Thursday, October 24, 2013

Reaper Minis - Metal Versus Bones

I'm switching gears a bit, though still sticking with the post apocalypse theme, and looking at the "bones" minis from Reaper.  The Chronoscope line of figures from Reaper is an interesting and aclectic mix of characters from steam punk all the way through hard sci-fi.  There are also a nice selection of modern day, post apacalyptic types that fit in both thematically and scale wise with my other figures.  I think I have around ten in my collection, but I have shied away from them the last couple of years as I've been seeking out plastic figures where possible.  With the Reaper bones campaigns it has been possible to now get the other figures in plastic.

Unless you've been hiding under a rock you know that the second kickstarter campaign from Reaper Miniatures is going on.  They are again featuring a huge bucket of figures to be produced in the Reaper "Bones" plastic.  I didn't go in for the first campaign and I am wrestling with the decision on whether or not to go in on the second.

I passed on the first kickstarter for a few reasons, most important was that I wasn't sure how the conversion of metal miniatures to the bones plastic would shape up.  Reaper has done a few test figures in bones plastic for years but I never tried them out.  After the delivery of the first kickstarter rewards I've seen a number of reviews but I still have not decided if it's worth taking the plunge with the second campaign.

First thing to know is what the hell is bones plastic?  The short answer is that bones is soft plastic.  The long answer is that bones is some form of PVC (polyvinyl chloride).  In terms of details and stiffness the results are equivalent to average board gaming figures.  Think modern fantasy flight figures like those in Decent II.  I don't know if it is spin cast or injection molded, but I don't think that it really matter to me.  Commodity prices on the raw ingredients for metal figures have risen steadily for the past decade, so it certainly makes sense to me that Reaper would attempt to branch into plastic figures to help it's bottom line.  Given the overwhelming success of the first campaign and the generally positive reviews of the figures,  I have been considering jumping into the second campaign.

With the first campaign figures finally hitting retail shelves I decided to give one a whirl and see how it shapes up.  To really put this material to the test I decided to pick up a copy of a figure I already had in metal.  I settled on the "Rex, Dark Future Hero".  This is a metal figure and one of the first Chronoscope figures I picked up nearly five years ago.  This week I purchased his bones version and got to work.

I didn't bother to take any pictures of the figure out of the package.  The light color of the bones plastic, along with the low contrast makes the raw bones plastic hard to judge, so I dispensed with the before shots and got down to work.  Out of the package there were definitely mold lines, but they were relatively light and not much different from the metal figures.  The down side though is that with any other PVC figure (Mantic Restic for example) you can not scrape off mold lines, you need to remove them with a forward stroke.  This is a bit more time consuming than scraping metal, but not a serious chore.

One change from metal to bones is the base.  The metal figure came with a slot tab and included a slotted, round lip 30mm base.  The bones version comes with an integrated 23mm round base, but no separate plastic base.  This seems like a good idea in theory, but because the integrated base was kind of thin and flexible, I don't see any gamer using it on it's own.  It could be glued directly to a plastic base, but I didn't bother.  I just clipped it off and used a resin 30mm base from my bits box.

Here I've got the two painted figures side by side with the metal on the left and the bones plastic on the right.  Generally the figures match pretty well.  There is some obvious loss of detail, but nothing serious.  The beard has disappeared, holes in the shoulder pads are almost gone and the belt buckle is a little soft.  

The worst bit is the barrel of the sawed off shotgun.  It is not easy to see now, but out of the package the gun barrel was a mess.  There was a noticeable mold offset on the top, the ends of the barrels were wonky and worst of all the barrels themselves were cast out of round.   After some careful trimming and shaving I got it looking decent, but not as good as the original.  It is certainly a little disappointing.

For me the figure is an acceptable trade off of quality versus price.  While it's usually not a good idea to judge a whole line on one figure, the results on Rex seem to fall in line with what I've seen around the internet from other reviewers.  Bones figures about half the price of their metal equivalents, have less detail and the thin bits like spears, swords and gun barrels are often wonky.  For me it looks like a case of you get what you pay for.  Metal is nicer, but more expensive.

Unfortunately I think I'll pass on this kickstarter campaign as well.  The figures fall into line with what I'd consider "value" but the make up of the campaign itself is problematic for me.  Unlike the first campaign, Reaper has done away with small pledges and you now need to pledge for the "core" bundle ($100) to participate at all.  This bundle is unfortunately weighted very heavily to the fantasy side of Reaper's catalog.  There are a lot of great looking figures in the core set but I do so little fanasty gaming these days that I just don't need them and I fear they would just end up sitting in a box for years.  Oh well, I figure I'll do like the first campaign and just wait for the figures to hit retail.  I'll probably pay double the kickstarter price per figure, but at least I'll get to pick and choose what I want.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Zombtober Week Three - Survivor and Zombie Conversions

It's another October and time for my third installment of the Zombtober Challenge.  This week is a little bit of a cheat for me.  I've painted up some zombie and survivor models I converted back in September.  You can see the original posts here with descriptions of the conversions and some work in progress shots.  I now have them painted and based and here are the finished figures:

First up is a figure using a Studio Miniatures zombie body with head and arms from Wargames Factory.  The figure turned out pretty well.  I was a little worried that the head and arms were too big for the body, but the pose and paint did a good job minimizing the differences.

Again here's another Studio Miniatures body worked up as an old coot.  This time though I went with a set of WGF arms from the female set, which are slightly smaller.  The head is from a much older WGF set.  It might have been some celts but I can't remember.

This figure turned out much better than I thought it would with just primer.  It's a WGF zombie vixen body and head and arms from the WGF female survivors.  I really like the final figure.  I rushed the job though, which  didn't see until I took the picture, but I forgot to add a spare high heel to the base and forgot to go over the rifle hand grips with black.  Dang it.  One thing that rally struck me working on the figure is how much sharper the 3D sculpting is on the survivors over the vixens.  With only a year between them it's impressive to see how much Wargames Factory keeps improving their game.

Last up for the survivors is another Vixen body and left arm with a right arm and head from the female survivor set.  The set of the shoulders is a little awkward and the zombie arm is a little thinner than the normal arm, but overall the figure still hangs together.

Up first for the zombies is a WGF male survivor body with head and arms from Studio Miniatures zombies.  it took quite a bit of green stuff to get the arms right, but the end result is still ok.  I was a little worried about the size of the head but I think it works.

For these last three zombies, they all have WGF male survivor bodies, Studio Miniatures zombie arms and heads from Mantic zombies and ghouls.  Generally they work, but the heads came out a little bigger than I wanted.  In hindsight all four zombies could have benefited from using putty and a hobby knife to add rents in clothing and wounds.

All in all the figures all tourned out well enough for the tabletop and I learned quite a bit to help make some better conversions in the future.  Best of all, I was able to use quite a few parts I didn't need to create some new and unique figures.

Next up is the big finally of the month with all six of the survivors from the Zombicide:  Prison Outbreak box.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Zombtober Week II - Zombicide Toxic City Mall Survivors

For my second week of the Zombtober challenge (Eclectic Gentleman Tabletop Gamer) I'm continuing with the new Zombicide Season II release.  This time it is from the Toxic City Mall (TCM) expansion for the original Zombicide board game.

I decided to tackle the four new survivors from the box.  Out of the box the figures are generally well sculpted and as with the Prison Outbreak zombies from last week, they are cast with the same semi-rigid PVC plastic that holds decent detail while not being too flexible.  Flash was non existent on the models and while there were a couple of mold lines they were light and easy to remove.  The biggest difference between the zombies and the survivors is that the zombies are all monochrome casts while the survivors come in a rainbow of different colors.  The multicolored survivors are an advantage for identifying figures on the board, but the florescent colors used for TCM  really obscure some nice detail on the figures.

Again like the zombies I've clipped the figures from their  intragral bases and put them on some 30mm resin replacements.  I did the same thing to my original Zombicide survivors and the bigger bases did not cause any problems with crowding unless all six survivors try to cram into the same room.

Neema The Executive

Neema is a nice figure with a torn shirt an Uzi and a big honkin' revolver.  I'm never a fan of figures toting two hand guns, but at least she's only aiming with one of them.  The only down side is that the realistically proportioned heels are small and tough to pin to the base.

Raoul The Contractor

Finally we have a figure in this game that looks like they are ready to face the apocalypse.  Sculpted with a molle vest, an M-14 and machete, Raoul is looking bad ass.

Elsa The Cat-Burglar

Elsa was a bit of a disappointment and points to some of the limits of the single part casts.  The arm sculpted across the body and the revolver are a little soft and the face looking right is split across the mold line so is also too soft in my opinion.  My painting technique of solid colors with washes doesn't help to bring out what color there is on the figure either.

Derek the locator

Derek's another cool figure with his surveyor's vest and bag of lath slung over his shoulder.  I think he is nicely sculpted in a good pose.

Overall so far I'm very pleased with the components of the expanded Zombicide items.  I haven't had time to play any games with the new rules, but the figures are top notch in board game terms.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Search For Post Apocalyptic Private Security Spooks

I’m switching gears a bit with this post and taking a detour from the normal zombies and survivors while still sticking with the post apocalyptic theme.  Two Hour Wargames recently released the “High Rise To Hell” supplement for the “All Things Zombie” game.  This supplement introduces the Pro-Corp private security NPC characters to the game.  Reading the description, they remind me of the Umbrella Corporation troops from the Resident Evil universe.

I wanted to create some troops that would fit the bill of spec ops pros but be easily differentiated from standard military troops.  The items on my mental checklist are combat armor, enclosed helmet with NVG/gas mask, and modern firearms (no lasers or plasma here).  Looking around, nothing direct exists in plastic.  I know, I know there are plenty of metal models out there, especially from Wargames Foundry and Hasslefree, but I’m making a concerted effort to stick with plastic these days, or even restic if I have to.

I decided to start with out of the box solutions and rooted through my figure collection to see what I could come up with.

First up are the UAMC Marines from Defiance Games (Defiance Marines).  Although they meet my criteria, they are generally lackluster models.  I own a box of them, put one together and couldn’t even bring myself to finish painting it.  Also, the defiance marines are shorter and have the exaggerated “heroic” proportions closer to Games Workshop than my taller and slimmer PA figures.  They might work, but I’ll save them as a last resort.

Next up are the Corporation Marines from Mantic Games.  These models are a step up in quality from Defiance, and they are slimmer in proportions, but again they are a couple of millimeters shorter than my PA figures.  They would also need a weapon swap away from the laser rifles they come with.  These are viable candidates, but not really ideal.  Let’s see what else I can come up with.

I also looked at some out of print Halo Actionclix Figures from Wizkids.  I looked at the UNSC Marines and ODST Troopers.  In contrast to the Mantic and Defiance figures, these ones are a little on the tall side and the soft plastic is a little on the soft side in details.  They come pre-painted and the ODST dark paint scheme would work, but the green marine would need to be re-painted.

Left to Right:  Halo ODST, Halo Marine, Corporation Marine

Looking farther to the back of my figure boxes are some troops from the now out of production AT-43 from the equally defunct Rackham.  I’ve got a UNA Star Trooper, a Red Blok Spetznatz Kommando and a Red Blok Dragonov Kommando.  All three have similar pros and cons.  They are all on par scale wise with most of my PA figures.  They all have armor and modern-ish weapons.   The Dragonov and the Star Trooper have enclosed helmets with night vision.  They came pre-painted to at least a passable table top standard, but I’d probably want to do a re-paint with a darker paint job.  I’m not really a fan of any of the lower bodies though.  Also, as with the Halo figures, the soft plastic makes the details, especially the weapons, soft and a little cartoony.  As with the others, they might work, but are still not exactly what I’m looking for.
Left to Right: Dragonov Kommando, Spetsnatz Kommando, Star Trooper

The last  out of the box figures are the Dream Forge Eisenkern troopers.  They’ve got armor, projectile weapons, a fully enclosed helmet and they scale up great with my PA figures.  They are also very well sculpted hard plastic figures.  On the downside though, the armor is a little too sci-fi for me.  Also, the upper torso has too much of a medieval feel with the big shoulder pads, gorget and pointed neck collar.

Last up I figured I’d give it a try to do some conversions from the Eisenkern troops.  Forgive the WIP look but the figures are just held together with blue-tac for now.  First I used a stock body and head and fitted the arm with a riot shield from an old Void 1.1 kit.  On the next figure I ditched the back pack, shaved off the faux gorget and trimmed down the collar.  The conversion is a little rough and will need to be cleaned up and the collar trimmed up with green stuff.  This doesn’t change the sci-fi feel, but it at least it makes the armor look more generalized.  The MG-43 look alike was a little to iconic as was the helmet, so I swapped out with an M-16 from the Wargames Factory survivor kit (men or woman) and a helmet from and AT-43 trooper.  I ditched the shoulder pads on both figures.  They might work too, but still not perfect.
Left to Right:  Stock Eisenkern, Eisenkern with shield, Eisenkern conversion

Well that’s all I could find in my collection.  Let me know what you think.  Will any of these work?  What do you think is best?  Are there any I missed?  Feedback is appreciated.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Zombicide Season II Prison Outbreak Zombie Review

Today I’ve got my first post ready to join the “Zombtober” challenge posted by (ZOMTOBER Challenge!).  The rules are pretty simple in that you complete and display at least one zombie or apocalypse survivor every Sunday in October.  With thirty three bloggers participating the results should be interesting.  I don’t fly the flag of the ZBA (zombie bloggers association), but zombies are a big part of my building and painting these days so I thought I would give the challenge a shot.

This week, I’ve focused on the zombies from the second season of the Zombicide board game franchise.  The kickstarter delivery has been a bit fragmented and disorganized, so some backers received the entire first wave delivery a month ago, while others still haven’t received anything.  I’m somewhere in the middle.  Two weeks ago I received the two big ticket items with Zombicide: Toxic City Mall and Zombicide:  Prison Outbreak.  Hopefully the first wave of Kickstarter extras will ship in the next month or so.  In the meantime I’ve been having a great time rooting through the two boxes.

Prison Outbreak is a standalone game in its own right but it is backwards compatible with both the core Zombicide game and the Toxic City Mall supplement.  It has six new survivors and zombivors (zombie versions of the survivors), introduces “berserker” zombies and best of all, it includes almost 50 traditional zombies from the core game with all new sculpts.

 I’ve spent the week rebasing and painting up one of each of the unique sculpts for the traditional zombies in the Prison Outbreak box.   The original zombies from the first season of Zombicide were decent sculpts from the perspective of typical “board game” quality, but were a little short of traditional tabletop figures.  The arms were a bit thin and amorphous and the details (especially the male zombie faces) were quite soft and mushy.  From my perspective, the cost versus quality equation still came out as a good value, but they weren’t much to write home about.

Fast forward to this year and we get nine new sculpts that in most cases raise the bar on quality.

First up are the walkers.  In the Prison Outbreak box you get six copies of five unique sculpts of good old fashioned “shufflers”.   These models are much nicer than the first season.  The arms and legs have been sculpted thicker, which should help the large flex that the first season figures had.  Flex isn’t a problem if you are using the figures straight out of the box, but for painting, too much flex in the thin arms can lead to paint cracking and falling off.   Also, the new figures have much greater detail, especially in the faces.  For someone that paints in the style I do, using washes to gain definition, deeper cuts on the details is much appreciated.  Like the original figures, the hands may tend to look like webbed flippers, but I think that’s a function of the medium, which would not support well sculpted fingers. 

Next up are the two runner zombies and the only real stinker in the whole box.  The female runner on the left is in a very awkward pose and has the oddly oversized gorilla arms reaching out.  Worse, out of the box she comes with a large peg attaching her back leg to the base. 

Not a great figure in my opinion especially compared to her concept art (PO Runner Concept).  On the plus side at least we get a little diversity to the runner ranks now.  The male runner on the right looks nice, although why he’s pulling a superman and ripping off his shirt is a mystery to me.

Now we come to the “fatty” zombie.  She’s a big lady in curlers and a too small dress.  I think the figure is a little over the top, but I think it matches up ok with the first season fatty pretty well.  Nice detailing compared to some of the softer features of the original fatty as well.  Unfortunately I messed up on the basing.   I thought she would look good shambling over some rubble on the base, but I don’t think it came out as well as it could have.  At some point I think I’ll pull her off and rebase her.

The last figure is the Abomination Zombie.  In game terms, he’s a walking tank that can only be killed by rare weapons, and if he appears early in a game you end up spending most of the game running away until you search through the deck to find something powerful enough to take him down.  While this guy’s the same height as the original abomination, his “hulking out” pose with arms raised makes him look that much more intimidating.  All in all another good figure.


For single part board gaming figures these are good sculpts that I think exceed the quality of the originals.  I plan on mixing them up with the original set to give games of original Zombicide a greater variety.  Now it’s on to the survivors.