22 June 2011

[Hobby] The Future of Finecast

There seem to be few topics in wargaming right now as polarizing as Citadel Finecast. Internet personalities with an abundance of creativity have cleverly titled it “Failcast”—clearly these people should be working for Games Workshop’s marketing department—based primarily on hearsay and conjecture; most I’ve interacted with haven’t actually touched a Finecast product. Most that have worked with the product, myself included, seem to believe that, despite some initial shortcomings—namely QA questions regarding bubbling, miscasts, and mispacks—Finecast will be a boon to the hobby and is a vast improvement over metal. Regardless of either opinion, Finecast is here to stay, so it’s worth exploring what the future may hold for the hobbyist and our new hobby material.

Positives of Plastic

Finecast is an as yet undisclosed resin mixture, giving it essentially the best properties of both metal and plastic. You get a great deal of detail, more so than previously seen on any GW kit (including both metal and plastic), while adding the durability of the plastic model. There was a great deal of trepidation regarding the resin used—and there are still ‘net trolls out there ignorantly extolling the hazard that is Finecast resin, resin dust, and GW in general—but GW has seemingly found a nice medium in Finecast. The pieces glue together really simply, don’t break when dropped (I’ve dropped my Vanguard Vets and my Deathmaster Snitchk from about shoulder level to test this), and even have a bit of bend in them. Further, like a Forge World or McVey resin, a simple bath of warm water will straighten up any piece that is cockeyed.

One of the major benefits that lie in resin is the ease in which one will be able to convert the Finecast models. Previously, if someone wanted to convert some of their Vanguard Veterans (because, let’s be honest, the weapon combos on the models aren’t great) it took real dedication. You’d need a razor saw. You’d probably need a vise so you didn’t dismember yourself. You’d need a Dremel to properly file everything down. And you’d need an abundance of patience. I bought the Vanguard Veterans Finecast box with the express idea that they’d be my conversion ‘guinea pig.’ The models passed with flying colors.

It took me less than an hour to convert all five of these models, and I was able to give them the weapon options I wanted by using my abundance of leftovers from the Death Company/Sanguinary Guard sprues. Even better is the fact that the arms that I didn’t use I was able to save for future veteran models.

Additionally, swapping the heads was a breeze. I’ve converted the occasional metal model before, but I’d never attempt to swap the head from a metal model; quite frankly, it’s far too time consuming and it really isn’t easy. Again, the Finecast resin alleviates this, and I was able to really Blood Angels up my Vanguard Vets.

A Healthy Conversion

I know one of the main concerns people are expressing surrounds resin dust. I’ll say it plainly: there wasn’t any at all when I converted these. The Finecast resin is soft enough that a hobby knife is more than enough to remove any mold lines or details you don’t want. In fact, I’ve been able to scrape some of the mold lines (of which have been surprisingly few!) away with my finger nail. In that same regard, the softness of the Finecast resin can easily create a situation where a hobbyist could remove a detail they didn’t intend to. It’s a slight concern, but with a bit of care one should be able to avoid these instances.

Finecast, From Here

Make no mistake: there are quality assurance issues with Finecast at its outset. The pictures you’ve seen of completely miscast miniatures, most notably the Terminator Librarian, are out there, and miscasts are unacceptable. Games Workshop needs to fix this, and quickly. However, I think the problem is much smaller than the internet would have you believe. The vocal minority on any issue is usually the most vociferous, and that remains the case here. Of the 12 Finecast miniatures I’ve been hands on with only one has had an issue. Remind yourself the amount of flash that used to exist on the GW plastic kits and compare that to the new Blood Angels or Dark Eldar kits. Flash no longer exists on them. Games Workshop fixed the problem. I’m confident they’ll work through any problems they encounter with Finecast.

Finecast resin is, in any objective measure, a better hobby material than metal. The details in the models are sharper. The material is lighter and more easily converted. The material works splendidly in conjunction with any existing plastic kit. It really is a hobbyist’s dream. While shortcomings may presently exist, the future is certainly bright for Citadel Finecast.