Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Product Review: Games Workshop's Sydonian Dragoon/ Ironstrider Ballistarius Kit

A heraldic flag from Paulson Games helps mark the leaders and looks really cool!
The Adeptus Mechanicus Sydonion Dragoon/Ironstrider Ballistarius kit is a John Blanche painting in 3D. Its creepy and lithe, yet reminiscent of some sort of early 1800s cavalry like the Polish winged lancers. Its profile has these trailing wires and cables that give it the right amount of suggested speed and movement. There's also a little servitor built-in to the mount, and hooked up to it such that as he moves his legs, the machine legs follow. Striding atop the mount, sits a knight (in the case of Dragoons) with the upright posture of nobility. All of these design elements make the model very evocative and interesting; however, the same things that make the model look cool, make it an extremely fragile model thats tough to assemble.
Look at all those really thin plastic thingies everywhere!

You have to be very careful when handling these figures while painting. The antennae on the back of the mount are extremely thin and can easily be broken off accidentally. The Ballistarius has these thin spines that stick out from the sides of its knees. These thin plastic parts break without much effort and there are some weak points exactly where your hand naturally grabs while picking them up. You have to train yourself not to grab them from the hips, but pick the model up from the base at all times.

Furthermore, the design makes assembly rather involved. I'd place these models in the difficult-to-assemble category. There are numerous small pieces that must be attached from awkward angles. etc). There are three cables that attach the servitor's legs to each of the machines legs and on the forward leg, the middle cable needs to attached on its own. Its a small piece and its very awkward to attach correctly. Likewise, there are cogs that need to be attached onto the sides of the machine-leg's joints (knees) and these pieces are very difficult to get right, even though they have a tab that should guide them into the right position.

Besides fiddly parts, the model is composed of a huge number of parts. Assemble involves probably 50 or more separate pieces.

On to painting, also very involved. The model is incredibly detailed so you need to plan your painting out. I normally start with big areas and go towards the details. There's not a lot of opportunity for airbrush work either, because there just aren't that many big areas. I painted these in sub assemblies like so:
1) Rider
2) Mount
3) Armor Plates
4) Guns (if Ballistarius)
Sub-assemblies help make the model easier to paint. 
If you assemble the riders separately, then make sure you dry fit to the mount first. 
I enjoyed painting them and I found that they took GW shades (nuln oil, agrax earthshade) very well. I used an airbrush to lay down some base colors and do some rudimentary shading. Then I did some sponge-dabbing to get some texture. Painting the servitor is tough, but not as bad as painting sone Infinity stuff.

I also found that attached them to the base was necessary before painting, so I would have something to hold (see above about fragility).

For transport, I'd suggest getting some very soft egg-shell foam and laying them down on their sides, but that's only possible for the Dragoon version. The Ballistarius should probably not be placed on its side with those spines sticking out.

1) Be careful how you handle these models. Pick them up from the base.

2) Do not attach the side-knee spines as per the Ballistarius instructions. Instead, go with the Dragoon version (circular caps). This will allow you to lie the Ballitstarius on its side for transport, if needed.

3) There's a flaw in the design of the riders. If you plan on assembling and painting the rider separately, then make sure the rider's legs fit in the saddle properly before the glue dries. Otherwise, the legs will be positioned too narrowly to properly fit into the saddle. Double check this.

Overall, a great kit for an advanced modeler, but I'd imagine it would be tough for beginners to get this thing assembled and painted without pieces breaking.


westrider said...

Yeah, I've only built one so far, but I managed to get about three pieces in backward or in the wrong hole. My own capsule review was that the kit was designed by someone clever, but in more of an "Ooh, you're so sharp you'll cut yourself" kind of way than a useful way. More specifically, you'll cut yourself on the spikes on the kneepads. Those things are sharp! ;)

I actually simplified mine a bit, using the Dragoon bits instead of the Ballistarius knee-spines, cutting down some of the antennae preemptively, and taking the servitor out entirely because I don't really like the way he looks. Still one of the more difficult plastic kits I've assembled in some time.

John Stiening said...

You've sold me on it Tim. It sounds like a fun challenge. How are the posing options. Can the joints be cut and glued at different angles easily? I found he imperial knight difficult to repose.

Tim said...

Right, sorry about that. Posing options are limited...for the mount at least. There are basically two poses for the legs. Left foot forward or right foot forward. However, I personally think that is enough. If you want more poses, like a foot-on-rock pose, then you'll have to do a serious amount of cutting and subsequent sculpting. The mounts arms are semi-posable however. That's about it.

For the riders, they are multi-pose, but you don't get a lot of arm options. You get 5 different head options but only one of them is a helmeted head. The rest are variations on the hooded skitarri head.

There is only one taser-lance arm and only one pistol arm. You also do not get any options for a hands-free handlebar if that makes sense. So I converted one. Option than that I feel that arm options are limited as well.

My suggestion would be to purchase a box of skitarri foot soldiers along with these guys. That way you'll have more arm options and more head options.

However, one thing that is great about this set is that if you make yours lancers, you get some great bits for conversions later on, like a twin-linked autocannon and a twin-linked laser gun (i forget what the other gun is called). I've used these to make spear-guns for my mad max cars.

Tim said...