Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Kingdom Death: Assembling the first survivors

Kingdom Death's four starting survivors, ready to face down terrible foes in the tenebrous darkness.

After opening the massive Kingdom Death: Monster box and marveling over the excellent production values of all the game components, I was pretty excited to give the game a try, and see how the many ideas and mechanics came together.  But before I could do that, one major hurdle still had to be surmounted.  The models needed to be assembled.  This looked to be a daunting task, with the box containing a veritable sea of miniatures scattered across countless sprues. Thankfully, the game is designed such that you are only fighting a single horrific monster at a time, allowing you to assemble models as you go.  The first game session only requires that you assemble 4 survivor models and the first opponent, a White Lion.  Having just assembled the initial 4 survivor models, I wanted to let you know my thoughts about them, how they went together and their general quality.



While the game contains a multitude of multipart sprues designed to assemble all manner of armored and armed survivors, they are designed to be used in later games of Kingdom Death.  The first 4 survivors are much more humble, with only their wits and bare fists to contend with the terrors of the night.  Of the 4 models, two female and two male, each is clad in a few pieces of loosely wrapped cloth, with a ornate lantern in their hands.  Coming from seeing all the questionable pin-up models in Kingdom Death’s past, one might be worried that these initial models, scantily clad in some cloth, would be overly sexualized.  Thankfully, this is not the case, each is tastefully covered, but more importantly each is in a reasonable pose favoring function over objectification.  Honestly, I think these 4 survivors are some of the nicest models in the entire Kingdom Death box, and are a good representation of the dark theme of the game, as well as the mature presentation of sexuality (unlike the pin-ups).  The models are simple, yet in subtle action poses which convey the desperation inherent in their position, yet also their steely conviction.  Although each is composed of multiple parts, they only go together in a single way.  And while some might be disappointed in their lack of posability, I think it allowed the designers to create more natural looking models, which do a better job of conveying the designers’ artistic vision (having said this, they also include a separate sprue that is a true multipart one to create basic initial survivors, before they acquire new armor).

This survivor cautiously stalks forward, jagged stone fragment at the ready.
The level of detail present on these initial survivors is quite stunning.  The detail is crisp and very fine, coming very close to that which can be achieved with resin casts, without all of the hassle that is inherent with the material.  I would go as far to say that the level of detail rivals that present even in Games Workshop kits, although it is shallower and not as sharply defined.  They are also cast in a plastic that is very easy to work with.  It is not quite as soft as GW plastic, but not as hard as Malifaux plastic.  As a result, it is pretty easy to clean using traditional methods (x-acto knife to cut and scrape away moldlines).  It also takes to sandpaper quite well, not retaining unsightly scratches.

All of the survivors awake in the horrific world of Kingdom Death with a lantern to light their ways.

One aspect of the the KD models that falls far short of GW models is how the models are cut.  GW’s recent kits are expertly cut into pieces which fit together precisely, hiding seams and generally just locking into place, providing little room for error.  The KD models are also cut into many pieces, but they rarely fit together with precision.  Most of the time it is still easy enough to assemble the models, however, the gaps between the pieces are often very apparent, necessitating the use of green stuff to fill in the spaces.  Virtually every piece needed at least a little green stuff work, increasing the build time substantially.  Having begun to work on the White Lion, these issues are even more pronounced, with major gaps where the legs and the paws attach.

Perhaps the least dynamic of the starting survivors, but still far more interesting than many models with the generic "I'm standing here" pose.
Currently there are no instructions available on how to assemble the models.  The game advertises a website for this, but currently the instructions have not been uploaded.  For the most part, this is not really an issue.  The models are pretty self explanatory, and thankfully the pieces are lettered, as well as numbered (ie the first survivor’s parts are labeled with A#, while the next survivor is B#), making it easy to locate all the parts for a single model.  It would be nice if the Kingdom Death website had a more structured gallery, allowing you to easily find pictures of every model for reference, however.  Most of them are on the website somewhere, but it can be hard to find certain ones.  The only aspect of these initial 4 survivors that gave me pause during assembly was attaching a loose piece of cloth to the older, gruffer looking male.  There is a small piece of cloth that clearly is intended to be hanging from his waist, an artifact of how he wrapped the cloth to keep it in position.  While the piece has a vague cutout showing where it goes, it doesn’t cleanly fit anywhere.  I tried to find picture of it assembled online, and discovered that no one really knew what to do with it.  When looking in the rulebook they have pictures of the resin version of the model, which suggests that the plastic piece should have been longer and extended up towards the waist like I suspected.  To fix this, I ended up gluing it to where I felt it fit best and used green stuff to extend the cloth up towards his waist.  Without the resin version on hand, I was not entirely sure how to sculpt it, but I think it looks serviceable now.

Probably my favorite survivor; he looks older and meaner!

A comparison of the plastic and resin versions of the one survivor that gave me trouble (both official images).  It is clear that the hanging piece of cloth ends suddenly and awkwardly on the plastic version compared to the resin.  I used green stuff to remedy mine, which is show last (fixed).

Overall, I am extremely pleased with the Kingdom Death models.  They are well designed and sculpted, with a very distinct aesthetic suited to the sort of dark universe that Kingdom Death is trying to establish.  They are cast in a quality plastic that is easy to work with and holds detail well.  And although they do not always go together with finely engineered precision, they are easy to assemble, and look great provided you fill in gaps and seams with green stuff.  Working on these first 4 models has really excited me to start assembling some of Kingdom Death’s more imaginative and creepy monsters!  I will be sure to keep you all posted on their progress!

-Eric Wier

2 comments:

  1. Very interesting post, I'm curious as to how it plays.

    I'm doing a commission on one of their pinups and there are huge bubbles in a few places, so it seems like green stuff is needed for more than just gaps on these models. From what I've read this is a common problem for all their models.

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    1. Yeah, green stuff is certainly required for their models, plastic or resin. Admittedly, green stuff is virtually always required with resin models, Kingdom Death, Forge World, or anything else. Bubbles and inconsistencies are inherent in the material. I have never seen or worked on a resin model that did not need green stuff. I put together a few of the resin KD models, and had to do quite a bit of green stuff work, despite having what I considered a pretty good cast. At the end of the day I would much rather work with plastic; it is more consistent and their are not bubbles. So I am pretty pleased these new KD models are made with a nice workable plastic.

      Oh, and I just played my first game of it, and had a great time! I will try to get up an impressions post soon!

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