Monday, January 17, 2011

Dust Models 1/48 Jagdluther Kit In Box Review

While Fantasy Flight Games handles all of the distribution for the actual Dust Tactics board game.  The original creators of the game (and the entire Dust universe) have created two models in the same scale as the board game models.  They are a German “Jadgluther” and the Russian “Fury of Ivan”.  Both models are offered as both kits and built/painted pieces.

Since these models were released by Dust Studios, FFG has announced that they are not “game legal”.  I decided to order one of the Jagdluther kits anyway simply because it looked like a cool model.  I chose the kit version over the painted version for two reasons.  First, I have a base copy of the game that I intend to paint in my own color scheme.  I want the Jagdluther to match.  Rather than pay the extra money for a paint job I am just going to cover up, I went with the kit.  Second, I like building model kits.  Years before I got into wargaming I spent many hours building and superdetailing WWII armor kits in 1/35 scale.  I feel like this kit will take me back towards my roots.

Before I start building, I thought that it would be helpful to some to give a short review of what you get in the box.  I’ll keep notes and do a separate buildup review after the model is complete.  After going through the contents of the box, here are my impressions:

As this is a special order kit from overseas, I was a little hesitant at first to place the order.  I do a lot of purchasing over the internet, but little overseas.  One thing that was frustrating is that the Dust website does not offer any discount for purchasing additional items.  The shipping cost for the kits was listed at $10.  However that’s $10 for each item.  I was considering purchasing the Fury of Ivan Kit as well, but as there wasn’t any discount on shipping I passed.

Shipping time was a little longer than listed as well.  They quoted two weeks at check out but the kit took about three and a half weeks to arrive.  However, considering the order was placed two weeks before Christmas, holiday volume probably factored into the delay.  I was also frustrated by the packing of the kit.  The kit comes in a cardboard box.  Instead of packing that in a shipping box, they just wrapped a single layer of brown paper around the kit box and shipped it.  When it arrived, the box was somewhat mangled and dented from the trip.  Thankfully nothing inside was damaged, but I think that has as much to do with luck as anything.

As I said, although the box was a little crushed, the contents were in good shape.  Here’s what you get in the box:
Instructions – A one page front and back, full color set of instructions.  There’s a full color picture of the Jagdluther art work on the front and exploded style assembly instructions on the back.  The instructions seem to be based around the digital model of the sculpt which is nice and clear, but I noticed that there are no part numbers listed.  Hopefully this won’t lead to problems finding the right parts.  Also, for some reason I received a second copy in the box.  Odd, but it’s better than getting none I suppose.

Dust Tactics 2010 Catalog – This is a little booklet that seems pretty cool.  It's a color, twelve page fold out booklet with what are hopefully more 1/48 kits that are in the pipeline.  It has info on the Mickey ARV, Axis Captured KV-47, Bergeluther, Jagdluther, Imperial Navy Heavy Robot, Fury of Ivan and the six squad boxes that have already been announced by FFG.  I'm assuming this was put together before Dust made the switch to FFG, but I still hope some of the other models make it into production.

Decal Sheet – This is a nice set of full color, waterslide decals.  They look crisp and well printed.  Also, it looks like this sheet has enough decals to do several different models, including the allies.  This will come in very handy for me as I intend to repaint the models from my base kit and was searching for decals.  These look to be the same as the “Axis/Allies 1/48” decals that have recently been put up for sale on the site.

Plastic Parts – There are three sprues of plastic parts, each sealed in its own bag along with a plastic base that matches the game box models.  One sprue has the parts for the hips and upper body, the other two sprues have the parts for the legs.  Here’s the odd thing.  The two leg sprues are identical and appear to have enough parts to make four legs.  I won’t know for sure until I start building, but I think I may have received an extra leg sprue.  The sprues themselves look good with no visible flash and very few, very small mold lines.  Also, looking at how the parts go together, it looks like all of the leg joints are movable, giving the ability to pose the model how you want versus the same fixed pose that both of the board game models have.

Resin parts – There are 18 resin parts that make up the changes to the type IV hull and the two cannons.  The resin is well cast with small pour plugs and no flash or air bubbles.  There does seem to be some warping to the long barrels of the cannons, but if the resin handles the way it should, I should be able to straighten them out with a little hot water.

It’s hard to judge the kit before I start building, but from what I’ve seen I’m pretty optimistic.  The whole kit seems professionally done with some minor packing inconsistencies.  I can’t wait to get going on the building process.  I'll hopefully start on the legs this week.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Who Wants a Loth?

Last November I picked up a copy of the new Dust Tactics board game distributed Fantasy Flight Games and produced by Dust Studios.  It is a hybrid game with classic board game elements mixed with 30mm tabletop style miniatures.  It takes place in a Weird WWII setting created by Paolo Parente.  It has both infantry and large mecha/tank hybrids referred to as robots in the game.

In the fall of 2010, Dust Studios produced an exclusive robot called a “Loth”.  It was a modification of the “Luther” model from the game box.  Both robots are for the Axis Faction.  The game box Luther had a claw (kampfzange) on the right arm and a 5cm flak 43 on the left arm.  The exclusive Loth had a claw on both arms.  The Loth was handed out as prizes at Gencon and to certain local gaming stores.  
As with any exclusive model, it’s tough to find and expensive when you do.  There was a flurry of ones up for auction a couple of months ago, but now you’re lucky to see one every other week.  If that wasn’t enough, it was later announced by FFG that the Dust studio extra models like the Loth would not be “game legal”.  OK, now I had to have one.  Unfortunately, I didn’t feel like paying the prices that these things were fetching on ebay.  

Fast forward to Christmas and my wife buys me a second copy of the Dust game.  As I’m assembling the second copy of the Luther robot I notice that the joints on the arm pieces weren’t as solid as on the Luther from my original copy of the game.   After Messing around and fiddling with the parts, I figured I could make a shot at changing around the left and right arms one of the Luthers to create my own Loth.

Essentially, what you need to do is get the cover off of the upper arm joint and put it aside.  Then, you can remove the upper arm from the lower arm and turn it around.  Once you do, you can then put the cover piece right back into place.  Once you do that for both arms, you can get the claw on the left and the flack cannon back on the right.  You can’t even tell it was changed.

I printed off a copy of the stat card that someone had thankfully posted over on

Now I can either field two Luthers or a Loth.  If I ever get up the gumption to fire up photoshop, I might try to create some stats for a robot with two of the 5cm flack cannon .  I think I’ll keep with the “L” names and call it “Lothar”

Friday, January 7, 2011

Grindhouse Games Combot Review

My first project up is a review of a squad of “combot” robots I recently finished from Grindhouse games.

Grindhouse Games is a small company known for its Incursion board game.  Late in 2010, They announced a new project to be called “Junk”.  As of now, the game is still in the early development phase.  Not much has been set in stone.  Here is what we know.  The game is set in some sort of post-apocalyptic earth where humans are rare or nonexistent.  Robots have inherited the wasteland.  They band together to search out the rubble of humanity to find the parts and resources they need to survive.  It looks like it will be a small skirmish style game with less than 10 models per side.  The goal seems to be less of a competitive game and more of a narrative, “RPG Light” style in the same vane as some of the Two Hour Wargames rulesets.  From the Art and aesthetics shown so far, it looks like Grindhouse is aiming for something between a pulp style look and standard sci-fi.

I like the concept the owner and designer Jim Bailey has put forward so far.  On the company forum they are still soliciting input from the public on what direction to go with the game.  It’s early days yet, but I certainly see potential.

While the game itself is still a work in progress, Grindhouse has already released it’s first set of miniatures.  Called the Dogface squad, it is a group of five robots with a range of different weaponry.  I preordered a set in early November before the release.  Due to problems with the initial casting, they didn’t actually arrived until sometime in the first week of December.  At which time they sat on my desk for a few more weeks until I could clear a spot from other projects and get at them.  Here are my thoughts on the squad:

The first thing that hits you are that these things are pretty heavy for metal miniatures.  They have solid round bodies with a domed head.  At 26 grams they are over twice as heavy as most other infantry figures in my collection.  This had me concerned that the weight and the high center of gravity would be too much for the smaller 25mm round bases they were shipped with.  To keep the figures from becoming too prone to tipping over, I upsized the bases to some 30mm round lip style bases I had in the bits box.
The miniatures have a retro look that could look good with anything from 40’s era Weird War II to 30’s pulp.  I think these guys would look great with a theme from the Fallout video game series.

It should also be mentioned that when these models were first revealed, there was a little controversy as they look visually similar to robots drawn by artist Ashley Wood.  He has produced two graphic novel series, “World War Robot” and “Zombies VS Robots” with a robot called a Bertie that looks quite similar to the combots.  After this raged for a few days,  Jim Bailey claimed to have contacted Asley Wood and stated that there were no problems.  I haven’t seen any negative comments by Mr. Wood, so in my opinion it’s a dead matter.  They’re similar, but different enough that everyone can get along.  Here's a pic of an official Bertie model from A3 Toys.  You can be the judge:

In the confusing and often conflicting world of miniature scale, this can be a problem.  As I mentioned these robots are big.  At 40mm from bottom of foot to the top of head, these guys are going to tower over most smaller 28mm miniatures.  However they do fit in pretty well with bigger miniatures in the 32-35mm range.  Also, being imaginary robots, they really don't have to fit in exaclty with other models to still play well on the tabletop.  Here's a scale shot with an AT-43 model on the left and a Games Workshop 40K model on the right:

Here there was a slight disappointment for me.  I had previously bought at least 30 models from Groundhouse’s Incursion line and they were all crisply cast with almost no mold lines.  The combots were not quite so well done.  All of them had a prominent mold line across the body.  For three models it was easy to remove with just a light backs-crape of my hobby blade.  However for two, the robot with the assault rifle in one hand pointed forward and the robot with the rocket launcher, the mold line was very pronounced.  I tried my best to remove it, but you can still see it on the one with the assault rifle.

Also, the arm holding the RPG was badly misaligned.  In fact the head of the RPG was too bad to salvage.  If I had removed all of the material at the mold line, it would have made the warhead out of round.  In the end I just clipped off the whole RPG and replaced it with a left over part from a Games Workshop plastic Cadian Imperial Guard kit.  It’s considerably bigger than the original, but I think it still works.

I’d say that these guys are pretty typical from a constructability standpoint.  All of the bodies and legs are single part casts, so you only need to attach the weapons and arms.  All of the parts have a ball and socket arrangement that might hold by themselves, but to be on the safe side I pinned all of the joints with 1/16th inch brass rod.  I used a super glue gel to hold the parts together.  It gives you a little longer play time when getting parts in the right place and can also fill small gaps in the parts.  It probably took me longer to clean up the mold lines and replace the rocket launcher than it did to assemble everything else.  All told I probably had everything together in a total of about two hours.

After a good wash to remove any mold residue, fingerprints etc I primed the models with Army Painter Uniform Grey.  I then took one of the models and experimented with some test colors.  After playing around, I settled on German armor yellow for the base with green for the pouches and web gear.  I tried metalics, but just wasn’t satisfied with the effect.  To be completely honest, pics of the Ashley Wood Berties in yellow certainly helped my descionmaking. 

These are going to be playing miniatures, not showpieces, so I went with a quick three color and wash scheme.  I used Vallejo German Ochre as the base coat.  Games Workshop Catachan Green on the web gear and Games Workshop black/Boltgun Metal on the rifles.  I went back and painted the rocket Launcher and rockets Games Workshop Snot Green to make them stand out a little more.  Then everything was washed down with Games Workshop Gryphonne Sepia.

To give the base a little detail I threw on a little bit of gravel and some random junk from the bits box.  I finished it off with some grass tufts from Silfor.

Overall I’m pretty satisfied with these models.  At $7.45 a piece (including shipping) they’re pretty pricy, but considering the size and weight of the miniatures, it’s not too much of a stretch for me.  Although there were some casting issues, for me they don’t present that much of a challenge to seasoned modelers.  These are some unique miniatures that I consider a good addition to my collection.

While I’m waiting to see what becomes of “Junk” I think I’ll use them to fight zombies.  One upside of the whole Ashley Wood controversy was to take a close look at his work.  His art style isn’t really my cup of tea, but the Robot VS Zombie comic sparked my imagination.  I’m a big fan of the All Things Zombie rule set from Two Hour Games.  This is a narrative gaming system set in a universe where a zombie outbreak brings humanity to its knees.  I think I can make a fun mod for the rule set where these combots go out to battle the zombies on humanities behalf.  Should be fun!

Here's some pics of the finished models: 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

First Post

Ok, so my blog is up and running!  As my regular job has given way to the status of independant contractor, I now have more time to pursue my passion for building and painting figures and models for tabletop wargaming.

I've been at this now for going on 15 years on and off, and while I share some of what I do, it's scattered over numerous forums across the web.  I've decided it's time to bring it all together with a blog.

Of course, nobody is going to read this as I won't have any viewers until the blog has some content, but hey, it's a start.

So, here it goes!