OK so writing this Blog has given me some quite privileged access to not only industry types but also some damn fine early swag! How else would I be able to get a review of a product up on my Blog on the day it's revealed, and not even released yet? I'd like to thank Rob Lane for sending me this nightmare inducing beastie! The concept sketch for the Vore was first revealed actually on this Blog, in the interview I did with Rob Lane. Luckily for those of you who read my Blog this also means you get the full lowdown on it as a product before it's released. So is it worth spending your hobby budget on?
Right, I got mine in a pre-production box, without a nice cover art laden card sleeve, that most big BaneLegions monsters come in.It was wrapped in a lot of protective bubble wrap, it's not getting damaged in transit, that's for sure! Right before I go on any further I have to work out whether the Vore is a he or a she, and like all good vets I've checked between the legs... and I can report it's a baby boy! So he is a he. With that out of the way, what is he comprised of?
The Blood Maw Vore (to give him his full name) is made up mostly of a huge chunky piece of resin, comprising the main body, sans limbs. His right arm comes with claws pre-attached while his left arm has three separate claws that require attaching to his hand... or whatever you call it. There are two stumpy little legs that are cut just below the knee, handily there's one left one and one right one. Each foot require the attaching of three large claw like toe nails, he so needs to see a chiropodist! Then is his... erm... I was going to call it his face, but that's not quite right, nope I think I'll have to call it his mouth! Inside this mouth goes a lot of fang like teeth, 28 in total. That brings the number of total components, including a large square resin base (not pictured) to 44. But seriously, there is not too much to do in terms of assembly, and it's mostly those teeth and claws that bump the component score up.
Character 9 out of 10
The Vore could've been a smooth skinned, faceless blob and been a horrid characterless mess. A good idea wasted on bad execution and a lack of empathy for the brief. I'm glad to report it is none of those things. The lack of a face has strangely become it's defining feature, in a way I didn't think it would. True, its gaping maw is the clear focal point at first, and the detail that most peoples eyes will be drawn to initially. Probably followed by those long and powerful looking arms that give him an ape like quality. But after the raw, sore looking gums and razor like teeth have done their visual thing, after the impressive length of his arms has sunk in, your eyes are drawn to the surface of the Vores skin. I know many of you were thinking I'd say those claws at the end of those thick powerful arms, those viscous battle scared claws, weren't you? Well no, impressive though they are, what actually draws you in next is the surface of his skin. It is a rich thick leathery surface, full of creases and folds. It looks tough and worn. In fact the Vore's skin seems to tell it's life story.
There are gashes and wounds all over him. Some newly opened, others long since healed, and many more in the wide and varied spectrum between those two extremes. The detail and character etched into the surface of this miniature is nothing short of splendid. There are sneaky attack wounds round the back of his knees, no doubt designed to bring the brute down. There are defence wounds on the face of his arms where he has fended off attackers. Old gashes on his back hint at the many ambushes this blind beast has faced. He simply put wears his wounds in his flesh like a proud soldier would wear their combat medals in full dress. It's not not just the wounds though, his skins surface is full of sores and boils, and in places it looks to have collected into dry callous like mounds. These mounds almost look like chitinous armour in places, and appear most frequently on the backs of his thick monstrous arms, here they almost look like offensive weapons.
But it's the way this leathery skin surface has been stretched over the Vore, to look like a natural surface that is really impressive. The skin is pulled tight over bulging muscle and sinew, both of which give clear definition and shape to the Vore. Where there are folds of flab and flesh the skin behaves differently, and takes on different properties, with stretch marksin some places, and in other places veins and arteries can be seen popping out just beneath the skin. On his back his pointy spine can be clearly seen arching between his too broad shoulders, haunched like a predator. This leaning forward pose gives a sense of aggressive momentum to his arms. Talking of those arms, they are held in interesting positions, with left arm pulled in across his body in an almost defensive position as he bellows with rage. His right arm is held out in a threatening manner, possibly in an attempt to make himself seem larger and more imposing, but also so it is ready to strike. It is all very similar and reminiscent of the concept sketch.
The Vores stance might not make much sense when looking at it in static shots, or perhaps more accurately, it is difficult to convey the animation in the stance in static shots. So if it doesn't come across well then it is not because the pose is awkward, it's more that a flat 2D picture is always going to struggle to convey 'coiled' motion. The sort of motion that has an arm wrapping round itself, as the muscles twist the torso ever so slightly, only really works when viewed in 3D. But in the flesh the Vores massive bulk being steadily supported by its two thick tree stump like legs as it rages a challenge at some unseen foe is totally convincing. I imagine the Vore to be some pale skinned cave dweller, deep underground, and that some hunter or predator has unwisely stumbled across his lair. Enraged he bellows a warning or a challenge, and it is this moment in time that I think Daniel Cockersell has captured so eloquently.
Detail 9 out of 10
It's going to be mainly about the surface of his skin again. Sure the roof of his mouth has a pleasingly natural looking ridged surface, and true his tongue has a wonderful cracked and bumpy look to it that emulates the pitted surface of an actual tongue, with its taste buds... but... it's that skin that does most of the talking again. The cracks, creases and crevices are all realistically such very fine and delicate lines, they are little more than the gentlest of scalpel drags across the surface, but each has been so carefully considered. Spinning the miniature around in my hands and gazing at the surface at no point are there any transitions or lines that don't work, at no point do the creases or cracks run into each other in an unrealistic way. Every transition is handled brilliantly, from taught skin pulled tight over muscles flowing into the flabby bits of his belly, to the saggy bits of flesh around his jaw moving up toward the tight skin on the top of his scalp. The illusion that this is the thick leathery skin of some horrid beastie is never broken once.
|The texture on the skin is the real star of the piece.|
The other point to make to make about the detail on this mini is that none of it is 'cultured' wares such as armour or cloth. It's all beast. So there is little reference point as it were, there's no armoured knight mounted on his back, nothing to break up the large surface areas. So the contrast to the vast swathes of skin, apart from the insides of the mouth, are the 28 fangs and 12 claws. The claws themselves have a cracked, pitted and wore texture to them, with deep set grooves and chips. Like his skin these claws look aged and well used, but do provide a brief surface texture difference so the miniature doesn't become monotonous. It's those fangs though that protrude viciously from his mouth like ginormous pins and needles that provide a 'sharp' contrast to the large baulk of skin, muscle and flab. I'll make the point here that they're a bit of a bugger to work with, and to clean as they're so delicate, so be careful not to cut too much away from them as you clean them. Otherwise your Vore might end up missing a tooth!
Quality 9.5 out of 10
OK honestly I was so impressed with how well this miniature dry assembled and how little mould lines and flashing that there was, that I had to phone a friend and tell them. It was that good I just had to tell another living soul who would understand the hobby joy of finding a large monster miniature that... well... just worked! In recent years I've found plenty of human sized resin pieces from the likes of Studio McVey, Kingdom Death and BaneLegions that fitted together perfectly, with no rectification work required. I've even found the odd mounted character (I'm looking at you Ruby) too. But never, and I mean never have I found a monster character that dry assembled so seamlessly. I must have sat there for half an hour trying to find faults with the various joins. Looking for errant bits of resin that required filing, or warp that required rectification work. I found exactly none. Most impressive is how the front of his mouth actually matches up perfectly to the back of his mouth, which is actually sculpted into the main body (see picture to the right and above). Now admittedly that's without doing the dentistry work on him, but given how the rest of the miniature assembles I'm really not anticipating any problems at all.
|I chose to pin the miniature for extra security!|
So it's clearly a very well made product, of that nobody should be left in any doubt whatsoever. True I could have just got lucky and had the one exceptional cast, or indeed Rob and co might have poured over each Vore they had and sent me the best one to review. But, given the quality of previous BaneLegions stuff I'm willing to subdue my conspiracy theories for now, and say this actually is the standard set. The only reason there are any noticeable, miniscule little gaps on the joins in my Vore, is that I chose to pin my joints. I could've gotten away with just super gluing it I suppose, as it is resin and there isn't much weight to it, but for a secure bond I went for pinning, and as always the pins were slightly off, which meant small gaps appeared. Nothing too bad actually and very easily fixed with a small amount of green stuff. So I've got to the end of a third paragraph on quality and I haven't even talked about the reproduction of the surface detail yet.
|The Blood Maw Vore virtually completed, he just requires the claws and teeth.|
I suppose I'd better start a fourth one then! Above I've mentioned how the Vore could've been turned into a smooth skinned blob. But the leathery surface of his skin is his defining feature. Therefore if the reproduction of this surface had been anything less than perfect the miniature simply wouldn't have worked. Every crease and fold of his skin, every scar and laceration is an incredibly fine piece of detail, a delicate tapestry, and it's reproduction in resin is simply astounding. The only other surface detail on a miniature that I own that comes even close is the dinosaurs skin on the Studio McVey Ruby miniature. Trust me, given some of the other miniatures I own this is high praise indeed. As reproductions go I think this is a masterful one, and it really shows the skill involved of those who cast these miniatures. Sure other BaneLegions miniatures have been well cast, but the fine and delicate nature of the Vores skin surface just shows how exceptional a reproduction they can reproduce. I'm so impressed I might be a little bit in awe.
|My trusty scale comparison smurf, in his mouth.|
As always with free samples I don't score the service. As this was sent to me free of charge I can't really go fairly scoring the service now can I? However, in the past I have had pretty much flawless service from Maelstrom Games, and when things have been less than stellar they always sort it out with minimal fuss. I know some people have had issues, as is the case with all online retailers of this size. But for me, hand on heart I'd place the service score range between 7.5 to 9 out of 10. Make of that what you will. Touch wood I haven't just jixed myself with regards to good service now! As with all the BaneLegions miniatures though the Vore came wrapped in enough bubble wrap to post a small child safely... not that I regularly post small children via Royal Mail... or even at all. Look I was just trying to make the point that they use more than enough bubble wrap!!!
Price out 8 of 10
So when this beastie is unleashed on the unsuspecting world it'll set you back £59.99. Now that is a lot of money for what now is, admittedly, a really nice looking display piece. Is Mr Vore worth it? For me, yes he is, just about. He's a finely detailed horror straight from some twisted nightmare. As a piece it is exceptionally well cast, to the point that dry assembling the miniature just made me smile at how well cut and cast it had been, the gaps weren't noticeable at all. There's also the small matter of the fact that it is also a sizable chunk of old resin, and that in materials alone it must cost some serious amounts of money to produce.
|Just to give you an idea of scale.|
Honestly when I saw the concept sketch there was only two ways this miniature would go for me. The first path was that it'd fail to capture the sense of the concept. That it would turn into a characterless amorphous blob, after all the entire concept was 'emoting' via that vicious looking mouth. So I feared it could fall flat on it's face... except of course without a nose or eye's or indeed ears it doesn't have one. Thankfully though Daniel Cockersell has done an amazing job of recreating the feel and shape of the concept art in 3D, and he's done so with some aplomb. I've totally run out of superlatives, and I'm done eulogising. There is no doubt that the design of the Vore will turn some people off, for many the concept is just a bit too weird, and they have said so on message boards, so perhaps you could drop the character score if you don't like the design, but the other scores remain because it's a quality product. For me it's actually a quite refreshing break from the bog standard fantasy type monsters I'm used to seeing, and as a painting challenge it stands out of a crowd as something a bit different to attempt. Peace out!
As some of you may, or may not be aware I've been running a good many prize draws on my Blog of late, in celebration of my Blog turning 1 year old a few weeks ago now. Lots of lovely nice people agreed to donate some prizes to help me celebrate the occasion, and to give you chaps lots and lots of cool 'free'. Free is always good! Any way Rob Lane, who has already donated the splendid looking Krull as a prize to give away on this here Blog, also very kindly agreed to donate... the Blood Maw Vore as well. Yep, that's 100% right, I'm going to be giving away one of these magnificent beasties to one of my lucky followers. However, I won't be giving him away until my followers reach 700. So spread the word about how awesome my Blog is and get people to not only follow my Blog but participate too.