Gavin Greig (ggreig) wrote,
Gavin Greig

Robogear Terrain Sets

In the ever-further-receding days when I used to run a miniature-based roleplaying game, one of the things I often tried to include in action situations was some use of the third dimension. In Albannach, my Pictish game played with 15mm figures, I did this by using large chunks of bark - originally sold as model railway scenery - as rocky outcrops. The bark chunks were large enough that it was possible for characters to use the height for tactical advantage, and of course it added to the visuals of the game.

Now that I'm thinking more along the lines of 25mm figures and steampunk, I was intrigued to spot the Robogear Terrain Sets from Airfix.

There are two sets available, the Platformer Terrain Set and the Hexagon Terrain Set. Both are Airfix's good old injection moulded plastic, and involve twisting carefully cutting the parts off the sprue before construction. Once you have done this, it's possible to press the pieces together (no glue required) to construct a variety of "metal" platforms.

The mouldings are clearly intended to be futuristic, but if you don't look too closely, they can probably pass for any industrial-type setting. The decoration on the panels includes heavy hatches, vents and hydraulic tubing, but given that hatches on opposing sides of panels don't necessarily match up, I would recommend not paying too much attention to that sort of detail.

I'm not sure whether or not the parts require painting. They come in a silvery-grey plastic which looks fairly OK but, of course, a bit plasticky. I may or may not decide to unearth the Badger in order to remedy this. While they probably would benefit from a coat of something more subdued and a wash or two of grime, I'm not sure how durable any paint would be in practice if the sets got reconfigured, and the same possibility also makes me wonder how well the paint job of adjoining panels would match up if they got switched around. However, if painting does occur, then I'm fairly confident that a good choice of colours would make it look perfectly passable for a steampunk setting.

It took me the best part of a day to cut out all the parts and assemble both sets.

I was a little surprised to discover that they're not interchangeable. Each set uses a different method of snap-to-fit construction, so while you could certainly sit them alongside each other quite happily, or extend each set with more of the same kind of pieces, you can't easily produce a mash-up of the two. In each case, I chose to build the platforms shown on the front cover of the box, rather than exercise my imagination without a reasonable knowledge of the pieces.

Robogear Platformer Terrain set

The Platformer set builds a lightweight set of platforms, with girder-constructed supports. I've set this up for now as being a sort of quay-side construction with a few small steam vessels below it. It builds into a fairly rigid strucure, despite appearing a bit flimsy at first. The joints are easy to construct, mostly sliding into place rather than clicking. The strength of the structure does depend a bit on how you choose to put the parts together - there's a bit of flexibility at the top of my structure which I could probably have avoided by putting my floor panels in a different arrangement.

Robogear Hexagon Terrain Set

The Hexagon set is more robust, and actually gave me bit of difficulty assembling some of the parts. Where the Platformer set had double-faced panels with a clip being inserted between them, the Hexagon set's panels were each of a single piece, held together by clips that went over the centre of each edge. These clips were much smaller than the Platformer clips, but much harder to clip on and more obtrusive. However, they resulted in a much firmer structure, and a larger one given the same number of sprues.

Of the two, I ended up preferring the Hexagon set.

However, both will be useful additions to my terrain options, and at a very reasonable price: I got mine for £5.99 each. Although this seems like a lot when I remember buying Airfix Series one sets for about 30 new pence, it doens't seem so much when I consider what I'd pay to get the same sort of thing cast in resin - or even in injection moulded plastic from the dreaded Games Workshop.

These sets give a fair degree of flexibility in what you build, and of course you could extend either set by buying more boxes of the appropriate type. They're not fast enough in construction to build on-the-fly during a game, but pre-prepared for set-pieces, they'll easily repay their cost. Your players had better watch out next time they mount the boarding platform for the aeronef...
Tags: miniatures, modelling, roleplaying, steampunk

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