|Maagaan encased in a cunning spell of binding... ahem... it's a blister pack.|
So after yesterday's exceedingly late article on Banelegion's, I'm guessing some of you are wanting me to review some of the miniatures I own, right? Well oh go on then, you've twisted my arm! So where to start? Well I've decided to start with Maagaan Warlock of Baalor. Why you ask? Well if you've been reading my Blog of late you'll know that the painting side of my hobby has taken a bit of a kicking over the last few years. So I've been looking for something to help rekindle my love of painting... seriously, if that isn't a big enough hint then I don't know what the hell is!Lets just say I had an incentive to review this miniature first.
Maagaan, who is not to be confused with a Renault Mégane, is a Warlock of Baalor apparently. I'm sure it's a fascinating job I really am and I guess he must be a terribly important sort. Any way, what he is in reality is a very fine sculpt from the very talented hands of Jacques-Alexander Gillois. It's also cast in resin and is a very fine quality reproduction of the original I'm sure. The miniature itself is cast into five individual parts, and has your standard square slotta base to sit in. The largest part of the miniature is undoubtedly the main body. The two arms are the next two most substantial pieces, one his sword arm and the other his magical wand arm. Although I'm sure Maagaan by the look of him is too manly to call it a wand himself, he probably refers to it as a 'rod of power' or some such name... but we all know it's a wand really. Next up is the fur cloak insert, a fiddly piece of resin to attach to be sure, and one I could happily have lived without if truth be told. But that fur cloak wasn't as fiddly as the sword scabbard, man that contact point is positively titchy. Still the fur cloak was the most awkward of pieces to get sitting right. I'll briefly mention the very large resin vent's on this miniature here, simply because they're quite evident in the picture, all I'll say is that they're a bit 'unwelcome' but if you take your time and are careful they won't pose any major issues.
|Maagaan looking all threatening.|
Well he's a Warlock Jim but not as we know it. Many of you my age (that's old in gaming years by the way) will have been brought up on the premise that spell casters and magic uses can't be encumbered with armour, and still be free cast their fireballs of doom and healing spell of Veltharion (warning healing spell of Veltharion does not exist and will not actually heal you if invoked). So just where the hell does this leave us when looking at Maagaan? I tell you where, scratching our heads and thinking all those DM's bloody lied to us! Why? Because just look how heavily armoured Maagaan actually is, you'd need a .50 Cal sniper round to puncture it. Good lord man, how do you cast your healing spells? I guess the armour should be a give away shouldn't it? I really don't think Maagaan is the defencive healer type, nope what Mr Gillois has created is a warrior warlock par-excellence. The way he stands, feet planted firmly apart, head held high gives Maagaan the impression that he is a grimly determined individual that oozes power, rather than merely alludes to it.
His polar bear pelt cloak, or whatever beastie it comes from, along with his wickedly pointed steel plate armour hint at a savagery barely repressed behind the thin trappings of civility. I get the distinct feeling Maagaan isn't the sort of fellow to be messing with, he seems the type to respond quite viciously to any 'misunderstandings'. His rounded shoulder Pauldron's with there wicked crest of spikes tell you he's not to be trifled with, as do the Poleyn guards at his knees. Although I suspect they're not there to guard his knees at all, but are indeed yet a further offencive weapon to be used. Maagaan looks more warrior than warlock. So to give the miniature further 'warlock credentials', beyond his wand, there's a pouch hanging low at his waist. All good warlocks need pouches right? Where else are you going to keep your lucky rabbits feet? Then there appears to be a horn or a tusk also slung at his waist just above the pouch. It's probably used in some incantation or other. Round his back, just above his right hip and hidden from view are two scrolls, I'm guessing they don't contain his shopping list. Little touches true, but it does shift the balance of the piece back towards that 'mage' vibe.
|This picture shows you Maagaan's warlock credentials, as well as his armour detailing.|
It makes Maagaan look like he is equally capable of lopping off limbs with a stroke of his well crafted long-sword, as he does immolating individuals with his wand. His pose is well poised too, as mentioned above, stepping forward confidently, sword and wand crossed mid casting. It might not be as animated as some spell casting sculpts, but it does tell a 'story' and hint at a stoic character behind Maagaan's deep sunk eyes. His face has a grim determination etched onto its haughty features. Given his face is such a small feature on the over all miniature, it is therefore impressive that Gillois has squeezed so much emotion and character into it. Maagaan's face pulls you in as a viewer and forces you to lock eyes with him, just like he's no doubt locking eyes with some enemy or other in this pose. A very cool effect indeed. I really like Maagaan, he's not an overly 'showy' sculpt with way too much going on in his pose. It's a simple well contained miniature with subtle touches and an overall strong design brief, that calls for a heavily armoured warrior-warlock. A good all round miniature, who has a very menacing and brooding tone.
|Maagaan's fur cloak|
A certain well know miniature behemoth has spent the last year trying to convince the hobby world that resin is an awesome substance to make miniatures out of. I happen to agree with them. Thing is, there's resin and then there's resin. Luckily for the guys behind the Banelegion's range Maagaan is made out of the good type of resin. The type of resin that picks up all that lovely, delicate surface detail and sharp lines. The sort of resin that allows glorious reproductions of the original master to come to pass. Unsurprisingly like the resin used in the Studio McVey miniatures (it's the same stuff), the resin Maagaan is cast out of has clearly lifted all of the amazing detail that was there to be squeezed out of the mould. The fur cloak's surface in particular is a very nice example of how delicate and fine fur can be sculpted, when the material it is cast in won't 'shrink' away from the mould and lose the detail. The fur pelts I'm more used to seeing are overly exaggerated tufts of fur that lose the subtle nuances real life fur pelts have with the individual strands of hair. Now I'm not saying this fur cloak gets down to the individual strands of hair stage, BUT, what I am saying is that because of how crisp the reproduction is Mr Gillois has been able to get closer to reproducing fur than most.
|A close up of Maagaan's stern face.|
After the fur cloak the next largest surface area on the miniature is undeniably the wonderfully angled looking plate armour Maagaan is covered in. It's a lovely battle scarred surface, replete with gouges, dent's, chips and scratches. This suit of armour has seen plenty of action and the quality of the casting has retained all of this fine detail. There are a series of chains slung around his waste too, the links of which are incredibly fine and well defined. They're not there to just make him look all gnarly and kick-ass though, various items are slung from it as mentioned above in the character section, the pouch looks like a pouch, the scrolls look like scrolls and so forth and so on. Again the level of crisp detail crammed into these items is impressive, as is the fact that they remain crisp. But for exceedingly fine detail and to test how good the resin reproduction is you should look no further than the chain-mail protecting the backs of Maagaan's legs and the piece slung from his waist and down between his legs. Finer looking pieces of chain-mail you'll be hard pressed to find in a miniature of this size. The final thing I wish to talk about detail wise is Maagaan's face. The very fine lines and well crafted features are amazingly well reproduced, from the bags under his deep sunk eyes, his high cheek bones too his pursed lips. Excellent.
|The wand vent, obscures the curved end quite badly.|
So now we hit some of the snags I had with the miniature. But first I want to get the good things out of the way. As is hinted at above in the detail section of this review, the quality of this reproduction is simply put amazing. Like the reproductions of the Studio McVey and Kingdom Death pieces, the level of retained detail is truly impressive. The quality of the resin used is also very high and it's a delight to work with, easy to clean and there was not a single air bubble. So far on the quality score Maagaan was heading for a 9 out of ten. So what went wrong? Well first off whoever cut the miniature was an absolute sadist. True it's nowhere near the worst cut model I've ever seen, but the way this miniature was cut leads to a number of issues with completing the piece via assembly and ultimately trying to apply a nice paint job. If you zip back up to the product description and take a look at the components picture you'll see part of what I'm getting at, sure five pieces doesn't sound too bad when assembling a miniature. I agree, it isn't, BUT it's what these pieces are and where they're cut that causes minor annoyance.
|Maintaing the swords profile while removing this vent is tricky|
Firstly lets talk about Maagaan's arms. Given how they've been sculpted, thrust out in front of him and crossed, they were always going to need some part of them casting separately. With the large spikes on the pauldron of his left arm, the wand arm, I accept the point that that arm would need to be cast separately as a piece. The right arm though I do not accept needed cutting at the shoulder joint. Removing the arm at the shoulder also left a headache when casting the remaining miniature, namely a small thin piece of the fur cloak jutting out. So that too needed to be cut away and cast separately. This means there are lots of cuts now passing through Jacques-Alexander Gillois lovely refined fur cloak, meaning you are left with the task of green stuffing any gaps and trying to hide the fact with a bit of sculpting of your own. Thankfully fur is one of the easier surfaces to replicate. I really think all of that hassle could have been avoided had the arm been cut just below the right shoulder pauldron. This would also have enabled the sword arm to have been painted separately from the rest of the miniature. This would have allowed the painter (in this case me) to have got their paint brush in easier to the breastplate and face unhindered.
|The least annoying of the vents because any mistakes can be hidden.|
As it is, it can get awkward at times painting the miniature around the torso and face area, it's not impossible and you'll only notice it being a bit of a pain very briefly and infrequently, but a pain it is nevertheless. The other issue is something that can afflict all fine resin miniatures, vents! Any of you who have seen some of the Finecast miniatures in their spru's will have seen lots of little air channels that have been cut into the moulds to ensure the resin flows to every piece of detail and that no air gets trapped. Sometimes these vents need to be in 'unfortunate' situations, and so it is with Maagaan. The first large vent is on the cloak insert right along the join and next to the raised nobble to attach it to the rest of the miniature. But it's the vents on the end of the wand and the sword that are the biggest pains. Because they're on visible details that are meant to be sharp, clean, flowing lines. Be very careful when removing them! I want to be clear though, that while these things are far from perfect, they're not complete deal breakers for me. I still think that the finished miniature is well worth the hassle these minor inconveniences cause. On the flip side though there are hardly any mould lines on the miniatures to clean at all.
Service 8 out of 10
Well I actually picked up Maagaan in person at Maelstrom's Mansfield store. The person smiled at me as they took my cash and asked if I wanted a bag. I suppose it was a bit much to expect Maagaan to get off of the shelf and buy himself for me now wasn't it? As always though, the staff were friendly, enthusiastic and helpful.
Price 8 out of 10
Well for £8.99 I don't think he's badly priced at all, especially for such a lovely sculpt. Sure it wasn't free but hey, not everything can be right? Compare that price with say Kingdom Death, or Studio McVey pieces and it looks at the least comparable and very reasonable. It looks especially so when compared to the exorbitant prices Games Workshop charge for some of their Finecast figures, which still leave me shocked when I see the state of them and the price being asked. Yeah, I think £8.99 is a fair price.
|Here's what it should look like with Sebastien Pique's paint job|
I guess the few fiddly bits and bobs I had while assembling the miniature pulled the overall score down a tad. It certainly could have been 'cut' a little bit better. That extra insert in the fur cloak wasn't necessary and the fact that the two arms crossed out in front on him like that, meant they got in the way of painting some of the details. That also ground my gears a bit. I couldn't leave the arms off the miniature though because the shoulder pads were attached to the fur and left gaps... argh... I've already been over this in the quality section, and I don't want to labour the point. Suffice to say it was enough to knock the score down from an 8.5 to the score of 8 you see above. What I do want to leave you with though, as your lasting impression of the piece is my belief that all round Maagaan, Warlock of Baalor is worth the effort. Jacques-Alexander Gillois has worked his own particular brand of magic yet again and produced a really characterful sculpt, with some truly beautiful lines. It's a fair price to pay and the minor quibbles still aren't enough to take the sheen off of what is otherwise a truly brilliant miniature. Peace out!
EDIT: A comparison shot with some of my Ultramarines for SinSynn.