December 20th, 2010
Review - BattleTech: Technical Read Out 3085 Lance Pack
from Iron Wind Metals
All the Record Sheets and TRO books are only so much fun without the models depicted within them. Iron Wind Metals has also contributed to the 3085-era launch with a Lance Pack called TRO 3085. These were available as a Gen Con pre-release over the summer in limited quantity, and last week this pack was finally released to the masses.
This set includes four all new Mech model castings for the Prefect, Thunderbolt, Karhu, and Osprey. The first thing I noticed right off the bat is the quality of the castings, and the improved quality control overall. I was surprised to find very little imperfections at all, and only very faint mold lines if anything.
Each model is multiple pieces too, and like most of the BattleTech multiple piece models these too will require pinning, or you risk busting them apart as you attempt to assemble and paint them, because each one is rather large.
The first model I was drawn to is the Osprey. It's a six piece model, as the legs come on a separate sprue as do the lower torso and center mounted gun. There's also a really nice base included which has some scenic details on it. Actually all of the models in this set come with a scenic base bit. I opted to leave it out, because it's not big enough to fill the hex base I planned to use, and I hate trying to blend traditional basing materials with scenic base bits.
Assembly really isn't that tough, as there's no arms on this fella to attach, but I still pinned the legs into place, and did so in such a way that it looks like the model is walking forward, or sprinting even. At first I really didn't think much of the model based on pictures alone, but now it's one of my favorite new Mech designs altogether. The detail really is quite impressive. There's a lot of lines to appreciate, and overall the Osprey has a lot of character.
Here's another Word of Blake-looking fella, and honestly I like this look. He's a 10-piece model. The only hard part during assembly is getting the tiny bolts, or weapon barrel tips (what ever they are) glued in place. I'm also a bit weary of the pointy spike-like thing sticking out from the back of his head too. I have a notion it will be one of those "most busted off easily pieces" if you're not extra careful.
I also opted to do without the scenic base bit included with the Prefect. He fits nicely on a standard size hex base too, which is always a plus. Otherwise assembly was worry free, and overall it's a model with lots of character. There's a lot of possibilities with this fella too, because an experienced painter can have a lot of fun with this model.
This is actually an old Mech, but redone for 3085 with the new TRD-10M version as depicted in the TRO and RS 3085 books. Of all the Mechs in this set this is probably my least favorite, because I never liked the previous Thunderbolts all that much to begin with. As a model it's still a very nice model, with loads of detail.
There's eight pieces in all, as both arms and legs come on separate metal sprues, and the upper and lower torso bits also come separate, and the scenic base bit, and shoulder mounted missile launcher also comes on a sprue of its own. My only gripe about this piece is that the legs are designed in such a way that you pretty much have to assemble this model to look as if it's walking. I also had a really tough time figuring out which was the front side, and which was the back side of the lower torso on this piece.
Since it pretty much has to be assembled standing on one leg, pinning is totally required, otherwise this thing isn't standing. Also I can't stress enough how essential an all metal Iron Wind Metals hex base will be for this model, because I attempted to go cheap and use a plastic hex base from Chessex, but no matter what I tried he was determined to break free from it even via pinning. The metal base is just more ideal for this model all around.
Being a big fan of Clan Ghost Bear, this is really another must-have model for me personally. This little guy is made up of 12-pieces total. He stands a little funny, and I had a really hard time due to the spacing of his legs getting him to fit with both feet planted firmly onto a hex base too. I guess I should have opted for a walking or running pose.
The uber cool looking skull shoulder pads were also a real pain in the ass to get into place properly. I'm still not happy with just how the skulls are sitting, but no matter what I tried I still couldn't get them to mount as they look in all of the photos I've seen of the model elsewhere.
One of the claw tips also busted off as I assembled it. I can't say this is the fault of IWM either, as these things do happen, and all you can do is attempt to glue them back on. Sadly 9 times outta 10 a tiny bit that small never does go back on and stays on very well. Which is true in my case too, so I left him looking like a battle damaged veteran Karhu with a single broken claw tip.
The MSRP on this entire 4-model set is $44.95. I've seen it selling for as low as $30 on eBay recently, which is truly a steal considering how truly nice everyone of these models are.
The TRO 3085 Lance Pack shows that Iron Wind Metals is taking things to the next level. I'm excited to see what's next now that I've seen the TRO 3085 Lance Pack. Now this little scenic base bit that they included with each model has me torn, because while on one hand I'm ever so thankful that none of these models have that huge chunk of thick metal to hack off at the foot, which is what their previous integral bases were more than anything else.
Actually I broke a pair of clippers during the process of putting together the last Iron Wind Metals BattleTech models article, due to all that extra metal that gets in the way on the previously cast models. So I'm really happy that they decided to toss in that little scenic base bit separately, and not force it on us as part of the foot.
I'm sure there's a small savings on their part by do offering the base bit separate too, because those really thick integral bases on older models are nothing more than a waste of metal. With metal being at an all time high, this new design makes sense more than just economically.
On the other hand, the scenic base bit is really nice looking, but I find that it's truly way too small to be of much use to help most of the models stand, nor do they fill up a hex base entirely. Personally, I don't mind scenic bases if they fit the base I'm going to use, but it's often more trouble than what it's worth to try and mix scenic base with traditional basing materials to fill the entire space of a base with both. If that base were made like an insert to fit down into a hex base, now that would be different.
I've almost always have hacked off the extra metal at the feet and pinned them directly to the base I plan to use, and used traditional basing materials more often than not. Therefore it's clear that many modeling enthusiasts like myself will appreciate that the scenic base bit comes separate, and is optional, but others will like it for what it is just the same. No harm done either way, because any way you look at it this new design is definitely an improvement. I hope as they move ahead they stick with this design too.
These models all appear to be quite large and thick, and I'm a fan of big badass Mechs, who isn't? However the scale might be a bit all over the place within this set, which doesn't bother me either way, and I only mention it since people want to know. For instance the Osprey is supposed to be 55-ton Mech, but it looks a lot heavier. The Karhu and Thunderbolt both weigh in at 65 ton each, and but the Karhu looks so much bigger and thicker overall. The Prefect is supposed to be the heaviest of them all at 75 ton, but looks only as large as the Osprey, which a 55-ton Mech.
Setting minor scale creep aside, it's still an amazing set. By far this is probably the best Lance Pack they've released to date in terms of Mech variety too. Now as they move ahead I can only hope they bust out more of the Mechwarrior: Dark Age era Mechs, and the other new models that appear in the TRO 3085 and RS 3085, especially the new LAMs! Actually including a new 3085 LAM model is the only other thing they could have done to push this lance pack completely over the top.