onsdag 20 februari 2019

Oathmark Dwarves, a review and some thoughts.

As a long time dwarf afficionado -- the fantasy literature kind of dwarf -- I was very curious when Northstar brought out a set of plastic dwarves. The set is in the same vein as their Frostgrave plastics, but geared towards unit building rather than skirmish warband. Thus it contains a whopping 30 miniatures (compared to the 20 in a Frostgrave box) but with more limited equipment options.

The box art. Nice innit?
Apparently the nice Mr McCullough of Frostgrave fame is writing a set of fantasy battle rules for Osprey, due out later this year, but the figures were released in 2018 already. There are also goblins, elves and human sets out already.
I was sorely tempted by these when they were released, but I couldn't really convince myself that I needed more dwarfs when I have a massive Warhammer Dwarf army mostly in metal sitting in a large GW carry case out in the shed. (Not to mention all those nice Leadadventure dwarfs I recently bought to make a Frostgrave and/or Open Combat warband out of.) But during the christmas break I played a game of Dux Gondorianum/Lard of the Rings (see last blog post) and I got the notion of doing a dwarf army. I want to play more Lord of the Rings inspired games, and while the GW figure range is excellent it is much too costly. The Oathmark dwarfs on the other hand are cheap and seemed suitably Tolkien-esque. So I snatched up a box from Bad Squiddo Games along with a pack of metal characters.

Each box contains six identical sprues like these, making a total of 30 figures.
So let's get to the nitty gritty of it all then. Each sprue contains five chainmail clad bodies, with enough arms and weapons to outfit each miniature the same way; so you can build five figures with bows or five figures with spear and shield or five figures with hand weapon and shield, or a mix. Each sprue further contains ten heads to allow you to mix things up a bit, as well as parts to make a champion and a standard bearer (including an eleventh head with extra ornate helmet). It all sounds good on paper, but the execution is not that good, as we shall see when we go into the details.

Ten heads. Only a mother could love those faces. Or a wargamer.
The faces are nicely done with scowls and scraggly beards. But of the ten heads only four have helmets. Five have some kind of hoods or soft caps while the last head is bare and bald. I would have loved a couple of more helmets to be honest.

Champion axe and standard.

Champion's head with helmet crest and standard bearer's arm.

The command bits are nice, although the crest on the champion's helmet plugs into a slot in the back of the head which needs to be filled. It would have been far better to have a plain helmet and have the crest fit onto any of the helmeted heads. That way you could have done a small elite group with similar helmets but different faces, and you wouldn't need to fill anything. The champion's axe is suitably imposing but the other weapons are a bit too plain -- but I see the point of moving away from the GW uber-detailed Age of Sigmar figures.

The hand weapons included, a nice mix of sharp and blunt implements.
And here we come to the first of the problems I have with this set. Three of the weapon arms generally hold the weapon at some sort of ready pose at shoulder height. One arms holds the sword aloft as if shouting "charge" and pointing it in the general direction of the enemy. The last arm is at an angle to the body so looks unnatural if mounted in any other way than downwards. The champion's arm also hold the weapon aloft into the air, but at a right angle to the body instead of pointing it forward. (I call the pose "Oh look what I found."). 

The spear arms are ok, but judging from the hanging piece of chainmail they are all meant to hold the spear upright so I ended up using all the "standing about" bodies for spears. The bow arms are functional, some arms hold the bow out straight in a firing pose, other have the bow lower as if just fired or perhaps moving with it in hand. The right arms either look like holding an arrow or are open like just having loosen an arrow off. Curiously no arrows are provided, although quivers are included. These hang low off the belts and look like they would tip out all the arrows on the ground at any moment. 

Test figures I assembled from the first sprue, mounted on 20mm round MDF bases.
The shield arms are even worse, all holding the shield tight to the body at shoulder height. This wouldn't be so bad even if it looks a bit uncomfortable if it wasn't for the fact that the shields will butt up against the faces, which means you have a problem with the beard and shield occupying the same space... I fixed this on some of the figures by using bow arms with the bow cut off to have a more relaxed pose with the shield lowered.

The metal character models. These are very nice.
I feel that the set is a bit hit and miss. No hand weapons are provided for the archers and no scabbards for the sword arms either. It's hard but not impossible to do any dynamic poses but most of the figures will end up quite static looking, which is a shame. I also had to trim the necks a bit to get the heads to fit behind the shields properly. It almost feels like the sculptor made a bunch of parts without testing any to see how they went together. 

I guess the case can be made that these figures are intended for rank and file games -- the inclusion of 25mm square bases is a hint about the style of game Oathmark will be. As such they shouldn't be waving their weapons around too much and the close held shields will look good in a tight formation. In contrast the metal character models are beautiful figures, full of motion and character.

In conclusion I give the plastic Oathmark Dwarfs 3 out of 5 axes. Good if you want to fill out some rank and file units cheaply with reasonably detailed figures.  

6 kommentarer:

  1. 3/5 is not that bad, but not great either when there are the LotR dwarfs out there to buy. I like a lot about these, but I have a full army of Warhammer dwarfs, so am unlikely to get more (although a couple of sprues might be useful for various things)

    How do they compare with the LotR dwarfs?

    1. Yes, they are quite OK. Just not as good as they could have been. For the price they are very reasonable.
      They are a bit bigger than the official LotR dwarfs. I will see if I can find some and snap a comparison picture.

  2. Thanks for the review. I like a dwarf or two as well (I'm partial to the old Nick Lund ones) and these looked good. Sounds like they would do pretty well for rank and file though; better value than GW and nicer looking than Mantic.

    1. Yes, for rank and file they will do nicely.

    2. And much better than Mantic dwarfs!

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