For this update we’ll have a closer look of one of this year’s most widely anticipated releases in terms of Fantasy wargaming – it’s Avatars of War’s first plastic release and it’s a big one with big ambitions. Let’s see how the miniatures hold up and if they can meet the expectations!
First off – I’m aware that these were released a few months ago already but I figured that it’s never too late to have a look at a product and there surely are a few people who haven’t heard of them yet and/or haven’t read a review on this plastic kit. Also, like everybody who posts reviews of stuff on the internet, part of what I’m doing here is trying to entertain you guys with this article. 😉
In the case that you haven’t heard of Avatars of War (AoW) so far: It’s a Spanish company founded in April 2007 who since then have come out with loads of very pretty character models in 28mm heroic scale (so they’re 30mm and up in reality) from various fantasy races for gaming and collecting. AoW is one of the most well-known companies who are making character models which miraculously fit perfectly for using them in your Warhammer Fantasy armies, not only in terms of equipment (which on many of their models comes with two or more weapon options as well as optional heads and such) but also in terms of looks and style. In 2010, AoW announced their fist multi-part plastic regiment kit and people (including myself) were very excited about the first prototype models for that kit. After a long wait and an exemplary online PR campaign of AoW, the Dwarf Berserkers Regiment box was released in late June 2011.
So much for the history of the product, now let’s have a look at that box:
Avatars of War have always had top notch presentation on their products as well as online and this box is no exception. They had themselves original artwork made for this box, which is a very nice thing to do. I prefer artwork on the box front over pictures of the models. Apart from that, there’s a big, dwarfy logo and an even bigger AoW logo. Nice. The sides of the box have a picture of painted example dwarves on them and the back of the box shows the whole unit assembled and painted and lists everything that’s in the box which we will come to later.
You may notice that the upper left part of the box is dented in my case and that there’s slight damage on the front too. Well, I guess our postman hates me.
This is how I received the box after I found the package placed in the garage. It was pretty battered and the top was ripped off. That’s the reason I took the pictures of the box while it was still in shrink wrap so in the case of heavy damage to the models I could send it back and prove that the damage had happened during transport.
Anyhow, I was relieved to see that the interior of the box was in good condition. The box contains six sprues in total, five of which are regular Dwarf Berserkers sprues and the sixth holds extra bits to build the command miniatures (one Champion, one musician and one standard bearer). Here’s the main sprue of the box so to say:
As I said, the box contains five times this sprue which holds enough parts to build 4 Dwarves. Legs, torso, head (with beard), arms and hands (including axes) are seperate parts and allow for plenty of options for mixing, matching and posing your models. Each of these sprues comes with 6 different hand weapons (all axes, 3 with left hands, 3 with right hands) as well as a giant greataxe. In addition to this, there’s a plethora of various smaller bits: 6 brooches or ancestor icons, 1 nose-to-ear chain, 1 beer keg, a tiny dragon skull, a chopped-off Orc head, 2 body piercings, 5 different hairstyles (4 mohawk variants, 1 long braid, 1 top knot) and one hand that’s giving the finger.
Now for the command sprue:
The box contains one of those so you can turn three of the Dwarves into a standard bearer, a champion and a musician. There is an extra-large mohawk for the Champion and an ornamented giant handaxe, the musician gets a carnyx (imagine using a periscope as a trumpet and you’re pretty close to what a carnyx is), a huge 6-part standard as well as a comb (cute detail considering how much time these guys must use to get their beards and hair into shape).
Apart from the sprues, there’s twenty 20mm square slotta-bases in the box (they come as single parts in a little plastic baggy). It’s a bit of a shame that AoW didn’t get non-slotted bases because these Dwarves are to be freely glued onto the bases and have no tab that would go into the slot so you have to fill that slot up somehow.
Now let’s have a closer look at the parts which brings us to a topic surprisingly many people have strong feeling about – flash. Of course these models have it because it’s as good as impossible to avoid but it’s rather tame. Apart from that, the molding looks top notch. The plastic is soft kind of bendy and pretty resistant to snapping – just like the plastic you see used by other companies like Games Workshop. In fact, the company who does the casts is run by former GW employees who used to work in the very same section at GW so they know their stuff. Also, the common heritage to these sprues is evident – they look exactly like GW sprues.
The sculpts themselves clearly follow AoW’s business strategy of emulating GW’s style or at least be compatible with their rules and looks and fit seamlessly. It’s no coincidence that these models match GW’s Dwarven Slayers, a staple in every self-respecing Dwarfs army and fan favorite which so far got no plastic models from GW, to a tee. This actually goes so far that they do things some people would have preferred not to have. The axes are very large and the blades on them very, very thick (I heard comparisons to telephone books being muttered over the past weeks). If you can see beyond that, the sculpts look beautiful if you’re okay with “heroic” 28mm scale proportions and looks.
Now for the assembly. Here’s a few things you should be careful about. First: You have to be aware that, and this is the greatest downside of this kit, there are no optional weapon loadouts in this kit. Not all Dwarves can have two hand weapons, you will have to have some with greataxes in there unless you get inventive with beer mug holding hands, multiple dwarves giving the finger and so on. But right out of the box you’ll have to have some greataxes in there. And as you could read above – there is no option to have them all equipped with great axes either. Five per box maximum. That aside, the parts fit very well, you get lots of options due to the fact that they have arms and hands with axes as seperate bitz, the hairdos fit well onto the heads and all in all you achieve quite impressive variety among the unit.
Now if you want to have these guys ranked up, you have to be pretty careful when assembling the unit. Due to the huge weapons and the rather bulky nature of the models, they can be a bit tricky to rank up, especially with these greataxes amongst the ranks and big mohawks.
One word about that monster of a standard – I suggest not putting it fully together. Assemble the stone statue holding the dragon heads, add the book and any additional bits you like but don’t put the two parts of the pole together right from the start- Paint both – the standard bearer with the lower half of the pole in his hand and the rest of the banner – seperately and put them together in the end (by the way, this will require pinning!). I put the whole thing together right from the start and it’s just unwieldy, inconvenient and very prone to snapping the banner pole while you’re handling it because it’s got this huge bulk on top.
There isn’t much to say paintingwise. It’s a very fun kit to paint up. I suggest filling the gaps between the arms and the torsi with some putty before painting.
And here we got the bad boys all finished and ready to go seek a glory in death:
The quality and looks are en par with current GW plastic kits of similar types of models and the density of extra bits and use of room is very good for the first plastic product of a company. With some of the smaller stuff like the seperate body piercings and such, AoW really showed off what they can do with plastic and I’m looking forward to see how they can expand on this. This unit will fit seamlessly into any Warhammer Dwarves army but will also be a great addition to your Kings of War army, Mortheim Warbands, your Pen&Paper roleplaying game miniature collection and last but not least they will look great in your showcase as well. Oh, and at EUR 25,00 (GBP 21,84 / USD 34,22) for 20 miniatures including command the price is also very, very reasonable.
Avatars of War released a new metal Dwarf Berserker character as well. The name’s Bör Dragonbane and I’m just putting the finishing touches on the model which you will be able to see on here soon as well. Many thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed the article and found it interesting. If you have any comments, suggestions or questions concerning this article or painting/modelling/conversion commission inquiries just leave me a comment below this article or drop me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .
See you soon!