• contact@scarhandpainting.com

REVIEWS

Review: AK Interactive Diorama Series

Introduction:


AK – Interactive – a Spanish company behind a well established series of products for modelers. They managed to become one of the most recognized brands in the modeling world with continuously evolving range of paints, brushes, weathering products and effects.  I have been a fan of their products for years now. Recently I decided to take another step and expand a range of  texture paints at my disposal. Knowing the quality of AK’s products and lured by sweet pricing I went berserk and got a lot of Diorama Series textures. 
Now I’m here to share my impressions. 

Usually I do the entire Quality, Visuals, Functionality thing. This time though I decided to take a different approach and just jump right into testing the actual products, with pictures taken at every step. Consider this to be a Review/Tutorial hybrid. I will share my thoughts in the summary, so no worries 😉

Terrains Asphalt

Very happy with this one. Not too grainy. Perfect coloration. Two steps process with a final touch of white markings airbrushed through a stencil. End result – very satisfactory.

Terrains Dark Earth

Say goodbye to sand on PVA glue! This puppy is now my favorite two-steps basing for fantasy miniatures!

Terrains Dry Ground

Would have never expected to go with such a color, but seeing the end result I’m getting strong Star Wars The Last Jedi / Mad Max Salt Planes vibes… many possibilities! 

Terrains Sandy Desert

No need to explain – just look at this! Two steps and your miniature is based on a desert!

Terrains Concrete

This one didn’t hit the mark for me. I expected a more paste-like, smooth surface. More of a Dark & Dry Crackle end result (below). Either way the product itself is solid, just not what I expected, thus once dried, I didn’t follow up on it. I plan to give it another go on my next project so who knows…

Dark & Dry Crackle Effects

This one required a third step to bring out the cracks as they are super tiny. The end result is very interesting. I’m sure that a mix with Dark Earth will bring magnificent results. Right now it looks like a trampled ground, or a road. Will definitely use.

Wet Crackle Effect

Well… not what I’ve expected. Tried few times, taking different routes. End result is pretty disappointing. So much so that I just skipped further work with this.

Light & Dry Crackle Effects

Now that’s “crackled”! Three steps and it looks great! I bet it would look even better with Terrain Dry Ground. Count me in babe! 

Impressions:

Working with these products was very comfortable. These are definitely high quality and very user friendly. I used a large brush to apply all the effects and simply cannot stress enough how great and easy it was! Growing up on Games Workshop’s products, moving onto these I felt like if I switched a worn out car for a new one, straight out of the factory! No more “fishing” for dry’ish conglomerates of grains to try and smear them onto a base. Nothing of the sort! Smooth. Great to use. Very easy. Zero stress. Just awesome! 
Now Wet Crackle Effect turned out to be a disappointment, but all the rest behaved as they should and brought awesome results. The rest is so good that I’m willing to give Wet Crackle a benefit of a doubt and assume I’ve used it incorrectly. Will go back to it at some point and try to bring forth it’s full potential. 

Other than that – these are pure gold! I love them. I will be working with them from now on and definitely prefer them over other products that I used until now. 

Price:

Price factor is very important, especially with paints. You know how it is – you spill half of it, then use up like a one third and the rest dries out 😛 Just kidding, still I’m sure we can all agree that for many hobbyists pricing matters a lot. Just take a look at this:

  • AK Interactive Sandy Desert 250ml = 8,95€ (10ml = 0,36€)
  • Vallejo Desert Sand 200ml = 8,5€ (10ml = 0,42€)
  • Games Workshop Armageddon Dust 24ml = 6,3€ (10ml = 2,62€)

What else is there to add? 🙂

Summary:

I already described how I feel about these products, thus without further ado let’s hear it: On a scale where 10 is awesome, 8 is good, 6 is ok, 5 is mediocre, 3 is bad and I don’t want to even mention 1 – AK – Interactive’s Terrains get a solid 10/10, Dry Crackle Effects get 10/10 and Wet Crackle Effect ends up with 3/10. Please note that I will revisit Wet Crackle in the future and if lack of cracks is on me, I will update this review. Either way – that’s AK’s Diorama series for you folks! I hope you enjoyed this little Review/Tutorial. Share your thoughts in the comments below. Cheers!

Where to buy:

You can get these straight from AK’s web store, or if you happen to live in Poland, go to a well equipped Vanaheim online store.

Nazroth

Review: Gamers Grass Tufts

Introduction:

Gamers Grass – a Portuguese company focusing on delivering a wide range of basing accessories. Formed in 2015 by a group of hobbyists, Gamers Grass brought many interesting products to the market. Alongside well established Tufts, Flowers and Shrubs, their range consists of ready to use Bases, but also basing Bitz and very colorful Alien Tufts. It was the latter that drew my attention to Gamers Grass, which instantly resulted in some shopping. 
Now it’s few days after the delivery. I have thoroughly tested a range of Tufts/Shrubs/Flowers and done some research, hence I am ready to share my opinion with a wider public.

 

Quality:

As a full time miniatures painter I cannot allow myself to use products of questionable quality. This is why quality is the first thing I look out for when purchasing hobby related items.
That being said Gamers Grass Tufts and Flowers strike me as well thought through, top quality products. They are mostly precisely shaped, with near to none stray hair. Each Tuft has a bit of adhesive at the bottom and can be applied straight from the sheet. Adhesive strength is comparable with Army Painter’s tufts, so less “goo” than for example Paint Forge’s and GW’s, but perfect for my personal taste. I apply some Super Glue either way.
Most importantly, except just few, the Gamer’s Grass Tufts hold their shape firmly. Not much hair fell off when I was removing the tufts from the sheets and applied them onto the bases.

 

Visuals:

Visually Gamers Grass Tufts look stunning. Apart from classic tufts, there’s Alien and Spikey series, which are like nothing I’ve seen previously in the market. All tufts are fluffy and solid and thanks to a wide variety of colors and shapes – they turn bases into little pieces of awesome. 

 

Functionality:

Most Gamers Grass Tufts are very user friendly. Separated on the sheet by a clear line, easy to pick and apply. Once picked, they hold their shape. I could go on, but let’s just say they are a joy to work with.

 

Exceptions:

Like with all product series not everything is perfect. Amongst the batch I purchased there are two products that not entirely hold up to the standards described above.

12mm Wild Winter Tuft is a bit too messy for my tastes. There’s not enough separation between particular tufts and there’s a lot of “leftover” coming off the tufts during use. It looks pretty dope once separated from the sheet, still I had issues separating particular tufts from one another. 

Similarly Wild Spikey Green and Wild Spikey Beige Tufts are very messy to work with. Whereas they look insanely cool, it is very difficult to remove them from the sheet intact. They loose a lot of strands in the process. 

Fortunately these issues doesn’t translate to the entire range, which for the most part is full of top quality, high end products.

Price:

Time to focus on the price. I’ve done some math comparing price of standard and “Wild” tufts from Gamers Grass, Games Workshop and Army Painter. Here’s where I’ve landed:

  • AP 77/pack+77/pack= 11,98€ translates into 7,78/100pieces
  • GW Middenland Tuft 200/pack = 12€ translates into 6€/100pieces
  • GG 144/pack + 70/wild pack = 9,9€ translates into 4,63/100pieces

Easy to say that when it comes to price Gamers Grass beats it’s competition hard and that is a great news! 

 

 

Summary:

To summarize, when it comes to professional hobby tufts Gamers Grass is totally in the lead. The vast variety of unprecedented lush colors and types is by itself a good reason to try their offer out.  To top it all there’s perfect pricing. On a scale where 10 is awesome, 8 is good, 6 is ok, 5 is mediocre, 3 is bad and I don’t want to even mention 1 – Gamers Grass Tufts get’s a well deserved 10/10. Even though few products had minor issues – The offer as entirety is super solid. I will definitely use these from now on and wholeheartedly recommend you to test it yourself. 

 

Where to buy:

You can order through Gamers Grass official store, or try out your luck in a local hobby store. To make things easier for you, Gamers Grass prepared this awesome Store Locator. So what are you waiting for? I invite you to, at the very least, take a peek at their offer 😉

Nazroth

Review: A-Case Victory 2.0 Carrying Bag

INTRODUCTION

Moving painted miniatures to a tournament or painting competition can be a real challenge. I bet that every single miniatures painter had one or more miniatures damaged while being transported. Sad truth is that no matter what we do, situations like these happens. Still, when it comes to safe transportation of our beloved miniatures, we’re not completely helpless.

In the world of miniatures painting there are two well established ways of professional miniatures transportation, both with their own pros and cons: Foam Bags and Magnetic Bags. Today I would like to talk a bit about the latter and present to you the A-Case Victory 2.0 from A-Case, one of the leading companies in the market.

QUALITY

During my years as a hobby store manager and a hobbyist, I’ve seen my share of transportation bags. This imho allows me to say that when it comes to quality A-Case is king. Everything fits, everything is smooth, no thread going wild along the stitches, inner metal casing of great quality plus the overall feel of an exclusive product.
New A-Case Victory 2.0 saw a lot of improvements compared to previous series, such as a much sturdier construction, reinforced trays, strapped side pins to keep the trays in place and more.

VISUALS

I know this part is totally subjective, but Dayum! The Victory 2.0 looks so good! Everything from design, through quality makes it feel prestigious, both in the inside and the outside. To be fair the sole look is what made me crave a Magnetic Case of my own when I scrolled through facebook and saw it time and time again. Just couldn’t resist. At least now you know why I’m so hyped about it.

FUNCTIONALITY

Coming from a position of an orthodox foam fan I have thoroughly tested this carrying case during last month. Apart from obvious features like light weight, comfort of use, adjustable strap with a shoulder pad, handle, large pocket and removable trays Victory 2.0 has some cool features that improve on the case’s functionality. A Velcro strap on top and at the front allows to attach badges, while water resistant material will keep your miniatures safe in case of bad weather. My favorite though are side pins to immobilize the trays in place. In previous series these might get lost but now attached with flexible straps they will follow the trays around.

PRICE

It’s not easy to compare A-Case’s Victory 2.0 to other transportation cases as there’s really no high tier competition in the market. Yes, there are some magnetic cases out there (Battle Foam, Tablewar etc.) but most is just out of this league. Coming at a price of around 180€ Victory 2.0 is also more expensive than foam counterpart, but it offers a totally different method of miniatures transportation. One that does not involve your paint job touching anything, even as soft as foam. One that allows you to transport large quantity of miniatures in a rather small bag. Most importantly one that is durable and will last for years to come. In addition A-Case offers free shipping around the world and in some cases (like US) that means huge savings.
For me the pricing of this exclusive product seem fair. Taking the cost of miniatures and time/money spent on painting into consideration, around 180€ seems like a small price for solid, comfortable and very aesthetic protection.

SUMMARY

To summarize, if you’re looking for a solid and comfortable way to transport your miniatures – A-Case Victory 2.0 is the thing. It looks great, it is very comfortable to use, made of high quality materials and with utmost care for detail. On top of it the case is reasonably priced. On a scale where 10 is awesome, 8 is good, 6 is ok, 5 is mediocre, 3 is bad and I don’t want to even mention 1 – I deem this product awesome! 10/10 Victory 2.0 totally revolutionized my approach to Magnetic transportation and ended twenty years of my foam addiction.

WHERE TO BUY?

Victory 2.0 is currently being produced after a successful kickstarter campaign. If you suddenly crave for your own Carrying Case, head to:
A-Case website,
A-Case Facebook,

If you’re more of a patient type and want to save some buck – wait for the next A-Case kickstarter campaign, which is sure to take place at some point in the future.

Victory 2.0 and other Carrying Cases from the Hybrid series will be available to purchase in December 2019! Stay tuned!

BONUS: ROLL BAG

Brushes and Tools Roll Bag is another product of A-Case that I really like. This smart solution of brushes and modelling tools transportation might come in handy when you plan to take your hobby on a trip, or engage in hobby activities at a local store. Personally I’ve used it to transport my tools to airbrush workshops I ran. Also took it to hotels couple of times. It’s great and I can’t figure out why it ain’t that popular with hobbyists?

Either way – I have three of these and currently use two – this leaves me with one spare Roll Bag. You’ve made it through the entire article and deserve a reward – so here’s where the surprise starts:

The top right Brushes and Tools Roll Bag (Orange) can be yours!
To join the raffle simply:
* Like Scarhandpainting Facebook profile,
* Like this facebook post and comment on it with a #gimmerollbag,
Results will be posted at Sunday 10th of November. Good luck!

Nazroth

Review: Guild Ball Champ

Guild Ball on the workbench once again, with a brand new Champ miniature that was sent to me for review. Let’s just get into it…

This time the resin is smooth, with crisp detail and sharp edges. It looks very high quality and seem exclusive. It is hard to bend and works perfectly with knife and file. It behaves almost like harder version of Games Workshops plastic. Very pleasant to work with. Much better quality than Forge World resin, light years away from board game plastic and huge improvement in Guild Ball quality overall. I love it!
The design is also very nice, with no parts that might be susceptible to get damaged. On top of that the miniature looks just awesome! The dynamism of the pose is clear to see thanks to a very natural combat stand. Cool miniature.

The base is also top quality with no issues what so ever. Sharp, flat edge, no miscast, no mold lines – perfect.

As a side note: I think that the best proof of SFG’s quality improvement over the years is comparison of new resin Champ (left) vs Kickoff plastic Harmony (right). These are two completely different worlds.

Summary:

  • design thought through,
  • nice crisp detail,
  • no difference between two sides of the mold,
  • mold lines thin and easy to remove,
  • no rough surfaces/distortions of texture,**
  • material looks exclusive, 10/10,**
  • there are no issues when working with knife & file,**
  • base looks great,**
    **These are all big improvements compared to previous miniature.

For more Guild Ball related articles go to scarhandpainting.com/tag/guild-ball

Nazroth

Review: Guild Ball Legacy Collection (Resin) Mortician’s follow-up – Gaffer

Another short follow-up to “Review: Guild Ball Legacy Collection (Resin) Mortician’s“.

Being a part of Steamforged Games Media Network allowed me to get a copy of Free Cities Draft new release – “Gaffer” miniature. I’m still learning Guild Ball rules, thus I will leave power level talk to those who are more into it and do my part instead. Let’s review quality!

This resin differs from Mortician’s resin and is much more like Falconer’s Ikaros from Organized Play Kit. The main difference between Gaffer and Ikaros is obviously colour, but also texture. Here and there a prominent (3d print after-effects?) texture distortion is visible. I have mixed feelings about this but fortunately it becomes barely visible after undercoat and should, in theory, disappear completely after few layers of paint. Design is very nice and thought through. No flimsy parts, no mold lines on top of important detail. Material is firm but it also leaves tiny scobs when removing mold lines with either knife or a file.

Base has a sharp bottom line and would have been perfect if not for a strange line going across entire surface from one side to the other. It looks more like a precise knife cut (mechanical damage) rather than mold line design. It is strange and for now I assume this is a one time thing and not standard – cuz who would plan a “feature” like that?

To wrap things up:

  • design thought through,
  • nice crisp detail,
  • no difference between two sides of the mold,
  • mold lines thin and easy to remove,
  • some rough surfaces/distortions of texture,
  • material looks average, has a board game plastic sheen to it,
  • there are some issues when working with knife & file,
  • base looks great (except for a mysterious “feature”)

Overall quality is satisfactory. No major fuckups and only minor inconveniences present. This product is definitely superior to Mortician’s Resin, while being slightly inferior to OPK Ikaros. I’m pretty sure it is a colour related thing, as different colour mixes impact resin properties. I wouldn’t mind if entire Mortician’s range got released in this quality.

Nazroth

Review: Guild Ball Legacy Collection (Resin) Mortician’s follow-up

A short follow-up to my recent “Review: Guild Ball Legacy Collection (Resin) Mortician’s“.

As it turns out some companies are not afraid of constructive criticism. Steamdforged Games impressed me greatly with how professional, open and fast to act they are. More so – I was invited to join SFG Media Network to get access to some review copies! This (kind of) blew my mind!

Today a package filled with review goodies arrived at my doorsteps. Inside was an Organised Play Set (with a miniature) and some cool looking merch. I’m not an authority when it comes to merch, but the fanboy in me squirmed with joy while I went through all the stuff doing my best to assess quality.

Overall merch is really great. I mean – it’s merch – being great is the point of it. I especially like the patch: top notch quality with smooth, rounded edges and solid 3d depth. Adhesive at the back is something I’ve never encountered before and seem like a great solution, allowing for use on plastic cases and carry boxes. Metal pins are my second fav. Design is great, but what impressed the “quality freak” in me the most was the back, which shows how SFG takes great care about their products. I love it.

RESIN QUALITY

All that being said, now’s time for Resin quality review, as this is the actual follow-up to the previous review.

On top of dope dice, metal coins and some other interresting stuff the Organised Play Set contains a resin miniature. I wasn’t sure what to expect (or better to say – coming from a biased standpoint I didn’t expected much). As it happens, this time quality is very good to say the least.

  • nice crisp detail,
  • no difference between two sides of the mold,
  • mold lines thin and easy to remove,
  • smooth surfaces,
  • material looks exclusive,
  • material works perfect with knife and file,
  • base looks great with barely visible mold line, (this time correctly at the bottom of the base)

I have no issues with the miniature – it looks great!

Now I look forward to Mortician’s quality revamp and have full confidence that SFG can pull this off.

Nazroth

Review: Guild Ball Legacy Collection (Resin) Mortician’s

I’ve been a miniatures collector and hobbyist for over twenty years now. Naturally every now and then I find a game or miniatures range that instantly makes me wanna pick a faction and get everything that’s available! This is what I usually do: I go all in. Steamforged Games Guild Ball was not so different.

INTRODUCTION

Initially I had a brief encounter with the game, painted a small commission and observed how miniatures range evolves throughout the years. Once I felt like seeking out a new game to play – Guild Ball was there and Mortician’s guild was ready to take me in with two brand new Legacy Collection resin sets. (Strings of the Spirit Weaver & The Master of Puppets). Miniatures looked dope, community was strong, game was fun – my hype skyrocketed and I ordered both sets…

QUALITY SURPRISE

When boxes arrived I was very impressed with the way Legacy Collection is packed. Two matt & grainy hard paper boxes with shining Steamforged Games logos. Damn, I almost got a boner!

The charm abruptly ended once I sorted out the miniatures and took a close look. Words can’t describe my shock. Just take a look at these pictures:

Please bare with me on this: On top of my hobby history I also worked in a hobby store for straight ten years. I get that in mass productions shit sometimes happens. Still the sheer amount of fuckup in both sets was quite overwhelming.
What I did was sort out miscast garbage from miniatures that I could hope to salvage. To be fair all the miniatures bared some sort of defect or damage but upon thorough examination I decided I was capable of repairing some of them. I started to work on about half and placed a Complaint ticket using Steamforged Games “Submit a request” online form for the rest.

To sum up quality: It varies between miniatures. All have prominent mold lines and tiny holes. Some texture is rough, some is unnaturally corrugated. Miniatures, including bases bare marks of inaccurate filing. Bases come with deformed edge. Pieces does not fit one another… it is really bad.

VISUALS

Steamforged Games pictures promise stunning miniatures with a lot of detail. Unfortunately it couldn’t be further away from truth. Although the overall design and thus renders are breathtaking, the end product does not reflect the quality.

On top of all the fugly texture distortion, mold lines, missing detail – some miniatures are simply different than depicted at the website. In all fairness I simply cannot appreciate visual aspect of these sets when on top of bad quality there’s an obvious downgrade in comparison to what was depicted by the producer.

FUNCTIONALITY

Functionality is very important to me both as a hobbyist and as a gamer. As a hobbyist I prefer material that is easy to work with and does not add obstacles between me and finished paint job. As a gamer I like my miniatures to be durable and designed in a way to prevent some obvious damage. Steamforge Games Legacy Collection is the opposite. Resin is very soft which makes it difficult to remove mold lines. Using a file or a hobby knife leaves tiny gum-like hair which makes it impossible to achieve smooth texture where previously mold lines have been. Miniatures were not properly designed for use of this material which resulted in some weapons being paper thin, flexible and easy to break (some even arrived broken to begin with) and impossible to repair. Pieces does not fit one another. Mold line reserve is put on some vital detail (like faces!). This set is a hell to work with both in terms of necessary time consumption and being unable to 100% properly prepare the miniatures…

PRICE

…and it all comes at a rather ludicrous price of 70€ per set. 140€ total for 17 miniatures and two “balls” would make you think that quality be at least around “ok”. In the meantime Corvus Belli sells a set of 14 highly detailed, top quality metal miniatures for less than 90€!

COMPLAINT & REPLACEMENTS

…My complaint was processed and I got a reply that although miniatures that differentiate from the picture will not be replaced, all the damaged/miscast miniatures will be dealt with in approximate two months.
I decided it is only fair to wait patiently and not review the product before replacements arrive.

They did, three and a half month later. First of all not all the damaged/miscast miniatures got replaced. Secondly, the ones that did, were the final push thus here I am, third hour of preparing this review so that hopefully no one else would end up disappointed and powerless as I am right now.

SUMMARY

To wrap things up these two Guild Ball Legacy Collection (resin) sets are one of my worst hobby related experiences of all time. Games Workshop’s “finecast”, Wizzards of the Coast resin – Nothing compares. On a scale where 10 is awesome, 8 is good, 6 is ok, 5 is mediocre, 3 is bad and I don’t want to even mention 1 – I feel like not wanting to mention Steamforged Gamnes product. I’m writing this review as a warning to all these hyped hobbyists that see a cool looking picture and expect miniatures to follow up on it. What the fuck Steamforged Games? What the fuckeedy fuck?!

If you don’t want to get triggered like me – I suggest avoiding Steamforged Games Guild Ball Legacy Collection (resin) series and instead supporting your favorite game with purchase of metal/board game plastic series via Steamforge Games store or better – a local hobby store.

You think I overreacted? Or maybe you think my wrath is justified? Let me know in the comments below or at Facebook.

Nazroth

Review: Brush Clash Winsor & Newton vs Games Workshop

Hope you’re ready for another round of Brush Clash! I feel like I’ve misjudged Winsor & Newton Series 7 the last time, thus I have decided to throw it into the paint stained arena once more, this time against Games Workshop’s Artificer Layer!

For the purpose of this clash I used a highly detailed Avatar of Sokar metal miniature from Reaper Miniatures. The Avatar was painted almost exclusively using both brushes with an exception of couple base layers.

Throughout the test both the Winsor & Newtor Series 7 ‘0’ and Games Workshop Artificer Layer ‘XS’ performed perfectly. Tips held their shape, hair kept being nicely springy, not being too firm at the middle.

Winsor & Newtor Series 7 ‘0’ is the cheaper of the pair. The price difference is about 25%. Buying this brush you can be sure of Winsor & Newton’s top quality, further assured by this company flawless reputation.

Games Workshop Artificer Layer ‘XS’ seem to hold up to W&N’s Series 7. Even though I distrust Games Workshop I fully recommend this brush to you. The quality is on par with W&N and both brushes seem to be made with same hair. What makes Artificer Layer special is the black Ferrule, that allows for easier identification when digging through a cup full of brushes in search of that important ‘0’. For me this feature is a life changer.

Aside of the brand new Brush Clash pair, I’ve been using another pair for the last year. Both brands performed perfectly, whereas Tamiya, Davinci, Kolibri and many other brushes got annihilated due to sheer number of projects I was involved in. We’re talking hundreds of miniatures that both GW Artificer Layer ‘XS’ and W&N Series 7 ‘0’ got through more or less unscathed. I grew attached to both brushes with just a slight incline towards Artificer Layer, due to it’s black Ferrule. That’s why I keep the more important XS of the GW brand, while W&N covers all the other sizes.

All that being said, there’s just no way for me to judge which of these fine brushes is superior when it comes to performance. Both have fought well and I hold them in high regard. The combined might of these two brushes can take on any miniature!

Let me know which of these two you find more appealing!

Nazroth

Review: Zen Terrain Base Toppers

Zen Terrain, a company from Poland, known for laser cut scenery and accessories. Zen Terrain’s offer is not vast but it certainly is very well thought through with many advanced and interesting designs. I first met with Zen Terrain back in 2014, when I started collecting Infinity the Game. What drove me to Zen Terrain’s Sci-Fi range was a certain elegant theme that all the products share. Among scenery and gaming accessories, there’s a certain group of items that I had an opportunity to work with, the Base Toppers, known also as ‘Base Overlays’. Below you will find my take on them.

INTRODUCTION

They come in all different types, thickness and even made out of different material. Zen Terrain base toppers offer consists of a wide variety of products including industrial, oriental , cybernetic, technical patterns and more. Below is just a sample. To fully grasp what Zen has to offer visit Bases section of Zen Terrain site.

QUALITY

I will start by admitting the truth: I am a quality freak, when it comes to miniatures, accessories, scenery, literally everything miniatures related. I have mentioned this before so for those of you who read my articles this shouldn’t be a surprise. That being said, I have compared Zen Terrain base toppers quality to products from couple other companies (EU and US based) and as far as hard paper/HDF/MDF goes Zen Terrain range is top tier quality. Zen definitely does not save on material, nor laser cutting time. Material is strong, does not stratify, is precisely cut.

As a side note: Zen also provides quality check and packs this stuff very well for transportation. No missing parts and/or damage during shipment ever occurred when I received my orders.

VISUALS

This one is off course super bias dictated. Zen Terrain aesthetics might or might not work for you. Personally I really like some of Zen’s base toppers a lot. I do strongly ‘feel’ aesthetics of some of them. Going through entire range I do not find any type, that I feel like “naah, I don’t want to work with these as a painter” about.

FUNCTIONALITY

Another important aspect I always look for is functionality. As a full time painter I try to make my life easier and prefer to avoid products that does not go well with that philosophy. Working with Zen Terrain toppers have some merits. For instance they do not require any preparation. Just glue them on top the bases and you’re ready to go. (They fit the bases perfectly by the way, unlike some other worse quality toppers I worked with).

One thing that I find to be a little inconvenience comes from material itself. Where metal, plastic and resin are rather easy to drill, I find hard paper and HDF/MDF to distort around the drill hole. This is not a game changer, just requires a bit more time and some tricks to ‘repair’ afterwards. Figured thing like this is worth a mention if you’re considering laser cut toppers.

Zen Terrain base toppers work very well with paint. Have went through more than 200 of them, from among couple different types, in recent years. Never encountered any uncommon behavior or issues.

PRICE

The final aspect: Price. Pricing looks similar to other companies. For 5 25mm base toppers you will pay about 3,3€ so a bit less than Customeeple 3,95€, but also a bit more than Micro Art’s 2,56€ (these come in packs of 12 for 6,15€ only). Comparing to products from other companies (not only Sci-Fi themed) I would say Zen has a mid-tier price range. Personally I find this price to be well balanced with quality.

SUMMARY 10/10

To wrap things up, if you have no experience with Zen Terrain’s base toppers and consider using toppers in the future, I totally recommend going for Zen’s stuff. The range is there, full of interesting designs. Quality is top, price is good. They are easy to work with and look really nice once properly painted. When it comes to MDF/HDF/hard paper toppers, taking into account material properties I would give Zen Terrain’s stuff 9,5/10 rounding up to 10/10 and that’s on a scale where 10 is awesome, 8 is good, 6 is ok, 5 is mediocre, 3 is bad and I don’t want to even mention 1. I try to not be biased on this, even tho I know the man behind Zen Terrain personally. Allow me to finish up with this line: I seriously enjoy working with Zen Terrain base toppers and how they turn out, every time.

Where to purchase? Zen Terrain has it’s official webstore. I invite you to take a peek.

Nazroth

Review: Proshaker

Have you ever woke up after a day of painting, hands searing with agony? Do you shake your paints yourself or use futuristic technology to do it for you? Now in all seriousness – have you ever considered getting a proper paint shaker? I have recently decided to treat myself with one. Below are my thoughts about it…

PROSHAKER

So yeah – Recently I’ve obtained a ProShaker – Professional Gel Polish and Lacquer Shaker. Before I chose this model I’ve made a short research in the web and compared it with two other popular, hobby friendly shakers: Nadeco Nail Lacquer Shaker and Robart Hobby Paint Shaker. Don’t know much about the company that produces ProShaker but it looked impressive and durable when compared to other two. It also operates at a wider spectrum of movement so I’ve figured it will provide better results. Purchased via AliExpress, got here in (wow!) just four days and so far I am happy about it, but first things first.

INSIDE THE BOX

Inside the box there are:

* Liquid Shaker’s main body, wraped in a double cardboard casing,

* Power plug,

* Spare springs,

* Quick start manual,

QUALITY

Made mostly out of hard, lacquered metal, with sturdy plastic parts and mechanism hidden in a special compartment – ProShaker seems to be of a good quality and durable. It’s simplicity wotks as an advantage as there are not many parts that can get damaged. The main body is very heavy (seems like about 5kg) and holds in place while working. Power plug is a standard issue, nothing special – it can be easily replaced if broken. I’m not especially fond of a on/off switch, would preffer a more solid, plastic button – but this one does it’s job so I’ll give it a free pass.

PERFORMANCE

ProShaker is very simple to use – just put a paint into the holder and cap it, switch on, wait 60 seconds till it automatically switches off. The holder works fine with Army Painter, Vallejo, Games Workshop and even P3 bottles. Advertised to perform with about 500 rotations per minute – In my opinion it seems more like 4 per second, which gives about half the declared speed – still quite good.

One thing that I find unpleasant about ProShaker’s performance is the noise. It has nothing to do with ‘Smooth, quiet operation’ proudly displayed on the box – and is rather annoying. This might be because I have a brand new piece and it’ll take some time before it lubricates properly. If not – I will use a special spray grease and it should tone the noise down a notch.

Once ‘shaked’ the paint is mixed pretty well. ProShaker managed to effectively mix even a Games Workshop’s ‘dry’ paint, which is a deed in itself. It works especially well with paints that have a pigmentation issue – something that requires a lot of work to properly mix.

PRICE and COMPETITION

ProShaker is an expensive toy. Prices varry between 90$ and up to 170$. Add to it a shipment cost and potential customs and damn – this thing is not for everyone. Still, the quality seems worth it, especially when compared to competition.

From what I’ve seen there are two major competitors to ProShaker, that provide similar results.

Nadeco Nail Lacquer Shaker

It comes in many variations. Price between 20$ and 40$ is certainly a big advantage over a ProShaker, but the quality is clearly inferior. Type of movement is limited to left-right vibration.

 

Robart Hobby Paint Shaker

This seems to be the same thing as the one above, altho it is nicely reskined and priced over 40$ and up to 70$. Casing looks way better than Nadeco, but I couldn;t find any information about the material it is made of. This one is based in the USA so it’s way more expensive for poor folks in the EU due to customs – have that in mind.

IS IT FOR ME?

Assuming price not being an issue, the question you should ask yourself when considering such a toy is – would it really be optimal for you. It’s nothing more but pure economy of work. In my line of work I simply do not have time to ‘masturbate’ my paints, looking outside the window all day long. Time is of an essence, not to mention hands fatigue – I’d rather paint. On top of that there are results, which in case of some types of paints are impressive. So – there’s that.

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR?

One important thing that comes to mind is the power plug. I have seen over a dozen AliExpress and Ebay offers, where there was no choice nor information as to what type of a power plug is in the box. In the end I purchased from a seller that provided a choice between EU/UK/US power plug – but be advised to check this out before getting one yourself.

SUMMARY

After using ProShaker throughout entire day of painting I’d say I am pretty happy with my new toy. Yes, price is an overkill and that goes for every shaker mentioned in the article, but like most lasting professional hobby tools – this is a once in a lifetime purchase. From now on I can spend more time with miniatures and less time shaking paints. If I was to tag this purchase on a scale where 10 is life changing, 8 is good, 6 is ok, 5 is mediocre, 3 is bad and I don’t want to even mention 1 – taking quality, price and performance into consideration – I would settle for a 7. That’s because I was expecting a bit more with some particular paints, but also got good results with most of them. Let’s just say – money well spent.

Agree/Disagree? There’s a comment section below where you can stand for your opinion 😉

Nazroth
123