By Patrick Laurensis - images & text © 2007
Robogear is a line of mechas created by Russian Technolog as part of a wargames concept. It is sold by Airfix, Heller, Imex, etc... in our countries.
For a long time I've been stalking for a budget mechwarrior, so I jumped on their single boxes as an introduction to this futuristic gaming universe. An interesting discovery, designed to be compatible with other wargames sets like Hexagon or Platformers.
What You Get
Opening the pack gives a poor feeling because packaging can appear to be crude compared to some Papanese luxurious "scenic" organised in the box.
Image: Assembly guide, such as it is
Image: Gaming info and projectiles
Image: The parts are well molded
Image: Detail is fine, though every part has a mold seam
Image: Greeblies used to enhance the model
Image: Closer look at the cockpit
Image: New driver
Image: Another look
Image: Right side
Image: A spring covers the new 'arm'
Two trees of plastic without plastic bag, one brush and three pots of paints are floating in the void inside of the box, causing a strike, something like "is that all?". No instruction sheet, a schematic being printed on backside of the box, no painting guide, as Calvin has to find out some cool Laughing Skull logo, no transparent cockpit, no decals or stickers. More surprinsigly, there's a tiny (can hardly read it) ad about a game on your mobile, a playing card with characteristics of the mecha and its armament, but no rules. Incredibly, no effort is made to remind us that we can buy the full starter set to play... Weird marketing strategy.
But we have to forget this negative preview as fun starts with the building of the model, which is worth while. The paints given are a good value except that they are quite a dull set. T-rex has a set with dark grey, medium grey and a kind of Intermediate blue-grey. Mad Bull is given with black, a metalized tone and bright red as it is assigned to an other army. I was able to airbrushing with these paints with good results; they can be thinned with some alcohol. You are not going to make a sophisticated light and shadow job, as these colors have excellent opacity and are quickly, perfectly covering the painted area. These paints also resists very well to severe stress as I have experienced when I handled the model quite roughly by trying various combinations of armament. This is for sure interesting compared to some costly stuffs which are wiped away as soon as you are trying to touch the model with your fingers.... I will use those paints on other projects with delight.
The model is cool, with nice moulding, good surface details, and little or no flash. Building with no glue is definitively easy, a joyride for children with exception of excessive strength demanded to younglings fingers before we can hear the magic "click" on some subassemblies. Half a dozen pivots are giving basic but enjoyable poseability, and the main body features numerous holes, as it is a standardized set, with ability to build various legged or tracked vehicles with different armament combination by mixing various parts out of Robogear line.
The quality of the product is very classic, moulding is fine and fitting very good, but little effort has been made to obtain an invisible moulding seam, as in other recent productions. We'll have to sand and file to clean up and restore some details because annoying marks are simply running all along the sides of every part.
It seems that the designers have tried to please both wargames and toys markets with a single product wich features plastic missile spring launchers. A baby could try to swallow the little projectiles, so be careful and don't loose a missile on the carpet. The body-builded figure is crudely poseable. It features muscular hypertrophy and inspiring frog stance taken from some vintage He-Man action figure. Mobile canopy is given with alternative between a fully enclosed plastic part or a birdcage structure, but there's no transparency.
Upgrading Robogear T-Rex
What makes Robogear huge fun to the demanding modeler is that this line of models is giving us plenty of opportunities for kitbashing. You have to fix a transparent hood, fill the empty cockpit and improve many details. The engraved radiator grids were so pitiful to me that I couldn't resist sawing off the whole thing, rebuilding the intakes and inserting plasticard walls in the innards of the beast.
The T-rex is incredibly cool with its nose having the distinctive shape of the giant killer skull. On the other hand, it seems somewhat unfinished compared to other mechas of fame, such as the majestic Madcat.
T-Rex is really a tall target with plenty of perpendicular surfaces, so I started the upgrade by adding additional armor plates up to the shoulders and around the back. Remembering Battle of Hoth, I've scratchbuilded helicopter cable cutters wich were added on legs and under nose. With copper wire recovered from a dead food mixer electric engine, I have made some hooks, towing attachs and handles to the like of those on battle tanks. Radio antennas are made of sprue.
The cockpit is extensively detailed and birdcage structure of the canopy receive tranparencies which are made of acetate. No difficulties in finding acetate thanks to, literaly, pounds of transparent plastic that are invading home through supermarket packagings.
The biggest change is about armament which is not anymore bolted on sides of main body. It stands now on pods, at the tip of mobile arms. Those arms are just corners of plastic trees cut to the right length and inserted in ballpen springs. I have replaced awful spring launcher geeblies with something more martial: rocket pods from 1/48 Apache helicopter. Holes in the cannons must also be drilled.
More fittings will be mounted to complete equipment. Finding convenient stuff for this purpose is..."No problemo". During office hours, it's raining ballpens, many being business gifts, some with transparencies and trendy design shapes. I'm recovering carefully some models that will be dismantled on my bench. It is a fountain of great geeblies, like flare launchers, smoke pots, ray guns barrels, engine exhausts, carenages, coloured transparencies, etc...
As a realistic scratch-builded seat is fitted in cockpit, He-Man frog soldier can't find room there for his deformed anatomy. He is fired to be replaced by an old Monogram mechanic converted into futuristic pilot. Head comes from a helicopter pilot figure, one arm and one leg are replaced, belt and holsters are made with tiny strips of plastic, and a jacket is sculpted with putty.
First class final touch is camouflage net, made with abandage soaked in CA glue. It is wrapped around the model, and when dried, it hardens to keep its definitive appearance. Finding the right way to wrap it around the machine with efficient camouflage effect is a headache because we must avoid blocking armament and leg movments.
I have a crush for winter battles, so the model receives a dark primer for shadows, then is airbrushed in white with disruptive grey stripes. Hardened net is drybrushed with white oil paint, and ammo, guns and fittings receive a final touch to raise details.
Hidden in a frozen river bed near Laser Alley, cold hand pilot is watching with binocular for a target. (please add some epic music!)
This page copyright © 2007 Starship Modeler. First posted on 8 March 2007.