Monday, February 25, 2013

DreamForge Games Stormtrooper Accessory Set Review

This is my second article reviewing the new plastic model kits from DreamForge Games.  In my first review here I looked at the basic Eisenkern Stormtrooper kit.  This kit has all of the basic parts to build standard stormtroopers.  In this review I will review the accessory kit that is available to add detail and options to a stormtrooper squad.

Printed Components
Like the main stormtrooper kit, this kit comes in a sturdy cardboard box with color art work on all sides as well as a one page, double sided instruction sheet.  The art is of 3D renders rather than actual models.  As with the stormtrooper instructions, the sheet in the box was a first draft that has been replaced by an updated electronic instruction sheet located at the DreamForge website.

Frame Breakdown & Components
The box includes three frames.  The first two frames include a staggeringly vast array of detail parts to customize your figures.  There are:
Pouches – There are six different ammunition and utility pouches.
Extra Weapons – There are numerous machine guns, sub machine guns, panzerfaust and pistols.  There are bare pistol grips that can be put on spare weapons, pistols in holsters as well as empty holsters.  There are also combat knives in sheaths and World War II style German Model 24 Grenades (also known as potato masher or stick grenades).
Replacement heads – There are non-mask heads with both soft cap (M43 Einheitsm├╝tze) and officer’s crusher cap.  Some of the faces have goggles and some are bare.  There are a number of different expressions as well.
Replacement arms – There are replacement arms in various poses from straight to bent give your figures a range of different poses.  There is a several pairs of arms specifically to hold the binoculars.  All of the other arms have no hands, allowing for greater flexibility.
Replacement Hands – There are a host of hands, both left and right.  There are hands with pistol grips, hands holding weapons, fists, hands pointing and hands with flat palms.  There are also hands holding a grenade.
Miscellaneous Items – There are six large and three small ammunition crates, a small field computer (with a specific pair of arms) and three sets of binoculars.

The last frame has three mechanical “mules” that represent cargo haulers that can accompany the squads.

Detail Parts, Construction & Use
Just like the stormtroopers, the frames are very well laid out and cast with great quality.  There are small but manageable mold lines on most of the parts, but there are two areas that require additional time.  There is a small amount of flash on the frames around the mule engine and all six of the panzerfaust have a mold offset that can’t be removed without taking some of the detail with it.  I found no sink marks on any of the parts.
This isn’t a complaint, only fair warning that these parts are very tiny and fiddly.  I strongly suggest that you put any details you want on the belt before attaching the arms; otherwise they are a huge bitch to get in the right place unless you resort to tweezers.

One small complaint is that there is a medical pouch (looks like the World War II gas mask container) that is supposed to hang off the back of the belt.  However the back pack comes down to cover the belt, leaving the medical pouch to ride at but level.  Another concern is that the contact point for the grenades is very small, and if you handle your models roughly, or paint with a vigorous dry brush style they can pop off very easily.  It might just e worth giving the grenades a pass.

Depending on how you use the parts, there should be enough bits to detail two big boxes of stormtroopers, or forty figures.  As mentioned above, the instruction sheet in the box was an early draft that is not entirely clear.  There is a better instruction sheet available on the DreamForge Website

Mechanical Mule, Construction & Use
The mules are actually stand alone models.  The legs come in three parts and can be posed multiple ways, but I found that to get the mule standing level and stable, you really want to have all of the legs posed the same way.  The designer has some helpful advice on this on the DreamForge blog.  There are also two head styles.  There is the “Command Control” head and the optional and more anthropomorphic “Smart Mule” head although there is no explanation as to what the difference is.

After assembling two of the mules, I strongly suggest that these are fore experienced modelers only.  For beginners, the legs could be an exercise in frustration.  The watch word fort these models is certainly “patience”.  To ease painting, I left the side cages off of the main body and the platform off the top and assembled everything when complete.

Overall Thoughts & Opinions
This is another wonderful kit and I think it dovetails in very nicely with the stormtrooper box.  However this kit certainly won’t be for everyone.  If you don’t enjoy modeling or just want to get the figures done in a hurry, I’d probably pass on this kit and just build the stormtroopers straight from the main box.  On the other hand if you like to build models just for the sheer joy, or want to achieve some characterful poses this kit is almost a must in my opinion.  As I said above, there are probably enough bits that you can get at least thirty or forty depending on what kind of detail bits you want on them.

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