Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Alternative LotR figures

When Elrond gives you the facepalm you know things have gone off the rails!

Well the new The Hobbit releases from Games Workshop are to date, pretty hit and miss. The game somehow survived limping along with a diehard fan base long enough to secure the new license for the new Hobbit films and we got some new Army books and a good new rule set in the last 2 years.

The host of new models on the other hand and the starter set have been average to disappointing in my opinion. The killer sculpts of the Perry Brothers are sorely missed in conjunction with the inevitable lack of quality that is going to occur with going all plastic and what will, in the end be responsible for Games Workshop eventual demise if they dont change it, their Finecast line.

I'm not sure what exactly is going on in the GW studio these days and who is even doing the sculpting as I cannot find credits given like they used to be. I am well aware they are limited creatively by the imagery of the films that New Line is providing, but it all just seems kind of half assed...while some of the new sculpts of classic characters are indeed great, much of the stuff is not. The new dwarves are entirely unappealing and "undwarf"  like, No Azog figure, but some other guy we havent seen yet who kind of looks like him, wearing some armor straight out of Dune and then Blog looking like the main zombie from the "Cabin in the woods".Most disappointing are the new Men of Dale that I had such high hopes for, looking like an ostentatious line of Mongols or Huns instead of the tight Nordic looking men they should.

Again this falls back on what the hell happened with Jackson production team. That got everything right for the first three films imagery and vibe wise and everything seems so wrong with "The Hobbit" as far its inclusion of anything new. Everything from the dwarves, the Sci fi- ish look of Erebor to Laketown looking like its doubling as set in the Game of Thrones TV series..(Pentos or whatnot) I dont know what the hell is going on there, bit obviously this is trickling down to the Games Workshop line.

Adding insult to injury , all the best GW new models are done in flipping Finecast, other wise known as Failcast or Finecrap depending on your view point. Horribly overpriced resin thats often deformed, or miscast for 5 times the price of what could be a near flawless metal figure. Granted I am aware that finecast quality has improved but that doesnt change the price, the odds of still getting a bad one and do I really want to pay 20+ dollars for a single figure I have to worry about breaking, cleaning, blowing away indoors because its basically weightless...hell no. No sculpt is worth the grief of the worst idea Games Workshop ever had.

I'm painting a pretty grim picture, I love Lord of the Rings and collect all kinds of models...I have a great collection of Citadel figures from its best days in the mid 1980's. But fear not they're other great sculpts out there from other manufactures and they're metal!  I'd like to mention two I have been eyeing for awhile now. First up is Mithril Miniatures. I have known about these guys for a long long time and they've been around a long long time..I had always assumed they were out of scale with Games Workshops figure but with GW's scale creep leaving them all over the map...compare the plastic men of gondor box to the Rangers box if you want a laugh.  Scale Creep over the years at Mithril as well currently gives us alot of options

One of the many amazing Dioramas Mithril sells, this is collectors stuff and its not cheap, but unlike Games Workshop here it appears you do get what you pay for.

Mithril sculpts and imagery are pre movies so there is alot of fantastic sculpts in a very classic sense and certainly things that would go brilliantly with your GW models if you choose correctly.
Mithril has a huge line going back decades so you need to sort thru it all but I have found great stuff I am picking up I will show you soon. Figures are priced based on rarity or series over there,  classic standard figs are around $6.50 a piece...again much cheaper than a standard hero model at GW in Finecast is $15..Mithril Aniversary series figs are around $27...but for that you get a killer metal figure that, get this.. is delivered factory cleaned and primed...all for slighty more than rolling the dice on the Finecast crap shoot.  Mithril is a collectors line, I'm a collector, but most certainly we will see soon how they translate to gaming.

Men of Dale?? Not a chance  Attilla the Hun's elite guard...Sure!
 Second up is Tom Meier's Thunderbolt Mountain.  Tom is a legend in the miniature sculpting business a was founder at Ral Partha back in the day. I have admired his Athurian line in true 25mm scale for sometime, but just recently I caught wind of his 30mm line of Elves, Men and Goblins and was blown away. The Tolkien motif is strong in these figures . The immediately struck me as timed with the current re popularity of Middle Earth. To me these figures look like jumped right out of book as I envisioned them as a boy.  great prices too...I can by 10 crappy plastic Men of Dale from Games Workshop for $35 or 20 metal killer metal sculpts from Tom Meier for $50..its not even a contest.

Or Men of Dale?? Hell yes....

You want to do a Battle of the Five Armies game you want your Goblins to look like this!

Cool Troll too.

In closing, I'm glad to see some new horizons opening up for potential LotR gaming.  I still want to run my huge Battle of the 5 Armies games at some point...now I can see finding the proper figures to do in the style it should, I will get my Laketown Army, just not from Games Workshop. With Games Workshop shuttling all its Battle Bunkers in the USA 2013 (sans memphis?)  and ties to tournament support will have sighed their last gasp. "GW only" model policy is going to be a thing of the past sooner than later in organized gaming, I for one am glad to see the hobby become "the hobby" without the brand ID being such a requirement.


John Lambshead said...

Another satisfied fine cast customer.

Scott said...

I can empathize with a lot you say John.

I must admit I was not too impressed with the Men of Dale... I always envisaged them as an AngloSaxon/Scandanavian derivative, not the Steppe Peoples we seem to have been offered... and you don't even get 12 figures on the sprue, there's only 10...

I have got the Hobbit starter set, Trolls and Eagles, but I am beginning to doubt how much more I will buy into...

eriochrome said...

Even though i do not buy Lotr models I was not impressed with the Men of Dale. I cannot imagine that they did that design style on its own so you have to blame the film makers for the look. I can understand that they wanted them to look different from Rohan and Gondor.

Tim Kulinski said...


My two cents, go with the other companies over the GW crap! Funny I was asked the other day about what I thought of the new men of dale, and if they looked like re sculpts of the men of Gondor set.

So since GW is not running events anymore, go with the other models man, your paint jobs would make them look awesome man!

John@Plastic.Legions said...

@ erio. for sure. I know the GW studio is stuck with the film's aesthetics..just disappointing.

@ Tim, thanks man...btw..playing my first Bolt Action this Saturday! well see how my red devils do!.

Nathan Watt said...

I can't agree fully with you personally. I think the dwarf miniatures they've released are brilliant, apart from the sprues you need to get them off of. I don't feel the Men of Dale are too bad either, and couldn't say I was surprised when it was 10 in a box.

Cost is terrible, I will say that. Use to be able to get 24 in a box for cheaper than the 12 in a box price of The Hobbit miniatures.

By the way, GW has released the right character concerning Bolg. Bolg is Azog's son. Azog is actually already dead in the book, Peter Jackson changed it.

I don't like the fell wargs, or the orcs. They all look.. poorly done. But the other characters are quite well done in my opinion, though the grim hammer captains head does look disportionate.

Danisnotatree said...

Having painted up the Hobbit set I must say I generally agree with what you say. I do think the models in the set are good sculpts generally (some Dwarves excepted) but the range outside that set just does not inspire me at all. Price is a major part of that, as I think GW prices really are obscene. But also I feel they are constantly "war hammering" the range rather than really trying to replicate the look and feel of middle earth. I don't think they "get" what it is that makes LOTR enthusiasts want to buy their models.


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