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Mindstalkers Miniatures Review

When the Italian company Mindstalkers showed the first pictures of their new figure range, there was a lot of frothing going on on the forums. However, when it was announced that these figures would be in a new, 40mm scale they were met with a roar of indignation the likes of which are rare even at frothersunite. Now ,there are more and more companies releasing figures in the larger 35-40 mm range, but of those, Mindstalkers seem to have been cut the least slack. Therefore, it is no surprise that I decided to take the chance to find out for myself what all the fuss was about, when the opportunity presented itself. The figures were supplied by Jean at GamersQuest, who carry the range in the UK.

When I opened the package to look at the figures, it immediately became evident that while the figures are designed for gaming, they are in fact playing on a whole other level from your average wargame miniature. The overall level of realism and the large number of separate components make that these figures have far more in common with the 54mm and up collector's models than with the little lead soldiers we usually push around on our gaming tables. The figures are cast in a white metal, with some mould lines here and there and come with separate metal bases with sloped edges, 25mm squares for foot models, and 25x50mm for cavalry. Detail is very crisp. Up for review are three figures, two foot models and one mounted figure.

Heavy Cavalry #2 - rider
Heavy Cavalry #2 - horse

Let's start with the mounted figure. As can be seen from the picture (click to enlarge) there are a whole lot of separate pieces, which fit well enough together, but may be a bit fiddly to assemble depending on your modeling skills. Sculpting is very good, the sculptor making full use of the possibilities offered by the larger scale for a change (as opposed to some other 35-40mm figure ranges). The weapons are very thin, whether you look at the long spear shaft, the sheathed swords or even the thickness of the shield. The figure itself looks historically plausible. The armour is well detailed, without any of that detail consisting in superfluous embellishments (read: gems, skulls or spikes). The same care and attention went to the horse, which for once looks of a decent size and heft compared to the rider. I'm not entirely sure where the two flat pieces in the upper left hand corner of the picture of the rider are supposed to go, but they might be part of the saddle. The horse itself is a multi part model as well. The two halves of the main body fit reasonably well together, although the belly will require a bit of filling to smooth it out. Given the overall (building) complexity of this figure, I would rate it as a display model, rather than a gaming piece. One thing's for sure, if you drop this one on the floor during a game, there will be tears.

Pikeman #1
Armiger with Hammer

The foot models share the same characteristics as the mounted one. While the number of components is considerably smaller on the pikeman (only 4), the same can not be said of the one with the hammer (7!). Again the same degree of detail and realism is present in both figures. The sculpting is crisp and the armour looks sharp. The figure with the hammer is very heavily armed, as he also comes with separate sheathed sword and dagger. His shield is pre-battered as befits a soldier who's actually been in a real battle. The pike on the other figure is rather impressive at 80mm long. The only real weak point in these figures is the lower part of the leg sand the ankles. Indeed, these are very thin (no broader than the arms really), which looks a bit unrealistic (especially since there's still armour and them too). It's a shame as the figures are otherwise very realistically proportioned.

Size Comparison

This brings us to the last point of attention, the size of the figures. As most of you will know, these figures are advertised as 40mm. Actual measurements reveal this is to be seen from sole to top of head. Sole to eye, they are more in the vicinity of 35mm.

What does this mean practically? Well it means you're not going to be able to mix them with your 25-28mm historical figures. This being said, I can't really see why you would even want to. The style of the figures is, as I mentioned before, radically different from the usual 28mm "wargame" sculpting style with exaggerated features and oversized weapons. If these were the same size as your 28mm historical figures, they would make the latter look like ogres instead of humans. So the way I see it, the size difference is not a reason not to get these figures if you like them, since there is no way they would match your existing forces even if they were the same size. They simply wouldn't be compatible anyway, so regardless of the scale, you'd still have to use them separately.

Conclusion: Spindly legs aside, there is little to fault these figures. The degree of realism and complexity is well above anything seen in the majority of wargaming figures today. However, in my opinion this makes the figures more suited as display models, than gaming pieces (which they are nonetheless intended for). The size (40mm) has been a bone of contentment for a lot of people but given the overall incompatibility of style, this is pretty much irrelevant. The Mindstalkers figures simply don't fit in the regular wargamer's expectations and play in a league of their own. More aimed at those for whom the painting-collecting is more important than the gaming perhaps as they are more likely to be able to do justice to these highly detailed figures.



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