I decided to buy the Emperor’s Champion to make a comparison and review the differences between the old metal and the new Finecast resin Citadel miniatures. I chose this miniature partly because I’ve always liked it and wouldn’t mind the chance to paint it again and partly because I already had a metal one waiting for me to explore sky and earth non-metallic metal, which will be the follow up to this article. To give Finecast the best chance possible, I chose the only one of the three Emperor’s Champions in the shop which wasn’t surrounded by a halo of flash and which had the straightest looking sword.
The first difference, we can clearly see, is the price. This has been everyone’s biggest concern (expecially in Australia!) but for someone like me who mostly paints rather than needing hundreds of miniatures to play with, I’m not overly worried as long as the extra money is going somewhere. However, if you collect an army which was, until recently, mostly metal, I can see that any price increase is going to put you off.
The next point to notice is that our new figure comes on a sprue comparable to hard polystyrene miniatures and like the metal figure, it still comes with a polystyrene backpack. I don’t see why either of these things should bother anyone and the Finecast comes off of the sprue very easily, in fact some of the body had either broken away by itself or someone had already clipped it. From this photo the Finecast’s detail seems far superior and in fact the detail is crisper on the resin casting but not as much as it appears, it’s just the reflections on the metal which make it look so much better. It is also worth noting that the feeder points on the metal and the resin moulds are the same but the resin appears to need bigger ones. This is pure supposition but it suggests to me that the Finecast doesn’t flow as well as they’ve said. Not only that but the new enemy of the miniaturist suggests the same thing…
… Air bubbles!
This miniature had large air bubbles on the inside of the left elbow, the bottom of the cloth on the back, the outside of the right foot and smaller ones on the top of the helmet and the bottom of the front cloth. These are definitely too large to fill with super glue and even small ones should be filled with a filler which can be smoothed as super glue will leave a rough edge which will show through the paint. The large bubbles I filled with Duro and the small ones I painted with watered down Vallejo Plastic Putty (an alternative would be watered down Milliput). You will also notice three striations on the back cloth. These cause me even deeper concern as they are not mould lines and it’s not obvious where they came from. Speaking of mould lines, the mould lines were a lot worse on the resin miniature but generally easier to clean. Games workshop have advised not to use files or papers on Finecast resin but I had to in some of the hard to reach areas like the folds of the cloth and I had no problems with burring. The striations were also filed off.
Moving on to the sword, one of the quillons was slightly bent but a little heat from a lamp bulb allowed me to straighten this relatively easily. However, the blade of the sword itself was wobbly on one side (the left side in this photo) and straight on the other, there was nothing I could do about this but the metal one was perfectly straight on both sides. To be fair though, I have seen similar things on metal castings in the past but I fear that this is going to be a lot more common with resin. This is only just visible in the photo but it is noticeable and due to the writing sculpted onto the sword blade, it cannot be filed or sanded flat or built up with putty.
Another worrying thing was that I found a piece of light beige material in the resin figure’s armpit. This, I can only assume, must be part of the mould and adds weight to the idea that the resin moulds wear out faster. I can only hope for other people buying figures cast after this one that this mould was retired after this casting, otherwise people are going to be getting some odd lumps in their armpits (Emporer’s Champions with bubonic plague?)
The joints of the metal figure required more filling than the resin figure and I used a little Duro with my trusty home made needle brush and Colour Shapers to do this. With all the holes filled, and the parts assembled (and yes, I did pin the arms on both miniatures) I then got on with the next problem. Both the metal and the resin figures had a bit of roughness to the armour which I wanted to smooth out so I painted most of the armour with the watered down Plastic Putty and then, when dry, rubbed them lightly with a fine glass paper.
I mixed some Milliput with the left over Duro and inserted some small pieces of cork and slate to make some bases. I imprinted the putty mix with some bigger pieces of cork bark to give it a rough texture. I then cooked these under a lamp to speed up the curing.
Lastly, I pinned them to their bases and primed them making sure to let each thin coat of primer dry before applying the next to keep a slightly grainy texture which will stop my thinned layers of paint from flowing everywhere. It’s worth noting that, like polystyrene, less primer is required to cover the resin than the metal, However, once primed I have to look very hard to see the difference. Games Workshop clearly don’t think there’s much difference either as they are still using the same photos to advertise the new miniatures.
To summarise, Finecast’s detail is slightly sharper and I have seen a few models with bare heads where this is certainly noticeable but it’s a lot more work to repair all the casting problems and I’m not sure that’s fair when we’re paying more for the miniature too. Saying that, it is easier to cut and I was able to improve the cast by cutting away the forearm where it merged with the sword hilt (I was able to do this a bit on the metal but not as easily) and I could easily cut away the section which filled the gap between the head and left shoulder pad which I wasn’t able to do on the metal figure at all so conversions will definitely be easier.
*The one on the left is Finecast.