Mantic Zombies review

Mantic Undead Zombie RegimentZombies, the fleshy undead, hideous shambling perversions of nature, the restless… (they know what you are talking about – Ed). OK, well Mantic’s long awaited Zombies finally arrived last week and we’ve been having a bit of a play around with them…

The Mantic Zombies come in 2 boxed sets. The 30 Zombie sized Zombie Regiment and the 60 Zombie sized Zombie Horde.

First impressions

After tearing off the cellophane and opening the box the first thing that hit me was that there is only 1 type of sprue, the Zombie Regiment contains 10 of these sprues and the Horde contains 20.

This was disappointing as each sprue basically contains 3 models (with some extras) and I was hoping for a little more variety.

Anyway, after the initial disappointment, it’s time to get stuck in.

The Mantic Zombie sprue:

Mantic Zombie Sprue
Mantic Zombie Sprue

On closer inspection

The sprue contains 3 sets of legs & one ground-burster base. 3 torsos are included, one of which has two arms already attached and two that have one arm already attached. The sprue also includes 6 heads, 3 arms and a spinal column. This is a fair number of components for a small sprue, Mantic’s sprues are always about half the size of Games Workshops, and offers a respectable number of build options.  However, as many arms are supplied attached to torsos, pose-ability is limited to some extent and you can’t get away from the fact that you will be using the same torso, with one or more fixed arms, 10 times even with the smaller of the two Zombie boxed sets.

Looking at the sculpts themselves, the level of detail is impressive. The torsos in particular are superbly detailed as are the arms and hands, these are some of the nicest sculpts I’ve seen from Mantic, and are some of the best zombie sculpts I’ve ever seen. The only part of the models that I’m less than keen on is the way that the torsos attach to the legs. The join is pretty obvious and, although basically a ball and socket,  doesn’t allow for much variation in positioning.

One really great thing I spotted whilst building the zombies was  that there is actually scope to get 4 zombies out of each sprue (rather than 3) as long as you are happy to have a large number of “ground-bursters” and guys that have been severed at the spine (see pic below). This is brilliant as the two Mantic Zombie boxed sets already represented great value for money at 3 zombies per sprue. You will of course need extra bases but, as they come in at just £1RRP for 10, this is no problem at all, you can pick up Mantic Bases at Big Orbit Games.

Four Mantic Zombies from one sprue
Four Mantic Zombies from one sprue

Talking of value for money. The Zombies work out at £0.60RRP each when buying the Zombie Regiment or £0.50RRP when buying the Zombie Horde. However if you are happy to include lots of “ground bursters” and Zombies with severed spines then these numbers drop to £0.45 each with the regiment and £0.38 each with the horde, astounding value…

Summary

The Mantic Zombies offer a respectable number of build options but suffer from limited pose-ability due to the fact that there are just 3 different torsos with either one or both arms already attached.

That said the sculpts are some of the finest zombie sculpts I’ve seen, definitely head and decaying shoulders above those produced by Games Workshop.

Finally, the Zombies are the best value miniatures Mantic has ever produced, this is quite a statement as Mantic miniatures always represent great value for money.

These Zombies definitely deserve a place in any undead army.

Overall score: 8/10

Mantic Undead Zombies Regiment
Mantic Undead Zombies Horde
Mantic Bases

*Accurate as of 7th October 2010

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

Mantic Games Dwarf Ironclad Regiment review

Mantic Games Dwarf Ironclad BoxDwarfs are the third range of miniatures from Mantic Games, and their first release is the Ironclad.

These are essentially classic Dwarf Infantry: heavily armoured; and armed with hammers and axes.

First impressions

On opening the Ironclad Regiment box the first thing that strikes you is how much you get for your money. Now, Mantic are well known for the value for money represented by their models, but they seem to be hitting new heights here.

There are four models sprues (three regular Ironclad troopers and one command sprue), two sprues of bases & a poster/guide in here, the box is literally crammed packed with dwarfen goodness. Check out the sprues below:

Ironclads Troop SprueIronclads Command SprueIronclads Bases Sprue

On closer inspection

Firstly, as with all Mantic’s plastics, the Dwarf Ironclads are a pleasure to work with due to their simplicity, you can put a unit together in no time, what’s more you don’t feel that the simplicity detracts from the quality of the models.

Mantic Games Dwarf Ironclad 3 part model
Dwarf Ironclad three-part model

To expand this, most come in 1 large piece comprising body, head, legs and one arm, these can then be customised with the addition of the a hand weapon & shield or a two-handed weapon. Mantic seem to be using a novel mix of techniques to introduce variety into units, rather than having the same pieces that are interchangeable on all models – some models have head swaps available,  some don’t, some models have swappable arms, other’s don’t and there are some models that come in just two pieces. Whether this mixture makes for more variety while maintaining simplicity I don’t know, but what I do know is that I like this approach.

There are a number of extras on each Ironclad troop sprue, you get a dwarf casualty, a tankard, a dwarf bulldog & an orc’s head (giving us all a preview about what the forthcoming Mantic Orcs will look like).

Onto the command sprue: the champion, banner bearer and musician are all nicely done, especially the banner bearer and champion. The champion in particular has substantially more customisation options than the rank and file, as it should be, making it easy to give each unit’s champion a unique look.

One thing that is slightly lacking though are weapons options. If you want to put together a unit equipped with hand weapons and shields you need to trim down some two-handed hammers to make hand weapons. This isn’t a huge issue but if you wish to equip a unit of 20 dwarfs with two-handed weapons you’d need to buy 2 Ironclad regiments as only 10 two-handed hammers are included. To my mind this is the biggest issue with the Ironclad sprues, it’s not the end of the world but it is slightly annoying.

Apart from this there was only really one other negative with this kit: the shields are slightly tricky to position on the arm. They are cast separate from most of the models, and on the unit that I built for the purpose of this review, I stuck them on so that they lay against the arm of each model, as you would imagine they would be used. This however means that the shield sticks out quite a lot and the unit doesn’t rank up very well. It won’t happen on my next unit (or your first hopefully if you’re reading this) and I can probably prise them off and reattach them at a better angle, once again just slightly annoying.

Mantic Games Dwarf Ironclad Unit
Dwarf Ironclad Unit – Champion facing side to aid ranking “Damn those pesky shields”

Anyway, I’m looking at a completed unit of Ironclads now and I have to say I’m impressed they really look the part of a unit of rock hard Dwarf infantry, fully armoured and ready for action…

…and at this point almost everyone out there is wondering if I’m going to mention Warhammer at all in this review, well I am actually, here we go. If you plan to use the Dwarf Ironclads as hammerers or dwarf warriors as part of an exisiting Warhammer dwarf army you are going to have problems, unless you give the unit the sobriquet “Lorin’s Long Shanks” or similar it might be hard to explain why they are a full head taller than every other dwarf on the battlefield.

That said, once Mantic have expanded their dwarfs range so that it is possible to field a full Mantic dwarf army there should be no such problems. As Games Workshops dwarfs are so short, Mantic Dwarfs are still shorter than human sized Games Workshop models and, as you would imagine, they shape up nicely against Mantics elves too,  see pic below:

Mantic Games Dwarf Ironclad Comparison
Dwarf Ironclad compared to other models, from left to right: Mantic Elf, Games Workshop Dwarf, Mantic Dwarf & Games Workshop Wood Elf.

Summary

So far the new Mantic Dwarfs have really impressed me; they look great and are a pleasure to build. There are some small issues with limited weapons options and getting units to rank depending on how you position shields but these don’t detract from the quality of these models.

Finally, as these are from Mantic, they are great value for money each model comes in at just £0.63 each.

So overall the Mantic Games Dwarf Ironclad Regiment gets a very respectable…

Overall score: 8/10

Mantic Games Vampire Lord on Pegasus review

I’ve been lucky enough to review a few Mantic Undead products now. I have been impressed by the quality of the pieces and the value they represent. None of the products have been perfect, but taken in context with the aforementioned value for money, they can still be considered pretty amazing products which any undead general should be jumping all over.

The next item I’m reviewing from the Mantic range is the Vampire Lord on Pegasus.  This is another metal sculpt, as were the wraiths; my initial thoughts with the Lord revolved around how difficult to assemble it would be considering how thin Mantic’s components are and how a model like this would definitely need pinning to stand any chance of holding together for more than five minutes.

Vampire Lord on Pegasus ComponentsOn opening the box those fears were somewhat allayed. The pegasus is fairly chunky, and the arms were already attached to the rider; so it looks like it’s only the wings that might cause a headache during construction.

Unfortunately those same thick and heavy components provide their own set of headaches. The components weigh so much that annoyingly long pauses are needed for the glue to dry at each stage, even with more pinning than a voodoo doll.  Then there is the fact that judicial use of green stuff is needed in order to fill in the gaps, this is normal for metal cavalry (especially mounts in two pieces), so can’t really count against this figure.

When you finally get the whole thing together there is even more disappointment.  The thing is just tiny, and doesn’t at all seem suitable to represent a powerful army general. Mantic have the whole true 28mm shtick going on, but even when lined up with other mantic miniatures, it looks a bit wee.

Vampire Lord on Pegasus CompleteScale issues aside, the rider doesn’t cut it at all. Many of the problems for me are from the neck up: the face, the hair, everything. It took me a while, but I eventually worked out who I was reminded of – the count from Sesame Street. The skinny body looked more like it belonged to a size-zero model, and not a powerful, blood-mad vampire.

When it comes to Mantic’s heroes, it looks like the value-for-money army idea comes undone, as what you need are options: different weapons, a shield, armour variant (a helm etc), you get nothing extra for this thing and it’s another nail in the coffin for this vampire. [You’re fired – ed]

Finally the base comes as a vaguely shaped lump of metal for you to glue onto the supplied square bit of plasticard, another shocker on this product. More green stuff is needed to get that flat expanse of plasticard up to the level of the rest of the base.

So, in summary, a disappointing product with little going for it, the winged undead pony is OK, but the rest of it is truly awful.

Dead beat: 3/10