Category: Review

FDV1 Mako

Posted by Mangozac on January 17, 2013

OK well as everybody knows I love my mecha so when I saw that Fil Dunn, creator of awesome Tau mecha kitbashes was releasing his own kit I just had to have one! The FDV1 Mako kit is pricey but it has a cool dieselpunk style going on and is really massive at 9″ tall.

I was lucky enough to receive kit number 4 of the initial limited edition run (of 25 kits). It arrived just before Christmas in this cool box:

Mako Box.jpg

Here’s a shot of the contents:

Mako Contents.jpg

So over the Christmas break I did some cleanup and as much assembly as I could do before painting (it’s best to leave all of the armour panels, etc. off for ease of painting). Sorry but I don’t have a pic of that for you.

One thing I did decide however is that I’m not a big fan of the fact that it doesn’t have a right arm (take a look at this painted one to see what I’m talking about). Instead it has a drum containing a sensor suite (as described by Fil himself), which although it makes sense, just doesn’t do it for me visually. Although Fil has toyed with the concept of a version with a gun on each arm in the future! But because I’m a hobby masochist I’ve decided to scratchbuild a right arm for it. More to come on that in a future post.

My one big complaint with the kit is the leg design. Fil has proven he can design cool mecha legs in the past but the legs on this one are just odd. They certainly don’t look very functional and leave the model in a perpetual “taking a dump” pose. I don’t know if some reposing would help, but the legs are intended to be assembled in one position only, so reposing would be a real bitch.

Highlight of the kit: that armour plate around the gun arm shoulder. Man it’s sexy! Although really the entire gun arm is a pretty nice design ;)

Watch this space!

In other news my Superheavy Assault Walker Diorama is 99.9% complete so I’ll be taking some pics this coming weekend!

Review: Statuesque Miniatures’ Sci-fi Chicks

Posted by Mangozac on March 3, 2012

OK so I have to admit I have a bit of a soft spot for well sculpted female figures. I’m sure if I had a psychologist there would be some kind of connection to something in my upbringing. So when I saw the line of Statuesque Miniatures Sci-fi chicks I felt the uncontrollable urge to buy a few of them. I find myself more and more being an unintentional miniatures collector these days (see my recent review of the Dreamforge Sturmtruppen).

Andrew C. Rae, owner of and sculptor for Statuesque Miniatures has that rare sculpting talent that produces simply stunning miniatures. Sure, it helps that this line is 32mm rather than 28mm (it’s amazing how much difference that 4mm in extra size makes), but to me the proportions are absolutely perfect. I’ve never been a massive fan of the “heroic” scale of GW miniatures (although I do quite like the Forge World figure proportions). Andrew’s proportions on these girls are just perfect and if I were running a miniatures business I would certainly be trying to commission female sculpts from him!

So as I said, I couldn’t help but pick up some of the Statuesque Miniatures figures:

The prices are very good for boutique figures like these, plus postage was very reasonable. Andrew was very quick to pack and post the figures, and they arrived quite quickly.

As many know (and you might have guessed from the name of the site!) I prefer my figures in resin, simply because it is far superior in reproducing detail in the figure. Also as a material I much prefer working with it. I was disappointed to discover that although these figures were available in resin, the resin versions were a very limited edition (which apparently sold out within hours of their release) so my only choice was metal. Prior to purchase I spoke to Andrew about my preference for resin and he assured me that his metal caster was producing very high quality that I would be happy with. In short he wasn’t wrong!

The following is a shot of the three figures on my cutting mat (10mm grid). The figures were broken into parts very smartly (and no more than needed too) and supplied with a 30mm bevelled lip base.

Well Andrew wasn’t talking crap when he said that his caster was top notch! The casts are very nice! The mould lines were very slight and there was no mould slip to speak of. For the most part the mould lines were well placed (except for the Bella figure which has a mould line up the right side of her face). Here’s a shot showing a line on the Tilly figure (down the side of her torso):

I’ll leave you with some parting close up shots of the assembled bare metal figures. Yeah I know it’s hard to really appreciate them like that but I didn’t want to prime them from a rattle can. Next time I’m priming some scratchbuilt parts with Mr Surfacer from an airbrush I’ll do these figures too ;)

Oh and for some nice painted pics check out the Statuesque gallery.

So to conclude: do yourself a favour and pick up some of these figures: beautiful sculpts, excellent casting and a great price!

Review: Dreamforge Sturmtruppen

Posted by Mangozac on February 27, 2012

When Mark Mondragon (isn’t that just a cool name?) of Dreamforge Games posted some 3D model WIP shots for some figures for his Iron Core setting we all knew he was on to something cool. He decided to jump on the kickstarter bandwagon and with such promising designs I decided I’d back him on it. I have absolutely no use for them but do feel that it’s important to support those who are making high quality miniatures as an alternative to Games Workshop and Forge World.

Mark was working on two troop types: Kriegsmarine and Sturmtruppen, being the standard and elite troops respectively. It was the Sturmtruppen that grabbed my interest so I decided to pick up a pack of 5 of them in the kickstarter campaign. It took a while for Mark to finalise the designs (he went through a couple of 3D print revisions) and get them cast but I finally had a package arrive the week before last.

I’ll be honest and say that when I discovered that the figures would be metal cast I was a little disappointed. I’m sure it will come as no surprise to hear that I just have a strong preference for resin – this is mainly due to the superior level of detail that a resin cast can reproduce. Mark knows his stuff and not only does he have a very good spincaster, but he has designed the figures with a perfect level of detail for metal reproduction. Not to mention breaking them up into parts perfectly.

The casting is perfect. Now I’ll be honest and admit that I haven’t bought all that many metal miniatures over the years, but those that I have bought were all Games Workshop. Let me say that the Dreamforge metal casting quality leaves the GW casts for dead. There really is no comparison. The slight mould lines that are discernible are well placed to make removal easy. There was no mould slip at all. I was impressed!

I only have one negative comment: print lines. Many miniatures manufacturers have turned to 3D modelling to design their kits. In order to translate the 3D model into a master pattern that can be moulded a 3D printer is used. Unfortunately all but the most insanely expensive 3D printers produce striation-like lines in the finished print where each layer slice meets the previous. The 3D print therefore needs to be have its surfaces cleaned up by hand to ensure a smooth finish devoid of these print marks. I was quite shocked recently to see some close up images of the new Secret Weapon 6×6 Rapid Assault Vehicle which showed really prominent print marks on some of the flat surfaces of the cast models. To be blunt this is unacceptable.

But I digress! The reason for the explanation of the print lines is that I did find some on my Sturmtruppen minis. The top of the collar still has these obvious marks visible, but at least they are very quick and easy to remove from there with a file. In fairness to Mark I know that he does spend a lot of time and effort cleaning up his prints prior to moulding so it’s quite possible that the top of the torsos just slipped through. And the rest of the models are flawless so I really can’t deduct any points for this ;)

I’ve only assembled one of the Sturmtruppen as a test. I figure I’ll wait until I know what I’m going to do with them before I assemble the rest! I guess I’ll build up some kind of vignette/diorama to mount them on (I’ll just add that to the list of projects!). Certainly within the 5 figures I received the poses seem varied enough. There’s also a couple of different weapon types. Actually what I think is even more enticing is the “command squad” style figures that Mark has planned for future release.

So all in all I’m very pleased with the Dreamforge figures and couldn’t recommend them enough! It will certainly be exciting to watch the range grow as Mark expands and fleshes out his Iron Core universe.

Book Review: Abakan 2288 by Luca Zampriolo

Posted by Mangozac on January 22, 2012

If you’re a mecha model fan and haven’t at least seen the work of Luca Zampriolo (even if you didn’t know who it was done by) then you must have been living under a rock! His website - – showcases both the resin kits he has produced over the years and, more importantly in my opinion, presents a lot of work in progress shots of his projects. Luca’s mechanical design style is instantly recognisable and I’m a big fan.

In late 2011 Luca’s first book became available: Abakan 2288: Kallamity’s world of mecha design. I was aware of it at the time of release but for some reason I didn’t pre-order it. I think because it was relatively expensive and I couldn’t find any page previews. Well fast forward to last week and I stumbled across a mention of the book again. I saw a couple of page previews which looked promising, and checking revealed that it was only AU$31.54 with free shipping! So I placed an order and was pleasantly surprised to have it arrive a couple of days later.

Let me say that this book lived up to the expectation.

Abakan 2288 begins describing the backdrop that Luca has created for his fictional universe. It chronicles major points in mankind’s history up until the year 2288. The traditional economy has long since collapsed and a special, extremely high energy content gas mined from Jupiter and returned in a crystalline form has become the primary fuel in use. Metal is now the dominant commodity and its trade and use the best analogue to a currency. This bleak future has paved the way for massive anthropomorphic machines to become a valuable resource and several generations of continual improvement have now produced extremely hard wearing designs.

Through the rest of the book the fiction is interspersed with design and construction notes of the actual model, for several of Luca’s designs. It’s this “non-fiction” content that I bought the book for and was far from disappointed! Already I have learned several little advanced modelling tricks. Throughout the book are many pages that contain a grid of many small photos showing small details and construction phases. The following is a photo of one such page. My only complaint is that I wish many of these detail pictures were bigger!

Overall I found the book very enjoyable and it’s a great addition to the scratch builder/modeller’s library. Highly recommended!