Aug 9, 2013

Review Mongoose Victory at Sea Miniatures

NOTE 11-08-2015: It seems that Mongoose hasn't been able to make good on their promises for this line. After 2 years of silence they have slowly pulled their remaining ships from their webstore. No information is available of this line still being continued in one way or another and no concrete news about it has been given by Mongoose for 2 years now. For me this is rather disappointing since I really loved the miniatures and would have endorsed them wholeheartedly if Mongoose would have launched the line. Since it is now 2015, I really have to conclude that Mongoose is not a company that you can rely on to make good on their promises. Alas.....

Hello all!

Finally I got my hands on the Victory at Sea ship miniatures from Mongoose Publishing. Ever since War at Sea was discontinued by WoTC I've been searching for nice miniatures in the 1/1800 scale to expand my collection.

Mongoose had announced their new line pretty short after WaS was discontinued. It took some time though
before they ended up on my desk since Mongoose did not make their release deadlines (still don't, the Denmark Strait set was set for Juli) and it seems to be pretty hard to get my hands on the ships in a FLGS in the Netherlands.

Nevertheless, I finally recieved my box with the Battle of the river Plate set and it's time for a little review!

Birth Pangs
Unfortunately, that review had to wait... As some of you already know, the VaS miniatures come with a base cast on. I'm not against bases (since I base every ship I paint or build), but the bases of the ships I received in my first set were warped and tilted in such a degree that I had to start my review not with the ships, but with the Mongoose customer service. I decided that I was not going to settle for this kind of quality, even when it only concerned the bases.

After a short mail to Matthew I immediately received a reply with his apologies and a few days later replacement ships arrived in the mail. So in all honesty, thats full points for the customer service. It is interesting to note that the replacement ships I got were a different quality/resin casting. Mongoose has recently moved their production facilities to the UK, and it seems the quality improved with the change of manufacturer. The replacement ships I recieved had much better cast bases on them, so I finally could get started!
 photo Ajax1.jpg

(after a lot of sanding and adding some plasticcard underneath the bases of my first ships I even got those to an acceptable level, so I ended up with 7 ships in the end)

The replacement ships had much better bases and were made out of a grey resin

I really dont care for packaging to be honest. So for me the most important thing is if it gets me my stuff in one piece. Which it did. The box looks a bit bland with just a photo of the ships on the front. Mongoose could do with a little bit of artwork...

The ships themselves are amazing! I have to admit that coming from WaS with its notoriously bad sculpts
Spare parts!
(not all of them) does not give me credit for judging these sculpts, but being an avid scratchbuilder and boasting a pretty high level of detail on my scratchbuilds, none of my own creations come near the amount of detail on these ships. Secondaries, lifeboats and torpedo tubes are clearly visible and highly detailed (the barrels of the small guns are unbelievably thin). The casts are resin and I did not have to remove any flash or strange bulbs. So they were practically perfect casts. Masts, guns and some other parts (like the bridge structure of Graf Spee) were cast in metal and provided on a seperate sprue. It is interesting to note that Mongoose provides one extra sprue of metal parts for each ship in case of damage. Since I had no damaged items that left me with an impressive amount of spare metal 6", 8" and 11" guns... thats scratchbuilders gold! I only found one little flaw in the sculpts: some of the hulls had some kind of 'fingerprint' lines over them that I could not completely sand away. A minor issue though. Another issue is the....

Yep, I just need to put this in. Being a great fan of basing my ships myself I can see the advantages of producing the ships with cast-on bases. It provides a bit of mass to the little ships, gives a uniform appearance and its handy for gaming purposes. The thing is, I am still not overwhelmed by the quality of the bases. Eventhough the new batch of ships had much better bases than the first, there was still a slight tilt in some of them and sometimes a slight difference in thickness between the different bases. This might not be a bother to most people, it still is to me. If I make plasticcard bases or order my bases from Reacher (my supplier at the AAminis Forum) I am 100% sure they will all be the same thickness. With a little bit of polishing though, sanding the corners of the bases a bit so they become rounded, adding some water effects and a nametag, I find them acceptable. But it still is the difference between 8/10 and 9/10 for me for the minis.

Unique sculpts
There is one other thing I should mention. Since the set included Ajax and Achilles, both Leander class cruisers, it would be logical to include two identical Leander Class sculpts. I noticed though, that both are unique sculpts. There are little differences between both ships that give a nice touch of individuality. I even ended up with 3 unique sculpts because one of the replacement ships I recieved was another unique sculpt. Awesome!

In the end I am very exited about the Mongoose ships. They are very detailed and I will certainly keep an eye on their product line. To bad they lag behind their production schedule, but for me its worth the wait...

Some comparison shots with the original WAS minis:

 photo 20130814_191010.jpg

 photo 20130814_190806.jpg

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