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Author Topic: Review of PSC 15mm Siocast plastic samples...  (Read 1042 times)

Offline V

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Review of PSC 15mm Siocast plastic samples...
« on: February 20, 2020, 11:43:54 AM »
Well I finally got hold of some of the new 15mm Ancients from The Plastic Soldier Company. I even spent 20 minutes painting one up!



Firstly these are made using the Siocast system. This seems to be a method of using a plastic substance to be injected into metal style moulds. It is a plastic, it's not resin or a derivative of it... it's a plastic.

I should also say at this point that the figures I recieved are test models used to get used to the system and before PSC realised that their vacuum pump wasnt working properly! This is now fixed and means far less mould lines on the figures now... and they are sending some new versions (which have arrived and I've added a pic at the end).

The models are in a hard but flexible plastic. It's not really like anything I have encountered before but it retains the detail very well. It does have a slight flex, which concerned me at first but after painting, it's not a concern but now perhaps one of its strengths.

I painted the slinger in the pics up in 20 minutes and decided to be as harsh on it as possible. I did not wash the model first, I used a wash of black paint instead of an undercoat and then painted a base colour and two highlight shades, followed by a matt varnish.

Generally I dislike painting plastics, but these are like painting metal as the material has a texture like metal models. They are also sculpted like metals so I found it really easy and quick to paint. The detail was clear and stood out well.

Really it was like painting a metal 15mm figure. But I'm guessing most people want to know what happens when you flex it... well I after painting I bent the sling all the way down to the body, twice, and then up towards the head. It immediately returns to shape and position, but what impressed me most was the paint did not flake or crack. I'm sure if you really kept at it, then it would... but really that's pointless, unless you do that to your metal models as some form of torture.

These will survive dropping, travel and gaming with no issue and likely be better off due to the material. No more bent spears, or broken slings and swords. What I thought was going to be an issue is actually a big bonus. Very impressed with that element of the model.

I'm not going to review the sculpt itself, all the PSC figures are coming from existing ranges and are well known. It's really the material that is the key feature.

The only downside I found was having to remove a mould line around the figure, but if PSC have remedied this, then I'm hard pressed to think of any other issues with it. Once painted it wont be any different to a metal model until you pick it up.

As someone with no interest in 15mm or ancients, I know want to do a couple of armies for Soldiers of Rome using these. The light weight, the cost and ease of painting are all a big bonus. I'm unsure on price but they tell me the starter army boxes will retail at around £35 . Seems a good price to me.

I really hope people give these a go as I think it could really boost the popularity of 15mm and mass battle games in general. I'm also hoping PSC will venture into more periods... I'm told medieval is a possibility and perhaps... Napoleonics! Cant wait to get more of these ancients and paint up a unit or two to see how they look.

So we may be looking at a new revolution for 15mm, and as PSC have also done 20mm figures in this material, it will be very interesting to see how things develop.

These are the latest samples I received this week...


Offline OB

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Re: Review of PSC 15mm Siocast plastic samples...
« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2020, 12:06:48 PM »
Thanks for that.  Very interesting indeed.

Offline Arrigo

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Re: Review of PSC 15mm Siocast plastic samples...
« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2020, 03:46:01 PM »
Good news... I do not understand the dislike of painting plastics, especially considering how many 1/72 models you are building and painting!

I am looking forward to them very much.  :)  The Sassanians looks very nice.

As a side note, in typical XXI century fashion... someone has already disparaged them on Facebook...   o_o
"Put Grant straight in"

for pretty tanks and troops: http://forwardhq.blogspot.com

Offline Engel

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Re: Review of PSC 15mm Siocast plastic samples...
« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2020, 04:54:14 PM »
This could be perfect.

Im considering going into a historical project again but the thought of a large 28mm project is somewhat daunting.

It looks promising with 15mm plastics in the future.

Offline wmyers

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Re: Review of PSC 15mm Siocast plastic samples...
« Reply #4 on: February 21, 2020, 02:52:38 AM »
Thanks for sharing!

I’m really liking 15mm. 

I note a lot of pitting on the side of the elephant.

I wish the prices were cheaper. 1) It’s plastic 2) There is no overhead for a sculptor.  3) Moulds are already made (?). 4) They are priced for the perception of the gamers’ market.

I know, I know, they’re half the price of metals.

They’re still expensive. 

Offline robh

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Re: Review of PSC 15mm Siocast plastic samples...
« Reply #5 on: February 21, 2020, 12:10:36 PM »
Are these the old Lurkio/Wargames Zone figures?

Offline V

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Re: Review of PSC 15mm Siocast plastic samples...
« Reply #6 on: February 21, 2020, 04:33:14 PM »
Thanks for sharing!

I’m really liking 15mm. 

I note a lot of pitting on the side of the elephant.

I wish the prices were cheaper. 1) It’s plastic 2) There is no overhead for a sculptor.  3) Moulds are already made (?). 4) They are priced for the perception of the gamers’ market.

I know, I know, they’re half the price of metals.

They’re still expensive.

The elephant may be the mould... and I know PSC are getting new moulds done.

But I'm not sure they have no overheads... there is the licence to use the figures for starters, so that's an upfront cost, plus all the new machinery, the moulds and material costs, the time and costs of learning and training on a new material and technology...

So personally... I dont agree they are expensive really. For me the crucial matter is quality.

Price doesnt really matter to me, I want good looking figures, so bear that in mind, for me it's not so much of an issue. I use alot of AB figures, and I'd rather have less but better.

But in this case, with the likes of the Corvus Belli figures, they will be high quality and half the normal price.

That seems a bargain to me. :)

Offline Fighting15s

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Re: Review of PSC 15mm Siocast plastic samples...
« Reply #7 on: February 21, 2020, 04:46:16 PM »
Thanks for sharing!

I’m really liking 15mm. 

I note a lot of pitting on the side of the elephant.

I wish the prices were cheaper. 1) It’s plastic 2) There is no overhead for a sculptor.  3) Moulds are already made (?). 4) They are priced for the perception of the gamers’ market.

I know, I know, they’re half the price of metals.

They’re still expensive.

The Siocast process would require new moulds to be made because they're a different shape from spin-casting moulds (they're still silicone, though). The level of investment required in new machinery to produce them, whether hired or bought (£30,000+ to buy a Siocast machine), would have an effect on price. It's all very well producing an item out of cheaper material, but material isn't the only cost. There's the expected mould life and production run (quite low for Siocast compared with injection moulding into metal moulds), business overheads and the costs of going through retail (small manufacturers of metal figures tend to sell direct for good reason).

For me, the technology is interesting, but not viable because of the level of investment compared with £1,000 or so for a secondhand spin casting machine and, for 15mm metal ancients figures, a materials cost of about 3p per foot figure even in pewter. The material cost of Siocast figures may be fractions of a penny, but for the estimated mould life I can't see the difference in materials cost giving a viable payback period. [Warning, my view may be biased.]

The attraction of Siocast from a manufacturer's point of view is simple, push-button manufacturing. That might appeal if you have difficulty with traditional spin-casting.

Working on the basis that the one photo shows pre-production figures, there are flaws not pointed out in the review: incomplete reins, incomplete bow (short lower section), what appears to be mould wear on the horse of the rearmost figure above the front leg, besides the pitting on the elephant that you point out (which will be a legacy of the metal masters from the original range). And that's the issue: Siocast isn't using machined moulds pantographed from 3-ups; it is using production masters from original 15mm metal ranges, and it will reproduce all the casting flaws of those masters. If the mould lines on the figures are caused by incorrect pressure (too much), the incomplete parts are caused by too little pressure or inadequate venting.

As for toy soldiers being expensive, even if plastic, try toy trains: it'll give you a whole new appreciation of the comparative cheapness of wargaming. :-)
« Last Edit: February 22, 2020, 04:53:58 AM by Fighting15s »
Ian
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Offline wmyers

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Re: Review of PSC 15mm Siocast plastic samples...
« Reply #8 on: February 21, 2020, 07:18:54 PM »
Ian,

Thank you for the insight! 

From what little I had read (from PSC) they made it sound like they were using the old moulds and injecting them with a plastic to produce the figures.

Yes, we have trains (HO and G).  I remember the exact same kits by the same makers (ie Kibri, Bachmann, etc) that were dirt cheap when I was a kid now being exceedingly expensive!  While oil has increased in price, it has not increased that much.

However, the lack of sales, I am sure, has given rise to the thought of "we have to sell at a higher price" to make ends meet.  Instead of trying to change the market demographics.

When children cannot play with toys because the costs are too prohibitive, there is something seriously wrong.

When children have no interest in toys, there is also something seriously wrong.

I wonder about the demographics for wargamers.  What is the median age?  What happens in a decade or two?

Offline V

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Re: Review of PSC 15mm Siocast plastic samples...
« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2020, 08:28:52 PM »

Working on the basis that the one photo shows pre-production figures, there are flaws not pointed out in the review: incomplete reins, incomplete bow (short lower section), what appears to be mould wear on the horse of the rearmost figure above the front leg, besides the pitting on the elephant that you point out (which will be a legacy of the metal masters from the original range). And that's the issue: Siocast isn't using machined moulds pantographed from 3-ups; it is using production masters from original 15mm metal ranges, and it will reproduce all the casting flaws of those masters. If the mould lines on the figures are caused by incorrect pressure (too much), the incomplete parts are caused by too little pressure or inadequate venting.


Just to point out, as it may not be clear from reading, but the last picture isn't what I reviewed so my comments are really only in relation to an earlier batch which the slinger was part of.

The others arrived after I had written the above, a week later. :)

Offline Fighting15s

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Re: Review of PSC 15mm Siocast plastic samples...
« Reply #10 on: February 22, 2020, 04:48:55 AM »
Just to point out, as it may not be clear from reading, but the last picture isn't what I reviewed so my comments are really only in relation to an earlier batch which the slinger was part of.

The others arrived after I had written the above, a week later. :)

Thanks for clarifying: it wasn't obvious. :)

Of course, I am in a difficult position: as a rival manufacturer, I shouldn't really comment. But I trained as a materials scientist, and that interest in new materials and methods still excites me (those who read what I write will also know I love exploring what can be done with an old Saunders casting machine; one of my favourite bits of kit doing materials testing was a Hounsfield tensometer, which out Heath-Robinsons a Heath Robinson drawing). And then I switched to journalism in a highly critical capacity, so it's particularly hard to stop commenting. :) But I try to do so impartially: if Will at PSC ever asked me what I thought of his pre-production samples, I'd give the same opinion voiced above.


Offline Fighting15s

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Re: Review of PSC 15mm Siocast plastic samples...
« Reply #11 on: February 22, 2020, 04:56:47 AM »

When children cannot play with toys because the costs are too prohibitive, there is something seriously wrong.


I still play with toys. It justs costs £300 a pop for a decent, German-made H0 locomotive. :)

Offline wmyers

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Re: Review of PSC 15mm Siocast plastic samples...
« Reply #12 on: February 22, 2020, 05:39:26 AM »
I hear you.  I bought my daughter some Slovenian made locomotives. Far nicer than anything I had as a kid!

Bought her a newer Bachmann  steam engine (it’s not the cheapest model) and I had to take it apart right away and try to fix it. It was pure garbage! 

I’m going to guess the German ones are brass?

Offline V

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Re: Review of PSC 15mm Siocast plastic samples...
« Reply #13 on: February 22, 2020, 11:02:44 AM »
Thanks for clarifying: it wasn't obvious. :)

Of course, I am in a difficult position: as a rival manufacturer, I shouldn't really comment. But I trained as a materials scientist, and that interest in new materials and methods still excites me (those who read what I write will also know I love exploring what can be done with an old Saunders casting machine; one of my favourite bits of kit doing materials testing was a Hounsfield tensometer, which out Heath-Robinsons a Heath Robinson drawing). And then I switched to journalism in a highly critical capacity, so it's particularly hard to stop commenting. :) But I try to do so impartially: if Will at PSC ever asked me what I thought of his pre-production samples, I'd give the same opinion voiced above.

They seemed like well thought out and valid comments to me.