Monday, May 30, 2011

[Lantz's Corner] Armorcast Review

So far I've had little to complain about with the indie miniatures webstores out there. Overall I've had a pretty pleasant experience with each and every webstore I've made a transaction with. This review is going to be a bit different, however. I would like to start out by saying I know of more people that have had a good experience shopping from Armorcast than I can count on my hands and toes, which is a reason I wanted to shop there in the first place. However, walking into this review you're going to understand pretty early on I did not enjoy my purchasing experience and why. More after the break.

To start on a good note, Armorcast's model and terrain range is massive. From what I can tell their whole product line is made of resin, and contains very nice detail. One thing my gaming group has enjoyed is the Soda Can Terrain range. A cheap and simple, yet effective way to accumulate terrain that looks pretty snazzy. I'd also like to add that every item on their website for Sci-Fi is pictured with a 28mm Space Marine-ish model for size comparison; something I wish every indie company would do.

For my order I selected some Moisture Condensers, a Howitzer, a Wave Cannon and a Laser Cannon. The last two I can't find on their webstore at this time--I'm not sure if they've been discontinued or aren't selling at this time. After placing my order, the trouble began. When placing an order on Armorcast, I want to make something perfectly clear when paying via PayPal. After being redirected from Armorcast to PayPal to make your payment you must click the link to return to Armorcast. I repeat, you must click the link to return to Armorcast. If you don't, your order won't be finalized by Armorcast. Had I known this, I would bet my experience would have been delightful, but this wasn't the case.

At the time, I ordered from a few different companies at once, and within two weeks I noticed that I never got an order or shipping confirmation in my email. After finally taking notice of this I contacted Armorcast by email. After a week with no response I emailed them again and gave it another week with no response. At this point a friend suggested to me that I call, as they had a similar problem with communication via email. I called up the Armorcast number, which seems to be a personal cell phone of the owner. While this struck me as odd, the owner was very responsive and explained the whole issue with PayPal and walked me through how to get my order processed. So another hint here, do not email Armorcast for any issues or questions, a phone call seems to be the way to go.

At this point I'm a month in from purchase. The PayPal issue was my fault due to a lack of knowledge on PayPal's inner-workings, but providing an email address on a webstore that doesn't provide any responses when written to is something Armorcast needs to look in to. A few days after my phone conversation I received an email that my order was being processed...and that's where it sat for well over a week. If you have any experience with PayPal you may know that after a purchase you have 45 days to report there's a problem with your order or you're stuck without any hope of a refund. With fear of losing my money, on day 45 I put in my ticket with PayPal. The next day Armorcast responded to the ticket stating that one of the items I ordered is on back-order and that's why it was taking so long; something that was never communicated to me until this point. That day Armorcast shipped everything except the back-ordered Howitzer model.

A few days after this I finally received my package in the mail. For those of you keeping score at home that's a whopping 51 days from purchase to delivery. Two weeks of that time frame I take full responsibility for, and while I'm a patient guy when it comes to shipping, I can imagine someone else wanting to pull their hair out. So, past all of that mess, I got my package and ripped that thing open like it had cheese dip, cake and 3 Musketeers bars inside:

What I first noticed was the lack of protection. Resin is fragile, we all know this. And while nothing was damaged during the shipping process, this right here isn't what I would call adequate shipping protection:

The items all came in plastic packages stapled with cardboard labels:

The condensers came in two types of resin. I'm not sure if this means Armorcast is changing their resin line or what, but all three seemed equally detailed:

The Laser Cannon, something I was especially excited for, turned out in great detail. This thing, like the Wave Cannons, come in multiple pieces, but I temporarily put them together for your viewing pleasure. There wasn't any guessing games on the sizes of these models thanks to the aforementioned model comparison on their website:

Now, I only ordered one Wave Cannon, and my receipt showed only one as well, but for some reason I got two. Whether this was a mistake or an apology for the issues I had had during my order and shipping, I'm happy to accept:
As you can tell the detail shown on their webstore is just as good in person. Each item has unique traits and sculpting techniques used throughout the entire model making all of these things more than worth their incredibly cheap prices.

Now let's talk mold lines. Through my experiences with the indie companies without mold line issues seems to be about a 50% chance so far. Unfortunately, Armorcast is one of those stores with mold line issues; and sadly worse cleanup issues than most of the other stores I've bought from:
While there will be a lot of time spent cleaning these things up, one thing I can say is a lack of air bubbles is something Armorcast can boast about. Through all six models I found zero air bubbles, and anyone who's as annoyed by them as much as I am just let out a sigh of relief. While the extra flash and mold lines are pretty gruesome, there are no identions to be filled due to air bubbles, and I'll take that deal any day of the week.

Very detailed models
Zero air bubbles
Easy-to-navigate website
Scale comparison on website's pictures

Lack of communication
Heavy cleanup needed
Lacking package protection

While my experience with Armorcast wasn't pleasant by any means, I wouldn't count them out. I'd be more skeptical if I didn't personally know numerous people who've had no issues ordering from them. Taking the hints from above I think anyone who does run into issues with ordering from Armorcast will be able to resolve their problems in a more timely manner than I did, or completely avoid them entirely. Their webstore is easy to navigate through and provides scale information few indie stores are willing to do. Armorcast's models are finely detailed and very unique. While cleanup will be time consuming, I feel it's worth it in the end.

~Lantz aka Sinaura


  1. I assume they cast their own stuff, so makes you wonder then how anything can be back ordered. Unless the silicon for the howitzer had failed and they needed to make a new mold from the master. From the casting problems it looks like they get every last bit of use out of their silicon.

  2. I wondered about that myself... I'm curious how long it will take to get that last item as it's something I need to finish several projects at the same time... Blah.