25 September 2020

More Anno Domini 1666 cossacks painted up

 Final 3 cossacks, from the add-on pack painted up which finishes the cossack warband for now. The miniatures are identical to the ones in the Bohuns Rebels set and paint up very nicely. I hope I will manage to get as much enjoyment and quality paintjob on the upcoming plastic Polish dragoons which will boost my Polish warband.

But first I will be painting the character pack with Baska and Ketling first. Both miniature sculpts look great, but I cannot decide how to paint them. Been thinking about it the past couple of painting sessions while working on the cossacks. In the movie (Pan Wolodyjowski / "Colonel Wolodyjowski") which btw I find to be the weakest and least interesting part of the movies based on Sienkiewicz trilogy Baska has nothing in her wardrobe that really matches the miniature 100% and Ketling's though being sculpted spot on is a really awful looking piece making him look like a ponce in the movies. Though painting him up in green and black would look nice on a miniature if done right...

22 September 2020

Review of plastic Anno Domini 1666 miniatures

I finished painting up the Bohuns Rebels boxed set earlier this week so I've had the chance to paint several different plastic figures. So I feel I have enough experience for a proper review of the plastics.

First of all. Get in the mindset that these (plastics) first and foremost are board game miniatures. The image in my mind when thinking about plastic miniatures from various board games is soft plastic, slightly bent/off poses and weapons, shallow details and that they are utility pieces that pimp the game so that you don't have to use cardboard tokens or wooden meeples. Plastic board game miniatures can range from abysmal to pretty decent. Some really poor miniatures can be found in games such as Mansions of Madness 1st edition (and some monsters in 2nd edition) and the Dungeons and Dragons board games.

Decent to pretty OK miniatures have become more frequent over the past couple of years, but generally a lot of effort is put into heroes and less into minions. Anno Domini 1666 is basically "all heroes" since the base game does not come with duplicates, and all the factions have unique models. The only way to get duplicate miniatures is if you buy the add-on packs with extra dragoons, musketeers, moloitsy etc.

The multitude of unique poses and miniatures, factions and characters was probably the main draw for many people during the Kickstarter. During the Kickstarter Wargamer.pl also made several posts about the quality of the plastics, and showcased some factory renders that looked very good. This may have created very high and somewhat premature expectations of the final product. In the aftermath of the campaign there has been a bit of talk about the actual quality that was shipped. A couple of the games characters were slightly miscast, size of bases and shapes of bases were not completely uniform in terms of slope/not sloped edges, and one or two miniatures appeared to have been cast in a slightly different plastic and color.

At the moment there are some people waiting for replacements and to the disappointed backers the words that - metal version of the minaitures is far superior and should have been backed if you want tabletop detail - came across as a tip served too late. Whatever might have happened at the Chinese factory despite many quality controls along the way can't really be helped now anyway. What I find interesting however is that there does not seem to be much in the way of reviews of the components or the game online despite 17th century being a pretty frequently played period with Thirty Year War, English civil war and skirmish rule sets such as En garde among others where musketeers and the like could be used. 

My review will hopefully help to show off the pros and cons of the plastic and metal versions of the miniatures. The range is fantastic, poses excellent and the theme and setting fairly unique. So the miniatures definitely deserve their wider audience.

I myself backed the plastic version of the game with an all in + extras pledge, but had to cancel my pledge and ask for a refund early this year prior to shipping for various private reasons that had come up. I have only recently purchased some plastic boxes and filler metal miniatures to make up a Polish and a Cossack warband. I had two miniatures from the game that were pre-Kickstarter metal castings


Size comparison:

The first thing that struck me, and that made me disappointed (in myself mostly) was the size difference between plastic and metal miniatures. This is quite normal, as plastic shrinks and is usually smaller than metal if you use the same sculpt for the molds. The size difference varies from passable, to being way too much (think 25 vs 32mm figures). The models are detailed in a realistic fashion, so size difference is easily spotted comparing hands, heads, weapons and such details. I had forgotten about the shrinkage, otherwise I would have gone all metal to match my already painted up metal miniatures in my collection.

Will this bother you on the tabletop? Depends on how picky you are. It does not help that the plastic miniatures come with cast bases that are slightly less tall than your regular 25mm round slot base. You can easily cut off the miniatures (I experimented with "Bohun" this way) and put them on whatever bases you see fit. Since I already had a bunch of miniatures painted up on 25mm bases I put Bohun on such a base. The size difference was helped a little bit, but he still looks smaller than "Skrzetuski", and comparing to "Wolodyjowski" aka "the little knight" they are of equal height.

The way I see it, if you play a skirmish game with lots of miniatures, you could make it work. But in a board game, or RPG setting with one on one close combat encounters etc the size difference will be quite visible and possibly jarring.

Below you can see size comparisons of metal Anno Domini 1666 and Saber & Blood miniatures (painted) alongside Anno Domini 1666 miniatures in plastic.

Buy either all plastic or all metal is my advice. Moving on.

Quality of the plastic:

The models that I purchased in plastic, Bohuns rebels boxed set, add-on moloitsy, add-on Polish dragoons and the character back with Baska and Ketling did not have any faulty castings or loss of detail.

The sculpts in general are well detailed with lots of historical bits and pieces but does not feel cluttered. The plastic is relatively hard. Of course thin parts like muskets, sabers and such require using hot water to straighten them. Not by a lot, but you will need to do this. The same goes for the cast plastic bases, as they may come uneven. This was easy and quick to fix. I read on Facebook that a customer had problems with parts bending back to their original shape after a few days, this has not happened to me on any of the models I have.

The depth of detail can range from slightly soft to quite sharp depending on item, and here I think a less skilled painted may be in for a harder time painting up the miniatures. I've painted a fair share of board game miniatures lately for Mansions of Madness, D&D and Lobotomy so I've grown accustomed to painting these type of miniatures. You can make them look great, but they require more controlled brushstrokes, blacklining and effort. I will continue my thoughts on the painting matter in my next.

My main problem with board game plastic miniatures is, and have always been, cleaning mold lines. In general, soft plastic is a chore to clean. I favor scraping off mold lines on hard plastic and metal with my hobby knife. That does not really work on these miniatures as the plastic is too soft for that method. Instead you need to use a file or direct cuts with a knife to trim your models. I found that the mold lines were often in hard to access parts of the miniatures (still preferred to having them across faces or hands). I found cleaning them tedious and time consuming, in the end I still did not get them 100% the way I liked and discovered mold lines after priming them. This is definitely the biggest drawback of these plastics.


Some metal miniatures from the same range:

Quality of the pre-assembly

The miniatures are for the most part cast in pieces and factory assembled. I did not find any sloppy or faulty assembly in my boxes, but there are slight gaps that need to be filled. Of course this will be present on metal models as well. I used green stuff to cover most of the joints and some dents that I found on two models.

Finally - how do they paint up

Very well. It may help that I really enjoy the period, but the models have the right balance between large patches of clothing and tiny details that make them enjoyable to paint. The plastics require more from you as a painter. Thinner layers, more black lining and some additional highlighting to bring out the most from the sculpts compared to the metal versions.

As you can see below, the Cossack warband painted up pretty nicely.

Comparison of before/after painting plastic Horpyna and Bohun.

Cossack boxed set painted up

Metal "Kmicic" painted up:

Anno Domini 1666: Metal Skrzetuski, plastic Bohun, metal Wolodyjowski

Anno Domini 1666: Metal Skrzetuski, metal Kmicic, metal Wolodyjowski
Anno Domini 1666: Plastic cossacks flanking metal Kmicic

Anno Domini 1666:Plastic cossacks. Metal Kmicic and Skrzetuski 3rd from left and right.

Metal Anno Domini 1666 mixed with Saber & Blood

Painted plastic Anno Domini 1666 mixed with metal Saber & Blood

Painted metal Anno Domini 1666 compared to plastic Anno Domini 1666 dragoons

Final verdict:

The biggest advantage with plastics over metal miniatures from this range is durability of sabers, scabbards and similarly thin details. Sabers are thin in this scale, and my metal miniatures have had their sabers bent a couple of times, either from use of during assembly/painting. It's difficult to get them perfectly shaped again once you've bent them once.

Nowadays I really prefer plastics so I don't have to worry about chipped paint or knocking/dropping the miniatures. I actually dropped my metal "Zagloba" miniature which I had carefully green stuffed and glued together today as I was moving stuff about in my cabinets and his arm and hand broke off....

So durability is the main draw here. The metal miniatures have a nice weight, but I would be afraid of using them in public games outside of my house just because of the thin parts. The level of detail on the plastics is pretty good considering that the miniatures are made for a board game, but if you want absolute crispness - go for metal.

Price also differ between metal and plastics. The plastics are cheaper and thus a budget friendly alternative. A faction box with 7 miniatures goes for 29 Euro if you pick plastics, and 44 euro if you go for metal. It is possible to purchase all miniatures as single metal minis if you want to pick an
d choose specific models from all factions, at the price of roughly 8 Euro per mini which imo is a fair price. Bear in mind that only the boxed sets come with character and equipment cards for the game. Single metal miniatures do not come with anything but a plastic base, and will thus be hard to use with the Anno Domini 1666 board game.

I will pick plastic miniatures in the future as well, mainly due to the durability and number of plastic models from this range compared to metal models.

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