Friday, March 08, 2013

Groblog the Goblin King - a first (and last?) experience with Finecast!

During the course of the painting challenge, another model I have had on the go is Groblog, the Goblin King, a Finecast model for the Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle game.

Interesting to have two different Goblins Kings on the Painting Table at the same time. If they ever 'got into it' my money's on the Great Goblin! ;-)

I knew Curt wasn't accepting LOTR submissions to the challenge, only Hobbit ones, so I didn't bother submitting it.

This is the first Finecast model I have bought and assembled and painted up. Whilst I have a goblin army, and this figure will do well to add to those forces, my main motivation for buying it was to see for myself what the Finecast material was like to work with it, and is it worth the hype, or is the criticism well placed.

 Here he is in a few poses with differing backgrounds and angles as they can set the model off differently. He was a little tricky to photo due to his crouched-over pose... and thus some of his detail hidden in shadow... but hopefully you can get the drift.

When I first bought the model from the store, I looked at the few that were on the shelf, and whilst browsing was approached by the sales assistant, who approached me in the typical 'GW Manner'...

I asked him about the Finecast and its high cost, and he thus extolled its virtues. To this I mentioned the backlash and critique I had seen on the web and he assured me they had the problems sorted now, and that if I wasn't happy with the model once bought I could bring it back for an exchange, no questions asked... OK thought I, I'll give it a go...

 So I glanced over the choices in store, to decide which to buy. I found it rather difficult to choose as all models were covered in a load of flash that would need to be trimmed away, and I could see several tiny bubble holes in the resin material already visible through the clear packaging. In the end I picked the one that was the best of the bunch, I hoped!

And shelled out my NZ$31 for this one little figure...

I didn't get to work on the model immediately as I had several other things on the go on my painting table at the time, but eventually I got round to him and with some trepidation opened the pack and set to work.

The material is fairly soft and cuts easily with the clippers or scalpel blade. The problems I had were where the flash joined the model to the sprue.

straight out of the blister pack...

lots of flash to trim away
Click on pics for a larger view...

bubble holes and flash all over

more holes and flash

Where ever this occurred, the flash had to be trimmed away, and whatever detail had been on the surface of the model where the flash had adhered to was instantly lost...

Having made the best of this I was then put in the situation of looking at all the tiny bubble holes to fill, of which there were several. Now it might be said to be easy to use the new liquid greenstuff to fill these, but experience with this product has been that you apply it using a paintbrush to the best of your ability, and you think you have the hole filled, only to have the material dry out and shrink and there's the hole back again.

So more liberal applications follow, to get rid of the hole yet this invariably covers the surrounding area too in an excess of material, clogging this wonderful 'Finecast detail', making it pretty much a waste of time, and expense.

I first discovered this using the greenstuff to fill the same bubble holes on the resin buildings I got for Flames of War from Total Battle, and Kerr-and-King. The excess greenstuff on these building wasn't so much an issue as they were mostly flat surfaces where the material could easily be blended in. Not so easy on a 'detailed figurine'...

Some of the frustration here was some small  bits of flash / mold line had obscured the model's face and as this was trimmed away, away went the some of the detail of the models nose and mouth. These I had to bodge back into shape using more liquid greenstuff and etching the shapes, including nose and teeth and shape of the mouth, back in as best as I could with the scalpel blade point. Far from easy on the tiny figure... and wait a minute... I paid how much for this wonderful material???

Having made the best of this that I could, I then tried to position the model as it was a multi-part pose; the pillar column and arm one piece, the kings body and outstretched sword arm another and the cloak the last part.

I tried super-gluing these first, thinking that would be sufficient, but a small amount of routine handling while prepping later had the model come apart in my hands.

So out with the drill and pinning techniques... Eventually I got it put back together and secure.

So once assembled, painting was fairly routine for me, and I followed the colour guide from GW imagery.

I used my now adopted black spray primer "metal primer" by Plastikote, and the material took this fine. Once dry, painting commenced with the usual base colours, followed by an all over black wash, and then bringing out the base colours again followed by some highlights and facial detail work and the jewel effect too added as a final touch, though not sure how well this shows up due to the models crouched over pose?

Model was finally finished with a coat of DIY polyurethane gloss varnish, followed by a coat of Vallejo brush on matt acrylic varnish.

Et Voila!

So I think the figure turned out well in the end. The pose is certainly dynamic, though whether it could have been done equally well using metal or plastic instead of Finecast I am unsure. I suppose for the pinning, the Finecast material was easier to drill than the equivalent metal material.

I am beginning to wonder that as GW realize their market is probably, for the most part, teenage youth , with still developing modelling skills - drilling and pinning metal models can be a difficult business, so perhaps this change to a more pliable material may have been the reason for the change. My past purchases of 2nd hand models that have been bodged together with all kinds of inappropriate glues and other adhesive materials certainly bears this out!

Is it worth it? Is it better than metal or plastic? The material is easy to work with being fairly soft and trims easily with a sharp scalpel blade, and flash and mold lines are easily removed BUT there is a lot of flash material and where-ever this has to be cut away, surface detail is lost! And there is a lot of bubble work to fill. This all takes extra time and effort just to prep the model for painting. And yet we are paying through the nose for this improved surface detail on this wonderful new material.

To be honest I don't see it. The models are OK , but I don't think they are anymore super detailed than the equivalent metal model. Nor is the material any quicker to work with, its just different with its own issues and problems ...

Is it worth multiple times the cost of an equivalent metal model? Not on your life!

NZ$31 for one small toy soldier... is it worth it?

I really don't think so... that much money would buy you a whole unit of models from other manufacturers.

Or to put in real world terms at today's prices... for the same cost I could buy about 19 litres of milk... or I could buy 14 litres of regular 91 octane unleaded petrol (thats 'gas' for you American folks reading this)...

Is one toy soldier worth that?

Frankly, I don't think so...

Will I be buying more? I seriously doubt it, though time may tell if I become desperate for a model for my collection... and that's where they have you by the short and curlies... if you want a certain model... there is only one place to get it, though thankfully I can consider getting from cheaper UK sources..., but then you lose the chance to examine the model in store before buying - buyer beware!

You pays your money, you takes your choice...


  1. It sure is hard to justify such expense when you then have to do all the work to get it back on track.


  2. Finecast is one of the reasons I have moved on from GW. I have never purchased or painted one but the ones I have seen have not impressed me. I have read many horror stories and have had plenty of first hand testimony to convince me I will never spend a single $ on one of these models. You cam be sure that this change did not have any of their customer in mind. It was made for the bottom line only and I think it is biting them in the ass.

  3. I think one of the most ironic issues with failcast is when GW first announced the move from metal to resin, one of the selling points they used was that "resin is cheaper than metal!"

    What was pitched as a savings to the customer turned into extortion for an inferior product. So not only are you needing to spend hours of extra prep time on bad casts made from a material that is more brittle than plastics, but GW is making a killing on the cost difference!

    Sure, it is easier to cut than metal, but unless you are doing a major conversion (old-school elf cav, etc.), there is no advantage to the resin. Any extra detail that can be added is obscured by the ridiculously poor quality of their casts. and it's not resin's fault - I have purchased several resin miniatures from other companies that are gloriously detailed and nigh faultless.

    All that to say - Scott, you did an awesome job salvaging the goblin king. major kudos!

  4. Great review with pics scott, glad to see it confirms my suspicions of "its all sorted out" are BS. I, like Drunken Samurai have never purchased nor will purchase a Finecast figure, an outrage in price for inferior quality.
    I did win some figures thou from various events..resisting the urge to ever open them (I could see the flaws on them) I finally returned them all in exchange for the Hobbit hardcover. In the end Finecast will be the thing that chases many people away from the GW hobby, you make excuses for about everything but lack of quality of the figures you cannot.

  5. It does sound like they are a nightmare, although you do have somewhat of a choice whether to buy them or not. When I was going over my son's LotR collection. I could see that there was some missing pieces. I was amazed how GW discontinued some metal command packs and made the only choice fine cast.


  6. Sorry to hear of your woes with this figure mate. Personally I would not of bothered read way to many horror stories, I'd rather they have stayed with metal and pushed the price up abit than change material, sadly all my GW is nearly gone with the last few LOTR bits up on ebay.

    I reckon you could of made a better one out of the old classic Moria goblins and metal ones.

    For me the cost and the work doesn't add up.

  7. Finecast was yet another groan in a long list of groans as GW becomes increasingly more unrealistic with their pricing. The last time I purchased a GW product was 2006, and I've long since sold off, traded or just given away all the GW that I own (apart from Blood Bowl). I'm afraid the 40K that I used to enjoy gives me no pleasure anymore.

  8. An excellent review Scott, thanks for sharing.

  9. Personally I think you should have used the $31 to put 19 ltrs of fuel in the tank of your Harley and gone for a fang round the twisties.
    Mind you you've done a superb job on the painting....not sure I'd have the patience to spend so much time on preparation before I even got my paints out. 100% for perseverance that man!

  10. Hi Scott - you know my feeling on this already: the shark was jumped when they repackaged the LOTR figures. Things like finecast coupled with the release, soon after, of a 'great new hobby product' to fill the holes in it are just too off-putting for me to seriously consider buying any of their new stuff. It's not that I don't really want the stuff but I know I would have decidedly mixed feelings after doing so. Good thing there are lots of great and fun alternatives out there!

  11. I had heard that finecast was a little poor, but didn't realise just how. Glad I'm not painting any!

  12. First of all, nicely painted Spider-king. The pillar was something I laughed at when the model was first released, but now I am tempted to buy me one. Too bad it's in failcast.

    The local sales representative in my part of the world said in the first few weeks of the release of this "project", and I quote: "This is a mess, look at it - it has melted. From the sun." His apprentice then joined and continued the bashing of a (admittedly large) 40K model that was used to launch the finecast-project locally.

    The model seemed fine enough but had (almost) melted and tilted until it hardened at night and settled like a wax candle in a summer window. I saw others with their models and they all bore the characteristical faults of "finecast": Airholes and more airholes...

    Three, maybe four months later, I raise the subject once more - this when looking at buying a C'tan in failcast, but for some reason the same sales guy states that: " ...oh, no, no - no worries, it's [failcast] lighter, holds detail better, you don't need to prime it, just paint it". What happened? 1984?

    This weird sect-like behaviour put me off greatly and I left without buying. Of course, my opinions were - and still are - coloured by other people's experiences and descriptions on the web, but here's the point: The 100's of pictures seen of this total failure everywhere on the net.

    Thank you for a well written text on the subject. It is interesting to see how it seems you're preaching for the choir, when the amount of yay-sayers to the mess that is finecast are legion on some forums. GW-trolls perhaps? ;D

  13. I've just seen this over and over from so many people in so many different places. Finecast is just a disaster, and I really can't stand what they've done with the models. I've seen this first hand so many times, but haven't had to wrestle with it like you. Good job covering it up. I'm done with GW for the most part, and certainly won't shell out that kind of money for crap!

  14. This is a really helpful review. The close ups show just how bad the models are and on that alone I am going to stay away from these. As a LOTR enthusiast there are a lot of great models that I could buy in finecast but life is just too short to be faffing about with all that. Bring me good old metal Westwind models any day. On another note I bought the new imperial primer from GW. It is like priming with a wash. It is so thin that the primer ends up in all the crevasses and none on the flat bits. Worse with metal. I now believe that this is simply about the money - although you are pretty kind on their rationale for finecast (teenage customers) I think that the drop in quality combined with the rise in price means only one thing: profit being put first. GW is losing all us older guys who would otherwise bring in younger guys and who actually have a bit of disposable income.

  15. Interesting and worrying. I have only bought one Finecast set (the Fellowship of the Ring) and, I have to say, that the quality was very good.

    No holes at all. Your example is horrible however and you did a great job to pull it back.

    I haven't painted any of mine, however, so maybe more problems will become apparent when I do so. I have to say if I buy another Finecast figure I am going to open it in the shop!

  16. I was in Melbourne last week and stumbled across a GW store. I had a look at the glass cabinets but when asked if I played warhammer etc I had great joy in laughing at the dude and saying "Used to, but not for a long time. I play cheaper games now that are not plastic laced with gold."


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