposed to be a giant Kappa (see here for original concept art, notice the distinct lack of tail) and as such the Genbu model still has a patch of hair-like texture on top of its head, which doesn’t quite fit in. Even though it can be painted to match the skin, the texture is obviously different. Casting quality is very good, with crisp detail and very little flash. There are some noticeable mould lines but they were quick and easy to clean.
Praise upon praise then, any downsides? Yes. There’s one obvious one that I mentioned right at the start. I bought Genbu at £18.60, and on the Zenit Miniatures site it retails at €19.95. Nice as the model is, that is a hefty price compared to many competitors on the market and will sadly put potential customers off buying it. The model comes with nice packaging – a padded cardboard box with a full colour sleeve around it. I can’t help seeing this as somewhat too much. I don’t know the actual packaging costs, but this grates on me a from an ecological viewpoint as well. I’ve added a photo below showing the actual space the model takes up vs. the size of the box. Then again, the lovely packaging did catch my eye, but it’s a very rare case that I actually by something from a brick and mortar store. If I was mail ordering Genbu, the shipping would add an extra €5 to the price, bringing it to €24.99 and probably keeping me from buying it. Then again, I know a lot of people are used to spending lots more on a single mini than I am, so your mileage may vary!
As usual, I added a size comparison picture. I also added a 28mm miniature, as Genbu is intended to be a large creature in that scale.
Overall verdict: Genbu is pricey, but you do get a very nice model for your money. Good, clean sculpting and very nice casting with (mostly) well fitting parts mean that you won’t pull your hair out putting the model together. If you’re on the lookout for a great giant turtle monster to spice up your games, whether they’re giant monster ones or something else, you could do far worse. Also, if you leave out the tail, this is the nicest Gamera in miniature form you’ll probably find.
You can get Genbu direct from Zenit Miniatures.