Friday 21 February 2020

Book Review: The Art and Making of Fantasy Miniatures by Jamie Kendall

As a wargames miniatures sculptor, it is always interesting to see how other sculptors and companies work, what their motivation is and how they design their miniatures. So this book was bound to end up in my collection.

When the book arrived, the first impression was that it was clearly a "coffee table" book. Large, hardcovered and full of lavish colour photographs and illustrations. On the initial flick through the book, I was a little surprised at the minimal amount of text included.

The book is split into eleven main chapters, each focusing on a different figure manufacturer. 

Now, it soon becomes apparent that the different companies included have each written their own content, and unfortunately some of them have really only given the bare minimum. This leaves their chapters as little more than glorified ads, just showing off lots of photos of their miniatures and giving the briefest introduction to their ranges. However, the better chapters go into quite a lot more detail on the design ethos that the various companies used, with comments from both the owners and the production team/artists involved. Some of the insights are very interesting and really help to understand how individual figures and indeed ranges of figures have been designed.

The same mix of quality is reflected in the artwork on display. Some pages seem like nothing more than images lifted from the companies own catalogues whereas other show artwork taking a figure from a rough sketch right through to the finished 3-dimensional model. 

The choice of different manufacturers is quite interesting, with a mix from the smallest resin and white metal cast operations up to larger-scale companies that work with plastic injection moulding. I will say that most of the companies are working with quite a characterful style which will certainly not be to everyone's taste. Many of the figures featured seem to have been designed using the exaggerated manga/comic-book styling which personally does not appear to me in the least. Obviously, the author must have approached these companies and asked if they wished to be featured in the book, and I assume that he may well have spoken to other companies too. Some kind of explanation for his choice would have been very interesting, especially as he seems to specifically have avoided most of the bigger names in the industry.

So, overall I was a little disappointed with this book. There is no doubt that it has some luscious artwork and makes a beautiful coffee table book, however, the actual content is thin on the ground and in some sections, extremely disappointing. If any of the companies involved are favourites then it may be worth picking up purely for the figure planning insights that they give, but don't expect a beginning to end guide, explaining sculpting, mould-making and manufacture, as those aspects are not covered at all. In the introduction, the author does mention that he plans/hopes to write a second volume to accompany it. Let's hope that it has a bit more substance than this one...

Tuesday 4 February 2020

Sci-Fi Terrain Review

For the past couple of years my group of gamers have been almost exclusively playing Star Wars Destiny, and card/dice game. It is an interesting game with plenty of replayability and endless possibilities for rebuilding your decks, but for some time we have been feeling that we really wanted to get back to some wargaming. So we played our final game of Star Wars Destiny the week before Christmas. January and February have been set aside for playing a few board games while we prepare for some proper wargaming.

The general plan is to start with Frostgrave and then depending on how long we play that for we will move on to Gaslands, Kill Team or possibly even 40k. On the back burner, we also have Lion/Dragon Rampant, more Blood Eagle, more In Her Majesty's Name and possibly The Men Who Would Be Kings, but they are more long term plans.

I have plenty of scenery ready for Frostgrave, so my thoughts moved on to what I have ready for sci-fi games and in particular Kill Team/40k. I have been picking up the odd copies of Warhammer 40k Conquest when I have seen it in the newsagents so I have amassed a fair bit of recent GW 40k scenery. I have also been laser cutting some gantries and buildings (designed by Bilbostomper of Thingyverse) to fill out my table. So the other night I decided it was about time I set it up to see what I had and if I needed any more.

Looking down on it from this perspective it looks spaced out, but as you get down amongst the pieces you soon realise that there is only a limited line of sight.

Even at this angle it still looks fairly open.

I took the following photos so that I could assess the line of sight possibilities

I think once you get down into the terrain, you start to see the limited field of view.

Some angles offer a more open table, but still with plenty of cover to move between.

I must also add that I have also built the GW40k crane since I took these so space is going to be even more restricted.

These photos only include my recent additions, I still need to go through all of my older pieces of terrain, such as the original 40k ruins and various other resin bits and pieces. I also have several pieces that I have scratch built as well as four Urban Mammoth terrain kits (I believe these were made by Tehnolog and repackaged by Urban Mammoth) that I still need to put together.

So, I think I can safely say that I have enough terrain to run Kill Team (if not Necromunda). Now, I just need to get some paint on to it, which should be a relatively quick process...

Hopefully, this is the start of some more regular post on this blog as I immerse myself back into the wargaming world.
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