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Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Tarakian Patrol Fleet unboxing

So after the right and proper Zenian love I've been showing of late, I thought I'd achieve a small amount of balance by putting up an unboxing of the new Tarakian Patrol Fleet. As ever, this comes with a glossy sleeve with some lovely photography of the SG studio models, with renders and fluff etc on the reverse.

Opening the box, you once again get the models in bubble-wrap bags, parts & tokens in press-seal bags, plus tokens etc. The newer box sets also contain the revised TAC cards with clipped corners and white border.

Getting all the resin out, you get quite a haul;

Now the old Tarakian battleship was quite a brick, and the new one follows that mantra. It is cast as a single-piece hull with drop-ons for the engines and flight pegs (both of which it shares with the cruisers).

Size-wise it is a monolith - here's the hull compared to a standard Chironex cruiser;

As you can see, it completely dwarfs the cruiser! The Tarakian cruisers are two-piece, the main hull and the same drop-on engine sections as mentioned above.

The flight peg piece drops in an insert on the bottom of the cruiser quite nicely - better than the over-large and too-shallow holes the old Sulan had!

A front view - quite how Spartan manage to cast a single piece with this sort of cut-in is beyond me - they're very clever people!

The  cruisers always were short n stumpy, as shown here, but they feel SOLID! There is a great feeling of stability and robustness about the Tarakians (which I suppose fits them well, fleeing from a great, dark, unknown enemy!). Next up in the box are the Frigates, the replacements for the old metal ones;

These are two-piece, the main hull...

...and the engine section.

Very nicely cast and very much in theme with the old models, though on steroids! The frigates are much chunkier than the pewter versions, as is the case for all of the new resin frigate models.

Finally, there are the SRS tokens for the Tarakians;

These look like something out of a 50s sci-fi movie - a flying wing and a Viper! Very nicely done, and I'm sure they'll paint up well (as they have done on the box art).

The Tarakian Patrol fleet is a nice set, which once again makes me marvel at the casting abilities of the SG guys - anyone who's ever tried to make an RTV rubber mould and cast stuff from it will tell you that it's by no means an easy or cheap process. Yet the chaps at SG manage to kick through a great deal of complex, highly detailed resin items with little more than the odd tiny bubble or pour attachment. The Tarakian ships are nicely detailed, and will paint up really well.

So there we have it, a bit of Kurak balance for all those who thought I was purely honing in on the good guys....;-) 

Ba'kash Patrol Fleet & Cruiser Group Unboxing

Courtesy of Mr Fawcett, we are now in possession of a rather nice Ba'kash patrol fleet and cruiser group (natural allies for my Relthoza), so I thought I should return the courtesy by showcasing the products here. First up, the Patrol fleet. As with the other unboxings I've done on here, and all of Spartan's releases over the past year, it follows the standard format of a glossy card sleeve over a sturdy corrugated box. The box art of the Studio models is pretty nice;

On the rear of the box is the usual little bit of fluff, plus overhead renders of the Battle Carrier, destroyers, frigates and SRS tokens.

Opening the box and taking out the contents, we get the usual three card token sheets, a set of the new TAC cards, flight stands, a bag of SRS tokens & arms, and the actual models themselves in bubble-wrap bags.

Delving deeper into the models themselves, we have the Battle Carrier and its six arms plus flight peg attachment (just the one, which was surprising given the size of it), the two destroyers with their single arms and flight peg attachments, and the the five single-piece frigates. We also have the four SRS tokens to round out the set - essential for the Battle Carrier

The Cruiser group follows a similar pattern, just in the smaller size box;

Inside this we find a familiar set of bags containing flight stands, parts and main hulls;

Opening these out we can get all the components for three cruisers - or heavy cruisers;

That's a LOT of arms!

Taking a closer look at the models, starting with the Battle Carrier, we can see just how big they are. Taking a standard Chironex cruiser, you can see just what a brute the Karrak is;

The Destroyer is ;

As you might be able to tell from the picture of the Cruisers above, some of the heavy cruiser arms weren't straight;

Fortunately these "bendy ends" are easily fixed. A cup of boiling water, immerse the part for 15 seconds or so;

Then take out, carefully bend back to straightness and cool. I do this in the kitchen so I can have a cold tap running next to the hot water, then I can bend back into shape and plunge straight under the stream so the part fixes immediately.

There we have the arm, now pretty much straight - certainly without the very pronounced bend it had previously. I only saw this on about 30% of the heavy cruiser arms (and only on the thin end parts), not on the standard arms - these are thick enough, with strengthening "ribs" not to have this problem.

Moving on from the cruisers, the frigates have certainly put on a LOT of weight since the original versions - here they are with the trusty Chironex for comparison;

Given the warping of some of the heavy cruiser arms, I can understand this, and the old frigates were always rather anaemic looking. Personally I'd have preferred a happy medium somewhere between the two, but hey, I'm not complaining!

So overall the Ba'kash are looking good, and continue the quality and themes of recent SG releases. The ships don't have open and closed options anymore, but then these were always a little bewildering previously as there was no MAR to differentiate them in game, and the heavy metal pieces did make constructing them (and keeping them that way) problematic to say the least - a little less flexibility is a small price to pay IMO for the new resin models.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Operation Shadow Hunter unboxing

My forays into Spartan have gradually worn me down to give Dystopian Wars a try - mainly based on some of the utterly gorgeous models that are available. As I'm a newbie to this world, starting off with a 2-player boxed set designed to introduce you to the game seemed like a sensible approach, so enter Operation Shadow Hunter....

O:SH comes in one of Spartan's large boxes, complete with glossy outer sleeve with some nice photographs of the studio models, and some brief intro blurb etc on the rear. Removing the sleeve and opening the box reveals....

Wow. There's not much in the way of spare room in this box! It's absolutely packed with models, tokens, dice, books and cards. One of the things Spartan do well is making you feel you've got a lot of stuff for your money, and O:SH is no exception here! First task is to take everything out of the box and spread it before you like a child on Christmas morning;

So here we have all the models in the standard Spartan bubble-wrap bags, resin tokens, metal components and dice all in press-seal bags, two packs of individually wrapped cards, the O:SH booklet, all the kiss-cut scenery sheets and a full DW 2.0 rulebook. Ignoring all the printed material, any self-respecting resin-crack addict will now unpack all of the models...!!! That's a lot of ships n stuff! I love the way you get two FSA submarines (one surfaced and one submerged), plus two Terror ships (one "ghosted" in clear resin, and one "active"). I'm not sure I'd choose either of these as my standard fleets, but even so the sheer volume of models here is impressive, regardless of whether the aesthetic is your favourite or not.

So after poring over these for a while, you'll probably return to the "other stuff" to have a look.

Three A4 (-ish, I didn't measure them) sheets of kiss-cut scenery in the form of islands, sand banks and atolls/rocks, and three sheets of card tokens and templates. I was slightly surprised that these are not pre-cut like the scenery or other token sets - e.g. the Firestorm Battle for Valhalla 2-player set. Not a major upset, just puzzling given the other precedents.

Anyway, that aside I had a look into the O:SH booklet;

It starts setting the scene for the set, and features some lovely photography of the painted models.

It also gives several scenarios to bring you into the basic mechanics of the game, building up on the different elements.

The last pages are dedicated to the stats for both sets of models.

The other element in the box is the DW2.0 rulebook, which I'll have a proper look at in another blog post.

Overall then, the impression I got from the O:SH 2-player set is very similar to that from the BfV set for Firestorm - it's a nicely presented product which represents good value for money. The models are excellent, beautifully cast pieces as seen across Spartan's range, the printed materials have a quality feel to them and the product seems well thought-out and produced. The inclusion of the full rulebook is a good feature, and you've plenty in the box to give you longevity beyond the starter scenarios. Split between a friend or just for yourself, the product is very good value - the models represent about the same as you'd get with a Battle Flotilla for each nation, so you're essentially getting a discount and the books for free.