The Swordmaster from Black Crow Miniatures

This now marks the fifth outing for a kit from Black Crow Miniatures, and as usual it's a pretty cool one.

The Swordmaster is their most recent release and comes from the sculpting talent of Raúl García Latorre. Hugely fitting choice of sculptor which if you're unaware of why... will be explained further down.


I always like seeing Black Crow miniatures arrive in their branded boxes. Especially when they have a large sticker showing the render and name of the enclosed figure. 

No painted example for the box art as you often see, and I honestly don't mind that at all. Leaves you completely uninfluenced on your colour choices and zero thoughts of "there is no way I can get near that quality". But I'm fully expecting to see plenty of this one popping up on social media.


Inside you're greeted with a sticker and art card on top of the black padding paper.

That art is by Guillermo Gonzalez who sadly passed away a short while ago and seeing that brought him and his family to mind. Especially when his art has really helped shape the look of Black Crow over the years.

You can see how the bags of parts are nestled safely and ready for your grubby and resin hungry hobby hands to get to grips with. Nothing lose and bouncing around on the trip from Spain.


Two zip lock bags as mentioned and more swords than I was expecting. Mainly due to seeing the promotional photos which showed the different heads and missing the text about sword options. Rookie error but a good one.


Nine parts in total with two head options and two sword options for each hand. One part is obviously a base. A pretty plain one with a bit of texture. Useful as a starting point for your basing perhaps to help make sure the feet are sitting in place nicely.

Inspiration


For those unaware... this is the reason why Latorre is the perfect choice to sculpt The Swordmaster.

Back in 2009, Latorre released Sumothay as part of his Enigma Miniatures range (sadly discontinued in 2011). It was a traditionally sculpted, 54mm scale, metal figure with a ton of character.

Black Crow Miniatures state on their site that The Swordmaster is "inspired by" Sumothay, though now in 75mm scale, a change of clothing, and digitally sculpted.

Up close


Your two head options up close. Bit of a tricky one choosing which to use but then you have the bonus of a practice head for painting. Especially good when people often worry about painting faces and hair. Even more when they are designed this well.

Resin and casting wise... and if you've read many of our reviews you'll know what to expect here... is done by Ciprian. So I'm expecting crisp details and cuts in sensible and easy to clean places. Plus good resin too.

As you can see from the cuts and mould lines on these heads going across the neck join and pretty much vanishing on the sides, that Ciprian in on form.


Loads of detail there while not being over complicated. Love the East Asia influence on the hip/ thigh armour, and all the different layers of cloth too.

Plenty of different textures for painting while not being overly complex. Even with that belly armour with its pattern.


Can get a better view of the shoulder fur here which has a nice feeling of movement. Makes me think of cold mountain passes.

Good view of the connection points for the head, arms, and cloak too. Nice clean stuff right there.


Now then. As you can see I found the mould line running between the legs and up the left side of the body. The legs were easy to access and clean up with scrapers and sanding sticks, but the right side was a little trickier...

However...; I was talking to Isidro (Black Crow owner who is really supportive of what we're doing here at GMR, thank you) and before I even mentioned the mould line he mentioned that Ciprian has moved the cut location on this part when recreating the mould so it now runs up the back. That's just a great example of someone learning from experience and adapting.


This person isn't some rich prince draped in fine silks. Even with the hints of finery on him, there are areas like his cloak which look ragged and made for practicality rather than for show.

The joining section needed some careful trimming and sanding to get a good fit. Though realistically, I'm going to need to do a little gap fill on this one to really get it flush as the shape is a little complex.


Now we have his sword options. Very much going to be a personal choice between the single edged, chopping style or the double edged Conan style. Or one of each of course. Plus, no two of them are identical as they have slight changes in the blade patterning. The only things missing are scabbards, but I'll let him off.

The pour points are next to the sockets to join to the body making them easy to clean and hide. And those connections are excellent too.

There is some mould lines to clean along the arms which sanding sponges helped with


Finally, the base and a good reminder that I should clean my phones lens more often. That halo doesn't come in the box. Doh.

Simple but with some texture like I said before. Easy to use as a starting point too unless you like to fully base from scratch of course.

360 video


How big is he?


The Swordmaster is on the larger size of the 75mm scale. That measurement is usually from the base of the feet to the eyes, so a 75mm male figure is often around 80-85mm to the top of the head. The one comes in at 80mm to the eye so he's going to stand out and look imposing among many other figures.

Final thoughts


I completely missed out on Sumothay when he was available. Was still focused on a certain well know game company and ignorant about the rest of the hobby world really. So getting to see The Swordmaster, heavy influenced by a classic, and sculpted by the same person, is frankly excellent. Plus the added bonuses of being in high quality resin and a larger size really helps draw me to this figure.

His whole look feels like a Conan-esque warrior, dressed for a wilderness adventure. Makes me imagine some windy, snow covered, inhospitable location. Snow catching his hair and clothing as he contemplates his next moves.

At 40€ plus VAT, or around £42 in the UK I'd say it's a very fair price without taking the optional parts into account.

I'm fully expecting to see this figure getting some love by many different people. Hopefully even finding his way into some dioramas and vignettes. The likes of Honourguard or Chris Suhre perhaps for those larger scenes. But when competitions get going again I hope to see some feature.

Where to buy?

You can buy directly from Black Crow Miniatures at https://www.blackcrowminiatures.com/product-page/the-swordmaster or from any of their official stockists.

Don't forget to check and like/ follow their social media on Facebook or Instagram.

Leave us a comment and let us know if you have or plan to paint this one. Would be great to see them too. Until next time, take care, stay safe, and happy hobbying.


Want to support GMR?
Have a product you would like us to review? Contact us and we'll be happy to talk.
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Hoggle bust from BrokenToad and Black Sun Miniatures

Back in May I received my Kickstarter pledge from the extremely popular Jim Henson's Labyrinth & Dark Crystal Collectable Models campaign. Straight away I reviewed the Ludo bust (which you can find here). Now I've decided it's about time I gave the Hoggle bust the same treatment. Especially as more and more pledges are arriving at their new homes.

Traditionally sculpted by Joaquin Palacios who has a reputation for creating high quality sculpted miniatures.


They've really gone to town on the presentation for the whole range. Each range having a different general pattern. As you can see, Labyrinth has the, well... labyrinth as a background.

Simple slip covering which they've done in a way that you can peel open and reseal (or carefully slide off like I did).


The magnetic, double doored, black boxes with the embossed logos are not the sort you just toss in the bin after. I reckon quite a few will find themselves repurposed in some way.

Inside the box


Minimal packaging inside but enough to keep everything in place and protected.

Yes... that is a proof of a genuine article card inside. Something BrokenToad take seriously.


Few more bits than found with Ludo. Two zip lock bags and the plinth (which I made comments about in the Ludo review so won't repeat myself in this review). 

Pretty standard stuff when buying busts... though rarely do you get a plinth to display your bust too so obvious bonus points there.


Just four parts. Body, two parts for the faerie killing sprayer, and one of his many, multiple trinkets.

Nothing jumping out to say "highlight me, I'm going to be an issue" which is always a good start.

Up close


The original puppet/ costume of this lying, backstabbing, two faced, huggable, loveable character is packed with textures and details; and Joaquin hasn't held back at all. 

All those cloth folds and creases are insanely good. As is the sculpted waistcoat and all the stitching and lacing in different areas.

And that face with it's huge bulbous nose and big ears could not be mistaken for any other character in movie history.


Looking around from top to bottom, it took me a while to find where the mould had been cut. As is usual from BrokenToad casting it is kept away from fine details as much as possible. Something that always helps when trying to do the best quality preparation work you can.

One single pour hold which was easy to trim down with clippers before sanding the last of it away. Plus the mould line running from one side to the other along the rear part of the cut off.

No bubbles to deal with and the resin (as expected) clips, trims, scrapes, and sand well.


If you look closely you can find the rest of the mould line running up the sleeves. Just about.

This is also where I found the only flaw on this copy... and I only noticed because I was comparing it to photos of the original sculpt, after I had been looking at photos of the original film to see how ridiculously close this sculpt is.

That flaw... a tiny part of the rope hanging over the right sleeve is missing. Like I said; if I hadn't been looking at different photos because I knew I would be reviewing, I wouldn't have even noticed. And it doesn't impact the bust at all.


Hoggle's hands and faerie spray comes in two sections. Both with parts needing removing. Just like anything like this though, don't clip close to the piece. Clip them down, trim or scrape the small amount left, and finish with a smooth sanding.

There is a slight dip in the canister to help you attach it in place and I highly recommend adding a pin for extra strength. 

These parts do marry up well with the sockets in the main body but expect to have to do some slight trimming and test fitting to really get a perfect join. These aren't the super clean key and socket connections being found on many digital sculpts, and they're not Joaquin's best either unfortunately. But it's worth taking that bit of time to really get the best fit you can.


That last and final part... which is nowhere near this big. It's tiny in fact. A tiny hanging trinket from his belt.

Little careful cleaning along the side before cutting the long part down. However; DON'T CUT THE THIN PART CLOSE TO THE HAND! There's a tiny hole to match it up to so just cut off the thicker pour part and carefully shape to fit nicely in to place.

360 video

No bells or whistles here. Just a simple, basic 360 degree view of what you can expect and zero talking.


Final thoughts


Frankly, I love Labyrinth. Have done ever since I saw it as a kid in the 80's. Finally getting high quality miniatures of some of the characters/ scenes for me is frankly like giving me part of my childhood back. This Hoggle bust, in my opinion, is one of the best miniatures in the range. And that's me being really picky and critical.

Yes, the connections between parts could've been a bit cleaner but we've been spoilt by digital sculpts and cuts recently. But when it comes to capturing a character for all it's flaws that made it more real.. Joaquin has really aced that. And that is what seriously count's. You can give me all the perfect joins and cuts but characterisation on this level takes a different skill and massively takes a sculpt from being excellent to being absolutely fantastic.

Frankly if you love Labyrinth and enjoy bust painting this will really be a great addition to your collection.

Where to buy?

Well... they're still going through the fulfilment stage so you would've had to have backed the Kickstarter.

However; I do recommend though is to follow BrokenToad and/ or Black Sun Miniatures on their social media for updates on when these will be available to buy:
There is a BrokenToad YouTube channel with multiple videos showing the different miniatures from the Kickstarter and how to assemble them. You can find it at BrokenToadPaintings.

If you managed to miss the Kickstarter though and fancy a look at what the future range may offer, this is the page to drool over:

I reckon I've now taken up more than enough of your valuable time (you could've been painting after all), so thank you. Until next time, stay safe and take care.


Want to support GMR?
Have a product you would like us to review? Contact us and we'll be happy to talk.
If you would like to buy us a coffee or Donate to the running of GMR, anything is greatly appreciated.

Rosamund bust from FeR Miniatures

It's been a while since I've looked over something new from FeR Miniatures, or Pedro Fernández. Even longer since something new was added to the Women by Pepa Saavedra range. So when Rosamund came up I was obviously not going to say no (and yes... that is being sarcastic).


Slugger and Gunslinger from Ouroboros Miniatures

Welcome back.

This week we hand the reigns over another guest who you may have met at various shows on the Mr Lee's Minis stall. So please welcome...


Hello all.

A new guest reviewer to the GreyMountain Reviews Crew and the first pieces I have the honour to be reviewing are the Ouroborous duo; Slugger and Gunslinger
 


Zema the Mage bust from Signum Games

Welcome back fellow GreyMountaineers.

Today I am looking at a bust that comes from the Signum Games range.

Signum Games is based in the Ukraine and is predominantly a gaming company which has many nice looking pieces but they also have several busts.

As the title suggests I’m looking at Zema the Mage.


The Heresiarch from Indaco Models

After a couple of questionable weeks of hiccups, I've got my act together(ish) and actually put a review together. Even managed a video too!

Now and then a new company pops up so it's nice to be able to show you the first release from Italy's Indaco Models; The Heresiarch.


Radley and Bellow Roos bust from Veiled Lamp

Welcome back my fellow GreyMountaineers to the 2nd instalment of reviews from the Veiled Lamp brand.

As many of you already know, Seb Archer is one of the best talents in the sculpting and painting world and has launched his newest brand. We are delighted to have the chance to review his sculptures.

The 2nd release from Veiled lamp is called Radley and Bellow Roos Explorers of the Northern Tundra, and apparently this pays homage to one of Seb’s favourite games. After a bit of Google shenanigans I think the game is Baldur’s Gate?

Boo is a miniature giant space hamster who is the companion of Minsc. While the homage is being paid, there is actually no similarity to Minsc, and only the hamster bares resemblance but only because it is a hamster haha.

The sculpture was done as a study into a well travelled and weathered face, which also takes inspiration from another great sculptor Romain Van Den Bogaert, whom is also a super nice guy and we have reviewed some of his pieces here on GMR.