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Saturday, 26 September 2015

The Hub Systems Episode 1 - Firestorm Armada

Well The Hub Systems Episode 0 seems to have gone down well - thank you all for your supportive messages and positive comments, it's really nice to see! This time we're talking about Firestorm Armada, why we enjoy it, it's background and play style, models and races.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Planetfall Unboxing - RSN Assault Helix

Quite some time ago I acquired the RSN Assault Helix for Planetfall, but with a busy summer it's had to wait until now for airing.

Opening the box we are greeted with the usual Spartan bubble bags, and there's not much space left inside!

Eager as ever to get our hands on the actual resin, the little bags don't resist for long...

We'll start with the smallest elements first, since they're single piece (though very well executed) - the light tanks. You get six of them in the set.

These are nice little models, and I love the way they are very similar in several aspects to the old Dindrenzi Daggers from Firestorm invasion.

So, these are nice models, but they're not why you've bought this set, am I right? Next is the Temple of Dramos.... (just placed together here...not glued!)

Now I'm in two minds about this model...I'm really not sure if I like it or not. It's very thematic, but it plays to one element of the RSN which has always been a fringe one, and it seems a bit too impractical in many ways for them - their ships in Firestorm are not fetishised in any way, yet here you have a combat model which has large sculpted angels on's cool, but I'm just not sure how it sits with me...I'm firmly "on the fence"!

The model itself is made of several pieces

The base (here it's upside-down)

The legs/stands...four of them that fit onto the underside of the base element... so

 Turning the base over, you have two areas for the vertical sections

Which are here, and fit in place.... so

You then have the Dramos Angel statue piece, hcih sits between them.... it's just placed on top, it actually sits flush - but be careful that you mount it at the same time as the vertical sections, as the angles on the sides mean you can't put it in place if you glue the sides on first.

But you probably didn't buy this set for the temple either - even if you love it. What you probably bought the set for is...

The Avenging Robot! Yes, this Gundam-esque beast is the real reason you bought the RSN Assault Helix. It's a stylised human-robot with wings, missiles and a big sword. It's a combination of resin and metal, and it has a degree of being posable.

The chest section is slightly iron-man, with a central piece very mush like a power core and thick armour plates.

The head is white metal, and very stylised, which I like. The ball and socket jointing allows this to be put at almost any angle

The arms are both single piece, reducing the flexibility of poses somewhat but I think anything else would have made the model too fiddly. The Left arm comes with a cluster-rocket pack.

The right with the huge sword (which I think is a leviathan CQB weapon)

The legs are also one-piece, though these and the arms are all ball and socket jointed to the body, allowing a lot of variation in build. The legs contain rocket motors, and I like the feet that have flipped back into "flight mode" would be nice to see some variant arms and legs in future for variation too - a standing version would be cool.

Finally, the wings and flight stand insert are white metal pieces that both attach to the central body, and both have some variation - the flight peg holder is ball and socketed, so you can have your robot flying in different ways, and the wings and scored to allow them to be bent back slightly at an angle (be careful though a the last thing you want to do is snap them!).

I've already assembled mine and sprayed it gold - this is a statement by the RSN of man's supremacy, to hearten its allies to fight and to strike terror into the hearts of the alien scum that oppose it! I'm looking forward to finishing tell me how many grown men are going to be doing the exact same thing, and then flying it around their games room making pew pew noises?!?

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Aerial Helix Unboxings - Alliance of Kurak Core Races

For the second part of the Planetfall Aerial Helix unboxings we have the ships of the Kurak Alliance Core races. You may have seen a sneak peak of the Terrans already in the last painting update, but we'll cover those again anyway. Given that, we may as well tackle them first...

Opening the box and getting to the resin we have four interceptors and one heavy interceptor, the first requiring only their jet exhaust adding, the heavy requiring two of these plus having a rear-mounted pod as well.

The models are nicely moulded with a minimum of casting flash, the heavy just needing the pouring lugs cutting off, which are nicely located where the exhausts will be glued - always nice to see a manufacturer thinking about this sort of thing in its production methods - kudos to you, Martin and your team! 

Taking a closer look at the interceptor, I rather like the "just in the future" look of these vehicles, they're very sleek and compact, and are a nice contrast to the Hawker planes, which i also really like. I also like how they are essentially the same as the SRS tokens from Firestorm...a nice little tie-in.

Underneath the models lose nothing in the way of detail, having six detailed missiles sculpted on, and with an integral flight stand holder.

Moving onto the heavy, again I really like the look of this, though I'm not sure it really screams "interceptor" to looks like a ground attack and transport craft, but that's just my interpretation. 

 Detail on this model is superb, there's even a hatch sculpted into the underside to where the pod fits - very cool.

The pod itself is a bit of a mystery to me, it makes the whole thing feel a little like Thunderbird 2 - which while being no bad thing, again it doesn't personally chime with the interceptor theme. It's very nice though - I half expect it to launch out a couple of jetbikes or something!

OK, onto the aliens, specifically the Aquans

The Aquans are getting some very cool stuff in Planetfall (as they have in Armada), and the aerial helix is no exception

The five ships you get are all one-piece, the simplest in any of the helix boxes, but don't let that fool you in any way...these are not simplistic or basic in any way. The designs are beautiful, elegant and menacing at the same time.

The interceptors are sweet models, instantly recognisable as Aquan and they tie in extremely well with the existing Planetfall releases.

The Heavy interceptor is one of my favourite models from this release, it's like the interceptors but looks faster and meaner. It has lovely flowing lines and the sculpting is fantastic...10/10 for the Aquans I think!

Last (and for me, the least) for the Kurak Alliance are the Sorylians.

Now, I don't hate this box, it just puzzles me slightly...especially given the models that SG have just announced for the ground attack helix for the Sorylians. First, let's have a look at what you get in the box...'s a lot of stuff! Each of the interceptors is a six-piece model;

So there's the central pod, the two engines, two "winglets" and the flight stand holder insert. That gives us pod racers. Hmmmm. Now, it's an ok concept I guess, but again I'm looking at this with my suspension of disbelief eye...the rider is exposed, and even in a future with shields and power armour, this just seems unnecessary for such a practical and pragmatic race as the Sorylians. One possible answer would be that the lack of a physical cockpit gives the pilot an unprecedented field of view...but that argument is really shot down (excuse the pun) by the TERRIBLE field of view this guy is going to have whilst hunched over the controls - his forward vision is a measly 20 degrees between those pods, his forward down FOV is about the same. Again, you could argue that in the far future instruments will provide all this data, but in that case why have him exposed at all? Simply put, I'd prefer this model if the pods were under the line of the fuselage and in line with the pod. Having seen renders opf the ground attack ships, that's kinda what I'd expect of the interceptors. In fact, in all probability we'll simply swap with these models - these simply look and feel more like ground attack craft than interceptors.

Now that's not to say that these are not bad sculpts, by the way - as always, the execution of the designs and moulding is second-to-none - the pods in particular have some fabulous detail, and will really benefit from some nice painting.

The Heavy Interceptor, in stark contrast, is GREAT. It has a solid, purposeful design, looks Sorylian and has some great engineering features - like separated engine nacelles and the FOD guards on the intakes.There's also no discernable canopy, which further highlights the oddity of the pod racer design of the interceptor. 

casting on this model is also fabulous, again Spartan blow me away with how they cast items like this in a single piece and retain the complexity and detail of the designs - masterful!

Overall, the aerial helixes are again a somewhat mixed bag, though with 5/6 designs being absolutely top-notch that's not a bad win rate. The Sorylian pod racers are another "quirky" design that will be another marmite design choice that may put people off, though I think it's modular design and overall quality mean that it'll be easy to assemble into another, non-pod racer configuration. Spartan get it right more often than not, and their high standard of output has led us to expect an awful lot from them...we're lucky people really!