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Sonntag, 4. Oktober 2015

Review: Malifaux Arcanists (plastic)

Heyhey, I thought it's time to do a review of some Fantasy miniatures again. This late summer I was asked to build and paint a Malifaux crew for a customer. It had been years since I last did Malifaux minis, since then Wyrd had changed a lot (between a new edition of their Malifaux rules, switch from metal to plastic and so on) so I was interested to see how the minis had developed. I will have a look at the Children of December boxed set as well as the Hoarcats Pride, December Acolytes and The Captain from the Troublemaker boxed set.

The starter sets, usually containing 6 plastic miniatures, come in boxes of roughly the same size as a Space Marines tactical squad box by GW. On one side you have a piece of usually rather nice artwork, on the other side renders of the miniatures you will find in the box.

I have a problem with this on several levels: The pictures of the renders vary wildly in scale. Rasputina and December's Fist (the big ice elemental looking thing) are almost twice as big in the picture than they are as minis, Wendigo is about 30% larger while the Ice Gamin seem to be more than twice their actual size in the picture. This is not good. My second problem is on a more subjective level: Wyrd Miniatures never show actual miniatures or painted miniatures. Personally, I find renders to be as visually desirable and mouth-watering as mouldy toast. Apart from that, how does this inspire anybody to build and paint their miniatures at all? I think that this is a horrible, horrible trend in newer companies which cater to a certain demographic.

Otherwise there is no text on the box apart from a trademark disclaimer and the usual health and safety stuff.

The boxes come shrink-wrapped. Once you open them you can feel the tip top production value already. The box has a very nice feel to it. It's sturdy-ish enough. 

What's in the box?

In the box we find a little baggy of lipped round bases and a slew of unit cards (which also have info on what size bases are to be used with each figure): well as one plastic sprue on a little foam sheet. There are extra long spacers on the other side of the sprue so it can't rattle around and keeps the sprue from smashing against the top of the box. As I said - really top notch quality.

In the end though we want to see the minis! So here we go, here's the sprue:

Six models on the sprue, and quite a lot of single pieces. Very fiddly ones too, so be careful when cutting the bits out of the sprue and when removing those mold lines. There are no assembly instructions in the box.

The models are produced in China. The plastic is good quality, along the lines of GW stuff. Same with mold lines. The casting quality is really nice. My problem, especially with bigger plastis minis, is that they lack texture. Not necessarily an inherent flaw of the material, but rather of the sculpts. 


Despite the lack of instructions assembly is pretty straightforward in most cases. Sometimes you have to apply guesswork as to how exactly a part is supposed to go on the miniature when it isn't shown in the pictures of the renders. It was only days later that I found out that Wyrd have a database of assembly instructions on their website. Why they wouldn't put it in the boxes or at least print it on the boxes is beyond me.

Putting these models together I was highly impressed with the technical prowess of the designs. Sure, after assembly there are some gaps to fill, but in general the fit is very good and in some cases it's fascinating how these parts go together. It's like a puzzle.

Here is the whole warband all put together and primed:


Painting these minis was rather fun. The obvious ice look on December's Fist (ice elemental fella) and the Gamins (imp-y types) aside, the only request the customer had in terms of painting  to give the clothes a red colour. 

This lead to quite an interesting and striking contrast right away.

Of course I also ran into the inherent problem with red fur-trimmed cloaks: The Santa Clause effect has to be avoided at all cost. So no green on the minis and no white fur. Even though it would have been a sign of a wicked sense of humour for the December Acolytes to dress up as Santas.

The Wendigo is a weird, weird model in itself. The cowboy looking fella (member of the Guild, by the looks of him) is being attacked by the Wendigo, which makes for a cute little scenic piece. Somehow I think they thought that the Wendigo looked too small, so, due to the wonders of CAD-design, they increased the size of the whole model, making the victim of the Wendigo much taller than every other human-sized figure.

Or maybe the Guild guy is just incredibly tall, who knows. Maybe it's a piece of background I'm not familiar with. Rasputina and The Captain were fun to paint. So was the Wendigo of course. I tried to keep the colous on him very 'cool' as to contrast the Guild member, who's painted almost exclusively in warm tones.

The Hoarcats I tried to paint as naturalistic as possible whilst sticking with cool shades of grey, black and a bit of brown.

The Verdict

Writing a conclusive verdict on fantasy figures designed for a specific game is always problematic due to the lack of directly comparable other figures or of course just regular alternatives. I mean if you want a Space Marine for your 40k army you go buy a GW Space Marine. If you want a December Acolyte you go buy a December Acolyte from Wyrd. If you want a 28mm French Napoleonic Grenadier you have several options where getting (hopefully educated and trustworthy) opinions can help a lot.

Still, it's interesting taking a look at this range of figures. The production value certainly is impressive. To me personally it make no sense what so ever to show renders of wonky scale to depict the minis rather than photos of painted minis. I don't think Wyrd even have any pictures of "Studio paintjobs" or anything like that. A very alien idea to me and I do not quite understand where they are coming from with this.

A Malifaux crew I did in 2011. Back then they were all metal figures.

Technically the figures are very impressive. Certainly up there with GW's quality. Just be careful when storing the figures. There are a lot of delicate bits.

Left to right: December Acolyte, Wendigo, GW Space Marine, The Captain,
Perry Miniatures 18th century civilian, Rasputina

The scale of the figures is stated to be '32mm heroic', but given the highly variable nature of the figures this seems to be more of a guideline than a rule.

Prices on the models are rather affordable for the kind of game this is. Starter boxes of six models will set you back about GBP 26.00, you can get the three Hoarcats for about GBP 10.00 and so on.

As I said - having a conclusive opinion on Fantasy figures which are the end all be all of a set of rules is a bit iffy because if you want to play that set of rules you will most probably need these figures and these figures only. From a subjective point of view I will say that this is not my cup of tea, be it the miniatures design, the rules (as much as I know of them) or the setting - just not for me, and I'm not the target audience of this game. That's okay.

Technically the miniatures are done competently and in high quality. They require some gap filling after assembly (which in itself can be rather fiddly given how small many of the parts are) and have the usual mold lines, but that's it. High quality stuff and rather affordable. They paint up well, they are fun to paint. 

I hope that you enjoyed this review, found it interesting, enjoyed the painting and so on. If you have any questions, comments or indeed commission inquiries, feel free to let me know via the comments section, the Battle Brush Studios Facebook page or via e-mail.

3 Kommentare:

  1. Very interesting review as this is one of those games I'm on the fence with. I enjoy converting and kitbashing and it doesn't look like that's easy in games like this, Infinity, etc. Oh and speaking of quality and instructions. It's probably because they only have small kits because some of the new GW kits (including smaller ones) are so intricate you have to use the instructions to get it all right.

  2. Lovely brushwork! I am just starting to get into the Malifeaux stuff & have been buying their kits for some time. The new 2 player starter has just been released so will allow a buddy & I to learn this 'from what I've heard' fantastic game system. One thing about the bases I liked wash the washer bay built in, just needed to push the washer in & BANG! ready for a magnet matt for storage.

  3. I tried Malifaux, but just like Infinity and Batman I eventually put it aside: there's just too many special rules that have a great impact on the game. You have to play it a lot to really get into it. I'm a casual gamer, so it's not for me (but if you're hardcore you'll probably find satisfaction in it).

    More on topic: your painting is top notch as ever, Sigur!