Finecast or Failcast: A review of the Eldar Autarch model

 When I got back into Warhammer 40k last year I raided my attic for miniatures and did the best I could to rearrange my Eldar army into a 5th edition force. The original miniatures were all bought for 2nd edition so there was some rejigging required to bring the units in line with the latest codex. Most of these were simple changes and were supplemented by eBay purchases to try and keep the model styles in line; buying exarchs for aspect warrior squads was where most of my effort was concentrated. One massive hole in the army was the Autarch, a combat based HQ unit that would be better suited to my low point games than expensive lava gods or psychic heavy witches. So I stumped up the cash for the latest Eldar Autarch model in Citadel’s finecast range.

The Eldar Autarch in all its glory; if you're a professional painter.
I was reluctant at first, I’d heard many rumours about the poor quality of the finecast process and that it had subsequently gained the dubious nickname of ‘Failcast’. This hesitance was more founded when I looked at some models in their packs at my local Games Workshop store and I could see some perfect examples of imperfect quality. I held back on making a purchase for several months, my thinking was that Games Workshop would knock their quality control up a gear and resolve these issues.

Warning bells started to ring when I attempted to leave my local Games Workshop store with the model, and it wasn’t because I’d hidden it under my jumper. When I took the Autarch to the till I was told to carefully check the model in the packaging for any flaws and if I wanted to I could open the packet to check I was happy with the model. What is happening here is that Games Workshop is expecting you, the customer, to act as their quality control system. On quick inspection in the store it everything looked fine. I was told to look out for small bubbles and I found a couple on the back banner of the model but I knew I was going to be using the Swooping Hawk wings option so no problems there.

Bubbles everywhere! But I'm not going to use the flags so its not an issue.
Where am I supposed to cut?

It’s only when I opened the model at home later that the true problems became apparent. Let’s start with the feel of the finecast material. This isn’t really a quality issue but a perception issue as the resin just feels too light, too soft and too fragile. In reality this softness of the material means it is quite springy and because of its low modulus of elasticity (bendiness in layman’s terms) it’s really quite a durable material. The finecast models come supplied on a sprue and the removing the model from the sprue felt quite dangerous. Have you ever assembled your own PC? There’s one stage in the assembly that is always terrifying which is the stage where you use the spring to lock the cooling fan to the CPU. Every time I’ve done this I’ve been terrified that the motherboard is going to snap in two and this is the same feeling as trying to cut the finecast off the mould. As you apply a knife or side clippers to the model it appears to bend in ways that you’re sure is going to leave the Elder in a worst shape than a mauling by a genestealer. Also in a couple of places it was difficult to determine where the sprue ended and the model began.

The large void in the shoulder pad.
There is a bigger issue though and one that I wish I’d been more eagle eyed and spotted in the shop: The shoulder pads have voids. I don’t mean little bubbles that can be fixed with some liquid green stuff or a drop of superglue; I mean that there is a section of the left hand shoulder pad that is just plain missing. I have actually struck lucky here as unless you have a reference image next to the model the curve of the void looks like it was designed to be that way but once you realise it’s wrong you can’t ignore it anymore. More advanced modellers than I would be able to fix this with a dab of green stuff but frankly it’s just not on.

Paint will probably fill this crack.
The second fault is similar but not as much of an issue. At a certain fold in the cloak of the model has split. This split will be filled as the model gets painted but it does make the cloak section weaker. There are also the other problem of excessive material at the base of the model. This can be trimmed with a hobby knife or a file and in all honesty is no more than what was seen on the Warmachine models. The difference here is that with the finecast resin feeling so light I was terrified I was going to break the miniature when trimming this flash.

That's a lot of mess to clear up with a hobby knife and you have to try and do that without breaking the model.
The last issue, and again not an uncommon issue among plastic and resin, is the warping of the headdress. This is again a problem that occurs in other models and the application of some heat usually fixes this. I fixed this by heating the part with a hair drier and then gently pushing the part into place.

If you are thinking of getting a finecast model than check out this video from Beasts of War on cleaning them up.

The finecast models come at a premium, when GW moved to the new process prices went up and this model currently costs £11. The detail and pose are amazing, and let’s be honest this is what Citadel are famous for, but the casting of the figure ends up feeling cheap. The lightweight feel material gives an impression of low cost and the quality of the moulding is poor with voids and faults in many places. The biggest insult is that these flawed models made their way to stores at all, whoever is in charge of quality control in Games Workshop’s production facility should be ashamed with themselves. If Games Workshop does have quality control in place I’d hate to see the state of this parts that didn’t pass the test. It is possible that I picked up a bad example but I shouldn’t have to face this risk. It’s going to be while before I buy another finecast miniature and when I do I will only ever buy one in store, I will need to visually check the part before I take out my wallet.
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