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Profile for Neil Laughlin > Reviews


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Neil Laughlin RSS Feed (San Jose, CA USA)

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Privateer Press - Hordes - Circle Orboros: Tharn Ravagers Model Kit
Privateer Press - Hordes - Circle Orboros: Tharn Ravagers Model Kit
Offered by Big Bang Toys Comics Games
Price: $39.97
8 used & new from $34.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Acceptable if Bland Resculpt, March 10, 2014
This six pack of Tharn Ravagers is a set of 28mm miniatures for Privateer Press's Hordes wargame line. Hordes, fully compatible with Privateer's Warmachine line, is a tabletop skirmish-level wargame focuses on powerful warlocks who command raging beasts and mighty soldiers. Tharn Ravagers are heavy infantry belonging to the Circle Orboros faction, a group of druids and their servants dedicated to maintaining balance between civilization and the forces of the wild. The Tharn are towering, cannibalistic barbarians, akin to ogres in more classical mythology.

These Tharn Ravagers are a plastic resculpt replacing an older set of metal miniatures. Assembly took some time, and required dealing with a number of challenging mold lines, including some particularly problematic lines on their studded vambraces and on one model's face. Fitting the pieces together, particularly heads and arms, also required some gap-filling epoxy to plug some significant gaps. On top of the fit issues, I found the sculpts themselves to be somewhat bland. There are only three distinct models among six miniatures, and the distinctive "belts" made of torn off arms from the metal miniatures are missing entirely. The end result, particularly with the default paint style shown on the box, is a rather generic-looking set of ogres that my wife thinks resemble Tahitian dancers more than cannibal warriors. (I've taken to inappropriately singing Aloha Oe while painting my set.)

Overall, while not a bad product, I am a little underwhelmed by these guys when compared to some of Privateer's more distinctive offerings, and wish they'd kept more of the savage flavor of their metal predecessors.

Privateer Press MIN Calaban The Grave Walker Model Kit
Privateer Press MIN Calaban The Grave Walker Model Kit
Price: $15.84
7 used & new from $9.50

5.0 out of 5 stars Solid Gator Goodness, February 26, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is a warlock (leader) unit for the Blackwater Congregation Minion faction of the Hordes miniatures wargame published by Privateer Press. Mechanically, Calaban was one of the first Blackwater Congregation warlocks, and is a solid warlock that backs up some necromantic powers reminiscent of the Cryx faction with decent durability and combat prowess. He's probably not the most powerful Blackwater Congregation warlock these days, but he's not bad.

Physically, this was a well-constructed miniature, easy to assemble with a minimum of issues with bad mold lines or weird connection points. It took me about thirty minutes to prep, clean, and assemble. The only problematic area was the tail, where there were mold lines over some of the delicate scale texture, requiring some extra care. Made out of metal and with a medium (40mm) base size, he's a pretty chunky, hefty guy. Overall, he was a fun, quick paint job, and will be striking on the gaming table.

In general, if you're looking for a witch doctor gatorman miniature, I'd recommend this one highly.

Hordes Gargantuans (SC)
Hordes Gargantuans (SC)
Offered by GAME Face
Price: $21.00
11 used & new from $9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Huge Addition to the Warmachine/Hordes Line, November 16, 2013
This review is from: Hordes Gargantuans (SC) (Toy)
If you're familiar with Hordes or its big brother Warmachine, you know that they are two parts of a miniatures wargame about enormous raging beasts battling each other, as well as multi-ton steam-powered mecha, under control of warrior-mage warlocks. It's a rich setting, with extensive story-driven plot and background.

Mechanically, this book continues the introduction of huge-based miniatures, in this case gargantuan warbeasts to parallel Warmachine's colossals. As a casual player, I found the colossals impressive, but a major purchase and time investment to paint, so the value of a book with rules focused on more colossals seemed limited to me. As a result, I didn't rush out and buy Gargantuans right away. That was my mistake! Privateer Press did an excellent job stuffing this book with content, including new warlocks, units, and of course the exciting new gargantuans. Gargantuans are some of the biggest and most expensive units to grace the battlefield. By most reports, Privateer Press did an excellent job with the gargantuans in terms of balance, making them excellent units without being overpowering. Walking through the gargantuans, I like the new models for all four core factions, with each one looking like they would be a solid addition to a Hordes army.

The warlocks introduced in this book look generally solid, with the goat-mounted (seriously!) Circle Orboros warlock Morvahna the Dawnshadow and the Blindwater Congregation's first bog trog warlock as particular standouts in my eyes. The biggest improvement over Warmachine: Colossals is that in addition to a new warlock and gargantuan, the book also introduces a number of new units, warbeasts, and solos per faction. The variety of options this book adds to the game makes it a standout, with intriguing units like the Legion of Everblight Beast Mistress and the Warmachine-friendly Gobber Tinker standing metaphorically shoulder-to-shoulder with their taller gargantuan brethren.

Overall, Hordes: Gargantuans is a must-have for fans of Privateer Press's miniatures wargame. If the game interests you at all, you should pick up a copy at once!

MacGregor Batting Tee
MacGregor Batting Tee
Price: $17.04
19 used & new from $17.04

3.0 out of 5 stars Adequate, March 8, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: MacGregor Batting Tee (Sports)
At first glance, this looked like it was going to be an excellent tee for practicing hitting with my team of 6-8 year olds. Unfortunately, the rubber tip of the tee split within the first three weeks of use. Anyone who has ever coached young boys will recognize that they are instinctually compelled to abuse the tee by hitting the top of it with their bats, which is definitely not ideal for the tee. However, I would expect a $30 tee to be designed to tolerate this sort of use and not split into two pieces. It was an easy repair with duct tape reinforcement, but if I were buying another tee, I would look for other options before buying this tee again.

Warmachine Colossals (SC)
Warmachine Colossals (SC)
Price: $24.90
9 used & new from $19.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fluffy, March 8, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Yes, I said it: Colossals is fluffy.

If you're familiar with Warmachine, you know that it's a miniatures wargame about massive steam-driven mecha battling each other under control of warrior-mage warcasters. It's a rich setting, with extensive story-driven plot and background. Mechanically, this book changes the game significantly, introducing the powerful new huge-based colossals, the biggest and most expensive units to grace the battlefield. Privateer Press did an excellent job with the colossals in terms of balance, making them excellent units without being overpowering. Some of the colossal descriptions lack the flavor of previous units (big gun? yawn), but on the whole the colossals are a bright new star in the game.

In addition, the book also introduces a new warcaster for each faction. The warcasters are interesting, and generally seem to be strong additions to the game. They also fill in some of the thematic gaps created by the last Warmachine supplement, Wrath. For example, the Cygnar faction receives a warcaster with a theme list that supports using the Wrath-introduced Cygnar battle engine, the Stormstrider. That's a definite plus.

And that's basically it for the book. Past the warcaster and the colossals, the book contains a set of rules for playing extremely large-scale battles using full collections of miniatures, and a lot of short stories. Both the new rules and the short stories are interesting to read through, but they are not nearly as exciting as the plethora of new units introduced in a typical Warmachine sourcebook. Overall, I'm glad I picked this book up based on the quality of the colossals and the new warcasters, but I hope that future Warmachine supplements spend more pages introducing the new units that are truly the heart of the game.

Proctor Silex K5070 Electric Kettle [Kitchen]
Proctor Silex K5070 Electric Kettle [Kitchen]
Offered by Westelks Bargains
Price: $45.48

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Durable, but Lacking Key Features, November 21, 2011
We upgraded to this Proctor Silex Electric Kettle when our inexpensive previous kettle stopped working after six years. Unfortunately, in comparison to the previous discount kettle, this more expensive model lacked several features that turned out to be key to a good experience:

1) No automatic shutoff when the water is hot. The pot will keep boiling water until there isn't any left, leaving lime crust on the heating element.
2) No filter on the spout. This means lime crust will come out in the boiled water, if you've allowed the kettle to accumulate it.
3) The plug and kettle are one unit, not two, meaning you have to haul the entire piece to the sink to fill it.
4) The plug itself is very short, making the kettle difficult to maneuver on a crowded cabinet.

For certain types of users who want to keep water boiling and fill it out of a teapot or other container, this is probably a solid kettle. For someone prone to the distractions of small children and looking for more convenience than a short-plugged, one-piece unit offers, I recommend looking elsewhere.

Warhammer: The Island of Blood
Warhammer: The Island of Blood

53 of 53 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars (Sort of) A Great Introduction to Warhammer, August 19, 2011
= Durability:3.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:3.0 out of 5 stars 
Island of Blood is intended to be an introductory set for the Warhammer fantasy wargame, a deep and well-developed line of collectible miniature soldiers. I purchased Island of Blood as a way to get back into Warhammer after several decades away from the hobby, so I had some familiarity with the game ahead of time, but needed a good way to return to the hobby. This set is a fantastic purchase in terms of providing an economical entry into the game, delivering over 70 miniatures from two well-developed, competitive armies -- the elite, noble High Elves and the treacherous, swarming Skaven rat-men. There are some excellent models in the set: the High Elf prince on a griffon is striking, the High Elf mage will stand out in any army, and the Skaven are an impressive horde of verminous evil. Everything in the box is useful as the basis of a larger Warhammer army as well, making this set an excellent starting point for building a larger army of either force.

The minature rulebook alone is another great feature. Small and light on fluff, it's easy to carry around and use, unlike the beautiful, immense, and expensive core rulebook. The templates, dice, and rangefinder are also a handy set of additions.

The downside of this set is that in some significant ways, it's incomplete. Painting kits have to be purchased separately, but aren't strictly necessary to play the game. However, what I found a significant gap, dropping this to four stars, is the lack of complete statistics for the units in the box. The back of the rulebook contains a table of the base stats of all the units available in the Warhammer line at the time the set was published, but it includes no detailed information on any units' special rules or abilities. After the rulebook discussed the possible special rules at great length, I would have been much happier to know what my Rat Ogres or Poisoned Wind Mortar did in the game. Within a week, I returned to the nearest game store to pick up the High Elf and Skaven Army books so I could actually play with the full rules for each of the models in the set. If Games Workshop publishes another set of this sort, my hope is that they'll provide a full set of statistics for all the units so they can be played as intended.

EDIT: By visiting the manufacturer's web site, I found "The Island of Blood: Reference Sheet," which contains a simplified version of the unit-specific rules for the units in this set. It's a decent fix for my main problem with this set, if still not complete.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 23, 2014 2:17 PM PDT

Schylling Ambi  Focus Pocus
Schylling Ambi Focus Pocus
Offered by Angel's Attic Resale
Price: $16.73
6 used & new from $6.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars But here's the best part!, December 27, 2010
= Durability:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:3.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Schylling Ambi Focus Pocus (Toy)
Sure, it's a simple toddler's toy that pops out a funny face when you push the button. But here's the best part: simple packaging! It took 8 seconds to get it out of its cardboard housing, with nary a twist tie in sight.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus!

Ayakashi: Samurai Horror Tales, Vol. 2 - Yotsuya Ghost Story
Ayakashi: Samurai Horror Tales, Vol. 2 - Yotsuya Ghost Story
DVD ~ Ayakashi-Samurai Horror Tales
2 used & new from $49.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Passable Samurai-Period Psychological Horror, May 16, 2008
The second story arc of the Ayakashi series focuses on a playwright's recounting of the story of the kabuki play Yotsuya Kaidan. The real play is a recounting of a series of murders and hauntings in Bunsei-era (early 19th century) Japan based loosely on a combination of actual events. This anime is interesting in that it exposes a Western audience to a major work of Japanese drama, animated in a comparatively realistic, serious fashion. I suspect that to Japanese audiences it was the Western equivalent of watching an animated adaptation of Macbeth.

If this review makes this anime sound somewhat esoteric, then I've done my job. It's a challenge to judge the literary merit of a horror anime about a famous kabuki play most Westerners have never heard of. If you aren't interested in kabuki, you would likely experience this anime as a samurai-period drama with supernatural elements about villainous people doing awful things to each other and their unfortunate victims before karma catches up to them. If you're on a limited budget or want to see the best of what Ayakashi has to offer, skip straight to Ayakashi - Samurai Horror Tales, Vol. 3 - Goblin Cat.

Night Below Booster Pack: A D&D Miniatures Product (Dungeons & Dragons Miniatures Game)
Night Below Booster Pack: A D&D Miniatures Product (Dungeons & Dragons Miniatures Game)
by Wizards Team
Edition: Misc. Supplies
10 used & new from $21.69

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars High Quality, Low Thrills, August 27, 2007
This is the thirteenth set of plastic miniatures released in the D&D Miniatures line, and has the loose theme of "things you might find in a dungeon." Visually, this set's packaging looks a lot like the previous Unhallowed set, to the point I had to doublecheck I hadn't ordered one of those accidentally. In earlier editions of the miniatures line, there were reports of boxes being steamed open and resealed after the removal of rare minis; the good news is that Wizards of the Coast has made substantial improvements in packaging over the last few releases, and this set has the interleaved box openings that meant I had no concerns that the packs I purchased might have been opened already.

In terms of the miniatures themselves, I found them to be up to the higher standard of the Unhallowed and Blood War sets, and a great improvement over earlier sets like Angelfire. Unfortunately, this leads into my chief complaint about the set. I primarily use D&D Miniatures when running D&D as a tabletop game. While this set is well-executed and looks about as nice as inexpensive pre-painted plastic miniatures can be, there aren't very many figures in the Night Below set that make me want to buy many packs of it. The shadow is one highlight of the set; molded from translucent, smoky plastic, it is an excellent example of what can be done in plastic, but not in metal. Of the five epic figures in the set, two are distinctive human heroes from specific D&D settings; while they are exciting for Dragonlance or Forgotten Realms fans, in any other setting they're just another random adventurer. The three new dragons (including the epic large gold dragon) are a nice addition, and a couple of interesting mounted figures suggest some potential uses, but on the whole I found the set less inspiring than Blood War, War of the Dragon Queen, or other more strongly-themed releases.

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