As I'm sure every Kickstarter addict or dabbler knows by now, long waits for fulfillment of all of one's pledge rewards is the norm in this day of ever more ambitious campaigns, and thus it's often that one receives an e-mail notification of an impending shipment or a box on the stoop without any expectation. This was the case the other day as I received notice that Wargames Factory was slinging something my way. It took a moment of recollection before I realized this was probably the last shipment for the Dreamforge Games Kickstarter I backed, containing the brutal-looking armored vehicle that had become the part of the fund-raiser that I was most excited about.
I've been following Mark Mondragon, the guy behind Dreamforge Games, for a while now and his work has never failed to impress me. But it was this Kickstarter, aimed at bringing his now iconic Leviathan Crusader and a host of supporting models into injection-molded plastic from resin and metal that made his catalog a contender in the competitive sci-fi miniatures market in my opinion. The Kickstarter funded more than two years ago, and while that's a substantial time to wait, Mark's regular updates, the complexity of the range of items he was bringing into production, and the quality of the platoon of Eisenkern Stormtroopers that arrived in the meantime made it seem to never be an unacceptably long wait. And from my initial review of the Keilerkopf APC, I think I'm going to find the wait to receive this final piece to be also well-justified.
First, a look at the box, which features the rather spartan, fairly utilitarian graphic design typical of the Dreamforge products I've purchased. While I realize it's a bit pedantic to comment on this, and I do think the CGI artwork Dreamforge uses is always sharp, I can't help but think that a talented graphic designer could help kick up the shelf presence of these items a notch.
Pictures of the Loki and Thor conversion kits, built using the Keilerkopf as a base, that really emphasize that this a sci-fi rendition of the WWII German SdKfz 251 Hanomag.
A really nicely done version of the kit by the talented Dwartist. Here you can really see the extent of interior detail Mark has jammed into the kit - and this build doesn't even show the crew members or passengers that can be placed in those seats.
The directions, which come as a double-sided, 5 panel paper document. This is no simple kit to put together, but fortunately the directions contain well rendered images of parts of their assemblies and the pieces are well coded on the sprues. Given the number of pieces, I'd suggest that this is a kit for which assembly will go much easier if you remove the pieces from the sprues as you need them, being exceptionally careful to ensure you're grabbing the correct coded piece.
This is just one side of the directions! Like I said, a complex kit. What's interesting is the number of assemblies for which no glue is to be used. With two side doors, a rear ramp, four roof hatches, and a hood that all open, and a point defense gun that swivels and extends on a folding armature, this kit can feature a great deal of movement after construction. Of course this might not be ideal for your typical wargamer, more concerned with robust models that won't break during regular table time, so a lot of this articulation, as well as much of the slick interior detail, might need to be glued away.
This is how the sprues are packaged within the box, wrapped in a cello bag I presume intended to contain pieces that invariable pop off the sprues.
And the pile of sprues removed from the bag. If you're at all familiar with Wargames Factory sprues, either from their own products or the work they do for Malifaux, these feature the same peg and socket style design that allow the sprues to be stacked upon each other and lock in place. With a kit with as many sprues as this one, I think it's a great design, especially as it prevents sprues from rubbing against each other in the packaging, damaging pieces. Interestingly, the large hull pieces you see on top of the pile are not sprued this way, connected to each other via a central sprue hub instead of being contained within the more typical frame.
All of the sprues and other pieces necessary for building the Keilerkopf laid out. I told you there were a lot of pieces here!
Two sprues just to contain the pieces necessary for building the crew members and passengers. For those that have the Eisenkern Stormtrooper infantry, these look to be modeled the same and thus there should be plenty of head- and equipment-swapping potential for those looking for a slightly less uniform looking crew and passengers.
The tinted window pieces for the windshield and doors as well as the screws and mini screwdriver that seems to be a standard insert for all of the larger Dreamforge kits lately. At this rate I should have a small collection of these before long. :)
Finally a pic of one of the six tires that comes with the kit, showing its rubberized qualities. There had been some discussion on the Kickstarter regarding whether the tires would take this form, as opposed to being made of the same styrene as the rest of the kit, with compelling arguments for going in either direction. I personally had been against the rubber tires, simply because I have no experience with dealing with this material on a model. But I know tank tracks on scale models are often made this way and thus there is no doubt substantial information available online explaining how to paint and weather them.
In summary, in case it wasn't obvious from any of the above, I rather like what I'm seeing with this kit and can't wait to build it. Before I do so though, I'm going to need to spend some time thinking of my intended use for it. As noted above, this kit features an impressive amount of interior detail and articulation. While the former would allow for this to be an impressive diorama piece and the latter is just plain fun, I've also picked up a small pile of the Eisenkern Stormtroopers, for which the Keilerkopf is supposed to function as support, that are intended for the gaming table. Do I want doors and hatches popping open or guns drooping on me during a game? While nowhere as impressive in their interior detail, Warhammer 40K Rhino APCs have been constructed for years now with their passenger benches and racked bolter hidden behind a barrier of plastic cement.
Perhaps I should just make the decision easy and buy a second one as soon as it hits retail?