Friday, April 4, 2014

The Joy and Pitfalls of Forge World Products

After the recent article about forge world and the horus heresy products, I had someone suggest to me that I should write about how to acquire, prepare, assemble, and paint forge world products and what typical problems you can expect to run into. It occurred to me that many people may have seen something from forge world that they wanted to purchase but were perhaps intimidated by the whole process or may have the wrong idea of what their products are really like to work with. So today I'm going to try and give you some tips and general information on working with forge world and resin models in general.

For those that don't know forge world products can only be officially purchased in a couple places. The easiest to get to place is their website, http://www.forgeworld.co.uk which is a British web address. That's why it ends with the co.uk instead of the normal .com. There are a couple things about ordering from the website I'd like to point out. Its your typical click to add to cart kind of website with drop down menus. Its easy to use but I will say that the search function is pretty limited. If you don't type in the exact name of what you're looking for it won't find it. So if you misspell it or aren't quite sure what the name is try and google it first because forge world's site just isn't built to help point you in the right direction.

The next thing with the website you will notice is that all the prices are in British pounds. This is pretty much the biggest issue with forge world products. They do not give anyone else a price break. If you look at anything on the normal British version of the GW website you will see things listed in pounds. If you then go and compare the prices in US dollars of those items on the US version of the GW website you will notice that the dollar price is lower than the full conversion rate. Unfortunately forge world does not bestow that blessing upon us. Also, forge world's site specifically states that all prices show include VAT. What is VAT you ask? VAT is essentially what we in the US call sales tax. As a British based company they have to charge it whether selling online or not. The big issue with VAT already being included is that they are not supposed to charge VAT for someone that is ordering from a country that doesn't have to pay VAT. So every time you order something from forge world in the US you are pretty much giving them free money. You could potentially file some sort of legal appeal in the UK to get that money, but the amount of money we are talking about isn't significant enough to go through that process, however it is something I think everyone should be aware of. Getting back to the conversion rate thing, as of this moment 1 British pound equals 1.66 US. That means for a 100 pound item it will cost you or I 166 dollars. Obviously that is kind of rough, but such is the price we pay for our hobby.

The last thing about the website I want to go over is of course the shipping. This is another thing that I think could really be done better because forge charges a flat 15% shipping fee. Now if you order 250 pounds worth of stuff, money not weight, shipping is free, but that equals roughly 415 dollars. That's a pretty expensive order to get free shipping. I don't really agree with the 15% flat fee in this day and age. They know how much everything they have weighs and could very easily do a website that calculates the shipping price based on weight, but they instead choose to significantly over charge customers on shipping. Sadly you can also expect to have your package take a bit of time to arrive. My personal experience is that it takes about 3 weeks from the day I order to the day I get it. I don't know if this is a staffing issue or not, but it typically takes about 5 or 6 days, again in my experience, before they actually ship the order. The free shipping is is express shipping so I'm sure that cuts at least a week off, but again that's over 400 dollars. So unless you're wealthy or ordering with friends in a big order expect about 3 weeks.

The only other places to get actual forge world models are on eBay used from someone, or at a convention. Forge world attends a couple conventions outside of the UK each year but even then, if you're not going to the convention your only options are the ones I've already mentioned. They also have really long lines at the conventions. I went to Chicago games day 2 years ago and when the doors opened people literally went running over to the forge world area. There must have been 500 people in line to buy forge world products. That's not an exaggeration that's actually probably a low number. So unless you like standing in line for an hour plus to hopefully get what you want before they sell out of it, at a convention you have to travel to, oh and still pay the bloated conversion rate price, just order it online. 

Alright, on to the actual modelling part of this. If you've ever worked with finecast stuff and are afraid that forge world must be as bad, don't be. The resin they use is much harder and not as prone to warping. Don't get me wrong, all resin if it gets warm enough will warp and but. The forge world stuff though is harder and thus requires more heat for it to become flexible. I've had finecast items bend and break just sitting safely in foam. I can honestly I've not had that problem with forge world resin. Most of the stuff they send out is pretty good quality as well. Some of the older models I've been told can have issues due to the age of the molds or some such. I don't know that the "age" of any mold is really the issue there. What I've read in the past is that forge world uses "hand" poured molds for their stuff which have a shorter life span that a spin cast mold. I have a feeling what really happens is they end up making "new" molds from items they've casted with old molds rather than just using the master sculpt. From a production stand point this makes sense because if you can only ever use the master to make new molds then you're talking a significant amount of time to make molds. Something like the thunderhawk must use 200 molds. I don't know what the cure time is on the mold material they use, but that would take forever to make any decent amount of molding capacity. So be prepared for some warping and hefty mold lines for some of the older stuff.

What will you need for prepping these resin models? A hobby knife, preferably with a nice new sharp blade. There will be quite a bit of "flash" you need to clean off forge world stuff. Again with poured molds you have a lot of excess resin left attached to the model that you will need to remove along with those mold lines. Files and sand paper will also be a must have. I purchased the larger 12 piece file set from gale force 9 and have found them to be perfect for working with resin. The variety of shapes of the files in that set really come in handy. I rarely use the sand paper, but a sanding block is really nice for those larger pieces like a wing or maybe the side of a tank. Something that has a long mold line is a really great target for a sanding block. You will need a heat source for fixing warp issue. I use a halogen lamp and just hold the parts closely under it. I've also used a hair dryer for particularly large parts. The lamp is really great for a small point of heat but not so much on a large area like a whole wing from a plane. I've heard of people submerging parts in boiling water as well, but I have never tried that approach. Obviously you will need super glue and its a good idea to get a glue accelerator. Some of the vehicle models will have gaps that need filing. Green stuff is great for this, but super glue and a spray of glue accelerator is faster and cheaper. You will have to file it level, but you have to do that with green stuff as well. Since we are talking about glue, you will have to pin some things together. Some of the really large stuff like titans, if you didn't pin things they would fall apart. I've found with the primarch models they need to be pinned to the base because of the dynamic poses they have. If you don't pin them to the base they will fall off a ton. I had this happen with my Abbadon. I didn't pin him at first, after the 4th time I glued him back on I decided to just put a nice metal rod in his foot to keep him put. I've never used that model in a game either so I'm not talking about a ton of movement with that guy.

The last thing you will need is a cleaning agent. I want to emphasis that you NEED a cleaning agent. They use a chemical on the molds to make sure the resin doesn't stick to the molds. This chemical will be on your parts and needs to be removed. If you don't remove it you will have a very difficult time painting. Primer will run off the parts. If the primer sticks, guess what? The chemical will affect the primer and cause your paint to still run off the primer. The first time I did a forge world model I was not aware of this fact and tried to just paint on my primered model. After about a half hour of trying to figure out what was wrong with my paint or primer I did a google search on the subject and figured out I was an idiot. I know some people use dish soap and just use a tooth brush to clean the stuff off. I've seen products that are made specifically for cleaning mold release agent from resin models, its expensive and again you probably need to use a tooth brush and do some scrubbing. I take the easy simple route. I buy this gallon size container of purple power degreaser from walmart. It's about 5 dollars and doesn't require me to scrub and potentially damage details. I do all my prep work and then let the pieces soak over night. The purple power doesn't damage the resin and all you have to do is rinse the parts off after they soak. I always notice a sort of oil slick on the surface of the purple power after its soaked, telling me that it did it's job. After you let the water dry off from rinsing you can now freely paint your models.

I hope this has been enlightening and helpful to someone. Please feel free to leave any questions or comments you have. If you want to join the burning river battalion google+ group then just drop us a line for an invite.