Welcome to another review of a multipart plastics box from Wargames Factory's Dark Future range. Earlier I reviewed their Zombies and Zombie Vixens, today I'm going to take a closer look at their latest release: Male Survivors.
First though I would like to adress that this is a sponsored review. Someone at Wargames Factory had a look at my reviews of their Zombies boxes and seemed to like them (not sure if that's a good sign for the quality of my critical articles ;-) ) so they offered to send me a copy of this new Survivors box to review. This of course made me proud as punch as you surely can imagine.
It goes without saying that I will not have this influence my views on the product itself and do my dearest to stay objective as I do with all my reviews. Still, I felt obliged to let you know. I just want to make sure that you're aware of the situation and I would like to point out that I do not go around asking for review copies of stuff. I'm not a reviewer by trade and only write reviews if I get something interesting into my hands, something I think that people don't get in touch with on a regular basis and about things I think a larger public should know about. After this intermission, let's go on to the actual review....
Presentationwise it is a very nice box, made to look like a slightly rippled poster hastily glued to a dirty concrete wall. In its design it's very remniscent of the Left4Dead loading screens if you're familiar with these computer games. The artwork itself is a matter of taste. For me it works and while technically it may not be perfect, it definately is servicable. I wouldn't buy it as a printed poster but for box art it's very well done and I usually prefer nice boxart which gets the mood across over just photos of the models. The exterior design ticks those boxes for me.
The back is designed in the same vein, showing ten assembled and painted miniatures from the box, a little flavour text giving a few suggestions for what these models could be used beyond a zombie apocalypse scenario (the box cites aliens, terrorists and all kinds of End of Days settings).
The sides of the box are rather unspectacular but keep the same theme. Overall, the design of this box definately is an eye catcher with its stark contrasts and the askew poster look. I liked the box art on the Zombie Vixens a lot but I think that with this box design they hit the nail right on the head. The cardboard itself is sturdy (which at this point and from my experiences with other WGF sets I expected it to be). Much more so than a Games Workshop or Mantic Games cardboard box. WGF boxes don't come foil-wrapped though but with stickers to keep the boxes shut and greedy fingers outside.
Of course a cardboard box can only entertain us for so long so let's take a look at what's inside.
A nice surprise - the sprues are indeed foil-wrapped. They originally weren't half-torn open of course but being the person that I am, I saw the sprues, my eyes widened, "preciousss", and the plastic foil became an obstacle that kept me from getting my grubs on those sweet plastic bits.
The sprues also come with WGF's simple but effective system of preventing the sprues from shifting/grinding against each other which might damage the fragile pieces.
The box comes with four sprues in total, three of the survivors sprues (see above and below) and an accessories sprue which we will talk about in a bit.
You get ten different survivors out of each sprue, for a total of 30 from the whole box. The torsos and legs are cast in one piece on all models but one. This is due to the one model wearing a long trenchcoat and that wouldn't have been possible to cast in one piece so this guy's legs are seperate. In general though, the poses are set and there is not much in the way of customizing stances. When it comes to poses, there is nothing spectacular to be found on here. Most of the models are sculpted in a walking/advancing position with one leg to the front. The poses look natural, nothing too awkward that I could see.
The characters, as to be expected, are very different from each other. We got one guy in a one piece overall (which I think could be painted to look like pants and a shirt, a pyjama or similar clothes without much trouble), a guy in a business suit, a significantly shorter (by about a head) model depicting a younger boy, a guy wearing shirt and tie (and I think he's got a little red on his shirt there), a guy wearing a shirt that might well work as a policeman's uniform, a guy wearing a hoodie (hood down), another one with t-shirt and baggy pants, a guy with military boots and muscleshirt and of course the guy with the trenchcoat. Several of the guys are basically "alive" versions of the zombies from WGF's zombies box which is a nice touch and allows for some very good gaming opportunities.
Bodies aside, there are fifteen different heads on the sprue, again some of them mirroring the ones from the zombies box.
As with the Zombie Vixens, we also get ten round bases, 25mm diameter. Last but not least of course we get arms and weapons. In this regard, WGF don't disappoint. They basically pack everything a zombie hunter can ask for onto these sprues (all held by one arm): One cricket bat, one baseball bat, three pistols, one fully automatic pistol (think Tec-9), one crowbar, a crossbow (plus quiver with bolts), one M4(?), one M16, one AK47, a shotgun, a scoped hunting rifle, a molotov cocktail, an SA80(?) and of course a chainsaw.
But here's the kicker - the accessories sprue:
Let's see what we got here. 7 more of each M16, AK47 and SA80 (no arms attached) plus two more arms holding AKs, six arms with pistols, two arms with grenade launchers, two more grenade launchers, two more chainsaws, four more full auto pistols plus two more attached to hands, two arms holding soda bottles (or CEDA-approved Boomer Bile), four arms wielding machetes, two more with knives, two single shotguns (which can be turned into sawn-off shotguns with the snip of a plier) and of course two arms holding a bible which I find to be a great little touch. Just be careful when workingh with these models: Due to being realistically proportioned they are fragile, especially stuff like gun muzzles and such.
On top of all of that you get a bunch of ammo pouches, bags and pouches, water bottles, canteens and eight backpacks. Those are cool as well, my only problem is that these don't look like any backpacks I have ever seen. They basically look like high-size messenger bags.
So this is what you get. What does it look like? In my opinion the parts look splendid. Crisp details, lots and lots of folds and detail on the clothes, very clean casting, no flash, little in the way of mould lines. The faces look nice as well and are clearly distinguishable. With their Dark Futures line, WGF jump from highlight to highlight when it comes to quality. Seems like the zombie vixens weren't a one-time effort but WFG really upped their game with their recent boxes and decided to stay on this high level. These models are clearly up there with Warlord Games', the Perrys' or GW's, albeit more delicate than GW's kits of course. These, as with the other WGF miniatures I reviewed, are realistically proportioned.
Let's put these guys together then! The fit of the single parts is very good in general. Be prepared to fill or smooth out gaps where the arms and the shoulders meet but (unless there are other bits to cover it up) this is something I encountered on every single model on which you glue on arms. It's just something you have to do.
Be careful though that you put the "right" parts together. This is where the deal-breaker for some people might lie: Only very certain arms belong with certain bodies. The sprues thankfully got a little tag with a letter next to each torso as well as each arm (for example body F only goes with arms F1, F2, F3 and F4). The heads also are tagged like that but you're way more flexible on those. From what I saw, you can basically put any head on any of the torsos.
Apart of course from varying sleeves, the stances of the torsos play much into which and how arms fit so if you want to use completely different arms on a body it will require converting them to varying degrees.
There are various weapon options for each single model plus additional options by using the weapons from the accessories sprue or just swapping hands between models.
Now for the finished product and a look at the individual models:
They certainly look like they could fend off a zombie or two, right?
These guys are so diverse and look rather urban so I've stuck to pavement basing. I also got all my other zombie survivors based that way and intend to base the zombies that way too. The texture on the bases you get in the box is perfect for that.
All I did was giving it a base colour, some drybrushing of varying greys, add some dust here and there, yellow stripes and random newspapers. After the whole models were finished I also added some splurts of blood and of course a severed arm on the base of the guy with the chainsaw just in case people forgot what chainsaws do.
The consistency on these guys is all over the place. There are some clearly US influences like the priest's clothes and the book saying "The Bible" in English as well as street markings being yellow (I think pretty much EU-wide they're white. Austria had yellow ones up until the mid-1990s or something like that). Then of course there is the very British cricket bat and Austrian newspapers on the ground. Whatever looks good and is fun. I actually got a bit carried away about the newspapers. Even managed to paint a barely recognizable 5mm tall picture of a page 3 girl.
The models by themselves are very, very light by themselves, so I glued pennies into the bases to give them more stability and heft.
Let's go through the characters one by one then.
Really good and unusual figure. Be careful about which arms you choose to use for this one because they are much thinner than the arms on the rest of the models. Optionswise, you can either have him hold a pistol, an auto pistol as in the picture or a scoped hunting rifle. The head is also different, no additional head options. Of course there are some moral implications as well about having a kid with a handgun on a gaming table. There shouldn't be much of a problem converting him to holding something else but a gun, glue on the arms differently and he becomes a model to rescue, to be escorted or to just tag along. If you're opposed to having kid characters on the gaming table that's okay as well, just save the models for some other project.
The Blue Collar
The crowbar-molotov cocktail combo is the only arms option he really planned for this model and his very dynamic stance makes it hard to make any other arms fit. However, there are lots of options for easily converting this one like cutting off the rag from the bottle to have him hold a regular beer bottle (always fun. Cut off the crowbar, maybe drill tiny craters on the upside of the fist and you've got a guy with a really fun "mighty punch" pose. Give him one of the knifes or handguns from the accessories sprue in either (or both) hands or have him hold a rifle up like he's cheering. You see, you got surprisingly many options for eqipment on him. As for painting, this guy will do as a car mechanic or several other handiman jobs, a prison inmate with those orange jumpsuit as they got them in the US (correct me if I'm wrong) a Ghostbuster and so on. ;-)
This one's a hard sell if you want to keep things "realistic" but he's oh so much fun. Instantly, he made me think of turning him into an over the top bad guy. On the other hand you get three per box so you can also make the players play some kind of superhuman zombie hunter special agent half-vampire vampire hunter toughguys. Out of the box there are arm options for either two pistols or an M16 assault rifle for him to hold. Pretty good options and you can convert the pistol arms to hold auto pistols, knives or machetes as well and the assault rifle arms to hold a shotgun, sniper rifle or grenade launcher. Nothing left to ask for really. Alternatively you could chop off the high collar, use a different head and make him a doctor (use one of the suitcases from the Zombie Vixens box as a doctor's case, defib unit or first aid equipment) or give him a big machete or a cleaver if you can find one and make him a butcher!
The Muscle Man
This one is the only model from the box I have a bit of a problem with stancewise. The pose is very stiff, especially with the arms options he as. His weapon options as per the sprues are either a pistol or auto pistol in each hand, pistol in the right, knife in the left or the crossbow. However, I couldn't make the crossbow fit this one with the arms supplied, neither does the back of the box show him with the crossbow so maybe there was a little mistake with the tags on that one? Anyway, I guess the pose would have worked better with two pistols instead of pistol and knife. Overall not my favourite but an okay addition and the arms are very well done anatomically. Here's a picture of the newspaper on his base, based on a free daily newspaper you get at subway stations here. It's not exactly known for journalistic quality, subtlety or grammar.
The box gave me a bible on the accessory sprue so I had to make a preacher of some kind. Also, zombies and preachers for some reason go together oh so well. As per the box you get an M16 option for this body (which of course would work just as well as a businessman, FBI agent, or anybody who wears a suit) too. As a general rule, I tried to avoid having too many assault rifles on these models because... well, people around here don't own those things. The book of course you could use for anything really as long as you fill the letters "The Bible" with with some putty. The book itself is basically not detailled at all except for the lettering so it could pass as a big brick or a cereal box just as well.
This is one of the torsos on which you can put a lot of the arms options as long as the sleeves fit. He's got one pair of arms to fit a shotgun but this also means that you can convert him to hold any kind of assault rifle or hunting rifle with ease. With the accessory sprue you get additional options for him to hold a grenade launcher. These arms might even fit to hold one of the additional chainsaws too so quite a versatile model.
The only one of the models I gave a backpack to. The backpack bits (and pouches for that matter) don't fit 100% perfectly due to folds on the clothes and whatnot but they fit well enough. The only trouble is that very few of the models have straps on them. It's only a minor issue of course but if you look closely you'll notice how there is no way this stuff would stay on him. In the very case of this model you could interpret some things to look like straps so that's why I chose him to carry the backpack. I also envisioned him as somebody who's well prepared and determined (as implied by the pose). Late at night of course I changed the plans to add something fun so I made the backpack and waterbottle be from a Hello, Kitty collection. How often do you get to freehand the Hello, Kitty logo, right? Of course that could also imply all kinds of tragic things as well, especially with the little blood stains on the backpack. I also like the idea that in such a situation, you grab what you got at hand so you'd end up with a weird mix of all kinds and styles of pieces of eqipment.
Let's not pretend that this one is meant to be anything but that character and I like that because it's one of my favorite films with insane rewatchability. This one is really hard to build as anything but swinging something at zombies (or aliens, werewolves, crazies, ...) with both hands. The box gives you the option of a baseball bat arm instead of a cricket bat one so for variety I suggest using that plus a different head. Even the police hat head would fit for a rather disturbing image. Overall, a very fun model with a very nice, dynamic pose.
The base shows another Austrian daily newspaper, the Kurier. (I know that this is of limited interest to about 98% of the readers here, I just point it out because I did it and doing details without mentioning them and fishing for compliments isn't my style ;-) ).
Not all that much to say about this one. It's a guy in a hoodie holding a chainsaw. On the accessories sprue you will also find a pair of arms for him to hold assault rifles (with an AK47 sculpted on) which is nice for variety. As I said, I added a severed arm to his base and of course extra blood to the chainsaw, his trousers, blood splatters on his face and hoodie because tearing through bodies with a chainsaw is a heck of a mess. Not that I would know of course, I'm just guessing. Only reason I called him Paulie is due to the grey "wings" in his hair which reminded me of Paulie from the Sopranos. The outfit of course is way off but the attitude I think fits.
The Heavy-Set Bloke
This one immediately draws attention and I'm not sure why. Anyhow, very fun model, two head options even though "non-fat" heads fit just as well. The beard is only painted onto this one. In terms of arms options, you only get the assault rifle one which, as I mentioned several times above, of course is easy to turn into holding a shotgun or any kind of rifle. You get an alternative left arm too on which I'm not too sure what it is for but I think it's meant to just hold something so I'm sure that you could replace the rifle with a pistol of some kind and have him hold a water bottle or canteen.
Paintingwise it would have been supereasy to make him look like a complete idiot but I decided to give him the coolest shirt in the whole crew. Yup, it's an original Midnight Riders shirt from their 1997 Hell on Horseback tour.
Also: red sandals because he couldn't find his shoes before fleeing the house.
On the base we got another daily newspaper from around here (Der Standard, easily identifiable by the salmon-coloured paper)
The Last Boyscout
Another torso that's actually rather flexible in terms of options. You can either fit an assault rifle, pistol and machete or the crossbow on him (plus all kinds of additional weaponry if you're willing to do some simple weapon swaps). I went for crossbow because it's way more fun than an assault rifle or pistols. This model actually is the only one I based on a friend of mine. Initially I had planned to make each of the models represent someone I know. Not because I'm a crazy serial killer but rather than that I found that such games (I like Two Hour Wargames' All Things Zombie which is much more of a roleplaying game than a strategy game) are a big bowl of fun if you can throw in some characters you actually know. Also: Makes it easier to get people to play with you if you got a mini for them ready made. ALSO: Makes you seem very creepy if it's a person you don't know particularly well so watch out.
Anyway, he's got a canteen and wears all black. The latter became an interesting challenge in itself in terms of making the clothes look like they're all black but made of different kinds of fabric. Apart from that I had to add some contrast or colour to the model so I decided to do a funky camo on this hunting crossbow. On the shirt's back and front you can see parts of the logo of the metal band Opeth.
So what's the verdict? The hope from my Zombie Vixens review were confirmed with this set: Wargames Factory, often dismissed for plastic set that couldn't quite keep up to the competition in terms of quality but making up for that in price, definitely cought up and are well up there with the other plastic miniatures manufacturers now if not a nudge ahead when it comes to naturalistic folds on clothes.
While some of the poses look strangely familiar from other WGF plastic kits (I think it has something to do with the modelling process) I think that the Apocalypse Survivors - The Men box certainly hits the mark. Okay, it's a niche product but it certainly hits an attractive niche. There are tons of uses for these guys and even now that the zombie craze is ebbing off again, I'm sure that simply due to the quality, versatility and sheer fun of the sculpts this set will do well.
This box isn't something you add to your army of anything nor can you make it the core of your wargaming army. The single sculpts have a ton of character to them and thus are really well suited for the kind of modern-day post-disaster survival skirmish games, roleplaying games, boardgames and everything in between. As for using them next to other tabletop miniatures, here is the comparison shot as usual:
Keep in mind that the others got at least 1mm on the Heavy-Set Guy due to the basing. Otherwise, he is definately more delicate than Games Workshop's models (especially Catachans of course). With Infinity miniatures, they go along rather well as most of Infinity's minis are closer to actual human proportions so these Survivors might make for good (self-defending) civilian models.
While the fact that there isn't incredible much possibility for variation on poses and such for the models in this box might turn off some people, I would say: See it as an advantage. You basically get a set of 10 character figures and each one you get three times so you can build him with different weapon options (magnetizing the models is also an option. Could be a bit tricky but should work with 1mm to 1.5mm round magnets in the arm joints) or in different states of health (first guy: a-Okay, second guy: wounded, third guy: converted to zombie) and so on. This is a kit you can get really creative about, just like with the Zombies kits. It goes without saying that you can mix and match those too. All in all, they are a great addition to WGF's Dark Futures range and I'm very much looking forward to Apocalypse Survivors - The Women.
I hope that you enjoyed the review and found it useful or even entertaining. If you have any questions, maybe review requests, suggestions or ideas feel free to use the comments section below or just contact me via e-mail or Battle Brush Studios' Facebook page. The same goes of course for commission requests. See you soon! :-)