The Starter Armies are the smallest of the 3 sizes of pre-packaged army boxes for Dropzone Commander and all come with pretty similar sorts of things in. They also all weigh in at a little over 500 points, which is the smallest battle size listed in the rules. So they’ve thought about that, which is good.
When you open the box you see a half size tray in the blue foam that will be familiar to anyone with a Kaiser Rushforth figure case. It’s designed to protect the unbuilt contents of the starter set and doesn’t look like it will be an especially suitable shape to keep them in once the models are assembled (which is why I have another dozen cases). What it might be useful for is storing the dice, cards and so on for the game, and it will fit neatly into the figure case…
Nice idea, and very good quality packaging. Nothing had been damaged at all. The foam has done its job then.
The contents consist of some metal infantry at the top left, flying stands on the top right, a deck of cards on the left and the large section with all the resin parts for your army in ziplock bags.
I’ve shown you the front and back of both infantry strips and bases. These figures are perfectly cast and well detailed. I’m very happy to see that they come in a variety of poses. I think they’re pretty good. The bases are nice and thin. A couple are ever so slightly warped, but nothing a bit of warm water shouldn’t fix. They have recesses for the round bases of individual figures, which should make assembly pretty simple. All in all, the infantry look top notch.
It’s hard to get especially excited about flying bases from any company. These seem robust enough though. The white is a backing sheet that should be removed. A clever idea is the little widgets that are soft and so can be glued onto the underside of the aircraft models and then pushed onto (and taken off) the flying stand stem as needed. This thoughtful touch means that the model can be removed from the stand for transport and should help them get to and from battles safely.
The 40 cards were wrapped, and in perfect condition (not always the case when card components get packed with miniatures). They are reasonable quality, though will probably still get sleeved because that’s what you do with cards you want to keep using.
Now we get to the meat of the set – the models.
These are Tomahawk tanks, the one on the right being upside down to show the detail on the underside. There’s a lot of detail all over these models.
Kukri AA tanks have the same chassis as the Tomahawks, which makes sense. Again the one on the right is inverted.
Now we start getting to the increasingly odd looking models. Especially when they’re in bits. These are Haven terragates. The Shaltari have a fondness for teleporting about the place, and this is one of their smaller efforts. The set on the right is inverted. As you can see, no part is too obscure or well concealed to escape the detail that romps over every surface.
Laying these Eden gates out next to each other makes them look smaller on the page than they really are. These are the biggest things in the set. Upside-down on the right as usual, and covered with detail on every surface. Clearly the Shaltari have something against things being flat.
As I said earlier, DzC isn’t a cheap game even though I don’t think that it’s nearly as outrageous as some folk seem to think. They are also very clearly setting out their stall to sell a premium product and are proud of their quality. This combination means that we should expect nothing but the best. So what do we get?
Like any resin casting there are bits of flash from where the parts of the mould met. I actually find this slightly reassuring as it means that the resin has reached the areas it should, and in sufficient quantity. Models always need cleaning, and these are no exception. That said, the flashing was minimal and very fine.
Bubbles are another unavoidable issue that resin is prone to. These models are perhaps not the very best resins I’ve ever seen, but they are definitely some of the better ones. There are a tiny handful of bubbles over the whole set, concentrated on one tomahawk turret. The vast majority of models have none.
Looking closely it seems that this particular casting of the turret was not fed quite enough resin and the resulting lack hasn’t been enough to force all the air out (bubbles in the turret rear) or fully form the gun tip where the mould block is on the other examples.
I checked the other examples to see if this was a weakness of the design and they are all fine, so it looks like a one-off error.
The final quality issue stems in part from their habit of putting detail on every surface, regardless of whether you will ever see it or not when it’s assembled.
Here you can see the undersides of a couple of models. On the right you can see that the detail is filling in. If this was going to be obvious then I’d be wanting another as this will be a right old pain to fix and be obvious when it’s painted. However, as it’s underneath then there’s nothing to fret about. It won’t be visible anyway. On most models there would be no detail here in the first place.
Overall the feeling I get is that Hawk have thought carefully about this product, and added some elegant touches in an effort to provide a product that gives the gamer the best they can offer.
I’ve spoken to them about their policy on replacing miscasts and they said that they were happy to and always looked to see if they could improve and avoid them in future. It’s certainly the right attitude to have.
In this case I’ve looked closely at the quality issues not because there were loads of problems, but because they are sold as quality products. Do they hold up? On the whole I think they do. The models are cleanly cast with almost no bubbling and little flash or warping. A few models will need a bit of hot water to set them straight, but nothing major. To put this in perspective, the same problems occur with Forge World resins, and I’ve even had to get replacement parts from Smart Max. All of the issues mentioned here should be easily fixable as part of the process of normal preparation.
Overall this is a very good looking product.