Loot Crates have always intrigued me, I've been tempted by all kinds from board games to miniatures but in the end I've always passed because the random nature of a loot crate means you might not always get stuff you want.
However in September, as Lockdown ended and I was finally able to return to work I decided to take a punt on Asset Drop. Asset Drop is a painters loot crate, each month you get a small box with a selection of paints, tools and other bits and pieces. Along side that come two resin tiles to practice on and a painting guide to follow. I thought this would make a perfect lunch hour project, allowing me to hone my skills and try out some different manufacturers.
What's in the Box?
So, what comes in the box? In the Discovery Box for September we have 3 MP paints, a jar of VMS pigment, a bottle of VMS Oil Expert, a tube of Abteilung Starship Filth and 2 AK Interactive weathering pencils. The tiles themselves are from Microart meaning they are very good quality resin casts.
Each tile is a feature, one has a giant flag, the other is part of a starship wall. While I can see being able to base a miniature on the flag tile, the other seems less likely, although you could use it as a backdrop in a small diorama, I suppose. The purpose of the tiles however is to give you something on which to practice the techniques in the painting guide. Talking of the techniques let's take a look at what they were.
The premise for this tutorial is that yellow is a tricky colour to paint and the chaps at Asset Drop have supplied a handy trio of colours to help with this and I have to say they did a pretty good job. The paints in this case are MP paints which I have a lot of experience with and used almost exclusively until I switched over to P3 as MP became harder to find. I didn't follow the guide precisely, choosing to mix and blend at my own pace but I did use all three colours, adding some Menoth White Highlight from my own collection towards the end for the more extreme highlights and over all I'm pretty pleased with the results.
The second tutorial focuses on weathering effects requiring you to paint the tile in advance so that you can add weathering. The tutorial is focusing on two main types of weathering, weathering using pigments to give a dirty & dusty look. And weathering using metallic pencils to give a chipped paint look. I started out by painting the tile largely with flat colours, adding some highlights to the green areas but leaving the pipes a basic grey and brown. Then I created a wash using the starship filth and oil expert as suggested in the guide, this wash, while very thin, did an excellent job of picking out the details in a very fine way. An acrylic wash would have cause more staining of the colour, whereas this settled in the recessed, adding an almost black lining effect. Following the guide, I added clumps of pigment, which I haven't really done before and then I got down to the chipping.
This is where I was sceptical but I was pleasantly surprise to find that the pencils actually did a really good job, I even used them to add a metallic sheen to the pipework which worked great.
As an activity I really enjoyed my Asset Drop box, the set tasks combined with a comprehensive guidebook on how to complete them means that anyone can have a go at creating these pieces and learn new techniques along the way. The box itself is not a complete painting solution, you need to provide certain parts yourself, such as brushes and other paints, but everything beyond the basics is provided in the kit.
This months box has an RRP of £28.00+ but value is subjective based on how much use you will get from the items included. The Asset Drop Discover box cover price is £19.90 +£2.99 in P&P so there is a saving if you want all of the products included. For me I like trying out new products and new techniques so the value is there but I also have a huge supply of hobby materials to work with. If you have a limited budget I would recommend spending your cash on paints and materials you know you need rather than a random subscription model. But if like me you want to try new stuff every month then this could be a good way to do it without breaking the bank.
Finally I just want to mention the brush I ended up using for these. As I said I was painting them as a lunchtime project in work so I was away from my regular brushes and ended up using this:
This is a Pentel Waterbrush and it worked surprising well. They are more designed for use with water colours than acrylics, you fill the handle with water and it supplies a constant flow of water to your bristles, which has the effect of thinning your paints as you work. This kept me from applying thicker layers and forced me to work slightly slower than normal which was actually nice and relaxing. I'm not recommending them for fine detail work but for covering large or flat areas with thin coats these give a really great flow.
Disclaimer - this is not a paid review, Asset Drop and Pentel did not provide products for review.