Tuesday, April 22, 2014

miscellaneous: victoria minis' penal guard & arcadian females

So I went to Adepticon with a notion to pick up some minis to flesh my Iron Warriors out to 2000 points for the Independent Character's Hobby Progress Challenge. My initial plans were to pick up some Cataphracti Terminators to convert into Warsmith Thokcha and his retinue. However, a couple weeks before Adepticon, ForgeWorld's sneak peak of The Horus Heresy Book III - Extermination revealed an entry for Iron Warrior specific Terminators. I decided to put the Warsmith and his retinue on hold until we see what those figures look like. Despite it being far more to paint, this pushed me toward my back-up plan of Chaos Raptors and Cultists/Traitor Guard.

Now, when I think of cultists in an Iron Warriors' army, I'm greatly influenced by Graham McNeill's Storm of Iron to abandon the robed humans of the Dark Vengeance box set and instead field enslaved humans (Imperial Guard in particular) being driven inexorably forward as unto their deaths as cannon fodder/meat shield. With this idea in mind, I was excited to see that Victoria Miniatures would be bringing both Penal Guard and Arcadian Female models to the show.

Victoria Miniatures: Arcadian Rifles Squad (female)

Victoria Miniatures: Arcadian Rifles Squad (female): detail

As it turns out, Victoria put out a call for help on the Victoria Miniatures Facebook page asking if there were any volunteers to help her pack up product for the show. The guys I drove up with and I spent a couple hours Wednesday morning packing Inquisition and Arcadian Female blisters and I got to see the models up close and personal. The castings are good, with crisp, well-sculpted detail. There are some instances of flash, but they're generally super thin and break/scrape off with little effort. My favorite part of the minis is that the proportions in the legs and musculature in the exposed arms register as female without thrusting breasts, hips or thighs in your face. There's nothing pin-up about these minis. They look like real women in an active duty military.

Victoria Miniatures: Penal Guard

Victoria Miniatures: Penal Guard: detail

The Penal Guard I picked up look to be from a different batch of resin, but are just as crisp and detailed, with surprise details I never saw when looking through pics online (the back ripped with lash marks comes to mind). There is a bit more flash on these, but so far it's cleaned just as easily as with the females. The only word of warning I would give is to take extra care with any parts containing resin chains. They're particularly brittle and I broke two of them test-fitting pieces.

All-in-all they're both great kits. Though they do cost a premium ($50 for 10 figures), I don't think anyone out there is doing these themes as well as Victoria Miniatures, and if it's a look you're going for you cannot go wrong with them.

That being said, one of the reasons I was so excited to snag these minis were that their parts break-down is almost identical to Games Workshop's Imperial Guard figures, which I have a whole mess of still on sprue from a sidelined project. Looking at the parts break-down, I figured I could mix-and-match bits from 10 Penal Guard with 10 Imperial Guard to make a batch of 20 easily recognizable prisoners. Unfortunately, the viability of this came into question when I started putting the pieces side-by-side...

Penal Guard (white) | Imperial Guard (grey)

As you can see from the pics, the scale is a bit off. The Imperial Guard are sculpted in GW's (in)famous 28mm "Heroic" scale, while the Victoria Miniatures appear to be a true 28mm. The legs don't look too off, but directly next to each other, the heads, torsos and arms have a distinctly noticeable difference. At this point I was a bit disheartened at my plans, but very glad I picked up a second box of Penal Guard, figuring I could possibly throw some chains on the Arcadian Females, intersperse them with the Penal Guard, and have two units of 15 co-ed prisoners.

But, since I already had the pieces laid out, I decided to give it one last go ("For science!") and mock up some figures.

Mixed Kits (click for larger)

They don't mix nearly as badly as I'd thought. The scale is undoubtedly off, but it's only grossly so with certain bits combinations. Even those combos that jump out as off-scale will probably be minimized once the figures are painted. I wouldn't go so far as to call the two kits truly (haphazardly) interchangeable, but I think some careful planning will provide a nicely mixed unit with a prisoner theme throughout.

Of course, there are some bits combinations to avoid at all costs...

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