Last month, I was contacted by Joanne, co-owner of Mountain of Metal, who asked if I'd be interested in reviewing a few miniatures her company has recently released. Mountain of Metal is based in Nottingham, United Kingdom and was founded in September 2014. They specialize in painting and terrain commissions, and have very recently branched out into online retail. This November, they launched their new online store and released three 28mm fantasy miniatures available for purchase through their website. These three miniatures were sent to me for my honest review. I look forward to walking you through my experience from beginning to end!
Upon receiving my miniatures, I opened the box to find three miniatures wrapped in bubble wrap and shredded paper. I appreciate the care they took to ship these, though the shredded paper made quite a mess as I pulled the bubble-wrapped miniatures out of the box. Whoops! After a quick cleanup, I unboxed three smaller black boxes to find Nenqua, Havan, and Volac. The miniature boxes they come in are the perfect size, though the cotton-like padding they come with snags more readily than traditional foam inserts. I made doubly-sure I removed any loose strands stuck on sharp edges of the miniature during the cleaning process.
I didn't find any jarring mould lines or chunky flash I had to contend with-- in fact, it only took about 15-20 minutes to clean, sand, and scrub each miniature before assembling. Two of the three miniatures require some assembly-- Volac's arm/staff and Nenqua's leg and dagger. Assembly and gap-filling has to be my least favorite part of this hobby, so I'm glad for miniatures that require minor prep work. Upon inspection, the miniatures are of a nice quality and only Nenqua showed signs of metal discoloration with a few rust-colored spots. Luckily, this kind of oxidation isn't an issue in modern white metal miniatures (unless you're talking about "lead rot" in miniatures from the 1980s & 90s). In this case, it's easily covered up when you prime and paint the miniature.
In doing some further research, I found that these miniatures were sculpted by Gael Goumon, a well-respected sculptor in the industry who has created miniatures for many companies including Dark Sword, Wyrd, Reaper, Andrea, and CoolMiniOrNot. While I enjoy painting female miniatures, I wanted to choose what I felt was the most appealing sculpt. Surprisingly, Nenqua is probably my least favorite miniature of the three. The angle in which her leg would need to fit together seemed a little awkward to me, like she's not quite standing balanced. Her stance just isn't as lively as the other two, though she'd make a great rogue or wily thief character with her dagger held out of sight behind her back. Havan "The Half-Seen" really stood out to me. However, just to be sure I was giving Volac a fair shot, I cleaned and assembled him for full consideration. It took little time to glue his arm/staff and the angle set easily. Volac's dynamic pose is appealing for any magic-wielding player character, and I find it convenient that his base is sculpted in. In the end, Havan was still my favorite-- I was sold by the sculpt's dual weapons, segmented armor, and powerful stance.
While painting wasn't part of the requested review, I was excited about the propect of painting Havan. In my opinion, you can best review a miniature after you've cleaned, assembled, and painted them. I can't tell you how many times I run into odd sculpting issues only after I've begun painting. "What is that supposed to be-- a pocket? A patch? A buckle?" or finding out that shapes and angles don't quite line up. It's hard to make out details in unprimed pewter, since the shifting reflective surfaces play with our eyes and make it hard to see the details.
This miniature has lots of great metal detail sculpted in-- buckles, thin armor edging, and studs that were fun to paint and practice the gold NMM (Non Metallic Metal) technique. Each time I thought I'd painted the last buckle or stud, I'd find a new one under the arm or on his boots. His eyes are a bit difficult to reach under his hood and hair and would be a challenge for a beginner painter. As it was, I wasn't able to paint much more than black pupils-- nothing fancy, but it worked out just fine since the focus of this miniature isn't his face.
Havan's original concept is more of a shadowy character, slipping in and out under cover of darkness. I struggled with the idea of painting him in a darker color scheme, and eventually settled on a brighter forest green and brown leather armor scheme. Perhaps he's a middle-aged Robin Hood-like character who has graduated from the bow and has taken up weapons that match his increased strength and experience. I worked to carefully outline the segmented leather armor in gold Non Metallic Metal-- it's not plate armor, but it allows the wearer increased movement and mobility (and it just looks cool). Perhaps it's reinforced leather armor with metal trim for a tough woodsman adventurer. Heck, maybe he's a volunteer lumberjack on the weekends to stay in top physical shape (hence the axe). As I made progress oh Havan, I posted a few works-in-progress throughout the week on Twitter.
Now, without further ado, here's my version of Havan. Let's check him out!