Monday, February 29, 2016

Wrath of Kings: Orsund Cavalier unboxing and assembly impressions

Terror from the Deep!

We are always excited to work with models from miniature companies other than Games Workshop.  It is particularly neat to see what sort of innovations they bring to the hobby.  The market is virtually flooded with new games, so it can be difficult to keep track of everything.  We were excited to see that one of the blogs that we follow, Screwed Up Dice, was beginning an ambitious and collaborative hobby project centered around Cool Mini or Not’s Wrath of Kings.  The project, called A Tale of Wrath, is a spiritual successor to the seminal run of articles in White Dwarf back in 1998, called A Tale of Four Gamers.  This series chronicled four hobbyists’ efforts to start and continue building a new Warhammer Fantasy army over the course of six months, playing games throughout the process, and culminating in a tournament.  Screwed Up Dice is putting a new spin on this idea by changing the game system to Wrath of Kings (a non-GW game), and opening the project up to the entire world, encouraging anyone to signup and start building an army.  Although we realized that we would not have the time to participate in the project properly (the Pilgrym Project is occupying our time almost completely), it was hard not to get caught up in Screwed Up Dice’s enthusiasm, so we decided we should get a few Wrath of Kings models and let everyone know what we think!

Looking over the Wrath of Kings range, I ended up selecting Hadross, a race of aquatic beings that, through various magicks, were able to wage war on land as well as in the ocean.  I chose them partly because they looked to be the most visually distinct force, but also because they would be suitable proxies for Dark Mariners in Antimatter’s Deep Wars skirmish game, which I play now and again.  I did a video unboxing of the model, which should be linked below, but other than looking at the components, I was not able to discuss how easy it was to work with the material, which I will do now.

Wrath of Kings models are made of PVC rather than polystyrene

Other than their weapons, which are cast in a polystyrene reminiscent to GW or Wyrd, Wrath of Kings models are primarily composed of PVC plastic, similar to Warmachine and older Mantic models.  The material holds detail quite well but, similar to resin, it will occasionally contain bubbles.  Working with the material again, I must say that I am not a huge fan of it.  Although I do not think it is as difficult to work with as Mantic’s restic, the material is pretty similar.  I think a lot of my reservations with the material are due to my lack of experience working with it, rather than it being terrible in its own right.  I have spent almost 20 years working with GW’s brand of polystyrene, and have gotten pretty comfortable with it and getting it to do what I want.

All the components of the box, including an extra rider and set of tentacles. 

Techniques that work for GW’s  polystyrene do not on PVC

When assembling a model, I meticulously remove every moldline, taking special care to sand down each area afterwards, such that it is not evident there was ever was a moldline.  Most models are too small to easily get sandpaper into the little armor segments, joints, and other details, which is why I rely so heavily on an x acto blade.  Normally, I use the blade to carefully cut away the moldlines, and then use dull back part of the blade to lightly “scrape” over the area that I just cut.  This scraping allows me to smooth out/sand the area.  The tip of the blade is thin enough that I can reach virtually every area of a model with this technique, even if sand paper would not.  This technique simply does not work with PVC plastic.  While you can cut the moldlines off just fine, scraping along them, to make the area seamless and flush, does not work; instead it tears up the plastic slightly.  And just like GW models, the Wrath of Kings models are small enough that you simply cannot get sandpaper into each area to fix this.

The Orsund is quite an imposing model, all tentacles and a vicious maw.  

Tamiya Extra Thin Cement works incredibly well for cleaning up trimmed PVC moldlines

To get around this issue, you simply need to be even more precise with all of your cutting, using sandpaper whenever possible.  This, however, takes an inordinate amount of time, and despite the effort, often little filings of plastic and rough patches persist in hard to reach areas.  Thankfully, I discovered that thin plastic cement (I use Tamiya Extra Thin Cement) works fantastically for cleaning up these problem areas, though it is not good for assembling PVC models.  Just “painting” a thin coat of the cement over the rough area of PVC subtly “melts” the area smooth.  While time consuming, I was able to go back to all the areas that I could not get sandpaper to grind smooth, and just applied a small amount of Tamiya Extra Thin Cement.  This made the model look substantially better, and I think was worth the time, but ultimately, I wish I could just use my trusty X-acto blade, like I have been using for years.

I should emphasize that the concerns I voiced above about PVC models are only really a problem if you are a perfectionist; I believe many people would be happy to just cut away the most noticeable mold lines, not bothering to sand anything, and assemble them.  The models are compelling enough, that even a rather hasty build would result in them looking quite nice.  Most people, after all, are not going to be scrutinizing every single model with a magnifying glass, and simply want them assembled so they can start playing the game.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with this.  I, however, get the most enjoyment out of the hobby by carefully assembling models, sanding each piece, and using green stuff to fill even the smallest seam, so a company's choice between using PVC or polystyrene means a lot to me.

I had to do quite a lot of green stuff work to fill in gaps created by adding the tentacles and his bulbous head.

Assembly is easy, but green stuff is needed to fill in gaps

Despite the arduous task of removing the moldlines, the trimmed pieces go together easily.  The tabs/pegs on each piece are cut differently such that you cannot assemble it incorrectly.  Unfortunately, assembly often results in major gaps and seams that need to be filled with green stuff.  This might not be as much of an issue for humanoid figures, but the orsund kraken had many unsightly gaps.  The bases that come with the models are similar to the round slotted bases seen in Warmachine and Malifaux, however, there is a more substantial indentation in the center of the base.  I am not sure what the purpose of this was; ultimately, I would have prefered something more traditional, but it is not a big issue.

The model is quite large, and while it came with a base, it has a deep recess in it so I decided not to use it.

Overall, Wrath of Kings has a lot going for it.  It has free rules, which are quite straight-forward and easy to learn.  It also has has five colorful factions with a host of interesting model.  I don’t necessarily like all of them, some are a little generic looking, but few of the models fit into standard fantasy tropes.  Also, the models are relatively affordable, with excellent starting boxes for each army, that contain a vast assortment of miniatures.  I only wish Cool Mini or Not had spent the extra money to cast all of their figures in polystyrene.  It would make the prospect of me building an army a lot more palatable.  I am still very happy with my Orsund Cavalier, and would strongly encourage anyone who is remotely interested in Wrath of Kings to get a few models, and think about joining Screwed Up Dice’s A Tale of Wrath.  I do not think there was ever a better time to give the game a shot!

- Eric Wier


  1. Hi Eric,

    I just stumbled onto your blog. I like what I've seen so far :)

    This Kraken mini looks ace, but it looks to be already out of stock on the CMoN website. It's a little too dear for me anyway, but I'd love to have one none the less.

    I like your honest review style, noting that your negative aspects of the mini may not be an issue for others. I'll be checking through the rest of your blog history for the next few hours I think.

    Cheers :)

    1. Thanks! I am glad you found the blog. I feel that everyone has their own goals as a hobbyist, as well as their own preferences, which make certain models easier for certain people. PVC certainly is not my favorite material, after so many years with GW plastic, but I can certainly work with it.

      I hope you enjoy looking at the rest of the blog if you have the time! There are quite a few "impression/review" posts about models from various companies, as well as a lot of posts focusing primarily on conversions we are doing!