Today I bring you a review of the first wave of the new Jovian models for the fleet scale version of Jovian Chronicles and/or Lightning Strike! I have the first wave of CEGA models as well, just waiting to be assembled, but I thought it would be better to split the review into two parts.
These models have been long in the making, with a teaser picture of the fleet scale fighters appearing ten years ago! Just check out this picture from Starship Combat News. I suppose someone should update that page now that we have new stuff! Also, why is the Uller missile cruiser on the Jovian side in this picture?!
As Robert Dubois mentioned, in the interview I conducted with him last month, the fleet scale fighters were lost and not rediscovered until last year when DP9 decided to do a production run to gauge interest in future fleet scale models for Jovian Chronicles. Luckily for us mecha enthusiasts the response was a good one and now we have four sets of exo armors on sale already and four more on pre-order ready for release in April. Good times!
Now let's take a look at the actual models shall we? We've seen the renders and although they looked good a render is not a model. Full disclosure: Dream Pod 9 provided me with the fighters and exo armors for review with my purchase of the missing ships for my JAF fleet (well, I'm still missing the Godsfire!). Please excuse the slightly wonky and badly lit pictures - I'm working with what I've got here... :)
Age before beauty, or something -first out let's take a look at the Lancer squadron. Above you can see what the pieces looked like right out of the pack, with no cleaning or anything. Minimal mould lines quickly taken care of with a file and some small pieces of flash at the front, but that was it. Very easy to clean! Mounted they look like this:
They're quite dainty, about as long as one of the exo armors is tall but much smaller. The entire fuel tank is about he size of one of the thrusters on the Hector. Which is as it should be of course! While the new models are all designed digitally these, and the Wraiths, were hand sculpted which you might be able to tell if you stare at them long enough. Doesn't really matter in the end though as they look very close to the original drawings by Ghislain Barbe. The two side fins are missing, but that is understandable considering how small they'd be.
Next up we have the Hector exo armor which is a slight improvement to the Pathfinder with the legs replaced by a thruster assembly. It's zippier, has slighly better armour and is equipped with a missile defense system. As you can see there's barely any flash on these guys - just a little at the end of the thrusters. The only mould lines I could find where at the side of the thrusters so, again, very quick to clean! There's the leader with the plasma lance and two regular Hectors. Unfortunately the rear thruster had to be removed, as otherwise it would be impossible to cast it in one piece, but when properly mounted it's not really noticeable. If you really wanted to you could probably put something together as a replacement though. Here they are mounted:
I really like the extra detail on the shield as the Spartan looking helmet made it through casting just fine. My only nitpick is the lack of detail on the thrusters. At this scale options are of course limited, but some simple lines mimicking what can be seen in the artwork would have been nice. Also the smaller thrusters on the back are filled in to facilitate proper casting, but I'll probably drill them out for extra effect. I really like space based mechas like this! While the Syreen is probably my favourite the Hector is pretty cool to. Hehe!
Finally, the pièce de résistance and the cover model of Jovian Chronicles - the Pathfinder! Again, barely and mould lines or flash. Just a little bit underneath the feet and the string going from the sword hand to the thigh. At some places you can see very slight print lines from the original rapid prototyping process, but they won't be visible after getting some paint on the model so no point in loosing sleep over. Here they are mounted:
The Javelins and the Hectors look good, but of these three releases the Pathfinder takes the price for best looking model! The characteristic shape of the torso and legs are there, the head unit with the visor, the comm dish, the 792A Particle Cannon carried by the leader... it's all there. I want to paint these guys so bad but it'll have to wait until I'm back home in May. I think they'd take to quick and easy techniques exceedingly well and look really nice on the tabletop! Compared to the Thunderbolt cruiser they are of course still out of scale, but the gap has shrunk quite a bit and it's now at the level where it's very easy for your brain to just fudge it for you. Yes, the exos and fighters are a bit too large, but it still looks perfectly fine on the table - in fact I think having smaller models would make it look worse as all the detail would be lost and it would simply become different coloured humanoid shapes.
I'm very happy with these Jovian releases! And as it turns out the Thunderbolt also look a lot better once you have it in hand than on pictures I have seen. Bonus!
Finally I would like to talk a little bit about the new flight stand DP9 has designed. It's basically three bendable wires with a ball on top that you can glue to the ball joint on the model. This works very well and allows you to position your squads in different dynamic positions. How to mount fighters in space games have been something of a pet peeve of mine way back since I first played Battlefleet Gothic.
I have seen many different solutions but the results have almost always been quite static looking. In the end I had decided that the best would be to construct something just like this, using wire and a lump of modelling putty. Except, now DP9 has done it for me! Granted there are only three prongs, so if you want to mount more fighters (five is a common number in other games) then you are out of luck. I'm also a little bit concerned about the longevity. Since they're modeled after piano wire they bend well even though they're made of pewter, but depending on how well protected the stands are when packed into figure cases I can imagine them getting weakened. The best solution would probably be a magnetized base on a metal tray. It's really nice to be able to position the models on the stand pretty much freely. You can go for different kinds of formations, creating more variety and so on. Good stuff!
And I think that is about it! This is the first of the new Jovian releases and we have the Vindicator and Retaliator up for pre-order already. It'll be interesting to see what other exos we might see - I wouldn't be surprised to see the Stormrider. Perhaps there will also be some of the newer mecha that were never released for the original Lightning Strike. Keeping my fingers crossed!
I'll leave you with a picture of them all lined up with the Thunderbolt cruiser and a common reference onigiri. Next week I'll take a look at the wave 1 CEGA stuff - the Wraith, the Syreen and the Wyvern!