Monday, December 28, 2015

Kingdom Death multi-part kits: their place alongside the other KD models and miniature gaming as a whole

In addition to creating the single-pose starting survivors and the monsters for them to battle, one of the main drives of the Kingdom Death Kickstarter was to design multi-part plastic kits for creating new survivor models. After defeating each of the different monsters in the game, your survivors are able to craft new weapons and equipment with the remains of their slain foes. To represent this in model form, they created a range of different multi-part sets with different weapon options and armor types that could be crafted in the game (Rawhide armor, Leather armor, Lantern armor, White Lion armor, Phoenix armor, Unarmored). This system was designed to allow players to continually build new models of their survivors as they progress in the campaign.

Making an all-encompassing multi-part kit is a challenge
A strength of the Kingdom Death game is the huge variety of armor and weaponry that you can experiment with as you collect resources from slain monsters. Making a set of multi-part kits that allows you to include all of these different options, in whatever combination you choose, would be an extremely challenging endeavor for any modelmaker. And while a valiant effort was made towards accomplishing this goal, I do not think they did anything beyond an adequate job. Like with all multi-part kits, the added freedom provided by the multi-part nature of the models limits the dynamism of the poses that you can achieve. Without a lot of modification, most of the multi-part miniatures have an “I’m standing here” vibe, which is a far cry from many of Kingdom Death’s non multi-part models. The original 4 starting survivor models are not in overly dynamic poses, but they have a subtle and natural feel, something that would be hard to achieve with the multi-part kits. The game provides an Unarmored kit to make additional starting survivors, but it would be challenging to make anything that comes close to the quality of the 4 non multi-part starting survivors.

The difference in quality between the non multi-part and multi-part models is astounding, to the point I question why the multi-part ones were even made.
A problem with proportions
Aside from the uninspired posing options inherent in the multi-part kits, a lot of the proportions on the pieces do not seem entirely correct. For one, all of the heads appear to be slightly too small. Most of the hands on the models look a little awkward. They were designed to have a ball and socket joint at the wrist to attach them to the arms. In order to incorporate this joint, the arms end up looking too elongated.   

An example of a female survivor built from the multi-part kits with no modification. It is as though they needed to make the sword so large to compensate for her unsubstantial and spindly arms and legs.

Both the male and female torsos are well proportioned
I was pleased to see that many of the torsos provided in the kits have a realistic thickness to them. This is particularly encouraging for the female torsos, as miniature gaming (and fantasy settings, in general) tend to make females unrealistically slender. And while some of the female torsos are very well endowed in the breast department, this is not the case with all of the torsos. While not an issue with proportion, the female clothing on the kits often shows some cleavage, and the ever present “boob window” makes an appearance on a number of pieces, but some male torsos also have exposed chests, as well.

The legs and arms of the female models are not suitably muscled
While the kits have done a largely admirable job with the torsos, the arms and legs are not as favorable. This is particularly noticeable with many of the female legs and arms, which tend to be overly stylized and frail. While you would expect the female arm muscles to be less pronounced than those of the males, many of the female arms are so spindly that they look exceedingly awkward on the more reasonably designed torsos. In many cases, you could use the male arms on your female models and nothing would look out of place.

Notice the lack of muscle definition on the female arms (1st & 3rd) compared to the male arms, ill suited to the world of KD.

The male legs have noticeably defined and toned muscles, whereas most of the female legs have no discernible definition to the muscle, and are smooth and curved (more in line with what one would expect from a Photoshopped image of a swimsuit model). This does not fit with the sort of physique that would be present on individuals who would be constantly using those muscles to survive the rigors of the nightmarish world of Kingdom Death. To rectify this problem, many of the male legs look perfectly appropriate attached to the female torsos.

The male leg muscles are clearly defined, while the female legs are hopelessly long and smooth, lacking any detail. The outfits between the two are similar, but take note of the shorter skirt on the female, and the “obligatory” showing of cleavage.
Miniature gaming tends to populate itself with idealized and shapely women with exceptional battle prowess, which creates a fantasy that is at odds with the sort of body types that would likely be found on realistic fighting women. I think that the inadequate legs and arms on many of the female pieces in these kits is due to this tendency. The more realistic take on the torsos makes the insubstantial arms and legs all the more noticeable and glaring.

All of the weaponry is at least two sizes too large
Moving past the posing and proportions of the miniatures, I would be remiss if I did not say anything about the weaponry. Nearly all of the weapons in the kits are comically oversized, making them look absurd on the models. Interestingly, many of the other Kingdom Death models have more reasonably sized weapons, making those in the multi-part kits even more of an eyesore.

Oversized weapons are common in fantasy settings, but Kingdom death is the worst offender in recent memory.

A challenge: building a nice model with the multi-part kits
With all the shortcomings of the multi-part Survivor kits, we decided to challenge ourselves to construct a neat model using the kits. By using some of the nicer pieces from all of the kits, we wanted to try to create a single survivor that could stand alongside all of the excellent single pose survivors miniatures. We did not want to concern ourselves with confining ourselves to one kit due to petty rules considerations, but just wanted to try to make the coolest model that we could!

In order to give the model more realistic musculature, both male legs and arms were used.
The helmeted head was actually designated as a male head, though the hair was added to help increase the size of the head. The model was equipped with a dagger, the smallest and most reasonably sized weapon available with the kits.
I do not think there is any comparison as to which is the better model.

Passing the challenge on to others
Having built a miniature from the kits, we thought it would be fun to see what other hobbyists can come up with. So, we are planning to send all of the unused pieces to someone from the online modelling community and seeing what they can build. Afterwards, the remaining pieces will be sent to someone else to give them a chance, and continue that process. Hopefully we can then collect images of all the created models on the blog to show off what can be done with the multipart kit! Stay tuned for more developments on this project!

- Greg Wier


  1. Interesting comparison of the multi-pose figures with the mono-pose ones. I suppose that many gamers (this one included) have been rather seduced over the years with the opportunity to customize figures using multi-pose figures that we have to a certain extent stopped noticing how... weird some of the resultant poses can be.

    GW itself seem to have realized this, and has responded with more and more paired arms, restricted poses, and with mono-pose multipart characters.

    As for the figure you have built, you have done an excellent job of making the second female figure both "female" and realistic, something that clearly the stock kits struggle with.

    1. Thank you for the comment and the kind words about the model. Awkward posing is certainly an unintended side effect of multi-part models. I feel that this can usually be avoided if you are mindful of the problem.

      You are right that GW has started to shift away from making kits with as much posing freedom. I think some of this might also be to make assembly quicker for those who are more concerned with getting the models together quickly and getting them into games. The monopose character models burst into the scene with a host of characters made by the venerable Brian Nelson, and I think really set the precedence for excellent monopose character models. And while you don’t have options for posing, they are often in more dynamic poses than what you could achieve with most multi-part kits. Since the character models are plastic, they are fairly easy to work with and modify. Many of these character models have really been embraced by the Inq28 community and have led to some awesome conversions (Brian Nelson’s bloated Nurgle champion comes to mind as a heavily utilized model).

  2. Nice review, are you guys planning on getting the multipart malifaux models?

    1. I am glad that you enjoyed the review! We have been considering getting the Malifaux multi-part kit for awhile now. There is a surprising lack of information about it on the internet. Your inquiry has inspired us to finally get the kit.