Jul 282012
 

Probably most of us wargamers have alrady touched something produced in part by english company Renedra Ltd.. For Renedra is the british toolmaker for plastic injection moulds and many a company without their own toolmaker is relying on the services of Renedra to get their moulds done. It doesn’t matter if we are talking Mantic Games, Warlord Games, Perry Miniatures or Avatars of War here – as long as it’s on plastic sprues, it was cast with moulds done by Renedra. In fact, the head of Renedra, Terry Ardener, once had a different toolmaker company which was bought up by Games Workshop back in 1998… so one could argue that a lot of Renedras know-how can be found in GW’s moulds as well.

For several years Renedra not only produces moulds, but is also offering their own plastic products. Probably their best-known range of plastics are their no-nonsense plastic bases, which can be found, for example, in several of Warlord Games’ kits. They may not be the most visually striking bases out there, but surely they are the cheapest, most effective option if you are looking for the right base for your hobby project.
Apart from those they also offer all kind of „generic“ kits, among those fences, barrels, tents or small houses.

Today let’s take a look at what is perhaps the most famous of all those Renedra kits, the „Gravestone Set“. As with all those kits, this one was designed by a person working outside of Renedra Limited; here it’s been Steve May, at that time proud owner and designer of Immortal Miniatures, a company specialising in creating historically accurate miniatures of all kinds of armies from Antiquity. As we all know, Immortal Miniatures has since been acquired by Warlord Games, who are re-releasing those miniatures one by one, week after week…

Bag of gravestones, bag of gravestones, lovely bag of...

Bag of gravestones, bag of gravestones, lovely bag of…

But back to the Gravestone Set. The kit is delivered in a useful, simple plastic bag containing two identical sprues. There is very little to describe here, though it may well be worth mentioning that when I carefully removed the cardboard, I was delighted to find out that the plastic bag is actually resealable. A nice little gesture that surely can help with cleaning up the hobby area.

From this angle, this all looks like some headstone-maker... with loads of second hand stones...

From this angle, this all looks like some headstone-maker… with loads of second hand stones…

Here’s the front view of one of the sprues. As you can see, it is well stocked. Renedra themselves speak of 44 gravestones and two ravens in their kit (personally, as we will see, I only count 42 flagstones proper). When counting the individual pieces on the sprue, there’s even 58 pieces there, not bad at all for two relatively small sprues.

But from this angle, it does look slightly... bland... a little bit...

But from this angle, it does look slightly… bland… a little bit…

A look at the back of the sprues reveals something that is making me slightly squirm, though, because aside from the raven and the small obelisk, I count only three flagstones with sculpted backs – the rest only offer plain, shapeless plastic. One should bear in mind that those stones are all relatively small, though… less significantly, apart from aforementioned pieces, most stones are cast as relatively thin pieces… but then, of course, I neither expected nor wanted massive headstones anyway…

As befits a product of Renedra Ltd., the cast of all parts is state of the art. There are only minimal mold-lines, mostly on the raven, the obelisk and the three headstones with sculpted backs – admittedly the only thicker elements in this kits. In my opinion not a result of the casting process but a problem with the design is the fact that the lateral faces of all pieces are not planar but slightly oblique. This is not a big deal in 75 % of all sides, but unfortunately, apart from only a few pieces this means all cut areas are not flat/planar, which calls for some additional work, especially if you want to employ the little „stone“ bases offered on the sprue… of course if you will just set the flagstones onto your terrain piece with glue and sand and glass flock, this is a very minor problem… really whining on a superior level here…

Definitely no rolling stones here... all too edgy for that...

Definitely no rolling stones here… all too edgy for that…

Now, what exactly will you get for your money? Let’s take a look at all the items you will get, though I will only show you the content of one sprue on the photos (so remember, you get twice of what’s on the photos). First we have all those „traditional“ headstones. There are 34 in this set, coming in 17 variants, including 3 more massive ones with sculpted backs (the three to the far right on the photo), also one broken stone, one that has sunk in diagonally and finally one obelisk.

Together with the raven, the obelisk is the only object in the kit that fails to impress me. I failed miserably at putting that on a decent photograph (there are already too many blurred one on this review), but to me the cut area of the obelisks are not only oblique, but also more trapezoidal than square. On close view, it doesn’t look as convincing as it hoped it would.

By the way, apart from the usual “RIP” or “In Memory of” and a few individual letters, the inscriptions are not legible, not even under a magnifying glass… sadly no secret messages here…Now, what exactly will you get for your money? Let’s take a look at all the items you will get, though I will only show you the content of one sprue on the photos (so remember, you get twice of what’s on the photos). First we have all those „traditional“ headstones. There are 34 in this set, coming in 17 variants, including 3 more massive ones with sculpted backs (the three to the far right on the photo), also one broken stone, one that has sunk in diagonally and finally one obelisk.

Together with the raven, the obelisk is the only object in the kit that fails to impress me. I failed miserably at putting that on a decent photograph (there are already too many blurred one on this review), but to me the cut area of the obelisks are not only oblique, but also more trapezoidal than square. On close view, it doesn’t look as convincing as it hoped it would.

By the way, apart from the usual “RIP” or “In Memory of” and a few individual letters, the inscriptions are not legible, not even under a magnifying glass… sadly no secret messages here…

Crucifixion? Go to the right, everybody just one cross...

Crucifixion? Go to the right, everybody just one cross…

In addition to the gravestones we also get eight crosses in four variants. Only one of those is bearing a proper inscription identifying it as a grave marker, while the other three are more universally usable, particularly that irish/“celtic“ cross shown on the far right.

Still life with raven... well a still life is always a good thing on a cemetery...

Still life with raven… well a still life is always a good thing on a cemetery…

To me that’s 42 „proper“ Flagstones and grave markers. But of course the kit doesn’t stop here. You also get the following 14 pieces with 7 variants:

  1. Two Ravens
  2. Two grave enclosures
  3. Four “bases” that match to all the aforementioned headstones; one can use those to give some of the stones a different silhouette on the cemetery, thus adding even more variety.
  4. Two Bases for the obelisks (pictured on the far left)
  5. Two two-story bases (each made of two parts, obviously) to give more physical presence to one of the crosses.
Right, here we stand... and we won't go...

Right, here we stand… and we won’t go…

It is a terribly blurred photo but here I have put some objects on the bases to show you how they look. I really love how the bases add a new quality to the various headstones. Really would have loved to get more than just four with the set… unfortunately, I am not as satisfied with the bases for the obelisks and crosses. For the crosses, it is difficult to place their rectangular (and oblique) cut area nicely on the strictly square base so that it would satisfy me… a similar (but worse) case was with the obelisk with its slightly trapezoidal footprint. I did manage to put both the obelisk and the cross to their bases in a way that was ok to me, but I would have wished for a better fitting.

Generally speaking, the use of bases makes building your cemetery slightly more difficult as most flagstones feature slightly oblique cut areas and you have to grind those flat before you can glue those on the bases. Of course this is something that can be managed (and which I did manage), but it wasn’t something I expected from a company like Renedra, who surely knows how to cast a planar edge to all lateral sides of their pieces.

Two ravens.... somehow it looks as if the one to the left has just told the one to the right something embarrassing...

Two ravens…. somehow it looks as if the one to the left has just told the one to the right something embarrassing…

This photo doeas a comparison between Renedra’s raven to the right and the raven from Games Workshops’ Garden of Morr to the left – sorry, that one’s blurry again… it does show that GW’s Dave Andrews did a much thorough sculpting job than Steve May did – Mr. May’s raven sculpt is much more stiff and doll-like. But I am quite sure nothing of that will be visible after painting, as we are talking some very tiny pieces here… still, the two ravens are the least interesting objects in the set for me.

Yes, this is nothing but tombstones... a little bit eerie... but I like that...

Yes, this is nothing but tombstones… a little bit eerie… but I like that…

Here I have made a little comparison shot with some other headstones lying around in my Bitzbox. In the top row you can see a variety of Renedra’s gravestones. In the middle row, starting from the left side, you have all four grave stones and the one loose figural slab of Games Workshop’s Garden of Morr. As you can see, those are all much smaller and thinner than those of Renedra. They all sport finer sculpting, too, though with the usual skull-fetish employed by GW. To the far right of this line we also have that ancestor of all plastic grave stones, the one from Games Workshop’s famous original skeleton sprue, which nowadays is only to be found in the warrior sets for the Tomb Kings of Khemri.

In the bottom row there are some pewter grave markers from the old “Gothic Cemetery” set Games Workshop used to produce and sell from their website. Most of those are no longer available, as the current “Fantasy Graveyard”, which goes for a whopping £ 18,50 now only has four gravestones (one of those not being in my old set), coming together with two columns and a resurrected undead … I should point out that those old pewter flagstones and crosses from Games Workshop are – both from their sculpting and casting – inferior to Renedras Gravestones. Only the pewter Obelisk from GW I like better than the plastic one, though unfortunately it’s one of those no longer available…

Sarge? Don't touch the tip of that obelisk! SARGE!!!!!

Sarge? Don’t touch the tip of that obelisk! SARGE!!!!!

Finally a comparison shot with Sergeant Grzimek. As a guideline, all of Renedras gravestones (without the additional bases) are between 1.7 to 3 cm in height, with all the crosses sharing a height of about 2.2 cm. As I can see it, thus a beautifully equipped cemetery in the area should offer at least moderately good protection …

 

My conclusion: Renedra’s Gravestone set offers a solid investment with only a few quirks. For 8 pounds you get 42 grave stones and crosses (Renedra themselves count the two grave enclosures in, thus officially raising the number to 44). If you don’t count all those bases and ravens, that makes only 19 pence per stone or cross – and remember you do receive an additional 14 parts as well. This is by far the cheapest gravestone set produced by a tabletop company and, to me, the best solution for a well-equipped cemetery.

At those prices, the many other offers from different companies cannot compete with Renedra, at least price-wise. The aforementioned “Fantasy Graveyard” from Games Workshop has each gravestone included at a price of Because at these prices, the many other vendors can not compete when even called “graveyard scene” set in Games Workshop every grave stone comes at a price of 2.3 GBP – and the Garden of Morr has only so few single gravestones to come along with it that it would be suicidal to buy it just for that – especially as the instructions assigns each of those stones a fixed place on the various bases.

The large number of individual grave stones from Thomarillion (also available at Ziterdes) each come to around 1.66 to 3.95 € per stone, and are thus also significantly more expensive than Renedra’s. Though it should be mentioned that some of those are real pieces of art in their own respect and well worth the price.

So there really is only one comparable competitor: the Tombstones from Croatian supplier Tabletop World. It gives you 23 gravestones (and some more stuff) for just 20 €. But even here the price per stone is around twice what Renedra’s do cost…

In short: if you want to have a cemetery for your gaming table because you are a player of an Undead army – or just because you know that everybody dies sooner or later in a wargame – I could think of no better choice for your scenery project, at least if you don’t care too much for all those christian symbols.

As a sidenote for historical tabletop players: Most of the gravestones and crosses in this set correspond in style and execution with what could be found on english or american cemeteries of the 17th – 19th century, roughly between the English Civil War and the American Civil War. Only some elements like the irish cross (which was already used in medieval times and much less so in the early modern period) or the obelisk (which would have been a very rare sight before the middle of the 18th century) are special here.

In continental Europe, most of the designs in this set would be thoroughly ahistorical (give or take very few individual pieces). But this shouldn’t stop you for using them nevertheless; after all, even in the new Pike & Shotte rulebook the battlefields of Flanders or at the banks of the Danube appear be chance to be exactly like in merry old England… and, by the way, the scenery there makes good use of Renedras stones, too! I certainly wouldn’t see that as a problem… after all, in my case, most of those stones will come in handy for a cemetery of my Sisters of Battle and I am sure, they will look great!

 2012/07/28  Posted by at 20:53 Reviews, Terrain, Wargaming Tagged with: , , ,  No Responses »
Okt 282011
 

I should apologise beforehands I had three teeth extracted today and I feel awful… so be kind towards my grammar errors, they are probably worse than normally today…

Even before Games Workshop released their Garden of Morr set, I’ve been fancying thoughts about creating some kind of cemetery, either for Mordheim or for Warhammer 40.000 (well, in the end probably both… I like my Science Fiction to lean heavily towards fantasy…). Of course for a fine gothic cemetery, you need a lot of tombstones – far more than you would have found on a historical cemetery of the Middle Ages, actually… I even set out to create my own, but with as little time as I have at my disposal nowadays, I guess I will have to rely on some acquisitions… so what choices do I have?

The actual Garden of Morr is a bit of a loser as far as standing single tombstones are concerned. I mean, if you put aside the sculpted bases, there are only four tombstones and a slab in this set and all of those actually have their fixed place on the bases…well, you get a load of other stuff with this set, so it’s hard to actually tell how expensive those five little parts would be for you… the whole set is running at 32,50 €.

Games Workshop currently offers a set of tombstones and accessories called Fantasy Graveyard. Apart from the spare parts, it offers you 5 tombstones for 23,50 € – at least I guess it’s that way, because they say they give you ten parts, but only 8-9 are shown in the picture, depending on whether you count the base or not… anyway, at ten parts each tombstone would come down to 2,32 €, but of course you have to take the other stuff too, so it’s quite expensive in the end… of course the design would be thoroughly GW Fantasy, but still, it’s pretty hefty…

Funny enough many years ago I bought a different graveyard set from Games Workshop – no skull columns and no rising skeleton, but cheaper and having 8-10 graves or tombstones… well, those were different times, I guess.

Talking about expensive things, german terrain makers Ziterdes and Thomarillion each have a load of different sets with tombstones – not to talk about mausolea and other graveyard-related stuff – that is nice to look at but usually comes down to 3 € per standing stone or more:

Ziterdes even has a whole graveyard in their set – two used tombs and a tomb-to be – for 19,99 €. But that is no option – as is their burial vault

Gravestone “Celtic Cross” 2pcs.

Memorial Slab “The Bat” 2pcs.

Memorial Slab “Unknown” 2pcs.

Those sets all come from the same price segment – two tombstones for 6.19 €, that’s 3,95 per tombstone… even though some of those are beautiful, that’s just a tad too expensive…

Gravestones “Undead” 3pcs.

Gravestones “Memorial” 3pcs.

Those two sets have a slightly better ratio – at 6.19 € and three tombstones per set, it’s a little more than 2.06 € prt stone… still, even with good design that’s quite expensive if you want to fill up a larger piece of terrain…

And of course there’s the “luxury” Sarcophagus with 4 Gargoyles running at a whopping 13.49 €… but then such a thing is better kept inside a ruin than on a graveyard, I think.

I can’t say Thomarillion is much cheaper – no surprise, though, as far as a I know the two companies are working pretty closely with each other. Well, but here’s the cunning thing – all of the resin or metal sets that Ziterdes sells actually come from Thomarillion – and they are cheaper there – just look at this “A heros´ grave“:

Yeah, it’s the same basic arcophagus that Ziterdes sells at 13.49 €. Here it’s just 4.50 €, but don’t be fooled – Ziterdes bundles the grave with four Thomarillion Gargoyles which cost 4.50 € per two, getting the same kit from Thomarillion costs exactly 1 cent more… as I dislike the gargoyles, Thomarillion would be my choice anyway…

Thomarillion also has this nice “Dwarf King´s Grave” which Ziterdes, as far as I can see, doesn’t sell… anyone thinking about “Dwarf King’s Hold“?

Gravestones (Celtic-Cross)

Gravestone and tomb slab (Unknown)

Gravestone and tomb slab (The Bat)

So at 4.99 €, those two-tombstone-sets break down to roughly 2.49 € per stone or slab…

Gravestones (Memorial)

Gravestones (Undead)

While those two sets with three slabs each brings you a stone per (roughly) 1.66 €. I won’t say that’s expensive (after all, Tabletop is an expensive hobby – no doubt about that…), especially when you compare it to GW’s Fantasy Graveyard, but it’s not cheap either. If you would say you need at least 10-20 nice tombstones to create a graveyard that actually looks like if it’s been used for a while, well, then it’s a lot of money you’ll have to spend with those sets…

Fortunately for all of us there are two cheaper – yet good – possibilities. And I am not talking about buying those Tomb Kings Skeleton Warriors from GW who come with a load of nice old plastic tombstones (I know most people dislike the Tomb King Skeletons for the fact that they still use this old GW skeleton sprue – but personally I have a load of fond memories with that one, so I feel fine… still remember the time they were new, funky and in bone coloured plastic…).

Of course the obvious choice is Renedras Gravestone Set. For 8 £ (at most shops here that’s 10 €) you get 2 x 22 slabs and 2 ravens – that’s just 22 cent per piece.  Well, as those are designed to fit with historical settings, too, there are a lot of crosses… but still…

Tabletop World is a small, but great pair of terrainmakers from Croatia. I love the stuff they create, but they usually are far too expensive for my wallet… when they recently brought out a terrific graveyard, I was impressed – but no chance I’d pay 94 € if I can get a Garden of Morr for 32.50 € – especially as I don’t mind skulls and skullwork…

But then they released the mausoleum of that set separately at an affordable 23 € – and now the tombstones as well. 37 pieces for 20 € – including 23 different tombstones – that’s just 54 cent per piece and a lot less crosses to fill up or file away to make those more fantasy or s/f-like. Even if you’d count in the postage for having those delivered from Croatia, it’s a reasonably priced option indeed.

So, what’s my conclusion? First, of course, I need a better plan of what my graveyard shall look like – and how many pieces I’ll need. The Renedra tombstones would be a good place to start (and a nice pretence for a review here), but those from Tabletop World… ah, those would be best…

And, yes, for someone not playing Vampire Counts I am pretty obsessed with graveyards and stuff… can’t help that…

 

Note: this post originally appeared on my older Blog “The Letters from Xanadu”. As I semi-automatically transferred it to my new domain, it may well be that various links and/or photos are not working or displayed correctly – sorry!