I built my first dark elf hydra, from the new dual kit! This is my first experience with a monster, or any larger model for that matter. It took me two evenings to complete the model, and it have proven to be two very enjoyable evenings. A model worthy of a more detailed review.
Opening the box
Eager like a kid opening a Christmas present, I started by opening the box and oogling the contents. To my surprise, the whole model comes on two (albeit larger) sprues. Yes, those two sprues at the bottom can make a fearsome hydra or terrifying Kharybdis. Weird isn’t it?
The necks and heads don’t even look as large as they do on the oversized pictures G.W. and other hobbyists are spreading around. Having never owned a Hydra before, it didn’t occur to me to compare the scale with the older model.
I found myself both relieved and oddly disappointed that the model wouldn’t be “so large”. That was until I actually assembled it!
Mold lines? Where we’re going, we don’t need.. mold lines.
When one suffered the endless work of removing mold lines on older models, one can not miss the impressive quality of the molds in this build. There’s barely any mold line at all, and those that may show are conveniently tucked in places that won’t show on the model. For a scaly model, that’s a convenient thing to have. Does anyone recall the dreadful mold lines on the scales of 6th edition Cold Ones?
This is not the first model to deliver an impressive quality with respect to the mold lines. For what it’s worth: it may prove to be a good selling tactic. Without the mold line barrier to discourage the hobbyist, the construction stage becomes a very rewarding and enjoyable experience.
The CGI in the step by step construction guide almost reminded me of Lego plans, without the colors. It was useful to get the right parts together. In spite of the need for a “plan”, the process proved easy… Easier than building Ikea furniture, even. But where the construction proved easy, the design behind the model feels anything but simple.
How does one get so many necks attached to the body? G.W. found a way, but it feels like an engineered design: not something chosen by chance. The end result is surprisingly solid. The construction puts a lot of faith in the joints, but they deliver a rather large contact surface: enough for some extra glue or even green stuff should the need arise.
Perfect fit, but not without seam
The hydra’s body comes in two halves. They fit well, glue easily and even the texture on the body matches nicely. But unfortunately the seam where the halves join does show. Not by much, but enough to bother a hobbyist working at this scale. The heads fit (apparently) seamless on the necks, but the necks do not fit seamlessly on the body. Most of the time, the seam is camouflaged by the scales; a nifty trick to be applauded. But it didn’t cover all gaps. In particular the two necks in the middle have a bit of a gap.
I was disappointed and impressed at the same time. I’ve never seen any plastic parts fit so well together, so solidly and ingeniously. But I couldn’t stop the pang of disappointment that even this new level of quality would need at least some band aid.
To sum it up, look at this picture. See how precisely the pieces fit together. And see how, in spite of such precision, there is still need for a tiny fix. I think some liquid green stuff may suffice. I doubt I’ll need a lot of material, but I won’t paint it until this is covered up.
The model is a dual kit, but it turns out that they did not provide any way to customize the model, unless by mixing the two different builds. I do think the model permits quite some conversions thanks to how the necks are attached to the body. Those joints can be covered up with green stuff, to make the body of a creature with a single head.
Then there are the handlers… with no options for alternations at all. Even the stance of the weapons is fixed.
For the spear-model, I assume this was a requirement to get the chain to work. For the whip-model, I hoped at least to have the choice of arms (of another kit perhaps?). Unfortunately, their poses and bases are as fixed as the monster. They are easy enough to replace or convert but such features don’t come with the kit.
I was surprised to see the model built so quickly. I don’t remember if it took me one evening or two… but it went fast. This makes it a very rewarding experience: you decide to build it, and a few hours later you have results with no dull and boring moment to spoil the fun. This could be attributed to the lack of mold lines and the well conceived joints for the necks and heads.
The end result is an impressive looking model. It is without a doubt my favourite hydra model yet.
I look back at the initial impressions I had from the pictures, remembering I wasn’t impressed. But it just looks better in real life. I recall Ben Curry expressed caution at several occasions regarding the looks of a model “It impresses me to be so, but I won’t judge it until I’ve seen it”. This model shows why.
It also shows how important the paint job is… but my paint job of this model is a future project. 🙂