Review: Avanpost Historical Miniatures

by David

Disclaimer: I received the products featured in this review as a free sample from the publisher. This will not predetermine my review, which will be a fair summary and assessment of the products' strengths and weaknesses as I perceive them.

Hey all,

Welcome back, folks, for another Massive Voodoo review. This time it's about a line of historical miniatures brought to you by the exciting company

Avanpost Historical Miniatures

Avanpost is run by Oleg Derbasov and Maxim Voronin, and they have specialized on producing high-quality and, for what I can tell, well-researched historical resin miniatures. They are situated in Russia and mainly operate through their Facebook site.

Currently, the company's portfolio features military-themed minis for two different time periods: the 30 Years War/English Civil War (pretty much generically usable for 17th century Europe armies), and Napoleonic (currently focusing on the French, Russian, and British armies). In addition, they also produce a couple of accessoires and equipment sets. In terms of scale, Avanpost focuses on 28mm and 75mm. Most of their production is in resin, but recently, they have begun to also offer (some of) their minis as metal-casts.

Knowing that I am interested in the earlier periods of history and particularly like the smaller miniature scales, Oleg was so kind and sent me a handful of 28mm-scale miniatures from their 30 Years War/English Civil War line for a little review. Four of these figures are infantry soldiers, three are cavalry, and all of them are cast in grey, high-quality resin:

The foot soldiers

Let's start our in-depth review with the foot soldiers. The first guy is an ensign of flag-bearer; he has a more elaborate helmet than his compatriots, with a nice feather bush, and his belts are a bit more fancy, with a nice, flashy sash that he has strung around his mid-section. His arms and hands are made such that he carries a spear or flagpole in front of him, a flagpole is included in the set (sorry, no pics of that...), but the flag you have to create yourself.

The remaining three infantry soldiers are typical heavy swordsmen of the late 16th and early-to-mid 17th century. All are armed with heavy rapiers, wear helmets and three-quarter armor and are equipped with round buckler shields. The latter indicates their function as rondachiers, foot-soldiers who were supposed to break up the enemy pike formations. The first swordsman is wearing a heavy burgonet helmet and is shown in a carefully advancing pose, with sword and shield held in front of him.

The other two foot soldiers wear the classic morion helmets, which originated from Spain and have been made famous by countless depictions of conquistadors wearing them during the Spanish invasion of South and Central America. Both soldiers hold their swords drawn and their bucklers in a protective pose in a stable, strong stance. They both sport beards and long hair - which would make them excellent for a little vignette depicting a scene during the (later period of the) Conquista.

The cavalry

Let's now turn to the cavalry figures. All three are equipped in typical fashion of the era's heavy cavalry units, the cuirassiers, with three-quarter armor, different types of closed helmets with feather bushes on top, sword, and two pistols. All are pictured on horseback, aiming one of their pistols with their right hand, while the left hand holds the horse's reins. The riders mainly differ in the design of their helmets and, of course, their poses and those of their horses. The first cuirassier's horse is depicted in a slow walk, with its head turned left, while the rider is aiming his pistol at about 2 o'clock, as if he was shooting at something close by.

The second horse is shown as if rearing from something in front of it (or as if it was coming to a halt out of fast movement). Its rider is shown shortly before or after firing his pistol with his right hand, the pistol being held slightly upwards and at a target to the left, so his arm crosses in front of his chest.

In the third combination the horse is the same as the second one, but the rider is aiming his handgun at something in front and slightly to the right.

Assembly - and detailed look at a figure

Let's put one of the minis together to get a better feeling for how it looks and to check the quality of the fit. I decided to use one of the rondachiers as an example, as I liked the pose and facial expression a lot, and want to use the figure for a small vignette some time in the future. The first step was to clean up the mini a little, removing flash and doing away with moldlines. This was a very quick and easy affair, which only took me a few minutes, as the mini consisted only of the main body (torso, head and legs) in one piece and three additional pieces (arms and sword sheath) - and because the cast was nice and clean, and had only very little moldlines or other imperfections. As you can see on the pics of the mini above, there were absolutely no "holes" (from air bubbles) in the cast. In addition, the hard grey resin was very nice and easy to work with. As you can see on the following pic, which shows the mini with the pile of removed material, the biggest amount of superfluous stuff was from the little "base" under the mini's feet.

As is often the case with thin resin pieces such was weaponry, the rondachier's sword was a little bent. But this was easily fixed by carefully placing the sword into hot water and then straightening it on a flat surface.

Once that was taken care of, it was time to put the mini together. Using small amounts of superglue, I fixed the arms to the torso and put the sheath to its place. All fit together beautifully, and the smart construction of the arms' glue-points, which are hidden under the shoulder armor, ensures that the joint-lines would be invisible. Only where the sword sheath attaches to to the hip, there remained a fine gap between the sheath's top-edge and the lower parts of the bands/sash. But this gap was easily filled with a little bit of putty.

All in all, the whole assembly and preparation process, including cleaning up, straightening the sword and gluing the pieces together - and taking pictures, maybe took something like 15 minutes. I consider this very quick and a nice change to the tedious and time-consuming work that I often have to go through to prepare my miniatures. As you can see from the pics, the figure has a strong pose, is sculpted in a realistic, clean style with very convincing proportions, and especially the face is very lively and has lots of character. The sculpt might be a little on the simple side in terms of detail, but I consider this actually a benefit, as this might not only be realistic, but also leaves much room for us painters to use it as blank canvas - and caters to my own personal taste of preferring clean and not overly "cluttered" sculpts.

The Verdict

So, how do the minis fare and would I recommend them to our readers? To start with the latter: if you're interested in well-sculpted, historically accurate miniatures in 28mm (and larger) scales, Avanpost delivers excellent products. To sum up my insights on the former, here's a quick run-down of the pros and cons as I perceive them, based on the seven sample miniatures:

  • Avanpost delivers an interesting portfolio of historical miniatures: while the market of Napoleonic age minis is relatively well catered to by other companies, especially the early modern age minis are a nice and highly appreciated addition to existing product lines
  • the sculpting is nice and crisp, with realistic poses and characterful faces; I also found liked the sculpting of the horses very convincing, as they are portrayed in lively movement
  • the minis are sufficiently detailed for my personal taste (and probably historically correct), but fans of ultra-detailed sculpts might want a tad more "stuff"
  • the grey resin is of high quality and a pleasure to work with; the casts are flawless with hardly any flash or moldlines, and preparing and assemblying the minis is a quick and easy thing to do

In sum then, I would absolutely recommend you checking out Avanpost's product line. I plan to build a small vignette as an upcoming project using three (or so) of the early modern period minis as Conquistadors - stay tuned for that in some future feature.

Thanks for reading the review, folks. Make sure to check out Avanpost's exciting and expanding range of miniatures over at their Facebook site or contact Oleg directly through his gmail account. You also can find Avanpost minis through numerous online shops, your search engine of choice will lead you there. And, as always, feel free to drop me a line or two in the comments section, below.

Finally, If you are a producer of miniatures, models or mini-painting/model-related products and would like to see your product(s) reviewed here on Massive Voodoo, feel free to contact us!

Best, D.

Project diary: 1177 B.C. - Epilogue

by David

Hey all,

welcome to the final instalment of my project diary. If you're wondering what this is, please check the announcement post, in which I explain the motivation and general goals of the diary. At the bottom of that post, you will find a link to all parts of this series.

Wow - What a ride! When I had the idea to write this diary to document the progress of my first project in 2021, after a six-month hiatus and absence of painting mood and inspiration, I had no idea that it would be almost four months before I would be finished. I thought: this is gonna be a quick and fun project to get back into the groove. Similarly, I thought that the diary would consist of quick-and-dirty notes to document the project's progress. Well, it turned out quite a bit differently.

In fact: while the project turned out to be much more extensive, both in time and in scope, than I thought, it did rekindle my painting energies and motivation. Similarly, the diary turned out to be as much a way to collect my thoughts during the project as it came to be an accountability tool to track my progress. The feedback I got from my jungle brothers and some of our readers also greatly encouraged me to keep on going writing the diary.

So, and in the spirit of documenting my thoughts, before I leave the diary behind me I want to put together a few notes on what I want to take away from this little exercise:

  • Writing a project diary is fun and greatly helps documenting the different steps of a project.
  • Writing a project diary in a way that other people can read and, hopefully, understand the different steps of a project is lots of work; but if you do it for yourself, it will be quick and easy, and could be done in just a few hastily scribbled lines and observations after a painting session.
  • Painting skintones in 1/72 is great fun.
  • I still have not really grasped NMM - more studies to come.
  • I still have much to learn when it comes to recreating water - more studies to come.
  • It's great to be patient and to try different approaches and multiple times when I'm not super-satisfied with a part of the mini.
  • But then again, it's also fine not being super-satisfied with that part of the mini and leaving it the way it is, if continuing on would sap motivation. I can always come back to it - if I really want - later, when inspiration and motivation is back.

So, thanks for having joined me on this journey. As always, feel invited to drop me a line in the comments to let me know if you found this format interesting and if you'd like to see something like it again, sometime in the future. In the meantime, take care!

Best, D.

Project diary: 1177 B.C. - 10

by David

Hey all,

welcome to Page Ten of my project diary. If you're wondering what this is, please check the announcement post, in which I explain the motivation and general goals of the diary. At the bottom of that post, you will find a link to all parts of this series (constantly updated as soon as new articles are published).

We're on the finish-line, folks. This will be the penultimate installment of the project diary, and today, I will talk about finishing the base. This included three main steps:

  1. painting the base
  2. adding the "deep water"
  3. finalizing the water effect

But before we start, let's take another look at the project when we left it in Part Nine:

The first thing I did was painting the base. This included three parts: first, to finish the sand, giving it a little "depth". For that, I simply gave the sand a slight wash with a very diluted brown (VMC Smoke). Once that was dry, I drybrushed the sandy surface with the basecolor (VMC Dark Sand) and, finally, some Ivory to bring out the highlights a little. Second, I treated the parts of the base where I envisioned slightly "deeper" water with a diluted wash of VMC Emerald and, where the deepest part would be, a little VMC Turquoise. This, later, will simulate some depth in the water. Finally, I also painted the cast shadow of the miniature, taking into account the zenithal lighting situation and the idea that the Mediterranean sun is standing high and glaring in the sky. I didn't worry too much about getting the shadow totally and exactly right as the water, which will flow around the raider's legs would distort the shadow and lighting a bit.

Some turquoise to imitate the depth of water...
... and a little grey for the cast shadow.

The next step was all about that deep water-fun! As will all my water-works, I followed my MV jungle brother Josua's fantabulous 2K Water Tutorial. So, I started constructing the borders into which I would be pouring the resin water, using some cut-up transparent plastic sheet, which I then glued to the plinth.

... and after.

Once the borders had been put in place, I prepared everything for pouring the 2K resin. As noted, I follow the commandments laid down by Josua for all times in his excellent tutorial. But as described in a previous tutorial of mine, in addition I like to stir the resin while bathing the container in a mug of hot water. This makes the resin "runnier", i.e., more liquid and like water - it becomes easier to pour and there will be fewer air bubbles. And that's exactly what I did with this base as well. Once the 2K resin was nicely mixed, I used a single-use plastic pipette and carefully let the liquid run into the area. I used a toothpick to make sure it spread everywhere I wanted and to remove the two or three tiny air bubbles that occured at the edges. And with this, I left the project to rest for about 24 hours.

All prepared for the resin pour...
... and done. The cent piece under the plinth ensures that the resin will remain mostly at the left side of the base.

Once the resin was hardened, I returned to the project and - as always when working with 2K water - was a little anxious about what would await me when I would remove the barriers. Well... Overall, I was happy with the result. BUT: there were two issues that needed work before I could finish the water. First: When I super-glued the barriers onto the plinth, a little bit of glue had snuck up and laid itself on top of the already painted sand area. Once I removed the barriers, the superglue stuck to the barriers, and I removed it along with the barriers, leaving a little hole or tunnel at the bottom of the 2K water.

There's a hole in the resin...

The second issue was that, despite the "genious" trick of positioning the plinth on a one-cent piece, a little bit of resin had run along the edges and now there was water where none should be:

... and some superfluous resin.

I first addressed the second issue, cutting away the superfluous resin that had run along the edges of the barrier. Along with the resin, I of course removed some of the "sand", so I had to recreate it with a little bit of Milliput, which was then painted. Then, I took on the first problem - simply by painting the sandy surface below the "deep" water and then adding a little UV-hardening resin into the "tunnel". When that was cured, I gave everything a nice little sanding to even the surfaces.

Then, it was time to add the waves. For that, I used Vallejo Water Texture, a thick, gooey acrylic gel that is white-opaque when it comes out of the container, but becomes transparent when it cures. With this, I did two rounds of adding waves, trying to recreate the look of surf at the beach, and letting the first layer cure before adding a second one.

Adding waves.
Layer one...
... cured and transparen.

Once the second "wave-layer" was cured, I added a bit more acrylic gel here and there, and added a tiny bit of Vallejo Still Water on the beach, where no waves would be. I did this, first, to give the sand the impression of wetness and, second, to smoothen the transition between "waves" and "sand".

And a second layer.

However, when I looked at the scene with a fresh set of eyes before starting to put the whitewater on the waves, I was not really happy with the look and "feel" of the waves. I was not really sure what it was, but when I compared the waves with images of "the real thing", something was off. So, and as so often with my projects, I decided to take a radical step - and put a sharp scalpel blades to the waves, which allowed me to start from scratch with modeling the waves...

Off to a fresh start

Thankfully, I remembered that I had seen a tutorial on modelling a beach scene some time ago, over on YouTube. This I decided to follow slavishly. So, I started out with carefully making the waves again, in a more realistic fashion. For the whitewater, I mixed the acrylic gel with a tiny bit of acrylic white color and some microballoons, usually used for recreating snow, and carefully added it to the waves. Finally, when all was dried and hardened, I gave the whole surface a slapping of some Still Water effect to restore the shininess. The last bit of work was some light and careful sanding, polishing, and gloss-coating of the sides of the hardened 2K-resin to make it nice and smooth.

Adding the waves...
... take two.

Looking back, to be honest, I was not super-satisfied with the result of my second water experiment, as I find the waves a bit too shallow and I dit not manage to recreate those little foamy crests. I also do not find the water lapping up the raider's hind-legs particularly convincing. But I decided to call it a day and leave it as is.

For the absolute final step, I checked the figure for some last-minute corrections. The only thing that I decided to do was to repair two little specks at the mini's sword-hand where I accidentally removed some paint during the sanding, and on the lower side of the shield, which had mistakenly been hit with some water texture. I also made my peace with the sword, deciding to leave it as it was. Then I painted the plinth black. I really like the effect of a deep-black painted plinth, which, in my eyes, serves as a nice and strongly contrasted "frame" to the scene, driving home the idea that the mini-and-base combination is a small sliver "taken out of some larger environment". I painted two layers, using cheap acrylic black color, and in between I carefully sanded the surface with fine-grit sandpaper. This makes the paint really nice and smooth. As a last thing, I added my signature at the base of the plinth - for me, this always signals a project's completion.

The final thing.

And that's that. For the final presentation, I will put a small, plaque on the plinth, which I'll have custom-made for this project by my friend Conny over at Fredericus Rex! I will post some final, good pictures at the blog once I have made them. In the meantime, and as always, feel invited to drop me a line in the comments? I hope to see you soon in the Epilogue for a quick debriefing!!

Best, D.