The one where I complain about Mantic Basileans

I bought some Mantic Basileans last year hoping to use them as a cheap proxy for Citadel’s old RR17 Avenging Knights of the Cleansing Flame set.

They come packaged in a neat plastic storage case that resembles an old VHS cassette box. Sadly the contents are all Betamax…

They were awful to assemble – heavy mould lines, poor fit on the joints and weapons that didn’t sit in their hands snugly.
The moulding detail was poor by today’s standards. In fact that’s not entirely accurate, the moulding detail was poor by the standards of 20 years ago.
So soft detail, mould lines and difficulty getting them to rank up nicely on 20mm bases – hardly an auspicious start…

I’d bought an extra sprue of 5 figures off eBay in addition to the box of 20 to use as command figures. I had to base these on standard 20mm MDF squares as they didn’t come with the Mantic bases that you get when you buy a full box. With hindsight I wish I’d based them all on MDF bases, but more of that later.

With the full box, in addition to the 20 figures and bases, you also get a few extra white metal items. These comprise a standard, a drum and 2 arms holding drum beaters. You can use them to convert two troopers into a Standard Bearer and a Musician.

When glued on the weight of these metal items means the miniatures  become unstable and tip over at the slightest touch – especially the standard bearer. Not annoying in the slightest I’m sure you’ll agree…

I also bought a standard MDF 20mm 5 x 5 base movement tray to fit all 25 figures in. Imagine my joy at discovering that the Mantic bases are just slightly bigger than standard 20mm GW or Laser cut MDF bases so they wouldn’t fit in the tray.
There was no way I was going to sit and file minute amounts off the base edges so I bought some Renedra trays that would hold 20 Mantic based troopers. I plan to get a separate small MDF tray for the command figures that I’d based on standard 20mm MDF – at least they’ll fit in a normal movement tray.

I undercoated these with Tamiya fine white primer spray and decided to paint them in red with black details. I got the metallics, red and black base paints and washes on but I just wasn’t happy with any of it. Disheartened by the whole experience up to this point I abandoned them on a shelf where they gathered dust and bugged the hell out of my wife for months – especially when she would breathe near them and the standard bearer would fall over…

Enough was enough and I needed to get this lot off the shelf of shame and finished to some sort of acceptable level. I realised I was never going to get the results I’d have liked from them so I decided to bite the bullet and go for ‘wargaming standard’ rather than relinquishing huge amounts of time and effort on them.
Before repainting them I ripped off the unwieldy metal standard and replaced it with a length of florist’s wire for a paper banner.

Thinking back to the Wargames Foundry Men at Arms miniatures I’d previously painted I decided on a blue and yellow colour scheme. Although the jupons and shields on these could easily take more complex colour schemes and heraldry there was no way I was prepared to risk losing the will to live any further by adding complications to the paint job – even the thought of adding a blue line to each of the 24 shields to break up the yellow filled me with a sinking feeling.

So keeping to a simple paint job and girding my loins against their general awfulness I managed to eventually turn these into a serviceable regiment of High Fantasy spearmen.

In Mantic’s defence these are priced relatively inexpensively in comparison to other manufacturer’s ranges of 28mm multi pose plastic figures, hence I was on them like a spinster at the wedding bouquet toss. However the photos on Mantic’s website flatter them greatly, they don’t hold up to close scrutiny.

These would probably be perfect for base coat dipping to getting a playable army on the table quickly rather than lavishing time and effort on these as individual miniatures. They’d best be described as ‘functional wargaming figures’.

As far as my original intention of using them as a proxy for Avenging Knights of the Cleansing Flame I think it’s back to the drawing board. The early 90s GW High Elves with Spears option might be a better idea rather than risk another regiment of these gathering dust for 8 months.

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10 thoughts on “The one where I complain about Mantic Basileans

  1. Tarmor

    The end result looks great from your photo’s – it’s a pity it took so much time and effort getting there. Bad fit/joints (etc) are one of the annoying things that have resulted in me generally avoiding multi-part figures. I was introduced to Mantic and “Kings of War” and have a Mantic Dwarf army on my wish list… but if I ever get to spend the money on them I’ll be extremely unhappy if I have the same problems with them as you have.

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    1. Somet Post author

      Thanks, I’ve heard people complain about the Mantic Orcs from an assembly point of view but then I’ve also put some Mantic Ghouls together that were no problem at all. Asking around to see how the Dwarves fare before you spend your money might be a wise idea.

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  2. Azazel

    Oh man. I’m so sorry to see that you ended up paying money for the Men at Arms. They’re notorious for being Mantic’s first plastics with some new company in China and as the massive failure that they are. They really damaged Mantic’s reputation (deservedly so) and should have been scrapped instead of sent out to people. I got some in their first KS and promptly gave them away at the first opportunity. They certainly shouldn’t still be selling them today.

    Their Ghouls and Skeletons are good and were done by Renedra. Orcs are decent models, but don’t fit in especially well with WHFB ones due to different proportions. The dwarves are.. okay but also slightly problematic in the way they’ve been posed and lack the amount of detail that their Citadel cousins have.

    None compare to the MAA, though – and you’ve done an exceptional job sticking it out to get them to this level where they’ll look quite lovely walking across the tabletop. Just as long as you don’t look *too* closely, of course… 😉

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  3. Somet Post author

    Haha indeed! They’re a shocking set of miniatures that I decided wouldn’t beat me entirely. There was no way I was going to give these things any more time than absolutely necessary. At least I can use these if the need ever arises.

    To be honest I almost didn’t put them on the blog as they’re a bit embarrassing but then I thought if something gets a coat of varnish, good or bad, it can go on the blog. If it makes someone else think twice before buying them then it’s all good. In terms of success or failure as a wargaming unit I think I’d prefer to call this a draw and move on.

    I didn’t know that Mantic had so many problems with them.
    If someone asked me I’d have been pretty confident that the sprues were marked up as Renedra until Azazel mentioned Mantic’s failed dabblings with cheap Chinese factories. I cut off the extras and binned the sprues months ago so I can’t prove myself wrong. All I can think I’d that it must have been the base sprues that were marked as Renedra.

    Even if the moulding process on these was improved to make them fit together better and crisp up the detail it still wouldn’t solve their anatomical oddness – overly long ape arms and hands like oven gloves!

    I didn’t pay a great deal so it’s more the emotional drain these created that was worse than any feelings of financial loss.

    I quite like the look of Mantic’s Goblin Archers (very Gnoblar looking) but I’m loathe to go through similar pains again unless I can find out more about how they build up.

    Onwards and (hopefully) upwards, I’m looking forward to my next set of miniatures that I can actually enjoy painting.

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    1. Azazel

      Here’s a good write-up of their archers. I don’t have any myself, and don’t plan to anytime soon (I got a few Skull Pass gobbos recently, and found “the goblins” worth of figures from a 4th ed starter box, so I’m good for the time being.)
      http://www.dakkadakka.com/dakkaforum/posts/list/498903.page#5147828
      Scarlet Squig is generally pretty good, but he’s a bit of a Mantic fan (though he’s become more able to be critical in the last year. Some people are fans of them, others are less so, but they’re definately not nearly as bad as the Basileans.
      If you want to know anything about the various Mantic Kits at any point, just hit me up. I’ve got a few of hem, and know about a lot more.

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      1. Somet Post author

        I have to say I’m not really taken by any of the other Mantic ranges. The Gnoblar style archers caught my eye as they’re quite ‘Citadel pre-slotta Gnoll’ like. However if any of the other ranges do take my fancy in future I will ask you – thank you.

        Thanks for the link to the reviews of the goblin archers. When people say that ‘they’re quite okay, from a distance’ or ‘you can make the plastic goblins look okay if you squint, but its a lot of work’ or mention ‘lots of green stuff’ as I way to try and improve them I think that’s all the information I need to give them a wide berth!

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      2. Azazel

        I think I’m one of a relatively rare (until now!) breed of fantasy player who not only used their existing WHFB forces to play KoW but actively bought (many) more GW models to use. The usual has been people buying them to use in WHFB or the ex-WHFB player trying out/playing KoW.
        To be fair, the Ogres are decent, though I find those with closed poses a pain in the arse to paint, and three body types limiting, but beyond that they’re quite nice models.
        Noiw I’m looking forward to getting a couple of boxes of AoS to use as Basileans…

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  4. maledrakh

    Good job on the basileans!
    I was going to do something with them myself, along the lines of …can these heathens be saved?…as I got some in the ks and some more in the christmas crazy box / grab bag. But when building the first sprue, I felt as if I was having the spirit sucked out of me. Life is too short to spend on sub-par drek such as these. I threw them out, never to be seen again.

    The basilean men at arms were not only the first try with a new chinese factory, but also the first computer designed models from mantic. Word is that the files were not compatible, and that the factory had to trace them anew, which is whthe details are so soft. At any rate mantic quality control was found lacking, and someone got a big surprise when the sprues arrived in britain…

    Also, stay away from the goblins… They are almost as bad as the basileans.

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    1. Somet Post author

      Thanks! I still remember that withering feeling of Basilean assembly well. You did the right thing dumping them as things don’t get better when you try to paint them.
      It’s only after I finished them and posting the pics on here that I found out just how much stick Mantic got for them.
      I very nearly didn’t put them on the blog because they were so poor but I’m glad I did now – I can wear my ‘I completed a unit of Basileans and didn’t eBay my paints afterwards’ badge as a mark of honour.
      Yes, the Goblins appear to be another poorly sculpted set. I’m giving them a wide berth!

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