Mantic Games Undead Revenants

By on 26 August 2010

I’ve seen Mantic Games’ figures at a few shows and admired them. These newcomers are, apparently, ex-GW-ers and have set up shop on their own, selling through distributors/agents. The core figures in their range are plastic, fantasy and aimed at the wargames market, with specials being metal. They are using top modellers to create the range…

As is often the case, some of the figures can be useful in the RPG tabletop, either as-is or modified. So I decided to take the plunge and try them out. A regiment of dwarves doesn’t tickle my fancy (these dwarves are rennaisance tech rather than quasi-medieval tech), though they look excellent and I’m getting a few with some specials for a dwarf campaign; a regiment of namby-pamby elves would have no use on the table (maybe one or two, though); but Undead, now – well hordes of skeletons are a wonderful staple.

So I got some as a pre-birthday order to go with another project (a citadel). Rather than go for the basic skeletons, I went for a “Revenant Regiment” – slightly more upper-class skeletons and, perhaps, more useful in an RPG context, though the basic skeletons look pretty good. The choice is £8.00 for a stand (10 figures) or £12.50 for a regiment (20 figures). Plus P&P but free P&P comes in at £20 orders from the Mantic website (http://www.manticgames.com).

What do you get?
The figures come in a sturdy plastic box. It’s cellophane-wrapped and has “Kings of War” plastered across the front. At first I didn’t see the “20 Undead Revenant Regiment” writing in black on the dark background in the top right-hand corner. A small point… In contrast, the description on the reverse states what you get – nice and clearly. 20 figures, armoured, assortment of weapons, a command group, various heads, bases and shield stickers.

Inside are two plastic sprues – one command sprue, one normal sprue (called a “Troop”) – packed between some foam, plus two sets of stickers (including Mantic Points – a sort of “collect the points and get something free programme”), plus a poster/assembly instruction sheet (see resources, below). The figures look fairly delicate if you’re used to more chunky figures, but are probably much more accurate in proportion than many other figures. Against my Vendel Roman skeletons, these look dainty, but on sight they immediately inspire satisfaction – not too much detail to make things fiddly, but enough to make the figures interesting.

The shield/banner stickers are fairly bland and will certainly need prettying up, though the basic motif is interesting. For anyone who’ll struggle with shield detail (such as me, now), they’ll probably be a godsend.

The two sprues vary only in the command/non-command area. Identical on both: five basic leg-to-abdomen shapes (two of each on each sprue); six torsos with shields and heads, some with both arms, some with one, some with weapon, some with open hand; weapons for open hand figures; and five additional heads. Weaons are mostly swords and axes. It looks as if it might make a good variety, but the test will be in the production…

On the warrior sprue comes four more headless torsos with shields, a skeleton dog, a base and skeleton popping from the ground, six heads, one of which has an embedded axe, a mace and sickle, additional arms (two with weapons, one open-hand), and assorted additional bits of armour. On the command stand comes parts for four command figures: standard bearer, trumpeter, berserk, and a studious leader. There’s even a morningstar flail and handbell. One of the heads on this is the “empty hood” – a nice touch which could leave some RPGers worried… They look very similar to the command figures from the skeleton set, though perhaps with a bit more armour.

Overall it looks as if they’ve tried to make sure that arms will be stable where a stress-point could occur. The poses look a little flat due to the sprue-casting, but, again, judgement should be reserved until the figs are assembled. At this point I’m more impressed with the look of the common figures on each sprue and the “Revenant Troop”.

Resources
Mantic have a whole range of painting guides online, and they’re worth checking as they contain much more info than the guide in the box. They make suggestions for how to deal with the extra armour, how to assemble the models and how to base as well as paint. They aim for the fast, get-a-regiment-ready approach, and advocate the Army Painter’s stuff, but as Hedgewitch and others (kaiserjez?) has shown on these boards, the finish is actually pretty good.

Part II
The “Troop” sprue was attempted first – partly because I had a conversion in mind for a skeleton on a slab. So the skeleton dog and two skeletons (two torso/head/arms and two legs) were chosen and carefully cut away. This was when it was discovered that (a) a sprue clipper is a _really_ handy tool – do get one if you are buying several of these – and (b) not all legs fit with all torsoes. Slightly frustratingly, some of the legs and torsoes do not have the lug and corresponding placement hole. That means that not all the torsoes will readily go with the legs, limiting the combinations and forcing a few others, tending to force half the box towards a slightly ‘flat’ pose, very narrow in one facing. A counter argument might be that the troops were hiding from arrows behind their shield, but I’m not sure that really holsd true for skeletons…

So more were cut off the sprue and a few selected and assembled. I also cut off a few arms and heads to try out the flexibility. There were not as many spares/options as I’d like, other than heads and swords, and the “bonus armour” proved waaay too fiddly and awkward to find a place to attach easily. As a result, I ended up dumping most of the armour and wishing they’d gone for another pair of torsoes or arms. Whilst some of the figures came with weapons, about half need weapons attached and several allow for some fo teh variant arms to be attached in different poses. Only two proved to be slightly awkward, due to the flat pose of the figure, but overall the figures proved easy to assemble. I managed this fairly well with modelling knife, a round and a flat file, and normal plastic glue (humbrol have a long tube that is _really_ useful for arms).

The whimsy items were exactly that – whimsical and rather fun. My skeleton dog is now running along with a skeleton arm waving a sword in its mouth; one of the skeletons has a raven pecking at something on it’s skull and another head can be used either as a skull with an axe embedded in it OR (as in my case) as an axe still embedded in a skull it took off. The dog hasn’t a stand, but the conversion went easily, laying down on a slab well, so the stand from him now supports the dog.

Despite my struggles with fine assembly, the figures came together readily, sat into their bases easily and looked pretty good unpainted. The final shape (apart from a few flat poses – but I’ll stop wingeing about those, now) is excellent: skeletons that really look skeletal, making some of the other, lead skeletons I have look positively butch by comparison. They take an undercoat well (and I would recommend the undercoat they suggest from Army Painter*) but, as my painting skills are now appalling, I had to use the old black/grey undercoat and a dry brushing technique. Even using this basic painting style it proved relatively easy to get a nice finish showing off the details.

Overall: Despite the reservations, these are probably the best looking skeletons I’ve seen. The sculptor has done a nice job ensuring that potentially delicate joints are supported by suitable clothing/armour/accessories, and the revenant skeletons themselves are nicely observed and adaptable. The options allowed for with means either a boring, grim line of skeleton soldiers or a ravening ruin full of revenants armed with sword- or axes- can be created, great for minions or that skeletal horde my players really _need_ to face (if you haven’t faced a skeletal horde, you haven’t RP’d). With 20 for £12.50 I can’t see RP-ers buying many, but if you need a batch of skeletons, or want to share, or are a wargamer looking for an Undead army, then these revenants really do the trick and are worth the outlay.

Tim Bancroft

* They actually took a couple of sprays from a can of matt black car-paint that I erroneously mistook for Citadel undercoat without being damaged. ::sigh of relief::

Note: Photo’s? When I can persuade my wife to do some for me. I can’t take the close-ups needed due to the injury most of the UKRPG crowd are aware of. The shake is way too much.

About Tim Bancroft

Tim’s been a roleplayer since the mid 70’s and now just enjoys running or playing tabletop RPGs as long as they are not too complicated. He’s written for a variety of RPGs over the years and has even helped develop one or two. He occasionally releases products through Sceaptune Games, but is happy to write for anyone providing he doesn’t have to do too much production work (not laziness, just physical constraints). He’s playtested a variety of RPG and wargame rulesets, though he prefers board games to the latter. In addition to a little knowledge of computers, history and theology, he also studies choral music, voice and spirituality in Winchester. If you want to be nice, buy him a curry, a bottle of good mead or port, or even invite him along to, or offer to come round to his place for, a RPG session.

One Comment

  1. Womble2

    3 September 2010 at 8:04 am

    I’ve only recently (in the last 2 months) discovered Mantics figures and am really impressed by what I’ve seen. The elves – whilst small compared to WH ones – have a great style to them with a really good level of detail. Some might grumble at the lack of “posability” in the Mantic regement figures – being mostly complete and only having the option about the arms – but I see this as an advantage for quick construction; and there’s still a lot of variety that can be achieved. Mantic make a lot of the optional extras you get; whilst I can’t comment on the undead, there are some nice touches on the Elves and new Dwarves sprues, but I might wish for a lttle more – especially with elves.

    However, for what you do get in the various boxes the prices simply cannot be argued with; I haven’t seen this good value for money for years – possibly decades. Thanks to Mantic I’m building and painting my first fantasy armies for almost 20 years (including dwarves… DWARVES for goodness sake!).

    In summary – I like what Mantic appear to be trying to achieve, and I wish & hope for them all success.

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