Amera City Block Ruins – A Review

amera_130

It’s been a good few weeks since Salute and now the excitement of building all of the things has worn off slightly, it’s about time I put fingers to keyboard and typed up some reviews. First up is the City Block Ruins from Amera Plastic Mouldings.

City Block Ruin (with Buttresses cut to fit)
City Block Ruin (with Buttresses cut to fit)

I’ve never had the pleasure of assembling one of Amera’s kits before, although I have played over a number of them, so building one was going to be a new experience for me. For those of you who don’t know: Amera’s kits are made from vacuum formed plastic sheets which are very durable and almost act like a frame-work, or blank canvas if you will, for you to put in as much or as little effort as you wish into getting the piece ready for the table top.  Some effort does have to go into cutting out the pieces from these sheets, but it’s nothing more than the trimming you have to do with any kit, and you can be quite rough and ready depending on the look you’re going for.

This was one thing I found myself having to get accustomed to as I’m so used to carefully trimming and assembling each piece so as not to do anything wrong.  The Amera kits are quite a departure from that and allow you to go cutting pieces all over the place and so alien was this concept to me I actually had to consult the website to check how I was supposed to use the buttresses, only to find out you just cut them to the desired length and put them wherever you want – which left me feeling slightly silly at not having surmised this myself [He even checked with me. – Ed].

The kit itself is surprisingly big, topping out at just about 4 levels if you include the ground floor and is significantly wide enough that it almost accounts for an entire building itself and thus needs less supporting scenery to represent a complete building footprint.  Equivalent kits from other companies often don’t cover enough ground and need at least another full kit to complete what could be considered a realistic structure – whereas you could get away with just adding some piles of rubble with this just to show where part of the building had collapsed. Or seeing as they’re half the price of comparable kits you could just get two and make one even bigger ruin, whatever you want really – and therein lays one of the pieces biggest strengths, its cost.  At less than £10 a pop you don’t have to compromise with your scenery coverage on a board as you’ll generally be getting double the amount, and this enables you to do some pretty epic looking boards without breaking the bank. I’m sure many of us have gazed across a fully modelled board in awe and then resigned ourselves to the thought we will likely never come to owning such a pretty set of matching terrain – but with Amera you can.

The blank canvas approach makes owning a an entire board’s worth of matching scenery a reality by keeping it simple and giving you the option of adding as much or as little detail as you want.  Only got time for a basecoat and a drybrush – no problem, it looks fine.  Or sand it up and add some flock? Now it looks even better.  Or you can go to town and start adding in details like interior walls and extra structures like scaffolds to make it look really good.  The point is it’s up to you and it does the job no matter how much effort you put into it. I personally love building terrain – it was one of things that really drew me into the hobby when I was a kid.  Back then it was all on you to find interesting bits and pieces that could represent structures and then detail them to look realistic, and this is an evolution of that. It brings back some of the creativity that has been somewhat lost with the growth of more complex scenery ranges which has taken away the need to be inventive.

Amera - City Block Ruin (painted)

£9.95 for what is almost a complete building is great value, and it’s almost a victim of Amera’s cheap prices across the range – the same price can also get you even more impressive pieces.  But like I said, as they are so reasonably priced you don’t have to compromise, you don’t have to go straight for the biggest pieces you can afford because you need to stretch your budget as far you can. Instead you can pick the right piece for the right job without worrying if you’ll have enough, which means you should assemble a better and looking and better playing scenery set as a result.  And if you need a ruined building that is versatile enough to suit almost any 28mm game that uses a gun then look no further, this one does the job perfectly well.

The City Block Ruin is available from Amera Plastic Mouldings for £9.95.  Additional City Block Buttresses Sets are also available priced £1.50.

-Lee

Salute in Review: What Happened To All The Spending?

Salute 2014Must…buy…toys…must…buy…toys….  No it’s not Mat, but you’d be forgiven for thinking so. Instead it was me wandering around aimlessly trying to find shizzle to buy at the end of Salute on Saturday. I went in with a good idea of what I wanted but after picking up my hefty (and heavy) Forge World order, purchases were unfortunately few and far between.

The day went largely as expected in accordance with the pre-Salute post – far more business over pleasure and the vast majority of my time was spent engaged in conversations with gaming companies old and new. It was a very productive day on that front with some downright fantastic agreements made with several major companies and numerous encouraging discussions with others, who were also showing signs of following suit.  Despite the dedicated focus we still ran out of time at the end and missed out on several stands we wanted to visit, there just weren’t enough hours in the day in truth.

The walks between the companies we wanted to talk to was where I attempted to find the things I wanted to buy.  Some bits for my Warhammer Empire army were high on the list but there was an absolute dearth of their products available, being limited to just boxes of State Troops and the occasional Greatswords.  I know Games Workshop removed many of the items I needed from the list available to independent stockists but I thought given the scale of the event some would still be available from the three I wanted: Demigryphs, Helblaster, Pistoliers/Outriders. But no.  I did grab an absolute bargain in the form of a brand new metal Marius Leitdorf for just £4 – yes you read that right. Just £4.  A pricing error? Who knows, but I didn’t wait around to ask.  I also bagged a pack of Purple and Gold dice to go with my Emperors Children, very fitting I thought, and a ruined building from Amera Plastic Mouldings (review to follow soon). But that was it. I had still spent a hefty sum on my Forge World order, but I went home with £160 still burning through my pocket and now charring the flesh of my thigh.  So here’s what I got (because most of my stuff came as bags of parts, which aren’t very exciting, I’ve used images from web):

LEGION SICARAN BATTLE TANKEMPEROR'S CHILDREN PHOENIX TERMINATORS

Marius Leitdorf36 PEARL DICE - 6 SIDED & 12mm SIDES - PURPLE !!Z214 - City Block Ruins

 

I think you’ll agree that if any Imperial Tank could ever be considered sexy, the Sicaran would be it – with it’s sleek profile and…er…armour plates. Backing it up with a pimp set of Phoenix Guard means I should have one good looking army once they hit the table top alongside one of last years Salute purchases, the Emperors Children Contemptor Dreadnought (with twin Kheres and a back up Power Claw, of course).

At the time of writing I have just ordered a variety of the magnets I wanted and now have to further resort to trawling the web to satisfy my hobby cravings and try to find things that can convince me to part with my cash – but it’s not the same.  When your there and it’s in your hands something almost takes over you, and you just start throwing money in peoples faces and running off before someone’s mind changes. Still, at least I’ll get a free Space Marine Captain if I order from Games Workshop direct.

Until next year, the sound of Neil singing the Salute theme tune will remain a memory.

 

*The Salute theme tune goes as thus: Saying the word Salute repeatedly to the tune of Black Adder (writing credit: Rob Mossop).*

Dreadball Arena – A Review

Whilst at Salute this year I stopped off at good friend of The Shell Case, Amera Plastic Mouldings. I’ve always been a fan of the company as they produce great looking terrain at prices that won’t make you begrudge paying it. And as scenery is often the last thing on a gamer’s mind, that’s a very important quality.

As I chatted with Andrew and Jane my attention was drawn to a massive piece of plastic with a sign on it that said ‘Dreadball Arena available to pre-order’. I immediately turned to Neil of The Chaps who was patiently waiting for me to finish prattling. He too had spotted it and was wearing the same silly grin on his face that I had. I uttered one word:

‘Halves?’

Neil, having been gripped by Dreadball fever by playing games with me, had just spunked his last £50 on a set at the Mantic stand and so was just as excited at the prospect of (a) having our own Dreadball arena and (b) not having to pay for it until after pay-day.

So we placed our order and all we had to do was wait…

Last Thursday I got a text from my wife saying ‘You’ve had a MASSIVE box arrive in the post. What have you ordered NOW?!’ Needless to say I unperturbed by my wife’s scorn, being rather use to it by now, and hugely excited that the Arena had arrived in time for the game of Dreadball I had arranged with Neil the following night.

So, what do you get for your £25? Well…a lot of plastic… (Dreadball board and giant chocolate buttons not included)

BKfTR62CAAA199R

The look of the thing is the perfect amount of sci-fi. The temptation would have been to do something overly complicated and a bit mental, but instead Amera has focussed on keeping it functional whilst still looking completely awesome. And the nice thing is that the detailing it does have means you can go as mental or not as you like with the paint job.

And speaking of paint jobs. As Neil and I got increasingly into the game we concluded that the only thing for it was to buy another arena and paint one up in my team colours – the Lark Industries Iron Men – and the other in his – the Halsey Tech Spartans. Needless to say there was much giddiness and searching on the interwebs for places that sold metallic spray paint.

I love how much excitement having the arena brings to the game. It just makes the game grander. Somehow more immersive and fun. I suspect the plastic is laced with magic.

It’s a solid bit of kit too. It’s vacuum formed plastic like all of Amera‘s stuff but the design and size means that you don’t feel like you have to be precious with it which is good, especially as were you to play a league it’d see a fair bit of use. The only thing to be careful of is choosing the correct spray. You’ll need something hard-wearing as lifting boards out and throwing dice against it will need to chipping otherwise. And, thinking about it, because of the material it’s made of, you can quite easily decorate it with LEDS or ambient lighting. Which would be way cool.

The tiers mean that you can put spare/dead models out-of-the-way as well as have you coach models looking eagerly on. As the range expands, or if you have particularly deep pockets, you can have you bleachers packed with crowds. Although if you look around you can probably find some models that suit.

My only grumble, and it’s not even a fault just more of an idea that we had during play, is that the arena could also do with being an aid to play in that middle of each side could have a recess to keep the deck of Dreadball cards and/or a tray to put your action tokens in as you use them. To be fair it would detract from the authenticity of the arena but it’d be very convenient.

I absolutely bloody love the arena. It’s a total non-essential but makes the game just better. You can’t help but get captivated by that stadium atmosphere. And amusingly enough my iPhone fit in the recess that’s meant to look like the Jumbovision which means that you can bust out some appropriate tunes whilst you play. It’s also light weight and easy to store whilst being tough enough to take the punishment of regular use. And considering all of that £25 is an absolute bargain.

 

My Day at Salute

Salute2013

So yesterday was Salute 2013, a day that I spend the previous 365 days looking forward too hugely. And why? Aside from it being a massive room full of toy soldiers, games, scenery and even more toy soldiers, it’s a gathering of wargamers from across the country enjoying their hobby. It’s always great fun to see all the different people who are drawn to wargaming and what kind of games tickles their fancy.

I had a rip-roaring day. I always make a point of visiting as many companies as I can that have supported The Shell Case in one way or another. So I stopped by Amera and may or may not have impulsively preordered their new Dreadball Arena. Also spent a huge lump of wonga with Ainsty Castings on a tremendous 4×4 sci-fi installation board so you can expect a review of that soon.

I also managed to catch up with Andy from Heresy Miniatures and Jed from Antenociti’s Workshop – who I must apologise to for not popping back to see him but time ran out. Mantic got some of my pounds as I picked up Dreadball Season 2 and the Judwan team. I also picked up those Troopers from Heresy like I planned.

Two big highlights for me: A couple of highlights for me was catching up with friend of The Shell Case, and all round nice guy, Chris Wraight at the Black Library stand and we talked Horus Heresy and what was coming next. Excited doesn’t cover it.

I also got the opportunity to talk to Mike McVey about what’s next for Sedition Wars which, again, is hugely exciting and I can already see my bank balance shrinking but it’s so cool I don’t care. The shitter was that I was so engrossed that I missed out on the last limited edition Vanguard model that was on sale. But you can’t have em all.

I also got to chat with the guys from Pulp City about their impending second edition. I may have also picked up a couple of their models just because they’re way cool…

PS_Characters

 

Steel Crown Productions, the dudes behind Exodus Wars, are up to some way cool stuff and are really gaining momentum with the new ranges. By the time I caught up with one of the creators – Tom – there were a lot of empty pegs on their stand. I also came across a company called Ammon Miniatures who do some awesome stuff so make sure you look em up and check out their Indiegogo campaign.

 

An unexpected gem was what KR Multicase are up to. They’re producing wargaming tables and furniture. All I need to do now is get my man cave built in the back garden and I’ll be all set. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to speak to Dayl so I don’t have prices or anything for you but as and when I do I shall put them up.

I did spontaneously buy myself this bad boy from Forge World so it does rather look like I’ll be doing a small ally contingent of Tau to go with my Ultramarines.

xv9com4

Just to be clear, as it’s allies I don’t break my ‘no new army’ rule. So there.

Obviously one of the highlights of the day was catching up with various #warmongers and sitting down with a dozen or so of them for lunch. There was much showing off of toys and the usual banter one would expect from all lads together.

It was a chuffing brilliant day with lots of good people, piles of money spent and piles of plastic, metal and resin to show for it. All I can say is roll on next yet.

Amera Plasting Mouldings – The Second Review

Way way way back in August 2011 I did a review for an island set designed for Uncharted Seas and Dystopian Wars produced by a company called Amera Plastic Mouldings.

In April of this year the very same lovely people at Amera let me have one of their Corner Ruined Buildings. I have to apologise to Amera for taking a shameful 8 months to get around to writing this review. The daft thing is that it’s a fooking massive bit of terrain so you’d think it would have been hard to miss…

z236_0

For those that haven’t heard of Amrea and couldn’t be bothered to click on the link above: Amera Plastic Mouldings make wargaming terrain using vacuum formed plastic. Their aim is to strike the balance between detail, functionality and price.

The Corner Ruined Building is one such piece. For a start it’s massive. The model in the picture above should give you an idea of scale. This is both good and a little bad. Size is a funny thing when it comes to wargaming. Bigger is not always better as large terrain can dominate a board, hugely impact on the space gamers have to deploy in and often times it can’t be interacted with.

Although not perfect on the interaction front, the Corner Ruined Building has plenty of ‘base-friendly’ surfaces meaning it is something you can have a scrap over. It’s ideal for Mordheim or any other skirmish game, and because of the deliberately vague detailing (so you can add your own) you can even use it in sci-fi or historical wargaming which certainly helps on the value for money front. Not that it needs much help: it’s only a tenner. And it’s as tall as a Warhound Titan.

In terms of detail Amera aren’t going to be winning ‘shiniest scenery award’ but then again, they’re not trying to. The emphasis is on gaming standard terrain that’ll paint up nice, but also paint up quickly and you won’t wince when you hit the Submit button when you order. And considering every thing is single pieces of vacuum formed plastic, each piece is cleverly designed, well crafted and the level of detail is actually pretty good. Certainly good enough that you don’t need to stand the rock faces before painting them if you don’t want to. And certainly good enough to spend an evening scrapping over it and kicking your mate’s warband off the top-level to their dismay and your roars of maniacal laughter.

The plastic that Amera uses takes textured sprays and undercoat faultlessly – I’ve tried both – which means that if you fancy distressing the tower walls you can do so easily enough by spending a couple of quid at your local Hobby Craft.

But what it all adds up to is an awesome looking piece of scenery that’s robust – because nothing on it can break, takes paint and PVA well, can actually be used in a game both as something big and imposing and an objective and it won’t cost the Earth. Which is actually a little bit awesome.