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Quality of Pre-painted Legendary Encounters


ZILLA
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I don't have any LE figures, but I did paint many of the unpainted "Painter Edition" plastic Mage Knight figs.

 

In general, they can be close. The biggest problem is the plastic paint tends to obscure detail.

 

I'd still like to see some pics of the 'naked' unpainted plastics.

 

On "injection molding", the startup costs are extreme! We're talking $50k for one mold at the very least.

 

Hopefully, more tin mines will come online, thus dropping costs... ;) But the weak US dollar is probably not helping either.

 

15 year tin prices:

http://www.infomine.com/investment/metalsc...c=Tin&r=15y

 

15 year lead:

http://www.infomine.com/investment/metalsc...=Lead&r=15y

 

Also, you need to realize that metallic lead is poorly absorbed. The lead oxides and salts found in old paints are much more toxic. My dad has worked in a car battery factory for years, and never tested positive for elevated blood levels of lead.

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In particular, lead salts bypass the normal protective effects of adequate calcium. Now, miniatures can oxidise. Also, "lead rot" can occur. So you should prime them ASAP. But here's a bit of trivia for you: lead rot produces lead acetate or "white lead", the high quality but toxic paint pigment... and to top it off, thanks to a quirk of chemistry, lead acetate tastes sweet. That's why kids eat it.

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In answer to CluelessNewbie's question regarding comparison of LE minis to their metal counterparts, I am happy to say I FINALLY can shed some light on the matter.

 

My FLGS got the LEs I've been asking for at long long last! :) :)

 

But..I digress. Here's some photos of a few of my older DHA minis (on the left) and their Legendary Encounter plastic twins (on the right). I stood the LE minis on top of an unpainted Warlord base so you can better see how they size up to my DHAs which I used the same base on.

 

ppmspear1.jpg

ppmspear2.jpg

 

Poor li'l fella's spear got a teeny bit bent in shipping, but I think I can straighten it out using the old hot-water method.

 

Here's more images linked.

 

Orcs with Scimitars (front)

Orcs with Scimitars (back)

 

Orcs with Bows (front)

Orcs with Bows (back)

 

Yeah..you noticed a theme too? :lol:

 

For what it's worth, I am quite pleased with the quality of the three orcs I now own as well as the others I have seen. The oval base fits nicely into a Warlord base if that is how you wish to use your LE minis, and the paint is easily tabletop-quality. Some of the paints are a tad shiny, but somehow I suspect that shiny paint is the price paid for a durable coat that is nontoxic and can be applied by automated methods.

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On "injection molding", the startup costs are extreme! We're talking $50k for one mold at the very least.

 

Also, you need to realize that metallic lead is poorly absorbed. The lead oxides and salts found in old paints are much more toxic. My dad has worked in a car battery factory for years, and never tested positive for elevated blood levels of lead.

 

$50K for one mold? That is odd - last week I was quoted $8K for a set of three. The machines aren't cheap, but if I decide to go that route - I can outsource to one of a few hundred companies in the US who do injection molding work as opposed to sending dollars to buy Chinese tanks.

 

The lead scare is a bit ridiculous (always has been). Lead in and of itself is no more dangerous than any other substance you come across on a daily basis (more people die as a result of water in one year than have died due to lead in 100 years). The only ones who need to really worry are welders and similar jobs who deal with fuming metals...and even there, lead is normally not the most dangerous chemical to deal with.

___________________

 

On the prepaints - my fault with them is two fold. The plastic is ridiculous, if I wanted a rubber toy - I'd drop 50 cents into the machine at the local truck stop. I understand why they use the flexible PVC (allows them to use the same sculpts that they use for the metal line without having to figure out what to do with undercuts), but you can remove the plasticizers after the casting through a hexane leaching process and end up with PVC that is just like the stuff you find in the local plumbing department. No more problems with bendy swords and limp ankles.

 

The other of course is that I don't like buying tanks for China.

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[...] and to top it off, thanks to a quirk of chemistry, lead acetate tastes sweet. That's why kids eat it.

 

It's also why lead acetate was used to sweeten cheap wine in the Roman Empire. (ooops...)

 

At my most recent con Paint and Take, I actually had a parent ask if the primed minis that I had out for the Paint and Take contained lead. When I replied, yes, there is a very small amount of lead in the alloy, he told his 12 year old that he couldn't paint. My attempt to convince him that the mini was more dangerous as a choking hazard was unsuccessful. :rolleyes:

 

Ron

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I can outsource to one of a few hundred companies in the US who do injection molding work...

 

Are you going to have them painted here... and remain competitive?

 

The cost for the raw product is about the same here as it is over there. It's the labor to paint them that dramatically changes your costs.

 

The lead scare is a bit ridiculous (always has been).

 

Yes it is, but until California takes away it's regulations you won't find anyone in the States casting in dead lead in the toy/game industry. No one wants to put a "surgeon generals" warning on a toy. As far as the expense goes, it would be great to cast in dead lead. Alas, it is not possible.

 

And, what is wrong with Chinese tanks? Are they defective? I guess I've never seen one side by side with any other countries tanks to see which ones I like best.

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Are you going to have them painted here... and remain competitive?

 

The cost for the raw product is about the same here as it is over there. It's the labor to paint them that dramatically changes your costs.

 

The painting is a different issue - though I think a lot of people prefer the non-prepainted plastics over prepainted plastics. But if I were to look at doing a prepainted product, I would probably go South (Brazil has good labor/cost values) or to the former east bloc countries (Poland, Czech...). Brazil would be one of the more attractive options due to the faster turn around times - although I've done some work with a Polish model company and they were good to deal with (they do model railroad products which are prefinished).

 

es it is, but until California takes away it's regulations you won't find anyone in the States casting in dead lead in the toy/game industry.

 

Yeah, I know - they seem to be the only ones who know what will cause cancer. I have a shelf full of products which are only dangerous if you happen to be in California, you know.

 

And, what is wrong with Chinese tanks? Are they defective? I guess I've never seen one side by side with any other countries tanks to see which ones I like best.

 

Not much - until they happen to be running over a protester...or god forbid, my children or grandchildren.

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Something on the LE package that got my attention was the age-recommendation for the product. How was "14 years" arrived at? I mean, the toy is much larger than most Lego bricks, and there is no material used in making them that is not used in making toys for much younger children....and unlike some Warlord models, there is no assembly required which would involve strong (therefore dangerous) adhesives.

 

So..what gives? Curious geeks wanna know. :lol:

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I've seen aluminum injection molds quoted at about $5k-$8k, but they don't last long. I ran the numbers a few years ago, and to make figs ( say grunts ) and meet the GW price-point, you have to run the mold to it's expected life, sell the entire run, and things get tight when include packaging and distributor/store's expected price point. Machined steel molds last a LOT longer, and price-per-shot is really low, but again, you need a REALLY popular line if you are going to compete with GW or Dragon on price point.

 

I have a link somewhere of some sculptor getting plastic molds made in russia. Apparent the tech is very cheap, with some odd limitations. The molds are made by electroplating metal onto the masters. So you sculpt masters, cast them into a intermediary form, mount them in what would become the plastic sprue framework, and then electroplate a thick layer of metal over that, with some sort of seperator in place so you get a two part mold. The metal shell is then back-filled with some cheaper/softer metal, and this is used in the injection molder. Apparently it is very cheap to do, at least in Russia. It has severe limitations though. The mold MUST be a simple two part mold, so the figs can only have simple parting lines.

 

I'll see if I can find the link.

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The numbers change pretty quickly. As 3 axis CNC machines become cheaper, and the related hardware (micro carbide cutters) become more readily available - costs drop...and fast. The quote I was given was for steel - what would amount to a half dozen figures per frame. The smallest detail they could cut was .01 mm - much smaller than I needed. More complicated insertion molds didn't really run the price up much at all - though the design of the molds becomes a bit more complicated.

 

I am sure if I were to shop around in larger cities, I could find even lower pricing than I found out here (the machinist I was dealing with is local). I know that a lot of the people who I worked with in the model railroad industry have actually gone a head and purchased the machines outright and are doing their own mold work (and many of them do side work in order to help pay the machines off).

 

I've also seen molds done using a handmade master frame and ceramic mold work (not normal ceramic - but not too far removed either). They are easy enough that one can make them in your own house with normal tools and an understanding of the injection mold process (0 undercuts, limits on thickness of parts...).

 

Again, it isn't as cheap as the $50 rubber mold used for white metal...but it isn't so expensive that it can not be done.

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