torsdag 20 november 2014

Review: KaYo Miniatures

Image belongs to KaYo Miniatures

This is a general review of KaYo Miniatures based on their first batch of figures from the kickstarter campaign "The women of the World of For-Ha". Not really SFW...

Samael and Mistress - image belongs to KaYo Miniatures


KaYo Miniatures

KaYo Miniatures are relatively new in our hobby. They were first known as "Kaeyous" when they launched their first kickstarter in late August 2013 that successfully funded the figures in this review. The man behind KaYo is Luis Alberto Cayo, a vfx artist for tv and movies. Given his proficiency as a 3D-artist the jump to making miniatures was not that big. The figures were introduced as "The women of the World of For-Ha" with the tagline "world's finest miniatures". That last statement is quite ambitious, but I like ambitious people.

The title hints that the models are all females, but that is not the case. While the focus seems to be on female fantasy miniatures I would say the highlight for me is Samael (depicted above with his Mistress). The figures on offer are available in two scales - 75mm and 32mm.

For the sake of transparency: I bought the 75mm figures, but got the 32mm figures for review purposes courtesy of KaYo Miniatures.

The Miniatures

If you are interested in a specific model I've linked the individual reviews here:
"Review: The Witch" 32mm version (link coming)
"The Mistress" both 32mm and 75mm versions (link coming)
"Samael" both 32mm and 75mm versions (link coming)


The thing that immediately strikes me with KaYo's female figures is the anatomy. Lets face it, cheesecake models are anything but original, but well sculpted females that are not just balls of putty bewbs to signify the fairer sex are a bit more scarce. You could argue the witch is a bit too well endowed, but then again she is a witch. You know, witches disguise themselves and seduce people to do their bidding so I can live with that. Looking beyond the obvious though, you’ll note what truly make these good and it’s the anatomy and the posing. Luis seems to have this down perfectly. Judging from the kickstarter he uses real models to pose for him (at least for the witch) so that probably helps make the models more realistic. I’d say that this is his strong suit. That and the faces, which don't look like men in drag (you know what I am talking about).

The Witch - digital model wip (image from KaYo Miniatures)

LTR - Samael, Mistress and the Witch in 32mm (just the main parts)

Looking past the females, the silhouette of “Samael and Mistress” is absolutely gorgeous. It is reminiscent of Vallejo's "The embrace" with it's own spin. The Mistress might be a focal point of sorts here, but she is not the subject. She is his mistress, he is the Master and it's his party. I think that Samael works just as well as a standalone piece and that has a lot to do with the wings. As a whole he makes for a commanding presence and is a great piece. Samael came with two wing options, that of a bat and feathered "angel" wings. The bat wings are however not available anymore (to my knowledge). 

32mm Samael with feathered wings


I find it confusing when people refer to the size as a specific scale - I don't really know any other part of the modelling hobby that does this apart from Tabletop figures and to some extent display models. We all roughly know what 32mm should mean, but in the end it says very little as it's a size and not an actual scale and as such it's quite arbitrary with all the different styles of sculpting and this issue is further compounded by referring to the styles as scales; "32mm heroic scale" and having different ways of measuring (to the eyes for instance). In this vein of nomenclature I'd say the 32mm figures are 32mm Truescale measured from the soles of the feet to the top of the head. That basically means that the proportions are based on real people and not bobbleheads. Suffice to say GW's offerings do not look right next to these figures. I'm not mentioning Samael here because he is a dark Lord of sorts - rules don't apply.

32mm size comparison

The 75mm figures are the exact same models printed to a larger size. The only difference I've noted is that Samael's wings have 2 parts each in the 75mm version. I'm fairly sure it's a practical thing due to the span of the wings. While I only possess Samael and the Mistress in 75mm, they seem to follow suit in the scale department as she is exactly 75mm tall to the top of her head. Her hand adds about 5mm to the total height 
(= 80mm).

75mm Samael
75mm Samael and Mistress with base

A learning experience:

While Luis has a great understanding of the female form and also has the sculpting ability to render a concept into a 3D model, he lacked the experience of the hobby in general when he embarked on this venture. It seems recently a lot of people with backgrounds in CGI and computer games have made the conclusion that the leap to physical miniatures is not that far. It is though and this is evident in the first round of figures from KaYo Miniatures. Don't get me wrong - the results in this instance are pretty good, but while I truly love my Samael and Mistress, they are flawed in ways that shows the the importance of knowing your intended market. This time around I don't feel they lived up to the ambition of "world's finest miniatures", but there is definitely potential. It seems like Luis is in it for the long haul though and is really trying to work out all the kinks as he intends to make more figures for us.

From digital to physical model

Generally speaking - sculpting a figure that looks good on screen does not automatically mean it will look good or work as a 3D print. These figures look good, but they were not sculpted with any specific scale in mind and it is evident in some of the details of the resulting miniatures. There are two scales offered and it seems the digital models were just scaled up and down to fit the 75mm bracket and 32mm bracket without any scale specific changes. This made for some very tiny details on the 32mm models that might be hard to pick up with the brush as they are quite fine and/or faint.

The seductive Mistress in 75mm and 32mm


Faint textures

If we look at the larger models, the opposite is true: while the details are there on the digital model, they were not sculpted with the limiations or rather the characteristics of the physical medium in mind. There are a few examples and while some might be attributed to taste or style and are therefore a subjective issue, I still feel I have to mention them.
  • Samael could have done with some texture or patches of hair on his body instead of being smooth for instance. You could argue that his lower body is not in the spotlight if paired with his Mistress, but I don't feel that is an adequate reason to leave out the details. 
  • The hair on both the female models lacks any real definition in the physical model, while there is some texture evident on the digital models. It's a stark contrast in style compared to the realistic anatomy, and the big swirls could have done with a bit more visible "strands". I also find that some of the big locks on the Mistress look lumpy with an uneven thickness that instead of adding realism remind me of unevenly rolled putty sausages (to a lesser degree, but still). 
  • While Samael's wings are breathtakingly beautiful (they are!) and are actually my favorite part of the model, I wish the texture was there. The disparity between digital and physical model is most evident here as there is almost no depth to the individual grooves on the feathers. They don't show up at all on the 32mm model. 

75mm feathers with faint texture

Layer stepping

Lastly, all the models suffer from layer stepping. I can say with certainty that no cleanup or touch up was done to the 3D-prints before being shipped off to the molder/caster as resin really picks up all the detail which means everything from the 3D-prints is there. I'm not exactly sure of what type of 3D-printer was used, but I'd venture a guess that it's not the highest resolution available. This resulted in some awkward printing support struts and stepping in all models. This was unfortunate, as a few layer errors could have been addressed (slight displacement evident in a few places on the 75mm Mistress) and also spared us perfectionists from that extra time in applying milliput washes and sanding everything to even out the surface.

Stepping effect on 75mm Samael
Stepping effect on 32mm Mistress


The molding is weird for lack of a better word. I can't quite put my finger on it as the casts were good in terms of no air bubbles or miscasts (except for my 75mm Mistress that had a giant air bubble in her leg, but got replaced super quick by Luis). The casts for Samael had a lot of what I perceived as big tabs. I'm not sure if this was air vents to allow for proper filling of all the nooks and crannies, but they seem a tad excessive. It can also be due to the support struts from the actual 3D-prints, but I am only guessing here.


As for moldlines I can only come to the conclusion that who ever did the casting was in a rush as I did not get any model that was cleanly cast with no moldlines. Moldlines are easy to deal with though, mold slippage is however not and while it's easy to handle on the 75mm figures it's much harder to deal with when it occurs in 32mm models that have fine limbs. In this case the witch is the only figure that had a sever case of mold slippage/misalignment.

The dreaded mold slippage


The material is a nice grey resin that is smooth when cut or scraped and easy to sand. Just what you want really.

Part Break and fit:

I don’t have all of the models in smaller and larger versions, but the ones I do have, have the same part breaks (save for Samael's larger wings in the 75mm offering). I think Samaels lower half and torso should have been one part as there is some warping there in my larger model, but it’s an easy enough fix.

As for the actual break placement and fit I’d say it’s pretty good on a whole, done in natural break lines where possible (arm band). In the other places the larger models at least have little texture in any of the part breaks so it won’t take much to fill, but you’ll need to fill. The parts all have little slots and joints so there should not be any confusion as to where they belong. The only model that presented any trouble is the 32mm witch who's arm is a bit fiddly where it attaches under the arm band.  

32mm Witch and all her bits...

In conclusion:

There are some very positive things to say about Kayo Miniatures despite the kinks of their first foray into the world of miniatures. The sculptor behind KaYo, Luis Roberto Cayo, has a background in visual effects and when looking at what he has produced I feel it speaks both to the strengths and the weaknesses of the resulting miniatures. The sculpting is fantastic and his female sculpts are good for the right reasons - they look like women. The creativity is there and the skills to realize the ideas. The only thing lacking was experience with the specific medium (physical miniatures). This basically means the 3D-models could have done with some optimization for their intended scales and that the actual prints needed some thorough preparation work before being sent to the caster. Hopefully he's learned from this experience as he's shown a keen interest in the hobby and has been seeking feedback for what was good and what needed improvement and I think we can expect some great figures in the future. The ambition is no less than "world's finest miniatures" after all! Check out his new kickstarter here.

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