Thursday, February 14, 2013

DreamForge Plastic Leviathan Crusader: Initial Impressions

I first heard about the miniatures of DreamForge Games a little over a year ago on the wonderful gaming blog The Eye of Error.  He had gotten ahold of one of their Leviathan Mortis resin kits.  I was intrigued by the kit and felt it could easily serve as a Knight class titan or function as a suitable stand-in for a Warhound.  The limited production runs and high price tag (close to that of Forge World’s Warhound titan) of the DreamForge kits made purchasing one infeasible for me, however.

That all changed late last year when DreamForge began a Kickstarter campaign to produce the Crusader variant of the Leviathan in plastic for under $100.  They easily exceeded their $30,000 goal, reaching an impressive $205,971. This gave them the resources to make the Mortis variant in plastic as well, along with a host of alternative weapon options.  I jumped at the chance to get another titan for Apocalypse-style games (when one titan goes to war, it needs another to oppose it!).

I had been receiving steady updates over the last two months about the production and eventual shipment of all of the Crusader kits from China.  Last week I got word that they were finally being shipped to the Kickstarter backers and I got a UPS tracking number.   I am excited to say that the kit arrived in the mail today!  This is going to be the first post in a series chronicling my assembly of the Crusader.  In this first post, I am going to talk a bit about my initial impressions of the kit.

Let me assure you, it is an impressive kit.  Just from the packaging, you know it is something special.  Every element of the kit emphasizes the passion and thought that went into making it.  Although Games Workshop is still the master of plastic miniatures, they can learn a lot from DreamForge.  The box is made of a nice, thick card stock, that opens to a thick piece of foam to insulate the many plastic sprues within.  

The model comes with a large round base and a little name plaque.
Removing this reveals a color fold-out instruction manual and two large stacks of sprues, neatly held together with rubber bands.  The sprues have a simple interlocking design consisting of small legs protruding from each corner.  These fit nicely into recessed grooves in the following sprue.  It is a small addition, but it ensures that each piece is not crushed against one-another during shipping (a feature GW kits would benefit from, as their finely detailed pieces are often scuffed and deformed)

The packaging in the kit is top notch, boasting some nice foam inserts to protect the contents!

Beneath these sprues comes a cardboard spacer that covers a plastic box which contains many of the kit’s finer parts and pins, in addition to the titan’s helmet.  To my surprise, it also has a bag of screws and a small screwdriver (many of the pieces are assembled with screws).

Some of the parts that came in the plastic case.
All of the sprues and parts are designated a letter and series of numbers, which correspond to the instruction manual.  The manual looks detailed and thorough, although I will let you know how well it stands up when I am actually building it.  I have only just started to work with some of the pieces, and was relieved to discover that the kit is made of high quality plastic similar to what GW uses (thankfully nothing like what the Mantic Dreadball models are cast with).  It seems slightly harder than GW plastic, but it still cuts easily with an x-acto blade, and the moldlines can be quickly scraped from the pieces with the back of the blade (without getting badly scratched, requiring extensive sanding to fix).  The hardness, coupled with the way pieces attach to the sprue makes them extremely easy to remove with a clippers without tearing the plastic.  GW’s sprues taper as they approach the actual part, while the Crusader kit has the sprue round off and then extend to the part on a fine rod of plastic.  This allows them to be clipped very close to the actual model without it damaging it.  It is a subtle change, but one that make trimming and removing the pieces from the sprue quicker and easier.  Thus far, the entire kit seems to benefit from many small improvements like this.

The spacers on the corner of the sprues were an excellent addition.
The composition of the plastic and the way
the pieces attach to the sprue make them easy to remove.

In addition to the main Crusader kit itself,  I was also sent a variant sword arm and a second gattling cannon arm to replace the sword arm entirely.  Impressively, the arms for the Leviathan are designed to twist off, so that they are easy to replace (a feature that would greatly benefit the Forge World Titans).  They also included a different generator to replace the archaic looking torch-style power pack that comes standard with the kit (the new one looks very reminiscent to the generators that power Dreadnoughts).  Finally, I was also given two smaller soldier models.  One a female soldier with a sniper rifle of some sort, the other an armoured warrior leading a chained beast.  Both look nice, finely detailed and tiny in comparisons to the lumbering Crusader.
Ada and the Shadokesh mock-ups.
Ada and the Shadokesh in pieces.
All told, I have been very impressed with my first hour or so with the kit.  It is clear that DreamForge is passionate about what they are doing, and are striving to do all in their power to make the best models possible.  I cannot wait to start trimming and assembling the titan in earnest.  I will keep you informed as I progress.  Let me know if you have any questions!

-Godwyn Fischig

Read more about the assembly process!


  1. Can't wait to see the progress on this one!

    1. Yeah, I am hard at work on the legs (which are probably the most complex part of the kit), and hope to have a new post about it in the next few days. But I will say that it has been a pretty smooth assembly; the instructions are pretty clear and everything goes together nicely.