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.