Friday, February 17, 2017

Speechless (Language Not Suitable for Young Audiences)

Hmmm, wow.  I am absolutely speechless right now.  You really have to admire talent.  And this is some serious talent I am about to talk about.  So almost 4 years ago a company runs a kickstarter, for a pretty hot IP.  And to this day it still appears a non-trivial amount of backers still have not even received the core content (myself included), let alone everything they backed.  There has been a complete lack of proper communication and a number of faux pas.  Seriously, sending me email coupons for 25% off an order of the stuff I backed in the kickstarter but still have not received!? Also saying if I bought something from the webstore, they would ship my kickstarter along with it!?

So after 3 years (I'm giving a 1 year grace period for immediately after the kickstarter) of this type of behavior, it requires incredible talent to drop something on me that leaves me speechless (if it isn't obvious by now, I'm not really speechless).  Who and what exactly am I talking about?

Oh yeah, that's right:  Prodos Games and the Aliens vs Predator kickstarter.  But see, you might not have noticed what exactly that picture above is of.  Click on it for a larger image, you might have to zoom in on the box.  Go ahead, I'll wait.

See it?  Second Edition...  All new models, protective foam inside the box, no assembly models, redesigned (aka "fixed", maybe) game modes, revised (aka "fixed", maybe) rules and improved art!  How much better are all these things than the original edition?  I have no fucking idea, since I still haven't gotten mine!  And since I recently received notification that mine was now in shipment, almost a month ago, I'm sure I'm getting the "old" edition.

You might be thinking this might not even come out till 2020?  Nope, they claim it will start shipping on March 17th.  Of this year.

I am fucking speechless.  You have to be a seriously talented asshole, idiot, or both to even come up with shit like this.  It almost requires deliberate intent to fuck people over like this.  And this is not even a fuck you to those that haven't gotten our stuff yet.  It's a fuck you to those that have already received their's too.  Perhaps even worse.  Because there is an outside chance (yeah right) that I may actually get the second edition.  And there is an even slimmer chance that if I did, the models might not suck more than the 1st edition ones (I'm going to go out on a limb here but I speculate that 1st edition multi-part models will "look" better than one piece 2nd edition models).  But at least there is that chance.  All that people that have already gotten theirs have to hope for is that Prodos offers the "upgrade" pack (15 pounds retail) to them for free.  And that is pretty wishful thinking IMO.

Now, I suspect that I am actually making this out worse than it is.  I suspect what you see above, advertised as second edition, is actually a scaled down version of the 1st edition game to hit a reduced price mark and to hopefully gain market penetration due to that price point and simpler components.  And it just happens to "utilize" updated rules.  But if that is really the case, the way this was announced is just another faux pas demonstrating how incompetent this company and it's leadership are.  And that still leaves me speechless.

No matter the case, it is important to realize one thing.  For this to have occurred (2nd edition box set with all the mentioned "improvements/changes") Prodos Games had to have had positive cash flow at some point (hard to imagine I know).  And at that point they face a decision:  1)  Dump cash into designing 2nd edition assets or 2) Fulfill their previous promises (ie, deliver their kickstarter).  They choose wrong.

Fuck you Prodos.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Dropfleet Commander, Scourge Cruiser Assembly and Magnetizing

In the previous post, I covered how I assembled and magnetized my Scourge Frigates.  As I began to write up the Cruiser assembly and magnetizing section, I realized the length dictated that I probably break the post up into two parts, so here is the second part.
KS Exclusive Scourge Battle-Cruiser

My first attempt to build and magnetize a cruiser was a complete failure, so it quickly got re-purposed to the Kickstarter exclusive battle-cruiser (which has special/different bits).  This hid all the mistakes I made and ultimately the battle-cruiser was not a suitable for magnetizing anyway (that "crown" is the deal breaker).  

While I do think the quality of the frigates and cruisers are excellent, these special add-on parts for the battle-cruiser (at least for Scourge) were a bit of a let down and required significant work.  All the pieces (crown and the forward "winglets") had large ports and vents, as well as pretty bad mold lines.  Additionally, the crown was badly curved.  It took some work, but all of that was addressable and I think it looks great now.  And overall, I've seen much much worse.  It was just a little disappointing after how great the frigates were.

Cruiser Assembly and Magnetizing
Anyway, back to magnetizing the cruisers.  As I tried to wrap my head around magnetizing the cruisers, I stumbled across a great blog post at NanoTanks that really helped break down the issues at hand (you can find the specific post here).  To cover all the bases you are looking at:  3 different wing options, 4 "mouth" options, crown and no crown, and belly or no belly.  Hmm, I think that is 48 permutations.  Not all permutations are valid configurations in the rules of course but wow.

I'll cover the crown first, since it requires placing a hidden magnet during the first steps of assembly.
Never mind those small holes in the mouth, we will come back
to that later.
In the picture above, you can see a large magnet recessed (left) before putting the upper fuselage piece on (right).  This upper fuselage piece is fairly thin and a larger magnet can provide enough attractive force to hold the small/light crown (the small piece on the cutting pad between them) to the upper hull.  
The "large" magnet.  Not really that large except when
compared to the "small" magnets.
Two small magnets placed below the crown.  Note
these were not recessed as they are fairly obscured.
A bad picture with the crown held on by the magic of
The wings and belly are easy enough:

Small magnets for the wings and in the socket, similar
to the frigates.

Wing Option 1

Wing Option 2

Wing Option 3

Again, small magnets for the belly option.
I used 2 here to minimize rotation.  Again, ignore those
holes in the "mouth."
Show me your belly!

So far not to bad.  Now all that is left is 4 mouth options but this is where things get tricky since the 4 options are actually:  1 no option (vanilla/plain) and 3 attachments.

My first approach failure was to place a hidden magnet (one of the large ones) in between the left and right halves of the fuselage, in the mouth area.  This was difficult to do without drilling through the side but it is doable.  The next part, was to attach ferro paper to the backsides of the 3 attachment options.  This failed because there was simply not enough attractive force.  Hell, even just the paper by itself didn't hold in place.

The second approach failure was to drill two holes, as seen in some of the pictures above, in the mouth section and attempt to place the small magnets on the backsides of the 3 attachment options.  This was a very bad idea due to the obvious alignment nightmare it creates.  This also completely eliminates the no attachment option.  I was going to live with this though because the 2 cruisers builds that have vanilla mouths are already visually distinctive by being the only configurations with launch pods or the belly or I would just keep 1 or 2 cruisers aside specifically for the vanilla mouth configurations.

Building on the second approach (and having no way to turn back from the mess I already caused) I decided to drill out just the forward drill hole for a large magnet and reamed it out to be even bigger than that.

These magnets are not recessed either but
hidden away in the large hole through the mouth.

So the magnets on each side do not actually make contact but the attractive force is more than enough to hold them securely in place.  And reaming out the hole to be a bit larger than the magnets addressed the alignment issues.

There you have it, Scourge Cruiser magnetizing with all the options.  Except the vanilla mouth option that I gave up on.  Or did I?

I just happened to have this, never have used it before.

I didn't create the mold using this cruiser which has
the two holes drilled in the mouth.

Lip balm is great when working with green stuff to
smooth it out and to minimize sticking.

Thinly rolled greenstuff pressed over my molds.  Yes
there is a "little" excess.

Its not necessarily the prettiest solution but from the angle and distance that you view the ships from, it works beautifully.  Sort of.  The greenstuff is a bit flimsy since it is so thin and I am worried about the long term wear and tear of removing these pieces (the large magnets have the stuff together pretty tightly).  I tried the same thing with 2 different kinds of milliput that I had but was not pleased with either result.  I will try again though, maybe my ratios were off.  I've also heard of mixing greenstuff and milliput.  And there is also Magic Sculpt (?).

There was yet another potential solution failure I attempted after this.  But I don't want to talk about it.  Let's just say it was a really bad idea.  Oh no, I just thought of another potential solution that I happen to have the materials for, hmmm.

Anyway, that was/is my solution (for now at least).  I just need to finish the rest of these off (2 more cruisers, 8 more frigates) and get them off my hobby desk.  Maybe then I can focus my attention back to some other things that have been ignored for the past month.  I'll also need to order some more magnets (this project tore through my supply) before trying PHR or UCM (both of which look a bit more challenging than Scourge).

Btw, I think this is something worth mentioning:  Despite having a supply of magnets on hand for this project, this is actually the first time I had ever magnetized any of my miniatures.  Maybe it is just the engineer in me but I really enjoyed it.  As you can perhaps see from above, there is a certain problem solving aspect to it that I really liked.  And I really did not find it all that difficult, so if you have ever wanted to do it but been afraid to - give it a try.  That being said, if you absolutely hate pinning miniatures I can't imagine you would like magnetizing them.  

Friday, February 3, 2017

Dropfleet Commander, Scourge Frigate Assembly and Magnetizing

Shortly before Christmas, my kickstarter of Dropfleet Commander arrived and has been a bit of a distraction.  From the kickstarter I picked up a starter fleet for Scourge, PHR and UCM.  Actually, I doubled down on the UCM starter fleet because I love their ships so much.  Scourge were perhaps my least favorite, but to try to stay interested and motivated I started with assembling them first.  This was also because I wanted to experiment with magnetizing the various options, first on a fleet that I wasn't as excited by.

Up front, I will apologize for the quality of the pictures.  My new smartphone apparently has camera that picks up the scan lines from my bench light.  And since a number of photos was taken before I realized this, I was not going to go back and re-shoot them.

Frigate Assembly and Magnetizing

The first batch of Scourge Frigates, with a pile of bits for all the options
The frigates are actually a breeze to assemble:  just the center body of the ship and a left and right attachments (btw, I am going to call them wings from here on).  Easy, unless you decide to magnetize all the wings so that you are not locked into a particular loadout in army construction (or have to resort to proxying).  Seemed like a great idea at the time, now I would say it is more of an obsession.

In any case, magnetizing the frigates really is not that bad with a couple of tricks and practice.  The left and right wings are just ball-n-socket joints.  Drilling and putting a magnet into the socket is pretty straight forward.  You just have to be careful of two things:
  1. Do not drill to far.  Drill a little, check to see if the magnet will sit flush.  Drill a little more, check again.  So on.  These pieces are not that thick and you will break through the other side fairly quickly.
  2. ALWAYS check the polarity of magnets even before you do a dry fit check!  They have a habit of getting stuck, even when just doing a dry fitting, so you want to make sure if that happens you haven't totally screwed yourself.  
For the ball side of the ball-n-socket (ie, the main fuselage), you are going to need a very expensive tool to get the drill started on a curved surface properly:
Yes, a thumbtack.  Just sand the half sphere down a little bit and then use
the thumbtack "scar" a hole to start your drill bit in.  Great
to use on any drilling project.
A few twists of the drill bit and then drop the magnets in with as little CA glue as I can (it's a tight fit hopefully, so any excess glue will get all over the place) and I am done!
You can hopefully spot the magnets here.
A wing option.

Different wing option.

Now, I will say that I wish the magnetic attachment was stronger.  The wings are not likely to fall off or anything, at least with reasonably gentle handling.  But due to the ball-n-socket situation, they will rotate a fair amount.  That being said, I am justifying living with this defect by believing they would be articulated in reality and you can't convince me otherwise.  LOL
The magnets used, herein referred to as the "small magnets."
Also, these are about as big and strong as I think you can get for the joints.
One last thing to note is about the models themselves.  I think these particular models are excellent.  No significant mold lines.  The ports and vents are sometimes located in inconvenient locations but a closer inspection leads me to believe there was really no way around this.  You do need to be careful though.
These almost look the same...
As you can see in the picture above there are 2 identical wing options.  Except, they are not exactly identical.  When clipping one of these out the sprue, I was not careful and apparently caused (or left) a little to much tension on the wing and snapped that second "tail" partial off.  Ultimately, I decide to just cut the remaining tail off and completely amputate it from the matching wing.  The morale of the story is, be careful and mindful of what you are doing.  Some of these bits are tiny, thin and delicate.

In the next post, I will cover my attempts to magnetize the cruiser options.  That was significantly more tricky.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

January Recap

Sadly not much to report for the month of January.  =(

Per a previous post, I did read through the rules for Dropfleet Commander and the game looks very interesting.  That prompted me to get distracted and start assembling the Scourge from the kickstarter but I have not had much time to do even that (maybe just a couple of hours a week).  And since I decided to magnetize the options for the Scourge fleet, that has not resulted in actually getting many of them completed (just 4 Frigates, 3 Cruisers; still leaving me with 8 Frigates and 2 more Cruisers I believe).  I have post regarding that effort prepared and it will be up in the next couple of days.

In other news, I received the remaining part of my Shadows of Brimstone kickstarter:

I really didn't realize there was this much remaining to my pledge.  And I really have no idea what I am going to do with all this stuff.  I also received an email from Prodos that my AvP kickstarter was in shipment!  What!?  I wont hold my breath though, I'm sure it will be in "shipment" status for an eternity and then probably another year for it to arrive via pony express.  And I seem to not even really care anymore.

That's pretty much it.  Looking forward, I'm going to try to knock out the last of the Scourge fleet this week.  After that, I have an Adepticon project to address (assuming some bitz I ordered ever come in) and I should also get back to my Masons and finish them.  Hmm, the question is whether or not to add the 3 new Mason models to that batch.  I think I will hold off till I finish the others but who knows.  I might even knock out a quick and simple paint job for my Scourge.  Also hoping to get a game of something in this month.  We'll see but I need to get as much done before March as I can, because hobby time will have to take a backseat to some serious yard work that needs to be done that month.