Thursday, 22 November 2012

Review: Kingdom Death Kings Men


Well after the saucy, sexy strumpet that was the Preacher Pinup yesterday mornings review, I thought it would be best to calm things down a notch or two and give you another fully armour clad warrior next. This time with a very delicate looking halberd. Originally this review should have gone live yesterday afternoon, but I forgot that it would clash with by final Heavy Gear Blitz reveal, so I had to do a quick reschedule because I've had a number of people beg me not to more than two articles a day, because it's impossible to keep up apparently! So I'm now working to a self imposed limit of two articles a day. Any way, the Kings Men is one of those Kingdom Death miniatures that many people seem to overlook, but I think it warrants a closer look...

Product Description

Again as always the Kings Man comes with a postcard sized piece of artwork. He isn't though as complex as some of the pieces I've already reviewed this week, as he only comprises of 3 resin components, a head, a halberd and the main body. As well as the standard Kingdom Death resin base. That's your lot, and trust me after putting together the Flower Knight it comes as a mightily big relief!

Update: The base I got with this miniature was the square resin one you see in this picture. However, if any of you have purchased any Kingdom Death miniatures recently you'll have noticed that they now come with flat plastic discs with an indentation in them where a second plastic disc can go, or a scenic base insert as is the case of the Illuminated Lady. I'm unsure whether these bases are now shipped with all miniatures in the range or just the latest stuff, but I thought it best to inform you all of it any way!

The new plastic Kingdom Death bases.

Character 8.5 out of 10

I know what people are going to say when they look at that score, many are going to question whether or not I might have gone slightly mad. They'll take a look at what is quite a static pose of a heavily armoured soldier, standing perfectly straight and to attention and think... so what! Like them when I first saw the Kings Men I thought much the same. I actually purchased the miniature on a whim. I'd got the other new Kingdom Death releases at the time (although I'll be damned if I can remember any of them now) and I just clicked to add him onto the order as I thought why not? When the package arrived at my house I'm pretty certain on initial glance I probably dismissed the Kings Men myself as the least impressive of my new crop. As I said in the product description, there isn't much to him in terms of components and as such he isn't as instantly dynamic as some Kingdom Death miniatures, and the art direction is quite a bit more subtle than that of say the Butcher. I actually only started putting him together a few weeks ago, he was going to be a test run for a new metallic technique I wanted to try out, and the fact he's got so much plate armour made him a good test subject. I wasn't originally going to include him in my series of Kingdom Death reviews. So why did I change my mind?

I admit that it is partly the level of surface detail and its refinement, but it's also actually yet again the subtle wrongness of the piece, something that many Kingdom Death miniatures at times seem to do so well. Seriously, at first glance he appears to be like any other heavily plate armoured miniature you've ever seen before, from pretty much any range you care to mention. Sure he's a very good example of that staple image within our hobby, but there seems to be nothing remarkable beyond that about him. He is a well drilled man at arms wearing nicely polished armour, and is carrying himself with a firm regimented air. Then you look at the helmet he is wearing, and you notice the cherubs face. Yep, that oft used motif of Christian religious artwork the cherub. Except this cherub doesn't look joyful and innocent. It looks spiteful and is actually covering the soldiers face. It's then you realise that where the soldiers eye-slits would be in his helmet, are actually covered by ornately decorative hands, literally covering his eyes. You then notice two more hands on that helmet that seem to be grasping and holding it tightly to his head. Almost like they're designed to stop him taking it off. These grasping hand motifs are repeated on his gloves, his ankles, his thighs and his shoulder plates. It was at this point I felt there might be a bit more of a sinister story behind the Kings Men.

I haven't really talked about his cloak. It's nice for a cloak I guess.

The clincher though is the image of a human face etched into his chest plate armour above where his heart would reside. It looks distressed and panicked in the eyes, because its mouth is clasped shut and covered by two more of those grasping interlocking hands. It gives me the impression that the poor individual wearing this armour might be doing so reluctantly. The image of the 'hand' in voodoo is all about control and destiny, so to see it used here to cover eye's, control limbs and ensnare the heart has some significance. I could be reading too much into the art direction, but to me it hints that maybe the Kings Men isn't in control of his own actions. That he might be a mere puppet, dancing to somebody elses tune. That suddenly puts a far more complex and darker spin on the piece, as does the appearance of those devilish looking cherubs. They look like cherubs, but they are certainly not the happy chubby glowing faced cherubs you might be used to seeing in Renaissance art. They look wicked and maniacal. You can see some of these influences more obviously in the coloured concept artwork by Yasmine Putri and I think Thomas David has captured the subtlety of it in three dimensions quite well.

Detail 9.5 out of 10

I actually own a silly amount of Kingdom Death miniatures. I actually have a thing for their warrior types like the Butcher and indeed the Kings Men, part of me thought you'd be able to make a really nice chess set out of them if they just did a few more options... but I digress. Pretty much all of them have an insane amount of exceedingly fine and delicate surface detail, that remains sharp and pinpoint crisp. The resin used must have virtually zero shrinkage during the casting process for some of the fine scored lines that exist on the Kings Men's breastplate to be retained. Simply put I don't think detail that shallow, that crisp, and that thin would be possible in any other material. I can't see plastic picking it out too well, and certainly not metal, even though companies like Freebooter Miniature's and Corvus Belli seem to wring so much detail out of the substance. This is the real reason I chose to review the Kings Men. More than any of the other Kingdom Death miniatures I've seen and own, it shows off just how impressive the resin material used is. Now I'm sure there will be a number of Kingdom Death fans out there scratching their heads at that statement. Many will be thinking, 'but Frontline Gamer, there are other miniatures with more detail on them in the range'... and right they'd be too. But, it's the delicate nature of the Kings Men's detail that really impresses. The helmet with its weird cherub face and crown, plus that plume of fine feathers is what first gets you, but on closer inspection the rest of the miniature backs up that good first impression.

The yellow lighting is these pictures is deliberate as I feel it helps show some of the detail off.

Remember yesterday I spoke about the haft of the Preacher Pinups Warhammer being exceedingly thin? Well the haft of this halberd is just as thin, and it's longer. So I guess it's more impressive that the material can handle a piece of detail this fine, even if it is brittle as hell. The folds in his cloak are also exceptional. They transition from wide billowing folds to crisp neat pointed folds in such a small space, yet the resin picks it up with no issues. Look at similar attempts with metal and you'll see 'interesting' shrinkage problems that ruin the illusion. But, it really is the armour that impresses the most. Those cherub faces and hands I mentioned in the character section of this review, that his plate armour is riddled with are as crisp as they are fine and delicate. Their features are perfectly visible and at such a small scale for them to retain such character and structure is honestly impressive. When I was first writing this review I actually stopped and re-read how much praise I was heaping on he detail of this miniature. I had to ask myself whether I was being overly generous, because the stance is quite static, hence me thinking it would make a good chess piece. So I stepped away from it for a couple of days and came back to it. I don't think I'm going overboard for two specific reasons, 1) that this detail was sculpted by Thomas David by hand at this scale and is so refined and sharp is impressive and 2) this refined detail appears to have been perfectly reproduced. Brilliant.

Quality 9 out of 10

There isn't really much into grumble about with this miniature. As I've said elsewhere compared with some Kingdom Death miniatures there aren't many pieces, and those that there are, are simple to put together. The only slight concern that I'd have would be with how thin and fine the shaft of the halberd is, I might yet choose to replace it with some brass rod. There wasn't much in the way of cleaning up that needed to be done as the mould lines were quite faint, and I couldn't find any air bubbles or similar blemishes. Again it's a high quality product.

Price 7.5 out of 10

As I've said in pretty much all my reviews thus far for Kingdom Death product, $25's or £15.50, is slightly more expensive than many of Kingdom Death's competitors in this field. I totally get that you are buying at first purchase a very highly limited run of something, and there's no doubting the very high standards of the miniatures on offer from an art direction point of view, or a quality of casting point of view. So yet again you'd say that you wouldn't want to grumble too much at that price, because we are talking about a high quality and highly limited miniature... meh, you pays your money and you makes your choices I guess.

Overall 8.5 out of 10

Again like the butcher I guess this is a well worn character type we've seen before in our games. Heavily armoured dude in fancy clothes with big weapon. But, as always there's a bit of Kingdom Death weirdness to the piece. No he hasn't got any tentacles, and neither does he have any flayed skin on him. But, like the Grand Mother I reviewed yesterday if you look long enough at the ostensibly regal details on his armour there is something slightly unsettling about the imagery chosen, and indeed how it is depicted. Yeah sure there seem to be cherubic faces, as you'll often see in Renaissance Christian art, but where as those faces seem full of love and joy, the face, in particular on the Kings Men's helmet seems to be maniacally starring forward with a life of its own. It's not quite right. It's a very fine and detailed sculpt, and isn't perhaps quite as weird as tentacle beasties... but I guess for most of you that will be a good thing. Peace out!


  1. Honestly, I think he looks pretty amazing. Granted as you said, he isn't nearly as dynamic as a Anima Tactics mini or many other lines, but certainly has an aura of being silently stoic.

    If done right, would certainly make for an excellent leader for numerous forces, while the Butcher would look good alongside a totally different set of miniatures.

    1. Stoic is a great word to describe him actually, also he seems strangely quiet.

  2. Hi, just one notice about the cherubs and hands, they are more like:
    - no hear (top one)
    - no see (face)
    - no speak (chest)

    1. Yeah, I thought about the speak no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil connections. But, I felt the repeating of the motif on some many other places on the armour was suggestive of more than just that. As I said in the review I could be reading more in to it than intended, but that's how it reads to me.