Avatars of War Plastic Dwarf Beserkers review

Avatars of War Dwarf Berserkers boxAvatars of War have been producing individual metal models for 4 years. The Dwarf Berserkers Regiment is both their first boxed set and their first plastic miniatures.

The Dwarf Berserkers Regiment box contains twenty 20mm bases, one regiment movement tray, five trooper sprues and one command sprue, allowing to assemble a 20 figures regiment: 17 troopers, a musician, a standard bearer and a champion.

We are reviewing the pre-order special edition box that contains exclusive pieces for the command group.

On opening the box I was immediately impressed by the sheer number of components in this kit, the box contains 5 berserker sprues and 1 command sprue, all crammed full of components. It also seemed to me that a huge variety of different miniatures could be built from this kit due to the fact each model seems to be made from at least 7 parts.

Click a thumbnail to view a close up of each sprue:

Avatars of war Dwarf Berserkers Regiment Sprue 1
Berserker Sprue
Avatars of war Dwarf Berserkers Command Sprue
Command Sprue

You can see that the various components are very well detailed and that there are a number of accessories on the sprues, beer tankards, hands making rude gestures etc, allowing you to make each berserker your own. There are also some very nice details, rings on the fingers, piercings on torsos and scarring on exposed flesh.

Right, time to remove the various parts from the sprue… Ooookay… That was easier said than done. I only have an old pair of clippers on me at the moment, Games Workshop from about 3-4 years ago, the kind with the thick blades. Some of the parts are really tricky to get to using these, one head is only 1-2mm from the frame of the sprue and these clips struggle to get in there. Also one of the pairs of legs, the ones with the runes on the buckle, are attached to the sprue in such a way as to make them tricky to remove. I think this would not be the case with some good thin bladed clippers so if you don’t have any and are thinking of buying this kit it could be time to buy some new ones (Games Workshops new ones are good, as are the Army Painter Clippers).

Avatars of War Dwarf Berserker Champion
Dwarf Berserker Champion

Another thing that is worth highlighting at this point is that some of the extra details are insanely small, this may be the first time that nose to ear chains and piercing have been rendered individually into plastic. Now I applaud Avatars of War for including these in general but they are quite difficult to work with due to their small size. That said, the piercings are the worst to work with and as they add very little to the model (especially as these are rank and file troops) you may as well just not bother with them.

Next, cleaning up, I’m a little fanatical about removing mould lines, and other casting defects but I found these models to be pretty clean out of the box, some small areas didn’t even need mould lines removed at all (a very rare occurence in my experience). There was only one significant issue and that was one of the pairs of legs consistently seemed to be cast mis-aligned, this wasn’t too much of an is sue though as this pair of legs had trousers on, so it was just a matter of cutting way some of the plastic to make the fabric folds look natural.

OK, I’ve got a selection of cleaned up parts now, time to stick these things together. As these models comprise of at least 7 parts there are a huge variety of ways to build these guys and there is a near infinite range of poses that can be built using this kit. Your unit of berserkers (or Slayers in Warhammer) will not have a single model that looks the same as another. Stand out features are the seperate hands/axes, allowing individual positioning of the wrist joint and optional/switchable mohicans.  Top marks!

However… There was one part that looked great at first glance but didn’t quite work out, this was the 2-part hand that holds the haft of the double handed axe. Before I tried building the model, I thought “This is great, I can adjust the position of the hand on the haft meaning I can position the arms any way I like!!!” (yes that was 3 exclamation marks – I thought it was that great!). Sadly when you come to build the model you are so limited by having to get clearance from the models beard that there really is little variety that can be achieved.

My final comment on sculpt/design is that the banner in the pre-order special edition box is far too elaborate for my tastes and I toned the one I built down. If you build it as shown on the back of the box it would be about 4 bases wide… It is also a little flimsy as the banner pole comes in two parts, simply glued end on end, this will break apart for everyone at some point, no matter how careful you are.

Avatars of War Dwarf Berserkers
Avatars of War Dwarf Berserkers

I have just two more issues, both concerning the bases. For one they are slotted and the models don’t need slotted bases, meaning they will need to be filled, an un-necessary effort. Also, once I went to use the miniatures in a game I spotted the bases were lightly bigger than the normal 20mm Warhammer Dwarf base. I wanted to use one of my existing dwarf movement trays, as it configured the way I wanted, and the berserkers (or Slayers as I was playing Warhammer after all) wouldn’t fit in the tray, the bases are just under 1mm bigger which makes a big enough difference to cause a problem on a 7 wide frontage. Basically, you may wish to re-base on Warhammer bases.

With regard to  price these miniatures perform very well, £22 per box, that’s £1.10 per model, including full command. That is cheaper than Games Workshops Dwarf Warriors, less detailed, 3-4 pieces models that come in at £1.25 each, obviously Games Workshop Slayers are much more expensive as they are metal so a comparison would be unfair but the Avatars of War models obviously allows you to field a large squad of slayers for a fraction of the price.

Avatars of War - Warhammer Comparison
Avatars of War – Warhammer Comparison

Finally, a lot of people will be planning to use these Dwarf Berserkers as Warhammer Troll Slayers or Giant Slayers but do they look the part? Are they the right scale?. Well stylistically they are just about spot on, they have that warhammer look, as does most of the Avatars of War range. Scale-wise they are maybe 1mm taller, unhelmeted they are only slightly shorter than a Warhammer dwarf wearing a ridged helmet, see pic. Most of this height seems to come from the legs, see middle line in the picture, the waist line on the Berserker is almost chest hight on the Warhammer Dwarf Warrior. Personally I don’t find this to be too much of an issue as most Warhammer Dwarfs wear mail skirts, so you can’t see their legs and the difference isn’t immediately apparent.

Conclusion

The Avatars of War Dwarf Berserker Regiment box contains some great looking models with excellent detail and can be built in a huge variety of different ways.

There are some issues that make building them a little tricky. Cutting some of the parts away from the sprue is a little challenging and some parts are very small.

Another issue is that the bases supplied are a different size to Warhammer bases, not an issue if you are not playing Warhammer but if you are it might well mean you need to purchase extra bases.

These small issues don’t detract from the over all quality of the models and at just £1.10 each they represent fantastic value for money.

So the Avatars of War Dwarf Berserker Regiment scores…

Overall score: 8/10

 

You can pick up the Avatars of War Dwarf Berserker Regiment at Big Orbit games for only £19.80*: Avatars of War Dwarf Berserker Regiment

*Accurate as of 2nd July 2011

Addition on request of Draco

Here is an image of the Avatars of War Berserker next to a Mantic & Warhammer Dwarf.

The various horizontal lines are set at the level of the Avatars of War Dwarf.

Avatars of War, Warhammer & Mantic Dwarf Comparison
Avatars of War, Warhammer & Mantic Dwarf Comparison

Avatars of War Plastic Dwarf Berserkers preview

Avatars of War have just announced their first set of plastic miniatures – some great looking Dwarf Berserkers.

The Dwarf Berserkers will be available in two boxed sets:

A Dwarf Berserker Regiment (20 to 24 minis, depending on the troop type) at 25EUR (approx £22)
A Dwarf Berserker Horde (32 to 36 minis, depending on the troop type) at 35EUR (approx £31)

Here’s the preview…

Avatars of War Daemon Champion review

Avatars of War Daemon Champion blister contents
Daemon Champion blister contents

Avatars of War have been releasing miniatures since 2007 and are highly respected for their 28mm models.  They have released approximately one sculpt per month and now have a catalogue of around 30 different designs available.

AoW models are characterised by high levels of detail, a wealth of options, and a style influenced by their main designers previous employment with a little known Nottingham-based company quaintly known as Games Workshop. I already own the AoW Vampire Countess and Necromancer, and I’ve been following the development of the new Daemon Champion model on the Avatars of War website with some interest.

The model comes in a large blister, well padded with a thick layer of foam.  Opening the box releases the main components (head torso etc) plus an optional tail, tongue, and a set of spikes to glue onto the back.  As is expected from an AoW figure, the components are rich in detail, from the creased brow to the intricate carving on the sword.

Avatars of War Daemon Champion completed
Completed AoW Daemon Champion

Putting the model together is made simpler by the use of loose ball and socket connections for the head, torso and legs.  As with any metal model, pinning is very much required, but the joints make moving the model into a pleasing position a bit easier.  I would have liked the arms to have been separate as well, as it would make altering the position of the sword, or giving the model more items to carry, much easier.

The spikes are a bit more of a problem as they are so thin they’re almost impossible to pin without the aid of precision machinery, my shaking and quaking limbs on their own were only able to get the fattest horn pinned.  In the coming months I fully expect to be bringing the model out of its case on multiple occasions only to find that I have another repair job to do on it.  It is a shame, and perhaps a trade off for something that really helps set the model apart and give him a fantastic look.

Avatars of War Daemon Champion & Bloodletter
Daemon Champion & Bloodletter

“We used to wonder where war lived, what it was that made it so vile. And now we realize that we know where it lives…inside ourselves.”  It isn’t on record whether what Camus quote was in any way an influence to the writers of the Realms of Chaos, though I like to imagine that the Absurdist did have a scrap book with “Ideas for Wargames fluff” scribbled on the cover.  Just as that quote meshes well with the philosophy of Khorne, so does this model harmonise well with the Games Workshop Daemons of Chaos Khorne models – looking like a Bloodletter that has maybe drunk a bit more blood for the blood god than he should have.

This model might make a good unit champion, or a herald.  The arm would need some dramatic work in order to turn it into a Battle Standard bearer, though it may be possible to have the standard coming out of the models back instead of one of the spikes.

All in all there is very little to fault with this model, as a hero for your army or for AoW’s own arena deathmatch games, this model makes a beautiful and characterful addition to any collection.

Diabolic delight: 9/10.