Lord Baron Mantes review (Smart Max)

Hi there!

I’d like to show you a Smart Max (SMOG, Victorian Fantasy) model I was commissioned to paint recently. It was Lord Baron Mantes from the Deluxe 50mm Miniatures series. At least that’s what was written on the box.

Lord Baron Mantes review (Smart Max) (1)

It is a model of steampunk-genre, which I am fond of. I’ve already painted it, but let me first tell you few words about it.

Packaging

I have to say the packaging is poor, very poor indeed. It is just a soft and thin box. The visual appearance is nice, but this box will not make for a good protection of a miniature. All parts were packed in the folic bag. The base was put inside the box separately.

The packaging gets the score of 2/10 (1 for the box – just because there is a box; and 1 for the bag – for the same reason as the box). No instruction was added. The model is not that complicated, though it would still be helpful to have some manual or catalogue photo during assembly.

So, what do we get…

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The whole set include 21 parts: 2 mechanical “sleeves”, head, body-can, cloak (kind of a tuxedo, actually), smoke, 2 mechanical hands, shoe, 2 flaps, 2 rotor blades, 2 parts with some pipes, wheel, part of an armour, odd spiral lolly pop to be attached to the hat and the base of course.

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Quality

Very uneven. I haven’t found much excessive flesh, though there were some lines to be filed. I found them mainly on these mechanical sleeves. Preparing them for paint was time consuming due to their shape. You can see it on photos below. Also, there were quite many holes and bubbles which required filling.
The main body has a few protruding elements and need to be treated with due care. My copy was slightly damaged – a piece of a collar was missing. I couldn’t find it in the box, so I assume it had been a manufacturing mistake. I had to repair this part by myself. One of the parts was covered by something that looked like a spilled resin. I had to cut this off to reveal one of the rivets.

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Oh well, let’s proceed.

Furthermore, some of the parts had pieces left after had been cut off from frames or inlet channels. Fortunately, these were not difficult to repair.

Those were the main drawbacks. Other details were so much better. The head is like not from this world! Face, goggles, teeth and nose, ears, metallic hat with rivets – PERFECT! It is definitely the best part of the set. The wheel is also cast perfectly. Can’t say anything bad about hands, flaps with rivets, smoke and other details either.

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Individual elements fit pretty well. There were not many gaps to be filled. The only real problem was the aforementioned damaged collar.

The base looks very good too. It’s thick, full; texture of the cobblestone is very nice. The base is made of a different material resembling marble.

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The final score

To conclude my Lord Baron Mantes review, let me say that the model is surely well cast, parts are clean and detailed, but there were few imperfections and damages (and that awful packaging). This decreases the overall score. Price is rather high, but if you can live with small defects the model will make for a nice piece in your collection.

Final score: 7/10.

Brom Hard Bark from Enigma Miniatures – Review

Welcome to yet another review of my recent purchases (not that recent at the time we publish this article). This time I’m sharing a Brom Hard Bark from Enigma Miniatures review.

First look

I decided to buy this model after thinking about it for a long time – Brom Hard Bark released by Enigma Miniatures under the catalogue code ENM5410.

It is a massive, heavy and very characterful model consisting of 7 elements (including 4 spikes on one tag): main body, two bats (longer and shorter version), plus round base. It was packed in a blister with printed insert showing the official paintjob.

Brom Hard Bark from Enigma Miniatures - review (1)  Brom Hard Bark from Enigma Miniatures - review (2)

Details

I liked the typical, enraged face expression and the model’s pose too, which basically means it made a good impression on me. The model is in 54mm scale, thus is quite big, even if you consider it is a dwarf.

The metal used for casting is of a good quality, with all details cast well. This especially applies to the face, which of course has a great impact on the overall impression.

The model is attached to the tag which may be cut off; there is also one piece of metal joining both elements.

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Any flaws?

Following thorough assessment I haven’t found any holes, uneven surfaces, signs of shifted molds or poorly cast details on the model. I haven’t found any mold lines either (apart from one on the back of the right leg), but these may become apparent after priming the miniature. There were few spots with excessive flash which should be very easy to remove.

Nevertheless, I’ve spotted few subtle mold lines at the whole length of weapons (including hands), which are typical for such details. They are quite visible, thus should be removed before painting. The same applies to spikes, which also require some preparation work.

The quality of details is good. Texture of wood, metal, hair – all of these make the Enigma model a top-shelf product. Separate pieces fit very well and all one has to do is to pin them before assembly.

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Some small imperfections should be removed easily and do not have a negative impact on my overall opinion, which is very positive. Enigma could have perhaps used a piece of foam to protect the miniature better in the blister. Not that any damages are probable in the plastic packaging. 🙂

Verdict about Brom Hard Bark

Sculpt and cast are very good. I believe it should be really fun to paint for everyone who will buy it. 🙂

— Slawol

Mrokin and Helloween Mage from Spellcrow – Review

You can do many different things during night… one of them is to take pics and write reviews. I didn’t really feel like sleeping, so I decided to spend night on something productive – writing a review of Spellcrow miniatures.

I’d like to present two models released by Spellcrow, a company behind the Umbra Turris game. I had bought them last year at the Mad Days event and recently found them in my boxes. I thought it’s a good to review them.

Both minis were packed in folic packaging inside blisters. No bases were provided, as these miniatures were brand new releases at the time. Fortunately, I was able to pick square resin bases at their stand. Miniatures sold through their online store do have bases of course!

Helloween Mage

The first model I chose is a Helloween Mage – pumpkin-head released for Helloween 2011. It’s a one-piece cast, but it doesn’t mean a poor quality, quite the opposite! The is not quite fresh, as we have many pumpkins on the market. Nevertheless, I wanted to have this one from the very first moment I saw it. It’s a second pumpkin-head in my collection, many more still waiting for a purchase…

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And here’s a nice painted version of this miniature, done by C’Tan.

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What’s good

The sculpt is precise and detailed. There’s a lot of interesting details and textures, thus should comprise a very fun model for painting and should “paint by itself”, as painters use to say. Textures on the pumpkin, wood and details deserve the highest notes. I’m sure I’m not going to regret time spent on painting it and final effect will the best reward for my efforts.

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Not so good

There are some drawbacks of course, as always. Cast is not bad, but there are some mould lines and excessive flesh. The metal piece connecting the wand with tag is the biggest part to be removed. These are not complicated things to do. Also, a piece of foam could be added to blisters to provide additional protection for miniatures (not that I expect any damages to light metal miniatures packed tightly in folic wrapping).

Packaging

The packaging does not contain any specific information apart from the name of the game. This might have changed in the meantime. If not, I believe it would be reasonable to add at least name of the model and few more pieces of information, to make it look more professional. Just a minor issue, really.

Score

Final score: 9/10.

Mrokin

The second model is this Mrokin with a staff. Fun sculpt with quality not worse than described above. One-piece cast again. There were also a few mould lines and other elements to be removed, nothing exceeding the standard preparation and assembly things you do with all miniatures.

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Detailing

Face, and equipment deserves a special attention. Fantastic! Small brush and steady hand will make the most out of this sculpt; other manufacturers in that scale might be ashamed! Finer and better details can be found on resin casts only.

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I have to admit that Spellcrow models’ quality and amount of details are amazing! The model is very small yet the sculptor did a superb job.

Score

This model will get the same score: 9/10.

Spellcrow miniatures review: conclusion

In my opinion Spellcrow did everything one could do with metal and produced miniatures of high quality. This is supported by an outstanding sculptor’s performance. As you can see – impossible is nothing. 🙂

I can sincerely recommend both miniatures and will surely get more from them in the future. Prices are also good – EUR 11.98 ($15.97) for the Helloween Mage and EUR 5.99 ($7.99) for Mrokin.

— Slawol

Verlinden Productions: Full Metal Jacket – Review

It’s time for another historical model. I’d bought it few months ago and finally found some time to describe it. So here it comes: Full Metal Jacket – review. Beware though, I do feel like writing today, so there might be quite a lot of text below…

Introduction to Full Metal Jacket review

This pretty big chunk of resin with some additional bits is made by Verlinden Productions and has the same name as one of the greatest Vietnam war-themed films, the Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket”. There is also second name on the box “G.I. Vietnam”. G.I. is a general abbreviation used by US forces to describe to military units (or Government Issue, or Galvanized Iron), and Full Metal Jacket is a popular kind of a bullet.

I was considering purchasing it for a long time already, as Vietnam War is my second most favourite historical period, just after the WW II. VP range actually includes more small dioramas like this one: “Good Morning Vietnam” (name taken after the film with awesome Robin Williams), “Flower Power” and others… I’m thinking about getting them all to make a big camp, but for now this scene will suffice. 🙂

The model – overview

As of now I’ve chosen – in my opinion – the best quality product: a soldier lying with Playboy in his hands and his gear all around him. A classic scene, lots of details and true Vietnam feel 🙂

The model is in 1:35 scale. The catalogue number is 329, as you can see on the box.

It is packed in a plastic bag and nice box with picture of the painted version. There are 6 elements inside, which you can use to create the whole scene – diorama, 2 arms, 2 heads and a radio.

Photo: Verlinden Productions: Full Metal Jacket - Review

Photo: Verlinden Productions: Full Metal Jacket - Review

Photo: Verlinden Productions: Full Metal Jacket - Review

Photo: Verlinden Productions: Full Metal Jacket - Review    Photo: Verlinden Productions: Full Metal Jacket - Review

Photo: Verlinden Productions: Full Metal Jacket - Review

Terrain

My review will start with the biggest element: the whole terrain around the soldier. The quality is of the highest level. Anyone familiar with this company will conform that their products are still considered to be one of the best on the market. Verlinden range covers loads of elements for vehicles (e.g. boxes, barrels, weapon, ammunition) as well as models. One can expect a whole lot of junk for dioramas from them as soon as bigger models (like the Abrams tank) are released. Majority of their products are provided for 1:35 scale.

The whole element is a one-piece cast. Nevertheless, the cast is perfect, as you can see on the photos. Cavities, holes, details and other shapes – there is nothing to complain about, even for myself 😀 I noticed just one issue, which is also visible on my pics – the scene was cut away from something else. I’m not sure what was it, but the cut is evident. Perhaps a bigger batch was cast, hence the cutting… there are this protruding bits around the sand. Anyway, these are not cast imperfections, just material excess cut off. One just need to cut and file it to solve the problem.

Photo: Verlinden Productions: Full Metal Jacket - Review

Photo: Verlinden Productions: Full Metal Jacket - Review

Photo: Verlinden Productions: Full Metal Jacket - Review

Photo: Verlinden Productions: Full Metal Jacket - Review

Photo: Verlinden Productions: Full Metal Jacket - Review

Photo: Verlinden Productions: Full Metal Jacket - Review

Photo: Verlinden Productions: Full Metal Jacket - Review

Photo: Verlinden Productions: Full Metal Jacket - Review

Details

Quality and precision of details is astonishing. If you don’t believe me, check the glasses frame, wrist watch, boxes with excellent wood texture or the peace symbol hanging from the soldier’s neck. I won’t even mention details of the radio, cans, cigarette boxes, facial hair or boot soles.

Photo: Verlinden Productions: Full Metal Jacket - Review

Even the M-1 helmet has a material pulled over it, with folds! By the way, don’t sand this element, as there are not mould lines 🙂 My only remark would be lack of visible nails, there are “only” perfectly executed hands;)

Flaws?

The model doesn’t have too much flash to be removed, and ones I’ve found result from the manufacturing process only, not the poor quality of forms. There are also just few delicate mould lines – careful filing and sanding will be sufficient to remove them. You could use a knife to scrape them off, if you feel confident, but remember this is resin, which can easily get damaged, especially in case of thinner, smaller elements.

My plans

My plan is to paint this model realistically, so I’m sure I’ll first watch the best (in my opinion) film about the war in Vietnam: “Apocalypse Now” (the director’s cut, of course, which I saw 3 times recently) with M. Sheen and great M. Brando, then most probably “Platoon” with Sheen’s son 🙂 So many famous actors there, and both are very good films. Anyway, I grew up watching them (and who didn’t? :)), so it will be nice to see them again. Not everyone is a fan of the subject, but most of us know these two productions.

And there is also my favourite chopper and workhorse of that war – Bell UH-1 Iroquois… but that’s completely different story…

Back to the model…

Painter’s opinion

Painting shouldn’t be difficult for anyone. One just need to get some pics and start painting. Colours true for that period are well known and you can find any required information in the internet. Of course, if you want to get deeper, you can get many books covering this subject, e.g. from the Osprey publications. Use green and olive shades for uniforms, with some tiger-stripes camouflage patterns, and Marlboro, Winston or Lucky Strike cigarette and you’re free to go;) I think you know how to paint ammo boxes too. Pastels and dry pigments might be useful to recreate dark ground and dust.

As for papers and centrefold… well, you can print these in proper scale (Playboy cover should not be a problem) or even paint, if you feel adventurous 🙂

Conclusion

I will rate this model 9.5/10 – almost perfect. The slight drawback (there always is something) are all these small bits, excessive material and mould lines. Nothing difficult to remove, but one needs to spend some time on these, as any observer would notice those on all the details.

I do recommend this model. The box might be a bit pricey at more than $21, bit it’s worth every cent! You pay for the quality, and quality to price ratio is really good in this case. You can be sure that you’ll get a top shelf product, and I’m sure you’ll have fun painting it.

— Slawol (who would like to thank Nameless for his translation and making this article available to our international readers)