Thursday, May 12, 2011

Tipsy McStagger meets Gale Force 9 - First impressions

One of the major problems you run into when making models like mine is that you often trade off stability for drama - which is all well and good when you are just displaying static models, but not so much when you are pushing them around the table on full movement trays and going head to head with other people's lovingly painted masterpieces!

"OOPS sorry my guy fell over and chipped off your commander's face- heh he must be drunk - it'll be ok though ... wont it?

So when I came across Gale Force 9's (GF9) magnetic basing system (and the picture below on someone else's blog) I decided to give it a try.  GF9 have produced a number of innovative and affordable gaming aids and products. They are a company who has impressed me repeatedly with their ideas and execution so I have dived right in, pulled out my wallet and ordered A BUNCH of these bases to try.

[Note: Much like the other companies whose products I have reviewed in the past - Reaper, Mig, Forgeworld etc. - I am not afilliated with GF9 - I am just a humble (ahem) hobbiest voicing his opinions in the form of a review. If GF9 - or any other company - would like me to review products for them in the future I am more than open to doing so - just contact me!]

Here is the information from their own site about the basing system:

Gale Force Nine’s Magnetic Basing System is the ultimate solution for your model basing needs. Each pack contains ready to use magnetic bases and a sheet of self-adhesive “rubber steel”. Your forces will always be battle-ready, be it in their movement trays, display boards or army transport case.Every pre-sized base is a powerful magnet, topped with molded plastic. Simply mount your miniature as you would on any standard plastic base, paint and flock the base and your model is ready to take to the battlefield. The magnetic base will adhere to any ferrous surface and is strong enough to hold even metal models in place.

The bases are packed with a sheet of rubber steel; a flexible ferrous surface with a self-adhesive coating on the back. The rubber steel may easily be cut to any shape or size to fit into a movement tray or on a display board.

A handy instruction sheet in each pack lists tips on how to best mount your models and basing materials on these fantastic bases.

Here are my first impressions:
  • The angles of the bases are not as sharp and crisp as the Games Workshop (GW) bases that I am used to - but - they are not as soft and rounded as some resin ones I have either, overall looking GOOD.
  • One major plus is that they lack the plastic injection venting that GW bases have (and I HATE removing those, then filing them or filling and filing them for display models - aka my entire Beasts army......) this is GOOD
  • Because of the way they are made (solid instead of hollow) they do weght a bit more than other bases which is doubly helpful in keeping heavy models upright. This is GOOD.
  • The variety of base types & sizes is extensive and offers both slotted and non slotted. Something I didnt see, however, were multibases like the GW 20x80 or 25x100. I rate this as GOOD and am emailing GF9 to suggest the addition of the above sizes and styles considering the new WFB rules and unit styles. If they add these to the range (or if I just missed them) I will raise this rating to EXCELLENT in a heartbeat! (NOTE - FURTHER RESEARCH HAS SHOWN ME THAT THEY DO INDEED MAKE THIS SIZE AS WELL - EXCELLENT)
  • I opened a package and took the bases and their metal tray insert and flipped them in the air. Only a couple of bases fell off. Nice! Based on this silly act of extreme conditions, I rate the adherence as VERY GOOD - much better than I ever would have anticipated.
  • The metal tray insert is thin enough to cut with household scissors to fit into existing movement trays without difficulty. I think this is EXCELLENT.

There are a few things, however, which I didnt see mentioned on their site but which are explained inside the packaging of the bases.
  1. These bases must be used with superglue only. They do not work with plastic cement, which is not a big deal, but they also do not reccomend PVC glues for basing materials. This IS a big deal considering how most people flock or otherwise detail their bases. I would have liked to have seen this clearly stated on their site or on the packaging. Rated SATISFACTORY (Satisfactory but not wonderful)
  2. These bases need to be primed before use. I dont see this as a big deal one way or the other, though the information is still noteworthy.

There is, however, one distinct criticism. The edges of the bases themselves are actually comprised of both the plastic material and the magnetic material so they are not actually as crisp or clean as a standard gaming base along the sides. After much scraping and filing (even moreso than I would normally do for injection points) I have come to the clear realisation that these base edges are really not good enough for display/competition models.  They should be case with a slightly smaller magnetic section fully covered by the rubbery/plastic material so that the sides are/can be fully smooth. From a gamers perspective this is no big deal - heck I didnt even notice this when I picked up the package or when I first opened it - it was only when it came down to actually cleaning and using them that I started to see it.  That being said, as a hobbiest and competitor who plays with their models after this is POOR.

I have actually had to stop and reconsider whether I am even going to be able to use these at all for my beastman army (after having invested about $100 in bases) though for any other army I wouldnt see this as a problem. In the end I have decided that with proper cleaning and basing I will be able to use these for several of my models and units that arent going to competition (Ungor hoard for example) and any comp models that are added to the units will recieve tiny magnets inserted in sharper competition level bases.

Sorry for the terrible pic from my phone....
I give these, on first blush, a 4 Out of 5.  These are clearly intended for gaming and as such I will put aside my finicky nature as a painting competitor and judge them in that light.  I am impressed by the variety, strength and quality of construction. The only thing really holding them back in my mind is the gluing issue - though I just bought several bottles of loctite liquid superglue (brush on and squeeze bottle!) and have little worry that it will all work out in the end!

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