Devil’s Dungeon by Dark-Art Studios
Dark-Art Studios is one of those miniature companies I’ve known about for a long time, but have never purchased from. Back in the young years of WAMP when Dark-Art was relatively new, I always looked at their basing kits with some longing, but never got around to pulling the trigger.
Then they started making miniatures…
There are a lot of their older figures, like their Ghouls or Killdor the Barbarian, where it looks like they diligently studied every single ultra-flat miniature from Grenadier and Ral Partha, and reproduced that style in the most lifeless way possible.
Credit where it’s due, Dark-Art has improved with time. Their quality, posing, and design is getting better… but even this improvement sometimes comes with a trade-off.
A look through their catalog shows that some kits that are parts swaps based on a stock body. All 4 of the Cloven Hoofed Beasts use the same body. It can be easy to miss with a cursory glance as all of these products are positioned differently with unique composite layouts, but a lingering eye reveals that between the Taurus, Diablo , the Minotaur, and the Cyclops only the heads and hands are different.
The same thing is true between their different variants of fat monster sitting on a throne. On their store I could only find 2 of them: Nirgal Gut-Rot and the Ogre Chieftain. While there are more differences between these products, there is a third, the Goblin Chieftain. I remembered this one because I assigned it to another reviewer back when I was the Review Editor for WAMP.
For the Devil’s Dungeon quality has been bumped up significantly over Dark-Art’s past efforts, which is quite impressive. The sculpts in general are showing a lot more creativity, detail, and dynamism.
My favorite designs are the Demon Rassp and both of the Gremlins. The Rassp is a decently unique design that works well and has some great teeth and plenty of nasty spikes. The Gremlins are the real stars of this project, though. The faces and horns work well together with the stretched out bodies to create a strange and menacing creature.
The Baphomet is a decent goat-man. However, for the price I much prefer any of the Beastmen options from Reaper, mainly because I never need a single goat-man. When running an RPG I’d need a few of these guys to throw at my players and I get a lot more value from the Bones versions. Plus they seem to have sharper details than this one.
The Female Warrior pledge is by far the weakest option available. They are bog standard scantily-clad warrior chicks. They are extremely static and frankly uninteresting.
Out of the undead figures I like the Banshee most of all. It’s not at all what comes to mind when I think about a banshee, but it is a unique piece. Unfortunately the other members of this pledge level are mostly bland. The Longdead Thrall has a great pose and an interesting weapon, the Cauteric Searer makes me think fondly of Doom and Diablo 2, and the zombie is an uninteresting disappointment.
Value is a real issue with this Kickstarter. In past articles I have mention both the Bones and the Dwarven Forge kickstarters because they did a lot of things right. They both offered incredible value on the product with steep discounts compared to retail pricing. To my mind that’s what a Kickstarter should provide, since backers are helping to fund the production effort.
I’m not seeing much of a discount here.
At the Nightmare Group level you’re looking at an approximate value of $4.50 per miniature. For a single zombie that’s a terrible price, especially when you compare it to the 3-pack and 5-pack options from Reaper. They are of similar quality for a better value.
There’s also nothing I find appealing in the stretch goals. I find the Yeti’s design to be quite bizarre and unappealing. The Lashwip is a decent looking demon-thing. Salorus is just unappealing.
It’s important to note that all of the add-ons are discounted items from Dark-Art’s current store. I have no problem with this, just want to make sure everyone is aware. Personally the best add-ons are the scenery options. Some of these options, like the treasure chest set, is a pretty great deal given the number of pieces and their general quality. Others however, like the boxes, bone piles, and coffin sets, have a price that seems more fitting for retail.
Overall I think the miniatures available here are a step forward for Dark-Arts as a company. Their quality is better, but the price is too high for me considering it is a Kickstarter. There are also cases where comparable figures can be found from different manufacturers at a better price.
I do wish them well and hope to see them continue to improve, but I won’t be backing this one.