UniCast Up Close

Today is mostly about the pictures.

In this article I want to focus on the technical aspect of Prodos’ new UniCast process/material, as shown in the final product, rather than the aesthetic of the models. Of course, whether you want to buy any of these depends on whether you like the look of them or not, but for me as a design professional, I’m curious as to what this means for the games I work on next year and beyond. Does this offer something different for creators to play with?

Having looked at these sample UniCast model from Prodos, I think they are technically a very impressive lot. All three are single piece*, and as far as I know, none of them would be possible in reusable moulds of anything else. Not without backfilling some of the undercuts. Well, most of the undercuts.

Traditionally, these models would have been chopped into several parts and either reassembled by you or preassembled (adding to the cost) by the factory before they were shipped.

Did I mention the undercuts? Way too many undercuts and rippers to cast in one piece. Way, way too many. Yet here they are.

So I’m impressed.

Being single piece is good for all sorts of reasons we’ve already discussed. However, we didn’t really talk much about the crispness and level of detail that Prodos have got here. It’s top notch.

The following pics are mostly larger than life (at least they are on my screen). In fact, speaking of size, before we look at the details let’s see how big these samples are.

UniCast size comparisonThese are the first models that came to hand: the ref and an Orx Guard from DreadBall, and Nyx from Prodos. I took the picture with the bases level so you can see their relative height. The total height of the UniCast model, from the bottom of her base to the top of the spike through the skull on her back, is 50mm exactly. Base of large exoskeletal overboot to eye (the world’s most perverse measuring system) is 35mm.

Anyway, details. Writing on Calypso’s shield.

UniCast detail 06

UniCast detail 07

Close up of Calypso’s face (note her tiara/headband).

Look at the gaps around her head, within the armoured cowl, plus the spaces between shoulder pads, under her arms and around her waist. You just assume the arms have to be separate, right?

You can also see some of the detail on her arm holding the shield. Yes, the detail continues just the same behind the shield.

UniCast detail 05

Rear shot of the same model. This shows the only casting imperfection I could find on any of them: one of the grab handles on her backpack has not filled properly in the mould, or has snapped off before it reached my packet (I searched for it unsuccessfully). No bubbles anywhere on any of them, slight mould lines in some places as you’d expect, and wispy flash here and there. Nothing that should pose any real challenge, and better than many models in any material.

UniCast detail 04
Last shot of this model, mainly to show the curl at the hem of the skirt. A lovely touch, and yet another casting headache which doesn’t seem to be causing Prodos any issues. You can also see that the grab handles are cast with space underneath rather than filled in or flush with the pack as they would be on metal or most plastic models (unless they were separate pieces). Lots of detail, undercuts everywhere, single piece model. Crazy.

UniCast detail 08

Just showing the undercuts. Sorry to keep going on about that, but it’s the key feature of why these are impossible single piece casts in any normal medium. You can get away with a little bit of undercutting by using bendy PVC, but nothing like this.

UniCast detail 09

My favourite of the three models. Look at the depth of detail around her face.

UniCast detail 02

Same model showing detail (and some skulls especially for all you GW fans). Many times life size.

UniCast detail 01

Same model from the back.

So, as I said, I’m very impressed that they’ve been able to cast each of these as a single piece. It’s technically very impressive. The detail is sharp and the casting crisp. I’ve done nothing any of these – they’re straight out of the packet. Clean up looks straightforward and nothing out of the ordinary.

So, to sum up.

As discussed in previous posts and in comments, Prodos has a number of serious issues at the moment with regards to communications with customers and fulfilling Kickstarters. These plainly need to be addressed. Whether Prodos can dig their way out of the hole they’re in remains to be seen. I hope they can.

Perhaps UniCast can build them a shovel 🙂

 

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*I considered the possibility that they’d been preassembled, but if they have it’s unbelievably well done and I can’t see any joins. I’ve checked with Prodos and they assure me they’re all cast as single pieces. It’s not really that I disbelieve them, it’s just an instinctive reaction from 40+ years of looking at toy soldiers in all sorts of scales and mediums tells me that’s not possible.

Except it seems it is.

Cool 🙂

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15 Responses to UniCast Up Close

  1. it is mind blowing foir me too. how is that possible! HAVE YOU SEEN /read their blog ? they post pictures and I still can believe how is it done, its ~propper sience !

  2. Francesco says:

    Again here, thanks for your review.
    From pictures, the details don’t look so crisp compared to resin cast. Maybe are modelled in this way. I tend to think, about details, resin is top at the moment. better is injection plastic, but injection plastic cannot support any even minimal undercut, so my preference is for resin.

    Anyway the real antagonist for this process is PVC cast (as you mentioned this model are shipped assembled and without joint. As far I know The Others model have a pretty complex PVC models (done by Dust studio and I working a lot with Dust as sculptor), will be very nice comparing both.

    As you request in your previous message here my portofolio, not updated: http://francescopizzo.deviantart.com/ as you can see I worked also for Mantic ( I did the mercenary wrath model) and you sent me a signed deadzone copy (hey, thanks again 🙂

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Some nice sculpts there Francesco.

      Resin is great for detail, and less good if it’s a gaming piece that will get handled a lot as the same fineness of detail tends to be fragile. The UniCast stuff seems to be a nice balance of detail and robustness.

      I’m tempted to do some destruction testing, but that would be mean 😛

      • Adrian Kramarzyk says:

        I disagree on this one here . detail on pvc on dust and on mantic is best to say avarage, and I play both deadzone and dust. about detail with resin, I prefere metal over it but that just personal preference.

  3. Jon Charles says:

    The detail looks a little soft to me as you’d expect with the material. It’d be interesting to see it against some of the Blood Rage figures from Cool Mini or Not as they’re probably the most impressive boardgame miniatures I’ve seen in recent times.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      It’s not soft. I think you’ve been fooled by the fact that the pics are all way larger than life and I’m not the best photographer 😉

      At your suggestion I got out my copy of Blood Rage and had a look. Easily as good as them – if anything the UniCast are sharper. It’s hard to compare directly though, as the colours and surface qualities are different.

      I’ll post some comparison pics tomorrow.

      • Jon Charles says:

        That’d be great, thanks very much!

      • Peter Cruickshanks says:

        If you coat them both in the same primer that might make detail more comparable. Photographing different materials, especially in semi-translucent plastics, would make any comparison more dependent on lighting and such than actual detail.

        Looks absolutely fantastic though, and impossible, but that just makes it more exciting.

        • Quirkworthy says:

          You’re absolutely right. Unfortunately I’m not going to be able to do that soon, so I’ll just be posting them in their raw state tomorrow. It’s a start.

  4. Matt Price says:

    Wait. What is going on here?!?!

    Very interesting post but…

    HOW DID THEY DO THIS?

    Can you give us any quick insight as to how this was done? Otherwise, I’m assuming this is an elaborate April Fool’s Joke you’re posting in anticipation of next year. Or something.

    Really cool figs!

  5. syaped says:

    Are Prodos currently the only ones capable of producing dynamically posed once piece figures like this?

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