Sunday, August 5, 2012

A Look at the Occulites: Review of Darwin Games' Palaudis Tribe

Back in April I did an overview of Darwin Games range of Occulites. I'm a big fan of characterful & quirky miniatures, so they had easily caught my eye.  Now that I have had some in my possession I thought it'd be nice and possibly useful to have a review of the miniatures.

The miniatures of this review are the Palaudis Tribe of Occulites: those who live in the swamps & wetlands.
There are four other tribes of Occulites, each from a different environment, as well as a diminutive race called the Luftles.

You can find out much more about all of these at Darwin Games, as well as in my overview from April, linked at the top.

On opening the package of Palaudis Occulites I find five single-cast metal miniatures.
My first impression is one of impressive solidity.  These are not frail scanty miniatures.
They have a lot of weight and metal to them. The set of five are unique miniatures: no repeats.
Note: This includes a Luftle (smaller miniature in the foreground) which is not part of the Palaudis set.

Taking a close look at the miniatures I was very impressed with the cleanness of the cast.
I found no casting flaws.
Flash was almost non-existent and the mold lines were few and easy to clean up.
They have textured, integrated bases, which are pretty thin so they'll be fine for gluing them to other bases.
The minis are also quite '3-D' for being single-casting, not the flat 2-D so common in many.
So all in all for casting: nicely sculpted, good variety and very clean. Any novice would have no problem at all getting these minis ready for gaming.

Here is detail from the back of the chieftain miniature.  Some nice detail here!

One thing I noticed is that not all of the Occulites are the same size:
Look at these two.  Similar, but a noticeable size difference.  I like this!  Size variation is something most miniatures don't take into account, mostly because variation is obtained by swapping heads on the same standard bodies, or from plastic kits with the same size parts.  The one on the right to me looks like a young adult of the species, or perhaps a female? Or for that matter, perhaps a male in a female-dominant species? 
Whether from sexual dimorphism or age difference, it's nice to see some variety.  

So once the miniatures are inspected & cleaned up, you have to decide how to base them, if you're going to.
You could of course decide not to base them, just using the integrated textured bases, like old style RPG minis. They're plenty sturdy enough if you want to go this route, but most people prefer to base miniatures for added protection and a uniform look.  

Therefore, let's take a look at some common bases for options:

The standard 25mm round slotta base. 
The integrated base would need to be trimmed, and it'd be a close fit, but workable.

A round 25mm plastic base without bevels. 
A better fit than the beveled base. Some might need slight trimming, the mini does overhang some still.

A 30mm round mdf base without bevels. 
No base trimming needed and only the most extreme parts of the minis overhang the base. 

A 30mm round-lip base. 
Some integrated base trimming will be needed.  Less area for ground-work than the base above. 

I didn't photo with square bases, but you can estimate from the pictures.  A 25mm square base does give more room to work with than a 25mm round base and would probably be the base size to chose for square. 

Whatever your base size preference for what you commonly game, you can probably use fine for these minis

For me, I chose the 30mm mdf bases. Reason being, I like the base size to give some room around the miniature for groundwork, so that it isn't too tight on the base.  Also, a 30mm base gives it the right footprint for Hordes, and I could image using these as proxies for Bog Trogs.  Also, I have in mind to use these for the Pulp Prehistory rules I'm writing and for those minis I've been using 25mm, 30mm & 40mm round bases without bevels or lips, so they'll fit well with the rest of them. 

Here are the minis after basing:

With some texture and stray rocks they're ready to go.  The smaller Luftle is on a 25mm base. 

Here's a comparison shot of an Occulite with a Copplestone Cave Man:
I'm sure I'll want to try out the Rise of the Occulite game, but from this I can see they'll also make a fun and unusual addition to the world of the Paleolithic! 

The Darwin Games site sells them for $7.95 each for most and $10.95 for the chief, Australian dollars, or $40 AUS for the set of 5.  Splintered Light also sells some, maybe more convenient for those in North America, but availability might be more limited than it was in April when I last looked.  

So how do I rate them? 

Casting: 10/10
Cleverness of Design: 9/10
Aesthetics: 10/10

I'm quite impressed with these quirky miniatures.  I can't fault them on the cleverness of design category, since they are well designed within the limits of single casting.  It might have been nice to have some multi-part options, which could then give potential for more variety, but considering that there are 5 unique miniatures in a set of 5 it wouldn't be much of an issue unless getting 3 or more packs.  Since there are several other tribes to chose from I don't find this to be a significant issue.  Aesthetics is of course up to personal taste, so speaking for myself they appeal to me. 

As I said in April, in addition to their intended Game, I could see these easily fitting in with Fantasy, Science Fiction, Pulp and Horror settings.  Never a bad thing to have multiple options for your miniatures. 

In the near future I'll paint these and give you a look at how they turn out.

Thanks for reading!


Brummie said...

Very cool looking minatures. Not heard of these before.

Nice outlines for some pulp games I feel.

Chris said...

I've seen these before and really liked them, I don't know if it's the body mouth or the eye stalk but I do like them very much.

M R Lee said...

Looking good, and thanks for taking the time to check the different bases that might work for them. I think 30s without bevels are the best also.. exactly for the reasons you stated.

Now wondering how you will paint them up? And how they will compare to the studio paint jobs ;)

Michael Awdry said...

I just think these are delightful, if a little expensive. Can't wait to see what you do with them.

Jay said...

Heh heh heh...these fellas are so funny to look at. Looking forward to seeing your color scheme(s) that will adorn these troops.

Laughing Ferret said...

Michael: It's true they are a bit pricier than many other minis, but averaging $8 each, puts them a couple dollars higher than Reaper minis, but the amount of metal is the likely cause- that and it's more expensive for smaller companies to cast up their minis- the weight of the metal is easily twice that of an average reaper mini, they're pretty hefty.

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