Saturday, 28 May 2011

Citadel Finecast Captain Stern Review

So today I wandered down to Warhammer World to pick up a Captain Stern to finish my little Grey Knights force (all metal, except Stern, who I forgot to buy back in the day). It has to be said, I expected QA issues, and I wasn't disappointed.

The clear back of packaging on the blisters/clamshells is essential. It took FIVE packs (this being the sixth) before I found a model that didn't have either pieces of torn mould material caught in places, air bubbles or vents obscuring detail, or other fairly obvious casting flaws. I wanted to review the best of the bunch. This is it.

As ever, click any of the images for a larger view.

I would not expect ANY flaws of this type on a professionally produced and QA'd miniature.

1) Warping of parts requiring resculpt or putty work. The face needed a tweak to the nose, and the lens on the armour was so far off circular, it had to be remade.

2) Large bubbles requiring resculpting work. Particularly the bottom of the feet, and corner of the cloak. Some of these are actually quite tricky to spot without having the model off the sprue.

I would expect to see one or two of these on a decent quality miniature. By comparison, Forgeworld casts I've worked on usually have three or four instances.

1) Vent points obscuring detail. Sometimes this is unavoidable in casting. Here, one of the lugs on the chest reliquary had a vent that obscured the groove around it.

2) Minor surface bubbles. Fairly common in resin casts, and best fixed with a surfacing putty. Finecast has issues with these (more than a harder polyurethane resin) as it doesn't particularly like being sanded, so any repair has to be surfaced OVER the finecast, or it can remain visible once paint goes on. Vallejo's plastic putty is great.

3) Minor bubbles / voids that require a sculpting putty fix. Break out the greenstuff. I really wouldn't expect to see these slip past QA unless they're really easy to fix, and then perhaps only one. In these cases the heels needed building up and surfacing.


VERY COOL - Crisp detail. Soft mould material lets fine surface detail get cast nicely.

VERY COOL - Easy carve material. Very much similar to set greenstuff in consistency. Similar behaviour from first tests.

COOL - Thermally responsive. Hot water and cold (ice) water can be used to soften and set the resin to correct bends and (within limits) heat stretch / straighten. Too hot and it gets very soft very quickly - a few seconds is all it needs.

MEH - Superglue absorbent. It's slightly porous and does indeed superglue very well. As it's lightweight the joints are self supporting pretty quick without the need to pin or use a CA catalyst.

I've categorised the flaws I see as red or green - red being tricky to fix (and best taken as impossible / best not attempted for a young'un), and green being easy enough in my opinion.


UNBELIEVABLY, SHOCKINGLY DOUBLEPLUSVERY BAD - Disgusting QA. It took 6 packs to get this model, which was the least affected of the bunch. Several of the rejected models actually had mould material stuck to them. - You'll notice it as it's bright pink. And this is from Warhammer World. This is singularly the most major problem, and it's the primary negative in my opinion. All the easy gluing in the world won't save me time if I have to resculpt parts of EVERY. SINGLE. MINIATURE. From a 'pro painter's' standpoint, this alone is enough for me to recommend other companies' products in preference.

VERY BAD - Price. £14.50. NOT WORTH IT! For damn near 15 quid, I'd expect a much better production. I reckon this miniature is actually worth about £7.50, tops. Again, that's for the best out of 6 packs, taking the work involved in fixing it into account.

BAD - Vent points obscure detail in places. Again, requiring careful knife work to fix. Presumably due to the soft mould material.

BAD - Air trapped in the mould and or Warping leads to filling / sculpting work that whilst easy, shouldn't need to be done.

MEH - Flash present in odd places. Flash at the top of the cape needs to be carefully removed. Not really sure why it's there in the first place.

MEH - Some parts snapped off the sprue - No damage in this case, but easy to see where it could have happened. A simple piece of sponge in the pack would probably help that.

VERY BAD - Mould warping / air trapping is present in areas that are impossible to fix without resculpting part of the model.

BAD - Air bubbles in some places require reasonable-to-good sculpting and surfacing skills to fix - in particular, here the corner of the cloak on the left side is missing. A surfacing putty (eg Vallejo Plastic Putty) is essential to smooth things in - the Finecast material does not like being sanded with anything other than a feather touch.

Overall score: 4/10. Potentially a nice change, but the QA really needs to be stepped up a LOT for the price to be worthwhile. For the time being I'll advise clients against mail / internet ordering (as I do for Forgeworld stuff), and instead offer to go pick it up in store for them so the quality can be checked. By someone who cares.

My first Finecast model was... disappointing.


Warflake said...

Real shame, I was looking forward to the releases.
The price as you said is a joke though for some of the pieces. I.E this one 15 quid is a rip off.

Thomas Moore said...

I got a Grimgor which was pretty much perfect, but some of the ones on display in the shop were really shoddy :S I think they are gonna be really hit and miss... unless this is just a rush to get lots of models done for release date, thus producing shoddiness.

The GunGrave said...

Not supprised at all

Maz said...

Tom - by all means post up a review of the piece you got too - it's only fair. Though I think you were lucky.

Flekkzo said...

How did they other models look? I bet there were tons of minis to choose from at WW so were it one run that were bad (six Sterns) or was it systemic?

I can't say if the product is worth 15 or 7.50 pounds as I have no idea of the margins on these things. What I can say is that it gets harder and harder to motivate a buy as the price is too high compare to what I get out of it. GW could be in trouble.

Maz said...

I primarily went for a Stern, but I did have a brief look at a handful of others (all blisters for a particular piece on that bit of the rack).

Almost all had casting issues - most commonly a rough surface or air bubbles in detail that would need to be filled *and* textured. I ignored anything that could be surface sealed as I'm used to that with resin.
With a soft material, the rough surfaces were a concern as sanding isn't recommended unless you're very gentle. Some models however had very obvious voids or warping.

A few were very nice indeed - I was very tempted by an Astorath which seemed to be a very good cast.

That betrays the main flaw in this release - I don't really want to spend 20 minutes in a store going 'no, not this one... no, not this one... oooh this? no... not this one... nah... Aha! finally! A good cast!' every time I'm picking something up that I already knew I wanted.

I actually really like the material - I don't think it's worthy of a price increase in the slightest, and I think it has it's own issues with regard to working (as most new materials do). If all the models were as good as the Astorath I saw seemed to be, the review bottom line would probably be closer to 8/10, with most of the misgivings coming from the price.

If I'd mail ordered the first Stern I picked up I would have been a massively unhappy camper, which is why the score I gave is so low.

If you have the time to hand-pick your model (and open it in store so you can check it properly), then they can be almost... almost... no, sorry, I can't bring myself to say it. You either want it for the cost or you don't. I'm certainly going to be buying a couple of Mantic armies on my next hobby splurge

a student of science said...

Hey, I found a Commissar Yarrick with a boxing glove instead of a power claw. :D There was just a huge lump of resin there, where I expected to find the housing of the claw.

Anyway I pointed out to the staff at Helsinki GW, and they got rid of it. The Yarrick that I bought for myself had the separate "business end" of the claw induced to the sprue, luckily it was possible to carve it free. (had my metal Yarrick as a model :P) Otherwise the quality was ok, only the Storm bolter and the sharpest edge of the coat at the Yarrick's back had minor bubbles. Mould lines I found only on top of the hat.

On the Lord commissar of mine is only one small bubble on the front of the armour, on the lowest edge, which should be ok, to fix. Additionally some mould lines that I had to clean was in the cape, but it wasn't so necessary.

Maz said...

I've modified this post to reflect two things that changed / were noticed as I was working on the mini:
First, the plain detailing on the backs of the heels should be plain. My bad.
Secondly, the corner of the cloak was missing and was a complete pain to rebuild. Finecast is not a material that like being sanded / resurfaced. A very very gentle touch is needed to smooth repairs into the cast model. Not so hard with metal, which is much more forgiving.