Robotech RPG Tactics, Wave I – Part II (Problematic Models and their assembly, and Component Quality)

This is part 2 of a multi-part series
#1: Compatibility and Scaling
#3: Destroid Defender

In addition, Palladium addressed some of the concerns expressed in this post, including making some of the excluded cards and assembly instructions available on-line (though they’re still partially incorrect)
See the post here.

By way of preface, this was supposed to be a fluff post, and take maybe a couple hours to write while I worked up test models for the game, took pics of the sprues, and noted down the hard spots for a new modeller.

It’s been a sodding week, and I’m only covering the worst offenders so far; the Destroids are on hold until I can get some magnets.

The mini quality has been, hands-down, the most controversial part of the entire game to date. Is everything shit? No, not by any means.
But all three armies (Zentraedi, Malcontent, and UEDF) get the shaft on something. The Quel-Regult is by far the worst offender, with multiple parts that don’t fit, and a missing component (see below). The UEDF player, meanwhile, gets a bit screwed by having even more models to build than the Zen player – models which take almost three times as long to build out, and have significant problems of their own. The Malcontents? The boxed set doesn’t even contain any legal units for them.
And while some of the models are a bargain, the Zentraedi get hosed on a critical component of their army.

Full breakdown after the jump.

I mentioned earlier that the RRPGT models seem more like pint-size versions of 1:144 models than actual gaming miniatures.  The biggest factors, for me, are the material chosen and some very questionable modeling decisions.

Now, you make some trade-offs when sculpting a model and cutting it for the mold. As a sculptor, you’re usually stuck in a tug-of-war between making the caster’s life easy (posing to avoid undercuts, for example), keeping the detail intact, and making the model dynamic  while (in the case of most model kits and gaming miniatures) allowing reposing or conversion. I get that. For large-scale models, you can get away with high piece counts and extreme detail; the assembly is the fun for Gunpla and the like. For miniatures, most people have the most fun, you know, playing with ’em.
The problem is, these minis combine the worst of both worlds when it comes to both models and gaming minis. The part counts are insanely high; average part counts in most hard plastic mini lines run from around 5 to 10 pieces.  17 pieces (the Valkyrie Battroid) is difficult but plausible; some of the biggest BT models come close. 27 (the Glaug) is well beyond pushing it, however, especially when the assembled halves of a piece have no undercuts that would compromise extracting a solid version. Then there’s sets of 6+ parts (the 4 different  sets of Battroid arms) which are designed to only fit together in exactly one way, un-labeled or mentioned in the instructions, on the sprue with 4 other nearly-identical sets of parts. Are they put next to each other? Sort of. Is the sprue numbered? Naaah. Nor are the instructions, and most of the instruction sheets seem to be based on earlier drafts of the model breakdown. Some parts -notably, gunpods in the Battroid Valkyrie – have what I call “Procrustean molding”. The pieces are designed to fit together in a specific way, and have large cut-outs to force them into a position they otherwise couldn’t take, limiting conversion options. Other parts don’t have correctly-shaped sockets for the posts/balls on the matching elements. Then there’s the issue of incomplete assembly instructions (What size bases go to each model? Which sets of Valkyrie and Gervalk arms go together?). The MLOPs and LRM pieces on the Valkyrie Fighter and Guardian-mode sprues are unlabeled, and the book doesn’t show or explain the difference between them.

Then there’s another important part of cutting or sculpting models and placing them on the sprues; checking your gate locations. Several models – notably, the Glaug again – have sprue gates that are placed directly onto detail areas (causing the detail underneath to be partially or completely obliterated), or on the sides of slender, rounded parts, which tend to snap (placing the gates on the ends usually makes them easier to cut without damage, ensures they fully cast, and allows the cut areas to be hidden inside joint sockets). Some of the models I’ve gotten are incompletely-cast on those thin areas, leading to “v”-shaped gaps in the engine intakes or at the feet of Valkyries in all forms. Several of the gates, especially on the Regults, are tucked into notches in the parts they feed; this makes extracting them without damaging either the part or your tool very difficult.

Now, as to casting quality: Palladium made the choice to cast the majority of the models’ pieces as hollow halves, in a very hard plastic (to retain detail and save material). As most experienced plastic model builders will know, hollow parts tend to warp as they cool – leaving gaps that must be filled after you build. The thinner the plastic, the more it warps: the knife-edges required for such small models are further distorted by the different shrink rates of the thicker areas in the center. I’ve been lucky so far, but on the larger pieces (especially the Glaug’s legs) can be warped so badly that they can leave up to a 1mm gap. On, I might add, a model that’s only about 35mm high..
This means that a lot of parts have to be painstakingly filed, glued, clamped, and filled to remove major gaps and mold lines where there should realistically only be one to two parts. Take the Destroid legs: the front plate prevents molding them as a single piece, because of the undercuts on it. You can, however, cast the legs as one piece, the feet as another, and the front plate as a third: this works to conceal mold lines and gaps with the natural curves of the model. Instead, the entire leg is split in half, and hollow – leading to warping issues and multiple mold lines paralleling the gap the warped plastic leaves behind.

Finally (for now) some of the parts don’t fucking fit as they lie on the sprue. Wrong-sized or improperly-shaped sockets are usually to blame; the Regults of all species are the worst offenders here.

The Sprues:
Glaug and Quel-Regult (Recon Pod) 2 Models

Command Sprue- Front Command Sprue rear
Yep, both on one sprue.
Glaug: Some bad elements, but not the worst of the models. The hollow feet and weird foot-to-leg fit make reposing these a pain in the ass. The main gun on the back has a weird oblong peg that forces it to point straight. Meanwhile, there are sprue gates attached directly to detail on the rear engine nozzles (the small “dots” around the central ring), which it’s basically impossible not to cut off. The gap on the back half of the torso is also unconcealable without sculpting. The legs are very susceptible to warping: clamp and make sure you glue the entire edge. The small bits circled in yellow go to the Glaug.
As far as I can tell, the Glaug is the only model to use the larger bases (I got only two; logically, the Quel-Gulnau should probably use one too, but it does manage to balance on the smaller base, and the Glaug’s footprint doesn’t fit).

Quel-Regult: Someone fucked up on this one. I blame rushed production and copy-paste errors, probably from an earlier draft of the Regult sculpt.
Torso comparison
Note the difference between the bottom of the torsos: the Q-Reg is missing the locating peg on the hips that the Regult has, and also the “disc” that offsets the torso from the hip section. This means that they don’t quite fit together, and you either have to stick in a spacer or cut the front of the hip down slightly to get a solid fit with the torso. The small antenna piece (circled in green on the sprue), doesn’t fit into the slot cut for it. The tab is not only too wide, but cut to the wrong angle and even the wrong curve to fit that part of the Q-Reg. Like the standard Regult, the pegs on the feet are about twice as long as the socket in the foot is deep, which prevents a solid gluing surface unless you cut the peg down. The pegs for the small antennae that fit into the top of the radar “sail” are also too long, and will require a couple of sanding passes across the bottom to get a good fit. The fiddly bits circled in blue are for the Quel-Regult.

Quel-Gulnau (Recovery Pod) – 1 Model

Recovery Pod
This one is actually fairly well-designed. The gaps are well-placed, and the model thickness is relatively consistent. Watch the alignment of the front “eye”, there’s a bigass split straight down the front and it’s easy to cut the end off while prepping the model. The huge, weird hunk of plastic attached to the hand in the center is a little difficult to work around, but the model went together smoothly. Took about 10 minutes all-told.

Note: The “Command” boxed set will contain one of each of these models. I’ve got fluff and flexibility problems with that, but that’s not really germane to this part of the review. What is relevant is the price: around $12 per model, for unfinished work. That’s industry standard for pewter pieces. And Malcontent players will be getting an even worse deal, since they can’t use the Quel-Gulnau – for that matter, they can’t even trade it, since you can only field one per Glaug in a Zentraedi army, and the only Glaug that comes without an attached pod already is the Convention/Kickstarter exclusive Khyron pewter model.

 

Regult Battlepod (Standard) – 3 models

Regult sprue back Regult Sprues
15 pieces. As mentioned above, the foot mating pegs are longer than the sockets in the feet themselves. You’ll have to cut them down for a clean fit.
Regult Foot Fit
I managed to get fairly decent walking poses by bending the legs slightly and cutting off the mating pegs completely, then repositioning the feet slightly. The seams on the laser AMS on the head are a little large, and you have to be careful to properly align the hips,  but otherwise the Regults go together quickly and cleanly – due partly to the one-piece legs and arms. Average build time was about 5 minutes, good for a horde model.
Note: the “Regult Squad” boxed set contains 2 of these sprues, for a total of six models at about 6 bucks a pop. That’s an excellent deal at this scale.

Valkyrie Battroid – 2 Models

Valkyrie Sprue

Problem areas are circled in white; the different heads and arm sets are also tagged out

Each model is 16-19 parts depending on build. There are errors on the assembly sheets: none of the hands are separate pieces, and the ends of the hips are rounded rather than square. You’ll need clamps and/or your hands to secure them properly. Build time so far is averaging ~20 minutes, mostly spent clamping the legs, then having to hold the legs in position on the hip struts, and in pre-assembling the arms for gluing after I paint them. I’m also noticing a tendency for the plate on the front of the legs (which is supposed to be flat) to come out concave for some reason. The aerials on several of the heads are too long – notably, the VF-1R and VF-1S – meaning you have to cut them down if you want to have the models’ head facing anywhere but straight ahead and facing the ground. There are also tool marks on the “flat” plate behind the Battroid’s head.

Because the game uses True LoS, I recommend not using the jump-jet pillar on the Battroid sprue. If the top is carved flat, however, you can use it for a Guardian-mode, or notch it for the Fighter’s gunpod to get some height variances between your models. Gunpods 1 and 2 are cut to be usable only with the upper arm sets marked (L/RUA 1 and 2, respectively). The arms for gunpods 3 and 4 can actually be used with any upper arm, and the lower arms without hands on both sides are freely interchangeable. The small triangular bits circled in white at the top are the retracted cockpits, and are easy to miss. The heads appear to be easy to magnetize, and I’ll have an update after I grab some this weekend.

Valkyrie Guardian/Gervalk – 1 Model

They’re hovering (hah) around the same piece count as the Battroids, not including the disposable stores. Although there’s only one set of legs, the hips are actually well-hidden, making posing these dynamically comparatively easy. The upper arms on this sprue are not interchangeable with those from the Battroids, since the shoulder pegs are mounted much higher. You can, however, interchange their lower arms as well as gunpods 3 and 4.
With leg and torso clamping, the build time on these was about 15 minutes.

Valkyrie Fighter – 1 Model

Each is about 13 pieces plus weapons. It’s a decent enough model. I’ve had some serious problems, however, with the noses and fuselages warping and gapping at the sides. Watch the vertical stabilizers; the beveled edges are supposed to face inboard and up, holding them at an angle. The heads are easily-magnetized or even hot-swappable with pegs.  The legs have the same gapping problems as the other Valkyrie pieces, especially on the top of the “foot”, so clamp these as well and be prepared to do some filling. The model has a “loose” gunpod that serves as a stand.
The biggest problem I see is attaching the weapons pods to the wings, since they’re swept and there are no index marks on the underside. I’m going to attach a thin steel wire to the thin central notch in the wings and magnetize the MLOPs/Bombs/LRM pylons for interchangeability: watch for a future post on this (link when it’s done)

The “Valkyrie Squad” boxed set has 2 each of the Fighter and Guardian sprues, and one fighter sprue, running around $5 per model (again) or about $15 per actual combat unit. That’s good and slightly above average (respectively) for this scale and genre.

Other components:
The Cards:
The “lamination” on the cards is simply not tough enough to stand up to tabletop use. I recommend buying card sleeves, or getting them re-laminated at a copy shop. The larger (Squadron and Force) cards fit into the Large-Format sleeves used on the Magic Vanguard or Commander-format super-cards. The unit reference cards fit into 66mm x 95mm sleeves, but split several “standard”-sized sleeves while I was prepping them. The “add-on” cards, the smallest, fit comfortably into American-standard board game mini-card sleeves, like the ones for Flightpath damage decks.
On that note, for some reason I’m missing one unit card – the “Brawler” Destroid squadron – and have 8 VF-1S reference and add-on cards, despite the rules only allowing 2 total in a UEDF player’s force.

The Dice:
I got 24, twelve each of the UEDF and Zentraedi dice. Of those, all but two of the UEDF dice had imbalancing defects (missing or excess paint), and eight of the Zentraedi ones were likewise defective. They’re pretty, but in a quicky 100-throw water-column-test they deviated towards “1” or “6” significantly (the UEDF dice had nearly a 35% “1” rate). The unblemished dice rolled a much more normal distribution.

The Command Point Tokens:
I got ten of each; the UEDF tokens in a clear cherry red, the Zentraedi in gem purple. The UEDF models in the basic boxed set generate at least eleven CP depending on load-out, and could pull as many as 16. The Zentraedi aren’t quite as badly-off, since they only generate nine, but there still aren’t enough components in the boxed set to cover their contents. And, of course, the Malcontents got screwed.

(Note: all images used are my own photographs of components. Commentary is mine. Trademarks used without permission for the purpose of commentary and reporting. No challenge is intended by their use.)

Advertisements
Leave a comment

6 Comments

  1. I desperately wanted to back this project but I had little to no faith in Palladium. After years and years of loving the RIFTS system and spending what had to be close to twenty years for Beyond the Supernatural. I was sadly certain that this amazing kickstarter was not going to stand up to its deadlines and quality would suffer greatly in the end.
    This is a great post about the state of the finished product and the woes of what could have been one of the best kicks of the year.

    Reply
  2. JD

     /  March 29, 2016

    A little late to the party here myself. I was a backer who sold my pledge when I saw the many issues above to my co-backer. I recently picked up the core game for $40 & I have to say I am so glad I did not keep this kickstarter. Even at those prices I would have been sorely disappointed to finally get JUST wave 1 and see these in person. The core game is not user friendly & to be honest, it’s not even legal out of the box as you need 2 core squadron cards to play a legal game and the zentreadi get hosed on this. They also have significantly fewer points straight out of the box. If you go maxed out on both sides in terms of upgrades and characters the zentreadi end up almost 100pts behind the RDF. It seems like this game was designed to only be legally playable straight out of the box as the kickstarter. I’m not sure why it is that most game companies feel the need to design 2 player starters as illegal for gameplay. Why design a game so that either A) the starter set is prohibitively expensive to be gameplay legal or B) you can’t play legally as anything but a training set without ponying up about another $100+?

    Reply
  1. Update: Robotech RPG Tactics corrections | Doc Schott's Lab
  2. Robotech RPG Tactics, Wave I – Part III (It’s Destroid Time, With Your Friend, the Defender) | Doc Schott's Lab
  3. Review: Robotech RPG Tactics, Wave 1 Part I (Compatibility, Scaling) | Doc Schott's Lab
  4. Review: Robotech RPG Tactics Rulebook | neuronphaser

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: