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Forbidden Monsters of Foree: Wan-Ti Snakemen (Cardstock Characters™)
Publisher: Skirmisher Publishing
by Alastair M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/23/2013 09:26:37

Unusual paper miniatures are always welcome to me, perhaps sparking fresh scenario ideas, or simply filling an empty niche in my imagined fantasy worlds. I found the Wan-Ti Snakemen set did both, as I discovered it while preparing a 3D paper "lost temple" in a jungle setting, for which the more humanoid figures seemed ideal, while the larger snake-bodied demi-humanoids opened up options for serpent deities and inner sanctum guards.

The artwork has quite bold, simple, comic-book lines and colours, in a somewhat cartoon style, which fits well with many other paper minis currently available, and prints out crisply from my experience. Although from the instructions provided, it's intended the fronts and backs of individual figures should be folded over and glued together as stand-up inverted "T" shapes, the base panels can be easily recut to form them into "A"-frame standee shapes instead, without necessarily gluing them at all. This latter also means you don't end up with plain white bases. Note that some of the figures have fine edge detail and there are no thick black outlines, so if you like to cut away the blank background around your flat and "T"-style paper figures, you'll have problems with these. With care, a thicker black border could be added by hand, though I haven't tried, so can't be sure the figure backs and fronts match up perfectly enough for such close cutting to be practical.

There are some minor technical issues too. The three largest miniatures have a small discrepancy in the heights of their front and back panels - around two to three millimetres. This may not sound much, but it's enough to prevent the base score and fold lines from matching up, so measure and check before you score them to prevent the finished figures falling over.

More annoyingly, while billed as compatible with 25/30mm scale minis, an "actual size" print of the PDF pages came out with the smaller human-sized figure panels a whopping 40mm tall! While all these panels are larger than the figures they contain, so could be partly cut away to reduce this unwanted gigantism, even the smallest artwork figure, a female humanoid rogue, not fully upright, was about 33mm tall foot to crown. So if, like me, you need these pieces closer to other 28/30mm figures and scale 3D models, you'll need to resize the smaller figures at least before printing them.

As it is, this is a nicely inventive set of minis. With the technical issues addressed to prevent quite so much unnecessary work, it would be better, and better still if there were some base textures added, perhaps by introducing some optional layers in the PDF file.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Forbidden Monsters of Foree: Wan-Ti Snakemen (Cardstock Characters™)
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Hot Chicks 1
Publisher: Dakkar Unlimited
by Alastair M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/23/2013 09:24:22

In essence, this is the female human counterpart standee set to Dakkar's "Hot Dudes 1", that is, near-future paper "A"-frame minis, with sometimes several identical poses of the same figure dressed in different clothes from underwear/swimwear to casual streetwear (albeit none in full armour or spacesuits here). Few have obvious weapons, the range of stances adopted is notably greater and rather less static than with "Hot Dudes 1", and the colour palette is brighter and less "muddy" than in "Hot Dudes" too. The figures as a whole will neatly fill a similar range of niches as PCs or NPCs from heroes to villains and all points in between, for many scenario settings. A few are rather "Anime", including a Catgirl provided, strangely, in both a colour and black-and-white version, though there was no male equivalent in "Hot Dudes", but these are in the minority.

Dakkar's minis are intended to be 25mm-scale, so may need resizing if you want them to fit with 28/30mm figures and scenery. The CGI artwork will survive such enlargement readily, but if using the whole page of minis, you'll lose a few near the edges in doing so.

Useful figures for any near-modern gaming, whether you use "Hot Chicks: The RPG" or not.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Hot Chicks 1
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Hot Dudes 01
Publisher: Dakkar Unlimited
by Alastair M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/23/2013 09:21:43

Irrespective of your interest in Dakkar's "Hot Chicks: The RPG", the company have provided a real service to gamers by producing a large range of near-future printable paper "A"-frame standees in recent years, helping to fill an area that oddly remains something of a blank for such paper minis otherwise. This set has a useful mix of well-muscled male humans (in one case, apparently heavily steroid-infused!), all with full front and back artwork views, in Dakkar's usual near-realistic CGI style.

The poses here are all quite similar and rather static, but for most figures, there are various clothing options, sometimes from underwear/swimwear up to full body armour/spacesuits for the same named character. Few have weapons shown or held, and all these aspects increase their utility greatly, since you're not trapped into having minis who habitually use a different main weapon to what they're drawn with, or shown in "action" poses that character might never adopt in game terms. This also means the figures can be used easily as player characters or NPCs - such as shop mannequins, heroes, villains, innocent bystanders, etc. - and in a wide variety of settings.

Technically, Dakkar's paper minis are on the small side, if compared with the commoner 28/30mm-scale standees, though they're actually designed to be 25mm scale anyway. The PDF page can of course by resized before printing, and the artwork is good enough to cope with enlargement into the circa 30mm figure range without problems. If doing this using the whole page however, you'll lose a few minis near the edges. Most of the figures print out fine, with just a few a little too dull and muddy, and only one whose white clothing blends into the white card sheet background.

Overall, a good, useful set for its intended period.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Hot Dudes 01
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Ancient Worlds - Megalith Circle
Publisher: Lord Zsezse Works
by Alastair M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/23/2013 09:19:16

An easy-to-build 3D stone circle on a six-inch square base, all items with layer options in the PDF file, so you can toggle between three different 2D landscape textures and model stone colours, and even add a squared one-inch grid to the base if required. But there's also a curious circular symbol scribed on each stone, and thanks to a series of additional layers, these can be made to glow blue, green or red. These colour options are worth exploring fully, because I found they're not quite the same as each other, and by activating more than one symbol-colour layer together, you can actually achieve a further range of subtly different colours and effects. Plus of course, you could use them as individual standing stones rather than "just" in a ring. An excellent addition to the Lord Zsezse Ancient Worlds range.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ancient Worlds - Megalith Circle
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ELVES Set 1 - Forest Ambush
Publisher: PERMES
by Alastair M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/16/2013 06:42:09

Probably the cream of the Permes fantasy figure range so far, this set shows off both the scope of what can be achieved with paper miniatures, and the quality of the Permes artwork and design. That artwork alone is superb, with clarity and precision in line and colour, the forms all anatomically correct and nicely animated, with complete front and rear views. Armaments for the troops are roughly half bows, including both command figures, half a wide range of melee weapons. While billed as Elves, aside from their pointed ears, not visible through hoods and helmets on many, these figures could equally pass for fantasy humans. Perhaps most interestingly, except for ten too heavily-robed and hooded to tell, the Elves are female, so could be used for mythological Amazon-type troops as well. No two are quite the same, thanks to variations in posture, colour scheme, weaponry or kit, while if you need more options, there are spare shields and shield fronts to add as desired, plus one figure who can be customized as a standard-bearer or a different warrior.

Besides the humanoids, there are four sabre-toothed big cats, all posed in mid-leap, one grouped with a humanoid Beastmaster, two near-identical (there seems to be a subtle difference in fur colour - or maybe that's just my printer!) with separate small scenery pieces to add that they can be leaping from, and a larger grey cat with optional 2D feathered wings. There are also nine other 2D scenery items from, in decreasing size, a felled tree with its trunk, another fallen trunk, undergrowth, rocks and bushes, down to a large boulder, along with three shields set in the ground as a wall, and a wicker screen for similar use. I'd have liked more of these shield-walls and wicker hurdles. The shield-wall page has a range of optional three-shield-group faces, but no further backs for example, which seems something of a rare oversight, if a fairly minor one.

The only real problem with the set is there are no figure bases provided. These may once have been available on the Permes website, but that seems (April-May 2013) to have vanished into the ether. The designer does have a blog still, in Polish only, which for non-Polish speakers is hard to navigate, so my recommendation would be to pick up a range of different sized bases free from the One Monk paper figures website instead. This is chiefly because the One Monk base textures can be freely downloaded from there too, and you will need some to create your own bases for the three largest scenery pieces here, which are 90mm (3½ inches) up to 130mm (5¼ inches) long. I'd guess many paper figure fans will have these to-hand already, so this is probably just something to be aware of, rather than a major difficulty.

Overall, this is a beautiful set, showing real care and thought in the figures and scenic pieces, a credit to the designer, and a challenge to match or surpass in future. More please!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
ELVES Set 1 - Forest Ambush
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Ancient Worlds
Publisher: Lord Zsezse Works
by Alastair M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/16/2013 06:38:51

Temple, mausoleum, alien UFO garage, concealed entrance to a missile silo - the 3D centrepiece of this set could be any of those things, or far more, while its PDF layer options mean you could have three near-identical structures waiting for your adventurers in completely different parts of the world, each with a slightly different surface colouring and design. And each with an architecture that's not quite like the ancient buildings from any of those places. If that's not enough to worry them, maybe the monolithic door-slab, with its skull and curvilinear design will help!

Construction is straightforward, and the final models robust (I used 200 gsm/110 lb card for mine), though as always with card and paper kits, attention and care is needed in places. The designers have thoughtfully continued the surface colouring beyond the folds and edges so minor mistakes don't show as much, and the usual edging with a felt pen will hide any white fold lines once the glue has set. My one small gripe would be the dashed black "fold here" markings are sometimes a little too obvious on the finished objects. Oh, and you might want to think about adding some weight to the inside of the door-slab before gluing it up, as it's free-standing if you want to leave it able to open, so is prone to on-table breezes. No such problem with the slide-off roof though.

The complete set includes four PDF pages of detailed 2D surface mats, layered to match the kits, again beautifully designed, and with an optional square grid that can be toggled on or off before printing. Each of the full mat sets is available without a grid as a single 200 dpi poster-sized JPEG image additionally.

Having placed your main structure in its tabletop landscape, you can then add from a selection of eight different columns and two arch-tops, all available in each of the three matching formats, to increase the hinted-at size of the original complex, providing cover and concealment as well. The columns have separate bases and tops, adding to the potential for variation, and come in three fully intact and upright forms (though one has nailed-on metal patches over some damaged areas), all of which will support the arches, three angled and partly buried/sunken ones, and two broken styles, one with a rounded-off top that looks tricky to build on the printed sheet, but which largely slides together on its own once scored and cut.

Customization is very practical. Simple changes, such as placing the door-slab inside the building rather than outside as shown on the photos (to really irritate your party, why not add two, one outside, one in!), or using one or more pieces printed out using a different layer colouring, need little effort. However, there are plenty of other ideas to explore. For example, one of the two alternative building bases has a 2D printed staircase leading down in the middle of the floor. This could be easily cut out and recessed below floor level (assuming you use thick card or foamboard to mount the base upon), with a new stone "trapdoor" covering the hole cut out from the other building base. As a temple, an idol of your choice could be added inside, but why not use that round-topped broken column instead? Some of its surface markings could look like an eye, and ancient temples from the real-world Classical Mediterranean civilizations actually used stones as idols in places, some perhaps originally meteorites. Plus with other matching colour scheme models available in the Lord Zsezse Ancient Worlds range, such options expand still further.

However, make the most of this kit too, and don't think it's "just" that temple building!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ancient Worlds
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