Thursday, November 24, 2016

When art turns to war!

To the Elves of the Eastern Kindreds chariot racing is an art form, and one which they gladly turn to warfare.  In battle war chariots are frighteningly devastating troops, carving bloody paths through enemy units. - from the Elf War Chariot Regiment box.

Once again I have to thank one of my friends, Keith Ambrose.  He picked up the box of new Elf War Chariots at the Gem City Massacre, and has kindly let me borrow them to get some pictures.

So first up is the box.  Mantic seems to be moving away from the VCR style boxes into standard cardboard boxes.  These have the various product information pasted on them.  The original idea for the VCR style boxes was that they could double as transport cases for the models.  But nobody does that.

These are more eco-friendly, but have one drawback.  When you cut out the Mantic points, you end up leaving a hold in the box.  Not a big deal if you are going to toss the box in the recycle bin anyway, but if you actually want to keep it - well a box with a hole in it tends to let whatever is inside of it out, or let things from the outside in.  Also at this time of year many people are hoarding boxes for wrapping / sending Christmas presents - and the post office doesn't tend to like boxes with holes in them either.  A minor quibble I know, but still something.

Box - decent picture
Inside the box - well you have both plastic and metal.  Mantic now has a contract with Warlord games (also in Nottingham - is there any miniature company in the UK that is NOT in Nottingham?) to use their plastic horses in their kits.  We first saw these with the Elf Silverbreeze cavalry.  It actually makes a lot of sense to do this - creating a plastic mold is extremely expensive, and there is nothing special or unique about horses.
Warlord horse sprue front
That being said, I noticed on the box (and the sprues) that the saddle is modeled onto the horse.  Great for cavalry - it looks a bit weird for a chariot.  If I were painting these, I would paint the saddle the same color as the blanket, if I didn't use a sharp hobby knife and putty (to fill where I got a bit too enthusiastic) to remove the saddle altogether.  The paint job can hide or emphasize details - and this is one detail you want to hide for the chariot.

The box does include another half a sprue of horses, for a total of 6.
Warlord horse sprue back
For the crew, they simply put in three scout sprues (for a total of 6 models).  The sprue comes with bows for both models.
Elf Scout Sprue, front and back
To help differentiate the crew, they included three spear arms (these are all right arms, so the model with the bow in it's left hand will have to have the right hand with the sword).  The also include three quivers - I like the detail of the sea shell on one side (yes, it is on all three - I find it interesting they didn't put these all on the same side of the mold).
quivers and spear arms for crew
The chariots themselves are all metal.  This is the new standard for retailer exclusive pieces (I honestly still liked, and miss, restic).  The chariot has a base and body, as well as an ornamental head that attaches to the body to give it a bird look (with the body being the swept back wings).  This does a good job of implying speed.

There is also a rail that fits between the body and the back of the base.  This is on a sprue.  You might notice that I only show one here (instead of using two to show both sides).  This is because there was NOT a second sprue for a second set of rails.  All the pictures I can find are ALL of the, well I'll call it the starboard side (i.e. right side when facing the front) of the models - which clearly show the railing.  However most of these pictures obscure the port railing (though the box cover does show part of it).  It took us a while to even determine if there were two, though test fitting these does appear they are all the same (though there is some bending required to get them to fit).  (I am only showing two of each of the components - there is a third but not a third side to show unless I wanted to go all Picaso with the pictures (could you even do cubism with a photograph?) :-) ).

Keith has already submitted this to Mantic, and I hope they continue their excellent customer service they have been showing lately (he is still a little bothered that he never got the marauder heads from the original Deadzone kickstarter even though he had a confirmation email back after he submitted the missing item request).
Chariot pieces
Lastly, there are the wheels, axles and hafts.  The design is, to me, a little different, in that there are two unconnected hafts, one for each horse, instead of a single one between them.  It does make them a bit more unique compared to the other chariots they offer.
Chariot wheels, yokes and axles
You also get three 50x100 bases for these.

I'd like to see these assembled to see how well the pieces fit and clean up.  It will also be interesting to see if the crew fits in the chariot with the round base 'plugs' on them, of if you will need to remove these.

One last minor issue is the price.  I personally find it a little frustrating that Mantic sets the prices in three different currencies at what are lately very high conversion rates.  With the pound falling, you think it would be a good bargain to buy from the UK - however the prices have been set much higher than any current conversion rates.

These retail for £34.99 / €49.99 / $59.99.  However if you manually do the conversion from british pounds, it (at the time I'm writing this) comes to €40.72 / $43.17.  Even the euro price converts to $53.00.   Even though you can get free shipping (and I HATE to pay for shipping) for over $75, paying for shipping (especially since it is a flat rate of £8.00) and ordering in pounds would mean that these would be £42.99 - or $53.02 - saving almost $7.00.  And if you order more than one item the difference keeps growing.

Now I am not a business man.  However it seems to me that it might make more sense to set the price and let the markets take care of the conversion.  In this case everything would be in british pounds sterling, including shipping.  Then let the currency markets settle it.

I understand that there may be additional costs when sending to distributors or retailers outside the UK (thus the increase in price), but couldn't this still be accounted for in a standard price?  So while I like Mantic, and in general their prices are great, the fact that they are still converting at the highest rate from back in 2015 ( £1.00 -> $1.71 ) instead of the current (£1.00 -> $1.23) rate is a bit frustrating.  Not so much that I want to disguise myself, board the ship and start throwing things overboard, but enough to whine about it online.  (Oh, and why do they spell it whinge over there?) (Edit - they don't - apparently whinge is a different word).

Remember to maintain appropriate chariot speeds in residential areas.  (Ok, I really love the jokes on the Mantic packaging!)

Because it is all fun and games . . . 

1 comment:

  1. Nice article. Especially the last paragraph with the pricing. This is a big big issue for me since the conversion rate is incredibly off so that I will not order from them directly.
    Fun side fact: Other companies are able to convert to current rates so I think that Mantic is just too lazy to adapt the rates in their system or want to rip customers off (since I like them I keep to number 1).
    I really really like Mantic, but this is a no-go for me.

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