Sunday, May 29, 2011

Unboxing: Games Workshop Finecast Huron Blackheart

With all the hubbub over the last couple of weeks regarding Games Workshop's Finecast branded models, I thought it would be a good idea to pick up a Huron Blackheart model and do an unboxing, to see just how good these are.


Finecast models now come in a clam pack type of packaging. This new packaging really helps promote the visibility of the model. And when you actually see the models on their sprue, it becomes very apparent why Games Workshop switched packaging, as they would never have fit in the previous design blister pack.

The new Finecast Huron Blackheart in clam pack, front view.

Games Workshop has done a very nice job with this new packaging. They have taken the opportunity to update the look and feel of the packaging so it displays more nicely on peg displays. It's easier to search the rack for what you need, because there are full colour pictures representation of the painted model inside. So if you know what you are looking for by sight, it makes searching less organised racks much faster.

This packaging also allows you to view the contents of the clam pack, to check the quality of the model before you purchase it. It also gives a nice visceral feel to buying these models as you can easily grab a few clam packs of various models, and sort through them as you decide what to get. Being able to view the models can sometimes make or break that decision. In this case, it actually helped me decide to buy Huron, as I was never impressed with the metal version of this model, but the detail I could see was enough to convince me this model was far superior.

Huron is clearly visible from the back, making selection easier!

The other nice thing about these clam packs is the flat shape. Which means they hang very nicely on the rack, and they also stack and pack more neatly, for those of you who are hoarders, or like to collect a whole army before building it, and so keep it neatly tucked away until then.


One of the other improvements they have made to the clam pack is to eliminate the need to cut it open. Behind the hanger hole, you will find two slots that are die cut into the back of the clam pack. The purpose of these is to create a tear tab. If you carefully lift it up, and then pull it back, you will be able to tear the clam pack open for easy access to the miniature!

This tab makes the clam pack easy to open without tools!

A word of warning is probably advised here, be careful not to overdo the tearing, as you could potentially send the parts flying, and accidentally cause damage if you exert enough pressure as to bend or break the frame. But with care, you can easily open the clam pack and remove the contents.

Carefully peel back the tab to open the clam pack.

Tear across the top to make the opening big enough to remove the model.

Having removed the model from the packaging, let's take a closer look. Here are some close up pictures showing the model on the frame. As you can see, there is a lot of flash, and there are also a lot of runners, gates, and air vents. This is necessary for resin to ensure the mould is completely filled, and to reduce internal voids and surface bubbles.

Front: Huron and Axe arm.

Back: Huron and Axe arm.

Front: Backpack, claw arm, and pet.

Back: Backpack, claw arm, and pet.


Having unpacked the miniature, it is time to start the building process. The first thing to do is to carefully remove all of the parts from the frames. Using flat sided hobby clippers, carefully clip the runners about 1mm from the model. This helps prevent damaging the model with the clippers. It also leaves little gate debris on the model. By leaving about 1mm, there is enough material you can easily get a hobby knife behind it and gently slice the sprue off the model.

As you cut the model, you will find that the resin is actually very pliable. It is easy to clip, and because it is so flexible, you are not as likely to damage the model if it were to flex, which often happens with delicate plastic model bits.

Here you can see Huron and all the bits removed from the model. Notice the gates and large flash I left on the model. You should also be mindful of small parts during this stage. If you are not careful, you can easily mistake a small delicate part for sprue, and either cut through it, or discard it with the frame!

Everything is neatly clipped. Watch for small parts, like Huron's Thumb!

Once all the parts are clipped from the frame, it is time to start deflashing. Unfortunately, I have no pictures of this process. The best way I've found to deflash a resin model like this is to start with a soft to medium bristled toothbrush and gently scrub the model. Be careful during this step as fragile parts can be easily bent, or broken, especially if there are voids in the model. This step will help quickly remove all the papery flash without needing to slice into it.

If this does not remove all of the papery flash, that's OK. You can clean that up in the next step, with a hobby knife. In this step, first you should gently cut off any of the thicker papery flash, air vents, and the large gates. The knife will cut through this very easily, so be very gentle. Make short controlled strokes, so the knife does not go out of control and gouge the model, or worse, slice your hand open. When cutting off the gates, tackle them a small bit at a time. It's easy to whittle the gates off in this way, and it will help you avoid damaging the surface of the model, as well as leave a nice clean finish.

After the paper flash, vents, and gates have been removed, you can then use the knife in a scraping manner to scrape off the lines of flash. Do this in a fashion similar to deflashing plastic, by gently running the blade along the flash line. Due to imperfections, you may find it necessary to slice along the flash. If you do, remember to do it in short controlled strokes, holding the knife close to the blade so it's easier to control. You can also use a needle file, or a very fine grit emery board, but do so very carefully as it's easy to be too aggressive and remove more material than intended. A very gentle touch is what's needed here.

Remember to be careful during this process. It's all to easy to cut a gouge into the model, or break some of the more fragile parts off. This is normally not something that would be an issue with metal models, but the trade offs are worth it for the final resulting quality, and repairs are easy and nearly seamless. Even doing this carefully, I actually broke two parts off the model during cleaning!

Even some of the more robust parts can be broken, despite how careful you are.

Repair and Assembly

Once you have all of the parts deflashed, you can start assembling. Before you do that though, this is a good time to inspect the model for damage, bubbles, and large voids. You will often find bent parts as well, and this is a good time to straighten them.

Damage is usually obvious, because a part has broken off, or there is a gouge, or some large visible imperfection, in this case, the large chaos symbol on the backpack was broken, as well as one of the liquid phials on his hip. Bubbles usually appear as small pin holes in the surface. If you look at the pet, you can see a few bubbles on the rump of the creature. Voids are, essentialy, large bubbles that usually manifest inside the model, but can also appear as large holes on the surface. In this case, the left shoulder pad had a void on the plate.

Fixing these imperfections can be relatively easy. The wonderful thing about resin models is that when they break, they usually break cleanly, and a small dab of superglue and a few minutes holding the part in place are enough to fix it. This resin is porous enough that the superglue bonds very well, and a little goes a long way. In fact, the broken parts were so well attached after I repaired them, that they seem stronger after the repair.

Voids and large bubbles can be repaired using some modelling putty or greenstuff. Just fill the hole and smooth it out with a sculpting tool. Small bubbles can easily be filled with superglue, and a little baking soda. In this case, I chose to leave the voids on Huron, as it seemed to fit in well with all the battle damage. I did fill in the bubbles on his pet though.

Due to the nature of the casting process, it's very common to find you have bent resin parts. With metal, you could usually apply a little pressure and bend such things back, but with resin, you must be careful not to break the part when bending.

On this model, I found that I had to straighten some of the chaos spikes, one of the phials, as well as his axe. To make it easier, and to avoid breakage, a very simple method is to hold the part in hot water for about a minute. The resin will soften up nicely and you can very easily bend the part back to shape. Once you are happy with the shape, dip the part in cold water for about a minute. This will make the resin harden up and keep the new shape. This is also useful for repositioning limbs, or other slender body parts.

It's also a good idea to wash the parts before assembly. As surely, during deflashing, there will be remnants of dust and debris that may stick to the model. Cleaning it now will prevent that debris from becoming a problem later when you start gluing things together and find that a part does not fit because there is a chunk of material that got stuck where it shouldn't.

Final assembly is very simple. While a metal model may require that you pin the parts together to ensure a strong bond, the resin is light enough that pinning is largely unnecessary for most models, though you may still want to consider pinning for larger models, or models with fragile connection points.

Make sure the joints are clean, and before gluing, dry fit the parts to ensure there is no additional scraping necessary to fit the part. Apply the glue with a fine tipped applicator. A small amount of superglue on one side of the joint is all it takes. Spread it out evenly, and gently press and hold the parts together for about 45-60 seconds. This will ensure the glue is absorbed into the porous resin on both parts, and create a very good bond. In this case, less is more, so be careful not to over do it, or the joint may be weakened.

Finished Assembly

Here is the final product. As you can see, the detail is very fine. I have seen a lot of Huron Blackheart models, and every one I've seen has had a tremendous loss of detail around the head, and the damaged portion of the torso and legs. The Finecast model, however, is very clean and crisp. It's much better than the metal model for retention of fine detail, casting quality, as well as ease of assembly. The quality alone was enough to make me choose this model for the unboxing, as I have refused to purchase a metal Huron Blackheart, because of all the flaws.

"Join me! Together we can put an end to this destructive conflict...."

Here you can see the shoulder pad damage due to a void. I carved it out to look
like damage instead of build it back up.

The backpack required extra care between the exhausts. The Chaos Star looks
much nicer after it's been repaired and straightened in hot water.

The damaged leg and head detail is superb on the resin model, far superior
to the equivalent metal model, where they ended up as just blobs on most casts.

Time Savings

All told, I spent about 3 hours working on this model. Most of that was in deflashing. It was not difficult, just time consuming because there was so much. And this model actually had minor flash compared to some of the others out there. Mind you, the average builder may not spend as much time deflashing as I did, but I wanted to treat this model right, plus I hate flash and mould lines, so tend to spend longer cleaning them up. That aside, this model could have easily been built very quickly.

In fact, the amount of time saved just from not requiring pinning is amazing, allowing you to build models more quickly and, as a result, get more models built. This model only took 5 minutes to assemble! As I said, deflashing is still a relatively time consuming process, especially if you are as picky about it as I can be, but for those not as picky about flash and mould lines, or making repairs, it is fair to say that a Finecast model can be cleaned and assembled in minutes, rather than hours that many metal models would potentially require.


After having spent a lot of time cleaning, repairing, and building this model for you to preview, I decided one more thing was required. There has been much talk about the durability of the Finecast resin. All along, I planned to conduct a test of the durability, by conducting a drop test from table height, onto a hard floor, to simulate potential falls off the game table.  As I built the model, and discovered how fragile it was, I approached this final test with a little trepidation. I was almost sure that the model would break at the repair points, and suspected the thumb might break at the join.

With great trepidation, I placed the model on the edge of my workbench, and pushed it off, to simulate an elbow or a sleeve knocking it off a game table. The model did have some breakage, and as I suspected would happen, part of the chaos star and the thumb snapped, but not where or how I expected. Amazingly, the superglued repair and joints were very strong. Had this been a metal miniature, it surely would have smashed into it's component parts without pinning, and probably been bent if it was pinned. But the resin on the Finecast models is flexible enough to absorb major impacts, resulting in minor damage at worst, based on this test.

The picture below shows the damage that actually occurred. The talon broke off the thumb, and one of the spikes on the chaos star broke as well.

Momma! I got a booboo!!!

Wanting to repair the model, I was not holding up hopes that I would be able to recover the tiny parts that snapped off but I was very lucky and found them quickly. I repaired the model right away (though I considered leaving the chaos star as it was because it looked appropriate) and the damage is almost imperceptible after the repair.

Almost like it was never broken!

I also planned to do a 6 foot drop, just for laughs, but after the results of the 3 foot drop, ended up changing my mind on that one. After all, it's only occasionally that I drop my whole army from a height of 6 feet while moving it to the basement, and it shattering on the concrete floor below...

Final Impression

Overall, I'm very pleased with the Finecast Huron Blackheart, and believe this is a good start to a great brand for Games Workshop. The details are very crisp and clear. The material is soft and easy to cut and clean, so it will make excellent conversion fodder. It is also flexible, and will avoid snapping if bent, though I advise not to push the limits. It is heat malleable, and easy to permanently bend or straighten. The joints are very crisp and make for excellent adhesion with super glue, and because the model is light enough and the joins solid enough, I doubt pinning will be required for most models, though it may be something to consider for the larger models with large wings, and the like.

The only negatives I can see are inherent problems that occur in resin casting. First, I must point at the imperfections in the surface of the model, with bubbles and voids. This is actually quite common across the line of models, as I looked at most of the available models when I purchased this model. So, this makes these models a more advanced level due to the methods required to repair such imperfections. It is also something that I hope Games Workshop will be able to reduce as they gain more expertise with their new casting system.

The second issue I have is due to the huge number of gates on the new frame. There are so many of gates on the models, and some of them are in very questionable places, resulting in difficult to clean chunks on the models.

Third, resin can only withstand so much punishment, and I fear that as Games Workshop expands the Finecast line of models, they will end up making thinner and thinner parts, which will inherently be more fragile. A good example of this happening already is with the Forgeworld models, with super thin sword blades and hilts, causing broken parts which become very difficult to repair.

Negatives aside, I think this is a great product line, and look forward to seeing all the new models that are forthcoming.


  1. Star... thank you so much for this. It really lets me know that spending that little bit extra that GW has charged for the Finecasts are worth it. Yeah there are going to be more vents and gates to clean up... but it looks like it actually a well seated mold. One of the things that has irritated me for years is how you will get metal pieces that the mold shifted so the piece is almost unusable. I cant wait to get my hands on a Finecast now. For me I think my first one is going to be Njal

  2. Good choice. Njal is a really nice model in Finecast. He was on my short list. I was also considering getting Canis for a side by side comparison between metal and Finecast, but decided to get some Raptors instead, as I plan on doing a conversion.

    Watch for a future article comparing some metal and resin raptors in the near future!

  3. I am going to replace all of my SW characters in Finecast... drop some weight out of my case. Plus I like the idea of all of my TWC being resin. Also... I might be crazy... but I think that Finecast Logan is slightly larger than the old metal one.

  4. still can't convince me the price hike is justified. But excellent review and I am fan of getting away from metal by all manufactures. The detail on the models does look much sharper than the metal equivalents. I think that will help move the line. The clamshell design are about 5 years too late in coming. Shame shame that is actually a very dynamic and attractive packaging compared to the old blister packs that only had the models and a black and white label telling you what they were. So I do applaud the result of what fine cast is. But I boo heavily the pricing on it and the increase that gw has done line wide with the launch.

  5. Thank you very much for the detailed post!

    As a gamer I can see some of the advantages to the new product, and appreciate the review.

    As a corporate business professional, I understand the costs associated with such a major format change for GW. I see such things every day in my work.

    However, I also see those companies decide that those are the costs of business or in being competitive, and NOT increase prices.

    Only time will tell if finecast is accepted well by the community, and if GW has sound long term business practices will remain to be seen.

    thanks again for the post!

  6. Thanks for this. I built my Huron last night and will try my hand at painting him soon. I haven't picked up a brush in ages but these new resin models caught my attention. I'm planning on keeping a log of my progress as well:

  7. Glad to do it. I've checked out your blog, David. Welcome back to 40K. Look forward to seeing your painting progress.

  8. Thanks for the review of the finecast model, I got to see them this weekend but have not handled one yet.

  9. Thank you for a fantastic article. I recieved my first finecast models yesterday in the post, so have been scouring the web looking for tips and such before making a start on assembling them.


  10. Great article. Very balanced perspective. I've read the GW staffers and their perfunctory: "It's all great!", and the naysayers countering that the 2nd-worst move since they banned Internet sales from anywhere but GW's own site.

    Nice job. Thank you for our time on it.