Moonlight Miniatures Review
Moonlight Miniatures is a new line of "34mm collectable gaming miniatures", produced in the US as a family-run, part-time endeavor. Set in the 1930's on an uncharted chain of islands near the Caribbean, daring adventurers and dastardly villains battle vile creatures, horrible abominations and each other as they search for their destinies amid the Islands of Blood..
When I first learned about this new range, two thoughts simultaneously struck me. The first was "34mm??" (what the froth?). The second one was "pirate skeletons! Jay!". Needless to say I jumped on the opportunity to review a couple of these figures for the site. Getting to the bottom of this new and unusual scale, coupled to the fact that this is a brand new company, was reason enough to justify this. [As if the skellie pirates weren't.]
It didn't take long for the parcel to arrive and inside were three of the coveted skellie pirates and one siren (birdwoman). The first inspection revealed clean casts, with no flash and faint mouldlines. The miniatures are supplied with slotted metal bases (more on that later). At this point I also noticed the figures are quite large, both in height and heft.
Now for the figures themselves, starting with the skeletons. I already knew from the images on the site that the miniatures were dynamically posed and included all the popular piraty stereotypes. Generally speaking the sculpting style is not the realistic, refined style you will find in the Rackham skeletons. The approach is rather that of a slightly cartoony style, with big bones and square jaws, as is emphasized by the choice of colours in the official paintjobs. This seems to work well enough with the pirate theme. Click on the pictures to get the full image.
The first figure is called Roger Jolly. As your average (undead) pirate, Roger is missing a leg and never goes anywhere without his trusted (undead) parrot. This looks great as a concept for a skellie pirate. The skeletal parrot is a nice touch, although I wonder if it's normal for it to have a neck that's as long as the rest of its body (from the neck down). Looks good, so who cares I guess. The outstretched arm looks a bit long, but then for all I know this could be an optical illusion due to the added length of the pistol (which is somewhat oversized in my less than humble opinion). As a whole the figure makes a great impersonation of a long dead pirate, I just think the arms might be a tad long.
The second one, a handsome fellow going by the name of Slash Rackham, is a two piece model, consisting of the main body with one arm (minus the hand), and a cutlass with the other arm and hand. Nothing bad to say about this fellow. The pose is great, especially the way he's swinging his sword (see the assembled version on the main site.). His tricorne has a small skull on one side, but I think pirates are allowed to do that. This is a great figure.
The third one is a bit of a scoop, as it hasn't officially been released yet. Standing with one foot on a heap of rocks, this one is the biggest figure from the lot, not just in overall height, but also in bulk. Or maybe it's just because he has a big head. Some added details like the small powder pouches for the gun and the cutlass swinging from his hip..erm..bone add to give him character. Same general style as the other figures.
The last figure is a siren, "Craw the Siren, middle of three siren sisters that hunt the rocky coastline" more exactly, but who keeps track of these things? I usually think of mermaids when I hear the word siren (or a very annoying noise often associated with policecars), but this figure is a birdwoman. She comes in two pieces, one being the actual figure, and one the wings. The wings have a decent feather texture sculpted on, but they are totally flat which makes for a not too realistic look. Now, with some careful bending in the middle you can give them a more sensible appearance, but don't be too hasty or rough or you'll snap them in two. I found you don't really need to bend them very far to get a pleasing result anyway.
Now for the figure itself, she has bird feet and bird hands (or at least that's what I thought they are (they're definitely not human). She is also thinner than the skeletons. Thin legs, thin arms, a thin waist and most impressive silicone implants. If this were a human I'd say she doesn't have much longer to live. Since she's not human maybe it's not an issue.The thin limbs and waist and the larger ribcage do make her look more birdlike so maybe that was the intention all along. The body is actually quite well sculpted, with nice (if extreme) proportions. The pose is quite dynamic, and looks like she's just taking off, spreading her wings and leaping in the air (although she's supposed to stand upright, but I liked the result of the accidental bending of the leg so I kept it). The main weak point in this figure for me is the face. Mohawk aside, this is one ugly bird (pun intended). Maybe it's wrong (and typically male) of me to want my female miniatures to be attractive in which case you can write that one down to personal taste, but a beauty she ain't. Then again, maybe that was never the sculptor's intention.
I can't comment on the human miniatures in the range, besides the fact that they seemed less convincing than the skeletons in pictures.
Now for the bases. The figures come with scenic metal bases. These are round and slotted, and are supplied randomly (although the people at Moonlight Miniatures will always check if the figure it is supplied with will fit on it). The scenery on the bases usually consists of plants,rocks and/or bones. The bases seem to be about 35mm wide, which brings us to the size of the figures that are supposed to go with them.
The Moonlight Miniatures site advertises these figures as 34mm scale. Measurements alone don't mean much to most people and there is always the eternal question of how a scale is measured. My own measurements come up with about 33mm sole to eye and 34-35 top of head. As I said earlier, the unreleased one is slightly larger at about 36-37mm top of head. Of course, an image will mean more than a thousand words, so I have also taken this side by side shot with some figures from other ranges.
As can be seen, the figures are clearly bigger than the GW and BTD classical skeletons. They are slightly shorter than the Rackham figure, but carry way more bulk. They are also slightly larger than this older Reaper figure (sorry, he's no skeleton, but at least he's undead), but not incompatibly so.
Conclusions are a bit mixed. If you like undead pirates, then this range is probably of interest to you. They have bags of character which makes up for what they might still be lacking in the sculpting (slightly long arms on one model, somewhat cartoony look overall). Some good ideas here, which as the sculptor improves in time may lead to a great range someday. The main issue for most people will be scale. They will work with the figures from the larger end of the fantasy scale, but if you plan to use your historical 28mm pirates with them they will definitely look too big.
But at least they give you a fair warning in advance, which is more than some companies do.