Saturday, 31 January 2015

Pendraken Warband Fantasy Army Packs - Hill dwarves - Figures Review

Today a mysterious package arrived from Pendraken Miniatures.  See here for further discussions on that.

However, it included a Hill dwarf army pack for the new Warband fantasy rules.

I thought I'd put up a review of what I found within.

OK, in the interests of full disclosure, I'm the author of Pendraken's Warband rules, but other than that I have no connection to the company - other than being a loyal customer for many years.  My review therefore will contain my own views, unbiased by any agreements or arrangements with Pendraken.

OK, lets get started.  Here's the army pack.


It comes with eight 100x50mm bases, which are the recommended size for units in the Warband rules.  I think it would be useful to include some Minibits dice and dice frames too, but people will no doubt have different views on how to record unit Morale loss.  And I suppose the army packs will be useful for more than Warband, so no worries.


Onto the good stuff though, the figures.  the army pack contains 6 packs of varying size and compostion.  In Warband terms this appears to give you enough for the core units, but will leave you needing to add in additional unit selections from the optional units.  No problem really, as Pendraken couldn't possibly anticipate all the differnt possible army builds.  For wider use you get a solid mass of warriors, a cadre of supporting archers, a command unit, a magic user unit, and some fun stuff - a unit of dwarf hound riders and some artillery (of course!)


The command pack contains five miniatures.  I recognise these from the existing range and this is true across all of these miniatures.  Pendraken appears to have updated its existing stock with resculpts and improvements rather than creating entirely new stuff.  In the brief time I've had to consider this, I actually quite like the idea.  I have a lot of older Pendraken fantasy miniatures and these new improved versions will fit in with that older stuff, while still looking better.  Anyway, here's the five commanders.  I'm still not keen on the standard bearer, and I think I'll do something around converting it to a proper flagpole.  Otherwise these are excellent, well cast figures.


My rating (out of 10)
Pose quality: 6
Pose variation:  10
Sculpting: 7
Casting: 8

The next pack is a small coterie of magic users.  The old dwarf spell casters were a mixed bag really.  The skull-staff chaps I really liked, but the other druid types, not so much.  These appear entirely new figures and jolly fun they are too.  They obviously place great store in magic staffs which is cool, and one reminded me of Tommy Cooper for some reason.  In any case, these are great little minis, well sculpted and cast.  The pack also includes some sort of dolmen or magic rock which has an axe on it.  We all know dwarves worship their axes so this is fun!  Like most of these new packs it's also becoming clear that the breadth of different poses is very impressive.  So far, each figure is different.


Spoon, jar, jar, spoon...hurhurhur...just like that!

My rating (out of 10)
Pose quality: 7
Pose variation:  10
Sculpting: 8
Casting: 9

Hound riders next.  Or dog riders?  Either way they're marvellously bonkers!  These again are upgrades to the older stock, and very good upgrades too.  They are single piece castings, and while in the pack of 12 figures there are three basic 'types' of pose, each individual figure appears to have slightly different details.  Amazing!  The figures are quite static, but i don't expect the stoic dwarf riders are that keen in charging about the place, and carrying a pot-bellied dwarf I reckon the hounds definitely aren't keen.


Charge?  Me?  Don't be a fool.
 
My rating (out of 10)
Pose quality: 6
Pose variation:  8
Sculpting: 7
Casting: 9

Dwarves like artillery right?  We all know this.  Well, Pendraken's Hill dwarf army pack doesn't disappoint on that score.  The artillery pack includes enough ordnance to fill a 100x50mm base, or if you want to thin them out a bit, perhaps add some diorama details, maybe even two.

Here we get two pudgy little bombards, and a couple of flame-embellished cannons.  And enough crew and balls to keep the lead flying.  I've not seen the older dwarf artillery models so I can't compare them, but this lot is excellent.  The sculpts are characterful, the casting clean, and again there's heaps of variation in detail among the various figures.


The number twelve next I think Nori; the number eight bounced off that troll like a castle wall...
 

My rating (out of 10)
Pose quality: 8
Pose variation:  8
Sculpting: 7
Casting: 8

Right, now we're moving into the bulk of the army pack, the core infantry.  First up we have the archers.  Or should if be 'archers' with the Hill dwarves?  After all, the figures in the pack (26 of 'em) are split over three weapon loads - bows, blunderbusses, and...well...we'll come to that.


The archers are excellent figures and Pendraken have finally sorted out their 'stubby bow' problem with the new fixes.  Every archer is a similar pose with different details (helmets, beards, noses, back-shields, etc.) which means no two really look the same.  Excellent work here.

Twanggggg!!!!!  Every one a coconut...
I've always liked the Pendraken dwarves with blunderbusses.  Really nice little miniatures, and this lot have been given a similar revamp.  Loads of variation, so your gun-line will look quite ragtag.  


And then...well...the crossbow models are suffering hte old 'stubby' problem still.  I presume this is something to do with the casting process that means broad 'sideways' protrusions aren't possible so that's always going to be a problem with the crossbows?  Looking at the figure though, I'm thinking it might be a relatively simple conversion to put a cross bar on the front to make the crossbow look better.  This looks like a glitch in an otherwise excellent revamp for the Hill dwarves so far.


My rating (out of 10)
Pose quality: 8
Pose variation:  8
Sculpting: 7 (2 for the crossbows)
Casting: 9

And now...the hooligans.  All 75 of 'em.

The main battleline will be formed by the Hill dwarves close fighting infantry.  You get five basic poses, but as above, within each pose the details are different.  I haven't had a close inspection yet, but it certainly appears that there are basically 75 different figures here.  Again the differences include helmet, beard, minor pose, etc. variations.  If that's right, that's an amazing achievement for Pendraken.


You get two poses of dwarves armed with spears, and both aren't bad.  For me though, dwarves just don't look right with spears.  That's a personal preference of course and these figures are perfectly fine.



This pose is much more my sort of thing.  Stoic dwarves with heave armour and heavy hammers of all different designs.  Very good little figures.


These truimphant chaps are probably easily recognisable from the older range, and they've been updated with better sculpted weapons, and variations such as shields.


And finally another stoic pose with lots of variation in the detail.


My rating (out of 10)
Pose quality: 8
Pose variation:  9
Sculpting: 8
Casting: 9

I think this is where the army pack finishes, and a great little starter army it provides.  however, my bundle included a bunch of extras that will cover some of the optional upgrades in the Warband Hill dwarf army lists.

First up the gyrocopters.  The pack has three in and each pilot appears to be different.  Once again superb variation.  The scults are interesting and the casting super-clean.  In fact across everything I've seen so far, there's almost no flash, no miscasting, and no dull detail.  Excellent.

With the gyrocopters, there is a bit of an issue; when you put the rotor blades on, they appear to clobber the pilot on the head!  I think a small modification to raise them off the body slightly will be worth the effort.



My rating (out of 10)
Pose quality: 8
Pose variation:  7
Sculpting: 6
Casting: 8

And finally, what I presume is a unit of berserkers or perhaps elite warriors.  There are twenty five figures in the pack, with five basic poses.  Again within each pose there is tremendous variation.  Excellent work.

 



And the detail is often incredible - just look at this rune-blade!  Wow!!


My rating (out of 10)
Pose quality: 9
Pose variation:  10
Sculpting: 9
Casting: 9

So, all told, the new sculpts and army pack contents are an excellent start to a Hill dwarf army.  Very impressive.

 

3 comments:

  1. Well done again. I love the runes on the sword in that one pic. Wow... in 10mm no less!

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  2. I had a chat with Leon over at Pedraken about the crossbowmen and gyrocopter tweaks. I think they're going to look at fixing those minor issues.

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