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Armorcast Atlas Inner Sphere BattleMech Preview


By Dave Hodio - images & text © 2002

Scale: 1/60 (28mm) - about 10½"/ 26.5 cm tall assembled
Parts: 37 Resin and 4 Lead-free Pewter
Instructions: 4 single sided pages, mostly text with B&W photos of completed kit
Decals: N/A
Molding Quality: 10 - Very smooth surfaces and few bubbles or seams
Detail: 10- Finely and consistently engraved panel lines
Accuracy: 10 - Very faithful to published artwork and gaming miniatures
MSRP: $160.00 USD (~$250.47 CAN/ 162.65 EUR) available from Armorcast
Overall Rating: 9+ Another fantastic kit from Mike Biasi and Armorcast

[Built up]

[Click to enlarge]

^ Boxart

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^ What you get

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^ Major assemblies

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^ In progress shot of my primered prototype with a metal Atlas gaming minature and a paint bottle for scale

Being a "Battletech Modeler" has never been easy but the last couple of years have been very exciting... Armorcast, released their 1/60 (28mm) MadCat Clan Omnimech that was followed by their Vulture Clan Omnimech, which puts a totally different torso on the MadCat chassis. Then came five modular Mech Weapon Arms to customize your mechs and, most recently, the Armored Flatbed Truck to explore those diorama possibilities. These kits, combined with the recent re-release of the Takara Dougram kits and the beautiful new Hasegawa 1/72 Valkyrie Battroid, have improved the available subjects considerably. Not just interested in mechs? Check out the Starship Modeler FS-21B Shrike, which has it's roots in a Battletech SL-21 Sholagar Aerotech design.

Finally, that brings us to the subject of this preview: The Armorcast Atlas Inner Sphere Battlemech. The Atlas is 100 tons of Assault Class mech that in 1/60 scale (28mm) stands 10.5" (26.5cm) tall. Mike Biasi has again delivered another beautifully sculpted kit based faithfully on the original WizKids, LLC. blueprints, artwork, and metal miniatures. This is an impressive design that captures the hulking and angular profile of an Inner Sphere mech. It towers over the more graceful Clan Madcat Omnimech which weighs in at 75 tons. I will inevitably be making comparisons to the previous MadCat kit so you may want to refer to that Preview as well.

What's in the Box

There is a lot of resin. Some substantial sized pieces too. Although the $160 price may seem steep, it is not a bad value for what you get. This is a bigger box than the MadCat and it is chock full of packing peanuts and stapled baggies of white resin and pewter. A layer of large bubble wrap provides additional protection.

There are 41 mostly resin parts with the metal parts limited to 4 for the antenna and for the communication dish on the head. The resin parts are very crisp with very few visible air bubbles and it appears that very little cleanup should be required. In the bottom of the box are the four page instructions. I typically re-bag all parts in zip-style bags by subassembly (i.e. Left Arm, Right Leg, etc.) as I work each subassembly through the cleanup, prime, and painting stages.

Preparation

The resin castings are very high quality with perfectly smooth surfaces and they already have most of the pour trunks removed. Sanding down the remains of these attachment points will be the majority of the cleanup required. Flash is almost non-existent. There are very few bubbles and most are on surfaces that will be concealed after assembly. There are some mold seams to clean up but, again, these are in mostly hidden locations like knee and elbow joints.

A word of caution, there are very few bubbles but that doesn't mean there aren't lots lurking just below the surface. As I sanded down those attachment points and seams, I made work for myself by exposing a few. I use diamond files for the surfaces that need to stay sharp and Squadron sanding sticks and a Flexi-File for the curved surfaces. Just remember not to get too aggressive. My preferred method for filling bubbles is thin or gel cyanoacrylate (superglue) and an accelerator.

One final comment, these castings are considerably more complex than the MadCat, especially the torso. There are many more angular surfaces and some of those facets are on inner edges so keep that in mind if the cleanup starts getting tedious.

Building and Options

The main parts are the front and back torso and the hips. Test fit the torso and top it off with the head and within a couple of minutes of opening the box you will be able to appreciate what the finished kit is going to look like.

There are four lugs and holes on the inner faces of the torso to help position the front to the back. I found that they were inducing a slight misalignment so I carefully shaved the holes in the direction I wanted to shift the alignment and they fit perfectly.

All of the joints are either keyed for position or are moveable. You can remove the stops from the hips, knees, and ankles if you want to model a more dynamic walking pose rather than the standard "parked" pose. This is where you can dictate the degree of difficulty you are willing to take on. Extreme poses may require modification to the toes as discussed in the instructions. Of course, any modification to the stance needs to account for center-of-balance issues unless you are planning to support the kit attached to a base.

The only other construction comment I will make is in regard to the upper and lower arms. They must be glued carefully to trap the moveable elbow and hand after the joint areas were primered. I got fussy with filling the seam lines since they are on prominent surfaces except where covered by the arm lasers.

The kit comes with a choice of gun muzzles for either an AC20 (large AutoCannon) or a Gauss Rifle. There is no cockpit interior but there would not be much to see through the Atlas' small "eye" windows.

Instructions

The instructions consist of a four 8.5" X 11" page document. Armorcast has integrated their resin construction techniques into their instructions. Several black and white photographs of the completed kit are used to illustrate the parts list and some of the construction options particularly in altering the pose. The instructions do a good job of describing the different variants and areas in the construction sequence and cleanup to watch out for.

Any modeler with experience working with resin will have no problems with this kit. The articulation is much easier to visualize than the MadCat. Posing a "Humanoid" mech is always easier than the "Chicken-walker" types so give it a try. Painting is totally left up to the builders imagination so have fun and get creative. The skull-like configuration of the head has always lent itself to emphasis... Or imagine a big "8-Ball" if you think the billiards reference would still be relevant in the 31st century. Lastly, don't forget some "Nose Art" or a name.

Final Impressions

As I said about the MadCat, I have to be careful here not to let my bias for the subject matter color my review but I must say that I believe this is one of the finest resin kits I own. Again, I believe it is extremely accurate and faithful to the blueprints and drawings I have available. The Atlas has been the subject of a lot of Battletech artwork over the years including several full-color covers of sourcebooks and box sets. Much of that artwork contains subtle differences in artist's interpretations so, in this regard, accuracy could be somewhat subjective. This review is a little more than an in-box preview since I couldn't wait to start building but I haven't finished yet. I used a second kit for the parts pictures. Hopefully I will have a Gallery entry soon! Now we just have to get someone to produce some House and Clan decals.

(Actually .... check out Fighting Pirahna Graphics - Ed.)

Many thanks to Dave's wallet for providing the review sample. Manufacturers and retailers, interested in getting your wares reviewed and publicized on a site averaging 3500+ readers a day? Contact us!

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the reviewer.
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This page copyright © 2002 Starship Modeler™. Last updated on 30 October 2002.