Hagglethorn Hollow Arrives! Sort of….

It has been a long time coming but we have begun to see Hagglethorn Hollow finally become a reality for us. Today two of the four boxes we were emailed to expect (we just found out the other two are due tomorrow) have arrived.

A little background, we saw a YouTube a few years back now where an artist showed off the gaming world he had created and we fell in love with his work. It was no surprise we backed his Kickstarter but we surprised even ourselves by just how much we backed it. We gathered finances from several sources in order to pledge for the whole village, some walls and an artbook. It was at the time our biggest expense for our gaming hobby and it was scheduled to take a year to deliver. We have subsequently waited more than two years and spent more on Dwarven Forge.

Delay after delay and very poor communication from Johnny (the artist) and Ike (his business partner in their company Tabletop Troubadour ) had led me to believe we would never see this pledge delivered. My wife remained more optimistic.

When the two boxes arrived today we were like kids at Christmas., giddy with excitement. We had beautiful sunny weather to open the boxes and that sun may have not been all that helpful.

Our first impressions were not very good. Here is what I wrote on some forums right after opening the boxes….

“My wife originally had 4 tracking number emails. Then we had two delivery emails with some items on both but not all of our items. The packages that arrived today have what was in the two delivery emails. No idea what is going on with the other two tracking numbers as they are showing as still unused or where the rest of our pieces are.

I will be doing a blog entry with more details shortly but first impressions are not as good as we hoped. Of course we had high expectations however, which were always going to be hard to reach. 

It would be easier for me to judge the value of the paintwork if we had gotten some unpainted pieces but on first inspection they do not match the expectations set by the original campaign or the more recent videos by TT. 

There are more bubbles than I would have liked but nothing that can not be fixed with greenstuff. The paint and varnish have been put on too thick in some areas and not thick enough in others. 

Different pieces clearly look painted by different folks on different days, with some pieces noticeably painted better than others. 

I know you get what you pay for but now I see why the painted version was not more expensive.

The resin has an interesting feel to it. Hefty and a bit like plaster but is not plaster. 

The pieces are big but not with as much playable space inside as I was expecting.

The sculpting is as charming and quirky as we were expecting with new little details constantly popping up. We still love Johnny’s vision but the production  execution is a bit lacking. It “feels” like a discount Christmas village version of an original piece rather than purpose made quality gaming terrain.

The details, while charming, are chunky. I am unsure how it will mesh with our Dwarven Forge and Tabletop World pieces. At least the factory paintwork encourages me to personalize it to match our other pieces. 

I hate to judge it all with only the pieces we currently have since each is so different. There will be photos and more info in the blog entry I will try to do later today.”

Moving the pieces into our hobby room and laying them all out had a profound affect on us. In our hobby room the pieces looked much better! The contrast appeared different. Not perfect but better. Our shared mood improved a bit.

The top row came in one box, the bottom row in the second. When we opened these we were not sure if we were getting more boxes but we could see that we had not received everything we pledged for.

The packaging was good. There was a hole one of the outer boxes but the good internal boxing prevented anything from being damaged. I found no damage from transit although I did find too many bubbles in the resin for my liking. Nothing I can not fix with greenstuff but I would prefer to not have to fix something new…. which leads to the painting.

In the hobby room it looks better than outside in direct sunlight and it was relatively inexpensive paintwork but it is still disappointing, as I will show in the following photos.

Not bad here but I can see a lot that I can do to improve it. The lack of drybrushing on the thatch roof is particularly surprising but the wood as well would benefit from some drybrushing as well. The piece comes across a little too monochromatic and does not “pop” as much as I would expect it to.

The camera picks up more contrast than the naked eye on the plaster over the stonework. I was hoping for some grey stones as well but no such luck. I think the round weights on the roof may look better as grey stone.

The lack of color contrast causes the stones under the window sill to disappear. The slight gloss I hope to deal with by way of a mat clear coat. The thatch, first step will be drybrushing. I am not sure about the woodwork yet.

The Hunters Lodge roof piece has a better “out of the box” paintjob than many of the other pieces. Still, it comes across a little too flatly monotone than we would prefer.

Not too bad but we are just not loving how the stonework and plaster currently looks. I am inclined to repaint the plaster in a brighter off-white and add more grey stones to better match our Dwarven Forge pieces. My wife likes the brown stones so I think there will be some further discussion on this.

Here you can see some of the magnets. We have not found any of the magnets working as intended so far. Again I would like more grey stones mixed with the brown.

Here you can see how the roof pieces are solid. No playable space inside the top floors… which is more of an issue when you try to use the top floor as a standalone building. When we pledged for this I was not as fussed about playable space inside buildings as I am today. Also, my wife is not as fussed as I am about playable space in buildings. If you look close you can see three round discoloration marks, I think that is where the magnets are.

This is the only spot where I saw what I thought might be actual damage but I can not be sure. The packaging was not damaged for this piece. Again the lack of contrast between stones and plaster disappointed us here.

Here you can see a spot where the painter missed a corner. An easy enough fix I suppose. We love the roof stairs. It is details like this that not only make the roofs cool playable spaces but also help add charm to the aesthetics. Johnny gets a salute for this.

Some floor spaces have quite a few grey stones. We like this. Again you can see a magnet. We are not fond of the colors used on the undressed, natural boulders. I am thinking of repainting them to match the Dwarven Forge boulders.

One of the few open windows. We wish there were more open windows or better yet window shutters and doors that moved. But that would have added expense and design complexity. An unfortunate bubble in the resin. Another greenstuff job it seems.

I am not sure if the problem was a poor mould or the paint being put on too thick. Either way, I am hoping I can repaint that handle and improve the look.

I do not know how to improve the look of this door however. I may need to completely resculpt a new door. Very disappointing.

The wood stain used as a wash may have been economical but the application was flawed in my opinion. Everything is a bit too muddy. Great design on the stairs though. It is things like this that caused us to fall in love with Hagglethorn Hollow in the videos. Another salute for Johnny.

The fisherman’s lodge roof. One of the best painted pieces we got but still not perfect. The cloth window covers really should have been painted a different color. It is nice to see different colored brown wood. The building design itself is one of my favorites.

However, again the stonework and plaster is underwhelming. My wife wishes there was no plaster at all on this rather than just a couple of small bits. Signs of disrepair like this is something she is not a fan of. She feels the same way about the jury rigged repairs on Ziterdes and Tabletop World buildings.

I love the carved prow on the roof. Another salute to Johnny!

The large ruins base, we got three of them, are some of the best painted pieces. Much better mix of grey and brown stones.

However, despite the thick coat of wood stain it apparently did not get everywhere. This should be fun to try to match.

For some reason I got all excited when I saw a small metallic detail actually painted.

Sadly a number of the rope door handles have suffered from bubbles and lack of detailed painting to help them “pop”, too monotone again.

It is fun to mix and match pieces. I am pretty sure these two pieces were not specifically meant to go together but it works. The complete buildings give a sense of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts.

More bubbles. More greenstuff and grey painted needed I think.

Another bubble. Ouch!

A whole bunch of bubbles. Sigh.

There were many paint bristles still attached but they came off fairly easily and did appear to leave much paint damage.

Yeah… more greenstuff… more grey paint.

Also more great woodcarving details. Woohoo Johnny, salute!

Thankfully I only saw one spot as bad as this. I am not sure how to repair it so I think I will try to find a way to use it as decoration. Maybe greenstuff it and paint it as some sort of plant or flock it.

The pieces do seem to work well with Dwarven Forge. Both are on the chunky side. But what about Tabletop World?

Sadly I have not painted any of our Tabletop World pieces yet. I was waiting for Hagglethorn Hollow to arrive somI could be sure to match the paint first time around. But have a look…

Well, we are almost there. Tomorrow we should get two more boxes. Hopefully they will have all of our outstanding pledge pieces.

I should mention, we did not see any glaring mould lines. No )cracks. Just that one spot that looks like it might have damage that I pointed out above. No damp, mold or mildew. No obviously broken off pieces. Too many bubbles though.

Right now we are thinking 7 out of 10. The original art design by Johnny? 9 out of 10. But the factory production work drags it down. The painting could be worse but it could also be better.

I am feeling a bit worse than my wife on this right now. The poor communication and lack of transparency from Tabletop Troubadour has me feeling a bit cheated. Flaws like those on display here happen, especially on a first run of a brand new product. However, since I do not feel like we were treated as partners, as investors, I feel like Ike and Johnny knew the state of the product and kept it secret. I would feel better about accepting these imperfections if I felt a genuine connection to Tabletop Troubadour and part of the creative process.

Maybe tomorrow will change my opinion and mood.

I do look forward to how I feel I can make these pieces look but I dread the additional demand on my already overbooked free time.

But what about you? What do you think of Hagglethorn Hollow? Am I being too easy or too hard on it? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

17 comments

  1. That’s an entirely fair rating I think. On the one hand, amazing to have those wonderful sculpts on your table. (I only saw the video Adam Savage did with him early on in the project and loved his vision for distinctive style combined with some flexibility.) On the other, yeah, we’re spoiled by Dwarven Forge standards, but still, they should have done a bit better with the paint jobs. Pity about the glossier finish on some of them, but that can be toned down.

    I would think of these as pieces you’d had time to prime and get table-ready with first coats but not yet tricked out with details. I think the process of adding those over time will create a consistent mood without everything being too matchy-matchy. These are the houses of different people with different ideas about decor, after all, and the buildings are of different ages with differing amounts of sun-weathering. Some variation will be great. And that’ll make it work better with your other pieces. “Ah yes, when that neighboring family moved in, they brought some of the building style from their old homeland and that’s why their roof is different.”

    You might consider tracing the roof pieces onto some medium weight chipboard (This stuff https://amzn.to/2CNjNNP ) and cutting out matching pieces. You could add texture on top to suggest the floor and walls and swap in those playable floors if the action goes to that level.

    I completely agree about the stone weights on the fisherman’s lodge roof probably looking fantastic in gray. That’ll help the color of the piece overall and I’d do that step before any other color adjustments on that piece.

    For that ‘couple of small bits of plaster’ problem, how about making those wheatpaste posters promoting a festival or market day or something? 🙂

    These look great among those DF trees. Super excited about future pictures of your table!

    Such a relief that the packaging was decent. Customizing a bit with your own paint is much less of a downer than damage.

    This whole report really makes me appreciate Dwarven Forge all the more. And even with not being at that standard, Hagglethorn Hollow looks like it will provide years of enjoyment. I don’t think you’ll regret this investment.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, I try to be fair. I know my view on honest feedback makes me unpopular with some but I like to think people can trust I will give a fair review.

      We are indeed thinking of this as primed, table acceptable pieces. And I had wondered if we could make some sort of “playable floor” for the levels without interiors. So again your advice is sound.

      The poster idea is cool but I would want to make them removable. Thanks for the suggestion on that.

      Be sure to check out part 2 of my review when I finish it later today.

      Thanks again for all of your thoughtful advice!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think you have a right to be critical with the money spent and the time waiting, with that said, I think you gave a fair review once you brought the pieces inside. I wonder if your opinion will change one you build a table and have a playtest with them. You should build a table and have a game with all your terrain vs just spending time improving them to your level. I think they will go great with your dwarven forge pieces, you are building quite a game table and should try it out! Maybe the first Battle Companies one where they leave Bree?

    It is a shame about the bubbles, especially on the door handles. Ones on the walls could easily be filled with moss vs greenstuff. You have quite a backlog of terrain pieces to adjust!

    The Tabletop World pieces seem to be the odd man out, will be interested to see what you do with them to bring them in to your vision.

    I am getting jealous of all the terrain you have acquired 😁 (but not the drybrushing, etc)

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks mate! I do try to be fair. I want folks to be informed before they spend money themselves. Admittedly it is just my opinion but the photos should to a certain degree speak for themselves.

      In part 2 of my review, which I plan to have done later today, you will see how my opinion has changed a bit with the arrival of more pieces.

      I am hoping I can tie all the pieces together from the different manufacturers with my painting. Hope dies last!

      Thanks for continuing to give me your input mate, it is very much appreciated!

      Like

  3. Your experience with this Kickstarter is what scares me away from them. I’m a spoiled consumer but I just want to buy the finished product (so I can see reviews of something before I buy it, preferably) and skip all of the highs and lows that you had to endure with this one. I applaud your patience with this one for sure. It seems like a real test of your patience to wait for this day to occur!

    I will say that no mold lines is preferable to having some holes to fill. Neither are great though. I completely agree with your assessment that these pieces ALL need more contrast. They look flat and dingy which doesn’t match the sculpt quality or the overall feel of the terrain. The good news is that they look easy to drybrush to me so hopefully you’ve got your drybrush handy! While it will be a pain to fix all of these, I do think you can get through them quickly and really make them look nice with a smallish time investment. I’ll be looking forward to seeing how you get on with them!

    As you can probably tell, I feel like a 7 out of 10 is about right. I’d be tempted to even go 6 as these are pretty bland, tabletop standard without more work. I wouldn’t buy something like this and expect to have to do a decent amount of hobby work after I receive them which would in turn leave me feeling disappointed. The whole point in buying a product like this is to save as much time as you can so you can focus on other things you enjoy like getting games on the table.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Again our thoughts run parallel.

      I think the pieces are going to require more work than you hope, but maybe I will be wrong. It will not be the first time.

      It is good to hear your opinion on it, especially as in the main it corroborates mine.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great review!
    I was worried the paint job was going to look like this, and as said in a previous comment, I was expecting to have to treat this as a very good quality undercoat.
    The hatchery door shown looks very poorly moulded.
    Generally speaking from what I have seen so far I think I will pass on the next kickstarter, I haven’t yet received my order and I am suffering a fair amount of buyers regret already.

    Like

    • Things could be worse. We got what we pledged for. Damage is minimal and repairable. Yes, it could be better. But we will try to get more if we can.

      I just wish Johnny and Ike would improve their communication. In my opinion they need to engage personally with the gaming community if they want these products to succeed. The early KS campaign videos where they spend time with Stefan from Dwarven Forge and the original video with Adam Savage shows the artistic passion of Johnny and THAT was a large part of what my wife and I wanted to invest in.

      The later videos are too coldly polished. Too impersonally edited. They come across as Hollywood advertising and the Hagglethorn Hollow arrived did not match that. It has an abundance of artistic charm in its DNA but the production execution is flawed. The fingerprint lines in one of the stretchgoal stones speaks of the personal artistic expression. They should doubledown on that. Make it more personal. Talk to people in the KS comments section.

      I do wonder if they have seen this review…

      Like

  5. Yeah I was honestly pretty disappointed when I received my set. It had many bubbles and casting defects and the paint job was mostly between fair and poor. Some of my pieces look like they were broken and repaired in the factory poorly… Others came with pieces broken off of them… The only thing the magnets do is make the overall appearance of the buildings look worse… So the amount of playlist inside of the buildings is so very limited. I was definitely expecting it to be more playable when I saw the videos back then … I had such high hopes for this project. I was only happy with a handful of the pieces honestly. Johnny Fraser-Allen is such an amazing brilliant inspired artist and so unfortunate that the factory has screwed up what could have been an amazing set of playable terrain…

    Like

    • Hello Ryan, great to hear your thoughts… even if they sadly express disappointment.

      There is certainly some disappointment surrounding this project, but I keep trying to focus on the potential.

      My wife and I are confident we can do things to improve the current state of our Hagglethorn Hollow, it is just a shame that we have to put in work that we did not anticipate and that despite Ike and JFA saying they have learned that they need to communicate better, they have failed to do so.

      We are curious to see what Ike and JFA do next, I am shocked to see the UK fulfillment has not yet been done while JFA and Ike have not done an update towither address this or even react to those of us that have gotten our pledges. In absence of hearing their thoughts it is all too easy to assume the worst.

      Like

  6. Great review and very fair I received my massive KS as well and was disappointed in the solid pieces all non useable for miniature gaming. Also agree on the paint job like you time is a valuable commodity but dry brushing is what it needs. I will probably pass on Johnny’s next one this was a little too bitter. John

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think the most bitter part is the missed opportunity. There is just so much potential but the business side of things has fallen short of successfully actualizing the amazing concepts. JFA is a gifted, visionary artist. But Tabletop Troubadour as a Company does not seem to understand how to communicate with their customers and they chose poorly in their decision on manufacturers.

      It would surprise me to see Tabletop Troubadour start another Kickstarter. I think they will just produce 3d STL files with Printable Scenery in the future, especially with the problems in international shipping for the foreseeable future.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, time is a precious commodity and it is appreciated. It helps motivate me to work on the blog when I read input from readers.

      Liked by 1 person

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