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

Mantic Games: Mhorgoth’s Revenge review

Mhorgoth's Revenge Fantasy BattlesetThe Mhorgoth’s Revenge Battleset contains everything you need to build and play your own Fantasy Battles, including two complete  armies and a copy of Mantic’s new ruleset written by Alessio Cavatore.

The Mhorgoth’s Revenge Fantasy Battleset includes; Kings of War Ruleset, Dice, 25 Dwarf Ironclad Warriors including Command, 20 Ironwatch, 1 Ironbelcher with crew, 20 Skeletons including Command, 10 Revenants, 10 Ghouls, 15 Zombies, 1 Balefire Catapult with crew, Undead and Dwarf Poster Guides, Undead Sticker Sheets, 3 Mantic Points & enough 20mm bases for all the models.

First impressions

The first thing that hit me on opening Mhorgoth’s Revenge was just how full it was, I had a quick count and there are 33 sprues in this box.

 

(OK, calm down… We need a level head for this review, using three exclamation marks is never justified – Ed)

Mhorgoth's Revenge Box Contents
The Mhorgoth’s Revenge box, just crammed full of plastic

On closer inspection

OK, deep breath, lets get stuck in to the box contents.

What you get in Mhorgoth’s Revenge is basically just over 100 miniatures, some dice, a Mantic journal, background information on the 2 armies & a copy of the long awaited Kings of War rule set.

I won’t dwell too long on the quality of the individual miniatures as most have already been reviewed on the blog previously (see existing Mantic reviews). In general Mantics miniatures have been well received at Big Orbit Games, the contents of this boxed set, Undead and Dwarfs, particularly so. All of the miniatures contained in Mhorgoth’s Revenge have received ratings of 7/10 upwards. Highlights include the Skeletons & Zombies for the Undead and the Ironclads for the Dwarfs.

Kings of War Rulebook
Kings of War Ruleset

On to the rules, the first thing you’ll notice about them is that this is not Warhammer, i.e. you’re not looking at a five hundred plus page rulebook. The Kings of War game is  intentionally being kept simple and it’s parred down, 12 page, rules make for a faster game.

As a result the Kings of War rule set won’t appeal to everyone, some people will just want to play a more involved/complex system but it does make for an interesting change if Warhammer is the only system you use currently.

Areas where the rules differ substantially from Warhammer are close combat and casualty removal.  In close combat each side only attacks in their own turn, this also does away with the need for an initiative attribute. With regard to casualty removal, this just isn’t done at all, damage caused to a unit is recorded and used during nerve (rout) tests, should the unit fail it’s nerve test it is removed from play, until this point it fights at it’s original strength.

One final thing I’d like to add about the Kings of War Rules is that I love the open source approach being taken by Mantic (the rules are available free online – here) and I’m very interested to see how the rules develop in the coming months and years.

Summary

Mhorgoth’s Revenge represents spectacular value for money and if you are thinking of starting a Dwarfs or Undead army you could do a lot worse than starting right here.

The Kings of War ruleset, offers a quick play, simplified alternative to Warhammer and it will be interesting to see how this open source rules system develops.

All in all, this is a great starter set and gets a whopping…

Overall score: 9/10

Pick up the miniatures from this review at Big Orbit Games and save 25% off RRP*.

Mantic Mhorgoths Revenge

*Accurate as of 15th November 2010

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…

Mantic Games Dwarf Flamebelcher review

Mantic Dwarf FlamerbelcherThe Dwarf Flamebelcher blasts great bouts of fire from it’s nozzle, it envelopes enemy regiments in such intense heat as to burn flesh and melt armour.

These rare warmachines are held in great reverence in a Dwarf army for no other weapon creates such fear in an enemy – those who oppose the dwarfs will do well to stay away from this fearsome weapon’s great maw.

First impressions

After tearing off the cellophane and opening the box the first thing that occurred to me was that you get three models for the price of one here. You get the normal artillery sprue from the Leadbelcher kit as well as metal parts for the Flamebelcher and performing a weapon swap looks like it would be simplicity itself.

The box includes 2 sprues and a selection of metal components:

Mantic Dwarf Flamebelcher Weapon Sprue
Sprue 1
Mantic Dwarf Flamebelcher Troop Sprue
Sprue 2
Mantic Dwarf Flamebelcher Metal Components
Metal Components

On closer inspection

The Flamebelcher kit is basically a Leadbelcher kit with extra metal components.

As with the Leadbelcher kit there are 2 plastic sprues. The artillery sprue contains all the parts required to build a Leadbelcher cannon or organ gun as well as an ammo chest. The troop sprue contains parts for 2 crew, a dwarf with a selection of arms and heads that looks like he’s in charge (we’ll call him an engineer) and a loader. Also included on this sprue is a pair of “misfire” boots and a spare warhammer. This sprue is heavily based on the Ironwatch troop sprue, the half with the legs on it being identical, the other half of the sprue contains the unique engineer and loader parts.

The artillery piece is very nice and as expected it is easy to swap the weapon that is mounted on the gun carriage, the various weapons either rest on the carriage or can be wedged in place. The Flamebelcher cannon is nicely detailed and I like the fact that thought has been given to how the weapon could work, the sculpt includes both a pump and firing mechanism.

The engineer is a great little  model that is very characterful and in the build that I did for this review I just had to give him a pipe. Sadly the loader is much less impressive, with a poorly detailed area right on the front of the model next to the shell he is holding, this could have been avoided through more intelligent sculpting and/or sprue layout. Another issue with the loader model is that he is holding a shell, this is a flame cannon so it doesn’t really fit, I would probably replace him with another Mantic Dwarf model kitted out with the engineers left over arms.

Mantic Dwarf Flamebelcher and Crew
Mantic Dwarf Flamebelcher and Crew

The kit was very easy to build, the plastics were cut from their sprues, cleaned up and glued together in minutes. The metal components were also easy to prepare, as mentioned in our Ironguard review the alloyed used by Mantic is much easy to work with than that used by many other manufacturers.

Finally, value for money, as usual Mantic scores here. While you only get one artillery piece for the same £12.50 RRP which could buy you two Leadbelchers if you bought the Leadbelcher Battery kit, you do of course get the extra metal components and the model can be made up as any of three different artillery pieces. Also the Flamebelcher is significantly cheaper than the Games Workshop Flame Cannon (£20), although the GW kit is all metal, all in all I feel it represents good value for money.

Summary

The Dwarf Flamebelcher is a nice little kit and it’s great that you essentially get three different artillery kits in one box.

The engineer is one of the best plastic dwarfs we have seen from Mantic and it’s a shame he has to share a sprue with the rather poor loader model.

As usual, this being Mantic, the model represents good value for money.

If it wasn’t for the poor loader model this kit would score highly but as it is the Mantic Games Dwarf Flamebelcher gets…

Overall score: 7/10

7 out of 10

Mantic Games Dwarf Ironwatch review

Mantic Games Dwarf Ironwatch Regiment BoxStanding back and shooting up the enemy before the hand to hand combat begins has always been a trick of a good dwarf army. Under the cover of a withering bombardment of shot, the Dwarfs advance slowly, those ranks with charged weapons filtering through those who have discharged theirs, giving them time to reload and repeat the process. By the time enemy arrives, there are usually precious few of them left to offer resistance to the Dwarfs’ stout warhammers.

Ironwatch are Mantic’s Dwarf Riflemen or Crossbowmen.

First impressions

The first thing I noticed when I got my hands on the Dwarf Ironwatch Regiment box was that it is much thicker (deeper) than other Mantic Regiment boxes, being basically the size of one of their Detachment boxes.

Does this mean there are even more goodies than usual in the box? Is this a case of quantity over quality? To find out read on…

On closer inspection

After breaking through the cellophane wrapping and opening the box I was presented with 10 sprues, each identical to the one pictured below, the box also includes 20 bases as well as the usual Mantic poster guide and foam.

Mantic Games Dwarf Ironwatch Sprue
Mantic Games Dwarf Ironwatch Sprue

I’m a little disappointed to see just one type of sprue in here, the Ironwatch Troop sprue, a dedicated Ironwatch command sprue would have been a nice addition, that said Ironclad command or Ironguard can be used as Ironwatch command.

Dwarf Ironwatch taking aim
Dwarf Ironwatch taking aim

Onto the contents of each sprue, we have components enough to build 2 Ironwatch, with separate legs, bodies, heads and weapons, along with spares in the form of a double handed hammer and a stock for a rifle or crossbow, so that these weapons can be built unheld.

Taking a closer look, the two swappable heads look very familiar… Wait a minute, they are the same as the swappable heads on the Ironclad Troop sprues, also both sets of legs are the same as those from the Ironclad kit. This is a disappointing as it would have been nice to have the option to swap parts between the two kits, it also means that half the dwarfs in your whole army are going to have the same couple of heads. Some sort of dwarf cloning experiment clearly…

Ironwatch Rifleman er... Dwarf
Ironwatch Rifleman… I mean Dwarf

Within the kit itself the level of customisation is pretty respectable, with 4 leg and body combinations, add head swaps and you have got 6, finally weapon swaps makes 12 different model builds possible. However bearing in mind that a unit is going to contain only one weapon type (unless Mantics new games system says otherwise) then a single unit can potentially contain 6 differently built models, this isn’t bad as most missile units will be smaller than melee units anyway.

As for the models themselves, they are incredibly easy to put together and I have to say that they are very nice to look at. They are as characterful as the previous dwarfs we have reviewed and I particularly like the rifle that these guys can be equipped with.

Finally, value for money, well they are from Mantic, need I say more… What? I do have to say more? Oh, OK… As we would expect these miniatures represent great value for money coming it at just £0.63 each, bargain! Right, everyone happy? Great!

Summary

After the reviewing the previous 2 Mantic Dwarf releases I must admit to feeling slightly underwhelmed with the Dwarf Ironwatch.

Not that there is anything wrong with the kit as such, I just feel there is a lack of ambition being displayed here and it’s just fallen short of the dizzyingly high standards I have come to expect from Mantic.

However, having got that off my chest, the Ironwatch are a pleasure to work with, represent great value for money and look great when built. They will definitely be forming a part of my own growing Mantic dwarf army.

So overall the Mantic Games Dwarf Ironwatch get…

Overall score: 7/10

7 out of 10

*Correct as of 06/08/2010

Mantic Games Dwarfs Ironguard review

Manftic Games Dwarf IronguardDwarfs are the third range of miniatures from Mantic Games, and the first metal miniatures for this army are the Ironguard.

The Dwarf Ironguard are veterans of wars fought long ago, impassive and grim. Leading from the front, Ironguard often take up the leadership of other Dwarf Regiments, showing their kin how to wage war in a “proper manner.”

Ironguard carry a mix of weapons into battle, heavy hammers, sharp pickaxes and iron shields, fully prepared for any enemy that should confront them. As solid as the mountain realms themselves, Ironguard are a revered part of a Dwarf army.

First impressions

The first thing that struck me on getting my hands on the Ironguard box was how heavy it was and after tearing the cellophane off I did indeed find 5 hefty little guys in there. In appearance they are essentially slightly more ornate Ironclads, which is not a bad thing as the Ironclads scored well in our recent Dwarf Ironclad review. The box contents are pictured below.

Mantic Dwarf Ironguard Box Contents
Mantic Games Dwarf Ironguard Box Contents

On closer inspection

The Dwarf Ironguard sculpts are very characterful, with bristling beards and a look of grim determination on their faces. The models are in keeping with the first Mantic Dwarf releases, the Ironclads, which is a good thing as they can be used to add variety to Ironclad units and to can be used a command group in a unit of Ironclads to denote veteran status.

The quality of the sculpts is superior to the plastic Ironclads with a good degree of detail on all five models, the detail on the bodies with the interchangeable heads is particularly fine.

The only downside to this boxed set is that there are minimal customisation options available, with just two  models offering the possibility of head swaps or adjustable arm positions out of the box. That said, due to the fact that these guys are elites most collections will include no more than one or two boxes of these models so this isn’t a huge issue.

OK, time to put these guys together. This is the first box of metal Mantic miniatures I personally have reviewed and I was impressed with how easy they were to clean up, not that there was a lot of flash or mould lines that needed removing. The alloy used to cast these miniatures seemed significantly easier to work with than many other miniatures that are available. Additionally, the miniatures were very easy to build as the thick Dwarven necks & limbs provide a broad area of contact for super glue to grab hold of.

My first impressions regarding the amount of metal you get in this boxed set were confirmed when comparing the weight of 5 Games Workshop Hammerers, the Ironguard weighed in at two thirds heavier and at £2.50 RRP less per box they represent great value for money.

Completed Mantic Dwarf Ironguard
Completed Mantic Games Dwarf Ironguard

Summary

The Dwarf Ironguard are a worthy addition to Mantic’s growing Dwarf range.

The sculpts are characterful and of high quality and are in keeping with the Dwarf Ironclads that it is likely they will be used to lead on the battlefield.

They are a pleasure to work with being easy to clean up and build and they also represent great value for money.

So overall the Mantic Games Dwarf Ironguard get…

Overall score: 8/10

Mantic Dwarfs: An easy painting guide

Mantic Games’ miniatures are affordable and quick to build, making putting a fantasy army together easy. Once you’ve built your units you’ll want to get them painted and ready for the tabletop so Big Orbit games has put together an easy painting guide for Mantic’s new range of Dwarfs.

This guide will demonstrate how to get your rank and file Dwarfs ready for battle in 5 easy steps, most of which just take a minute or two and involve minimal painting skill. This guide is also suitable for painting characters but you may wish to add extra detail during the basecoating stage.

Materials used in this guide:

Dwarf Ironclad Regiment

Army Painter Paint Set with Matt Black Primer

Army Painter Quickshade Dip – Strong Tone

Army Painter Anti-Shine Matt Varnish

Citadel Static Grass

Citadel Modelling Sand

Filla-Glu Clear Superglue

Citadel PVA

Step 1: Undercoat

Mantic Dwarf UndercoatedEasy one this, using the matt black undercoat spray from the paint set, apply a even undercoat using sweeping motions across the model or models. Note: Remember to shake the can for at least a minute.

Step 2: Basecoat

Mantic Dwarf BasecoatedUsing the paints in the Army Painter Paint Set, paint the model using flat colours, i.e. using no shading or highlights. For our dwarf we used gold for the armour, silver for the hammer and chain mail, red for the cloth, brown for the leather, flesh for the face and finally brown, darkened with a small amount of black, for the beard to make it make it stand out more.

The only real detail that was added was the eyes (not terribly well however as they are not my forte).

Step 3: Quickshade Dip

Mantic Dwarf DippedIn this step we aim to get all the effects that would normally be achieved through highlighting and washing in one simple step.

Quickshade dip is a pigmented varnish so in this step you are adding shading and protecting your model at the same time. As this is a varnish it must be used after you have completely finished painting your model.

We are using “Strong Tone” Quickshade dip on our dwarf, “Soft Tone” & “Dark Tone” are also available, strong is the medium tone dip.

When using Quickshade dip you should dip your model using a pair of pliers and shake it off 5-6 times and then leave for 24 hours (this is why this is an easy painting guide rather than a quick painting guide :)).

You can also paint Quickshde on, you will need to be quite liberal with the amount used, also brushes will need to be cleaned thoroughly with washing up liquid when you have finished.

Step 4: Basing & Anti-shine Varnish

Mantic Dwarf Based and Matt VarnishedTo base our dwarf we first painted the base brown and then added some sand to the base using super glue. We finished off by applying PVA to those areas of the base not covered in sand and giving the base a dip in a tub of static grass.

Quickshade dip produces a gloss finish, which most gamers are not too keen on, so to achieve a matt finish we give our model a coat of anti-shine matt varnish. As with the undercoat you should apply a even coat by using sweeping motions across the model or models, once again remembering to shake the can for at least a minute before you start.

New Mantic Dwarf Ironbeards sneak preview

There are 3 new dwarf releases from Mantic Games this month.

We already announced the Ironwatch a couple of weeks ago.

We’ve now got some pictures of the metal Ironbeards, these are dwarf veterans that lead from the front and show their kin how to wage war in the proper manner.

Anyway, here’re the pics:

Mantic Games Dwarf Ironbeard
Close up of Dwarf Ironbeard
Dwarf Ironbeards – Click for fullsize image

Pick up all the Mantic Games Dwarf releases here: Mantic Games Dwarfs