Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Unboxing the Hobbit- A Review

 As I previously mentioned I pulled the trigger on the $125.00 USD retail box for Games Workshops The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Box Set. While this is starter set all you really need is the new rule book to accompany the current army books if you are already an SBG player. If you are new to the game this is the replacement intro set to the original Mines of Moria. Here is my review, where you can judge whether its worth it. I'm grading the box on the following categories: Presentation, Contents, Models, Extras, and Rules all on a 1-10 scale. I'll multiply the individual 5 category scores x 2 to give you a generic 100 percentile score.
PRESENTATION:  The box and layout is superb, eye catching with fantastic paint, not much to say here GW knows how to market their stuff, the lengths to make the figures and art look exactly like the upcoming film are second to none. (Whether you think that's a good or bad thing depends on your taste)  SCORE 10
THE MODELS: The box comes with 57 models if you include the limited edition Radagast that comes with the LE, you pay I believe the non LE set which I dont see listed on the GW site is either $10-15 cheaper so keep that in mind if you looking at the LE that is the only difference.

Goblins-  For me they are high point of the set figure wise. Scalewise they are somewhat larger then their original plastic cousins shown here. I really like these for couple different purposes, One I want to do a moria army around my Cave Drake and these guys will be the rank and file, Two the scale is sufficent and they look sinister enough they can proxy all kinds  of other bad guys in X random game, getting 36 of these guys is a bonus...especially at $70 retail for 2 boxes. While I think the Goblin King is kind of dumb looking, he doesnt detract from the usefulness of these. I overall rate the goblins a 9 out of 10.
 Dwarves-  I am not of fan of the artistic license taken with Thorins company for the new film, You know damn well when Warner Brothers found out the main character were Dwarves , some studio exec demanded they be "Sexed Up" in order to be stars of the film, as a result we Fili and Kili looking like Soap Opera cast extras...Thorin looking like Tom Cruise playing Aragorn and the rest looking like Snow Whites sevens dwarfs for comic relief..with the exception of Dwalin who some how gets excluded and looks like a bad ass.  In short I dont like the dwarf models..Scalewise they are ok, see left dwarf (looks like a dwarf)vs "breaking Gimli" vs the guy on the right...Not a dwarf proportionally IMO. Dwarves get a 4 out of 10 for me. not only because of my personal distaste for the style  but I dont really see the models usable in overall SBG as these  Dwarves just dont fit in with the rest of Dwarf models in the current Citadel range. They are Thorin's Company from the movie period. Their overall utility is lax.

Bilbo:-  The Bilbo model is great , and having two different arm option, Walking Stick and Sting is great! However the scale during design was botched. see him versus Frodo and Pippin here- he's smaller scalewise than all my other Hobbits. I dont find this model usable outside the core game here, it does not fit in and it really looks like 20 mm model. Great model, but I cant game with it along side all my other Citadel Hobbits  because its wildly out of scale.  1 out of 10 for Biblo..this is most disappointing thing in the set for me.
The Wizards- Gandalf and Radagast (not pictured) came out great the scale is solid and the detail and sculpts excellent , Gandalfs hat is too small however compared to all other hats he wears in the range I think can use some green stuff and get it where it needs to be but I shouldnt have to. Consistency should be GW's bread and butter after 3 decades of miniature making, the fail at it far too often.

Wizards 8 out of 10.

Models: I rate the models in the box combined an average SCORE of 6 ( if this was not the LE it would be a 5!) 

EXTRAS:  Here we mean the Terrain, the extra figures for game on the Gobin King sprue and a few other extras I see on the sprues.  The Terrain is 2 identical sprues  The sprue shown is one half of the individual retail "Goblin Town Expansion" if you buy the $60 dollar retail box you get one of these sprues and another sprue that is basically all support pieces.  I have in the above pictures some casts from the Hirst Arts wooden plank mold to show you that they are very close to what you a paying alot of money for. I am going to be building a 2 x 2 (maybe bigger) Moria Board....and guess which will see the most use? the plastic at $30 dollars a sprue? or the plaster at $30 for the mold? The spues have some skull details like all GW stuff, but unlike WFB these skulls actually have a place here. Due to cost of the expansion and the unflexibility of the two sprues in the box. I also give the extras a SCORE of 6

 RULES: There is alot of misinformation on the rules out there, I reported some rules details in my last post that turns out to totally incorrect. I dont understand how people with the book, could get things so wrong, but I now have the book and am quite comfortable saying the new rules are GREAT. The mini rulebook is well formatted and clear for new players, although the lack of profiles and points from at least the starter models is disappointing, adding them just would have been good form.
 (note: profiles for play but not points are contained in the starter material. in the original Mine of Moria starter the rulebook contained a host of profiles and points, you get none in the rulebook.)

The best move for players old and new would have been making the included "Your Journey begins here" starter guide an actual "Unexpected Journey" sourcebook that could also have been sold separately. That would have been a very smart business move and would have been maddeningly easy to do. All they would have needed to do was add additional profiles and all the point values and change the art. Then you would have useful product to stand along side the rulebook.

So while the rules themselves are great, GW's wisdom and foresight is not. The way the distribution of new rules material in this set is handled leaves alot to be desired as you still must order the $85 big rulebook to expand play outside this set. As a result as much as I like the new rules, looking at the set contents and what should have been, I must give the included rules a SCORE of 5.

 CONTENTS:  The overall contents of this package, which also include some measuring sticks (why? how about a tape measure?) and Dice. My set for whatever bad luck..DID NOT COME WITH DICE
that is just sloppy on the packing end./ Overall the complete contents of this package are fantastic value for the intro gamer,.I would give it a score of 10 for that. However I am not a into gamer, as a veteran gamer, I rate the contents here a 6 for an overall SCORE of  8.
= 35 X 2 or a 70% Score. when I was in school a 70% was just barely passing and the low end of "C" or Average score, I think that holds true here.

The big take away point I want to make here (and if you've read this blog in the last year or so, you know I am no longer Games Workshop biggest fan, so take this as you will. ) is that Games Workshop's current secrecy policy on product release information is not doing them any favors in terms of veteran customer loyalty. By not clearly telling us about their products what we are actually getting in advance I feel they are doing us a great disservice.
In the end this was not the product for me. As a veteran player of the game, I should have just bought the big book and a box of goblins and the town kit and waited for the new Radagast figure (pictured below, which I did not know was coming.)  Instead I ate their marketing hook line and sinker, got caught up in the release mania and am now somewhat disappointed in my purchase,  While I got my moneys worth, and some cool figures. (I'll model up and play the games a few times).This sets overall usefulness is limited to me. I'll still end up picking up additional items, like the big rulebook anyway, but 6 months from now it will turn out I did not need this set at all. My long term LotR gaming use coming from the new book and a variety of individual models and some terrain.
So they got  more money out of me now, but have just pushed me further to the edge.

In short if you or someone you know is looking to get into LotR (Hobbit) SBG then this is good buy for you. If you are already a veteran of the game stay away from this the big book and pick up what you need. Personally I am tired of the GW merry go round. This is most likely my last direct retail purchase from Games Workshop anything else will be trade, second hand, discount or if I must have something new I will buy it from an Indy distributor.

I should also mention doing GW's Advance Orders is just dumb, they scare you with "the limited edition" get its before it sells out ticking clock so I made sure I got that pre-order in early. Instead of getting mine this Saturday on release day at my local shop, like plenty of other people. I instead got mine Tuesday at 5pm -72 hours later..even thou I ordered mine well within the same as release day window they advertised..There is just no point anymore, its total waste of time.

 New Elven Cavarly looks good.
White Council in Action with Gwaihir, check out mounted Elrond.!!
(correction: It's been pointed out by a reader that's not mounted Elrond but the Captain from the February Elven Cavalry box, I have read there is a new mounted Elrond coming..thou.)


John Lambshead said...

Thanks for a helpful review. Will pass.

Scott said...

Very good review John.
Whilst I am a veteran gamer, I had also to consider the desires of my 9yrs old son, who no doubt will want the starter set too to play with, though under supervision - I don't want a pile of snapped off plastic weapons, the day after xmas...

I just hope the new hard copy rulebook stays the course and isn't replaced with the subsequent movies...

eriochrome said...

Like most GW starters if you are not interested in the factions provided not much worth the 125 dollar price tag. Interesting that large part of the contents are also sold separately instead of different molds. I guess it looks like value if you add up the 70 dollars of gobbos and most of a 60 dollar of planks plus the dwarves but all those things seem pretty pricey alone.

If you are not already into LOTR SBG it does not seem like this set of products is likely to bring you in. Maybe once it gets farther into the series were more races are involved (Battle of 5 Armies Time) it might have a reasonable range of minis but then you are close to GW essentially dropping real support just like the last time.

Lord Azaghul said...

I completely agree with you on the dwarfs... and seeing as the dwarfs are my favorite thing about Tolkien, its a huge turn off for this whole franchise.

Bonaf said...

Bilbo's scale is on par with the scale of the hobbits frome the Mines of Moria box.
As I don't have any other hobbits from the range, I'm fine with him.

Spiderpope said...

Just a slight correction, thats not a mounted Elrond in the last image, its the plastic captain made in the Elf Cavalry kit.

Leif Eriksson said...

Interesting thoughts -- on the whole I agree with you, but I'd like to point out that there are stats for all the figures in the box, just not points cost. In you review it sounds like there no stats either.

Not printing points costs in their starter sets are IMO an evil ruse to get us to buy expensive books as well. They pulled exactly the same stunt with the Dark Vengeance box.

Greg Sapara said...

I also bit for the boxed set. I like the contents, but the one huge disappointment for me is that there is absolutely NO painting guide to be had either in the boxed set or online.

As far as I can tell, the only painting guide available is through iTunes, for $25. I don't have an ipad, so I am unable to get a copy. I find it really crappy that they are making you purchase a painting guide separately from the boxed set or rules.

I'm the type of guy who wants his miniatures to look like the GW painted versions - that look is what hooked me in the first place, and with all of the LOTR miniatures I followed those guides and produced a nice looking set of forces.

I guess I'm just out of luck this time...


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