Friday, December 27, 2013

Holiday Cheers

Hey all,

So it’s been a while since I posted, and I apologize for that. I’ve had a busy holiday season, trying to deal with family stuff, travel plans, etc.

I’ll soon be back here with new pics and work. I’ve got the final pieces of the Catapult coming in the mail, as well as a fair few N-Scale builds finished.

Just a quick update, so there ya go.

Done a while back, N-Scale Loki, from Mechwarrior: Dark Age, featuring battle damage.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Life in N-Gauge

1/60 or 28mm Battletech is playing with the big boys in a big way. The models are huge, the terrain needs to be equally huge, and your infantry and vehicles need to be in scale to make it truly work. While my current project- the 1/60 scale Catapult from Scott- is stalled due to lack of legs, I thought I would address the slightly less bank-breaking, slightly more easily-acquirable, slightly less-of-a-pain-to-paint scale of Battletech: N Scale.

N-Scale (also called N-Gauge) is approximately equivalent to 1/100 scale or 15mm miniatures. For Battletech, we have a wealth of options- and even official ones- thanks to Mechwarrior: Dark Age/ Age of Destruction. These miniatures were (for the most part) in scale with N-Gauge, and, when combined with some truly excellent sculpts from members of the community, a player has a ton of options for building up a force of ‘mechs, tanks, infantry, and even air support.

Mechwarrior: Dark Age, later called Age of Destruction, gave us hundreds of miniatures representing
‘mechs, battle armor, infantry, vehicles, and VTOL air units, all of which can be used for N-scale gaming. At roughly 15mm scale, a truly massive range of other miniatures is available as well, which can be used in this light. I plan on making Battletech: Combined Arms scalable for both 28mm and 15mm, so expect the new rules up on my site officially, very soon. Among the stand-out sculpts from Mechwarrior: Dark Age were the Mad Cat (…you all know what i’m going to say about Wizkids Games and how they don’t know the difference between a Mad Cat and a Mad Cat Mk II), the Atlas, the Locust, the Kodiak, the Raptor II, and the Tundra Wolf. A great deal of their designs were “original” at the time, and have since been absorbed into the greater Battletech canon as we reach TRO: 3145 here.

Now, Mechwarrior: Dark Age used Wizkids’ “clix” system, which means each model is glued to a hard plastic clicky dial base. Some people don’t mind these, and simply base over this with sand or static grass. I can’t stand these bases, and instead I tear or cut my miniatures off the clix base and glue them to a standard wargaming base, generally one between 40mm and 60mm, flat beveled-edge.

Medium and heavy ‘mechs generally fare better on the Wizkids scale creep, all of the industrialmechs are light on tonnage, and the miniatures the right size to reflect this. Meanwhile, light battlemechs like the Wolfhound stand full inches over the 65 ton Catapult (which is a fantastic model in its own right, the original Dark Age one, not the crappy Solaris pack one).

15mm miniatures for infantry are easy to come by. The infantry of Dark Age are….a bit small, flimsy, and lacking detail. I much prefer 15mm miniature soldiers such as Flames of War for both infantry and some extra vehicles. These are extremely detailed, beautifully cast miniatures that fit very well alongside Mechwarrior/Battletech models. Luckily, most of the battle armor from Dark Age looks fantastic and is detailed enough to paint, rebase, and use as well!

Also available are Gruntz miniatures, a small start-up wargame that features its own ‘mechs in 15mm scale, designed by the excellent David White ( Antenocitis Workshop, one of the best miniature games companies right now, has also recently started casting vehicles and scenery in 15mm, which perfectly fit the near-futuristic aesthetic of Battletech.

Lastly, for those Unseen fans out there, you’re in luck! Much easier to find than 28mm or 1/60 scale versions, the Nichimo 1/200 scale model kits of famous Valkyrie, Destroid, and Glaug models makes finding an N-Scale Marauder, Archer, Stinger, etc. a breeze. These regularly sell for $20-30, making them a steal compared to their larger versions. 

So where do you get your Mechwarrior: Dark Age and Battletech N-Scale sculpts? eBay, Troll and Toad, and secondhand sites (try searching “mechwarrior dark age singles”) will net you tons of results with (usually) cheap prices. For the awesome resin-cast sculpts of N-Scale Battlemechs though, head over to Lords of the Battlefield and check their trading and selling section. LordNth, Spaceman Spiff, Orko_one, and Elfbait are the big names in N-Scale there, and will likely set you on the right track.  And of special note, Ironwind Metals produces a small line of “museum scale” Battletech models, which, conveniently for us, fit near-perfectly in scale with  1/100, 15mm, or N-gauge models! Check out the comparison below. 
Ironwind Museum Scale Vulture on the left, Dark Age Vulture II on the right, both courtesy of Spaceman Spiff

Rest assured, rules for Battletech: Combined Arms are coming soon, and by god, if I can’t get 28mm approved for publication, I will at least push for N-Scale. It functions as a good middle-ground between size and price, offering exquisite detail at a much lower cost, and, when painted well, looks simply stunning on the battlefield. Don’t believe me? Check out Spaceman Spiff’s blog and see his years of awesome work.
Spaceman Spiff’s painted up Bushwacker, sculpted by Orko_one, accompanied by a Dark Age Saxon APC and two Kinnol main battle tanks

Until next time,

Nostra, signing out


Saturday, November 30, 2013

Joyride Studios Madcat- Battletech 28mm

As promised, I finished my 1/60 (ish) scale Mad Cat, an eBay find that started life as the Joyride Studios Mechwarrior: Dark Age toy line’s Wave 1 Mad Cat II (…long story short, Wizkids never did their Battletech homework). The Wave 1 version came in a pure white paint scheme, representing the Mad Cat II from the Spirit Cats faction. I snagged this thing in a last minute bid for around $40 loose, while unopened, mint condition ones tend to go for around double that.

My initial idea was to do the model in a blue-grey urban camo scheme to match my Nighthawk PA(L) Battle Armor, planning to do a Rasalhague Dominion force of mixed Clan and IS technology. However that didn’t pan out, after priming the model straight black I found that Games Workshop’s new Citadel paints are….bad. The consistency is terrible for large models, and after several attempts I gave up.

After some further planning, I decided on a purely Ghost Bears color scheme. I re-primed the model smooth white, and completely washed the model in Citadel Gulliman Blue glaze, which gave a very, very clean finish that bled into the nooks and crannies of the model, a perfect base shade. Building up from there, I spent several days applying an older Citadel Space Wolves Grey coat, which, as an older Citadel paint, has a much more even consistency, and covered the model beautifully with minimal brush stroke lines.

That in place, I touched up my shaded areas with more Gulliman Blue and began the next step. I coated all the weaponry and any blatantly “metal” areas with Citadel Warplock Bronze (the only Citadel metallic in the new line worth a damn) and then drybrushed it with old Citadel Boltgun Metal (still my chosen standard for metal colors). After that was dry I applied Vallejo Sepia Shade to the metal areas, giving a worn look that I really like.

Next came the camouflage. I’d already done a patchwork urban-winter camo scheme on my Panther before, so this time I tried a stippled-on pattern of overlapping colors on the arms and legs of the machine. For this I used Citadel The Fang, Citadel Russ Grey, and Citadel Incubi Darkness (which I may repaint). For any 40k players out there….yes I play Space Wolves.

The cockpit was my final step, which turned out decently when you view it from a distance. I’m not great at cockpit jeweling. I coated the cockpit panes in Citadel Kabalite Green, then washed it in Citadel Coelia Greenshade. This gave me some good depth, so I could build up layers to make the glass look right. I followed with Citadel Sybarite Green, and lastly used a few choice strokes of Citadel Hellion Green dry paint and a couple lines of Citadel White Scar. I then coated the whole cockpit glass with Vallejo Gloss Varnish to give it an appropriate sheen.

I chose the dark green cockpit coloration because with Citadel paints on such a small area, I wasn’t as concerned with consistency, and because the color complements the cool blues and whites of the surrounding model. For some last bits of detail (i need to order some new transfers from Fighting Piranha), I used a couple warning symbols on the gun pods and a torn, worn away hazard stripe on the back of the ‘mech, mostly obscured by leaking oil and corrosion. I’ll of course be adding a Ghost Bears symbol once I get new transfers, as well as a symbol of the Ourse Keshik to give the Timber Wolf a proper identification.

On the workbench now is my Catapult courtesy of Scott Murphy, a beautiful resin kit that I can’t wait to paint up. Unfortunately a small error saw it missing the upper portions of its legs, but I should have those down from Scott in a few days. After that? Well I’m certainly eyeing all four of the ‘mechs for sale from Tim at Battlemech Club...

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Initial Project- 1/60 Scale Battletech

It began in 2011 or 2012, when I stumbled across the three major blogs for 1/60 scale Battletech: Battlemech Club, Scott’s Messy Desk, and Ravenstar Studios. The first of these, run by TC Fusco and Scott Murphy, respectively, provided a huge inspiration for me in reviving the 28mm Battletech gaming started long ago by Armorcast; while Ravenstar provides high quality 1/60 scale kits as well, though their product line is not 100% Battletech focused.

Sadly I missed out on the Armorcast years, I was in high school at the time and Battletech was in something of a lull (no Mechwarrior video game released since 2002, Mechassault was subpar and too arcadey, and Mechwarrior Dark Age had pretty much taken over as the most affordable miniatures game for the franchise). Not to mention few high schoolers would have $100+ to spend on a 1/60 scale ‘mech model.

Anyway, I was swift to get into 1/60 scale Battletech modeling, and bought a 1/100 scale Glaug Commander Pod off of eBay (the unseen version of the MAD-5L Marauder….although I soon discovered it was far too small for the scale). Regardless, I modified it, painted it up in Eridani Light Horse colors, and considered it a mild success.

It was a good start, but I needed something to truly scratch that 28mm itch, in scale or as close as I could get. After seeing a post about it on one of the blogs, I found Ravenstar’s 1/60 scale Panther, a favorite DCMS ‘mech that I knew I just had to have. I spent a lot of time building the model, made from a hard, high-impact resin, and repositioned it to be in a running pose, which necessitated the use of two bases to keep it upright. Now- I generally like my Battletech models free standing, so they can more easily be used in tight alleyways and streets on urban game boards. So instead of a single large base like with the Marauder shown above, I used two small bases on the feet of the Panther- one 60mm and one 40mm, with urban rubble on them, so the ‘mech could both stand and have minimal wasted space below it. 

I painted it in a winter/urban scheme consisting of Citadel and Formula P3 colors- a heavy basecoat of Space Wolves Grey, heavily weathered using fine graphite smeared onto it with tissue and cotton swabs, resulting in a very nice gritty, realistic look. I added in a speckled, disruptive camouflage scheme of irregular, geometric patterns in P3 Greatcoat and Iron Hull Grey, Citadel Skull White, and Citadel Shadow Grey. To top it all off, I painted the jump jet cowlings and PPC barrel in Citadel Boltgun Metal, judiciously weathered with Citadel Chaos Black to represent the scorching of jet heat and discharged weaponry. Lastly, courtesy of Fighting Piranha Graphics (the same source of my Eridani Light Horse markings seen above) I added in some warning markings and an awesome yellow and black checkered marking on one shoulder. 

Alas, the rigors of moving apartments took their toll on both ‘mechs, and they were utterly smashed by shifting boxes and not enough protection. Obviously, with such large models, precautions need to be taken when transporting them. Battlefoam or Army Transport cases for miniature wargaming come highly recommended. Miniature wargaming is an investment, not just in money, but in time spent building and painting your models. 

I’m undeterred however, and I will be ordering a new Panther before the year is out, and most certainly looking into a more accurately scaled 1/72 Glaug Command Pod for a new Marauder model. What’s on the workbench for now, you might ask? Well I’m currently working on painting a Joyride Studios Mad Cat, and within the next day or two I should have on my doorstep a CPLT-C3 Catapult purchased from Scott Murphy. I will be updating the blog with those projects as we go into this long holiday weekend here. 

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Troops are Loose

"We are the boys who go to a particular place, at H-hour, occupy a designated terrain, stand on it, dig the enemy out of their holes, force them then and there to surrender or die. We're the bloody infantry, the doughboy, the duckfoot, the foot soldier who goes where the enemy is and takes him on in person.” - Robert Heinlein, Starship Troopers (1959)

Infantry are a vital part of any war. If you don’t believe me, ask any tanker who did a tour in the Middle East. In today’s (and, I suspect, the future’s) asymmetrical warfare, even the might of a fully-armored main battle tank can be brought low by the timely intervention of an RPG, satchel charge, or improvised explosive device. In the tight quarters of an urban environment, it’s the infantry who win wars. In Battletech: Combined Arms, it is much the same. While no single soldier on foot (nor vehicle or aerospace fighter) can challenge the might of a 30 foot tall Battlemech; squads of specially trained ‘mech hunter infantry, lances or stars of Battle Armor all pose a significant threat to an unwary mechwarrior who thinks his mighty metal steed makes him a god on the battlefield. 

In Battletech: Combined Arms, knowing how to use your infantry is essential. Arming infantrymen with Magshot Gauss Rifles, Man-Pack PPCs, towed field artillery, or heavy machine guns can make all the difference in a game of 30th century combat. Infantry are best used in a decidedly clandestine fashion, popping up from hidden positions, deploying anti-mech mines or bola snares, and jamming the enemy’s communications with ECM equipment to gain the advantage over even an Assault-class ‘mech. 
My own NightHawk PA(L) Suit in Winter/Urban Camouflage

Battle Armor, on the other hand, is a much more brutal asset, capable of head-on assaults aided by their jump jets and battle claws. A single point of Elemental suits can tear a light or medium ‘mech apart in a single attack! If you’ve got the c-bills for it, heavier battle armors like the Ravager Assault Battle Armor, Fenrir II, Ironhold, or Kanazuchi can go toe-to-toe with nearly anything your opponent can throw at them, shrugging off even direct hits from a PPC or Gauss Rifle and still maintaining the mobility and armament to fight back. If the heavier suits are out of your budget range, or you prefer a stealthier element, try the Nighthawk PA(L)- Power Armor Light suit or Kage Battle Armor, offering a range of different abilities and weapons.

How you kit out your infantry is up to you, and Ironwind Metals currently produces a range of Kurita and Steiner infantry models in 25(ish)mm scale. They also produce a 28mm Elemental suit, as well as two different Hauberk Commando Battle Armors. This is just the tip of the iceberg, however, any sort of generic-looking 28mm soldiers can be used for your infantry. Defiance Games manufactures plastic UAMC Marines that work perfectly for Battletech games, as well as Chinese Militia (of the future!) that  feature backward-swept helmets nearly identical to those worn by Kurita infantry. For Battle Armor, Mongoose Publishing has two “Holocaust Judges” in their Judge Dredd line, one of which looks very close to Kage battle armor, while the other, bulkier design looks similar to Gnome or perhaps Longinus Battle Armor. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Toys to Some, ‘Mechs to All

Back in the golden years of 1994, there was Battletech: The Animated Series, a short-lived, 13-episode television show covering factionalization, racism, xenophobia, the horrors of war, and military action…..all wrapped in a kid-friendly package and featuring then-amazing CGI sequences and absolutely zero blood, language, or sexuality. Good times….good times. Nevertheless, Tyco, a toy company perhaps better known for Matchbox cars and Power Rangers, brought Battletech to kids in the form of a line of action figures based on the show and horribly out of scale with…well…anything, really…until now. 

The toys were made out of hard plastic, had firing missiles and ejection seats and all those fun gimmicks, and came packaged with an action figure of their pilot who was several sizes larger than he should have been for a 'mech in that scale. Interestingly, if one were to replace said pilot with a 28mm miniature, these toys would for the most part be accurate. They're somewhat rare nowadays, but pop up fairly regularly on eBay for mostly reasonable prices. I'll go into detail on the individual toys here, and how you can use them for your 28mm games of Battletech. 
From Left to Right: Tyco Hunchback IIC, Armorcast Mad Cat, Tyco Axman, Armorcast Atlas. At their feet stand an Imperial Guard Cadian, an unknown 28mm soldier, and an Armorcast Elemental

Axman- based on Adam Steiner's personal 'mech in 3050, this was the flagship battlemech of the animated series and subsequent toy line. A 65-tonner, this particular version from the show is the AXM-2N variant, featuring the trademark hatchet/ axe, twin shoulder-mounted LRM-15 launchers, 3 medium lasers and a large pulse laser. The toy itself is fairly true to the actual art and show counterpart, with a slightly bigger head to accommodate the ejection seat gimmick and fitting the pilot action figure inside. It came in two color variants- one the standard black with yellow striped "camouflage" from the show, and the other a dark teal with black stripes, both variations with the 90's-standard fluorescent orange colored launching missiles and guns for safety. 

For 1/60 scale or 28mm Battletech gaming, the Axman stacks up decently, although not perfectly in scale. It stands about 9 inches tall, and as wide at the shoulders as the Armorcast Atlas….which means it's both taller and wider than the Armorcast Madcat, which represents a 'mech a full 10 tons heavier. The head being oversized and the legs a bit short means the Axman is somewhat awkward looking, but it's not a deal breaker. A skilled modeler can repose it or at least glue it in a good pose, and with a decent paint job it looks realistic enough to work. 

Mauler- An assault 'mech, one of the very few available in approximately 1/60 scale, the Mauler (this variant roughly the MAL-1R) piloted by Zack Hawkins in the tv series was also the largest 'mech of the Tyco line. Though not 100% matching the show version or even its own box art (the missile launchers aren't angled in the toy, for example), this mech is a very nice representation and a perfect choice for 28mm Battletech games. This particular model stands at about 10 inches tall, putting it on par with the Armorcast Atlas, fitting since they're both Assault class 'mechs. Take away the gimmicky firing missiles (of which there are 16), and repaint this thing a decent camouflage color scheme or appropriate house colors, and you've got one mean mech model for 1/60 scale games. 

Bushwacker- The big failure of the Battletech lineup, the BSW-X1 Bushwacker is scaled to…absolutely nothing. Its arms are hollow on the underside, and its legs are hollowed in back, it looks very little like the Battletech art or even any variant in the Mechwarrior games. A 50 ton 'mech, the thing generally looks terrible, can't be reposed, and is out of scale for 1/60 or 28mm. Not recommended, even though the flashy tiger-striped alternative paint scheme version is pretty flashy. 

Thor- The clan 'mechs got a bit better treatment for the Tyco toy line. Clan Jade Falcon was the main threat of the Battletech animated series, and therefore the villains got their own toys as well. The Thor got a very nice sculpt that even had proportional legs and head (a big issue during the 90's to be sure). Unfortunately due to the need for a missile launching gimmick, the right arm is….a bizarre box shaped appendage. Not the worst thing in the world, a player can easily modify that arm to represent an Ultra AC/20 from the C configuration or some such. The model doesn't have a very dynamic pose to it, but it stands, it's roughly in scale with 1/60 or 28mm, and it looks like the 'mech it represents. 

Hunchback IIC- An odd choice when you think about it, the Hunchback was never a popular design in the clans or even for the video games. However, the toy it got is quite possibly the most accurate representation of any in the Tyco toy line. With two massive AC/20s in the shoulders, this thing is a hard hitter, and can easily be repainted for 1/60 scale Battletech- for which it is perfectly scaled. At 50 tons, this surprisingly powerful little 'mech is about an inch shorter than the Armorcast Mad Cat, and considerably thinner, a perfect representation for a medium 'mech. As usual, get rid of the gimmick missiles, paint it  new, less plastic finish, and you're ready to set this beast upon the battlefield! 

The rest of Tyco: To go with the battlemechs, Tyco also produced Elemental, Infiltrator, and Sloth battle armor, as well as a Banshee Aerospace fighter, none of which are in a decent enough scale to use for Battletech in 28mm games. There was also a prototype produced of the Vulture battlemech, though there is only one picture of it to be found, and it looks to be very much out of scale anyway. 

From left to Right: Joyride Mad Cat, Joyride Jupiter, Armorcast Mad Cat, Armorcast Atlas

Now that takes care of Tyco, but back in the mid-2000's, when Wizkids held the Mechwarrior license, a small company called Joyride Studios produced a limited line of Mechwarrior Dark Age toys in 1/55th scale (why in the hell they decided on 1/55 i have no idea, but suffice to say some of them work for 1/60 and 28mm, and some do not). Due to a very limited production, these are actually harder to find than the Tyco toys, and usually sell for a lot more money. They were done in a hybrid of die cast metal and plastic, which resulted in…very heavy and very fragile models at the same time, all of which also came with micro-machine sized pilots that were way out of scale with the 'mechs. 

Mad Cat- officially called the Mad Cat II (because Wizkids never seemed to grasp that the Mad Cat MK II looked substantially different than the famous Mad Cat), this model is by far the most sought after in the Joyride collection. It is almost EXACTLY the same size and dimensions of the Armorcast Mad Cat, with a different arm assembly being the only modification. Throughout their run Joyride produced three color variants (two released as action figures, and a third as a model kit) of the Mad Cat. Available in White, Silver, and Brown. One variant (I think the model kit version) came with rotary autocannon arms instead of the standard PPC or Lasers). If you can get your hands on one of these, I highly recommend it! It is the quintessential Mad Cat for Battletech gaming in 1/60 scale, since the Armorcast design is infinitely more expensive and harder to find. 

Jupiter- a Dark Age assault 'mech that has no classic battletech counterpart (well…until TRO 3075). The Jupiter was released in red, red and grey, and a very nice blue and tan color scheme; however, as a 100-ton 'mech it is ridiculously out of scale, standing shorter than the Mad Cat and about the same width. The figure itself is also absurdly heavy, and the plastic joints are prone to loosening. If you for some reason love the Dark Age designs, I guess you could get one, but if you're planning on 1/60 scale gaming look elsewhere or maybe use it to scan a CAD design and 3D print your own in a bigger scale. 

Legionnaire- another Dark Age design, albeit a medium 'mech at 50 tons, the Legionnaire is in a far more accurate scale, standing about the same height and width as the Tyco Hunchback IIC. This design features a massive rotary autocannon above its cockpit, an appropriately fearsome weapon. This is a utilitarian, workhorse design that many collectors should consider using for 1/60 scale battletech, as a fast heavy hitter can make all the difference in an urban battleground. This design was available in military green, dark blue, and an interesting black design with red and yellow checkered arms and shoulders. 

Forestry Mech- The odd man out of the bunch, the Forestry Mech is an industrialmech that was retrofitted for militia use during the Dark Age, and therefore this figure is one of the few that comes with alternative parts. The chainsaw and claw arms are interchangeable, and a third arm option is a low calibre autocannon that can replace either of them. This is a very small 'mech at only 20 tons, and while its cockpit is quite cramped for a 28mm model (I used a Warhammer 40,000 sentinel pilot), it seems appropriately sized for 1/60 scale battletech. This is by far the easiest of the four designs to find on eBay or Amazon sales, and can be found in industrial yellow, brown and silver, or pure white. 

Well there you have it! If you're lucky, fast, and have cash, you can land these now out of production Battletech and Mechwarrior toys for reasonable prices, and use them in your games of Battletech: Combined Arms. 28mm battletech is a fun and rewarding miniature war-game, and these models (with some exceptions) fit right in. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Reseeing the Unseen

We all know the story, Harmony Gold and Playmates, lawsuit, Robotech, yadayadayada….but lucky for us, the Unseen ‘mechs, some of the most famous in all of Battletech fandom, are readily available in model kits of the appropriate scale, and can therefore easily be used for 28mm Battletech gaming. Below is a list of Battletech ‘mechs and the correctly-scaled model kit from Macross, Robotech, etc. that you can buy to represent them: 

Battletech            Equivalent
Marauder             1/72 Scale Macross Robotech Glaug Command Pod ($175 eBay)
Warhammer         1/60 Scale Macross Destroid Tomahawk ($115-$150 eBay)
Rifleman              1/60 Scale Macross Destroid Defender ($180-$200 eBay)
Archer                 1/72 Scale Macross Destroid Spartan ($20-$30 eBay)
Longbow             1/72 Scale Macross Destroid Phalanx ($120 eBay)
Shadow Hawk 1/48 Scale Robotech Zoltek (nearly impossible to find)

Thunderbolt         1/48 Scale Robotech Gartan ($85 eBay) 
                             1/72 Scale Dougram Ironfoot ($76 eBay)

Stinger/LAM       1/72 Scale Macross Valkyrie VF-1A ($36.50 Hobbylink Japan)
Wasp/LAM         1/72 Scale Macross Valkyrie VF-1S ($36.50 Hobbylink Japan)
Crusader             1/72 Scale Macross Armored Valkyrie ($119 eBay)

Goliath             1/48 Scale Dougram Crab Gunner/ Robotech Commando 
                             ($152 from 

Unfortunately since nobody cares about Robotech/Macross/Dougram (I mean, come on….Gundam is where the giant robot scene is at right now) and it’s well over twenty years old, a lot of these models are hard to find nowadays. If you can find these in the correct scales listed though, you’re ripe for playing 1/60 scale Battletech, as these all work perfectly as Unseen designs. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Go Big or Go Home- Battletech Gaming on a Large Scale

While many people still wax lyrical about the good old days of Classic Battletech, I’ve always found larger miniatures to be more appealing. I like the fact that you’ve got more to work with, painting details is much easier, conversions look better, and in 1/60 scale (which is pretty much identical to 25mm or 28mm, depending on manufacturer), you really get a sense of how Battlemechs tower over the modern battlefield, dwarfing infantry and vehicles alike.

The original bad boy: Armorcast Atlas
Now for the hard question though: where do you get 1/60 scale ‘mechs? From the late 1990’s to the early-mid 2000’s, Armorcast ran a line of licensed 28mm/1:60 scale Battletech miniatures. They managed to produce the Atlas, Mad Cat, and Vulture along with many omnimech-compatible weapons, a gun truck, and an Elemental battle armor for a short time before their license ended. There was also a prototype of a Centurion at one point, and mention of the Thor, Loki, and Ryoken on several of their product pages although I myself have never seen pictures of any of them in model form. Unfortunately due to the limited run and very few of these models ever being in circulation, Armorcast ‘mechs are in short supply, and very rarely will pop up on eBay, selling in excess of $200.

Now, the 28mm Elemental miniature is still available, albeit from Iron Wind Metals, the official producer of Catalyst’s Classic Battletech game miniatures. They also continue to produce old 25mm (ish) Battletroops miniatures of Steiner and Kurita soldiers.
New to their product line (all listed under the “Battletroops” label in their online exclusives section) are 2 variants of 28mm scale Hauberk Commando battle armor, beautiful miniatures that complement the clan Elemental very well, and look superb in large scale battletech games. Lastly, the Bounty Hunter Mech Pack includes a 28mm scale Nighthawk PAL battle armor suit, which is a very nice design- one which I will be showing on here in a future post.

Simon Kelly’s 28mm Elementals
While Armorcast may be extremely hard to get a hold of, and Iron Wind has yet to produce 1/60 scale ‘mechs, a number of innovative sculptors such as my friends Tim Fusco and Scott Murphy regularly cast limited-run sculpts of Battletech models. The latest available are the Flea, Deimos, and Vulture MK II from Tim, while I believe Scott is in the midst of sculpting the Mechwarrior Online version of the Atlas. These guys truly kick ass when it comes to building 1/60 scale ‘mechs, and their designs are top-of-the-line in quality, ease of assembly, and price. There is also a company called Ravenstar, which produces several Battletech designs right now- namely an Uller, Panther, Hunchback IIC, and a Thor.

Next time….we’ll re-see the unseen!

Nostra signing out.

Monday, November 18, 2013

All Systems Nominal

Let me begin by introducing myself, my name you will likely see on here, though I go by the username Nostra on the Mechwarrior Online forums and Classic Battletech website. This blog is essentially a chronicle of my hobby- building Battletech models, in three separate scales. Whether you like the Classic Battletech board game, N-Scale Battletech, or 1/60 (28mm) Battletech miniatures, this is the place to be.

I’ve been interested in Battletech since I first saw the animated series back in 1994, and soon discovered the Mechwarrior video games before eventually getting to the board game. I enjoy many wargames such as Warhammer 40,000 and War Machine/Hordes, but in the future I hope to partner with Catalyst Game Labs to publish Battletech: Combined Arms- a ruleset I developed myself based around gaming on a large 28mm scale similarly to the old Armorcast Battletech rules. I will, of course, publish the playtest rules on here at a later date.

Well, that’s all for now, Nostra signing out.