Kicksmart: Egyptian Dungeon Game Tiles by Lunesdargent Workshop

Kicksmart:
A look at Egyptian Dungeon Game Tiles by Lunesdargent Workshop

There have been a number of gaming tilesets available through kickstarter over the past few years and I think it’s funny that this is the first egyptian themed set that’s been available. It’s such an iconic theme that I’m surprised no one else has done it, but this lapse has given Lunesdargent Workshop a perfect opportunity to for entry into this market.

A $46 pledge nets a full set of tiles, which was 44 on launch but has expanded slightly with stretch goals. At the beginning of the campaign this was just over $1 per piece, which is an excellent price. Stretch goals are including more tiles, pushing this price ever lower.

However, this price difference comes with a differential in detail. While the other 2 tilesets mentioned above had a more comprehensive level of detail per tile, most of the detail here is limited to the hieroglyphics on the walls. While these pictograms have a high level of fidelity, along with the benefit of matching real hieroglyphics, I do wonder if there is any logical reasoning for their placement. This has no bearing on the product, but I just wonder if they actually say anything or if they are just Lorem Ipsum.

The floor tiles are too neat and regular for my taste. As a gamer when I think egyptian ruins I think worn and ancient. Adding some small details like chipping or sand covering part of the tiles would have gone a long way to improving the feeling of theme. I just prefer my ancient ruins to be less factory-new.

A good friend of mine prefers it when tilesets like this offer painted versions for sale, so it’s nice to see that they have this available. However, I’m not sold on what they’re doing. These tiles aren’t painted, they’re hit with a wash. While this does made the tiles look better, just look at the comparison pictures on the kickstarter page, I feel a little soured by this. While it’s only an $11 difference in price, I know that’s not worth it to me, not for a simple layer of wash.

I’m also a little concerned to know if they seal the wash after it has dried. I would hope they do, but it’s not stated anywhere.

Compatibility is another concern. While the previous tileset featured on Kicksmart showed terrain from other companies there is no comparison photo here. The campaign description states that they use the “25mm squares system,” but there is no obvious text stating whether or not they are compatible with other company’s products.

It’s funny to see how far-reaching Reaper’s influence is. Here we have another interactive stretch goal map. This is an excellent idea as it shows backers what they can expect as the campaign moves forward. It’s a great tool for increasing hype and getting people to increase their pledges as they draw closer to the next stretch goal. This is a well done version of that same system I first encountered with the original Bones kickstarter.

While I would appreciate a more overt answer about compatibility with other terrain tiles and would love to see some more details added to the terrain, I have to say that this kickstarter is pleasantly attractive. The pieces are priced very well and look good. It’s a great choice of theme, letting them enter the field on an untouched idea. For anyone wanting to delve into ancient ruins, this is a project worthy of consideration.

Addendum:
In the details there is a blurb stating they want to look at adding more ideas for the future. Some trap tiles would be a great idea. Walls with holes hidden in an architectural flourish, a floor where 1 tile is suspiciously set higher than the others, these are the kinds of things I’d like to see included.

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Kicksmart: Tablescapes Dungeons by Secret Weapon

Kicksmart:
A look at Tablescapes Dungeons by Secret Weapon

With 9 days to go this Tablescapes Dungeons article is geared toward those on the fence about whether or not to back this particular project.

This is the 2nd Tablescapes kickstarter by Secret Weapon and is a partnership with Reaper Miniatures and Dark Art Miniatures.

In a very smart move this modular terrain set is compatible with other company’s products, like Dwarven Forge and Fat Dragon. Dwarven Forge is a very well known company whose product is extremely detailed and durable.

The biggest difference between the general dimensions of these tiles between companies is that the Tablescapes have shorter walls. Personally I like this a great deal as it can make reaching into the constructed space a little easier.

When I first saw this kickstarter I thought about the caverns set Dwarven Forge did previously and was concerned that this was a retread of the same idea. After looking at caverns again I realized that this is not the case at all. This set provides a good mix of natural terrain with thematically appropriate architectural elements and minecart tracks, making this a set unto itself.

The designs of the individual elements are quite eclectic, combining different elements that keep the pieces from becoming stale. Different textures of stone, wood, and steel work well together to create this abandoned mine set. They also provide multiple things to paint and plenty of opportunities for different color choices.

With so many terrain campaigns offering an upcharge for painted versions I expected the same here, but there is no option for this. Overall this is a very wise choice as it reduces fulfillment times. Even with the drybrush techniques employed by the Dwarven Forge painters, which look good, a lot of time would need to be added for painting.

They offset this slightly by providing a paitning guide by Mathieu Fontain, linked here because the link on the kickstarter page is understated and easy to miss. The guide is pretty good, but some of the steps are airbrushed. It is possible to get similar results through traditional painting, it’ll just take longer.

One item of concern is that these tiles are produced by a PVC derivative, meaning that they are probably related to Reaper’s Bonesium. It is stated that these tiles will be grey, but I do not know if this means a different formulation of Bonesium or if it was just colored differently.

The Bones material is extremely durable and holds great detail, but it also is susceptible to warping. It can be moved back into position, but takes some patience and care. It is also a light material. In a direct comparison I believe that the Dwarven Forge tiles will be heavier, but I don’t know how much heavier. My concern here is that these tiles would be lighter and therefore easier to move out of position with casual contact. However, without samples to play with there’s no way to know for certain.

The $75 price tag for this set of tiles is very good. It’s an excellent value per piece. Here it’s less than $1 per piece, while others range between $2 – $3 per piece.

The level of detail is comparable, but in a direct comparison I feel that Dwarven Forge has an edge here, but not by much. While Dwarven Forge’s caverns had more natural details, here they have been exchanged for architectural elements that move out of a fully natural cave into a man-influenced environment.

Reaper’s expertise can be felt throughout this entire kickstarter, and that’s a great thing. The stretch goal tracker and addons feel very similar to Reaper’s other very successful kickstarters. The pricing of the Bones miniature addons seems to be the same value as their Bones kickstarters, which is very nice. They have been arranged into some thematic groups for an abandoned mine and allow backers to custom build a set in preparation for running scenarios for their gaming groups.

The paint sets are also appropriate for this tile set and contain paints from both Reaper’s line as well as Secret Weapon’s. I do find it a little funny that the painting guide used colors outside the ones sold here, but I also find it to be refreshing that this campaign wasn’t locked down so hard that the painter had to use the colors available for sale.

On its face this is a very high-value kickstarter. The tiles are priced much better than competing kickstarters and contain enough unique elements that this doesn’t feel like a retread of existing products. There are plenty of nice optional purchases to tempt more money from backers. If you’re on the fence I would suggest you jump in. This is a smart kickstarter to back.

Review: Alexandra the Commissar by Another World

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Miniature: Alexandra the Commissar
Manufacturer: Another World Miniatures
Price: €7.50 EUR
Material: Metal

Personally, I find it to be a heartening sign that there is a large demand for female miniature options for 40k armies. Many of them run the full gamut between realistic and pinup in terms of design, but on both ends of the spectrum there are some great options. Numerous independent studios have released miniatures to fill this demand, one of whom is Another World Miniatures.

    Parts List:

  1. Body
  2. Right hand with gun
  3. Left arm with Jacket
  4. Left arm (behind back)

One of their entries to this field is Alexandra the Commissar. She’s presented in a military uniform with an open neckline, a large handgun, and 2 left arm options. One simply puts her left arm behind her back while the other has her coat draped over her arm and wearing a gauntlet.

blowoutThe overall quality of this miniature is pretty poor. While the previous figure I reviewed for Another World had great details and was sculpted well, this one, sadly, is not.

All of the details feel muted. The face is poorly constructed with the barest hint of features. The uniform is barren with only the simplest flow added to make it look like fabric. The pistol is a horrendous blank slate of a gun; it’s really nothing more than geometric shapes assembled into a vague futuristic gun-shape.

rough fitThe arm with the draped coat and powerfist is the best looking piece in the kit. The coat has a lot of folds to it along with pockets and lapel. The fist also has some nice bulk to it along with some well-placed rivets that make it look menacing.

Assembly isn’t hard, but it’s ill-defined. The parts don’t go together well. Attaching the gun hand to the wrist should probably be pinned, but the wrist is so small that it will be challenging. The arm-behind-the-back piece was missing a chunk from the top of the shoulder and didn’t fit flush with the body. Either arm option will require a little gap filling.

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Another item of interest is some proportional issues, the biggest of which is the thickness of her calves. They’re far too thin, especially with bulky combat boots. It gives her an odd appearance.

While I do enjoy the idea of this miniature and think the pose has merit, its execution is disappointing.

While doing research to compare against other exemplars, I discovered Statuesque Miniatures who have a number of excellent female miniature options. Their Commissar Vespera Venko is a very good figure that has much better thematic integrity and a more realistic design.

But, if you want a little titillation then there great options from Raging Heroes, Warforge, and others.

On its own merits this miniature is a passable attempt at a female commissar, but there are other miniatures available that bring the concept to life in superior ways.

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Kicksmart: Heavy Metal by Acheson Creations

Note: I moved my family into a new house this weekend. In addition to this editorial, the next review will be published this Wednesday.

We’ve had an increasing number of miniature and hobby related kickstarters over the years, thanks to the well-deserved success of those that many of us have backed. However some are of questionable value. In the past I’ve done editorials on some of these and decided to add a new feature to the website that I’m calling:

Kicksmart:
A look at Heavy Metal by Acheson Creations

Acheson Creations is a company I was unaware of prior to researching this article. They have a rather prolific assortment of miniatures available from their website and have successfully funded 6 out of 7 kickstarter campaigns. Their most funded campaigns were for their terrain products.

Taking a look at a fair assortment of products available on their website they produce a wide range of terrain and character options that range rather wildly in quality between passable to good, with their terrain composing most of their best pieces.

For this particular kickstarter their business model seems bizarre. Each pledge level grants the backer the ability to choose any options that total the amount of their pledge. This is going to have a large impact on organization as each order will be wildly customized. But, even more important, the prices presented does not seem to offer backers any discount when compared to existing products on their page. 4 individual wooden barrels are $5, but stacks of barrels from their website are $0.50 each.

Now, I do know that metal casting is a more expensive process, but the price difference in comparable items seems to be skewed high for the items available here.

Another issue that I have a problem with is the Stretch Goals… the math is wrong!
#1 – says get an additional $5, but the example shows getting an extra $10. This error is repeated throughout all of the stretch goals.

The current offering of their kickstarter, however, leaves a lot to be desired in terms of quality. If these were the only exemplars of their work available I’d frankly suggest potential backers should run for the hills.

I’m frankly shocked by the containers they have on offer as many of them are not good. The Sci Fi Containers Set #1 is mind boggling. Looking past the terrible blacklining and poor painting, I see that none of the geometric objects are actually geometric. The cube container doesn’t look like it has an actual straight line anywhere on it. The cylinder looks like the best of the bunch, but only barely. It also doesn’t help that many of the details on these containers look painted on rather than sculpted, so I can’t tell what’s really going on with them.

Image by Acheson Creations

The 28mm horse concerns me mainly because there is no sense of scale for the animal. Based on the tufts I’m thinking that this particular animal will be out of scale with any modern 28 – 32mm figure.

Image by Acheson Creations

The miscellaneous pack (Packs, Shovels, Ammo Pouches, etc.) contains an assortment of ill-defined objects that are sometimes overshadowed by the gate they’re attached to. Based on the picture I have some genuine concern that clipping off these items will result in a fair amount of filing work.

Image by Acheson Creations

The popular bigfoot miniature they mention is a sight to behold. The left side of the face looks melted and the mouth is terribly lopsided. I like the attempt at stringy, heavily matted fur, but the appearance here doesn’t work very well. It also doesn’t help that the drybrush job on this miniature works to obscure more details than it reveals.

Image by Acheson Creations

From the dinosaur line the Styracosaurus Adult is easily the best looking of the group. The picture portrays good texture on the skin and a decent post. The integral base looks too extreme, as the creature’s toes melt into the base, but the picture makes it a little difficult to tell.

Image by Acheson Creations

However, he is exceptional compared to the poor Dilophosaurus whose forelimbs seem to have suffered a tragic accident.

Image by Acheson Creations

While I have enjoyed picking out some prime examples of poor product, I do have to say that this next section is much more serious.

The 54mm Vietnam miniatures are, as a good friend of mine would say, righteous trash.

First, I take issue with the facial depiction of all the Vietnamese figures. Their features are grossly stretched into a caricature of an asian face. My next door neighbors are Vietnamese (I rescued them from a rat snake that got into their house last week) and while I am not going to make any further statement about this particular issue I will say that my neighbors would be terrifying if they looked anything like the facial features depicted here.

Image by Acheson Creations

The quality of these miniatures is truly terrible. Major problems with proportion, inconsistent internal design between figures, terrible prop design… it’s well and truly awful.

Image by Acheson Creations

One of the things I’m having the hardest time accepting with this Vietnamese set is that they are 54mm. With more than double the scale of their other figures I find it hard to believe they couldn’t put more and more precise details into something like this… which leads me to another thought.

While I have no basis for this, I am curious if this Vietnamese line was purchased whole-cloth from another company. The sculpting style is very different from their other projects, while internally consistent to a degree. Also the miniatures in the pictures seem to exhibit the same time of oxidation/scaling you see on older white metal miniatures.

I’m really not sure why the wolves were separated into their own category, because that’s all that’s in this category.

Image by Acheson Creations

Look at these wolves and tell me they don’t look exactly like those stereotypical carved wooden wolves you find in trinket shops.

The success of this kickstarter, however, shows that his company has some loyal customers who support them. GIven the large imbalance between quality and price, I find myself surprised by this. While I would never wish failure on any miniature company, I do think a serious injection of quality is needed for this company.

Personally, I wouldn’t recommend this kickstarter as it seems like a bad value for poor product.

Review: The Guild’s Judgement by Wyrd Games

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Miniature: The Guild’s Judgement
Manufacturer: Wyrd Games
Price: $45.00
Material: Plastic

This may be a little strange, but first I want to talk about glue. For as long as I can remember I’ve always used liquid cement for plastic models and superglue for everything else. I’ve never had a reason for this, it’s just a thing that I did without thinking about it. So, with this project I decided to try them both on Wyrd’s plastic miniatures and see which one worked best.

    Parts List:

  1. Lady Justice
  2. The Judge
  3. Scales of Justice
  4. Death Marshall (x3)
  5. DM Alternate Head (x3)

It probably won’t come as a surprise to anyone, but the liquid cement worked much better. The superglue worked fine in most cases, but when it came to tiny pieces, and this kit has quite a few of them, the superglue was just too hard to work with. Having to hold everything together for at least 30 seconds for the adhesive to harden gets tough when working with tiny pieces. The liquid cement took a lot less time and just worked better overall.

So now I have a reason for why I do what I do when it comes to the right adhesive for the job.
The last time I reviewed a Wyrd product was several years ago. I remember the details being very good, the construction being a bit tricky, and the plastic snapping when it was extremely thing. Armed with this past knowledge I dove in to see if anything had changed in the Malifaux 2e set “The Guild’s Judgement.”

The first complaint I have with this set is the instruction sheet. It really needs to be at least twice its current size. It’s just so tiny.

Each model in the kit is constructed from multiple pieces. Instead of writing out an insanely long parts list, I’ve condensed it to the characters that can be constructed and the major alternates available (just human heads for the Death Marshalls).

The people at Wyrd are very talented at created highly dynamic characters. Every miniature in this kit has its own sense of movement and flow. The consequence of this high level of dynamism is the number of pieces required to assemble the character. This is where Wyrd’s excellent sense of engineering comes into play as these characters were very quick to assemble, even with the increased parts count.

Quite a lot of the pieces have well designed notches or tabs that allow them to slot together in a strong connection. Those that don’t generally have an edge of detail or some other visual trick that allows for quick placement. The only part that I struggled to assemble was attaching the coffin to the back of one of the Death Marshalls. I’m still not sure of the exact placement and will probably just eyeball it when I’m ready to affix it permanently.

3Lady Justice is an interesting character who blends an asian theme with the old west in an interesting way. While the flow of her hair is overly dramatized, she has a very interesting pose. A big note for her is that the gun on her back needs to be slotted in place before attaching her scabbard, otherwise the gun is really hard to put in place. I also ran into trouble with her sword blade. The connection point is very small leading to a droop on my version that I’ll have to fix.

2The Judge is the simplest figure in this kit to assemble. His action pose is probably one of the weaker ones in the box, but he still looks quite good. It took me a couple of minutes before I realized he’s wearing goggles, as the bandanna over his face is so high all you can see between it and his hat are the bulging goggles.

The Scales of Justice is a very interesting figure. Between the Hannibal mask, the crucifixion, and the multiple impalements this guy looks like he’s had the worst day ever. The majority of his assembly is very easy, but the 2 small chain sections that connect his neck to the broken cross are very small and challenging to place.

1The 2 piece design of the duster skirt is easy to assemble, but leaves behind a very noticeable gap. On the front the sculpt hides this because it’s supposed to be a split in the fabric. I believe that is the intention on the back of the skirt as well, but the extreme wave to the fabric makes that hard to accept. Personally I would gap fill the back at least to make it look better.

4I’m honestly impressed with the Death Wardens in this box. The fact that this company made each of them completely unique in their pose is laudable. A lot of other companies would give you maybe a couple of very minor options, but here each one, while consisting of the same major elements, are arranged in vastly different ways.

These guys are the most dynamic of all the poses, which means they’re in more parts. They each have a selection between a human head and a skull engulfed in ghostly flames. I chose the flames.

5While their construction is more complex I didn’t have many issues at all. The biggest one i encountered was that the end of the bayonet on their pistols liked to bend due to how insanely thing that area of plastic is. I have to give Wyrd a lot of credit here, though. As I stated earlier their older products would have snapped in this situation, so I consider this bending an improvement.

The Guild’s Judgement was a box of quick and fun to build miniatures. The detail level is quite good, the sculpts have a very interesting concept, and the poses are very active. Definitely a recommendation from me on this kit.
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Review: Thief of Hearts Cleric by Dark Sword Miniatures

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Miniature: Thief of Hearts #7 – Cleric
Manufacturer: Dark Sword Miniatures
Price: $19.99
Material: Pewter

The Thief of Hearts is a staple of Dark Sword Miniatures. Each is a beautiful, winged woman, generally representing one of the staple classes of fantasy gaming, and they are always posed either in flight or about to take off. I’m not sure if they’re a yearly release or not.

Similar to Reaper’s Sophie, the Thief of Hearts seems to be an unofficial mascot of Dark Sword Miniatures. A major difference, however, is that these miniatures share a theme and are not the same woman sculpted in different styles.

I have reviewed a Thief of Hearts before, that one wielded a bow. This Cleric version has enough differences to differentiate itself from its predecessor and stand alone as its own composition.

Her design contains a lot of competing angles that give it a very dynamic feeling. The direction of her cloak shows that the wind is at her back, her wings are open to catch the air, and I love her pose. It reminds me of the art for angles in some of the old Magic: The Gathering cards. It makes me think that her scepter should be gleaming with righteous power. Even the integral base has a nice design with its rough, bare rocks stacked up in a way that isn’t bland.

    Parts List:

  1. Cloak and Integral Base
  2. Body
  3. Wings (2)
  4. Right arm
  5. Left hand with Scepter
  6. Left leg

While this kit is beautiful, it will require quite a bit of work. I encountered a large number of gate tags on many pieces, especially the wings and the right hand. The right shoulder was disappointing as there is a hole along the upper edge that will require some reconstruction of the pauldron.

This hole may be responsible for the difficulty in finding a good fitting for the arm to the body.

The body itself also has some problem mold lines, especially on the back. Thankfully most of these are covered by the large cape, so they only require smoothing to allow for a good fit between the pieces.

The wings are beautiful with nice texture on the feathers, but the outer edge has an obvious mold line running around almost the entire piece. Due to the highly detailed texture, this will require patience and a steady hand to clean off well.

Also, take care with the wing tabs that slot into the back of the cloak. They come oversized for the connection and should be slowly worked down to make sure you don’t take off too much, resulting in a loose fit. I recommend gluing them in place and then using a bit of greenstuff to reinforce the joint.

The left leg was easy to get into position thanks to the notch in the cloak for the heel, but I was left with a large seam between the leg and the boot.

I get the feeling that I got a casting from a mold nearing the end of its life due to how many parts had casting problems, ill fitting pieces, or details that weren’t as crisp as I expect from Dark Sword. Because of this I feel more than a little crestfallen with this Thief of Hearts. She’s a gorgeous concept, but the execution in this casting is lacking.

Now, she’s not beyond hope, but it will require a good amount of work to complete the assembly, fill the gaps, and fix some broken details. The detail quality of the face and hair is surprisingly good with the other problems and the wings are fantastic aside from the perimeter mold line.

I would give this Thief of Hearts a cautious recommendation. If you love the pose and the design, then I’d say risk it- your copy may be from a new mold without any of the problems I encountered. However, if you’re on the fence perhaps look at a different winged beauty.
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