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Puppet Wars Unstitched

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  • Puppet Wars Unstitched

    Puppet Wars Unstitched

    First of all: sorry for the blurry pictures throughout. I'll try to get my hands on a better camera to replace them, but for now you'll have to do with these. Now get on with it!
    I recently picked up the boardgame Puppet Wars Unstitched by Wyrd Miniatures. I bumped into it online already, and immediately loved the graphic design both of the game and of the models, but could narrowly resist ordering it. When I saw the box sitting there in a local game shop, though, I simply had to buy it. In this log, I'll go through the different aspects of the set, starting with the models now and probably bringing in a little review of the game later on.
    Let's start with a crappy picture of the beautiful box it comes in, the sort of weird proportions a result of the quite large gaming board which only has one fold.

    The back already shows a couple of the miniatures and the gaming board.

    The majority of the box is taken up by four sprues of miniatures, which are really cleverly designed with spacers, making sure they can't damage each other. They're held in place by strips of foam on all sides, making for a very clean and safe packaging. At first sight, the box should provide enough space for all the models (once assembled and painted) and some foam compartmentalisation.

    The box includes 44 miniatures, of which 8 are unique (3 Masters and 5 Sidekicks), and the others are 3 of each of 12 different Pawns. All the parts on the sprues are letter-coded. These codes correspond to the ones shown on the large and very clear assembly-manual included.

    The first thing I'll be doing is work on the 12 Pawns, giving a first idea of how the models work and how to tackle the painting before moving on to the unique models. This also gives me the time to explore these models and consider whether I'll try repositioning/converting the doubles to bring in some more variation.

    Armed with knife and plastic glue, I started cleanup and assembly of this first sprue of twelve models. Just like the packaging, the design of the models and how they assemble looks thought through very well. There aren't too many mould lines, and most of them are positioned in easy to reach places where there isn't too much fine detail (apart from a couple of exceptions, like the Belle's hair). The assembly of the models is really straightforward (even though some of the models consist of 9 pieces, some of which really small like the star medal on the Marshal's belt) and well documented in the assembly guide. Everything slots into each other really neatly, and the multi-part connections are used really cleverly to give deep recesses and undercuts at strategic points.

    The technicalities apart, most of the models are designed amazingly well, I'd say. They're all very distinct from each other, and they just ooze character. The casts may not be as sharp as some other wargaming miniatures, but I think they have just the right amount of detail, both in terms of being boardgame miniatures rather than wargaming/display pieces, as well as fitting with the rather cartoony style.

    One minor point of criticism so far may be the way they attach to the bases. Some of the models, like the December Acolyte, are sitting atop a cylindrical piece of plastic which slots into the base, but which is very visible. Designing the feet a little different could have helped get rid of this extra support, and be much more elegant.

    Below are the pictures and some basic ideas on the assembled models (they still need cleaning in water with soap, and some very minor gap/joint filling). I won't be going too experimental in the painting of this first batch, I think, and use them to get to know the models. I'll just be putting up some first thoughts, but a few of them may only end up in later iterations of the models.

    December Acolyte

    The first one I put together is the December Acolyte. There's a lot of different textures on this one, with lots of possibilities in the face. I quite liked how the face slotted into the back of the head, leaving the deep recess behind the furry part of the hood. For this one I'll try to hide the little pillar it's resting on in the basing I think (something I haven't decided anything on yet, for the record), but for the next ones I'll probably try to solve it by repositioning or conversion on the feet.

    Back shot


    One of the iconic models in this set. Lots of detail, with the huge syringe as a great example of the comic graphic design of the game. It won't be easy to paint though, as a metal one might end up a little bland.

    Back shot

    Punk Zombie

    Possibly my least favorite. Compared to the other models, I don't really like the positioning and character. The detailing of the shoulder and the face is cool though, and the sleeves are a cool starting point for wild texturing/colouring.

    Back shot


    One of my favorites, and the largest model of the Pawns. Incredibly cool design; I love the global shape of the model, as well as the claws and the broken gauge on the backpack. I think I'll be staying with quite a basic colour scheme on this one, although I'm also considering going for a human skin on the stitched together parts, to resemble the typical bare torso of the executioner, although the stitching and the edges of the cloth may resemble textile too much. It's something I might explore in the doubles.

    Back shot

    Convict Gunslinger

    Quite a simple one, which resembles these tumbler toys. I think I'll be painting him up in rather dull leathers (I think some contrast between the shine of used/waxed leather and parts which are more dusty or dull could work), in which the guns, the lock and the bottom part stand out the characteristic parts in shining metal.

    Back shot

    Razorspine Rattler

    Quite different from the others, in that it's all metal. Assembly of the face was really fun, consisting of lower jaw, upper jaw and the two cogwheels, which really fit perfectly. The tail was a little fiddly though; one of the worse parts to glue in the set.

    Rotten Belle

    A great model. Very simple in its design and execution, but the positioning, the umbrella and the missing eye really give it a very own character. I can see quite some variation in these just by repositioning the umbrella as well.

    Guild Austringer

    Another one of my favorites. Really great design, with the scarecrow theme. I didn't notice the bird was a puppet as well, at first; the button eyes are a really cool touch. Assembly of this one was great as well.

    Back shot

    Malifaux Cherub

    A very distinct model as well; with the large head hanging down. The wings are a unique aspect as well, but I think the connection with the body at the back could have been more refined.

    Back shot


    Although there's a lot going on in this model, and the pose works quite well, I'm not really convinced, especially by the hair. It's probably just not really my cup of tea.


    A model with a few really fiddly parts, but great fun to assemble. The cauldron is nicely battered, and I just love how he's leaning out of it. The needles in his spine-thing (don't know the name) are really cool, and painting these all in different colours can really make this little design detail pop.

    Death Marshal

    Another one of my top-three. It's really not the easiest one to assemble, and it even fits a little less perfect than the other models, but this one is just full, full, full of detail. The single leg, the weird face, the belt buckle, the coffin on his back, the broad hat,... really create so much atmosphere around this model. It will be difficult to bring variation in the three models, as it's probably one of the more 'particular' models in the Pawns range, though. I'm really looking forward to painting this one.

    Back shot

    And that's how far I've got. Next up is the little gapfilling that needs doing, washing, and then I can start painting. I'll be using double priming to bring in some texture already. I think these models really provide the perfect playground to experiment with textures and materials; there's sufficient detail, but still large enough surfaces to try some new things on. Another thing is that these are in fact at a different scale than the regular wargaming models; they look equally small, but they represent far smaller objects, so they're probably nearer the 1/20 scale than the 1/65'ish that the 28mm models are. This means I can really go for rather large textures, which puts them to scale and add a lot of visual interest to it.

    Stay tuned for more, and feel free to shout your opinion, tips, ideas, criticism, or anything else.

    To be continued...
    Things I'm working on: Sculpting, Puppet Wars Unstitched, Sapo

  • #2
    that's an awesome review! thanks mate!
    The best thing my mates & I have done:

    Me on Putty&Paint


    • #3
      Thanks to you.
      Next week should see the Sidekicks and Masters assembled, and hopefully the first paint on some of these.
      Things I'm working on: Sculpting, Puppet Wars Unstitched, Sapo


      • #4
        Thanks for the review. Once you get them all assembled I'd love to hear how it plays.


        • #5
          Pete - No problem! Writing it out likes this helps me look at the models another time, and once I'm starting painting it will hopefully result in some critical feedback from some of you.
          Apart from that, I think this game has had far too little exposure, and deserves some publicity! I managed to get in half a game with my girlfriend last night, and it certainly looked very promising. It took a little while before we started getting an idea of how to make tactical decisions, as it's still a fair bit more complicated than the regular boardgame. I'll write up a little review of the gameplay once we'd had another couple of games.

          I finally found the time to take some pictures of the remaining models, the Masters and the Sidekicks. This means I have now assembled one of each different model in the box. The assembly seams are mostly filled (something I turned out to be quite bad at.... I first tried Milliput, then liquid greenstuff and finally normal greenstuff, and it took ages), so when everything's dry I'm washing them and priming them. A weird thing is that on this sprue some models seem to have these fine lines on them, as if the plastic didn't really run perfectly well while casting, or something like that. I may have to fix that as well. Some of the filling work doesn't look very good yet, but I find it really hard to evaluate when it's another colour/material than the rest of the model, which is why I'll first prime them and then correct some faults which are still there. On to the model reviews, now, starting with the Sidekicks (BÍte Noire, Misaki, Rusty Alice, The Judge and The Hooded Rider) and ending with the Masters (Lady Justice, Pokey Viktoria and Seamus).

          Bete Noire

          One of the very simply models in the set, consisting of only two parts (nearly the whole model, and then the two needles separate). It's not a bad model, but to me it lacks some of the character most of the others have. Maybe because it's less of a puppet, and could equally well be a human-sized wraith or something like that. That said, it's still not a bad sculpt, and does stand out from the other models a bit.

          Back shot


          A very characterful sculpt, matching the oriental style with the puppet-aesthetic very well, I think. The textures on her clothing are great, and even though a decent painter could free-hand them on as well, I quite like them being sculpted. The scale of the patterns (together with their depth) again plays on this different scale than what we're used to painting, and that's a great thing in my eyes. The bamboo arms and the weapon only add to the oriental look, and the braid just finishes it perfectly. As a slightly less positive note, the assembly really wasn't to the standard I got used to with the Pawns. For some reason, the braid really wouldn't fit (it slots in her back) and I had to cut away the peg almost entirely. It still doesn't sit as smugly as I would have liked. A real bummer, after the earlier dreamlike assembly-design.

          Back shot

          Rusty Alice

          At first I didn't really like the sculpt too much, as I found she looked too much like an ordinary schoolgirl. It's only during assembly that I noticed the cool mechanical arm she has, which really turned my mind. The combination of the skirt (again with sculpted texture), the weird face and the arm really works quite well, and makes her distinct enough again. Assembly on her was even worse than Misaki, though. For some weird reason they decided to cast the two strands of hair as separate parts, while I believe they could just have made the entire head separate as well. On top of the fact that these are really small parts, and the cut is located at a really stupid place (cutting straight through her hair, as you can see on the picture), they simply wouldn't fit. I had to cut away small parts at the back before they would without leaving a huge gap.

          Back shot

          The Judge

          I'm a bit torn on this one. On the one hand, it is a very distinct miniature, which is quite dynamic. I quite like the design of his face, and it really resembles the Malifaux Judge quite well. On the other, I don't really get the positioning. There's too much going on, and I really can't figure out some of the stuff like how his swords are attached or held. He somewhat lacks the simplicity which the other puppets have, which allows the brilliant aesthetics and design choices to pop; on The Judge you really have to search for it.

          Back shot

          The Hooded Rider

          One of the best models in the set, I think. The rocking horse is plain brilliant, the head is excellent and full of character, and little details like his feet really add so much character. Apart from that, assembly on him is similar to the Pawns again, a relief after the problems with the other models. Make sure you assemble both halves of his horse/body first, and then slot the head in between before gluing them together, as there's a small ridge to his head which you'll have to remove otherwise. If you assemble him this way, it's really easy and the head sits into the body perfectly. There are seams which run through the middle of the horse's head and his cloak though, but I can imagine they were hard to avoid due to the undercuts below the cloak. An excellent model, with a lot of different materials, which should make painting him great fun.

          Back shot

          Lady Justice

          One of the very few models in this set to come in one part. Still, I think it works really well. It's really a model which benefits from this static pose. The blindfold and the hair make her very distinct again, and the sheath of her sword has some nice texture. I think this model shows that a very simple and understated design and positioning can work perfectly, even for models as important as this one.

          Back shot

          Pokey Victoria

          A really cool model, full of little details. Still not overcrowded, I think, as her position is really open and gives the space for this kind of texture. My favorite parts on her are the shoulder pads and wrist guards, and the weird splitting head with the long strands of hair. I'm not entirely sure of the thing on her back, but can't say I dislike it either. The way it connects to the body isn't very clever though, showing a large part of the peg showing.

          Back shot


          To finish, the hatter himself. The guy from the box art, and rightfully so. He just oozes character. His face is brilliant, with the weird half grin and the wide chin, and his clothing is just perfect. The huge saw weapon just finishes it off perfectly. The only negative aspect to this model, would again be assembly. Only his head is separate, but due to his weapon and the necessity to avoid undercuts, it is attached at the back, with this huge peg which is very visible between the weapon and the head. I probably could have removed it, but that would mean having to resculpt a large part of his hair, and it also would kill a bit of the magic that's tied to the generally very clever assembly. It would just be a shame to modify this most important model in the set, and as they're for a board-game anyway (which also means sturdy assembly is preferable due to moving them around a lot), I preferred to keep it as it is.

          Back shot

          In general, I think the model design on this game is just brilliant. They have an amount of character I've rarely seen on a range of miniatures, and very consistently so. The assembly on the Pawns is plain brilliant. The other models had some issues, but all in all not enough to kill my enthusiasm. The weird lines running through the models make me wonder whether I just had a bad sprue. I'm really looking forward to painting them, and a first look at the gaming material in the box and reading through the rules makes me equally eager to give the game a go. That means during the coming weeks, you can expect either some work-in-progress images on the painting, or a review of the other material, the rules, and perhaps a short first gameplay review. Or all of that, if I can find the time.
          Any questions, suggestions, points of criticism, or just general banter are more than welcome!
          To be continued...
          Things I'm working on: Sculpting, Puppet Wars Unstitched, Sapo