So, A little while ago, Sebastian from Studio Level Terrain asked if I would be able to review some pieces from his upcoming Kickstarter, The Bantam Alley, (Which is live now, and its definitely worth a look)
Of course I was more than happy to help out. Within a week or so a package arrived containing a generous selection of the terrain pieces on offer.
What struck me first was that, for terrain pieces they were nicely packaged. I was expecting just plain bags as with most terrain and scenery kits, but the simple addition of a nicely designed cardboard label does make them look more professional, they would certainly stand out on hangers in your local hobby shop.
Most of Sebastian’s current wargaming terrain range is very fantasy inspired So i was extremely interested to see how these latest pieces stacked up;
But before I delve any further into the products themselves here’s a bit of background from Sebastian himself.
“Salute, my name is Sebastian – StudioLevel founder. I’m a professional Wargaming terrain designer & maker. In my workshop I create, still with passion, original battlefield finest supplements for the most popular 28mm miniature games and for hobbyists. I offer you high quality, unique, carefully painted, ready to battle, real texture gameboards, custom multiple sets or single models for your game mat. Miniatures conversion enthusiast, collector and painter after work. Recently my friend Tom joined me. He is a specialist in 3D modeling, film making and photography. Together we are working on our first Kickstarter project so stay tuned !!”
Ok, onto the good stuff, the terrain itself from the Kickstarter. First of all, the material. As some of you will know, not all resins are created equal, in fact its quite easy to get this part very, very wrong. Some resins can be too soft, some can be too brittle, and really cheap resins can give off some pretty atrocious smells if you sand them or even score them with a knife. Thankfully Studio Level seems to have nailed this part, the resin is high quality, which means that its strong, but flexible enough that smaller parts aren’t easily damaged (in fact on the smaller pieces it behaves very much like the plastic you find in a traditional model kit).
Clean up with a knife is a pleasant experience because the resin isn’t too brittle (scraping a brittle resin with a knife is something akin to fingernails on a chalkboard, best avoided if you ask me).
After starting to cast my own miniatures, I now know that its not an easy task to get bubble free casts, but studio level have done it, I didn’t find a single intrusive bubble, nothing that I would need to make a mental note about filling before painting the pieces.
I would assume this means that they were pressure cast, which is great, it adds to the professionalism and quality of the product.
My only gripe (and its not a huge one) is that because these are one piece casts, there’s a bit of extra resin on the back of some of the pieces that a quick blast on a belt sander would have removed easily.
Like I said, not a huge gripe at all and most of the casts were spot on.
There’s also no warping to speak of, which is nice for a terrain piece, you won’t have to spend any time scolding fingers in hot water trying to straighten stuff out.
So, we know about the resin, and we know about the casting, but are the actual pieces any good? well, they’re actually pretty good. they’re a mix of 3d printing and traditional sculpting, which I quite like because you get the crisp technical details of say, hinges, fans and chequer plate etc, but with added traditional touches with some of the wires, scratches and dents and bits of gravel that are dotted about the pieces, something which if done solely in 3d can lead to a certain ‘softness’ in the details (take gravel for example, you just can’t duplicate decent looking gravel in 3d without spending a tremendous amount of time on it, and even then the 3d printer might not be able to pick out the detail, so it becomes easier and far more effective to just add it after the printing).
The pieces are all of generic real-world things like air-con units, fans and hatches, but they wouldn’t look out of place in a sci-fi setting, and would fit a post-apocalyptic diorama perfectly. The beer crates are brilliant, if possibly a little tricky to paint.
Also credit is due for these superbly executed hatches, they’re crisp, detailed and I can think of multiple uses already!
The overall consensus is that Studio Level have done a wonderful job with these new terrain pieces, and over the coming weeks I shall be demonstrating just what you can do with the pieces by putting together a few displays.