Wednesday, August 7, 2013

In Metal we don't trust! or a focus on pinsmanship and metal

Cheers Metal brothers and fellow pinsmen,

Last week I dipped my toe in the deep water of metal kits and their fits. This is a tricky issue and companies seem to have distinct policies regarding pining. I mean let’s face it: Two flat surfaces are not enough to connect two bits with super glue.
Some of you out there might argue otherwise, and to those I have to say only one thing: You're wrong! If you want to toss your models around on the table top, you will want some kind of fitting. Luckily many kits out there have fittings shaped like balls, slits, sticks and other words, that make teenagers giggle. Sadly though most fittings hardly deserve their names. Pinning is needed in almost all places. This goes as far as to cutting off the original sphere, stick etc. and fully replacing it. Now the policies I mentioned are apparent in the company’s product lines. Your approach to a kit should probably depend on the company responsible for your toy’s making. Let’s tell them apart:

Privateer Press/ P3: THEY WANT YOU TO PIN! They say so in the rulebook, in the interwebs, with their pining tool sets and foremost they say it with their minis. Sadly their metal line is the worst to work with amongst the major companies. Their metal is super hard, is a sentence bands are proud of, but mini-makers shouldn't be. Drill bits will die, especially the ones they sell you. Get professional ones not hobby quality. Drillin' PP's (also old GW's) metal is some serious business. If your bit brakes in a deep hole you won't be able to pull it out, thereby destroying your chance to pin in that same spot. Hard metal has its up sides but pinning isn't one. The "fittings" themselves are flat surfaces in many places, just pin that.
Overall PP miniatures are horrible in my opinion, assembly wise. Detail and paintability are decent, mold-lines are common but not too bad. But the fit is sometimes awful. I'm going to show you my first Vanguard below. He was the worst metal kit I ever worked with in 15 years, by far even, 13 pieces 15 pins! WTF PP? But don't get me wrong I love their products at the same moment, especially my Vanguard. They have some of the best sculptors out there, cool genuine designs and a wonderful studio team, also some of the best paints. I basically love their sculpts and hate their minis. But try to separate them, it's an illusion. Try try try, but come to my conclusion: begrudgingly buy them anyways. Newer infantry size models aren't that bad after all. (Rant over)

 Awful fit on this Vanguard. And like every Warjack he always skips leg day at the gym. Same can be said for Hugh Jackman. Coincidence? I think not.

Like CB's Scarface he also does not fit his base. But this little rascal reminds me of the card soldiers from Allice in Wonderland and I thus love him.

GW: Hardly any better sadly enough. While detail and fit improved over the years, many fittings where just flat and called for pins until the end. Mold-lines were thankfully dodged by these little stick thingies everyone and their sister has under their socks. Interestingly they always had some crucial parts in large kits that came together glueable, old Wraithlords and Cybots come to mind. The metal got softer and softer over the years but remained drillbrakingly hard. Specialist games’s fit and cast were slightly worse in comparison to store front products, dunno why. I use past tense because they stopped metal production, of course. I for one, as a metal hater, like that step. Finecast isn't great but it's just a substitute until they go all plastic. Or so the rumors go. I'd looooove that. If Wyrd can do it, GW simply has to do it in order to remain pack leader.

Sometimes double drilling is needed.... cut out the grins gentlemen.

Spartan Games: They used their "digital resin" method from the start, but there have been some metal parts in in the kits from time to time, turrets mostly. As a Kingdom of Britannia player in Dystopian Wars for instance I had only one turret, which along with some antennas and chimneys was metal. The metal wasn't too hard, neither to soft. The cast had a good detail. Sadly it had some of the worst mold lines I have ever seen in metal form. Not just lines but whole shifts in the mold halves. That shouldn’t happen. But I never felt obligated to pin. With some exposed rotors maybe but not the turrets. In this case the past tense is meant to say that I haven’t worked with recent models. I hear that Dystopian Legions infantry is metal, but I can't say anything about it's properties. The infantry sculpts look rather two-dimensional to me, guess they are all one or two pieces. Just a guess though. Never saw any two metal pieces with glue points. Sorry for my lack of insight here but for the DW range I'd say they don't need you to pin.

 Just throwing in a suggestion: best pin everything that is not meant to be together, no matter the material. (excluding marriage material)

Odd choice this time Taban: A rather small company, a small company that wants you to pin. I only assembled a few guys but I couldn't find any attempt on Tabans side to even make a fitting. They make a decently detailed cast though, with hardly any mold-lines. That is cool. Their metal itself sadly isn't. It is too damn soft. You can seriously scratch it with a fingernail. Now I only have a box and a blister, so it might only be me. Yet I heard similar complaints. But still give Eden a try. Delicate models in or out, 5 Models per side and a 2' by 2' table is quite the skirmisher all right.

Another quick tip: Cut rectangular fittings like this for more poseability.

And now Corvus Belli: Thank God for this company. The only one who really gets it right, the best reason to help Spain overcome their economical crisis. I have always been a metal hater, but they brought the metal back into my heart. But let's not get overenthusiastic here. First off: Their old Infinity range sucked (sculpt wise). Luckily they replaced almost all of it, with horrible exeptions. As I said last week their newbies are beautiful. So let’s just talk metal. When I decided to go Infinity I thought I just have to put up with an all metal company. I had the lowest expectations imaginable. And then their kits just blew my mind. They are not perfect, as is no material to work with. They have flaws. Mold-lines are plentiful, but shifting is not. And thanks to the rather soft (but not too soft) metal, you can "shave" them easily. Many parts mean the sculpt can be very dynamic, and boy are they. But moreover many parts mean that mold-lines are always accessible, huge win here. Poseability is sacrificed to genius fittings (see below). In a true skirmisher that’s not hurtin. A month ago I would've said: Always pin everything. I even planed that post. Now I just say: Unless you got a good fitting. You should still pin the touchshy parts (where you grab the model) and some other peculiar places. But you don’t have to pin it all. For my Scarface I used 14 pins but he is a 19 piece model. I was impressed that the amzing fit of the infantry sized models translates into TAG size. Usually the rule of Thumb is (with metal only): The bigger the kit, the lousier the fit. That goes all the way back to the old GW metal Thunderhawk (the 90ies were some strange times). But CB broke the rule. There are still other flaws besides mold lines of cause: Fit isn't 100% (but close), antennas are always a problem, a good glue spot doesn't help a part from braking. They are not for beginners, they are way more delicate than GW's and PP's stuff and some sprue connectors are placed tricky. But at the end of the day they are the best metal kits I ever worked with.

Above: CB's Scarface

Awesome fittings... them anyways

Somtimes you have to get creative with pin placement. The pin simply needs some space in there to work.....NO GRINS!

I am one of those people who would love an Industry where every model was Wyrd/GW grade plastic. I also know that that is just not realistic at this moment. But I'm myself am surprised, that If CB were to be the last company to do metal, I'd stick with them. And metal has some propertys hard to contest, bendable being the best of them. Since the dawn of Finecast I tried to buy old GW metal models for my armies, who's sculpts wouldn’t work in Finecast. Whips and tentacles like on the Tyranid Venomthrope or Eldar rangers with their rifles come to mind. I'd suggest you do likewise, if you need something that wasn't designed with Finecast in mind. That stuff isn't too bad, but like any other it can't do it all. The golden age of plastic has yet to come. Some might even say

METAL WILL NEVER DIE!!! ... I only know that CB's will die last.


  1. That warmachine model looks hilariously bad next to the infinity piece. The game looks really bad as well, compared to infinity.

  2. what pin vise and bits do you use. I have one and i couldn't make a scratch in the infinity models. I would love to hear back

    1. I am using these drill bits:

      I use them with a normal hand drill.

      Priveteer Press has pinning set, and I had similar experieces, to yours, with them. Get professionel grade drills. Hobby and cheap hardware store ones are not up for the task.

      That being said, Infintiys metal is quite soft, I often overdrill because It's so easy to get through. So you must have some horribly bad drills.

    2. I don't know why the first line came out so weird, wasn't on purpose.