Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Armies in the queue, and the start of a build log

Since I've been trying to do some paring down of my crap, I thought it might also be useful to get an idea of where my armies stand. Today's post: taking a look at the queue for my VASA forces.

For those not in the know, VASA was an army created for the Void wargame. The game fell out of fashion after the company imploded several years ago, and it was possible to pick up a lot of the stuff for next to nothing. These days, the minis are in production by Scotia Grendel, though I prefer to get reinforcements via ebay and trades. While nobody around here plays Void, There are a number of generic minis games I'd like to get people into like WarEngine and the (possible) reincarnation of Vor.

Anyway, I pulled out the lot last night in the hope that I might get inspired to do something with it all.

That's not quite all of it, considering that VASA can also field militia forces (I think there's another 4 trays worth of those around here somewhere). To do a bit of a breakdown, we have

Black Legion, marks I and II, Archangels, and Shuriken Guard, all of which have wings or somesuch. There's also

Shoguns (giant power armor) plus another dozen Shuriken Guard.

Here, we have the suppressors I mentioned previously

plus their own mechas. The smaller models are the 1/144 scale ones from the Tin Man post, while the box behind it has a 1/100 scale version.

These are some Gundam kits I found recently. In addition to being cheap, they also fit nicely with the stylings of the Shogun suits...

... though I'm not planning on setting these up like cheerleaders.

So as you can see from these photos, there's a few models yet to build, ignoring all of the painting and mini prep yet to do. The Shogun-style stack alone looks like this:

So, to get to things, I've decided to start working on these Gundam kits. Popping open one of the boxes, we get the following:

It turns out that this is another snap-together kit like the Sumos (why didn't they make snap-tite kits like this when I was a kid?), but I'm planning on gluing it together for strength. It's also a 20 year old kit, so some of the details are a little on the soft side. I have a couple of adjustments in mind, filing off some bits and carving in others. Stay tuned, and we'll see if I can get another update in before another 6 months passes!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Opening the box: Votoms 1/48 AG-VTM03 Chaos Space

As much as I've been working on hacking away at the queue (or more honestly, thinking about doing so), I'm far more successful at adding things to it. On the plus side, of late I've been pretty good at minimizing the genres I'm working on. As noted previously, I'm working on a VASA force with thoughts of using it as an Imperial Guard proxy (when I'm not simply using it as itself in more reasonable game systems). The other force I've been working on is another Imperial Guard type force inspired more by Kevin Dallimore's work for the Hammer's Slammers game. Today's piece had this force in mind.

With HobbyLink Japan running a phenomenal discount on shipping recently, I broke down and ordered a few items I've had my eye on for a while: 1/48 Votoms kits at 70% off. I ordered them on Sunday and promptly got an email telling me they were closed for the weekend, but they would process my order as soon as they opened on Monday. Monday they told me my order had shipped, and that Friday everything arrived. That's better than some stuff I order in country!

On my way out the door to work, the mail truck showed up with my package. I even managed to resist opening it until I got home so that I could finally try documenting one of these. So I present: the box.

From Votoms

They even have their own company boxes, so you can show off to all the other geeks who will lust after your toys!

Opening it up reveals...

From Votoms


From Votoms

That they carefully shrink wrapped! My first order from these guys, and I'm definitely pleased.

I picked up the Saint Seiya kits because they were on massive markdown ($4 apiece, or so) and because they'll give me a little practice working with chromed plastic that I need to do before another working on another kit I have. The relevant kits for today are:
From Votoms

I'm very pleased with the production values on these. Nice, matte boxes with great photography to give to an idea of what's in the box and what the model is capable of. Today's kit: Chaos Space!

From Votoms

If only I could actually read Japanese.

Popping open the box reveals...

From Votoms

Not very much on the tray, but underneath we have

From Votoms

Bags upon bags of stuff! And the full package deal:

From Votoms

Before we get to the suit itself, let's take a look inside the baggies. The first one is the display base.

From Votoms

The pegs on the pieces and the holes on the base might lead you to think that there's this wonderful Lego-like free construction ability. Unfortunately, it's pretty much exactly the opposite situation: pegs are set at spaces to precisely fit into a couple of places. Most of the holes are more to hold things like flexible rubber smoke markers and the like.

Ripping into bag number two reveals...

From Votoms

These sprues are of a softer plastic than in the other two bags. I'm not sure how it will take most paint either, though they managed to make *some* kind of paint stick to the smoke and missile effects.

The figures are...

From Votoms

Yeah. Posing and proportions are good, but I wonder whether it was a lack of effort or limitations of the casting material that made for all of the soft detail. I still plan on trying to base and paint them, as they look like they'll be decent unarmed science fiction civilians. However, I'm not expecting to put too much effort into them.

Finally, opening bag #3, we have...

From Votoms

Everything else. All of the armor bits, additional hands, weapons, the pilot, and so on. Paper inserts include...

a datacard, pre-punched for your favorite toy collection binder:

From Votoms

a nameplate standee:

From Votoms

a catalog of other toys:

From Votoms

and the requisite instructions:

From Votoms

The sprues in this set vary in hardness of material, with some of them in styrene and others in the rubbery material shown above. Again, bits of the sprues are pre-painted:

From Votoms

The pilot figure is tucked away on one of the sprues, but it looks a bit small to me. Even comparing it to the smallest of the figures provided, it looks diminutive (though this could be an illusion):

From Votoms

But what about the Votoms itself?

From Votoms

Pretty danged cool! As you can tell, there are very few visible screws holding the thing together, and the paint is subtle, but reasonable enough that it can be left as is. I suspect that if you want to touch up the edges and corners to look a little more abused, the kit would hold it just fine as the bulk of the model is styrene. Articulation abounds, and it's designed to be able to fold forward and pop open to allow for a convenient escape. The head rotates, the lens assembly slides and rotates, elbows, shoulders, ankles, and so on all move quite acceptably.

What does it look like with everything in place?

From Votoms

As an idea, check out the feet here:

From Votoms

The spikes are retractable, for when the unit is firing its cannon. In the words of Eric Cartman, "Sweeet."

Odd details include the slots in the back for the backpack mounting brackets:

From Votoms

This is a small detail on this particular version that you might need to fill in if you want to use it without the massive backpack. (I confess, I'm not familiar with the series or any of the differences between the units.)

Lining everything up, you get

From Votoms

The model is about 3.5" high, so a little shorter than the average Star Wars figure. Unfortunately, the spokesminis seem to be on a little vacation, so comparison photos will need to wait. In the meantime, I can say that eyeballing the Votoms figures vs. an Infinity mini (the Aleph Naga, to be specific) shows them to be right on the money.

Pluses: from what I can tell, it's a spot on sculpt. Scale is quite good, even if I need to compare the pilot vs. some other 1/48 pilot models. And there's nothing saying you can't just mandate that pilots be smaller... I seem to remember the Air Force having height caps. Articulation is sufficient, and the paint is decent. At the discounted price, it's an excellent value.

Minuses: I'm not sure why they chose to model the figures with so little detail, for all of the detail they put into the rest of the set. Some of the detail bits are very fragile: note the left knee in the pics. There's supposed to be a plastic rail there that I managed to snap while getting it in place. I'm planning on replacing it (and a few other bits) with brass rod for added survivability. Finally, there's a lot of parts that are just pressed into place, like the elbow guard extensions and the bum plate. I'm planning on supergluing them in place, but I'd like to make sure that they're all secured before I use this in a game. The clips for the backpack suffer from this fate as well, and I'm not sure if I'd rather have this unit with the pack or not. If I want the pack, the clips need affixing, and if not, the slots will need filling and paint matching. Finally, since it's a pre-assembled toy, there isn't much room for customizing things like limb length (sorry, Inso)

All in all, I'm very happy with the purchase, both from the product point of view and the seller's service. I'm definitely going to have to order more of these... preferably before folks like Frothers swoop in and grab the rest :)

Next up... the Assemble Troopers Marshydog!

Friday, October 30, 2009

A question that comes up from a lot of people new to miniatures gaming is "What scale is 28mm?" Usually these people are looking to find things like model cars and other accessories from sources that are designing for markets like model railroaders, plastic model builders, and the like.

Here's the problem: 28mm isn't a scale so much as a general height that sculptors use as a reference.

So what is a scale? A fair definition that I found was "the proportion that a representation of an object bears to the object itself: a model on a scale of one inch to one foot." So when you're looking for a scale, that measurement will tell you the fraction of the real item's height as compared to the model. If you're looking at a 1/48 scale model, the real thing would be 48 times larger in each dimension. 28mm really doesn't tell you any of that.

To be fair, Wargames Factory has recently started producing miniatures that they are marking as 28mm as well as what their formal scale (1/56) is. However, most miniature manufacturers don't worry about that, and some of them will even be inconsistent in proportions between their own miniature lines (Compare Reaper's Dark Heaven line to their Warlord line sometime and you should see what I mean... Warlord figures tend to be a good 10-20% taller).

All blathering aside, the reason you're really reading this is not to get an idea of the business model or sculpting style of different companies. You want to know what you should be looking for on the shelf so that it will look good when you get it home.

The guest models in these shots are 1/48 humans that were included with some old Tamiya model kits in my collection. It's worth noting that the blue figure is supposed to be shorter than his compatriots, since he's the standard teen anime mecha pilot. You'll note that while the new figures are a little on the tall side, they're not unreasonable in context. That's because a convention of 28mm sculpting is to exaggerate some body features (like hips and facial features) in order for things to still look right at such a small scale. Because the width is similar, they look pretty good together.

Here, the guest models are 1/60 pilot models from old Bandai Gundam Mobile Suits. These models are downright tiny compared to the spokesmodels. Not only are they shorter, but they're also half as wide (if not thinner), which really demonstrates the scale difference between the figures.

The final guest models are 1/64 Farm Country figures from Ertl. There's really no way these figures could work, because they're just way too small. However, I thought it would be worth showing them, because 1/64 is the default scale for Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars. These figures will also make a comeback when I introduce some terrain pieces that were once highly sought after, and are now mostly garage sale fodder.

So there you have it... call it 1/55, but going a little bigger (to 1/50 or 1/48) should still look good for most items.