Sunday, May 24, 2020

Deadzone: Soldiers and Puppy Dogs

As I mentioned in my last post, after I ordered the Reb starter I ordered a box of Plague 3rd gen troopers.  Given how much big a savings I had said the starters were, the logical question is why didn't I just grab one of those?  A few reasons.

First off, I already had the box of Plague zombies I'd picked up to dip my toe in the water.  The starter comes with another 10 zombies which would give me 30 of the shamblers. Sure they are cheap but that seems a little excessive.  Then there are the options that you get in the trooper box.  It shows a mortar and a figure that Escalation lists as a Stage 3A "General".  This would give me another command option, plus a weapon team option, plus a good number of specialist weapon options so it just seemed like a solid choice.

That my friends, is an understatement.

The trooper box comes with four sprues of hard plastic (so plastic cement friendly!!!).  On each of these sprues, you get bodies and legs to make five troopers plus one Plague dog.  For weapon options, you get five sets of arms with rifles, one set each with a flamer, HMG, grenade launcher, pistol and machete, weapon team loader arms, a mortar, and eight head options.  And that's on each sprue so yes, you actually get four mortars in this box (can you say GoA x-launcher proxies?).

Looking at the point values in Escalation, the cheapest point value force that I could make with this box (twenty troopers and four murder puppies) comes in at 224 points if I don't make one of them a leader.  Combine that with the zombie box and I've got 344 points base.  Throw in a leader and specialist and I can break 400 points easy and all this for only $60 retail which is a great value, especially considering the quality.

The trooper sculpts all have rounded connection, giving you lots of options for posing the figures.  The detail looks good as well, with more than enough depth to nicely take a wash and drybrush.  And one of the things that really blew me away when I noticed it, they actually keyed the pieces that are supposed to work together.  For example, the dog jaw and head that it goes with are B while the specialist weapons are all C. This is great as there are some that are not so apparent.

Unfortunately I haven't had a chance to assemble any of them yet (yay for Spring cleaning!) but I'm hoping to be able to get some together later this week though we will have to see.  I've also started assembling more of the Runewars minis that I have accumulated so I can get them into faction specific containers which is one of the nice things about the softer plastic these are made from.  I've got no problem standing them all up inside a plastic Sterilite container.  Even if they get jostled around, they have weathered the bumps without chipped paint and that works for me!  Plus I was finally able to pick up the leader model I've had my eye on for my undead.  Can't wait to get some paint on him once he gets here!  Until next time...

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Deadzone: A Rebel Yell That Needed A Rallying Cry

Yep, you guessed it; my Rebels have arrived.  I wasn't able to dig into them right away but I was looking forward to breaking the box open later.  After the experience with the Plague zombies, I was eager to see what the Rebs would look like.

Unfortunately that didn't last.

The zombies all came on sprues like a traditional model kit while the Rebs were all separated out into different bags.  "Okay, so a little less work", I thought to myself.  Then I opened some of the bags and started assembling some of the miniatures... well, tried to assemble some of the miniatures.  Unlike the with the zombies, plastic cement didn't seem to cut it with these ones.  There was also a lot more flash and especially mold lines on the figures and they didn't seem to clean up neatly the zombies did.  These are also made of a different material which makes me wonder if it is the dreaded restic that I'd heard so many bad things about from someone at my LGS.  I was under the impression that they had phased this stuff out but now I'm starting to think otherwise.

Then there are the connections.  Unlike the zombies with all their ball connections, these figures are all keyed but unfortunately not very well.  Some of the tabs are so small in some cases that they don't even help get the parts in the right way.

I decided to push on, thinking that maybe it was just a case of getting the hang of them?  Maybe?  But no, unfortunately that didn't seem to be the case.  I'd put together about half the box and was actually disappointed enough that I was really tempted to set them aside and call it a wash.  They do have a mix poses and races that I might be able to work into my Antares privateer force but...

Feeling quite frustrated I decided to take a chance and ask about this on the Deadzone Facebook group, Deadzone Fanatics.  Given that the hashtag #Deadzoneislife is not uncommon on the group, I was curious to see how my concerns and criticisms were taken.  When you are dealing with diehard fans, you never can predict the response to pointing out a flaw with their favorite shiny. In this case I was very pleasantly surprised.

Not only did they explain the difference in the material but they also offered some good advice how best to deal with it as far as clean up.  Apparently this set is cast in the premium plastic that was used for their initial products in the in range.  More recent ones (such as the plague zombies) have been cast in hard plastic or PVC plastic.  If you look on the Mantic webstore, they list what materials are used for the various products and if you will need superglue to assemble them (this is the only way to glue the premium plastic, regular plastic cement won't even touch the stuff).  This is even the case for sets that include a mix of the two such as the Plague starter the contents of which you can see below...

This set contains enough components to build 29 high-quality plastic multi-part models, including:

1 Plastic 1st Gen Mutant
6 Plastic 2nd Gen Mutants
10 Hard Plastic 3rd Gen Troopers
Rifles, Flamethrower, HMG and Grenade Launcher Weapon Options
2 Hard Plastic Plague Hounds
10 Hard Plastic Plague Zombies
25mm and 40mm Plastic Round Bases
Mantic Points
Models supplied unassembled and unpainted. Requires super glue.
In this case, the 1st and 2nd Gen mutants are all made of the premium plastic while the rest are made of hard plastic.

Armed with this information, I gave the rest of the Rebs another go and was quickly able to put together and paint a 150 point strike team.

Need to work on getting more light in my light box but you get the idea...
I still need to finish off their bases and there are some more minis to assemble but my push for right now was to get this little group of miscreants done.  So the question now that I've put them together and painted them, what do I think of them?

Going into this set blind as I did, I was ready to walk away after the initial problems that I had with it.  On top of that they looked like they had pretty soft detailing so I really wasn't looking forward to painting them either.  Then I reached out to the FB group and the help they gave got me motivated to get this project moving forward.  Once I started painting them, I also realized just how detailed they actually are.  In the end, I'm really happy with how these guys have turned.

The only real negative I found (now that I know how to work with the Mantic premium plastic) is the lack of variety in the sculpts.  Then again given how diverse this specific faction is, I can understand limiting them to a couple of poses for each race.  It would take a whole lot more work and money for Mantic to create more posable figures in all of these different races.  They do have several more races associated with them as well so bringing these in will led to quite a varied mix of figures.

So what's next for me and Deadzone?  After I'd ordered the Reb starter, I ordered a box of Plague 3rd gen troopers and I've gotta say that I am really impressed with just how many options there are with this one!  Like what?  Well, you'll just have to come back to find out about that.  Until next time...

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Deadzone: Doin' The Zombie Shuffle!

My zombies are here, my zombies are here!!!

Yep, my first Mantic minis have arrived and not only have I assembled half of them, I even got some of them painted too!  Sure it's not all twenty but hey, it's a start at least.

Not a fancy paint job but hey, they're just zombies...
My overall impression of these is they are pretty good minis, especially for the price.  $30 retail for a box of twenty figures is almost unheard of nowadays.  But what about the quality?  Not too shabby if I do say so!

The sculpts are pretty clean with just some minor mold lines which is good because I hate cleaning those up.  I don't mind assembling minis and find it kind of relaxing but cleaning them up?  Just not a fan.  Think somewhere in the back of my brain I'm just wait to accidentally slice off some cool little bit of detail.  And speaking of detail, these minis have a good amount of it that is nice and clean which I find always makes painting them easier.

There are also a number of options when it comes to assembly as well.  The good old ball and socket joint is the most common connection, giving you a good range of options for positioning and swapping bits around.  Note that I did say that they are the most common.  There are two sculpts that are more limited in their positioning and one of them is just downright fiddly.

Introducing jaw dropper and batter up!
On the left we have the jaw dropper.  I think he is eating a big ball of intestines but he also might be ripping his lower lip off.  Maybe both?  Assembly on this one is much clearer than the other pose as the forearms holding the spaghetti ball just plug right into the torso, quick and easy.  This is also "handy" because if gives you an extra set of arms which is good in case you don't want to use batter up, which you can see on the right.

Where jaw dropper is easy to assemble, batter up is kind of fiddly.  The rifle and both arms come as three separate pieces.  One of the arms has a flat connection at the wrist but its the other one that is tricky.  Instead of a flat, there is what looks like a tab that is actually a hook so its definitely best to dry fit this side first to make sure you get a solid connection.  Personally I find the easiest thing to do is glue the hook side to the rifle first.  Once that is set, then I attach that unit to the other arm and the body.

Overall I'm really happy with this set and I've decided to grab one of the starters as well.  I had been eyeing the Enforcers but someone else beat me to it so I decided to grab the Rebs first.  This faction has a mix of human and alien troops so I'm excited to get my hands on them.  They do look like their poses are a bit more static at least in variety but there is enough variation to keep it interesting IMO.  Once they get here, I need to start piecing together some terrain so I can actually push them around in a little plague zombie smackdown.  Until next time...

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Deadzone: Dabbling With The Dead

Yeah.  A new shiny has caught my eye.

Back in 2018 (can't believe it's been so long!!!), I bought into Mar Attacks by Mantic Games.  Beyond the base game I also grabbed more Martians to give me a solid force to pull from since it's easier to get ahold of modern day soldiers.  I have only pushed the minis around a couple of times but it was a fun little system.  Since then I've hit the road for my job which has put a bit of a dent in my hobby time.  Well, a dent in my gaming time because my painting time has definitely increased.

I've been able to play some solo games of Antares and Wrath of Kings in my hotel room which I've enjoyed.  I suspect that both would be more fun against an actual opponent but something is better than nothing, especially when you are sitting in a hotel room four nights out of the week.

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed an email from Mantic Games saying that most (maybe all?) of their core rulebooks were available for free in digital format.  The larger Warpath system doesn't really appeal to me but I was aware of Deadzone so I decided to take a closer look.

The system seems very similar to Mars Attacks which makes me wonder if the system of Mars acted as a test bed for the mechanics (I looked this up later and apparently Deadzone 1st edition was first). This and the limited table space needed (the typical table is only 2' x 2') really intrigued me so I started looking closer at the models.

The style of some of them appeal to me more than others but the thing that really surprised me was the value of the starter and booster sets.  The rulebook defines a basic strike team as being worth 100 points total which even just the starters that I looked at blew that limit out of the water.  For example, the Rebel starter weighs in at 192 points without any special equipment at this was one of the lowest point totals that I figured out. On the other end of the spectrum is the Enforcers which total 393 points without options.  To give some perspective, while the smallest game is 100 points you build a 500 point pool of to draw from for the basic campaign.  Even then, you aren't typically going to be fielding the entire army in one go so just a starter gives you access to a good number of options to play around with as you learn the system.  On top of that, the starter and booster are both only $40 which works out to a couple of dollars a mini or less in some cases.

One of my concerns is that Mantic use to cast their figures in a material called restic.  I've never worked with it but I've not heard good things so I decided that I'm going to start small.  Currently I've got a box of Plague Zombies on the way so I can check them out.  Worst case scenario, I will have some modern/sci-fi zombies that I can use for other games.  Best case, I might have a new game that I should be able to push around for some solo play or maybe even pick up a game here or there.  Fingers crossed.  Until next time...

Friday, March 20, 2020

Random Updates: Just a Wee Bump in the Road

At the end of last week, I had started typing up me next article which was going to feature a breakdown of my 750 point Ghar Exile list.  There was still a bit of painting to do on the Outcasts and a battle suit but I figured that I could get at least the suit done at the beginning of this week... and then I was told to stay in Maine on Sunday.

All well and good, and definitely the best choice in the situation but it also meant that I had a ton of stuff still in my hotel room so... limited hobby for a while I guess?

Turns out that situation changed though as I drove down and check out yesterday so everything is with me up in Maine.  Huzzah!  Now I just have to find some place to put it all...  Until next time...