Sunday, November 9, 2014

3mm GEV Armored Task Force and Anti-Grav Armored Battalion, by The National Cheese Emporium (Shapeways)

As I mentioned last week, I received a package from Andreas Udby, AKA “Javelin98”, proprietor of The National Cheese Emporium shop on Shapeways in mid-May. In it was a nice selection of Andreas’ 3mm science-fiction stuff, which I have finally gotten around to painting up.

As I also explained last week, TNCE’s stuff varies wildly in quality. Andreas’ began making figures years ago in 1/900 scale for Ogre Miniatures players. When Oddzial Osmy’s 3mm (1/600) stuff started becoming popular, he re-sized some of his production and started in on new lines. As the years have gone by, his 3D sculpting skills have drastically improved. So you can kinda say Andreas has sort of a “the good, the bad, and the ugly” dynamic going on.

Last week, I presented the vehicles of TNCE’s Wheeled Taskforce, which I found to be quite good. These, of course, are a relatively recent sculpt. I thus decided to do some “ugly” vehicles this week: the hover and grav task forces.

These are “more recent” sculpts: not as nice as Andreas’ newest stuff, but not as basic as the re-sized 1/900 line. I do not like these sculpts, but I must say, the hover vehicles  ended up looking much better than I thought once they were painted! I am still not into the grav vehicles, however.

Lets take a look…

The hover vehicles are obviously inspired by David Drake’s Hammer’s Slammers series, so I painted them up as if they were from that universe. I think the silver paint scheme turned out quite nicely! I am not so sure about the grav vehicles, however. I wanted to go for a US Air Force basic gray paint job. It doesn’t seem to have worked as well as the silver scheme and that might be one of the problems  with these vehicles.
The main problem with both lines, however, is that I think they are too small for 1/600 scale.

Here we see the hover tank and grav IFV models in relation to an O8 Caesarion (from that company's sci-fi line) and a TNCE wheeled AFV. See the difference? It is particularly noticeable in the grav vehicle. These figures need to be at least 25% larger, in  my opinion.

To top it all off, the packs have the same problem as the earlier vehicles I reviewed: they come in  a pre-established mix and you can't buy the sculpts you want seperately. This is particularly problematic for the hover line. O8 has also produced some (much superior, IMHO) hover tanks based on the Hammers’ franchise, but they stopped expanding the line, apparently due to fears that they were infringing on John Treadaway’slicense for HS miniatures. We thus only have the blower and combat car for that line. It would be nice to get artillery, command cars and maybe some other vehicles and TNCE’s figs could fill that niche… if we could actually buy only the figures that we need. As it is, we have to buy the whole selection at 3-4 times the O8 price.

O8 hover tank.

TNCE’s combat car is particularly bad in my opinion. I’ve stuck one of O8’s Heavy Infantry troopers in there, just so we can see how it scales. Not very well, as it turns out. There’s barely room for two troopers in the back, let alone the canonical three. And where is the driver and engine on this bloody thing?

TNCE combat car with O8 heavy trooper in back
This brings up another point: far too many GEV-style futuristic tanks - from almost all the companies producing them - don’t make adequate space provisions for the vehicle’s drive train. Many manufactures seem to think that the way to model an air-cushion vehicle is to chop off the treads and stick on a ground effect skirt. GEVs, however, need air intakes and enough space UNDER that skirt for fans or jets or what not, not to mention what needs to be a pretty robust powerpack. They thus shouldn’t be lower to the ground than treaded or wheeled vehicles. TCNE dosn't sin particularly worse than other manufacturers here, but it's still annoying.

My grades for these vehicles are: B- for the hover combat team and C for the grav combat team. Resizing the hover vehicles and making their mix geared to the kinds of models we can’t get from O8 would raise that team’s grade to a B+ for me. Resculpting them slightly to let them fit in better with O8’s vehicles (i.e. higher chassis and add intake fans) would move them into the A range.
The grav vehicles, however, aren’t worth redoing, most particularly because TNCE has recently sculpted two far better grav lines, so why waste your money here?

We will look at those new grav lines in a future installment!

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