Review: Crooked Dice Cyberpunk Hover Car

Crooked Dice were kind enough to send me copies of the resin Hover Car they’re selling based on my design. They’re available on the Crooked Dice site here, and here for 16GBP each. Here’s a quick review of the sample vehicles I received and photographed.

First I have to say these are lovely resin casts. They’re clean, have minimal flashing that’s easy to trim or file away and go together well. The parts are also very crisp, and capture all of the detail from the original 3D designs. Some minor changes have been made to improve the ease of casting – they are very subtle though and I only noticed them because I was comparing them to 3D prints of the original files.

Each car consists of 7 separate parts. Three of them are new ‘jet exhaust’ pieces that Crooked Dice created for the vehicles. They fit into the underbody and the front vents and give the vehicle a solid base as well as a lovely flying look on the table. The remaining parts are the main body, a separate front bumper and the jet nozzles that sit in the front wheel wells. The bumper is separate because that’s the pour point for the resin I believe.

I’m impressed at how successfully Crooked Dice converted a set of 3D .STL files into a physical model, particularly since I was not considering casting when designing the original files. It’s a testament to the skill of their design and casting folks, particularly when you see they managed to capture all the detail, including the (possibly excessive) underbody with no casting issues!

I’m a little biased of course, but I would definitely recommend these resin vehicles if you need some sci-fi vehicles. I also have to say the Crooked Dice folks are a pleasure to deal with generally too, and their customer support is excellent.

Review: Titan Terrain Warehouse

I commented at the end of the Vendorum review that Titan Terrain’s Factorum also looked quite tempting. I splurged and bought their larger Warehouse building instead. This building is also part of a good bundle deal Titan Terrain offer.

The above photo shows you my final, assembled Warehouse and it is a commanding piece of terrain which will make a great centrepiece to any industrial Sci-Fi or Cyberpunk 28mm table. It’s around 45cm long and 30cm at the widest point, and from above it’s roughly ‘L’ shaped.

This photo shows the 10 sheets of laser cut MDF and corrugated cardboard that comes in the kit. It’s a fairly hefty package and I think it’s good value for the price of NZ$54.90 (excluding shipping, at time of review).

Instructions are emailed separately as a PDF which shows how it all goes together. This is a reasonably large build and it took me around 4 hours to assemble. That does include giving the glue time to bond the MDF parts together. You’ll need some PVA, a sharp Xacto and a decent file or scrap of sandpaper to clean off the small cut tabs. I also had a bag of long rubber bands handy to hold the large pieces together while the glue cured. Painter’s masking tape also works well to keep things together temporarily.

The build steps are as you expect: there are two basic structures in the ‘L’ shape which you assemble and then join together. Additional pieces add surface detailing, and there’s a sheet of white trim parts including door frames, control panels, and building lights.

One side of the finished building includes a long loading dock with two large roller doors, and a smaller garage door (shown above), and the other side (shown here) features a back door and the building generator. Although it occurs to me you could turn that generator into a sort of back office/staff room if you painted the gridded side with windows. The building has three separate ladders to get to the roof area, so folks with sniper figures will be happy with the commanding view from the top. The corrugated cardboard also helps to hold figures in place on the sloped roofs as well.

Overall I think a very pleasing piece of terrain for a reasonable price, and I’m looking forward to painting it up and gaming over it.

Review: Kreative Scenery Gothic Office Building

Kim from Kreative Scenery has just released a laser cut 28mm scale Gothic Office Building. He was kind enough to give me a discounted copy to review here.

The kit comes as a series of pre-cut 3mm MDF pieces, and a set of 3D-printed parts for the window and door detailing. This first photo shows my assembled kit and the gray parts were 3D printed. They sit very nicely into the laser cut MDF framing, and Kim sensibly recommends you paint them separately before gluing them into place.

The parts are fully cut, which means the larger pieces are shipped loose in a box, and the smaller pieces included in a set of envelopes. This reduces the shipping weight for international buyers and means you can build straight out of the box using the emailed instructions. You can see the pieces I’ve scattered across my building table in this photo. The parts were assembled with PVA, with any excess being removed with a damp brush. That’s why some of the MDF looks a little pre-stained in these photos.

The build instructions are easy to follow, the pieces go together well and the resulting building is strong and light. It’s built in three sections: a ground floor, a lift-off middle floor, and roof. Each section is also built in two stages, the basic structure and then a layer of exterior detailing. This photo shows the basic structure prior to adding the roof and external detailing. There’s plenty of space inside too which means you could go to town with interior detailing if you’re playing skirmish games using the building.

Overall the finished building looks good. It definitely has the High Gothic Warhammer 40k feel but at the same time is restrained enough to fit onto pretty much any sci-fi table as an Administrative, Office or Apartment building. I could also see it sneaking onto a modern or WWII table with a few additional period buildings around it. The combination of the basic MDF structure, the external MDF detailing and the finer 3D printed window frames combine very nicely in the finished builing.

The front and back of the building are detailed differently as well which is a nice touch. It gives you two options to use depending on how you position the building on your table and also means you can place two of the same building next to each other with different facades. The front shown above has a nicely recessed doorway, with a set of smaller overhead windows, while the rear has a more industrial feel with a roller door and smaller side window.

Overall a very nice kit, that builds into a strong building that will look great on your table once painted.

Review: ERA Warfare Mgebrov-Renault Armored Car

David at ERA Warfare has released his 28mm 3D Printable Mgebrov-Renault Armored Car, and I had the pleasure of test printing and painting one for him. It’s available on DriveThru RPG now.

The Mgebrov-Renault is an early armored-car, and around 11 were built in 1915. It is an interesting design both from a historical, and a war gaming point of view. I think David’s done a great job of capturing the unique look of the historical vehicle – and the detailing including rivets and hatchwork prints surprsingly well on an FDM 3D printer.

I printed this on my Creality Ender 3 with a mixture of PLA from Wanhao and eSun. Rivet counters should be happy with the accurate design, and the vehicle also looks great on a Pulp or 30’s war gaming table. That’s why I couldn’t resist photographing it next to some of my own Pulp collection. He has plans to work up some more crazy Russian WWI/inter-war vehicles which I’m looking forward getting onto the paint station as well.

Review: Titan Terrain Vendorum

Titan Terrain are a New Zealand company producing a range of reasonably priced laser cut 3mm MDF terrain sets. This review covers the ‘Vendorum’ building kit from their Sci-Fi Slum range.

This kit comes as the five shrink wrapped MDF sheets you see above. PDF build instructions are emailed to you when the order ships. The instructions are reasonably easy to follow, but they’re not keyed and the major parts are spread of over the four sheets so there’s a little bit of figuring out to do while you build.

It is a fast build though. I put my Vendorum together on a Saturday, and the majority of that time was waiting for the PVA wood glue to dry enough to move to the next step. You’ll need a sharp Xacto to cut out the pieces from the frames, and a file or scrap of sandpaper to tidy up the edges. I also had a bag of large rubber bands handy which made gluing easier.

The parts are well cut and go together easily, exactly and the joints are sturdy. The design is clever too and many parts hide the ‘tabbed’ edges within the finished building itself which is certainly a detail I appreciated. A good example of this is the added air-conditioning units that go together from a handful of parts but still manage to hide all the edges you’ve cut within the finished unit.

The overall building is very nice once it’s complete, with the white trim details adding a final touch that brings it all together. The windows, doors and ladders are well scaled for 28-32mm sci-fi figures. As a gaming piece, the building is great too, with a number of playable surfaces: the roof-tops, the store awning, and if your rule system has climbing rules I can see figures scaling the AC units as well. The variable height of the roof-top parapets also adds visual interest, and possibly amusing arguments about cover modifiers when figures are placed against them.

A highly recommended kit. I’m now considering expanding my collection further with a few more purchases from Titan Terrain. The Factorum looks quite tempting. However as usual I should probably paint what I’ve already built first!

Review: Genestealer Neophyte Hybrids Magnetised

The Warhammer 40K Genestealer Cult army came out late 2016, and just before Christmas I cracked and picked up a box of the “Genestealer Cults Neophyte Hybrids” from Mighty Ape. Here’s a quick review of these figures now I’ve finished assembling and basing them.

In the box:

There’s 10 plastic figures (torsos and legs) on two sprues with a variety of heads and several different weapon options for each figure. You’ve got a leader figure, a cult icon carrier, two heavy weapons figures (with three weapon options), two special weapons figures (with three weapon options), two “3rd generation” hybrids and two “4th generation” hybrids in the box. Legs and torsos are largely interchangeable, but certain weapon options only work with certain torsos due to annoying (and probably deliberate) differences in shoulder width between the “3rd generation” hybrids, the heavy weapon figures and everybody else.

The weapons choices are great! For heavies you’ve got a big old mining laser, a heavy stubber and something called seismic cannon. For specialist weapons you’ve got the classic flamer, grenade launcher or webber. Everybody else gets a choice of autogun or a shotgun of some kind.

There’s also a clear set of instructions for assembling the figures in the box, which is very handy, particularly for choosing weapon options. There’s also plain GW bases for everybody, including a couple of larger bases for the heavies. The bases you see in the post photos are from Micro Art Studio.

Cost in New Zealand:

Yeah, Middle Earth tax as usual from Games Workshop so you’ll be paying around $7.50 per plastic figure, plus shipping. As usual GW’s local prices made me prevaricate before buying the box, but I caved eventually and don’t have any regrets.

The Hybrids:

This box is a great return to form for GW in my opinion. Highly detailed plastic figures with a plethora of weapon options that are easy to assemble, and have optional heads. The sculpts are sporting lovely looking environmental/mining suits with a nice shoulder/chest piece that looks like it carries some kind of life support, and many mount shoulder lamps. The heads have a mixture of crazy work goggles and breathing apparatus in place too. The heavy weapon guys also get great back packs laden with stuff.

I was initially disappointed with the lack of an pose choices in the box, as each figure goes together in a certain way according to the instruction booklet, but once the torsos are assembled, there’s a nice range of standing, running and braced for firing positions anyway.

Magnetise for effect:

The box contained so many weapon options I refused to be bound by ‘one choice per figure’ as per the instructions. Instead I whipped out the pin vice and a bag of 1x2mm rare earth magnets. The arms are easily wide and deep enough to seat a small magnet in, and the torsos have plenty of space for them too.

I magnetised everybody except the heavy weapon guys – because I made them first before asking myself why I was gluing their arms on permanently. Being able to swap arms really extends the usefulness of this boxed set, and gives each figure a choice of at least two weapons. These guys will be used as a mining crew for This is Not a Test, so it’s nice to have arm swaps between cheaper shotguns and autoguns/assault rifles. The leader’s pistol and melee options can also be spread around between figures as well.

One tip for magnetising the two hand weapons, which come as a weapon and a short ‘arm’ piece, is to magnetise them individually first and then once they’re in place, glue the short arm piece to the gun at the wrist as you would normally. The magnets will hold everything in place while the joint dries, and then with a bit of carefully flexing and sliding you can still swap arm sets easily.

Review: Osprey’s Dragon Rampant

Osprey Dragon Rampant Cover I own two ancient, half painted Games Workshop Warhammer Fantasy armies, and if you’re an older war gamer, you probably do to. As Games Workshop have killed Warhammer Fantasy (and replaced it with an abomination I shall not name here), I’ve been shopping around for a war gaming ruleset that would let me exercise the few figures I have painted.

Mantic’s Kings of War seemed like a reasonable choice until I discovered it would still require me finishing off a whole bunch Orcs, Goblins and Vampire Counts Undead to have a playable force. As I don’t particularly enjoy painting massed rank armies, that effectively killed my interest in Kings of War.

So my WHFB armies were abandoned again, until Robert Singers mentioned Osprey’s “Dragon Rampant”, which is a fantasy version of their Medieval “Lion Rampant” system. As Mighty Ape sell both of these rulebooks for a reasonable price, I snagged a copy of Dragon Rampant.

Dragon Rampant is similar to a lot of modern war games like Osprey’s Frostgrave, or the excellent independent This is Not a Test war game (who have a cool Kickstarter running), in that it’s both scale and figure manufacturer agnostic. The rulebook is aimed at 28mm scale war gaming, but contains tips for scaling down to 15mm. The core Dragon Rampant rules are apparently the same as those found in Lion Rampant, but there is a system of ‘Fantastical Abilities’ that has been added.

The core rules defined a broad group of unit types, like ‘Elite Cavalry’, ‘Light Cavalry’, ‘Medium Foot’, ‘Bellicose Foot’, ‘Greater Warbeast’ etc. which you can most likely use to build units from any collection of Fantasy figures you may possess. On top of those basic unit types, you can purchase the Fantastical Abilities, which allow you to make Flying units, Undead units, units that can cause Fear, be Invisible, cast Magical spells, or own Magical weapons and armor, etc! Pretty much any Fantasy unit can be crafted out of the combination of a basic unit type and these Fantastic buffs, providing you want to pay the cost of course. Elite Undead Cavalry that can cause Fear and turn Invisible are not going to be cheap to field!

Added to unit building flexibility, is a system of unit ‘Strength’ (which equates to our old friend ‘Wounds’). An Elite unit has a Strength of 6, while the larger, cheaper units have a Strength of 12. In Lion Rampant I believe this Strength is one to one for the figures you need, so a 12 Strength unit will require 12 figures. Dragon Rampant relaxes this restriction, so you can field say three large Troll figures as a 6 Strength unit of Warbeasts, or field 6 painted Graveguard miniatures as a 12 Strength unit of Heavy Foot. You can even field your mandatory Leader figure as a single Strength 6 figure if you like. The choice of 6 and 12 as unit Strength sizes is inspired, because of course both those number divide nicely into a number of factors, which lets you build units from as few or as many figures as you have to hand.

The slightly abstracted nature of the units in Dragon Rampant reminds me a little of games like De Bellis Antiquitatis, but the rules are not as fiddly as DBA. There’s no concern about unit facing or ranking up for example, although Foot units can gain a bonus if they do form a solid rank, with their ‘Wall of Spears’ rule.

Dragon Rampant is D6 based, and each unit type has a reasonably fixed block of stats that include Melee, Ranged, Armor, willingness to accept various types of order, and how easily they’re broken in combat when suffering loss of Strength points (aka Wounds). The stats system looks like it’ll be interesting to play, with the fog of war, and problems with chain of command being echoed by the ability, or inability of you to order individual units depending on how well you pass their relevant tests.

Dragon Rampant is unfortunately ‘I go, you go’ (which Games Workshop have taught me to hate), but that’s tempered by the fact that an army will generally have a fairly low unit count, and as soon as you fail to order a unit your turn ends. This gives you some interesting choices, should you try to order a flakier unit first to gain an immediate advantage? Or play it safe and activate your more solid units in a more predictable manner.

I haven’t played Dragon Rampant yet, but I have dusted off both my Vampire Counts and Orc and Goblin armies and managed to produce two, full Dragon Rampant 24 point armies that are almost entirely painted. I’ll have to paint one more Orc archer to finish them off.

Vampire Counts Dragon Rampant Army Here’s my Vampire Count force. It consists of:

  • Leader: Elite Foot, Fear causing, Undead Wight Lord with No Feelings.
  • Lesser Warbeasts: Six Dire Wolves.
  • Heavy Foot: Six Fear causing, Undead Graveguard with No Feelings.
  • Light Foot: Twelve Undead Skeletons with No Feelings.
  • Ravenous Hordes: Twelve Undead Zombies with No Feelings.

Orcs and Goblins Dragon Rampant Army And here’s my Orc and Goblin force. It consists of:

  • Heavy Foot: Twelve Offensive Orcs, with a Leader who’s a Wizardling.
  • Bellicose Foot: Twelve Orcs with Enchanted Weapons
  • Heavy Riders: Two War Chariots.
  • Light Riders: Six Short Range Gobbo Wolf Riders
  • Scouts: Six Orc Archers.

I plan to set up a 4′ x 4′ table in the garage and exercise the rules with my twelve year old son and these two forces in the very near future. It’ll be nice to finally use these figures! The Vampire Counts probably haven’t seen a dice roll in a decade, and the Orcs and Goblins have never been fielded as a force at all.

Review: AK Interactive Weathering Pigment

Panzer III AK Weathering Dust I’ve been looking for a decent weathering system recently, and on a whim grabbed a couple of jars of AK Interactive weathering pigment and fixative from Hobby City recently to try.

At around $10NZ a jar, they’re not cheap, but after a little experimentation they seem like pretty good value. The ‘North African Dust’ I chose contains enough super fine pigment to probably coat ten or more 1/56th scale Bolt Action vehicles, depending on how thick you lay it on. Super fine it is too, and the dust goes everywhere if you’re not careful. I took to weathering vehicles in a shoe box lid, just to try and keep it under control.

Weathered Panzer First up in the paint station was this dirty old Panzer 38(T) that I bought years ago for Pulp campaigns. It had already been experimented on with Tamiya weathering sticks which to be honest I found a little hard to use and also produced a rather crude effect. Using a larger brush I dabbed the African dust on liberally, followed by the enamel based fixative which wicked nicely through the applied dust, hopefully fixing it to the model. The fixative smelt strongly of solvent so I was a little concerned it might effect the existing paint job. Fortunately that concern turned out the be unjustified as it went over the dust, spray varnish, Tamiya and Vallejo paints and applied decals on several vehicles with no problem whatsoever.

It’s quite good fun applying the dust and I had to stop myself from dusting the entire vehicle. The enamel fixative does tend to dull the dust effect down slightly though, particularly if you apply it too wet. The trick seems to be dabbing it on lightly and letting it wick through a large area before moving on. Too much fixative and you’ll either lift the dust off onto your brush, or dull it down too much as it dries.

Happy with the initial test I moved onto the Panzer III I speed painted recently. The paint job on this tank was a little crude because it was rushed, and in particular the treads and road wheels looked a bit too shiny for my tastes. I tried to apply the dust in a more controlled manner than my first attempt and am very pleased with the final result. The dust has blended the crude ‘sand blasted’ paint job down nicely, as well as taken the shine off the tracks and road wheels and made everything look a touch more realistic.

I’ll definitely be investing in some more AK Interactive product in the future, particularly since I have a bunch of Normandy/Western theatre vehicles to paint for a Late War German Bolt Action force.

Review: Rubicon 1/56th Stug III

Rubicon 1/56th Stug III Goodness we haven’t actually played Bolt Action yet and I’m already putting together a second force. I’m building 750pts of German Late War Wehrmacht from two boxed sets. The Rubicon Stug III plastic kit, and the new Warlord Games German Grenadiers plastic box. That’s an entire Bolt Action force to at least 750pts for around $100nzd excluding shipping. The Grenadiers could easily stretch to 1000pts if you use every one of the 30 figures in the box, and play them as Veterans.

First up the Rubicon Stug arrived this week from Mighty Ape and I immediately assembled it as a Late War Stug III Asuf H with most of the trimmings. The Stug III went together very easily, like their Panzer III I have already built. The basic chassis is the same, both historically and on the Rubicon model. That means it also has a handy set of tracks you can leave unglued until everything is painted. This time however I spent a little more effort on the inner road wheels. On the kit they’re joined together as a single piece with bits of 2mm plastic between each wheel. It’s not a biggie, but those can be visible on the final model and make painting the road wheels a bit harder. All I did was cut and file each inner wheel so they’re separate before gluing, and the track sets still slip on and off the vehicle easily.

The Rubicon kit has a slew of options for the early, mid and late War Stug III. Including multiple barrels, mantlets, frontal armor, three different cabin tops and even engine exhaust options. Fortunately the instructions are very clear about which parts are appropriate for which period, which makes things easy when assembling. I’ve gone late war with the remote operated MG, pig’s head cast mantlet, schurzen and stowage rack. That rack is going to get some stowage in the form of crates and 55 gallon drums.

Also like the Panzer III kit the schurzen are slip on to the vehicle body. That means the kit is missing some historic detail in the form of mounting racks for the skirts, but frankly that’s a small price to pay for ease of painting. Rivet counters could probably fabricate the missing racks with some cut plastic square rod if required. The only other bit of work I need to do is drill out the barrel of the main gun, which you can see is cast with a blank end in the kit. All of the gun barrels are like this, for ease of molding I think. Another excellent kit from Rubicon and great value for money at a modest $46nzd from Mighty Ape.

Review: Warlord Bolt Action German Grenadiers Plastic Box

Warlord German Grenadiers Box This arrived in the post today from England. Warlord Game’s new German Grenadier plastics box. This is enough plastics to make 30 German Late War Grenadiers in a lovely mix of weaponry. Opening the box you’ll find five copies of the same six man sprue, enough bases for them, an instruction sheet and a small sheet of very tiny decals for rank markings.

The sprues are up to Warlord’s normal standards with a great mix of uniforms, head options, weapons and equipment. The weapon options on each sprue are:

– Rifles: Kar 98K, firing Kar 98K, held Kar 98K, Gewehr 43, firing Gewehr 43, held STG44 x 2, STG44
– SMGs: Soviet PPSh, MP40 x 2.
– LMGs: MG42, MG42 held.
– Heavy: Panzerfaust, firing Panzerfaust

With of course a variety of holding and gripping arms that can be combined with the free weapons. The mix of uniforms and heads mean you can make officers plus rank and file easily. Here’s a couple of sprue shots to show the details. Now I need to do some planning on how to use every figure in the box and bust out the poly cement.

Warlord German Grenadier Sprue Front Warlord German Grenadier Sprue Back