Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Mars Attacks The Miniatures Game - Miniatures Review

Hot on the heals of my wave 2 Deadzone package Mantic have also just sent me the first part of my (relatively small) Mars Attacks package, which basically amounts to the retail boxed game and the expansion book, with the rest to follow in a few weeks.

It was with some trepidation that I opened up the box as these are the first soft plastic PVC minis that I've got from Mantic, and I wasn't quite sure what to expect.  This is the material that they're using for all their board-game type releases from now, and I am expecting delivery at some point in the future a load more of these type of minis from the Dreadball Xtreme and Dungeon Saga kickstarters, so I had quite a hobby investment riding on them turning out OK.

The first thing is that they all come pre-assembled, which felt a bit odd, and part of me missed having to glue them all together.  Having said that I think Mantic have made a wise choice as this makes it far easier for a novice to get into, and I think the whole Mars Attack set is a perfect entry point into miniature gaming.  The minis come in three colours, red for the heroes, tan for the US army and green for the Martians, again a good idea as not everyone will paint their minis and this looks better than them all being grey.  Another advantage of the PVC plastic is that they will take being knocked over or dropped very well and it will take a lot to break them, although we'll see if Mike manages to prove me wrong on that front.

The first thing to note is that a lot of the minis suffer from what I call 'floppy weapon syndrome' as can be seen in the top photo above.  However I can also report that this is easily fixed by dipping the minis in a cup of hot water.  I dipped the minis in the hot water and then left them overnight (to check that they would stay in their new positions) and the results are in the bottom picture above.

The minis are in true 28mm scale, rather than the 'heroic' scale favoured by many manufacturers, and the sculpting and level of detail is good (better than I was expecting to be honest).  There are of course mould lines, but these are no worse than on any hard plastic minis and a damn sight better than those on Mantics restic minis.

There's only one way to make a proper judgement and that to start painting, I selected the heroine Ashley (above), a sassy girl who fights the invasion in her prom dress.  The material didn't like my normal spray paint and she's come out a bit shinny, but overall it's not bad.  The next couple of minis I did I undercoated by hand and this produced a much better finish (Sir Edwyn and General Tor below).  The grey bases are just a temporary solution, I haven't decided how I'm going to base my Mars Attacks minis yet.

The second mini I had a go at is Sir Edwyn of Hoo a knight lost in time.  Not a huge amount of detail on this one, but a nice quick and easy paint job (about 15 mins worth) and we have a completed mini.

There has been some talk on the internet about the undercuts on the Martian grunts, well they exist, at least it exists on one sculpt.  Each pack of 10 Martians comes with one of the ones on the right in the pic above, which does have a ghastly undercut.  It's more disappointing as the Martian on the left above shows how a similar pose can be done without the horror.  For me whilst it is a slight disappointment it's not a deal breaker.

The third mini I painted was this Genral Tor, the Martian leader, he is by far my favourite out of the three and I'm rather pleased with how he came out.  Another issue I've read a few complaints about are the Martian helmets, and whilst I accept this is a single example it fitted fine and looks good.

Ultimately they don't compete in quality with a well engineered hard plastic mini (like anything from GW or Mantics own hard plastic zombies & ghouls), but they're not bad at all, they do the job well, and come at a price that I like.  I also think they are perfect minis for beginners, a big thumbs up from me!

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Deadzone Kickstarter Wave 2

All my new stuff!

After what feels like a very long wait my second wave shipment from Mantic Games' Deadzone Kickstarter has arrived.  It's just possible that I've ordered too much stuff, with this box containing over a hundred new minis that need painting.


Overall there's a lot of great stuff in this shipment, and I had a lot of fun sticking it all together, the core of the delivery are the two new factions, the Forge Fathers (space dwarves/Squats) and Asterians (space elves/Eldar).

Squats Forge Fathers

 The Forge Fathers are well sculpted and characterful minis, but aren't that original, the Asterians are a slightly different take on the space elf model with each strike team only containing a single elf leading a group of cypher robots.

Pathfinder on bike and on foot, in multiple coloured resin for some reason

Iron Man meets Wolverine

Each of the original four factions received some reinforcements as well, a single mawbeast for the marauders, plagued enforcers, sorak swordspawn and an enforcer pathfinder and enforcers with special weapons.

Enforcer, Plague and Reb Striders next to a GW Dreadnought

I've also got four striders, which are a big walker which can be used for the enforcers, rebs or plague.  I'm really pleased with these and I think they compare favourably with the styling on GW's dreadnoughts.  The kit nicely makes the three different versions look different as well.  I've not built the fourth one yet, can't decide which of the three options to use, I'm also considering trying to convert it into a counts-as stuntbot for use with the marauders.

I Will Eat Your Brains......

This delivery also contains Mantics new sci-fi zombies, made in nice hard plastic.  I think the quality of these is frankly brilliant and they look great.  The sprue is slightly limited though, not as many options as I would have liked, it really could have done with another couple of heads and another couple of pairs of arms.  As I was looking at assembling my fifth sprue I had a bit of a brainwave and went and found my spare kings of war zombie parts which I used to add a bit of variety, I also remembered the base plugs that represent zombies dragging themselves across the floor, which means I managed to get another 5 'floor zombies' out of my sprues.

Marauder commando stand-ins

This mixing in KoW parts to the zombies also made me have another idea of using some of my spare warpath marauder sprues to make a few counts-as minis to represent the cards of the commando upgrade pack, which I didn't get.

The last thing I got was all the expansion books both in normal softback version and awesomely fancy hardback which was provided with a personalised book plate signed by Ronnie and Jake.  The new rules add a huge amount of playing options with all the rules for the new minis, plus multi-mat, multi-player, solo, zombie games and a whole campaign.  I can't wait to try some of it out.

personalised book plate

In a nice change for a Mantic kickstarter everything that was due to be in wave 2 actually arrived.  Still another wave to come though, hard plastic enforcers, enforcer peacekeepers and armoured forge fathers.  The basic enforcers being delayed again is getting frustrating as the enforcers were one of the initial 2 factions and still lack most of their support options, but whilst it is frustrating in the end I think I'd rather wait and get better quality product than a rushed bodge-job, which mantic have said was the alternative.

Right, I'd better get painting.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Space Hulk - My Thoughts, My Minis

Space Hulk is a truly great game and I love my copy of the (limited) 3rd edition.  It was the rerelease of Space hulk 5 years ago that led me to collect my current Space Marine army and start playing warhammer 40K again after a gap of 8 years or so.  Throughout this post are pictures of the minis from my set that I painted when it came out last time round, I was immensely proud of them at the time, and they still hold up well 5 years down the line

My initial reaction when I saw the leaked pics of the new 'limited' edition Space Hulk was to feel a tad gutted and slightly cheated, after all the guy at my local Games Workshop when I bought my copy was making a big deal about the fact that these minis would never be available again.  And here we are, my 'never available again' set available, but in a slightly better format with an extra 4 missions.

I think its obvious to us all the GW aren't doing as well as they used too, and this is an attempt to boost revenues and please the city and shareholders.  I'm sure it will work, its a great product and the ebay prices for the last edition stuff is insane.  Ultimately GW doing well and making money is only good for our hobby in the end, but it still feels slightly cheating and underhand.

If you didn't get it last time round it's a total win for you, go buy it before they run out.  But even for someone like me that did get last time, there are some compelling reasons to get it.  Those 4 new missions for a start, what OCD completionist wouldn't want them?  And I've always regretted not buying two copies last time round so I could add the excellent termie models to my Space Marine army, now I have that chance.

Well I've ordered it sucker that I am, I'm looking forward to the new missions and will be converting the terminators for use in my Vengeance Templars army.  The genestealers will probably end up on ebay to recoup some of the costs.  GW must be doing something rigt as this will be the only big purchase from them so far this year (and we're more than two-thirds into said year).

That's how this post was going to end, but I changed my mind at the last minute and didn't order it.

Oddly the extra three expansions (for Dark Angels, Ultramarines and Space Wolves) have out me off buying the game as the extra version still wouldn't now be complete. Also I don't get to play Space Hulk anywhere near as much I woiuld like anyway, and I realised last minute it would be a waste of money and that I have too much to paint and too much stuff coming from kickstarters anyway.  I wonder if in a year or two I'll end up regretting this decision.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Guest Post - Nagash vs Dungeon Saga

My mate and occasional guest blogger on here Mike has another rant to get off his chest, it's the old familiar topic of pricing at Games Workshop, however a couple of recent releases have really made the scale of the issue come to the fore, over to Mike.......

Being an old Undead/ Tomb King’s gamer I always fancied having a Nagash model, but somehow I never got round to buying one one. The old metal model was not a priority buy back in the day and they are quite hard to find now, even on ebay. Games Workshop have recently brought out a New Nagash, and it is you would expect quite a spectacular model. Actually its little too spectacular for my taste if the truth be told (I disagree I think it's fantastic - Keith). It might even look a bit out of place next to my old skeletons, and I’d be frightened of knocking it over (really, if you knew me)(There is no clumsier human being - Keith). No seriously, it does look really nice and I wouldn’t mind one for my shelf. The really bad news is its £65. Sorry Games workshop I’m just not going to pay that for a Nagash. As I understand it that’s £65 for just the model too, no add ons, extras or freebies. The rules for Nagash appear in a separate book and you have to pay a lot of extra money. Interest over. 

This is admittedly an Awesome model

 Fortunately I was alerted to a new Kickstarter project by Mantic a couple of weeks ago and it cheered me up a lot. The quality of Mantics previous Kickstarters and the sheer amount of money being pledged to this one alerted me that it might be something to really look forward to. This Dungeon Saga game seems to be something like Warhammer Quest, where the player battles their way through various rooms and challenges meeting various cool baddies on the way. You know the script. We don’t know for sure of course because the game is still in production, but when I saw what comes in the box I went for it immediately. It turns out that for a pledge of $100 (that’s £4 less than Nagash) I will be getting an entire gaming system, packed with new models. Mantic have also Thrown in art prints, bonus scenarios, digital adventure books and all of the Dwarf King’s Hold scenarios for people like me who didn’t get around to buying those games first time around. That’s worth waiting 12 months for in my opinion. The Mantic crew who usually seem to have their finger on the pulse, have even included a mystery ‘undead demonlord’ model. Good move Mantic, I haven’t thought about Nagash since.

How much stuff?
I have to admit I made the same decision and I am eagerly awaiting the chance to play Dungeon Saga.  The 12 month delay is a slight issue, but once you get started on kickstarter being the way to get new games you have a steady supply of big boxes coming, before this arrives I'm expecting Deadzone wave 2, Mars Attacks, Deadzone wave 3, and Dreadball extreme.  And despite a few missing bits (that always get replaced eventually) getting the big box of kickstarter goodness is always a joy.  This is Mikes first kickstarter and I hope he has a good experience and helps fund more products that I also want to buy!

Monday, 8 September 2014

Belgians In The Congo

Todays minis are an addition to my ever growing collection of colonial figures from late 19th century Africa.  Two packs from Wargames Foundry's darkest Africa Belgians range, a pack of officers ad NCO's and a pack of Askaris for them to lead.  As with all my other minis from this era I plan to run some pulp adventures or possibly dino hunting games at some point, these Belgians will provide a third European faction (along with adventurers and the British Army) to contend for the spoils.

Officer Types

NCO Types (I think the guy on the right looks like John Hurt!)


Some great characterful minis here I think, but now time to get a bit serious;  Obviously these models are for games loosely based on the historical period 'the scramble for Africa'.  What got me to thinking was the title of the pack of officers; 'Darstardly Belgian Officers', which seemed a bit harsh on all Belgians and rather stereotypical (although I cast no doubt on the fact that many atrocities were committed in the Congo Free State under the rule of Leopold II of Belgium).  I couldn't help but then wonder if any sort of colonial gaming was somehow glorifying colonialism and was in its way a bit racist.  I'm a white Englishman and I'm just after a bit of fun in a pseudo-real world of exploration and adventure, trying to recreate something like the adventure stories of Haggard or Kipling on the table, but I can't help but start to wonder how a 'Darkest Africa' game would look to a African and what they would make of our little bit of harmless fun.

I'm not sure what the answer is, I'm not entirely sure that there's even a problem, thoughts anyone?

Monday, 1 September 2014

R.I.P. Boltgun Metal - Hello Vallejo

Finally my last pot of Boltgun Metal citadel paint has been used up, this was a sad day for me, I've been using Boltgun Metal since my very first paint set over 20 years ago now, and it's been used on nearly every model as base for all metal parts ever since.

Oh well off I go to my local GW and I come back with a pot of Ironbreaker from the new citadel paint range, it might be a slightly different shade, but surely it will be fine I think.  How wrong I was, possibly I got a dud pot, but this is awful.  It's so thin and the pigment seems to clump and not give a smooth colour.  It takes at least two coats to achieve anything and then still looks awful and sort of pale.  Not happy I go off to ebay and try to find another alternative.

I find and order this pot of game color chainmail silver made by Vallejo.  It cost around the same as a pot of GW paint but is 17ml instead of 12ml, which is actually a significant saving.  Upon trying it out I'm happy enough and will be continuing to use this, it's not quite as dark as the old Boltgun Metal, but at least it goes on properly and provides a perfectly good metallic base for highlighting/applying copper/gold over.

As I was trying out my new Vallejo paint I realised something; that paint was pretty much the only thing I ever bought from GW now (almost all GW minis entering my collection now come second hand off ebay).  This paint disappointment might be the thing to help me make that final break from a company whose products, whilst mostly great, I simply can not afford any more. 

Rest in peace Boltgun Metal, you will be missed.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

From The Painting Table #14 - This Month I have Been Painting.......

All sorts of random things really, none of the stuff belongs to specific projects or armies/warbands that needed work, I just fancied pulling a few models I liked the look of out of the pile and painting them up.

First up is this pack of 'Hollywood heroes' made my warlord games for the anglo-zulu war of 1879.  Of course based on the main characters from the awesome film 'Zulu', now I don't normally hold with minis of bona fide historical personalities being given a Hollywood makeover, but Zulu is such a fantastic movie I'm willing to make an exception in this case.  In case you needed telling from left to right we have; Private Henry Hook, Lt John Chard, Lt Gonville Bromhead & Colour-Sergeant Bourne.
I've also painted a selection of what would have been termed 'Imperial agents' back in the day (like 20 years ago I know) for warhammer 40K, after painting them I did think they would make a nice little inquisitorial warband, I might have to dig out the old rouge trader inquisitor I have in my collection and give him a lick of paint too.
This is a classic Adeptus Arbite armed with a bolt gun, rather than their characteristic shotguns.  I've been trying to get hold of a full squad of these at a reasonable price for ages, but have failed miserably, seems I'm not the only one who likes them.  I'm not sure what it is about them either, they are old and very flat posed, and technically not very good models, but something about them still screams cool to me.

I'm rather proud of how this callidus assassin came out, I think one of my better paint jobs.  Vindicare and callidus are my two favourite assassin temples, who doesn't love polymorphine.

An Imperial Guard colonel here, painted to match the rest of my Imperial Guard detatchment.  Although it started as an allied contingent I've managed to acquire enough Imperial Guard for them to form a small army on their own now, if only I could face up to painting another 50 or so guardsmen.

And finally for the Imperials this Inquisitorial scribe.

Some more classic citadel now, this time for warhammer fantasy in the shape of these 3 classic Norse miniatures.  These were spares I had when I picked up a whole lot of classic Norse minis for a Mordheim warband, these didn't find a place in that warband, but again I just really like the models and they've found their place on the shelf.
And finally another random Airfix kit that I bought, this time a British Bofors 40mm gun and tractor from WW2 in 1:76 scale.  I like these little airfix kits with more than one element too them, it makes for an interesting build and looks good on the shelf.  The tractor was a slightly more challenging build than I was expecting as well.  I've painted this one for action in northern Europe after D-Day, not for north Africa as it is on the box, just because I prefer it in green!
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