Friday, 12 February 2016

DarkOps scenery review

Something a little different for you today.

Whilst at Invasion I got chatting with Steve Perry of DarkOps - check them out here. I've met Steve previously at the Expo and had seen his amazing board via Facebook, but didn't really get to talk much.
At Invasion he was showing off some really stunning sci-fi scenery pieces. He asked if we at OB would do a review of his product, to which I said yes.... obviously!

Picture from Epitude Rusks blog
This will be an honest review. We have not taken payment or sponsorship in any form.
Although Steve did give me The Blade as the review piece.

Fortunately for me, I won two other DarkOps products at Invasion. I received the Dual Generator as a spot prize for my Praetorians failing a fortitude test and as overall champion I won the Oasis Palms Hotel. So you lucky readers will get to see a review of 3 different buildings.

Firstly - here is a quick video interview with Steve Perry of DarkOps (it's only 4 mins)

The new stuff that you can see in the vid and in the picture above should be up on the site this weekend (13-14th Feb 2016) if not then certainly early next week. I for one, am really wanting a couple of those tall towers!

I will do this in the order I built them:

The Oasis Palms Hotel (OPH)

Cost: £26
Time to build: approx. 2hrs
Glue used: PVA and Superglue
Material: 2mm MDF (main building) 3mm MDF base
Tools: Craft knife, flat modelling file, hand saw

I'll start with my (very minor) gripes. The instructions that came with the OPH were not as clear as they could/should be. Steve is aware of this and will be producing instructional videos - this is a tremendous idea. I also had 2 sections that hadn't been cut all the way through, luckily they were for pieces in the middle which were hidden, as it was difficult cutting through the MDF with a craft knife. I ended up using a hand saw and made a bit a balls up with it. Over the 3 kits, this was the only time it happened, so I think it was a "one-off".
Last little gripe was the snap-fit parts when stepping up the curved facade. On the deeper sections it was easy as there was some give in the MDF, but when it got to the wall pieces right on the bulge I had to work hard to get them in, using metal sculpting tools for leverage, this caused a couple of breaks which were superglued back in place.
Overall this is a magnificent centerpiece for any Dropzone board. It is extremely playable as you can fit a load of infantry bases on the roof and even on the balconies if your CQB is really that massive!
When building it I didn't actually glue much in. I was doing a dry fit initially, but it went together so well that as I was progressing I realised that I hadn't actually glued much. Once built I did go over all the joins with PVA and left it to dry completely before priming.

The inclusion of 3mm thick base for the OPH makes the whole thing feel far more sturdy.
I really like the little details and depth to the model. It is not a flat building. Also the fact that the majority of the joins or tabs are hidden making it look much more like a building than a model.
The scale of the building is excellent too, it fits right in with the Hawk card-stock buildings and other MDF buildings.

On to the price; £26 for the OPH is cheap. The building is massive, you get a lot of MDF for your money. I really really like this building and it will be a mainstay on my Dropzone boards for a long time.
Below are some shots of my WIP paint scheme for the OPH. Gone with classic 80's south of Spain resort theme

The Blade

Cost: £14
Time to build: under 1hr (split over 2 stints allowing for some drying time)
Glue used: PVA
Material: 2mm MDF (main building) 3mm MDF base
Tools: Craft knife, flat modelling file, daughters large hairband

No gripes at all with this one. There weren't any instructions in the pack, or on the site, but looking at a picture is all you need really. I think it might be worth having some instructions for all products as you should cater for the lowest common denominator. Luckily we wargamers are an intelligent bunch.
As an engineer myself, this building makes my brain hurt. It shouldn't/wouldn't be able to stand. The load is far to eccentric to be stable. Think of the children!!!! Lucky for DarkOps there is a solution. Obviously 2 thirds of this building are underground. That sorts the whole stability issue.
Joking aside, these real world issues come into play when constructing the Blade. It's not like a normal 4 walled building as you can't simply glue it together and let it stand - it won't stand, it will pull out of it's base. So a little trick is to glue the 4 main sides together and dry fit the base to hold it in place. I then used a large hairband to hold the walls together until and glued the base on, left it on it's back until dry. Once that step is complete it's adding the details. The fan vents are great and the "steel-work" covers all the joins.
I was a little confused as to why I there are 2 top truss sections, I'll find a use for it.
Again like the OPH it comes with a 3mm thick base which is great. The building itself is not that playable as you can't safely place models on the roof, but you can use the buildings base for placing infantry.
I think this type of design is great, I wouldn't want it for all buildings, but it breaks the rigidity of a board with square buildings. It is very pleasing to the eye.
Price again is very cheap at only £14. It's a perfect medium sized building. I am very pleased with the outcome of mine.

I added the company logo piece myself. Now we know where the PHR came from

Dual Generator

Cost: £9
Time to build: under 1hr (split over 2 stints allowing for some drying time)
Glue used: PVA and Superglue
Material: 2mm MDF (main building) 3mm MDF base
Tools: Craft knife, flat modelling file, masking tape

This might just be my favourite. There is just so much detail on this kit, and for only 9 of your English pounds.
I actually took some build progress pictures of this one (yay me). Firstly the coils were built (a little wonky on the left hand one....ooops. I used superglue for these as I wanted some speed with drying time and didn't want them to get knocked out of place whilst drying (I have 2 small children playing Lego on the table whilst building this)

Then my favourite part. Curved mdf.... it's the future. It's so freakin' cool. It is more robust than I thought it would be and slots in and holds its shape really well. Even my wife was impressed by this.

The kit went together very well, the instructions are really good for this one. They show the use of some clamps for some parts, as I didn't have any I resorted to masking tape which worked perfectly well. As I said before the detail is just lovely, and the layering of pieces to get depth is sublime. Even the inclusion of a little door way for the 10mm scale user is great. For the price this is a great kit. I wish I hadn't run out of black undercoat, otherwise I'd have some pictures of it painted. But here it is in all it's glory.

I'm really happy with all of my DarkOps buildings, they are going to look great on my board. I will certainly be adding a few more.

A massive thumbs up from me


  1. I have to admit the two generators I got for most sporting are absolutely fantastic, good work Steve!

  2. How do you store your terrain? Not sure how your club houses work, are they shared w/ other groups? Are you allowed any on site storage? Do you bring boxes of terrain every club night (assuming you have those)?

    1. I have a large plastic tub that houses my personal scenery. The club has a store cupboard where we have a ton of club scenery - sometimes I leave my personal stuff there too.

  3. Thanks for the review!That is certainly some cool buildings! Also... I don't think that you should hang around with Dan and Joe whilst building terrain...

  4. Well written. Full with information. Interesting and useful information. Pics showing you have really done your homework.

    I claim well done, Sir!

  5. Nice write up Mike. It might be fun to do a comparison to the other buildingcompanies?

    Cheers, Thunder