Tuesday 25 September 2012

My take on Malifaux plastics

There's been a lot of talk concerning the quality of new plastic miniatures for Malifaux so I thought I'd chime in with my thoughts (and some pictures). I'll start by sharing my thoughts on each of the minis that I've bought during Gencon and have already put together.

Before I actually begin, just a few words about the glue I used. I always use Revell Contacta Professional. It has a fine needle point nozzle that makes applying it much easier, especially while working on smaller parts. It also slightly melts the area around which it is applied. It means that the connected parts stay softer for a while, after which the link becomes very strong. I still needed to use pinning on some elements (basically only when I glued feet of those who stand on their toes to the base). It takes some practice but I think that this glue is a very good choice and I highly recommend it.

Let's start with the basic units - the Illuminated.

This was a kind of surprise as I honestly didn't expect too much from them. I didn't really like the pic of sprues that I saw. However, after putting them together and basecoating I have to admit that they're pretty darn well made. The parts fit perfectly together and there are some alternatives to be used for arms of the one crouching on the chest (this element isn't part of the original box) and the face of the woman (I chose a more Cthulhu-like look for her but there's an option of gluing something that looks like second jaw growing on the face). I actually used only a little GS on the sides of the woman's skirt. No GS whatsoever was used on the one that has "little darkness" eating it. I was really surprised here as this mini consists of several elements. But, as I mentioned, the fit is really close.
I was a bit concerned about the fine elements such as the tentacles protruding from the woman's mouth but in fact they're very solid and they even survived a fall from my desk to the floor without any damage.

Mr Graves and Beckoners come next. The big guy has been my favorite ever since I saw the concept art. A hulking brute wielding a fence post as a weapon - who wouldn't like it? The mini is also cast very well and the parts are so well fit that they actually stay on the model even without any glue. There are tiny gaps lest after gluing the arms but I guess they don't look that bad as they can be treated as material of his shirt folded under the vest. Still, I filled them in with GS to make sure the whole surface is smooth and there are no gaps. But as I said, it's not a problem if they are left without modelling putty. There are some large surfaces on this model, not all of them are filled with texture. That's something that some people have been complaining about on the Wyrd forum and I see their point. Painting parts like his arms and the back of the vest imo requires smooth highlights to make it look nice. Good old drybrushing simply won't do.

Beckoners are another example of well cast minis that need no GS after being put together. Their faces are proportional and overall well cast but they lack some detail that would add character to them. A smirk or purse lips would be welcome additions and would add a lot of character to these minis. Other than that it's tha same thing that I mentioned with Mr Graves - their legs and arms are a tad too smooth and a little more texture there would be better.

Jakob Lynch and Hungering Darkness come next. Jakob needed a touch of GS at the spot where his vest meets belt as there was a small gap after gluing the model. Other than that, everything was a perfect fit. The details of his clothes look nice, the trousers and sleeves are folded in several places so painting him up won't be that challenging. Still, his face also seems a bit expressionless to me. It's the face of a mannequin with a beard and nothing more than that. It will take some effort to add expression to it only using paints. It's a master and one that (I guess he must have but I haven't had a chance to read fluff from Storm of Shadows yet) has interesting background so some kind of expression should be there.
On the other hand, the skeleton rising in a cloud next to him has superb details and the cards that he's spilling look very nice too.

HD is a controversioal model. It's been called Huggy, Hippo and other names, which shows that some people feel it does not look dark enough. I also thought that its details were a bit too soft and tried to improve its look by working on its teeth with a knife in order to make them look sharper and more uneven. While the main bulk of its body look OK with some variety on the surface of the skin, the front legs are completely devoid of any details and would definitely look a lot better with more details on them. Some scars, warts, anything that would break the smoothness there.
The model needed some GS as there was a clearly visible gap going along the center of its body (it's made of two halves). It took some time and patience to fill it in and once again, I'm a bit concerned that people who are new to the hobby as they may be frustrated with it.
I don't dislike the model but I'm not a big fan either. I guess I'll be able to form my final judgement after painting it.

The special edition Hanged are pretty well cast with the same issues about faces I mentioned earlier. The trees look nice and the bark is gnarled and twisted, adding an eerie look to them. Some GS was needed to fill in the gaps left after gluing all the elements together but overall, I was very pleased with the quality of these models. The only thing that doesn't work at all is the rope on which Eric is hanging. It's way too thin and it snapped while I was trying to remove the mold lines. As a result I needed to replace it with a piece of thin wire.
The Tree is up next. It's basically pretty much the same thing as the other two Hanged, only larger. There was a clearly visible gap left after putting it together but some GS quickly fixed it. The bark looks nice too but it would look even better with more texture. The vultures you see perched on the top branches were added to the sprue (a total 6 of them), which is a nice thing as they fit the aesthetic of the model very well. As you can see, I glued it to a CD. I felt it would serve better as as terrain piece with some more ground around it.

In general, the trees should be quick and easy to paint and will definitely make nice additions as terrain pieces to any game.

Last but not least, Miss Terious. I'm a big fan of Death Marshals so I knew I was going to get this mini the moment I saw the concept art. In my humble opinion, this one is the best of all the new plastics (at least from what I've seen IRL so far). The whole mini (Miss T and the coffin) consists of 11 parts (!). The best thing is that I didn't need any GS after gluing all of them in pieces (I need not mention that each fit was perfect. And she looks like a very good fit (here she's next to Francisco Ortega) to metal minis from the range and will make a nice addition to my Guild force.

The question of scale. Here are two more pics that show new plastics next to some other metal ones (notice that Santiago is a bit larger than other minis from the family as he's a bit bulkier).

So, to sum things up, the good
- the parts fit together really well and you hardly ever need to use GS,
- as a result, putting them together is nice and easy,
- the plastic has a very solid feel to it and is quite resilient to damage,
- mold lines are there but they're very easy to remove,
- more than one option of arms/heads in some cases.

The not so good:
- too much smoothness, especially on larger surfaces,
- lack of expression on the faces (with the exception of a perfect mindless look on Mr Graves),
- more texture on some elements would be nice.

I still need to paint at least a few to form my final opinion but overall I'm pleased with the new plastic releases and look forward to seeing more (preferably with small improvements I mention above).

Two more very interesting reviews that have many excellent pictures of unpainted minis:


  1. If you can see only the thumbnail, try to view the pic in a new tab.

  2. I rather like that the legs are smooth because I do like to do blending and all of that.

    1. Different strokes for different folks I guess :) I'm now used to working with these minis so I'm not complaining but that can be a challenge for some, especially beginners.


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