For the first time, baddie-dwarves arrive in hard plastic! How does Mantic’s offering fare, and better still, how are the games they belong to?
A younger, less beardy me, recalls strolling into a friendly local game store, and seeing my first ever baddie-dwarf army for Warhammer Fantasy. Speaking with its owner I knew I had to pursue a similar project, but distinctly remember my eyes bugging out of my head when he told me that they had all been from Forgeworld, and accordingly told me what they had cost. I never did forget how much allure those models had over me.
Too many years later, I was excitedly opening my mail when I discovered a care package from a friend at Mantic Games. Inside, and in proper hard plastic were the Dwarves-by-way-of-Babylon, I had forgotten I had wanted to urgently.
Released initially for the excellent KoW Vanguard skirmish game, the Abyssal Dwarves have been expanded into a full line, now ready to make its way into Kings of War 3rd edition proper. I suppose it helps when your head-honcho is a Dwarf fan himself, because these models are terrific.
For a bit of context let me offer this. In recent years Mantic’s modeling, and specifically hard-plastic production has grown by leaps and bounds. All of their supported systems are seeing more numerous, and frequent releases, but far more importantly, the quality of those releases has improved immeasurably. The powers that be are clearly doing this in a particularly mindful way as well, as their most dated (and occasionally troubled) models were among the first to be replaced. There was unquestionably a point where Mantic started getting noticed for its excellent rules, but I can genuinely say I look forward to their model releases now, as well.
Back to these Abyssals. Mantic has done a terrific job of walking a tight-rope. Knowing the system for which they will be used these models needed to be able to rank-up (if so desired) for a classic aesthetic, but those models still had to look good individually. All of this, of course, also had to feel value-rich, as there is an expectation that rank-and-file games will generally be higher model count (though Mantic does build in certain allowances right into their rules).
In all of these regards, I would say they have succeeded.
As pictured below, two highly efficient sprues build out the two types of core Abyssal Dwarf unit, Blacksouls, and the ranged Decimators. Cleverly, space was even found for the “Throwing Mastiff” an army-wide upgrade that previously wouldn’t be modeled with the unit, rather just being found on your list. The bodies themselves have a healthy range of left and right handed shields and melee weapons which help the ranked models fit in blocks without blending into one another due to excessive sameness.
The models went together easily with generous contacts, and importantly I never found myself with gaps to fill, or mould-lines to shave. This can be a godsend on a project where you could conceivably build a hundred of any given individual model.
At an MSRP of $30 USD, you actually get a doubled set of the sprues, for a total of twenty-four models. I would say the value proposition boxed was checked very nicely.
My soul quibble is ultimately an understandable choice. I would have loved to see two-handed melee weapons on the sprue, as it is a standard option for the unit in-game, but the sprues absolutely don’t have the room. Knowing this compromise was made to again keep the kit’s value high, makes sense, and Mantic does directly sell metal arms with the two-handed weapons. It is notable that even with the extra cost, the kit and arms combo comes in significantly cheaper than any alternative I have ever personally found for evil dwarves.
I hope to bring you some painted pics in the near future, though for transparency-sake I should let you know that I have quite a few Kings of War armies on the production line at the moment. What this means, however, is that I hope to bring readers a good bit more KoW content going forward. Long-time readers know it has long been one of my favorite competitive systems, and with 3rd edition absolutely being the best the game has ever been, I am eager to log many more games, all while exploring the new A-game Mantic is bringing to their current and upcoming releases.
And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!