An Undave's eye view of DUST tactics light mechs
I'm off to the Secrets of the Third Reich tournament in October despite only having played one game of it so far. This being the case I've been messing about with the mech design rules trying to come up with something to provide some medium support to my German Mech Grenadier platoon. DUST Tactics models are the same scale and in a similar style to the West Wind stuff so I thought I'd raid their range for a suitable candidate. I did buy the DUST starter set purely for the mechs included in it. I've no real intention of actually playing the game itself so I can't say how effective any of their minis are during gameplay meaning that this is going to be a commentary based purely on the model itself. The mechs, or robots as they are called, from the starter box were a bit too heavy for what I was after but as luck would have it Fantasy Flight have just released a couple of medium mechs, one each for the axis and allies. For obvious reasons I went for the German one, the Heinrich/Herman light panzer walker.
At first glance two models for £20.00 seems like really good value... except it isn't because you only get one. Despite there being two walkers clearly pictured on the box cover you actually get one body and two sets of weapon options to outfit it either as the Herman or Heinrich variant. In Fantasy Flight's defence it does state in writing at the bottom that this is the case but it would be easy to miss if you weren't paying attention or were buying it as a gift and didn't really know about these things. I did notice this before I bought it but I would have been rather narked if I hadn't. Not a great start really. Never mind, on to the model itself.
The Panzer comes fully pre-assembled and sprayed with grey primer with the weapon options separate so you can plug them in or change them as you wish. One variant sports two sets of twin 2cm flakvierling anti-aircraft guns and the other has a large laser cannon and power pack. These are pretty nice really, especially the flak guns. Unfortunately the top of one of the capacitors on the laser's power pack was missing but as SotTR doesn't have lasers I won't be using it anyway. Again, at first glance the model looks really nice, it's chunky where it needs to be and shows some good detailing. The base has cool rivets all the way round it and an industrial diamond pattern. On closer inspection though the poor sod stuck in a Chinese sweatshop who has the unenviable job of assembling these obviously didn't care about mould lines or vent scars so if you're planning on using these for display be prepared for a fair bit of fiddly work trying to clean them up properly. The plastic it's constructed from is solid enough but feels quite brittle. Every time I move the guns I feel like I'm going to snap the joint. At least it's hard plastic though, not the soft rubbish you normally get with pre-paints.
The other drawback to having it pre-assembled is that you can't change the position of the legs. One of the mechs on the misleading cover has it's legs in a slightly different position to the one in the box, a pose impossible to create without pulling your model apart. This is something I'm loathe to do. If I feel like I'm going to break the guns just by moving them I don't think it'll end well if I start levering things apart. The shields on the flak guns are also ever so slightly out of alignment with each other. It's not particularly noticeable but it rankles that I can't do anything about it.
Whilst not exactly a pre-paint it does come pre-primed in a mid grey with German army transfers already applied. I'm not entirely sure why they've gone this route, it's a kind of half and half between a proper pre-paint and bare plastic. You can play with it out of the box and I suppose it looks better with a bit of colour on but it still looks like flat grey with wonky transfers to me. I'm not sure how well it will take paint but in any case it's a bit redundant because if you're going to take the time to paint it you'll need to clean the mould lines and end up scraping bits of the primer off.
Quality: 6.5 It's a nice model but the plastic is suspect and the pre-assembly is annoying
Assembly: N/A somebody has already done it for you.
Value 7 The model is a decent size but after thinking you were getting two before reading the “fine print” it's a bit of a let down. Not having to pay for the pre-assembly might also have allowed them to sell it for cheaper. I feel like I'm paying for an unwanted service.
Overall: 7 Like the zombies from the last review I'm rounding up because of the versatility of fitting in with another manufacturer's ranges. In all honesty it is a really nice model but it would have been so much better if they'd supplied it unassembled.
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