Review: Warmachine MKIV Preview Battlegroups

Earlier in August, fresh off the announcement of a new edition of Warmachine, Privateer Press announced they would sell preview battlegroup boxes to drum up excitement for the new edition of Warmachine. Not only is this exciting to see some of the new kits in person before the major release in late October, but it’s also the first opportunity we have to get our hands on models using Privateer Press’s new 3D sculpting methods and magnets.The boxes would be sold in three flavors: Cygnar, Orgoth, and also Khador as a welcome surprise.

Unfortunately, we were unable to get our hands on models sold at Gencon, but PP did sell these boxes on their webstore for about a day before their stock ran out. During that time, I got my hands on the Khador box and Norman got his hand on the Orgoth box. With the Warmachine App having entered it’s live beta in October and the Army Starter boxes closing in on the horizon, Norman and I found some time to put together our thoughts on the preview battlegroup boxes for a review. We will be reviewing both boxes here, addressing both the good and the bad of the new models that PP will be spearheading a resurgence of their flagship brand with. 

DAN: Khador Winter Korps Preview

Since there’s no faithful Menites to cling to in MK IV (for now), I decided to start with the not-Russia faction of Warmachine, Khador. It took about a month from when I ordered the box for it to arrive at my home, which is a long time but understandable considering the demand for the boxes. I have since had time to assemble the two jacks that it came with, the Dire Wolf and Great Bear, as well as the Caster Kapitan Ekaterina Baranova. I also was able to paint the Great Bear with one of it’s loadouts, to see how well the model painted up. 

I like to keep things positive, so we will start with “The Bad”, which were issues I had with the models or the sculpts that can be hopefully improved for future releases. After that, we will move on to “The Good”, which were the parts I thought were great. I’ll leave after that with some closing thoughts on the box and pass it along to Norman for his half of the review.

The Bad

I’m sure that this is where you, dear reader, want me to talk about uncured resin and how touching these models burned my fingertips to hell. I hate to disappoint, but I didnt get burned and all of the resin was cured upon it’s arrival to me.

Proof my hands are unburned after touching the models with all my fingertip might.

For those unaware, there was some minor controversy during Gencon that the Preview Boxes featured uncured resin, which is toxic. Privateer Press did reach out to the person in question and offered a full refund, and they did confirm that the customer who purchased the models did come back to the stand and the models in the box did not feature any cured resin. Privateer Press then released a statement on the quality control process of their models and how the new models are cast and cleaned with their 3D printing methods, as well as what to do in case of any issues with the resin being soft or “sticky”.

Normally I think airing out all of this drama about an unsubstantiated claim of uncured resin would be in bad taste, but I will say that I could understand why someone would think parts of their model was uncured.

When I got my preview box and opened it, one of the things that I noticed were parts of the model that looked “wet”, as pictured above. Usually, this was in recessed areas on the model parts. I took some tweezers to check if the resin was liquid in these parts. I was able to confirm that this is not uncured resin. Rather, this is a side effect of 3-D printed resin models not being cleaned properly, causing this resin to cure while still in a liquid state. So these areas were safe to interact with on my models. However, it doesn’t look great, and it still means that there could be an uneven finish on your model.

Pictures of the aforementioned “wet” looking areas on my models.

Much more frustrating for me was the myriad pock marks on my model and little bumps, where supports were likely detached from the finished piece. While these largely stopped being noticeable once I got to work painting the Great Bear, the bumps made assembly very frustrating, as it meant that I ran into issues like magnets not laying perfectly flat in their sockets or feet not gluing flush to the base. There are also some spots on my finished Great Bear with noticeable layer lines, a well known side effect of 3D printing. I can imagine that for many high end painters, having bands visible on their model will be very frustrating.

A picture showing an example of the pock marks on one of my Warjacks body. You can see there are some bumps and divets on the underside here.

The resin they used for this 3D printed model is also very brittle. So brittle, in fact, that the axe in one of the arms of my Great Bear was broken on arrival. I also caused a bit of the mace to break when I dropped it and it landed wrong on the table I was assembling at. Like most other 3D printed stuff, these models are really brittle, and I would recommend having some greenstuff handy when you assemble these models.

It came like this, right out of the box.

I know this is a huge change for PP, and they want to be on the cutting edge of miniature production here, but the quality of the material here needs work. I do think they are squeezing more detail out of these models than the old resin stuff, but comparing both of them to one another the new material feels like a downgrade. Having models with inconsistent finish, pockmarks, layer lines, and brittle pieces is going to be a tough sell for those new to the game, especially at the current $200 starter price point. I’m sure it can be done by Privateer Press, but the company needs to get on it.

Well, at least it’s not finecast. 

Finecast Mandrakes, bought in 2022 CE.

The Good

So the quality of the model may have left me wanting, but the quality of the design of the models whip ass.

The details on both the big Warjacks and the smaller caster are crisp, and assembly was very straightforward. Once everything was glued together, I was able to go right into priming the model and painting with no issues. 

Special shoutout goes to The Great Bear, which is supposed to be a “big” warjack in a faction known for the biggest, heaviest warjacks. The way it’s designed is a clear upgrade from the previous Khador Warjacks, and kudos to Privateer Press on all the lessons they’ve learned  in designing cool looking models. I love looking at my big stompy red son and whispering “Hell yeah”. 

Khador Greatbear. Credit: Dan “Swiftblade” Richardson

I was also a skeptic on the magnets at first. It didn’t help that they came in a silly looking pill tube due to international packaging issues, and the aforementioned issues with some of the sockets not fitting the magnet just right. Once it was all together though, I did end up spending a very fun twenty minutes just swapping heads and arm options on the Warjacks. I tried to find the combinations that I thought looked “the coolest”, and the arms and heads were all posed well enough that I wasn’t able to find any particular pose that looked bad. Especially for new hobbyists, I think having these easy magnet options is a slam dunk as either a way to learn how to magnetize models. For theorycrafters, customizable loadouts is a great way to sink your teeth on how to optimize their models, and deciding what loadouts are best with what. 

Some of my favorite weapon and head options for the Warjacks in the box

Overall Thoughts

Credit: Privateer Press

The 3D printing process needs refinement. There’s no unbelievably bad single issue with the quality of the material itself, but there’s several smaller issues that are hard to ignore from both a modeling as well as assembly perspective. I don’t know if the brittleness issue can be easily solved without switching the kind of material used, but the other issues I had I think absolutely can still be ironed out by Privateer Press. 

A completed photo of my Khador Battlegroup

For the continued success of MK IV, I hope they fix these issues quickly because the design of these models are great. My Khador stuff looks great and painted great. The magnets are really neat. If we can just fix these production issues, we have some stellar models here.         

Norman – Orgoth Model Review

Since I’m new to this system, I figured I’d grab the new faction since not a ton of the current range of playable stuff really appealed to me. The models went together fine, most of the kits are a very small amount of pieces outside the weapon options (a head, chest and legs for the warjacks and a head sword and main body for the character). Similarly to Dan, I’m gonna start with the bad here.

The Bad

First and foremost is the very obvious pock marks that can be found on the underside of a lot of these models from where the supports were removed. While they’re mostly out of sight to the average player, when painting them they stick out a lot and will cause problems with washes. In addition my model had some ends of supports still attached to the model which meant it required some cleaning. The issue here is since we’re working with 3d printed resin, removing these after they’re cured means it’s very easy to damage the details they’re attached to if you’re not careful. The other issue is that because of the pointy bits on the Orgoths specifically, it can be difficult to tell what is detail and what’s a support before you start painting. There’s also some nasty print line issues.

Close up of the print lines on the Shield. Credit: MildNorman

On top of all that, I received some models that were not cleaned thoroughly (these are those “wet” looking areas Dan was referring to). This isn’t undercured resin or anything, but sometimes that lack of cleaning can interfere with primer adhering. In my case, it wasn’t a huge issue, I used Citadel’s White Scar and only noticed a couple tiny areas where the primer struggled. I know I’m mostly retreading ground here, but Dan kinda captured all my complaints. If you were looking for a quality model beyond what you can print at home with a mid range resin printer, you’re not gonna find it here.

The Good

Ok but this warjack is kinda neat. The weapon options are neat and come pre assembled and ready to magnetize which brings me to my favorite part about this kit. Having magnets come with the kit with all the parts intended to be magnetized rocks. Plus it comes in a little pill bottle which I’m actually using to store my magnets now. The kits go together fast and you can realistically blast through and get a whole bunch of these losers ready to go the day you acquire them. Painting them is kinda A Lot, but if that’s your thing you’re in for a treat.

Credit: MildNorman

Overall Thoughts

The question is, will I buy more of these? The answer is a resounding “eh?” The 3d print stuff kinda soured me on being excited about them just for the kits sake. I’m not gonna go evangelizing this game and trying to get people to play it on the merit of the models alone, but if a scene pops up near me I could be convinced to get more. Its worth noting though, nothing here is a real deal breaker. There was no uncured resin, nothing arrived broken (unless you’re Dan) and I pretty much got what I was expecting. That said, I don’t know that these dudes are worth the price tag when they’re similar quality to what I could have printed at home.

And that’s our review for these new MK IV models! While there is still much room for improvement, the recent Dusk models that Privateer Press has shown off seem to be higher quality, so hopefully many of the issues we have here in this review will be addressed by the time the game gets it’s wider release. There’s good stuff here, but Privateer Press has some kinks to work out in their process to make sure it really shines.

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