Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Unboxing: Darklands Erainn starter set

Howdy! Today, I'm going to be unboxing the Metal Age version of the Erainn starter host for Darklands. Join in, after the jump!

I got a big Darklands shipment in this week - Metal Age starters for the Albiann, Brythoniaid, Erainn, and Norse. I'll try to do unboxing reports for each, but I wanted to start with the Erainn, as it's the one kindred I haven't gotten any models for yet. The Erainn correspond to the Irish faction, and are very in tune with nature; their choices include walking trees, peat and bog monsters, and druids. Their stuff will work very well in a Kings of War Nature force, or in a Wood Elves army.

The bags the starter came in
Most of the other starters (well, the Albiann and Brythoniaid) came in boxes; the Norse came loose in the box. I don't know if Mierce is still working on the pictures for the box, or if it's part of their Kickstarter process to not include a box (most models purchased on Kickstarter don't come in packaging, so this is unsurprising). I purchased both the starter host and the 750 Gold upgrade (for three more fen beasts).
The Erainn starter (via Kickstarter)
The starter comes with ten Tuanagh, which are Irishmen armed with great axes; Cormac the Red-Hand, a commander; Caitrin, another commander; Nuala, a druid/caster; and two Fen Beasts, which are animated trees.Let's take a look at each on their own.

The Individual Models

First rank-and-file Tuanagh The second rank-and-file Tuanagh
The pose on the second rank-and-file model is very dynamic, but required pinning his right foot to the base. None of the other models needed to be pinned to their bases.

The musician for the Tuanagh comes with his alternate arms The banner bearer for the Tuanagh also comes with his alternate arms
Both the banner bearer and musician came with the arms for their alternates, and the box included one each of just the alternate model. If you're looking to pick this up to expand a unit from 10 to 20, you can do so without having duplicate command models.
The alternate banner bearer for the Tuanagh The alternate musician

The Tuanagh champion Cormac the Red-Hand
The Tuanagh are what started to convince me I wanted to add Erainn, but the sculpt for Cormac was the one that pushed me over the edge. It's full of character, and has a good heft to it with the metal base.

Caitrin Nuala

This is actually my third model of Nuala, I guess I'm a fan of the sculpt. I love the choice made to have Caitrin be a larger-than-life shieldmaiden instead of some frail warrior. The sculpt has a lot of character built in, and I think is one of the cases where the sculpt actually turned out better than the concept art (most of the time, it turns out exactly the same).
The two fen beasts, in resin.
The fen beast were the part I was less convinced about; the trees reminded me of the old Durthu sculpt, and not in a good way. However, their usefulness outweighed any concerns I had about them, and the sculpts are very well done for mimicking the type of tree they were going for.


The starter host, assembled!
All told, it took me about two hours to glue everything together. I had to pin the feet of the second rank-and-file warrior, and Nuala's dagger hand probably could have used a very fine pin, but the rest was just assembled normally. It's worth noting that the metal had almost no flash on it; only the alternate standard bearer's axe had any real flash on it, and it came straight off with a hobby knife.

Cormac assembled, displaying his Gabrax trophy Caitrin, doing her Maid of Tarth impression

The musician and alternate musician The banner bearer and his alternate
The two rank-and-file warriors A second angle of the rank-and-file

The unit commander

The first fen beast
The first fen beast was a straightforward "glue on arms, profit" assembly.
The second fen beast
The second fen beast had a pair of wooden growths that I wasn't sure of the positioning for; in the end I put one behind its right shoulder, and the other on its arm.

The back of the fen beasts
Sadly, the back of the fen beasts is the part I find the most disappointing. I don't understand what the texture on their back is supposed to be, and for me, it just destroys the otherwise great sculpt of the tree bark going around it. I'll probably end up doing some moss effects on it when I paint these guys up, to make it look like they're rising out of the muck.

750 gold upgrade

The 750 gold upgrade came with three additional fen beasts. To the trees!
The third fen beast, unassembled The third fen beast, assembled

The third fen beast is probably the most Durthu-like, and I don't quite understand what's going on inside his mouth (decisions probably made involving preventing undercutting on the mold, if I had to guess) but I can probably fix it in paint!
The fourth fen beast The fifth fen beast

The fourth and fifth fen beasts are great hulking stumps of trees. The fifth came with additional branches that can be used around his top, to make him look even more stump-like. The fourth required some sanding to get his feet to stand flat on the base; his right foot was sloped backwards and he kept trying to fall over when I was gluing him down.
The 750 gold upgrade, assembled!

Metal to resin comparison

So how does it compare to the resin? Well, the only resin Erainn model I had was Nuala, but I was able to get stome side-by-side pictures
Nuala in metal (on left) and resin (on right)

Rear of the metal/resin comparison Side of the metal/resin comparison

As far as detail goes, it doesn't feel like anything got lost in the translation to metal. In addition, the weight of the model seems more solid; I've broken resin Nuala's staff off at least three times, which will hopefully not be an issue in resin. The metal will be harder to convert with, but I don't see myself converting a lot of the infantry right now. Nuala's also got very fragile ankles in resin; this isn't an issue in metal.
The entire starter

The Tuanagh are amazing sculpts, and Nuala, Cormac, and Caitrin all bring their own unique flavor to the list. Sadly, the fen beasts just don't do as well for me as I would have liked. I might feel different once I start getting paint on them and playing with that wood texture, but for now, they feel like the lower point of the unit. 8/10.
Moving forward, I think I'll be using all-metal infantry when I do Darklands purchases. The resin stuff is just too light and I tend to break stuff off when I'm playing. I'm hoping the weight of the metal will help counteract that.


  1. I think the back of the tree beasts is meant to represent waterlogged rotten wood with the bark missing eg

  2. Thanks Orlando! That would make a lot of sense. I was also slightly bothered by the width/depth issue (most trees are mostly round), but somehow I didn't realize that they were intended to have an exposed core on the back. That'll help me a ton when it comes time to paint them!