Monday, 26 September 2016

Model Display Products Dropzone Bases

Last week I popped down Firestorm to play a few games of Age of Sigmar and Malifaux (need to get those Divergent Paths games in!) and while I was there innocently minding my own business getting whomped by Dom, Martyn (the owner of Model Display Products) chucked a bag of resin at me. This wasn't as violent as it sounds as the bag contained four sets of miscasts from his new joint venture with Hawk Wargames, sets of sculpted scenic bases for Dropzone commander Infantry.

Now when I say miscasts, these weren't mis-moulded in any way you could tell, Martyn prides himself on his high quality control, and all these bases had wrong with them were air bubbles in the bottom of the base, enough that Martyn wouldn't want to sell them, but realistically perfectly fine. As luck would have it I had a blister of Berserkers and a set of Free riders yet to be based at home, so I decided to do a quick review of the bases to show them off a bit as a thank you to Martyn, as well as talking through any issues/worries that I had with them.

To start with i'll describe what we have here- Martyn has sculpted 2 sets of bases for the 10mm infantry in Hawk Wargames Dropzone range, these are over the standard hawk bases so are the right size in every way, and he has two variants in each set- one with 5 spaces for infantry, and one with 3. I don't know what Martyn is going to call the variants, but for now I'm going to refer to them as Ruins and Rubble.


The ruins bases have high sections of ruined wall, girders and brickwork standing between 3-12mm proud of the base itself, the detail is pretty high with ruined arches, door lintels and window frames mixed in amongst the brickwork and slabs. 


The rubble bases have much lower sections of texture, with bricks, rocks etc and some of the same details as the ruins bases but an overall lower profile, probably 3mm raised max, there's more dirt/gravel type texture on these bases than the ruins though. (already built the freeriders before I had the review idea, oops..)


When Martyn first talked about his idea for custom bases I was interested, but had two initial misgivings- firstly that irregular infantry like bikes, razorworms etc wouldn't fit on bases with too much detail, and secondly that the detail could cover the holes themselves and make it difficult to fit the troops in. 

On looking at the bases I had, I think the first worry was definitely going to be an issue with the ruins bases- they are (to me) the best looking bases of the pair, but the raised detail was going to make it impossible for my freeriders to fit without carving a fair chunk of it off, which would defeat the point of using pre-made bases. The rubble bases however looked like they'd be much better, and so I decided to go with those for the freeriders.

They assembled very easily, none of the holes had been filled by the texture, and although the raised detail meant that I couldn't have them exactly parallel to each other this actually looks much more natural than my other freeriders (who look strangely regimented in comparison) I did have an issue where I accidentally used two of the rear mounted bikes on one base, so I then had to  do a bit of chopping and changing to get the last bike to fit, but this also added to a lack of uniformity so I'm happy with it. 

As I'd used the rubble for the bikers, it seemed sensible to use the ruins for the infantry. 

Now these were a little trickier to build than the first set, and one of the reasons was my second worry- one of the bases (in the bottom right of the picture) has two sockets that have been very slightly covered by texture, this meant I had to trim the stands on the berserkers to fit. This didn't take long as it literally meant just clipping off a sliver on one side, and the rest fit in very snug (even sliding under detail in a few places to fit very nicely). The other reason it was a bit tricky is two of the berserkers are waving their arms about a fair bit and there were a few slots on each base where they wouldn't stand facing forwards, not a huge issue but it did make it more important to plan ahead. 


Once the glue had dried I sprayed them black and gave them a few quick layers of grey and brown drybrushes to match the rest of my infantry, trying to keep the brown on the textured dirt areas and the grey on the detail. the raised detail is sharp enough that even a simple two-tone drybrush of each colour really picked it up, I then gave it a final very light drybrush of bone over the most raised areas to tie the two colours together and catch the eye a little more. 

Yep, that's a terrible photo, but you get the drift. I'm not great at painting infantry preferring vehicles where I can see the detail (my eyes aren't what they used to be) so I tend to base them first, then use the drybrushed areas as a basecoat to pick out details. I gave the bikes a quick red and yellow paintjob, with the riders keeping the green coveralls and grey plates my resistance fighters wear. The berserkers I decided to paint in a red and black scheme, with the skin in various tones then lightly painted over in white and black for a bit of a 'warboys' vibe. 

I picked out some detail on the bases first with bone, then pure white, I wanted it to look like ruined plaster- there are plenty of red-brick type detail pieces that I think would look amazing picked out in that colour, but it wouldn't have blended in well with my force so I stuck with plain grey for the most part. The details I did pick out were door lintels, interior walling, oversized blocks etc. I tried to spread it out across each base so it wasn't overwhelming the minis but there's enough detail on there to give a fair bit of choice on how you want to bring it out.

After this I inked the whole lot (base, bike, berserker) with Agrax Earthshade and left it to dry before adding some foliage tufts to show the overgrown nature of the core worlds. 

Freeriders on rubble bases- 

Berserkers on ruins bases-


I have a tendency to make my own bases for 28-32mm scale minis, but when I started dropzone I stuck to plain sand bases with clump foliage for the most part- only my veterans got some ruins and rubble to hide behind. When I think how long I spent trying to get the base texture looking good without getting in the minis way and compare it to how easy these bases are to build and paint then I'm definitely going to stick with these in the future (they look better too annoyingly). 

The detail is lovely and crisp, and pretty varied across the stands, especially when you think that you could spin them 180 degrees and they'd look very different. There are very few plain areas across all the bases, meaning there's very little work to do, and they needed hardly any cleaning up too. (although as these were miscast even the cleaning up I did have to do would probably not be needed on a finished product) 

They didn't manage to completely avoid the pitfalls I envisaged early on, larger infantry like ATV's and potentially even destroyers are going to need a little work on both sets (less on the rubble) although Martyn's done a great job of keeping the sockets almost entirely clear of texture. I'd definitely recommend covering the models little minibase with a textured paint of some sort once they are in place to blend them in (I went back and did this myself) but other than that they look really good and take very little effort to get that way. I'm not sure how much they are looking to retail at (or even when they hit general release with Hawk) but I'll definitely be picking more rubble bases up for my Scout ATV's and will use the remaining MDP bases I have for my Marine Force Recon and Sappers:)

I also now have spare sets of plain bases, allowing me a little freedom to sculpt some texture of my own for Martyn to potentially get cast up- so my question is what sort of bases would be nice outside the ruined urban environment, desert, jungle, space station or even something else? 


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