They’re quite nice, so go check out the review. You know you want to. Really, go now.
Archive for the ‘Miniature reviews’ Category
With my love for Aliens, Predators and the like, it might come as a bit of a surprise that I haven’t been that much into Terminators. Sure, I own the movies (even the dreadful Salvation), but they’ve never risen to the same status as the extraterrestrial nasties. Lately, however, I’ve been taking a liking to Skynet’s little chrome cronies. A large part of this comes from watching the wonderful Sarah Connor Chronicles on Netflix. Naturally this lead to me wanting to get some killer robot miniatures and paint them up. I’d long been eyeing the em4 skeletal robots so I decided to get them.
But wait, wasn’t this review supposed to be about minis by Forlorn Hope Games? Yes!
In addition to the em4 miniatures, I also bought some new ones by FHG, who to my understanding work closely with em4. These new miniatures expand the skeletal robots line, effectively doubling it in size. Are they any good?
FHG produces five skeletal robots of their own, pictured below. They are sculpted by Martin Baker.
As you can see, three of them are armed with assault rifles, one has a rocket launcher and one a flame thrower. The two special weapons add a nice bit of variety to the skeletal robot arsenal.
Stylistically, the robots are closely modelled after (what I assume to be) Mark Copplestone’s original robot designs. Very Terminator-like, that is. There’s not a lot of extra on the models, as these are basically just armed endoskeletons. The rocket launcher one has something like a shotgun strapped to one thigh and a pouch with a few rockets strapped to the other.
Sculpting is decent. The models do suffer from softness issues, which of course is a big minus when the subject matter is robots. The edges should definitely be more crispy and sharp. I did take a file to some edges as a part of my cleanup routine, which helped. Castings were of good quality, with not much mould lining or flash present.
Compared to the em4 originals, the difference in sculpting quality really shows. The FHG minis have much bigger heads and more shallow detailing.
That might sound like a bit of a bashing, so do I consider these minis a poor purchase? Definitely not. With their flaws, they’re still a very good buy. They take paint nicely, and once painted, mix well with the em4 originals and the new weapons and poses add much needed variety to your killer robot squads. I also really like the idea of expanding the line with new sculpts, and definitely wanted to support FHG by buying these new robots as well – despite the horrendous pictures on their website. As the Future Skirmish line is one of my all time favourites, I definitely hope FHG keeps expanding it with new releases.
It bears noting that these miniatures are quite cheap, as the whole set of five minis only cost me £7.35 including shipping, which amounts to £1.47 per miniature. With regular shipping prices to Finland, the actual value is something around £1.10 or £1.20 per miniature, which is definitely not expensive.
Overall verdict: While not as excellent as the em4 original skeletal robots, Forlorn Hope Games’ offering is a welcome addition to a not-Terminator force. Their character makes up for their sculpting deficiencies, and they come at a very good price. If you’re only going to buy one set of not-Terminators, go for the em4 originals. If you’re looking to build a force, however, I recommend adding these to the fold as well.
You can buy the skeletal robots directly from FHG’s webstore.
Just a quick heads-up to let you know that the 28mm Predator review has just been updated with the latest offerings from Predastore:
For detailed reviews, see the giant post here. And never mind the funky colour thing going on with the backgrounds, I’m yet again reconfiguring the photo lighting setup.
Reaper Miniatures’ Bones line (the amazing Kickstarter success of which you’ve already probably read about) operates on a simple concept: take some of Reaper’s popular sculpts, have them cast in vinyl – or “bendy plastic” as it’s commonly known – and sell it for a very low price. In this review I take a look at my first Bones miniature – a purple worm.
The purple worm is a pretty iconic D&D monster. There’s something innately appealing and terrifying about a massive worm with a mouthful of big pointy teeth bursting out of the ground to nom on whatever it wishes. Just watch Tremors and you’ll know what I mean.
Reaper’s purple worm, sculpted by Michael Brower, is a pretty impressive model. At its highest point it’s almost 70mm tall, making it tower over regular 28mm minis. The mouth is approximately 20mm in diameter, meaning that the worm actually looks capable of devouring smaller creatures whole. The worm is dynamically posed, as it coils up from the ground. It stands on an integral scenic base – basically a pile of rocks showing the worm burrowing out of the ground. The model is quite sturdy on the integral base.
The prominent questions in my mind about the Bones range were about the material. I was somewhat suspicious about the bendiness, as well as the material’s capability of holding detail. I’m happy to say that in the case of the purple worm, I was positively surprised by both aspects. The bendiness of the material is there, but its effect is minimal due to the size and thickness of the worm. On thinner parts, like weapon hafts and the like, I can imagine the bendiness bothering me, but with the Purple worm it’s not an issue. As for the detail, while there is loss (I haven’t seen the original metal version apart from pictures), there is plenty of detail and texture on the model. It’s not comparable to metal or resin in terms of sharpness, but the overall effect is still good.
Below is a picture of the purple worm straight out of the blister…
…and after a quick black wash and white drybrush to bring out the detail.
The huge selling point of the Bones range is the price. Just to illustrate: the metal version of the purple worm (with visibly better detail) is listed on the Reaper website at $27.15. The same plastic model is also available as the pre-painted “great worm” for $6.99. The Bones version retails for $2.99 – a measly 11% of the price of the metal original. While some people will prefer the superior detail and heft of the metal model, that’s a massive price difference (I should know, having ordered eight of the Bones one). For a model of this size, $2.99 is a bargain. This size? Below is a size comparison with an em4 trooper.
EDIT September 19th 2012: It has been pointed out to me by two commenters (see comments below), that there isn’t a lot of difference in the level of detail between the Bones version and the metal version of the worm.
Overall verdict: The Bones purple worm is a great example of what the Bones range can deliver. A large model for a very low price, with a reasonable level of detail and minimal bendiness issues. If you’re looking for something like this – a giant killer worm, that is – and don’t want to spend loads and loads of money, then look no further. While it’s not (EDIT Sep 19th 2012: or is it? see my note above) metal or resin when it comes to detail, in this case it’s more than sufficient. The nature of the creature means it can be used in a variety of settings. It could easily be a Lovecraftian beast, something roaming the post-apocalyptic irradiated wasteland, a vicious alien creature on a far off planet, or…well, a purple worm in fantasy gaming.
You can get the purple worm directly from Reaper, or from various retailers. At the time of writing, the model retails for $2.99.
Update April 1st 2013: Citadel plastics with Mad Robot parts added.
Update February 27th 2013: Sgt. Major Miniatures’ Allied Troopers added.
Update May 15th 2012: Defiance Games’ UAMC marines added.
Mostly known for their bravado and for being mercilessly slaughtered in Aliens, the CM have nonetheless become a fan favourite with scifi enthusiasts, cosplayers and of course wargamers. I’m in the first and third groups (cosplay? heavens, no), and have posted a fair few times about Colonial Marines (from here on referred to as CMs). With lots of people out there looking to do a bit of Aliens-inspired gaming, it’s time to take a look at what’s available in miniature. Just like the Alien miniature review, I’ve split the review into three sections: licensed products, almost matches and DIY stuff. There’s a whole lot of size comparison pictures after that, with other troopers, Aliens and Predators. Let’s go.
There’s only one set of licensed CMs that I know of, and that is of course the Leading Edge set by Bob Ridolfi. I couldn’t get my hands on them, so I turned to the community for help, and this is what I got – thanks TMP users Thieses and Only Warlock!
The Leading Edge Colonial Marines miniatures are the most complete line of figures produced. The figures are true 25mm sculpts, are on the “cartoony” side, and small. However what the figures lack in detail they more than make up for in diversity.
LE has unique sculpts for all 13 marine characters with integral bases. LE also has sculpts for “support” characters such as, Burke, Newt, and Ripley.
Leading Edge Colonial Marines are true 25m figures, matching well with Ral Partha Battletroops and GZG 25mm figs, except tending to slimmer figures with less overall detail.
Additionally I received a few wonderful size comparison pictures from Akula. They can be found further down with the other comparison pictures. The photos below are taken from Stuff of Legends, and show all the Leading Edge CMs.
The set pops up quite often on eBay, and is almost as often massively overpriced. If you, however, for some reason want the licensed stuff, this is your only choice.
The miniatures industry has a tendency to give the public what the public wants. Luckily the public has wanted CMs. There’s a slew of miniatures available that are an almost perfect match for the troopers in the film, and this section is devoted to those.
Denizen Miniatures Mid-tech assault team
When I received the Mid-tech miniatures, I was blown away. These miniatures, sculpted by Chub Pearson, are something like 20 years old. Compared to a lot of stuff from back then, they’re pretty excellent and have stood the test of time very nicely. I pondered for a bit before adding these miniatures to the review, since Denizen advertises their models as 25mm. With the scale creep that’s been going on for years, these days “28mm” can mean anything between 28mm and 35mm, so I wondered whether Denizen’s miniatures would be far too small to include in a 28mm review. After doing some comparison work, however, I decided that they were worth including. It would’ve been a cardinal sin to drop such a range from the review. Do note that the miniatures are indeed slender and realistically proportioned compared to many others in this review, so see the comparison pictures to find the best match for your needs. They go very nicely with the smallish Reviresco Homophages, for example.
There are 14 different Mid-tech troopers, with most armed with ACRs, a real-life assault rifle with a scifi look to it. The poses are varied and a good combination of static and dynamic. There are shotguns, a flamer and smartguns available as well as a bareheaded female smartgunner obviously based on Vasquez in Aliens, so you can easily recreate a CM squad pretty much straight out of the film. The models come on small hexagonal integral bases. The miniatures are amazingly cheap for their quality. Guess how much? No, really. 90p each. That’s 1 EUR or 1.4 USD at the time of writing, which is cheaper per miniature than a lot of plastics out there. Casting quality is great, with no flash and very little mould lining. Some of the minis have a separate arm, and the parts fit together nicely.
You can get the Mid-tech troopers direct from Denizen Miniatures.
East Riding Miniatures Colonial Marines
ERM produces a pack of four CMs sculpted by Tony Yates in their Mythic Worlds line, and there are three more on the way. The models come on small integral bases. They’re very obviously CMs, as shown by their gear with helmet cameras, body armour and weapons: two are armed with pulse rifles, one with a Aliens-style flamer and one with a heavy pistol. Casting quality is fine, with minimal mould lining and no flash to speak of.
Stylistically these miniatures resemble the ERM Aliens a lot, and share the same pros and cons. The models are very cartoony, with exaggerated proportions, large heads and big guns. Not to put too fine a point on it, the sculpting leaves much to be desired. Detail is soft and the puttywork sloppy, basically. If you’re willing to look past these points (although they are major to some) you’ll find a nice pack of characterful Marines. As with the Aliens, the ERM CMs somehow capture something of the essence of what they’re depicting – the combination of gung ho and panic, which for me is the iconic aspect of CMs. These miniatures will obviously be a horses for courses thing, but I like ‘em and can’t wait for the extra packs. The price for four miniatures is £5.00. It’s competitive, but the price/quality ratio does leave a bit to be desired.
You can get the miniatures direct from ERM.
1st Corps Miniatures Colonial Troopers
The inclusion of these minis in a CM review was something that required a bit of pondering. Why? Well, despite the name these miniatures are obviously based not on the Colonial Marines of Aliens fame, but on the Mobile Infantry from Starship Troopers. However, there are enough similarities to justify putting them in, and with a suitable paintjob these little fellow will fit right into an Aliens setting. The range is large and comprehensive, consisting of 17 packs including smart gun -style and heavier support weapons, recon teams, vehicles and even a news theme. Again, they’re very SST, but adaptable. Stylewise the 1st Corps stuff slots somewhere between the previous two entries. The style is a bit cartoony (which, to be honest, most 28mm minis are) but not as over the top as the ERM CMs. The minis come on small integral bases and are sculpted by Rob Baker. The quality of the sculpts is fine. There’s some softness here and there, but all in all they’re clean sculpts and simple in a good way. The models are sold as 25mm, but will fit ok with 28mm. Again, see the comparison pics for yourself.
As with the previous packs, the price is very competitive. 1st Corps’ infantry packs retail at £3.00 for three miniatures, with the support weapon packs a bit more expensive. All are available directly from 1st Corps. And while you’re there, check out their Aliens (see Alien miniature review) as well.
Hasslefree Miniatures Adventurers
Hasslefree miniatures stocks a wide range of individual characters that draw from a variety of pop culture sources. Luckily for us, there are several in their Adventurers line that suit the need for CMs: KJ (HFA053), the two versions of McKenzie (HFA049 & HFA054) and Debra (HFSF001a). As far as kit goes, the models aren’t quite Aliens, nor are they quite SST, but a good mix of the two to create the style we’re looking for. The most obvious CM aspect to the miniatures is the excellent Hasslefree Pulse rifle, which is a 1:1 match for the iconic gun in the original film. With the exception of the first version of McKenzie, the models are armed with that, and the weapon instantly gives them that CM look. It’s worth mentioning that the guns are available separately for your own CM conversions. The poses are nice, with McKenzie the first being a particular favourite. In terms of size the HF stuff is nicely in line with the miniatures reviewed above. The style is realistic, although with a hint of cartoony look thrown in. All models stand on standard slottabases, and are sculpted by Kev White.
As models not intended to be purchased in large quantities (I think), the HF miniatures are more expensive than most ranges in this review with prices between £3.50 and £4.50 per model. While not too steep a price for quality miniatures, these are still at the high end of this review’s price scale. However, if you’re not looking to build a full army out of these four models, they’re well worth the investment as the sculpting is top notch. You can get them all direct from Hasslefree.
Hasslefree also sells other miniatures suitable for Aliens gaming, and I will cover these in a later review. The facehugger-like head crabs can be found in my Alien miniature review.
Update August 30th 2012: After the original writing of this post, Hasslefree has released various new troopers in the vein of those reviewed here.
Fenryll Science Fiction Troopers
French resin miniature manufacturer Fenryll has six more or less obviously not-CMs in their science fiction range. It has to be said right at the start that these miniatures are very big. While the Fenryll site lists them as 28mm, the models actually measure 33-35mm from top of base to top of head. The size is a real shame, since the miniatures are very nice. The sculptor Dominique Seys has done a nice job with the troopers’ faces and gear, and resin produces beutiful, crisp detail. There is one thing about the first pack that bugs me a lot, and it’s the way the troopers hold their pulse rifles. They’re all holding them one-handed (two of them are holding a grenade in the other hand), and the guns look entirely weightless. This gives the troopers of the first pack a very action figure-ish look, which I’m not partial to. The troopers in pack 2 hold their guns much more sensibly with two hands, and I prefer this pack to the first one. The models come with separate guns and backpacks, and they’re all on square integral resin bases, with some sculpted detail and texture. There were some casting flaws, with quite a lot of flash and mould lines/misalignment.
The size of the Fenryll troopers will probably put a lot of people off. As the comparison pictures below show, they’re very tall, standing head and shoulders above most other miniatures in this review. While this might make them unappealing to a fair few gamers, their large size does mean that they’re a perfect match size-wise for the Horrorclix Aliens or the Heresy Hurn, which tend to be pretty big compared to most 28mm miniatures. In terms of price the troopers are at the higher end in this review, with a pack of three models costing 10 EUR, which amounts to £8.40 at the time of writing, or £2.80 per miniature.
The two packs of troopers are available direct from Fenryll.
Copplestone Castings Troopers
Mark Copplestone has sculpted loads and loads of futuristic not-CMs, and they’re sold through at least three different companies. Copplestone’s own company has a wide range of around ten packs of five miniatures each. All kinds of troopers are available, with different gear options and weapons. There’s a pack of five female troopers for a nice piece of variety, as well as specialists and officer types. The sculpts are clean and paint up nicely, and the casting quality is fine as well. The models stand on small, thin integral bases.
There are some differences between these models and those sold by em4 and Mirliton (see below). One is the bases. Copplestone Castings minis have an integral base, whereas the others have slottabases. The Copplestone Castings minis are also a bit bigger and bulkier. If minis from em4/Mirliton and CC are placed next to eachother, you can tell the size difference. If the models are mixed in a unit, the difference isn’t very noticeable. Check out this post to see what I mean. The other difference is in the weapons. Some of the weapons have been changed from the original ones which are very pulse rifle-ish. Longer barrels have been added, the underslung grenade launchers removed and so on. The smartgun has also been altered to look more like a regular machine gun, which of course is disappointing when you’re looking for CMs. These are fairly minor quibbles, though and can be quite easily fixed.
All the Copplestone Castings packs retail for £8.50, which amounts to £1.70 per miniature. They’re available direct from Copplestone Castings.
em4 Miniatures Troopers
em4 is the second company in this review distributing the troopers sculpted by Mark Copplestone. As far as I know, these are the Future Warrior minis originally sold by Grenadier. Everything that was said above is true with these as well. The CC models are largely the same as these with minor changes, headswaps and so on. As mentioned, these are a bit smaller than the CC ones, and carry more Aliens-y weapons. The range, however, isn’t as large as the one produced by Copplestone Castings. There’s also a pack of sentry guns available. As with Hasslefree and Denizen, you can order single miniatures, which allows you to pick just the ones you want. The em4 troopers are £1.28 apiece, which gives you great value for your money. See em4′s online store for these.
In addition to their Copplestoney goodness, em4 also manufactures some cheap multi-part plastic troopers sculpted by Bob Naismith. While they’re not as similar to CMs as the Copplestone figures, I still thought it would be appropriate to mention them here, as they could easily be used for that. There’s a good example from Germy, who has combined the plastic troopers with Hasslefree’s pulse rifles for very nice almost-CMs. There are five basic bodies, with separate arms, chest and extra kit on the back. There are also metal conversion sets available from em4 that allow you to turn the minis either into a command squad or a heavy weapons squad.
The miniatures themselves are moulded from silver-coloured plastic and come with their own 25mm round slottabases. There are two pairs of arms holding a heavy futuristic pistol, one pair holding a large combat knife and a SMG and two pairs holding something that looks like a cross between an assault rifle, laser gun and heavy combat shotgun. Detail is not bad, although it is softer than newer plastic sets from Games Workshop or Mantic for example. The sculpts themselves are quite nice. My biggest complaint is the heavy mould lining present. There was a lot of cleaning up to do, which is always a chore. Then again, you still get a very good value for your money, since the plastic troopers retail for £2.50 for five miniatures (£0.50 apiece), making them by far the cheapest choice in this review. They’re available direct from em4, you can find the link above. There’s a more detailed review here, in case you’re interested.
Mirliton Future Warriors
The Italian company Mirliton picked up the old Grenadier moulds for the Future Warriors line. As far as I can tell, these are exactly the same models that are sold by em4, so the above reviews apply. They’re marginally more expensive (+£0.15 per model at the time of writing) than em4, and come in pre-selected packs of five miniatures each. They’re available direct from Mirliton.
Scotia Grendel Nexus Colonial Marines
Part of Scotia Grendel’s old Kryomek range, the CMs are a nice varied bunch consisting of three packs of three troopers, plus one pack of casualties. The funny thing is that I could detect no damage in one of the casualties, so he would pass for an intact marine easily. The Nexus Marines bear some resemblance to the original CMs, although it’s mainly due to their bare arms and their weapons. Some of them also sport a familiar helmet design. They’re armed mostly with very pulse rifle-ish weapons, although there are three sporting pistols or submachine guns. Two models have pretty neat shields strapped to their arms. All in all, it’s debatable how much the Nexus Colonial Marines resemble the Aliens ones, but I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.
The models are pretty nice sculpts, although some of them suffer from overly long arms. A few also succumb to the action figure syndrome by firing their rifles with one hand. As with the Fenryll troopers above, I find this more than a bit silly. The sculptor Chaz Elliott has managed to pose the troopers in good, dynamic poses, so they really look like they’re in a combat situation. They’re quite bulky and heroic in style, resembling the Copplestone Castings range for example. There are some multipart models, and the pieces fit together okay. All the models stand on fairly thick integral metal bases and due to the wide stances some of them have, basing them on standard 25mm bases will require some cutting and filing of the bases.
The casualties are a nice addition to the range. While I’ve never really understood the function of casualty miniatures, I guess they could be used as markers or tokens. The sculpts are great and characterful with gruesome wounds. If you’re looking to do some scifi zombie action, the casualties could easily be painted as zombies.
The Nexus Colonial Marines can be ordered directly from Scotia Grendel’s webstore. They retail for £5.00 for a pack of three models.
Woodbine Design / Gripping Beast SciFi Marines
These CMs, sculpted by Rob Baker who also did the 1st Corps stuff mentioned above, have steadily grown on me. I was first put off by their cartoony look, which I’ve begun to like more and more. For me the selling point of these miniatures is their kit, however. With the exception of their pulse rifles (which are the same guns carried by the 1st Corps troopers) their gear is an exact match for that worn by the marines in Aliens. There are pulse rifles, flamers, smartguns, a shotgun, motion trackers and even an automated sentry gun. All the main characters from the movie are depicted in the range, including Burke, Gorman, Ripley and Bishop – all of who will be discussed in detail in the upcoming Aliens gaming review.
As said, the models are quite cartoony as well as bulky. While the sculpting style will not be to everyone’s liking, I find that the cartoony features give the models a lot of personality. There’s a variety of expressions ranging from panic to intense concentration to anger. Again, the spirit of the CMs has been nicely captured. There are six packs in the range, with one being the aforementioned characters from Aliens and one a pack of support weapons – a marine with an RPG and one operating a sentry gun. All models come on thin integral bases. There is one irksome thing, though. Some of the models have a mould line running right through their face, and this can potentially cause the whole face to get wrecked by a casting flaw. On my copies of the minis there was some flash in the middle of the face which required very delicate cleaning so as not to disfigure the face. This becomes doubly important because of the great facial features mentioned above.
With the exception of the support weapons, all packs consist of four miniatures. Each pack retails for £5.50, and is available through Gripping Beast’s webstore.
Defiance Games UAMC Infantry
Defiance Games offers a set of 24 multi-part plastic futuristic US (or rather United Americas) marines, digitally sculpted by Tim Barry. They are very CM in style, so they’re well worth including in this review. The box includes 12 identical sprues, each with the same components: five right arms with weapons (two identical assault rifles with two different arm poses, a shortened version of said rifle, a version with an underslung grenade launcher and a leafblower/smartgun style support weapon. There are three pairs of legs in different poses, four left arms, two torsoes, six heads (five different), some ammo pouches and a backpack. While the sprue offers a nice variety, I can’t help thinking that a third torso to go with the legs instead of a backpack would’ve been a smart move on DG’s part. As it is, after assembling your 24 marines you’ll have 12 extra sets of legs – not the most useful thing to own for conversion purposes. The box includes 24 separate 25mm round plastic bases.
I’d give the models a 7 or an 8 out of 10 on casting quality. The detailing on the guns and the torso armour is pretty nice and crisp, but there are some bad softness and mould line issues on the legs. While the quality is better than on the em4 plastics (which are what, 20 years old?), it’s definitely not as good as with Games Workshop or Mantic. This is basically my main complaint about the set, as crisper casting would’ve made this set wonderful instead of “just” very nice.
The marines are nice and businesslike. They look suitably gruff and bad-ass, and their gear with body and leg armour, helmet cameras and rolled-up sleeves give them a good Colonial Marine vibe. The gun designs don’t resemble the CM guns, but to me this isn’t a major issue. The style of the support weapon immediately says “smartgun” to me, which is always nice.
With 24 models to a pack that retails for $29.95, the price for a single model is roughly $1.25, or £0.78 at the time of writing. This makes the DG marines pretty cheap, although somewhat more expensive than the em4 ones. With the DG models you do get a lot more variety, though.
You can get the UAMC box directly from Defiance Games.
Sgt. Major Miniatures Allied Troopers
Sgt. Major Miniatures produces two packs of five Allied Troopers in their Get Some! 28mm SF line. Sculpted by Adam Gayford, these troopers look like a nice amalgamation of various lines in this review which means they can be used with a lot of other lines without much trouble. They are quite chunky and their proportions are on the cartoony side, and they’re all on fairly thin integral bases. The Allied Troopers wear helmets somewhat similar in design to those worn by the Hasslefree troopers, and they bring to my mind the UNSC Marines from the Halo franchise. They carry the Hasslefree pulse rifle (which Hasslefree have allowed to be used commercially) which instantly gives them a lot of Colonial Marine points. The Allied Troopers wear fairly bulky body armour and have no kneepads or shin guards.
There’s nice variety in the poses supplied, with moving, firing and at ready poses. Of the ten miniatures nine are troopers and one is an officer with a long trenchcoat and a pistol. The officer is sadly the weakest of the lot by far, and the only one in this set that I wouldn’t recommend as he looks like he’s been given a good going-over with the proverbial ugly stick. In fact I left him out of the photo as he really isn’t representative of the overall quality of the miniatures in the sets. The troopers have characterful expressions on their faces, and a decent painter will definitely make them look great.
Variable casting quality is my main gripe with the Sgt. Major Troopers. Approximately half of the models had an excessive amount of flash and mould lines on them, as well as some pitting in the metal that will need filling in. Then again, the other half of the Troopers are nice, clean casts with no defects, so I’m willing to chalk this one down to sheer bad luck on my part.
A pack of five troopers will set you back $12.50, which translates to $2.50 or £1.65 per miniature (as of 24th February 2013). You can buy them from Sgt. Major Miniatures’ webstore.
Games Workshop plastics with Mad Robot Miniatures’ conversion parts
Games Workshop’s Warhammer 40K range of miniatures includes the Imperial Guard, who are basically the footsloggers of a very dark future. This range includes two styles of plastic regiment: the Catachans, who are Rambo-esque jungle fighters and Cadians, who are a more generic type of soldier. Neither of these regiments as such looks like Colonial Marines, although due to their wide availability they have often been used for conversion work (see here for one example). However, there’s a large after market selling resin conversion parts for GW’s plastic sets. One of the companies doing this is Mad Robot Miniatures, who just happen to sell some CM style Colonial Defense heads and pulse rifles.
The heads come in a sprue of five different heads, although with some heads the expression differences are quite slight. The resin castings are very very crisp, with nothing to clean up. They’re instantly recognizable as Colonial Marines due to their distinct helmets with helmet cameras, mics and even the protective neck flaps. The pulse rifles are an amalgam of the Aliens design and a GW lasgun. Just like the heads, they are nice clean castings with no cleaning required. Everything is sculpted by Mr. Mad Robot himself, Steve Stodden.
I tried the extra parts on both Cadian and Catachan models. I found that they work with both, but the Catachan with their vests, tank tops and bare arms make for a more CM look. The main fault with the Cadians is their long jacket that doesn’t mesh with the CM look. The Cadians do have the body armour that the Catachans lack, though. As the long hem of the Cadian jacket is attached to the legs, a good alternative is to combine Cadian torsos with Catachan legs for the best of both worlds. Mad Robot is also releasing armoured torsos for their Colonial Defense line, so that will definitely fix things. The Cadian torso features a high collar, which requires some trimming to make the new head fit.
There’s not much to criticize here, apart from one very obvious thing: the parts are intended to be compatible with GW’s plastics, which makes them the wrong size for most other ranges. The pulse rifles and heads are in line with GW’s “big heads and bigger guns” aesthetic, and will look odd on other minis. This is pretty mild critique though, as the parts are very good for what they’re intended to do.
The pack of five heads costs $3.50 while the pack of five pulse rifles will set you back $4.00. They’re available in the Mad Robot online store. You can find the Games Workshop plastic sets in the GW online store.
Overall verdict: Oh boy. That’s a lot of miniatures. The great variety means there’s something here for everyone, and what I recommend depends a lot on what you’re looking for. Authentic CM gear? Go with Woodbine. Not cartoony enough? Turn to ERM. Too cartoony? Try Denizen. Too small? Check out em4. Still too small? Copplestone. STILL too small? Fenryll. Want to do Starship Troopers as well? 1st Corps. Need more generic scifi types? Scotia Grendel or Sgt. Major might just be your uncle. Want to do it on the cheap? em4 or Defiance Games plastics. Looking for premium sculpts? Hasslefree. Want to build a CM force for Warhammer 40K? Try Mad Robot. And so on.
The size comparison pictures should give you a pretty good idea of the miniatures’ size differences. As you can see, they’re not too bad. Note that some height differences depend on the models’ integral bases, which I’ve simply slapped on top of a 25mm slottabase. The pictures should function as guidelines, but keep in mind they’re not The Truth. They weren’t taken in laboratory conditions, after all. It would’ve been too much work to photograph every single combination of different manufacturers, so I figured you can simply compare different images. There are some Aliens for size reference in some of the pics. You can click on any picture for a larger version.
These next two comparison photos are by Akula, so much thanks to him. They show the OOP Leading Edge CM size.
Like in my Alien miniatures review, I’m not going to stuff my own choices down my readers’ throats. Besides, I like all the models in this review, and will be using most of them. It’s very much a horses for courses thing, like I mentioned above. If you can’t decide, just buy a bit of everything. A matching paintjob will bring it all together regardless.
Again I must thank all the companies in this review for taking part. All of them deserve your support for what they’re doing for the hobby. My part is making their products easier for you to find. Your part? Buying them, painting them, gaming with them. Being miniature gamers, that should come naturally.
How do you see your Colonial Marines? Are they strictly the guys and gals from Aliens? What about the rest of the franchise? The comics and the books? The way I see it, it doesn’t really pay to be too much of a purist in some cases. Maybe you like your CMs with experimental laser rifles, railguns, tanks and whatnot, regardless of what’s in the movie. Definitely don’t let that stop you. These are toys, depicting fictional people in a fictional future. When you find yourself thinking “oh, but this isn’t accurate, this isn’t right!” it might be time to take a step back and think again.
Why do I say that? I used to be a real nitpicker. I couldn’t combine miniature ranges if one was 28mm and another 30mm. Different style weapons and gear made me weep. After a while I found this all a bit stressful. Now as I’m writing this, I have most of the miniatures mentioned above sitting on my desk. They’re going to be made into units, with their various weapons and gear. They’ll be painted using a consistent colour scheme. When they’re on the table – all those ranges – will people be going “how can you combine those? The horror! Different weapons! Inconsistent gear! Have you even seen Aliens?“? No. If they’re worth spending time with, they’ll be going “ooh, Colonial Marines! Awesome, I love them!”
I suggest you do that, too.
“I want to do Aliens/Xenomorphs vs. Colonial Marines vs. Predators in 28mm, who makes suitable minis?”
I can’t recall how many times I’ve run into a topic like this on various internet forums. I’ve even started a few myself. Trawling through these, the thought has every once in a while crossed my mind, that it’d be nice to have a fairly comprehensive review of different options available. Then it struck me – why not do one myself? I started with the Predators. An easy choice, since there aren’t too many different minis available, and I already had them.
The Aliens were another story altogether. There’s a lot more variety out there. In addition to the licensed stuff, all sorts of Alien-inspired biomechanical beasties can be found in various miniature lines. Getting them simply for a review purpose would cost me if not an arm and a leg, but at least a fair amount of cash better used elsewhere. With some encouragement from fellow hobbyists I did what a real reviewer would do: I contacted the companies directly, asking for samples. To my surprise, the response was very positive with most companies gladly shipping me stuff to review. The companies taking part will get all the praise they deserve later in this post.
I suppose this is enough with the introduction, and it’s time to get on with the review itself. For ease of reading I’ve decided not to split the review into smaller parts, so all will be found in this post. While it’s going to be a pretty heavy read the first time, it should also provide a fairly comprehensive view of what’s available at the time of writing. You have been warned.
Licensed products and 1:1 matches
Fans of Xenomorphs will be happy to hear that there are not only one, but two lines of miniatures modelled right on the creatures of the various films (Aliens and Alien vs. Predator to be exact). They will then be devastated to hear that both lines are discontinued and usually fetch a fairly ridiculous price on eBay and the like.
Leading Edge Aliens
Leading Edge did a whole range based on Aliens sculpted by Bob Ridolfi, and naturally the line included pretty much every iconic thing from the movies. The line is long gone by now, but the kits do come up on eBay every now and then. Stuff of Legends has a very good overview of the line, which I recommend taking a look at. I have only two figures (picked up from a convention for a pittance) so I’ll base my review on those. Both minis are from the Colonist’s last stand pack.
Even today the old sculpts look very nice, if a bit dated. The warrior is a good reproduction of the movie’s creatures, and suitably sized too, being the size of a 28mm miniature even with the knees bent. There is good, crisp detailing. As you can see, the Alien warrior’s head sports the ridged dome from Aliens as opposed to the iconic smooth one. The second miniature I have depicts a hapless colonist getting a hug and a kiss from one of those pesky Alien kids. The miniature nicely shows the “right” size for facehuggers and eggs in 28mm. Both models come on integral metal bases with some detailing.
Considered by many to be THE miniatures for Xenomorph gaming, the Horrorclix Aliens are pre-painted plastic miniatures based on the ones in Alien vs. Predator (and are probably the best thing to come out of that movie, come to think of it). There are seven different variants, with two of them sporting specialties from the movie – the Alien with a Predator’s net-grid in it’s dome and another with its tail spouting acid. Three of the models are attached to different pieces of architecture, two different columns and a piece of wall. There’s one human miniature in the pack as well, unfortunately oversized.
That brings us smoothly to the size of the Horrorclix stuff. They are much bigger than 28mm, the tallest one standing at roughly 45mm. For some this might – and will – be a problem. I don’t mind. In the original Alien film, the guy inside the suit, Boladi Badejo, was 2,18 m – that’s 7’2″ to those not into metric. While this still makes the Aliens oversized, it also gives them a very menacing presence.
The architectural bits may cause some headache, but they’re also quite easily dealt with should one not want to use them. The Aliens can be removed with a little work, and mostly the poses are not too bad on normal bases. If you don’t mind doing some extra work, the scenic elements can be modified, see my example.
They come on plastic clicky bases, but are easily removed by using a sharp craft knife, which can be used to simply pop them off the bases. Even the prepainting is not too bad, comprising of a motley combination of dark blue and black, with a glossy black head dome and some detailing in silver. I’d say these models can definitely be used as-is, if you’re not in the mood for painting.
And here are some of my Horrorclix Aliens rebased and repainted:
Overall verdict: What can I say, these are licensed products. As such, they are a perfect match for Xenomorphs from the movies. Their limited availability and consequent silly prices make them a not-really-valid option for most people. If you can get your hands on them, do so. The Horrorclix Aliens might be too big for some people’s tastes. As mentioned above, not an issue to me but worth noting.
That’s the official miniatures covered. Nice, expensive, out of production. Let’s take a look at alternatives, shall we?
The Xenomorph being such a classic as far as scifi-monsters go, it should come as no surprise that there are quite a few alternatives for the models available. While these are not 1:1 matches, they’re definitely close enough to use as Xenomorphs and bear an obvious resemblance. The one guys missing here are Eureka’s rendition – the Chaos Weasels – which I believe were pulled off the market due to IP concerns.
EDIT January 11th 2011:
Blog reader John contacted me with the following information on the Eureka Chaos Weasels:
The Eureka Chaos Weasels are towards the smaller end of the 25-32mm spectrum. They are multipart, and came with metal slottabases. Some of the ones I picked up had them, and some needed plastic bases. They have great grinning smiles that I rather like. The tails in particular are bendy and poseable, if a little fragile. Chaos Weaslings, I believe, were not-facehuggers.
I’ve got some Leading Edge eggs and huggers. They have integral bases with some moulded details- creepy tendrils under the eggs, and metal decking beneath the hugger. I’ve rebased them on 25mm washers and hidden the detail. The eggs are a good size, but the huggers are a little weedy.
John was also kind enough to provide me with a few photos, and there’s one in the size comparison section as well.
Rather nice stuff, as you can see. Alas, out of production. Thanks a lot for the information and photos, John!
East Riding Miniatures – Mythic Worlds Sci-Fi Aliens
ERM’s Mythic Worlds scifi line includes a bunch of aliens, which are obviously Xenomorphs. The important development phases are represented, as the range includes warriors, facehuggers and a queen. And what interesting miniatures they are!
I must admit that when I first received these models, my thoughts were in line with the company’s name: “erm….”. Make no mistake, these models are a rather cartoony take on the Alien theme. The models are oddly proportioned even in regards to each other, the facehuggers are massively oversized, the detail is soft, the sculpting a bit crude…to sum it up, these models really don’t convey the sleek elegance of the biomechanical killing machine we’ve all come to love. And yet the models have grown on me. Why on Earth, you may ask. Let me tell you why.
The ERM Aliens to me manage to perfectly capture the nightmarish quality of the Xenomorph. When I think of Newt in Aliens, I feel that this is how she might have viewed the Aliens. As truly being alien and monstrous, covered with weird tubes, sporting ridges and spines and extending jaws and barbed tails. I might even go as far as to say that these models are a kind of an impressionistic take on the Xenomorph. While they’re not perfect depictions, they manage to capture the feel and the essence of their subject. It’s worth noting that the Alien with the inner jaw extended is pretty huge. See size comparison down the page.
Getting back to everyday stuff, the range includes four different warriors, a queen and three different facehuggers, all designed by Tony Yates. There are also facehuggers with guns available, if you should feel the need for some. The queen comes in four pieces – head, tail, body and arms. Like the pictures show, the facehuggers are oversized (although nicely in scale with the Dark Arts Miniatures birthing pods) being the size of a regular 28mm miniature. The facehuggers are in my view the weakest of the sets, as they’re a bigger departure from their subject matter than the warriors and the queen.
All the sets retail for £5.00 each and are available on East Riding Miniatures’ website. The queen (Alien Mother) especially is an impressively sized model, and at only 5 pounds a real bargain. All models are on integral metal bases. The Alien Mother needs filling with greenstuff and I suggest pinning her together as well. The photo has her on a 40mm round base.
Reviresco - Alien Homophages
Starguard is an ancient (from 1974, which amounts to the same thing) scifi miniatures game, which is still supported today. To my happy surprise, the miniatures line includes some wonderful xenomorphs under the name “Alien Homophages” (homophage translates as man-eater), with extra stuff to go with them.
As with the ERM ones above, these are by no means perfect renditions, but are still appealing – especially to two kinds of gamers:
A) Those on a budget. The homophages are very cheap. The pack with five different warrior poses, eggs and facehuggers (with one hugging a separate head) costs all of $7.50. That’s €5.60 or £4.78 at the time of writing. That’s even cheaper than ERM’s stuff, which in itself is cheap already.
B) Those gaming with 25mm to “true” 28mm miniatures. The homophages stand at exactly 28mm from the base surface to the top of the head. The scale creep that’s gone on for years has seen a lot of miniatures touted as 28mm go up in size to 30-33mm. Compared to most current 28mm ranges, especially those at the heroic end of the spectrum, the homophages are small indeed.
The models themselves? I’ll be blunt: they’re fairly crudely sculpted, and the figure quality matches the price. There are separate spines supplied with the models that are a pain to glue on. The detail’s soft. There’s a bit of flash there, too.
That’s not to say that there’s nothing to recommend, though. These miniatures are by no means rubbish! As with the ERM Aliens, the Reviresco homophages manage to instantly convey that Alien feel. Even if they’re not the best, crispest miniatures, the moment you see them you know you’re looking at Xenomorphs, no mistake. A mass of these guys painted up and gloss varnished will make for a very nice horde of Aliens. Also, I really like the dynamic poses.
The homophages come on thin integral metal bases. A few have separate heads and arms whichs are easy to attach due to handy pegs that fit corresponding holes in the torsos. They are available directly from Reviresco’s online store.
Pendraken - Facehugger and egg cluster
Pendraken is a manufacturer focusing on 10mm miniatures . What on earth are they doing here?
In their 10mm Sci Fi range they have a beautiful line of Aliens, Colonial Marines and accessories (if you’re into 10mm at all, get them!). The line also includes Facehuggers and eggs, which are way oversized for 10mm. Of these, the Facehugger is a perfect fit for 28mm. The eggs are a bit too small, and unfortunately not a match size-wise for the Facehugger. The ‘hugger itself is a nice, clean and simple sculpt and comes on a small integral base. The sculptor is unknown and they come 10 in a pack for £1.45, making them an excellent choice for those looking for Facehuggers. As mentioned, the eggs are a bit small for 28mm, but could have their uses as well. They are of similar size to the Reviresco ones shown above. These miniatures are available from Pendraken’s website.
Overall verdict: There are some worthy not-Aliens manufacturers for those not willing or able to procure the OOP licensed stuff. They have their little flaws in terms of style and quality, but are definitely a viable option. The Pendraken and Reviresco facehuggers are top notch, and should definitely be on your shopping list if you’re looking for those little babies. These not-Aliens are a cheap and easy way to bulk up a Xenomorph horde for a fraction of the price of the OOP ranges.
That’s all the official miniatures and not-Aliens (as far as I know, of course) covered. Let’s see some size comparison pictures. You can click on any photo for a larger version.
Going a bit further from the franchise, there are ranges of scifi-miniatures that have clearly been influenced by the Alien films. They have a biomechanical thing going on, with an elongated domed head here, a spike-tipped tail there…you get the picture. Or they might just be in some way Aliens-y. While there are several of these lines available, I will present a few that come up often in forum discussions, and review some others that don’t quite qualify as a not-Alien one. Due to the first two being large ranges, I’ve settled on showing some examples of them and leaving you to your own research.
EDIT Februray 19th 2011: 1st Corps and Hasslefree added.
Games Workshop Tyranids
Ah, the Tyranids. They are basically GW’s Warhammer 40,000 universe’s version of Xenomorphs, and have served a similar role with the most obvious example being Space Hulk, a WH40K version of Aliens.
The Tyranid range is very large and offers loads of options for different Xenomorph-style creatures. I present a few examples here, that I could easily get my hands on. They should give you the general idea. I’ll point out that these are old variants and as such not fully representative and so on. As said, general idea. The fact that a lot of the Tyranid range is now available in plastic makes them ideal for Xenomorph conversions. More on that later. The range also sports some very large beasties, so if you want to improvise on your Alien universe, there’s loads to grab here.
Pictured below is an old Lictor next to an old Genestealer. The Lictor has had some spiky appendages removed, hence the greenstuff on the chest. The Genestealer has been photoshopped to bring out the detail.
The Tyranids are available directly from Games Workshop’s online store and from various retailers, naturally including GW’s own stores. The prices vary a lot, so I’m not going to list them here. Knowing GW, the information would be outdated in a month, anyway.
Scotia Grendel Kryomek Aliens
An older range stylistically very similar to the Tyranids mentioned above. The long heads and spiky tails typical of Xenomorphs are present, as well as that biomechanical look. Pictures are taken from the Scotia Grendel website and used without permission. Naturally, they will be taken down on request. I was going to get my hands on some samples for review, but due to problems of my own it was taking too long and I wanted to eventually publish this review.
See here for Matakishi’s effective use of Kryomek Aliens as Xenomorphs.
1st Corps Parasite Adults
The 1st Corps scifi line includes a pack of two Alien-inspired beasties. There’s the bipedal stance, the elongated skull and the prominent ribs. The models lack the biomechanical look, but I believe that with the right paintjob they’d make for passable Aliens. The models come on integral bases and the arms are separate, allowing for some variation in poses. There are two critters in a pack, costing £3.00. They’re available direct from 1st Corps.
Hasslefree Head Crabs
I thought for a long time whether to put these in the not-Aliens or the Aliens-inspired section. In the end they ended up in the latter. The Head Crabs, sculpted by Kev White, are obviously inspired by the Facehuggers in the Alien franchise. They’re however different enough in their anatomy to not quite be not-Aliens (how’s that for a sentence). They’re beautiful nevertheless, and well worth adding to your games. You could always cut off the second tail to make them even more Facehugger-ish. They’re quite pricey at £1.00 each, so the price might be a point for consideration. The Head Crabs are available direct from Hasslefree.
Overall verdict: Yes, alternative ranges do exist, and there’s quality stuff there. It pretty much depends on how much of a purist you are, or in other words how far you’re willing to stretch your vision of Aliens. If you’re okay with “Alien-ish”, there’s definitely a good supply here for you.
Making your own
All this choice, and still not happy? How about some Do It (Almost) Yourself, then? There are manufacturers producing nice conversion bits to turn other models – such as the Tyranids mentioned above – into something a bit more Xenomorph-y. With a large part of the Tyranid range being plastic, this isn’t really much of a chore. No, you won’t get a perfect match, but as mentioned before, for me at least it’s more important that the model conveys the look and feel of the Alien, even if it’s not a perfect match. As this article shows, converting Tyranids into Xenomorphs isn’t a huge task even without using conversion parts.
Chapterhouse Studios Xenomorph heads
Chapterhouse Studios is a company producing resin conversion parts for GW’s Warhammer and Warhammer 40K lines. There’s one set that’s particularly interesting, that set of course being the Xenomorph heads. They have the long, smooth-canopied head (sometimes lovingly called the death banana) and let’s face it, that’s what makes us immediately think of Aliens. The detailing on the head is a bit more organic than in the original Giger stuff, with little tendrils and things like that. They are a bit big for the smaller creatures, but perfect for the larger ones. There are two different variants, and the detail is nice and crisp. The resin castings are of good quality, and there were no air bubbles or other blemishes. The price of the set is $5.85 for a pack of six, and they’re available directly from Chapterhouse’s online store. There’s a great review of them here, courtesy of the wonderful people of the Fawcett Avenue Conscripts, whose blog is well worth reading.
Pictured below are the two Tyranid models shown above, this time with Chapterhouse heads.
Heresy Miniatures spare heads
Heresy is a maker of multi-part miniatures, and that means their range includes some spare heads that are definitely suitable for Xenomorph conversions.
First up is an eyeless/lurker head for the Heresy Hellhounds. I don’t know if the heads are available separately, but I’m sure that if enough people request them, the demand could well be met. Shown below is a shot of the head on the GW Genestealer shown before. As you can see, the head definitely has the smooth Alien look. The full length canopy isn’t there, but it’s still Alien enough to work.
Heresy also sells a separate sprue of Lurker heads, although let’s face it: these are Alien heads. They’re lovely, and I must say I was a bit disappointed when it turned out they were a bit on the small side, especially on a bulky plastic Tyranid.
If only I had something smaller…and then it hit me. I tried putting the head on one of the Reviresco Homophages, and what do you know, the combination produces a very, very authentic looking Xenomorph. Death banana head? Check. Spiky tail? Check. Bipedal? Check. See for yourself, and ignore the blu-tack.
Casting quality on all heads was very good, although there was some mould lining to scrape off. The Lurker heads are available directly from Heresy, and you get three heads for £1.00. Ask Heresy about the Hellhound heads.
Overall verdict: If you’re not afraid to do a bit of easy converting, DIY is definitely a viable route to building your own Alien horde. Quality conversion bits are available for cheap. The Reviresco Homophages + Heresy Lurker heads combination receives a special mention here, as it results in a very authentic looking Alien, albeit a smallish one.
There you go, dear readers. As comprehensive an Alien miniature review as I was able to pull off at the moment. I have to give my sincerest thanks to the companies participating and posting me – a humble blogger – samples for review, often providing me with an abundance of extras. A special tip of the hat goes off to John at Reviresco. Apparently he noted my nationality, and threw in a pack of WW2 Finns. How’s that for customer service! I will also point out that the willingness to participate and amount of samples provided did not affect the review one bit.
Some might view this review as too positive, since I mostly praise the models reviewed. I disagree. People’s tastes vary, so I’ve tried to provide an honest and objective view. Some people value quality, others simply want loads of miniatures for as low a price as possibly. Most probably try to find a suitable balance between the two.
I don’t see the point in labeling something singularly poor – except when talking about casting quality and such. Reviewers and peers (often the same thing in this small hobby) have a lot of influence. If someone tells you that a particular line of miniatures sucks, maybe you won’t see for yourself and end up passing up on miniatures you actually might have liked. I also think that there is an intrinsic value in focusing on the good points in something first, and focusing on the negative second.
I’d also like to appeal to you readers: if you saw something you liked, click on the manufacturer links, show your support and buy stuff. Manufacturers big and (especially) small really need, and more importantly, deserve your patronage. Show this review around to people interested, too. And no, I’m not making any money out of this through ads, clicks or anything like that.
I’ll try to update this review if and when suitable ranges appear and I get my hands on samples to review. I hope to be able to keep this post current, so if there’s something I’ve missed, definitely let me know.
Now get on with infecting the galaxy.
With my Predator miniatures review receiving a lot of positive feedback, I’m planning a comprehensive review of different miniatures that can be used to represent the Xenomorphs from the Alien franchise. I’m fairly certain that it will be awesome.
While I haven’t got all the miniatures that I need for the review, here’s another, related one: Alien birthing pods from Dark Art Miniatures.
The eggs in the Aliens movies are not only fairly disgusting, but very iconic as well. Ever since Alien we’ve known that once one of those babies opens, you’d better get moving or you’ll get hugged. What Aliens gamer wouldn’t want a few of these to provide that lovely feeling that something’s amiss?
I ran into the Alien birthing pods on Matakishi’s wonderful site, and immediately knew I had to buy them. Now, usually I don’t buy a lot of scenery unless I really have a use for them. Otherwise they just tend to collect dust and wait for me to A) get some gaming in and B) actually finish some scenery. Luckily I have a perfect use for these in (surprise, surprise!) my Space Hulk project, where the eggs will be used instead of the purple arrows provided with the game to denote the Alien entry points. Nifty! A pack of six eggs costs £5.00.
On to the models. There are six resin eggs in the pack, and they’re all sculpted by Klaus Teschner. Two of them are open, one is opening, two are closed and one is closed but ruptured and has a poor baby Facehugger hanging out through a hole in the side of the egg. All of the eggs are based on integral, irregular patches of ground with all kinds of nasty tentacle-like roots creeping around them.
The eggs are nicely detailed. While close examination shows some fairly crude sculpting (e.g. you can clearly see indentations left by sculpting tools), it doesn’t bother me as the overall effect is very nice. The models look organic, soft and icky. While words like this would often be condemning in a miniatures review, when you’re talking about Alien eggs, they’re high praise.
As the size comparison pic shows, these eggs are much bigger than the ones in the films. To those looking to build a perfect 1:1 Aliens-setup, this might be a detriment. I don’t mind. Just like above, the overall effect is what matters.
Casting quality is nice. There are some air bubbles, but not so many as to be annoying. There is a bit of flash along the edges of some of the bases, but they’ll take approximately 15 seconds to scrape off.
My only real point of criticism is about the packaging. The eggs were loose in a plastic bag inside a padded envelope. This had resulted in a few small chips as well as one bigger one that I had to superglue back together. With a quality product like this, it’s a shame that they’ll be at the mercy of gentle-handed post office personnel all over the world.
There are some very positive things I have to point out – always lovely to do in a review. The first is the speedy delivery. I made the purchase on August 25, and they were shipped on the same day, arriving here in Finland on August 30. Not bad, especially since there was a weekend in there too.
The second one is a broken freebie sample that was added. Now, this is simply a brilliant idea and a nice gesture. I guess all resin producers end up with loads of stuff unsuitable for selling. Resin is fairly brittle, and there are bound to be breakages as well as miscast pieces with air bubbles etc. Why throw them all away? DAM added a sample of their Alien Wall terrain in the form of a battle damaged section piece. The “towers” at the ends of the wall section have both snapped, but other than that the wall is definitely usable, especially since it’s even specifically a battle damaged length of wall.
There’s certainly a use for things like this. Gamers who don’t necessarily need grade A stuff, scratchbuilders, frugal gamers and so on. Being a bit into recycling, I find the idea of giving away second hand (and grade) stuff for free very, very appealing. Major thumbs up to Dark Art Miniatures for this! The sample also serves its purpose as a commercial sample, as it really showed me the casting quality and the level of detail in the piece, and has made me consider ordering more.
So a tip from a loving blogger to resin model makers: sell your failed castings in cheap grab bags or add them as freebies. Much better than throwing them away. If you don’t want to sell them, you can even ship them to me, I’ll kindly take them off your hands.
Overall verdict: These eggs have their pros and cons. While the detailing could be sharper and they’re a bit big compared to the eggs in the Alien movies, they still manage to serve their purpose wonderfully. With a price of £0.83 (that’s 1 EUR at the time of writing) apiece, these are a quality purchase. I got a £4.50 wall section thrown in as a free extra, even if it was damaged. I’m sure to return to Dark Art Miniatures for both their quality product and their quality service. And in the future, for their quality packaging too, I hope.
The Alien birthing pods cost £5.00 for a pack of six, and are available in the Dark Art Miniatures webstore.
Update August 16th 2011: Predastore’s Spear-Hunter and Bone-Hunter added to the review.
Update February 18th 2012: Predastore’s Jungle-Predette and Chasing-Hunter added to the review.
Update November 18th 2012: Predastore’s Death-Hunter and Running-Hunter added to the review.
My reviews usually center on a single model or a group of models from a single manufacturer. With this one I wanted to do something different. I recently ordered a bunch of 28mm Predator – or rather, not-Predator – miniatures from three different companies, and decided to clump them all in the same review. Web searches for Predator miniatures crop up fairly often on the blog’s stats, so apparently there is a demand.
Keen-eyed readers will spot right away that there are some models missing, of which the most common are the Horrorclix Predators. I deemed these too big for me, however. They’re not really even close to 28-32mm, but rather 35-37mm. Yes, Predators are big, but not that big. They’re nice minis, though.
With that one explained, here it is – the grand Predator miniatures review. Do note that as this is an ongoing review, all the prices are “at the time of writing” ones.
Hurn Headtaker by Heresy Miniatures is great. The model is large (see comparison pics later) and well detailed and comes with a variety of weaponry, and you can choose to have him wield either a spear (with the wristblades concealed) or extended wristblades. You can even go for total overkill, and have him carry a spear in one hand and have the wristblades extended on the other. If you go for double wristblades, there is a contracted spear that you can put on the model’s back. Additionally, there is a shoulder cannon you can attach.
The Hurn is in a very dynamic pose that manages to convey a sense of movement nicely. He’s turning to his left with his dreadlocks flowing and the shoulder cannon tracking movement. The miniature is bulky and thickly muscled and this combines nicely with the pose to create the sense of a true predator (note the lack of the capital P).
There is nice detailing on the model. There is no helmet, so the iconic Predator face is there and is instantly recognizable. The Hurn has a patch of armour on his left shoulder, with three skulls hanging from the strap. It might just be me or a glitch in the sculpt, but to me the middle skull looks like it might not be entirely human. He also wears an armoured loincloth and codpiece and leg armour. The wristblades are barbed and thin, and there is nice detailing on the other weaponry too.
While I think this is THE Predator miniature to own, there are a few things I must point out. Firstly, the wristblades are indeed long and thin. This means that any rough handling will make them bend and possibly break. Secondly, the shoulder cannon mount is a bit too long, and what applies to the wristblades applies here too. I cut it down a bit, making it not only more sturdy but also more in line with the shoulder cannon from the movies. Thirdly, the model’s size means that it either needs to be mounted on a base bigger than 25mm or the slotta tab needs to be cut down. This was helpfully pointed out on the Heresy website, and I did the latter with no trouble, so it’s not much of a problem. While I paid £8.00 for the miniature, it currently retails at £12.00, which might be too much for some.
Overall verdict: While challenged by Predastore’s recent offerings, I still think the Hurn is the best Predator miniature on the market. Needs to be handled carefully, might need a bit of tweaking and is a bit costly, but still pretty awesome.
As mentioned, the Hurn retails at £12.00, and it is a limited prototype at the moment, with 1000 castings. There are promises of more Hurn to come.
You can order the Hurn on Heresy’s website.
Update June 26th 2011: The Hurn reviewed here was sold out. There is another available from Heresy, though. It has a masked head, but is otherwise the same model as this one.
Hunter Aliens by Copplestone Castings are obviously not-Predators. Two of the four models have helmets on, while two are bareheaded, and the looks of the faces and the helmets are instantly recognizable. While not as bulky as the Hurn, they are still tall and beefy in 28mm. The models are armed with a variety of weapons familiar from the movies.
Alien #1 is bareheaded and has an extended wristblade – only one blade though – and he’s looking down with his arm raised. There is a shoulder cannon on him, and he’s armoured almost exactly like the Hurn, with the exception of some armour on the top of his foot. There is a skull on his belt. This model just oozes calm menace.
Alien #2 has a helmet on and is looking to his left, holding his glaive-like double-ended spear. Along with his helmet he wears armour similar to #1, and there is a shoulder cannon on him as well.
Alien #3 is very similar to the previous one, except the posture is a bit different. There is armour covering the tops of his thighs, and a throwing disc hanging on his right hip.
Alien #4 is bareheaded and wears no body armour. He holds aloft a skull in his right hand in an obviously gloating/challenging pose, and his wristblade is extended. He holds a spear in his left hand, with the tip resting on the ground, and there’s a throwing disc on his right hip as well.
The detailing on these models is what you would expect from a Copplestone mini. Simple, cleanly sculpted and very adequate, but nothing fancy or fiddly. Like all Copplestone Castings minis, they come with thin integral bases and fit nicely on 25mm bases. A pack of four costs £8.00, which is great value.
I can’t really find much to fault in these miniatures, although the Hurn tops them in size, detail and ferocity.
Overall verdict: The Hunter Aliens are solid Mark Copplestone stuff. They’re simple, clean and characterful sculpts that come four in a pack and are a joy to paint. While not as big or detailed as the Heresy Hurn, they’re still very nice Predators and the price – £8 for four miniatures – is very, very nice. The lack of fine detail and the simplicity of the models may put someone off, but as a painter and fan of Copplestone sculpts I love it. I will probably use these with the Hurn functioning as a senior hunt leader.
You can get the models for £8 on the Copplestone Castings website. There’s another pack named Hunter Aliens with Guns which you might also want to pick up.
INAPs by Ainsty are starting to look pretty dated. The resin models are not very detailed and the weapons especially are pretty simplistic, often just simple tubes and rods. There is however one amazingly cool thing to these that pretty much knocks all criticism right out: they’re invisible. Well okay, not completely, but cast in clear resin. The effect is just amazing, and works brilliantly on these minis. INAP? No idea what that means, but It’s definitely Not A Predator.
INAP #1 is something I haven’t seen before: a Predator female. She’s fully armoured, looking down to her right and carries a three-barreled weapon on her left arm.
INAP #2 is firing the wrist-mounted weapon on his right arm. His left hand is on his hip, and he seems to have claws of some sort on his hand. The website calls them cyberspurs, whatever those are. There is a tube going from his mask to a device on his belt.
INAP #3 continues the Predator tradition of holding aloft skulls. His entire left arm has been replaced with one big gun barrel and he has both his arms raised, as if he’s roaring in victory. Other than that, he’s armoured just like INAP #2.
Yes, these models have flaws. INAP #3 wasn’t a very good casting, as there are some air bubbles (one which has chipped the end of the gun barrel, I believe) and the resin is more cloudy than in the other two. The models come on very bulky integral resin bases, which are a real pain to get off, especially since the resin is very brittle. I snapped INAP #1 at the knees and INAP #2 at the ankle doing this. Superglue came to the rescue, luckily. As mentioned before, these models are very simplistic. The poses are fine but the designs leave a lot to be desired.
The big thing here, however, is the clear resin. Not only does it offer a look you simply cannot achieve no matter how good a painter you are, it also captures the feel of the Predators’ cloaking device perfectly. It also serves to divert attention – and the eye – from the simple design of the models. There’s also the point that INAP’s don’t really need painting. Some people have advised giving the models a thin blue wash, but I think I won’t bother. It will be more in line with the source material anyway, see for yourself:
Maybe just the yellow eyes, and that’s it. Not being the world’s fastest painter, it’s nice to get away with only painting a few eyes and doing the bases. Of course the INAP holding the skull needs to have the skull painted. I’ve also been thinking of trying to paint parts of the model to create the feel of a de-cloaking Predator.
The clear resin INAPs will set you back £3.00 each. It’s not too bad, just be sure not to break them. They are also available in opaque resin for £2.00 apiece, but since the same price buys you the much superior Copplestone stuff, I wouldn’t bother.
Overall verdict: The INAPs are not very impressive models that rely on the clear resin effect to pull them through. It does. I suggest that every Predator fan picks up at least a few. Predators without cloaking? Pffft. You can get the INAPs for £4 apiece from Ainsty’s webstore.
Hunters by Predastore are a collection of limited-run resin models. They’re all beautiful models and exquisitely detailed. In fact, they boast some of the most intricate detail I’ve ever seen in a miniature.
Spear-Hunter, who is sculpted by Remy Tremblay is a fairly classic view of a masked Predator holding his spear aloft. The model is tall, lean and well-proportioned. The anatomy is very nicely sculpted and the details are crisp. The webbing covering his torso must be mentioned especially, as that is indeed some stunning stuff, as is the small animal skull hung on said webbing. In addition to his spear, the Predator has half-extended wristblades on his left arm.
The Spear-Hunter comes in three parts, namely the two wrists and the rest of the model. The pieces fit together quite nicely. There was some miscasting on the left arm of the model, which I had to work with files and blades. The model doesn’t really come with a base, there’s just a casting tab. As far as I can tell, you’re simply supposed to pop the model off and rebase him.
I have a few minor points of criticism about the model, as well as one major one. The major one applies to both of Predastore’s offerings so I’ll save that until later. The minor ones? I think the model is a bit too lean. This is of course a personal preference, I just like my Preds a bit more cartoony, bulky and muscular. This one would have no chance armwrestling with Dutch or Dillon. The delicate detailing is also a double-edged sword, as the speartip and the wristblades are very, very thin. Even with those minor niggles, this is a very impressive miniature.
Bone-Hunter by Allan Carrasco is a refreshingly different Predator, a primal one. Whether he’s just been stuck too long on a planet or represents a piece of Predator history, the model lacks the usual hi-tech trappings of the species. Instead he’s armed with a bladed bone club and a single wristblade which also seems to be crafted from bone. Additionally, he sports some armour plates of either metal or hardened leather. The model’s pose is just excellent, as he is stepping forward and seems to be calling out a challenge.
As with the previous model, the detailing here is crisp and clean. Resin allows the casting of thinner, more delicate details than metal, and this has been put to great use. From the individual dreadlocks to the chipped blade of the club, it’s almost as if you’re looking at a HD version of a miniature. As previously mentioned, this is not without its downsides, and butter-fingered hobbyists should take care not to mangle all that nice detail. Luckily the resin used is not the most brittle stuff in the world.
The model comes on a scenic integral base. This is something that tends to divide collectors. Personally, I’m not that fond of integral bases, especially large ones. I base my models almost exclusively on round 25mm slottabases, and anything overlapping is a pain. As it is, I cut off the scenic base and managed to fit Bone-Hunter on one of my regular bases. It needs to be said, though, that the base was very nice. It was also easy to remove due to it being resin. You can see the scenic base here, for example.
I have nothing much to criticize about Bone-Hunter. It’s a great miniature and an interesting take on the subject. There is however one thing I must point out about both of Predastore’s miniatures: their price. All models cost 14 EUR including postage. This is by no means exorbitant, and Predastore has actually lowered the initial price, but it will still obviously be an issue for some customers. Granted, it’s cheaper than the Hurn for example, but then again the latter is a pretty hefty hunk of metal with optional weapons and the like.
Jungle-Predette is another interesting new concept. As the name suggests, what we have here is a female Predator. Sculpted by Gael Goumon, the model is in a hunting pose, perched and alert on top of a fallen tree and holding a large knife in her right hand. All comments above about quality are again applicable.
The Jungle-Predette is quite obviously female. Goumon has a good grasp of anatomy – this isn’t just a male with breasts added on, but the shape of the body clearly indicates a female. I must applaud the sculptor on this, since this is something you don’t always see in 28mm models. The sculpting skill is also apparent in the Jungle-Predette’s posing. While she’s standing still, the miniature manages to wonderfully convey a feeling of an alert and agile hunter.
The model does stumble into a few minor pitfalls. In my opinion, the breasts are too large. This is all too common in 28mm female miniatures. The Jungle-Predette’s breasts aren’t massive as such, but they still look a bit too full for an obviously very lean and muscular frame. To see what I mean, do a Google image search for female ufc fighters. All that muscle will eat up body fat – breasts included. The same theme is also present in the clothing. Instead of the fairly functional armour worn by most Predators, the Predette is dressed in a bikini with a few armour plates covering her rear and shoulders. I can only wonder why, as it seems the only reason for this is catering to a male audience. “Sexy” is not really a word I associate with Predators, so this unnecessary sexing up baffles me. As the sculpt is so good, it’d take a lot of skill to sculpt on some additional armour. It doesn’t ruin the model, but I just find it a bit pointless and tasteless. I’m of two minds about the base. As mentioned above, I’m not much of a fan of scenic bases. Then again, this is one pretty base! The tree is sculpted in great detail, and the model and base form a seamless whole. I was happy enough to deviate from my standard procedure, and base the whole thing on a 50mm base.
Chasing-Hunter is another miniature by Remy Tremblay. This is one of the most dynamic models I’ve ever seen. The Chasing-Hunter is apparently going full-tilt, and is vaulting a fallen tree or another obstacle, steadying himself with a hand on a tree stump. As with all the other Predastore models, the detail is very impressive and crisp, from the mandibles down to the flying dreadlocks of the Predator. The sense of movement is conveyed brilliantly and fits my idea of Predators 100%. Whoever this hunter is chasing doesn’t have a lot of time left. The model is again on a scenic base. As you can see from the pictures, I cut away the excess material in the base in order to fit the tree stump on a round 25mm base. What I said above about the Predette’s base applies here too, and I was happy leave the base as-is.
There is a downside to the model’s posing: such things and intricate details don’t come for free. In the case of the Chasing-Hunter, the flowing dreadlocks came in three separate pieces. Try as I might, I couldn’t get a perfect fit matching them to the Predators’ head. The arm connects to the hand on the tree stump at the wrist. There is a very small surface in the join, and I felt that it was necessary to pin it. This required some delicate work in order not to destroy anything in the process. Other than those two things there’s not much to fault.
Death-Hunter is the second Predastore miniature by Allan Carrasco, the first being the Bone-Hunter mentioned above. This model again takes the Predator imagery in a new direction. Standing tall – and I mean really tall, see the size comparison pictures – the Death-Hunter looks like he’s taking part in a gladiator battle. He’s holding a massive, wicked-looking halberd/bardiche-type long-hafted axe in his right hand, and presenting a skull trophy with his left. The left wrist also features a single long wristblade. There’s minimal armour in the form of greaves and some armour plates on the right shoulder and the left thigh. The helmet sports what I assume are decorative tusks or something similar.
The model is cast in grey resin, and comes in seven parts: the main body, separate arms, the wristblade, the two tusks and a small rocky base. The base isn’t shown here, as I tend to mount my minis on standard round slottabases. As you can see from the picture, I added some greenstuff to accommodate the slightly raised foot. The parts fit together very nicely. The level of detail in the sculpt is once again very impressive, and I like the fact that the model isn’t too cluttered. Carrasco is recognized as one of the best in the business at the moment, and rightfully so.
As I said, just like the Bone-Hunter, this model takes a new approach at Predators. Is he a gladiator? That’s obviously not a hunter’s weapon, and I would assume Predators don’t wage large scale war without technology. If he’s a gladiator, who is he fighting and for whose entertainment? I wasn’t too hot on the concept initially, but the Death-Hunter has grown on me lately.
Any complaints? Just a few. While I appreciate the fine detail that can be achieved with resin, gluing on two teeny tiny tusks was a chore, and one that can be destroyed by a bit of careless handling. Also, I don’t know whether it’s intentional, but there seems to be some scale creep going on. From the soles of his feet to the top of his helmet, the Death-Hunter stands at exactly 40mm, towering head and shoulders over most 28mm humans.
Running-Hunter by Jon Siegel is in stiff competition with Remy Tremblay’s Chasing-Hunter for the most dynamic pose of the Predastore range, as he darts to the left as if dodging an attack. In fact, you can almost see the bullets zooming past him. He has extended wrist blades on his right wrist and a plasma caster on his shoulder. The Running-Hunter sports pretty typical Predator armour, with greaves, plates on one shoulder, both thighs and the groin.
Another grey resin casting, the model comes in four parts: the main body, the right wrist, the left leg from the knee down and the plasma caster on the Hunter’s shoulder. I liked the fact there was nothing too fiddly here, all the pieces were of decent size. There was no base supplied, so I assume the model should be attached directly to the base. That’s what I did at least.
The Running-Hunter is a traditional take on the Predator, and I really like him for that. You can never have too many of these. When I saw the photos, the anatomy looked a bit off, and I still think the arms look a little short, but the model is much nicer in the resin than in the pictures.
As usual, there are some gripes. I’m somewhat suspicious of the durability of the model, as there is a small contact point – the sole of the foot – with the base. While the model weighs next to nothing, I worry a little about the possible snapping of the ankle. This had in fact happened during transport, which was a surprise considering that Predastore ships their stuff very well packaged in a hard plastic case. My second complaint comes from the fit of the parts. Usually the Predastore models are prime examples of well-fitting parts, but with the Running-Hunter I needed some extra work with knife and file before I had a fit I was happy with.
Despite these issues, I really like the Running-Hunter. In fact, I haven’t yet seen a Predastore sculpt that I didn’t, even if the Running-Hunter might be the weakest so far. Then again, comparisons with Tremblay’s, Goumon’s and Carrasco’s work set the bar very, very high, so take that into consideration regarding the word “weakest”.
Overall verdict: Predastore’s resin models are wonderful stuff, even if at 14 EUR apiece they are a bit pricey. They are very accurate renditions, well sculpted and intricately detailed. I also like the way Predastore’s models offer you both traditional takes and new interpretations on the Predator. If you can afford them, I strongly suggest adding them to your games. They compete with the Hurn for the title of best Predator around. All are available directly from Predastore, although you must be advised that some of them are limited casting runs that might or might not be available later.
No miniature review is complete without some size comparison shots. They’re especially useful when models from several manufacturers are handled, so the next pics might be useful. Click for larger pics, as usual:
And this, dear readers, concludes this mammoth of a post. I admit it kind of got out of hand, but at least it should shed light on the topic of not-Predator miniatures. Thanks for making it all the way to the end!