Product review: Prodos Games Amazon Riders

15 04 2016

IMG_8807

It’s no secret that I gave up on Games Workshop a while ago, with their constant re-doing of their codexes, the new edition of 40K dropping while I still hadn’t taken all of the previous edition’s pieces out of the box, and their just downright egregious pricing of the new plastic minis cemented the demise of GW for me. That and the fact they still hadn’t done anything to the Sisters of Battle range, which was still apparently because of issues they were having with the details.

Well, bollocks I say.

Anyhoo, I’m not here to lament the downfall of a company I used to love, but it’s a good segue into the new miniatures I picked up recently after discovering them through the Aliens Vs Predator – ‘Bug Hunt’ game my friend ordered.

Prodos are based in Warwickshire, UK, not too far from my hometown. I was pleasantly surprised by this, always nice to know that there are other companies making minis that are in your own backyard. Now Prodos and the AVP license they secured are a somewhat of a bone of contention with quite a few fans out there, essentially regarding the Kickstarter for that game and various issues that have followed since the funding of said game. I’m not going to go into all that, and if you’re really dying to know, just google it and do some research, but I won’t be taking any more space up here discussing it.

Prodos have quite an extensive line in support of the Mutant Chronicles game (for those that remember that in it’s original incarnation from the early 90s), and the figures are cracking! I seem to remember Praetorian Stalkers from back in the day, I wonder if they’ll make an appearance again?

They also make a game called ‘Space Crusaders’ (notice the ‘s’ on the end there), which I know little about, but it appears to be a small-scale skirmish system they have developed. Also in support of this game are also a line of miniatures, which is where we come to rest with my product review (thanks for sticking with me through the wall of text!).

I’ve been looking for figures to use as juves in my Judge Dredd game, as some of the Warlord Miniatures ones are a little clumsy, so I wanted to look elsewhere, such as reusing Clan Escher figures from Necromunda. I found these minis and I thought they’d make an excellent fit, so I picked up a box of Amazons on bikes and also a box of ‘Mabs’ as well (just for something different to paint). A peruse through their online store and you’ll see some definite influences in the designs, that’s all I’ll say. So let’s take a look at these ‘ere bikers…

Seen here against a Judge on his Lawmaster bike

Seen here against a Judge on his Lawmaster bike

I forgot to take a picture of these ‘in the box’ so here are the Mabs, which will give you an idea:

MABS2

First impressions: the ‘resin’ they use is lightweight and durable. I’m not sure what the overall differences in resins are to be honest. I know there are different grades and whatnot, but my knowledge is limited. A cursory glance at the pieces showed minimal flash to be removed (yay!) and only a few vent pieces that needed trimming off. This resin has a different ‘feel’ to the resin Forge World uses, and has almost no air bubbles that I can see, which is refreshing.

Figures are well packed and the box art is pretty neat. One thing I would’ve liked on the box is maybe a little background as to who these girls are. Even though I’m not using them for the game they are intended for, a little back story is always cool. What are their origins?

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Assembling these minis was no hassle at all, and went together really well with superglue gel. They come with bases and even have ‘smoke’ you can add to the rear tire to suggest movement. This reminded me a little of how GW are adding similar details to their plastic miniatures lately too, except the ones you get in this box are optional. After assembling this trio, I was left with some extra bits, which looked like shoulder pads although I’m really not sure, and I’m not sure if they actually go on these minis.

There is some incredible detailing on these figures, with delicate filigree edging and chaos emblems on the bikes and the armor that the girls are wearing, as well as skulls and fleur-de-lys as well. The faces have character too, although they look a little odd in their unpainted state, they’re going to be full of attitude once they go under the brush.

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Two of the Amazons are obviously on the move, and the movement is captured really well, with the long hair trailing behind the rider who is hunched down adding to that motion. The third is obviously at a standstill, or taking a breather, as the relaxed posing which has her sitting back on the seat would suggest.

6

The bikes are suitably chunky, but not too crazy, and are balanced well with the build of the riders, making them a ‘believable’ match up. Guns mounted either side of the front wheel obviously mean business! These girls wouldn’t look out of place in a scene from Akira as they have a great cyberpunk feel to them that comes across well in the design and execution of the final models.

8

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My only ding against these figures, and indeed the Space Crusaders line is that with the range being predominantly female, they really make sure you know that they are women, really more than is necessary. GW hit a good medium with their Sisters of Battle range: you knew they were women in power armor without having to resort to exaggeration of certain parts of the anatomy, something Prodos should take into consideration if they are looking to create more figures for this game. Having a woman in power armor only to have most of her torso exposed not only makes you scratch your head with questions like ‘how on earth would this armor protect her’, but can look tacky. You have to be very careful with that line between aesthetically pleasing and just cheesecake for the sake of it. Prodos have seen an gap in the market that needs attention: a lack of female figures for futuristic battle games such as 40K, which GW have only made wider with their lack of support for that line, only to possibly shoot themselves in the foot with the female demographic that also enjoys this hobby.

I’ll probably paint body stockings on my Amazons to veer away from the fact they appear to be wearing cyber-bikinis. Maybe even some harlequin style leggings or something bold that you would see in the pages of 2000AD.

In summary: Prodos are proof that GW are just bullshitting about their reasoning for not turning their attention to the SoB line and giving the miniatures the much needed overhaul they deserve. They just simply want them to fade away or get ‘squatted’. We can clearly see by the miniatures above that making sisters in resin or plastic is very doable, and because they (GW) can’t be arsed to do anything about it, companies like Prodos will be happy to step in and take the money. That said, if they can move away from the objectification of the female form that seems to pervade the miniatures, I think they would make a killing, as they are showing they have the tools and the talent.

These ladies will be up in the gallery once they are painted! Thanks for reading!

 

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Double Whammy – Finecast Review and SOB Rumors

13 06 2011

Honestly, I can’t believe where time is going. June already?? wtf? Apologies for those of you who frequest my humble pigeon hole in the intehwebs for my lack of posting lately. Work has been grinding me into the ground, and i’ve been more absorbed with playing Indiana Jones Lego on Xbox. While i’m on that subject, Happy Birthday Indy, who, 30 years ago today, graced our screens in Raiders of the Lost Ark. My 3 year old has just started getting into Indy, so as a father and big Indiana Jones fan, this makes me very happy. For 30 facts and unusual trivia about Raiders, clicky here: http://blog.moviefone.com/2011/06/12/raiders-lost-ark-30th-anniversary/

Citadel Finecast

Anyway, down to business. This weekend I picked up my first Citadel Finecast miniatures, a box set of 3 bow wielding Ushabti for my Tomb Kings army. The sticker price of $49.50 made me cringe a little, but considering 3 metal ones would have been nearer to $60, I didn’t feel so bad. Of course the first thing I noticed when I picked up the box was ‘is there anything in this? did I grab a display?’. The material is very light. It is apparently some kind of plastic/resin hybrid.

As we have had a spell of cooler weather, I wanted to get these assembled and undercoated without the fear of fuzzy paint (eff you, humidity!) so Saturday afternoon, hung over from the show I played the night before, I set to work. I was intrigued as to how this new matrial would be. It’s quite flexible, meaning if you inadvertently knock it off the table, chances are the only thing that will need repairing will be your underwear.

If you haven’t seen the presentation yet, the new Finecast minis come on a sprue, thus:

At first glance I thought ‘balls, I thought there was supposed to be minimal flash and cleanup?’ Well, this stuff is actually really easy to work with. You need virtually no pressure with clippers to take the mini off the frame, and there is actually not that much in the way of cleanup. A mold line here or there, or a bit of flash but because of the medium, it’s effortless. Literally within 5 minutes, my forst Ushabti was ready for assembling:

 

Gone are the days of shitty lugs that won’t fit into the holes they are supposed to, and also the days of you holding metal pieces together for 10 minutes with superglue with no effect. Gone, also, are the days of weak joints. The lightweight nature of this makes this a dim and distant memory. This resin is superglue’s best friend. Assembling took literally a couple of minutes:

Within a half hour, I had all three assembled….

The only negative point I have so far is with the chap on the far left in the picture above. His hand obviously has been miscast, and a portion of the cowling behind his head is missing too. Hopefully this won’t be an ongoing problem for Finecast. I left it, with the train of thought of ‘its an ancient statue, and the Necrotect has’nt got to him yet to repair it…).

Then, onto prep for painting, using Duplicolor Sandible Primer:

…and voila! ready to be painted!

From box to fully primed in less than an hour, quite impressive, in my opinion. It shows just how user friendly this new material is.  You don’t need to wash it in soapy water before priming, and apparently is not toxic like Forge World resin (not that I would advise eating/inhaling it anyway). I’m personally quite excited to work with this new medium, although some of the prices did shock me a little. Individual characters are now pushing the $20 mark, while I noticed that a certain Lizardman kit that was $49 in metal is now $66 in resin.

I guess the proof is in the pudding, and we’ll just have to see what happens with Citadel Finecast.

Sisters of Battle Rumors:

Pathtyphon/TastyTaste over at Http://bloodofkittens.com has given up some rather tasty rumors regarding new Sisters of Battle rules. Sadly enough, it does appear that they will be a ‘White Dwarf Codex’, but i’m not going to rule out that a new book will not be forthcoming. Here is the info:

‘As always let us start with the easy ones that pretty much everyone figured was going to happen.

Allies gone
Inquisition gone
Faith streamlined
USRs updated to 5th
Cheaper Unit costs
Inquisition elements gone

So let start with the big one and perhaps most controversial change to Sisters of Battle: Faith

I am amazed reading around the Net how quite few people had great guesses on how the new faith works. One caveat about the faith rules: I only have most of the story so let us hope someone else can pluck the rest from the aether. The only thing that really stays the same is only faith producing units can use faith. Gone is the over and under rules based on model count and gone is faith powers that everyone can use. It is replaced with every unit has its own unit specific act of faith to call upon.

So for instance Repentia Act of Faith allows them to always land an attack even if they are killed before they can swing. They are little bonuses like re-rolling to wound and hit, no USRs. Now this if fine and dandy if you just pop a faith point and bam! power goes off, but not so fast. Acts of Faith require that you roll 5+ to activate . This makes faith much more unreliable… maybe. In addition every unit that can get faith generates 1d6 faith points per turn. This also means that a new faith pool is generated each turn with no storing of past faith. As well faith can be activated in multiple phases of the game, so for instance you can re-roll to hit in your shooting phase or in your assault phase. What is not clear is a few things. Like how many dice can you throw at a single act of faith? How many times can you attempt to activated a power? If you get an act of faith to go off in one phase does it carry over to the next phase? If you fail an act of faith does that mean you cannot try again in another phase? I don’t have the answers, but what do you think?

Random tidbits

All Faith generating units get +6 invul save
All units that can get transports get Immolators or Rhinos
Assassins gone (Death Cult still in)
Wargear with the same names as GK wargear stay and get changed over. (e.g. Psybolt Ammo)
Karamazov gone
Priests in, pretty much same as before.
No change to the general Bolter, Melta, Flame concept of the Sisters

Specifics

Sisters have about 5 HQ choices including Special Characters

St. Celestine: Same price as a Grand Master you get 2+/+4 saves, WS/BS 7 Jump Pack, Fleet, Power Weapons always wounds on 4+ Has the power to come back like GK Thawn if killed.

Confessor: Takes the slot of the old Inquisitors. Cheap HQ (Warboss). Can create a henchman band using most of the henchman found in the GK codex. What makes the Confessor extra deadly is the ability for it to re-roll hits and wounds for her and the squad. This is the translation of the rumor matrix. So think for one second about her and the Death Cult together?

Repentia: Cheaper close to SM cost. FNP, Rage, Fearless, 6+ invul, no transports

Battle Sister Squad: Cheaper 10-20 unit size (no combat squads), but has access to Immolators which begs the question… Immolators either get increased transport capacity or Sisters break the rules concerning model count and buying transports. Multiple acts of faith.

Exocists: Pretty much same as before.

This is it for now gents and dames. If you have any questions let me know I can see if can get them answered sometime this week with another post.’

So there you have it.

Until next time…





Ultramarines – The Movie. A review (of sorts).

12 01 2011

I was pretty excited when I heard, over a year or so ago, that GW had finally put the gears in motion to produce a movie based on their best selling game line, Warhammer 40,000. It all started with postcards being handed out at GDUK with nothing but the Ultramarines logo on, so it wasn’t long before teh interwebs were on fire with speculation.

It was shortly after that teasers where posted up on the movies official dedicated web page which got legions of fans drooling. It was all pretty cool, and the design work was great. After a while I sort of forgot about the whole thing, figuring I would hear something about it when it was due for release, and thats exactly what happened. 

I was pretty impressed by some of the names on the roster like Sean Pertwee (big fan of Jon ‘Dr Who’ Pertwee’s son, ever since I saw Dog Soldiers), Terence Stamp and John Hurt, amongst others. Also the fact that Dan Abnett wrote the story said to me that this was going to be the dogs bollocks*

About October time 2010 (I think) I was sent the info to pre order the movie. There was the standard version and the ‘all singing all dancing with fecking bells hanging off it’ version. Naturally I wanted the latter 🙂 So my mom picked it up for me as a xmas gift.

It’s a nice package thats for sure. It somes in a card sleeve, which holds the metal tin with 2 discs in and a hard back mini-comic which is the ‘prequel’ to the movie. 10 out of 10 for presentation.

So, the other night, after the dust had settled from the holidays, I sat down to watch it. Clocking in at a mere 76 minutes, I wondered what sort of story you could cram into that time slot…

Synopsis

 Some Ultramarines, 12 of them, hanging out on their ultra-megaginormous battle barge intercept a distress signal from a planet called Mithron. Not a planet of great significance save for a shrine there that holds a chapter codex relic for the Imperial Fists. In true ‘Aliens’ fashion, the squad head planet side to help out and save the artifact from falling into the hands of chaos.

The movie

We begin with a narrative from John Hurt, laying down the background foundation of the universe that this story takes place in, pretty much like you do with any 40K book from Black Library. Hurt’s voice is slightly gravelly and sounds perfect for setting the tone. I possibly start to get a few goosebumps.

We find our Ultramarine heroes (?) sparring in the training hall (I thought they used training ‘cages’?). Brother Proteus (Pertwee) is sparring with Captain Severus. 5 minutes in, and i’m already thinking that Terence Stamp sounds a little flat, almost like he’s bored, but I give it the benefit of the doubt. After concluding their match, the Brother Captain reveals to them their mission, and they all swear fealty to the Emperor upon a giant warhammer that is held in the chapel/training hall. Already I was wishing that there was a full company of marines, and not just this small group. I understand that it makes for more intimate stroy telling, but seeing them rattling around this city sized ship seemed a little odd to me. Anyhoo.

They prepare for battle, we see them in the, umm, locker rooms? being tended to by Servitors who are assisting with their purity seals etc. One attends Captain Severus as the Captain swears his oath of the moment. At this point i’m thinking, ‘hang on, would marines do that to Servitors?’ I thought it would be a chaplain, or a senior officer or something, but a servitor?? We see them checking their weapons, and the heavy bolter dude inscribing his rounds with ‘kill the heretic’. This was a nice touch.

They set off… they make planet fall. They’ve brought a land speeder which scouts off ahead.

There is lots of walking. I mean, lots of walking. All the while there are exchanges between the characters, but honestly I didn’t feel a connection, nor really care for any of them. Proteus comes across slightly whiny, like he’s been scolded for something, and is trying to get back in everyones good books, as the rest of the group seem a little pissed off at him. Its here that you get to see the marines properly, and I did not like the way the legs looked. From the waist up, they look great, but waist down looked to me like they were wearing bell bottoms. It made them look a little top heavy, and made their walking look clumsy and uncoordinated.

They walk, more, seeing fleeting shadows, walk into a warp/sand storm and locate the rocky mountain top they need to ascend to reach the shrine. The landspeeder occupants bite the dust, as they come under attack from Black Legion marines before climbing up to their destination. Their journey reveals all sorts of atrocities perpetrated by the chaos legions in taking the stronghold. This bit was actually pretty cool. The visuals were excellent. (I won’t spoil it for you).

They get to the shrine, only to be attacked by a demon, also, Captain Severus plummets to his death while taking a Black Legion member with him. They locate the room with the artifact, which is being guarded by the remnants of the Imperial Fists force, one battle brother and their chaplain (John Hurt). So they all start back to their extraction point, which of course involves even more walking, all the while private exchanges are being made as to why and how 2 members were able to survive. I had to chuckle, as the word ‘taint’ is used often >snicker<.

Arriving at the extraction point they come under heavy attack from Chaos Space Marines, and suffer casualties. When it looks like they are about to have their asses handed to them Captain Severus appears, apparently unscathed, to save the day. They make it back to their ship. We get a twist in the story here, which I won’t reveal, as it will spoil it, but lets just say I saw it coming lol!

My thoughts

Over all I actually did enjoy it. Its obvious that it has been ‘dumbed’ down so that people who are not gamers and are newcomers don’t get too bogged down in the ‘fluff’. There are some pretty glaring things that those who are into 40K will pick up on, but all in all it didn’t detract from my enjoyment.  The backdrops are well designed, and it does have that dark, gothic, slightly gritty feel to it which is good, as I was expecting it to turn out like Space Crusade or something. I think the voice actors were good choices, even with Terence Stamp sounding like he was ready to fall asleep. I was not a big fan of the marine design, as I mentioned earlier, and I didn’t care much for the apparent groundbreaking technologies they had used for the faces. The marines felt too ‘fragile’ and not the one man tank machines that they are always depicted as. They get thrown around a lot, and I read someone elses review on it elsewhere that said they looked like toys being thrown around by a kid, which I agree with. It did feel like I was watching a feature length episode of Dawn of War.

I hope that this does herald a beginning of 40K or even fantasy features from Games Workshop, lets hope they can deliver more next time, and not spare the horses!

Thanks for sticking with me though my wall of text! I wonder if I too will be spammed by the mysterious GW bot that posts singing praise comments whenever this movie is mentioned…?

Paul

*pretty freaking awesome, general term for something that is good to the nth degree.