Skullvane Manse – A Review

Following on from our review of the 4Ground Warehouse, we turn our sights to a Games Workshop scenery kit. Although half the price of the warehouse, the Skullvane Manse is roughly the same mass.  Or at least it would be is you put the warehouse on its end.

SkullvaneManse1 copyLet’s get the two obvious points out-of-the-way early. 1. It’s bloody massive. 2. It’s covered in skulls. Why bring this up? Well the every increasing number of skulls on Games Workshop’s scenery for both Warhammer and Warhammer 40k has proven to be a bit of a Marmite situation. Some love it, some would rather poke their eyes out with a tank brush than look at it. Me? I couldn’t give two shits as long as it looks good on the board and didn’t cost me an arm and a leg. Plus with this kit, the clue is in the name so if you do fall into the latter category this kit probably isn’t for you.

Which would be a shame because it’s fantastic. And not just because it’s a massive massive tower that would work brilliantly for Mordheim – and weirdly not so well for Warhammer considering it’s emphasis on big regiments these days – but because it’s so very cleverly designed.

The base, for a start, is made up of two solid, sturdy, and thick halves. Made using the sprueless technology the Games Workshop bought off Lego it presents a reassuring base from which to build up. Models would be forgiven for thinking that this is a very top-heavy, wobbly and fragile kit. Thanks to that base it really isn’t an issue. However, the halves don’t go flush. The pegs go into the holes easy enough (fnar fnar) but despite running glue along the edges and squeezing with all my (considerable) might I couldn’t get the joins to meet up. This means green stuffing which is pretty poor form on a plastic kit to be honest.

It’s a similar story with a few of the other parts that make up the main tower. None of the panels quite married up properly. They took and are solid but either it was a shoddy sculpt or warping during the casting process. However, what is clever is that everything is glued to at least three other parts so even though some panels aren’t as snug as they could be, there’s plenty of solidity that it’s tough enough for use and storage. Which is all you need really. The only question that remains is whether or not you try to plug the gap or leave it as tumbledown and ramshackle which does rather suit the look of the piece anyway.

Despite those issues, it is a very quick kit to build. Considering the number of parts, and the rather poor instructions, I had the thing built within an episode and a half of Top Gear. So just over an hour. One does have to ask the question: why number the components on the instructions but not on the sprue?

SkullvaneManse2

But it does look fantastic. The texturing on the rocks is understated, the roof tiles look as shoddy as they should, the stonework feels authentic and it’s all topped off by a healthy bit of mental. The wooden stilts that prop up the various structures is mad daft but brilliant. The effigy of Sigmar carved into the rock is totally unnecessary and the platform going up to the tower is shakier than the detox bus. Oh and the back door has a milk bottle by it.

There are lots of other subtle touches that could, because of the general shoutiness of the other stuff, get missed like the twin tailed comets in the eaves of roofs and door frames and the gargoyles which will be extremely familiar to anyone who owned the Mordheim boxset. It’s such a shame the Specialist Games are now more as this piece of terrain really does suit Mordheim down to the ground. Height, room to move, good cover and the fact that you get the parts to make both tower tops – telescope or ramparts – means that you’ve also got flexibility to use it as an objective, the focus of a scenario or just a sniper tower. Lee…

It does mean that it won’t be a quick kit to paint which isn’t a bad thing, per se, it’s just a consideration because to get the best of it you’ll be painting for a while. That is once you’ve finished plugging the gaps. But you know what? It’ll be worth it because it’s big and massive and cool and big. And massive. And actually pretty good value considering.

The Skullvane Manse is, by a country mile, the coolest scenery kit for Warhammer. There are simpler and cheaper kits but nothing will command the board, and look so awesome doing so, as the Skullvane Manse.

The Skullvane Manse is available from Firestorm Games priced £45.

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3 thoughts on “Skullvane Manse – A Review

  1. Like the scenery reviews a lot! I actually have Skullvane myself, and couldn’t agree more with the overall synopsis. I think it is a really nice piece of plastic, but definitely not the practical tower you’d like to use in Warhammer-as the game gets more big gribblies, smaller terrain is actually better or gameplay in general, I think.
    The other big option is the BIG tower-is it witchfate tor? It is the uber-tall dreadstone blight and does not join well together at all-I made two levels and called it a day! It now lies in the box with only a primer coat on it! Skullvane is wonderful though-and ideal for many skirmish games really-I’ve used it with Garden of Morr in Empire of the Dead and it fits really well.

    1. Funnily enough I’m writing a scenario that features the Skullvane Manse at the heart of a graveyard, using the Garden of Morr as a base.

  2. This piece of scenery/terrain is no longer available on the GW website. I’m glad I had some foresight and picked one of these up before it was removed. Your review is right on, this is a great piece of terrain. Like you said the best of what they offer, err.. the best of what they used to offer. It just a fantastic piece.

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