Archive for the ‘Miniature reviews’ Category

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Genbu by Zenit Miniatures – a review

April 18, 2014

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.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

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!

Click for a larger version

A smaller box maybe?

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.

L to R: Pacific Rim Heroclix Knifehead, em4, Genbu, Reaper CAV Weasel

L to R: Pacific Rim Heroclix Knifehead, em4, Genbu, Reaper CAV Weasel

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.

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CAV mechs by Reaper – a review

February 6, 2014

As part of my Pacific Rim project (see previous posts) I ordered some mechs from Reaper Miniatures‘ CAV line. They were such nice models that I figured I’d review them for the benefit of other hobbyists as well.

By way of disclaimer I have to say that I know nothing about the CAV: Strike Operations game, so I’ll be reviewing these purely from a “giant robots to be used in Pacific Rim style gaming” point of view. I’ll happily take the liberty of interpreting the designs as I view them, so vents might become guns and so on!

All the miniatures are sculpted by Chris Lewis, and have integral metal bases. I’ve glued them to 40mm plastic bases. There were no major casting issues, only minor mould lines and very little flash on some models. All except one of the models are four part castings consisting of torso, legs and two arms. The parts fit together nicely on all the models.

You can find all the miniatures in Reaper’s online store. Prices are from approximately 7.50 EUR to 8.30 EUR.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Hawk has a strong Transformers vibe, mostly due to the chest reminiscent of Optimus Prime. Hawk stands at around 49mm from the bottom of his soles to the tips of the things on his back. I’m not entirely sure what they are, although their design and the mech’s name suggest some sort of jet engines. They might be weapons, too. Anyone more familiar with the game, feel free to comment! Hawk’s smallis stature made me put it on a washer to give him a slight height boost. Of all the models in this review, Hawk might be my least favourite one – it’s just a bit boring. Hawk is the exception to the “models come in four parts” rule, as his back..things add an extra two parts.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

If Hawk was Transformers, Spitfire is Gundam. With sharp edges, reverse jointed legs and sloping armour, this one is the most high tech looking of the selection, and the first word that springs to mind is “sleek”. Spitfire isn’t too tall, standing at approximately 47mm from the bottom of his soles to the top of its head. This is a lovely, lovely design, and one of my favourites. Spitfire’s bracers have hollows that I envision as weapon barrels or housings for retractable weapons.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Weasel reminds me of an old boxer with its arched back, long arms and broad shoulders. The somewhat retro pose and design further reinforce this thought. Weasel is surprisingly characterful for a giant robot! While Weasel only stands at around 43mm or so. However, the squat design with the head a part of the torso makes the model look bigger than it is. There are four barrels on Weasel’s chest, and the pose suggests that they’re about to fire something. A bit like this piece from Pacific Rim:

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

The first impression I got from Hemi was “lanky”. With a fairly short torso and long legs, it reminds me of an ent from the LotR movies. Of course this ent is metal and has a pod of six rockets on the right shoulder, which makes a slight difference. There are also four barrels/vents on its chest, a searchlight on the left shoulder and two fins on its back. There’s something very menacing and purposeful in the design. Hemi is roughly 46mm tall.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Dauntless might be my favourite of the lot. 50mm tall, clunky, bulky and swinging two massive fists, Dauntless is definitely the Cherno Alpha of  this group. In addition to the very heavily built legs, Dauntless has two cannons on its shoulders. While the mech is only a few millimetres taller than the rest, it’s roughly 15mm wider than Hemi for example. You can really see the difference in the comparison pictures below. The size combined with the gorilla-like stance makes Dauntless look believably brutal.

waraxe

Click for a larger version

Waraxe is the tallest of the models reviewed, at a whopping 56mm. As the name suggests, the mech carries a large axe. No, seriously. It’s a giant robot wielding a giant axe. How’s that for awesome! In addition to its namesake axe, the robot has a shoulder cannon as well as another gun in its left hand, reminiscent of a tonfa (aka nightstick). It has a slimmer build than Dauntless, and to my eye it looks a lot like a cylon from the new edition of Battlestar Galactica. The shoulder guards on Waraxe bug me a little bit, as they’re completely flat on the inside lending them an unfinished look.

Overall verdict: Well, these are some fine models. While writing the review I found it surprisingly difficult. Having never been into giant robots as a genre, I didn’t have many things to compare these to. I bought them for use in my Pacific Rim project, and for that they will be lovely as they’re a very characterful bunch. With good casting quality and nice sculpting, the main risk here would be boring designs for the robots, but that has been avoided here. Well ok, Hawk is a little boring, but he can be the exception to the rule. While I have a very specific use for the models, I can see them getting use in plenty of contexts and scales, so if you’re looking for some nice giant robots, you could do far worse than these.

The comparison pictures show the size of the mechs compared to each other. I also threw in some Pacific Rim Heroclix kaiju, as I figured there might be interest.

weasel_dauntless_hawk

L to R: Weasel, Dauntless, Hawk

waraxe_dauntless_hemi

L to R: Waraxe, Dauntless, Hemi

waraxe_spitfire_hemi

L to R: Waraxe, Spitfire, Hemi

L to R: Heroclix Knifehead, Spitfire, Heroclix Scunner

L to R: Heroclix Knifehead, Spitfire, Heroclix Scunner

 

 

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New Predastore Predators reviewed

October 12, 2013

I just updated my ongoing 28mm Predator review with three new offerings from Predastore: Crossbow-Predette, Austral-Hunter and 2Blades-Hunter. See the review here!

Crossbow-Predette. Click for a larger version

Crossbow-Predette. Click for a larger version

Austral-Hunter. Click for a larger version

Austral-Hunter. Click for a larger version

2Blade-Hunter. Click for a larger version

2Blade-Hunter. Click for a larger version

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A.T.A.C. APC by Scotia Grendel – a review

June 7, 2013

There are several things people tend to associate with the movie Aliens – the pulse rifle, the power loader, the sentry gun, the drop ship…and the armoured personnel carrier, or APC for short. Just in case you don’t remember what I’m talking about, it’s this:

aliens-apc

image © Twentieth Century Fox

Since you already have a bunch of Colonial Marines (right?) or other suitable near future military types, you’re going to want to have a sweet ride for them. Originally this review was supposed to be a comparison between various models, but I’ve had some trouble acquiring other APCs. I’ll take this time to offer my apologies to Scotia Grendel for taking a very long time in getting this review out!

With the preamble out of the way, let’s get down to the real beef – the review of Scotia Grendel’s A.T.A.C. APC.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Retailing at £17.00 (~20€ at time of writing), the model is very reasonably priced. The kit contains the APC hull itself, seven wheels, a turret and the turret’s mount. There are three additional metal bits too: a minigun for the turret, an antenna (which I didn’t attach) plus a top hatch.

There’s plenty of nice detailing on the model, with jerry cans and baggage stowed and the surfaces lovingly greebled. In addition to the turret mounted minigun, there’s a baby minigun (aww!) in the front of the vehicle.

The resin is heavy and hard, but not too brittle. On some parts – the hull especially – casting quality leaves a lot to be  desired. I needed to take a knife blade and a file to the model, and while this wasn’t too much work, on some parts the model has been disfigured by the casting process and would need a lot of work to fix completely. All this said, the casting is mostly very crisp and overall the model looks nice if you’re willing to overlook some dodgy bits. I understand that this is quite an old model, which both makes it more impressive in my view and may contribute somewhat to the quality issues. Also, it could just be that I had the misfortune of simply receiving a subpar casting.

With the parts cleaned, the model was very simple to put together even with no assembly instructions. I pinned the wheels in place, but you could probably just use glue.

Size wise, there has definitely been scale creep throughout the years, so the A.T.A.C. is very much on the small side. In my opinion it’s not too small to be used alongside your average 28mm stuff, and with smaller 28mm ranges such as 1st Corps or Denizen it’s even more fitting. I’ve mentioned before of course, that I’m not particularly picky when it comes to size issues, so I don’t have a problem with it, but I appreciate the fact that for some people it might be more important. I’ve included a size comparison picture with common 28mm ranges to help you make your decision. Note that you could also base the APC to compensate for the minis’ bases.

Click for a larger version

L to R: Hasslefree, em4, Denizen, Copplestone, Defiance, 1st Corps. Click for a larger version

Of course there’s also the big question of how Aliens-y it is! While it’s clearly a completely different vehicle and there are some APC on the market that are much closer to the movie ride, there’s something about the A.T.A.C. that keeps reminding me of the movie APC. Whether it is the sloping front of the hull or the shape of the turret, I was immediately reminded of the iconic Colonial Marine transport. The fact that it’s not a 1:1 match has actually turned into something of a plus in my book, as it means it’s more readily usable with a wide range of scifi models.

Overall verdict: Apart from some casting and size issues, the A.T.A.C. APC is a very nice find for its price. It’s not perfect as a model or as an Aliens APC proxy, but if you want a little armoured power for your troopers, you could do far worse – especially if your minis collection is more 28mm than 30mm.

You can find the A.T.A.C. APC at the Scotia Grendel webstore.

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Colonial Marine review updated again

March 5, 2013

Completely forgot to mention this! My Colonial Marine review has been updated with the Allied Troopers from Sgt. Major Miniatures.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

They’re quite nice, so go check out the review. You know you want to. Really, go now.

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Skeletal robots by Forlorn Hope – a review

February 12, 2013

Dun-dunt-dunt-du-dunt, dun-dunt-dunt-du-dunt.

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.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

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.

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Predator review update #3

November 18, 2012

Just a quick heads-up to let you know that the 28mm Predator review has just been updated with the latest offerings from Predastore:

Death-Hunter. Click for a larger version

Running-Hunter. Click for a larger version

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.

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Bones Purple worm by Reaper – a review

September 12, 2012

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…

Click for a larger version

…and after a quick black wash and white drybrush to bring out the detail.

Click for a larger version

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.

Click for a larger version

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.

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Colonial Marine review updated

May 15, 2012

I just updated the Colonial Marine review with the UAMC Marines from Defiance Games. Go check out the verdict!

Click for a larger version

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Predator miniature review updated

August 16, 2011

I just added some new Predator miniatures from Predastore to my Predator miniature review. Click here for the updated version.

 

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