Sunday, December 28, 2008

Gamer Apathy

Frak me!
Man am I steamed... today was supposed to be the annual Cities if Death Tournament. I started running this event annually at [the now closed] Checkpoint Charlie's the year Cityfight came out. With the loss of Checkpoint, Thor at Mighty Miniatures, with the help of Nick Daniels, kindly agreed to continue the "tradition". I was pumped to be playing CoD again, as it has some great scenarios and 1250pts on a 4x4 makes for a fun 90 minute game (which means you can play 5 in a day easily).
This morning only TWO players show at at MM. After months of whining about the lack of tourneys going on locally, and then "demanding" we run more events, the locals don't show. WTF? Well that pretty much kills tournament gaming on a monthly basis in Vancouver; other than the mediocre GW events (one per system per quarter) no store is running regular events. Why should they bother? Players seem not to want to support their stores when they do put one on. Sure I don't go out monthly like I used too, but there are LOTS of other players who want events. Oh well, f**k 'em...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

GW plastic Drop Pods - tips when assembling

I'm on my 6th drop pod now... and I think I've finally worked out the best way to put the cool little blighters together! The GW instructions on paper are, as usual, quite vague (I really do think that they should have a "novice" do a test run before they write those instructions!). The GW-US on-line guide is pretty good, but I found it is missing a couple of pointers:
  • a lot of people have commented that their doors don't close all the way up. On the outer door panel piece, at the bottom (near the hinge) there is a rather heavy mold line. Scrape this off before assembly (or use a needle file after!) and the door will close perfectly (assuming you don't have the wings in the way...).
  • when assembling the restraint blocks there is one you need to pay particular attention to. On the frame with the pod's base on it you'll find the "Sergeant's restraint block" (Part No 4). The harnesses that are on the sprue with that block ONLY fit on that block (one of them has a skull on it). Make sure you get them the right way round...
  • in the on-line instructions, Stage 15, it states "... When you are happy with the position, glue it into place.". I think this is too vague! If you want the gun pivot to, well pivot, only apply glue to the end of the post, and the hole it will nest in.
Hope those help; I'll keep on updating this post as I find more problems.
If you have any more issues you have found, leave a comment, and I may add it to the main body of the post.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Resin bases - a Review: Dragon Forge Design

So continuing my fetish for resin bases...
I took delivery this weeks of a smallish order of custom resin bases from Dragon Forge Design. Dragon Forge Design (DFD) is run by Jeff Wilhelm, a multiple Golden Daemon (and Slayer "Plaque") winner.
For full disclosure I know Jeff fairly well, whilst I'd not call him a "buddy" we have chatted on many occasions about painting, and more recently about his developing company.
Aside from producing bases for us mere mortals, Jeff is a free-lance-sculptor-for-hire type, with MANY years experience in the industry. Jeff also asked that I do a review of his bases.

As well as my "regular" AdeptiCon force (using the Back 2 base-ix bases), I'm working on a "Deathwatch" army for the Gladiator event (as there are no official Deathwatch rules I'm using the Space Marine Codex, with some self imposed limitations to keep in theme).My "other" Inquisitional armies are already mounted on a fairly standard gravel/wasteland-based scheme. Wanting to "match" these, but have something better than my dull basing, I took a good looks at DFD's products.
Over the past few year DFD have been building up fairly impressive range of square, round and lipped bases. The greatest advantage, for me, is the inclusion of bike, attack bike and 5" bases. It seems logical, but as far as I can tell DFD is the only company to offer a FULL range of base sizes for 40K.
Browsing the site I decided on the "Wasteland" theme; with a mixture of Desert Wasteland and Wasteland 2 I can integrate my new army into my existing forces without base "matching" issues. I duly ordered the following:

30x 25mm Urban Wasteland, 3x 60mm Wasteland II, 5x 40mm Urban Rubble Wasteland, 10x 24mm Desert Wasteland, and a Wasteland II "heroic" set.

DFD's bases arrived a short while later (the advantage of ordering from one's own continent!). They arrived neatly packed in zip lock bags (I recycle these for my eBay sales...) and in a sturdy cardboard box. No damage this time round!
As you can see there is almost no flashing. All the bases needed was a quick once around with a soft sanding pad. This took off the minor burrs with no effort. The bases then got the usual bath in warm soapy water, and primer was applied (Rust-oleum brand again). I won't waste bandwidth with a picture of them primered grey!

Inspecting the bases I could not find a SINGLE defect in casting - no air bubbles, no cracks, no blobbing... quite something! I don't know what Jeff's tricks are but I suspect he "tops" his molds with a glass sheet when the resin is curing, as the backs had no excess resin. I don't think he casts under pressure as I found a couple of air bubbles on the bottom; he may use a thin resin that had a long cure time - the lack of casting errors suggest this.

So, in summary:
Dragon Forge Designs
US based...
Near perfect selection of products in both round, round lipped and square.
Shipping is fixed cost- packaging is excellent, and I had no problems with damage
Payment via PayPal (even GW does this now, so it can't be all that bad!).
Resin quality is excellent, production quality is prefect - no defects in the ~60 bases I received.
No repetition in designs - 10 unique bases in a pack of 10...
Cost is good; 25mm bases run at US$1, 40mm at US$1.50. Whilst the per unit cost is higher, the fixed rate shipping compensates for this (so buy in bulk!). The quality of the bases is totally justified by the price point; I have yet to find a manufacturer that can match DFD for quality and design.

Overall I give Dragon Forge Designs a A++

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Resin bases - a Review: Back2Base-ix

I recently took delivery of an order from Back 2 Base-ix. There are a lot of companies out there right now that make resin bases so the rationale for choosing one over another is very individual. This order was placed as a "group" decision. The team going to AdeptiCon spent about a week looking at what was out there. For better or for worse we made our choice; I thought I would share my review of the bases with you...
From their web site "Based in Adelaide, Australia, Back 2 Base-ix® Wargaming Products serves both the national and international wargaming community with quality cast polyurethane resin castings." The fact that they are based (haha) in Australia would potentially put a number of people off. However I've found this NOT to be an issue.
I placed two orders with them; the first was a "look see", the second (which obviously meant that their product was suitable!) was a larger order. I ordered from the "Ruins" and "Rubble" ranges. Their list of ranges is VERY extensive, with great support in all the standard base sizes. The only areas they are lacking in (for 40K) is bike and "monster" (the CD size) bases.
I had a minor issue with my first shipment; B2Bix uses "reinforced" paper envelopes - the first shipment got ripped open, and my 60mm bases were lost. They kindly offered to replace, but they would not cover the shipping charge! I deferred replacement to my next order.
This is the collection from the two orders:

Left to right: 5x 40mm Rubble, 20x 25mm Rubble, 70x 25mm Ruins, 9x 60mm Ruins/Rubble.
As you may be able to see one of the 60mm Rubble bases was broken.

There is also a large amount of excess resin on the bases (i.e. mold overflow). This can be a major issue with some people as removing this "flash" is not routine! It is a total P.I.T.A., and I'm fortunate enough to have a rotary sander and a vacuum system for dust removal... and dust control, this is essential when dealing with resin as this stuff will cause a lung inflammatory response if inhaled for long periods. ALL the bases needed some sort of clean up - be it the bottom, or the sides. Many companies will have done this for you, or cast with a "cap" over the mold to squeeze out the excess resin (one I like in particular is Epicast, who use a "nogahide" patterned material on the bottom of their bases during casting - this also increases base friction on the table!). The resin itself is good quality - hard, no soft spots (indicative of old resin batches or poor mixing). There seemed to be a lot of air bubbles though. I'm not filling them all, but it is suggestive of a reduced Teflon coverage of the mold, and not casting under pressure.
After cleaning up the resin the bases got a double bath is warm soapy water; this removed the potentially dangerous resin dust, and also cleans off the mold release that could inhibit primer adhesion. After drying the bases were sprayed with grey primer (Rustoleum brand).

I've started to mount the models for this army project, and pictures will follow soon.

So, in summary:
Australian based...
Great selection of products in both round and square.
Shipping is by weight (my 2 shipments totaled ~AUS$30) - packaging needs improvement.
Charges in AUS$!
Payment via PayPal (good!).
Resin quality is good, production quality is fair.
Minimal repetition in designs
Cost is excellent! 25mm bases run at ~40c Australian - this in a ridiculously low charge, and may reflect the "speed" casting, lack of clean up and shipping by weight.

Overall I give Back2Base-ix a B+

Monday, December 1, 2008

Damn You AdeptiCon!

Just getting caught up after my weekend in Banff and I see the rules for AdeptiCon 2009 are up... and they have changed.
Lots of armies have been removed from the allowed list (GW's influence no doubt), including the WH Zealots. I've been collecting these OOP models for 2 years now, and had enough accumulated from my army list.
Thanks Guys!

Now I have to pop them off the resin bases that I bought from B2B-ix... find a new army design, and maybe change the entire team balance/makeup with Rob, Trent and Eric...