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Seeking vet DF fans opinions on "knockoff" lines
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TOPIC: Seeking vet DF fans opinions on "knockoff" lines
#47462
Seeking vet DF fans opinions on "knockoff" lines 2 Years ago  
Just getting into DF, but have admired from afar for many years. Scored a used set relatively cheap off ebay. When I'm searching for DF stuff on eBay, I keep coming across "Dragonstone" and similar brands, all of which claim to be fully compatible with DF. Any truth to that? I'd like to assemble a reasonable selection of pieces relatively quickly, but a lot of stuff is sold out on this site. Suggestions, opinions, and pieces of wisdom are welcome. Help this newbie out.
Shellhead
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#47463
Re:Seeking vet DF fans opinions on "knockoff" lines 2 Years ago  
Hi!

I think you mean Dungeonstone. Dungeonstone is a company that uses Hirst Arts Molds to assemble dungeons. With Hirst molds you pour plaster into silicone molds to make floor tiles and bricks (and some other stuff). Think LEGOS. Dungeonstone does the work for you by casting the pieces, gluing them together, and in some cases painting them.

I just buy the Hirst Arts Molds and make my own custom pieces to use with my Dwarven Forge products. If you put them together a certain way they will fit pretty well with DF but not perfectly. Here are some examples from my collection:

Orc Tower

A mix of Dwarven Forge and Hirst:

Catacombs of Wrath

Just Hirst:

hirstarts.yuku.com/topic/6147#.UEuXWhh5FWN

www.dwarvenforge.com/forum?func=view&catid=10&id=45377#45515


I personally love both. On these forums and on HA forums you will find lots of examples of both. Cheers.
jericho
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#47464
Re:Seeking vet DF fans opinions on "knockoff" lines 2 Years ago  
The knockoffs are compatible in terms of scale but that is all. The walls will be thicker and there will be other differences as well in height of floore etc. Mostly these are guys casting Hirst Arts bricks and assembling them into copies of DF. The dungeonstone guy made his own molds that look different in pattern from Bruce Hirst's so he doesn't have to pay licensing to sell the items. But basically the same thing.

What you need to know is these are nowhere near the quality of Dwarven Forge. Plus you have to paint them. That being said, I own some as I found items that DF doesn't make like certain types of stair designs. Also, since they are unpainted, you can use whatever colors you want. I am currently involved in painting a knockoff dungeon in an earth tone color scheme to differentiate a different section of dungeon for a future game setup I have planned. But I can't imagine using this stuff as my main dungeon setup pieces.

As for cost, yes it is initially cheaper but once you factor in the cost of paint and all of your time spent painting, it may not be as cheap as it seems. But it has its uses for certain pieces or for when you want a different look.
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#47466
Re:Seeking vet DF fans opinions on "knockoff" lines 2 Years ago  
Yes Hirst Arts is very time consuming. You spend weeks and end up with something that will never look as good as Dwarven Forge. Even if your paint job is top notch the actual pieces themselves will not look as nice.

As Arcarius mentioned - the walls are thicker. I rarely use a DF wall next to a Hirst Arts wall. Usually I will use a DF passage way connected to a Hirst Arts room.
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#47467
Re:Seeking vet DF fans opinions on "knockoff" lines 2 Years ago  
Hirst Arts does have its maestros however. If you imagine the time and skill involved for Caveman in this post you will see what I mean. The man is an artist of model dungeoneering.

hirstarts.yuku.com/topic/1269#.UEv1pol5nTo
Arcarius2001
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#47469
Re:Seeking vet DF fans opinions on "knockoff" lines 2 Years ago  
Here is my opinion. As disclaimer - I'm the European Distributor. But I also got a Hirst Arts license for my own company.

Beating DF on price:

This is a tough one. DF might look extremely costly - until you start making your own pieces to sell.

There are different areas to skimp on price.

Material: you can use plaster instead of resin. This is good for cost and the durability of your molds.
The disadvantages - plaster tends to be white. You have MUCH more effort to paint your items. Especially field stones are not easy to cover 100% and you need to cover them 100% to ensure no white is shining through in crevices that should be especially dark.
And plaster is more brittle. And no matter how well you paint over - at some stage you will have a corner that gets knocked and the white comes through.

So you can use resin instead.

Disadvantages: This automatically increases your cost base and a lot of your price advantage is wiped out. In addition - resin works much less well in building it up as it tends not to be cast even (the corners of stones are higher) meaning you grind them flat or they don't work as well gluing them.

There is also A LOT of time involved casting individual stones.

No problem - the ideal way to do it then is

Step 1: Cast pieces in plaster and assemble them to bigger ones
Step 2: Make a mold for the bigger pieces
Step 3: Cast in resin with added color (black or dark grey)

By the time you have done all of the above your saving is more or less evaporated - unless maybe you do LOTS of pieces. Or - you make specialist pieces that you don't have / DF doesn't produce.

So to me HA has two uses for / instead of DF:

a) the enthusiast who loves building his own. A HA piece is your own design and maybe nothing can beat that feeling
b) you make special pieces that are not available via DF.

Off course it can be a combination of the two above.

If you want to buy instead of making your own - well - I would buy the basic pieces via DF. Long term you are more happy that way. They last longer and are the better long term investment.
And maybe sprinkle in some special pieces that are made HA (or from someone else) similar to buying accessories.

But as I said in the disclaimer - my opinion might be tainted by my background.
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#47470
Re:Seeking vet DF fans opinions on "knockoff" lines 2 Years ago  
imho, Thod has it nailed down. Hirst Arts is great to add specialty pieces that DF has not produced yet, but you won't really be saving that much money if you try to cast resin. Also plaster is brittle, if you cast with the higher strength dental plaster the durability goes up, but so does the price. Once you pay for paint and paint them, the price is about the same as DF and you had to do all the work.

Despite this, I do enjoy HA because I like to make custom design pieces. I wish DF still supported the sci-fi line and was having some new releases there. Curved space ship hulls and more curved hallways would be great. Currently I have to use HA molds for alot of my sci-fi builds.
jgardner44
Please produce more ice, lava, and elevation tiles
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12x cavern ks sets
6x lava river ks set
5x lava cavern ks sets
1x wicked cavern ks set
1x stalagmite cavern set
12x hellscape #1sets
10x hellscape #2sets
2x resin ice cavern sets
6x gametile ice cavern sets
4x ruins sets

Hoping for more lava and ice tiles in the future!
 
#47471
Re:Seeking vet DF fans opinions on "knockoff" lines 2 Years ago  
I use grey Excalibur dental plaster. It is not brittle. It feels like rock when it is done and it is heavy. It is more expensive than regular plasters, however, it is still fairly cheap compared to DF if you can avoid shipping costs. Also, I use house paint in the smallest cans available.

However, if you take into account the TIME it takes to case pieces then DF wins hands down. Like Thod said, you could make a mold of your complete piece so that you can cast them quick, however, silicone molding material is very expensive. I made one mold of a pool that I made and the mold cost me almost $30.

Like I said before, I have seen some incredible Hirst pieces but they all fall short when compared to DF quality and appearance.
jericho
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#47472
Re:Seeking vet DF fans opinions on "knockoff" lines 2 Years ago  
I'd like to use excalibur for casting my HA blocks, but the shipping kills me. I wish there was a source here in southern Idaho. 50 lbs of excalibur to my location runs $75+.
jgardner44
Please produce more ice, lava, and elevation tiles
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12x cavern ks sets
6x lava river ks set
5x lava cavern ks sets
1x wicked cavern ks set
1x stalagmite cavern set
12x hellscape #1sets
10x hellscape #2sets
2x resin ice cavern sets
6x gametile ice cavern sets
4x ruins sets

Hoping for more lava and ice tiles in the future!
 
#47481
Re:Seeking vet DF fans opinions on "knockoff" lines 2 Years ago  
Its the eternal "money cost vs time cost" conundrum.

Personally, I'd rather spend my spare time painting miniatures and dungeon furniture and take the hit on cost for the pre painted terrain that DF offers. I don't have the time to do both.

Of course, some others may have more spare time so making their own dungeon and hand painting it is good for them - there's no "right way" only your way!

:)

Dave
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#47483
Re:Seeking vet DF fans opinions on "knockoff" lines 2 Years ago  
Based on pictures and website info, I'd say that Hirst Arts pieces are about 85-90% compatible with Dwarven Forge. The walls are a little thicker, and the passages are a little lower. And matching the paint job can be tricky.

There are a couple-few companies that also do miniature indoor terrain, and do a good job of it. At least one sells pre-painted sets, but the rest don't. For my money (see what I did there?) none of them are as quite as good as DF, but your mileage may vary. Of the three or four I'm thinking of, one or two might have started as DF knock-offs but their products are sufficiently unique and creative that they are welcome additions to the the field.

Now there have been a few instances of genuine rip-offs and scams over the years. Someone put a set of molds for catacombs (unrelated to the upcoming DF release) on eBay as a way to enter the "lucrative" modular terrain industry and "plug a hole" in the DF product range. Someone else took ideas from these boards to start a rival company. And someone tried to sell unpainted re-castings of actual DF products on eBay. Misleading, sleazy, and actually illegal, respectively.

Custom pieces, usually available as singles, are frequently actual DF pieces that were purchased and modified. This is completely legal, and it is usually easy to judge the quality of the modifications by looking at the photo. If there isn't a photo, don't bid on it.

Accessories for modular terrain systems are likely to be 100% compatible, and can make for really nice additions to DF set-ups. Most non-DF architectural pieces will work fine alongside DF pieces, but not mixed in with them -- a non-DF room works fine next to a DF room, but using non-DF corners on the edges of a DF room won't be seamless.
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#47484
Re:Seeking vet DF fans opinions on "knockoff" lines 2 Years ago  
Accessories for my DF stuff that are cast and painted by someone else - YES!

Unique pieces that are mods of DF stuff or unique cast HA or other types of pieces that I can use in my DF set-ups - YES!

Trying to match the quality & diversity of DF with ANY other type of anything that is out there - laughable!!!

Trying to cast DOE, MBS, Cavern, Classic Dungeon, Hellscape and Catacomb myself.....lets not be absurd!!!
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