Nothing like a low starting point with a product review! I know a lot of people really enjoy Mantic products, but I have been put off by being near someone trying to put together one of the first Orx Marauder Raptors. They are so bad that I would not accept a free one, and not only would you have to pay me to assemble one, I would be charging you around the cost of the model purely for assembly. Probably more. And then I'd be seriously thinking about it.
One of the Mantic demo chaps was tolerant enough to hear my . . . 'reservations' about Mantic's product quality back in May when I had a demo game of Deadzone. He kindly gave me one of the limited edition Kickstarter minis "Codename: Oberon" to try out and see if things have improved.
First, I used a scalpel to clean off the mould lines. This wasn't too bad - there weren't too many of them (apart from the super obvious one on the base), and they came off pretty easily.
I'm not convinced by the Mantic bases, though. Look at these awkward gaps! As you'll soon see, they're pretty easily fixable, but the clever design on this figure needed a little more precision to pull off well.
I then decided it was time to experiment with basing, because my current bases are pretty dull and samey. So, I glued a few of the most expensive rocks on the planet (I have tons left over from GW basing kits) onto the base to break it up a bit.
I then covered the base with Vallejo Sandy Paste. This was a bit of a pig, so I'd highly recommend doing this before painting. The paste neatly covers up the gaps in the base from the smaller circle fitting into the weird doughnut base, so I'll probably continue this method if I ever pick up some more Mantic figures.
From my limited experience, I'd say that Mantic figures aren't an automatic "avoid". You need to be picky. I'd certainly be cautious around their old Warpath Orx, for example, but some of the newer stuff seems to be OK.
I've heard mixed reviews about their newer stuff. I suspect some of it is about taste and preference - some people don't like their material or casting method. Other people I know who've bought the newer Mantic stuff have said that they've found the quality variable - some tending towards the level of the older figures, others much improved, like our friend Oberon here. All in all, this worries me more than consistent known flaws - will it always be a gamble to buy a Mantic figure?
Mantic tag themselves as being about "Building Big Armies" and talk about "Affordable Fantasy and sci-fi tabletop miniatures and wargames scenery". If you are looking for cheap - sure, look at Mantic. They are unashamedly pitching to that point in the market, and that's fine.
From my point of view, if I buy Mantic, it won't be to substitute their figures into other games - it will be because of their games. From that point of view, Deadzone and Mars Attacks are the only two that really hold any interest for me.
Mantic have had some issues with being seen as rather derivative. Kings of War and Warpath obviously get compared to Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000. Dreadball isn't just sci-fi Blood Bowl, but the similarities have left a lot of people cynical. The first factions for Deadzone left me somewhat indignant on behalf of Studio McVey due to the similarities to Sedition Wars. Eventually, I've just grown to accept that some concepts have been in sci-fi for a while, and similarities sometimes happen. The other factions, in particular the Rebs, have helped build on that feeling, too.
And really, that's where I'm at with Mantic. It's their games which will carry their success or failure - whether through licensed lines, like Mars Attacks, or their own creations, like the growing Warpath / Deadzone universe.
Beyond that, what will gain and maintain my custom is ironing out their remaining quality issues and becoming consistent and reliable in their quality. Mediocre or downright terrible models (especially around assembly) will mean I decide its not worth the hassle, and I'll put my time and money elsewhere. It doesn't have to be excellent, given their pitch to the affordable market - but it needs to be "OK". That's pretty much where I'd place Oberon. I had a niggle about his feet and the base, but I'd not be upset about assembling a box of miniatures like him.
Has anyone else had experience with Mantic miniatures, either good or bad? Is anyone tempted to use some of their figures for other systems? I'm curious how my somewhat limited readership feels on this one...