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Tengu Models review

By Jon Webb

Dark Foam

Tengu Models are a recent addition to the ever–increasing number of small companies putting out diverse and interesting lines of figures. The company seems to specialise in what I would call Pulp (or alternative adventure) figures.  While they currently have no games of their own, I can see their models being great for gamers who play in Weird World War, some victoriana/steam punk, post apocalyptic, Lovecraftian and other similar themes.

Role players will be able to slot them into their adventures as monsters and for set piece boss fights (check out their Cthulu-eseqe larger pieces for ideas). They are detailed enough to be used as painting and display pieces, and are a characterful and ever growing selection of models. Current ranges include a decent line of Zombies (including nude and clown for those really creepy encounters), grey aliens and the Cthulu style creatures mentioned. I for one am looking forward to seeing what they come up with next.

For this review I will be looking at two packs of their tcho-tcho thugs and a pack of my favourite of all B-Movie baddies, the zombies.  Tengu were nice enough to send me packs DF 01 “The Great Zedsby”, DF 02 “Small Sinister” and DF 03 “Low Shots”, all three are part of the company's Dark Foam range and retail at £6 (GBP) for three metal 28mm figures. The sets include 25 mm round slotta bases (although you have to request the bases be included in your purchase).
Tcho-Tcho Thugs. (DF 02, DF 03).

I’ve grouped these two sets together as they are based around the same theme, the tcho-tcho. I would describe these guys as visually reminiscent of Eric Powell’s Goon comic character. For those unfamiliar with that, think of a bald, bloated cranium humanoid.  However, Tengu have created these guys as pint-sized thugs. Each of the models stands at around 25 mm, and they are armed with a variety of lead pipes, knives and guns. One is chewing a stogie and wearing a flat cap for that true thug look. All models are one part sculpts, with a single mould line to deal with. None of the mould lines is particularly obtrusive and took little effort to clean up.  Some of the weapon details are a little thin so care may be needed to prevent snapping.
Details are very nice on the whole, the figures have nice clean expressions and the afore mentioned swollen cranium look gives a nice schlock vibe. The models are clothed in a mix of shirts and ties, belt and braces and V necks, adding to the henchman look.
My only criticism of the models is the guns slightly lack detail. This could be in part due to the reduced size (the Tcho-Tcho reach about chest height when ranked next to the Warmachine Cygnaran scouts currently on my desk). The guns feel a little flat and lack texture or details on the mechanisms. However, I think the size works very well to create a sinister and threatening feel to them. I can imagine a mob of them looming out of the down town fog, their victims mistaking them for malformed children until they get close, by which point it's too late.

My only other concern extends across all the Tengu models. They are all cast onto small flat integral bases. If you intend to use them with the provided slottas, or your own bases, you will need to blend the piece with putty or trim them off their bases completely. This isn’t too arduous a task, indeed you can use them straight out of the pack, although they will be slightly unstable. Tengu provide a handy guide with photos on their site showing how to base them on coins, or slotta bases, as well as tips on how to blend the pieces in. This should be enough for any modelers to get them looking good, but it isn’t quite as intuitive as the more usual base tab. (Veterans and historical modelers may be more used to working with integral bases so this will provide little problem to them).
  • Well executed theme

  • Good level of detail in almost all areas

  • One part models make for quick clean up and assembly (but limits customization)

  • Guns not as well sculpted as the rest of the figures

  • Basing is slightly awkward

The Great Zedsby. DF01.
Great Zedsby

Riffing on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, this set contains three zombies in dilapidated costume. The three include one female in evening-wear (skirt, necklace and fingerless gloves), one male in a suit with a Trilby and another male in flat cap and shirt. All three are in a sorry state, with torn clothing, open wounds and the flat cap fellow has an exposed rib cage.
Once again, the three models are single part figures. They are all lurching in true zombie fashion, with the female looking like she is suffering a badly broken neck. The models are crisply cast although the mould lines are a little harsher than on the thugs. However, they are in no way severe and will pose no troubles to any file or knife. The details are again well defined, with only the feet slightly letting them down, the toes being a little crude and ankles over thin, and lacking definition. These are minor complaints though as overall I think the models are again good solid pieces, and a nice variation on a common theme.

Once again the models have integral bases, with the previously mentioned considerations the modeller will need to take. These three are a lot taller than the thugs, although they are still on the smaller side of 28mm, more “truescale” than “heroic” proportions. They are all one-part figures, so lack posability, although the arms are thin enough that some careful tweaking will lead to variant poses.
Again, I can see them getting good use for RPGs and Pulp conflicts, although I think these three will be bulking out my zombie hordes for Incursion, unfortunate victims of the German invasion. At £2 a figure I feel they are pretty well priced for metal figures, and with the variety offered by Tengu a varied and visually attractive shambling mass is easily achievable for gamers looking to mob up on their enemies.

  • Mostly well detailed and characterful

  • Good quality casting

  • A few areas of detail slightly lets the sculpts down