Like any good miniature painter, I buy more miniatures than I can possibly paint, and the backlog just keeps growing. Over the past few weeks, my mailbox has been abuzz with activity, as orders from Scale75, Reaper, and Privateer Press have arrived and made their way into my ever-growing paint queue.
Despite my ambivalence about the gaming and hobby industry’s move towards kickstarter, as soon as I saw the Naughty Gears models from Scale75, I knew I had to get in on it. These are 1/12 busts of steampunk women, with some decidedly I’ve been wanting to move up from 30-ish mm scale to something bigger, and despite my best efforts, I eventually relented and went in on the Sexy level, selecting Mary Read, Helga Blitzhammer, Jessica Thunderhawk, and of course, Nancy Steelpunch, as well as a couple addons and other goodies.
Right off the bat, these models have some great character design to them. Despite being decidedly pinup in nature when it comes to things like body proportions and the amount of skin showing (hey, Helga’s a blacksmith! It’s hot near her forge!), most of these models also exude a certain confidence and, dare I say, badassery in their sculpts. A couple are a little much for me when it comes to the amount of skin showing, but as I am a sucker for both pinups and steampunk, I have to give these a ten out of ten for character design.
There are a couple that I’m looking forward to painting in particular. Nancy Steelpunch is just an amazing model that ticks all the right boxes for me. Extraneous steampunk goggles, robotic arms, and a punkish undercut all combine to create what is sure to be a joy to paint and display. Helga, as well, is a model where I think there is a lot one can do there. You can add some soot and sweat stains on her shirt to make it look like she’s been working hard, and with some orange lighting in front of her to make it look like she is standing in font of a forge, basked in its orange glow, there’s a lot that one can do with the model.
When we get to the quality of the models, it’s just great all around. They are all just some amazingly detailed models. The straight lines are laser straight, the detail is crisp and bountiful, and the mold lines are practically nonexistant. I did a dry fit, and the pieces just go together perfectly. While they may be a little on the pricy side, the quality and the awesome character design easily justifies the cost.
My level on the kickstarter came with some additional goodies, the best being their book “Steampunk in Miniature” which has detailed instructions on how to paint these models up. Aside from some not-so-great translations in the introduction section, the book is chock-full of great content to take you from the primer to the finishing touches. Big pictures and detailed instructions will definitely help me transition to this much larger scale than I am used to, and one feature of the book that I really liked was that it catered to multiple different paint styles — airbrush users versus regular brush, and instructions for both non-metallic and true metallic metals.
Unfortunately, while the quality of the models was great, there were a couple of disappointments associated with the Scale75 kickstarter process that served to remind me why I’m not a huge fan of kickstarter, especially for established companies looking to expand their product line rather than startups.
First, there was the Mary Read debacle. For those of you who aren’t aware, shortly after the kickstarter ended, Scale75 ran into a copyright issue and could no longer produce the Mary Read figure they had advertised. They initially offered up Amelia Steam as a replacement, however their customers weren’t thrilled as Mary Read was one of the best and likely most popular sculpts. Eventually, to mollify the people who went in for Mary Read, Scale75 offered up an alternate sculpt which was copyright-compliant. While it was nice to get a Mary Read, all the changes they had to make to avoid copyright issues really made it a completely different model. The awesome hair of the original Mary Read was covered up by a bandanna, which meant that while the new sculpt wasn’t bad, what we actually got was a pale shadow of what could have been.
Second, I was a little disappointed with the sculpt on Helga Blitzhammer. I was sold on her based on the concept art, but when they sculpted her, the facial expression changed. It went from the cold, stern expression to a big smile. This changes the whole tone of the piece, going from a serious blacksmith at work to more of a smiling, cheesecakey model. While I can’t complain too much because I believe the render was available before the kickstarter ended, it was a little frustrating to see the model not match the concept art which initially sold me on her.
That said, overall, these are still some great models and I’m looking forward to painting them and trying out a new scale.
I also received my first shipment from MiniCrate, Privateer Press’ new miniature subscription program. For those who are not aware, the concept behind MiniCrate is that you sign up for a monthly subscription and each month you are sent an exclusive, limited-run miniature from PP. Once they are all sent out, the tooling will be destroyed. So far, all of the miniatures in MiniCrate that have been revealed are alternate sculpts of existing models in their inventory.
Included in this box were both their Di Wulfe in Sheep’s Clothing (aka: Sexy Gorman) and the Swamp Siren. The Sexy Gorman is a one piece metal model, representing a female version of their Gorman di Wulfe model, while the Swamp Siren comes in two pieces: A resin piece making up the bulk of the model and a metal left arm.
Now, the sculpts on these are, and always will be, polarizing. A lot of the MiniCrate models have gone the pinup route, so if you don’t like painting pinups for whatever reason, then you probably won’t like these. Further, with the Sexy Gorman’s entire sculpt based around a pun, people are either going to love her or hate her and her sheep onesie.
Initially, I was in the camp that wasn’t sold on the Sexy Gorman model, and subscribed to get the Swamp Siren. I thought the sheep onesie was just silly. But, the more I look at it, the more the model has grown on me. Yes, it’s kind of silly, but in a fun, whimsical way. And as someone who likes doing these sort of conversions to my models, I love the Privateer Press gender-bent alternate sculpts. I’ve already got her cleaned and mounted on a pill bottle for painting, and have some plinths on order for her…
As for the Swamp Siren, I absolutely love the design. The fact that they could take their Swamp Horror and turn it into a pinup model, while keeping the feel and the distinctive elements of the original, is nothing short of amazing. They managed to incorporate all the tentacles, spikes, and chitinous plating of the original into a sculpt that is the right mix of horrible, Cthulhu-esque abomination and attractive lady. She’s an awesome sculpt, and one that is definitely going to be closer to the top than the bottom of my painting queue.
Unfortunately, the Swamp Siren suffers from some quality control issues. While the model itself is made of good material and has some nice detail, and is generally similar in crispness, detail, quality of sculpt, etc., to Eilish Garritty from No Quarter Prime, my models had some severe problems. Looking at the model, it’s clear that the two halves of the mold were misaligned pretty badly, leaving me with a massive mold line running all the way up one side of her body, up and down the right arm, over the neck and head, and back down the other side. Although some mold lines are expected and normally I wouldn’t complain about cleaning it up, the misalignment was such that I wouldn’t be able to get the head and neck to look as intended.
I did compare my Swamp Siren to one of my locals, and his seemed to be quite nice, with only some minor mold lines on the tentacles that are easy enough to clean up. I suspect I just happened to get a bad mold, or perhaps something went wrong with the tooling partway through the run and some models that weren’t up to snuff slipped through QC. Fortunately, Privateer Press’ customer service is great, a lot better than their quality control at times, and I got a replacement free of charge. The replacement does still have some mold lines to trim and a little work to be done, but is far better than the initial model.
While I still think the MiniCrate service is a wonderful idea and I like these models, my one piece oadvice here would be to take a close look at the model as soon as you get it, as given the limited nature of the release, it may be difficult to get a replacement if you don’t notice the issues right away because you put it on the shelf without looking and didn’t get around to it for a year. Especially if they destroy the tooling in a sufficiently spectacular way, as promised.
It’s no secret that I like Reaper paints. Unfortunately, I live in a city that doesn’t have any stores which carry Reaper paints. Further, the city I live in gets cold during the winter, so I’m a little paranoid about ordering paints which could potentially freeze in transit.
As a result, noticing that I was running low on some of my bread and butter army colours, I put in a couple orders from Reaper recently. So, aside from the paints, there were a couple figures that I wanted. With The Old Witch of Khador sitting on my shelf and Old Witch 2 now sitting on the shelf at my FLGS, I figured now would be a good time to stock up on crows for conversions, so after ordering about a dozen of their Murder of Crows…
Anyways, I also picked up Ivanetta Kozlov, which is a pretty nice miniature that I figured would be a nice palate cleanser from painting up oodles and oodles of Privateer Press products. She’s a solid miniature; this isn’t the cheap Bones plastic, it’s old-school metal, and the basing bits included make it a whole scene in a little package. Mold lines do exist, but your standard cleanup protocol will apply. Plus, while the miniature definitely falls on the fantasy side of the fence, there is a bit of a historical nod towards some of the Soviet female snipers such as Lyudmila Pavlichenko who served in WWII, so that’s a nice touch.
And, of course, with Reaper’s October promotions, I got some bonus minis, including their 25th anniversary Lysette (who is also a nice metal mini), a few paints, and a little goody bag with some Halloween candy which I promptly ate. All in all, it was a nice little haul.
So, looks like I’ve got a busy winter approaching…