EDIT February 14 2013: As the Vendel lines were acquired by Sgt. Major Miniatures, I’ve changed the title of the post. These are the mastiffs originally produced by Vendel Miniatures.
First, a few words about mastiffs (courtesy of Wikipedia):
With a massive body, broad skull and head of generally square appearance, it is one of the largest dog breeds in terms of mass. Though the Irish Wolfhound and Great Dane are taller, they are not nearly as robust.[…]When in 1415 Sir Peers Legh was wounded in the Battle of Agincourt, his Mastiff stood over and protected him for many hours through the battle.[…]The breed is characteristically innately good natured, calm, easygoing, and surprisingly gentle for its size.
This is the dog we’re talking about in this review, or rather, miniature renditions of the breed. I’ve always been a fan of mastiffs, and the idea of actual dogs of war in general. There’s simply something endearing in the mental image of a pack of 100+ kg dogs slamming into basically whoever they want to slam into.
I’ve been drooling over the mastiffs produced by Vendel Miniatures for years. I’ve never really had a use for them, which has kept me from making an order. Enter a friend about to start an RPG campaign and in need of a few guard dogs and hell hounds and what do you know, I’m in possession of seven mastiffs, three of which I’ll eventually keep after painting. Yes, seven, even if Vendel’s site says six. I don’t know if this is just a lucky accident, but I’m not complaining!
There is a variety of poses in my seven mastiffs. Three of the dogs are in fairly neutrally posed, either walking or standing. Two are in more aggressive postures, with one growling and the other reared on its hind legs, leaping at an opponent. The final two would be at home in dioramas: one is sitting and the other laying down, seemingly relaxed. Though you might not expect it from dog models, the miniatures have a lot of character, and the two aggressive ones for example are positively ferocious. Vendel mastiffs are available both with and without collars, these are of the former type. The mastiffs mostly fit on 25mm round bases, As usual, the models below have been given a black ink wash to show the detail better. Larger versions open in a new tab.
The sculpts are very nice indeed. The miniatures are well proportioned and really look like the animals they’re supposed to portray, which is sadly far too rare in dog miniatures. They’re large and robust, really conveying the feeling of huge dogs well. There were some mould lines and flash present, but nothing terrible. I cleaned up the seven models in less than ten minutes.
Both the subject and the variety of poses makes this pack useful to a large crowd. As said, I’m painting some of these as hell hounds and some as regular dogs. While my friend will keep the hellish variety, my dogs are off to do some zombie/vampire/werewolf-hunting as well as ending up as police dogs and fighting dogs for gangsta gangs and the like. Historical gamers will find a lot of uses for these as well, as they were regularly used as fighting dogs. The collarless variety would make fora great pack of wild dogs for post-apoc gaming and such. As the size comparison shot below shows, the mastiffs go well with other 28mm minis. Remember, these are big dogs.
Overall verdict: They’re mastiffs. No, seriously, if this is what you’re looking for, look no further. The ratio of price to quality is excellent, and there’s a ton of uses for big dogs in miniature. The only small gripe I could find is that not all of the dogs fit snugly on a 25mm round base, but this shouldn’t be a deal breaker. If you need them, buy them. If you don’t need them, make up a reason to do so. You can find the miniatures here for $10.50.