Robotech, Battletech and Mechwarrior Mechs for 28mm Wargaming
Thanks to a recent trade with a gentleman on DakkaDakka, I acquired a huge box of mech toys for 28mm gaming. With this acquisition of figures, my collection has gotten pretty big, so I took some time to write up a guide to Robogear, Battletech, Mechwarrior, Macross and other mecha suitabable for 28mm gaming.
Throughout the review I'll refer to them by the name under which they were sold, with the Battletech universe name alongside in parentheses. The figures provided for scale are all Games Workshop Cadian Imperial Guardsmen with Pig Iron Kolony heads. The squares on the background are in inches, but the grid starts about three-quarters of an inch off the table. The angle of the photos will make the largest mechs appear a bit taller.
In the 90s, after the Playmates toy company had produced the last of its original designs for the "Exo-Squad" line of toys, they reached outside the cartoon (and back a decade) and reissued a wide range of Robogear toys from the 80s. Robogear was the English language version of the Japanese cartoon "Macross." The early years of Battletech also used many Macross designs in the artwork and background. You can see the whole range of ExoSquad toys at the excellent Virtual Toy Chest. Most of these figures are still available for decent prices on Ebay.
Exosquad/Robogear Medium series
This series of 6 to 7 inch action figures are fairly simple with nice articulation, but no separate parts, or pilots. They look great on the wargames table, and are just big enough to work well with 28mm figures. The two on the outside are stock, the middle three have been repainted (and some modified).
From left: Invid Scout ship, Excalibur Mk IV (Warhammer), Spartan (Longbow), Raidar X (Rifleman), Gladiator (Archer)
I acquired these three stock versions and the Mechwarrior Legionnaire (more on this later) in the big box!
Robogear large series
These larger vehicles had opening cockpits, lots of articulation and space for pilots (who, curiously, were not also reissued). They are nice toys, but VERY big.
From left: Officer's Battlepod (Marauder), Tactical Battlepod, Invid Shock Trooper
These toys were released for the Battletech cartoon of the 90s. They were the first toys made based on non-Macross Battletech designs. Though not in scale with their action figure pilots, most (though not all) of these mechs are very close to 28mm scale.
Back row, from left: Bushwacker, Axeman, Thor, Hunchback, Mauler. Front row: Toad (Elemental Battle Armor)
Mechwarrior Die Cast
Released by the Joyride company in the early 2000s to accompany the "Mechwarrior: Dark Age" collectible miniatures game, these metal and plastic models were described as 1/56 scale, but came with 1/87 scale pilots. The same models were produced both as pre-assembled action figures and self-assembled construction kits. Though not all perfectly sized for 28mm, this line contains some of the finest Battletech models yet produced. The Mad Cat in particular (disregarding the size of the pilot) is one of the best. Absent from the picture below is the Jupiter mech, which is very nice looking, but even more out of scale than the rest.
These become available with some regularity on Ebay, but unfortunately they often command extremely high prices, especially the Mad Cat. From left: Legionnaire, Mad Cat, Forestry Mech (comes with an interchangeable claw arm, awesome!)
Other Model Kits
Robogear - With minimal conversion, these remarkably affordable 28mm to 35mm Russian model kits have lot of potential for mech gaming. They're widely available on Ebay.
Macross - Coming in a bewildering array of scales and configurations, these Japanese model kits are very nicely detailed.
Gasaraki - Hard to find, but these beautifully done 1/35 scale model kits look right at home alongside 28mm Battletech and Macross designs.
From left: Robogear Werewolf (lightly modfied), 1/72 Macross Valkyrie (custom gun), Gasraki Shinden Battle Armor (weapon swap on left arm), Robogear Locust (mostly stock)
Here's another photo showing a comparison of the largest of the various lines along side each other. From left: Macross 1/72, Robogear/ExoSquad Medium 7-inch, Robogear Exosquad large series, Mechwarrior by Joyride
Most of the unmodified mechs described above were recently acquired in the "big box." I've been searching for many of these (especially the Battletech toys) at a price I an afford for a very long time. Unfortunately most of them are significantly larger than the majority of the mechs I have. In my 28mm mech gaming, I'm not a stickler for mech sizes, but the majority of the Battletech and larger Robotech toys are drastically larger than the rest of my current collection of mechs (most pictured below) and would look out of place.
On the positive side, it's great to be able to finally see these toys in person. The Mechwarrior die cast figures and the additional Robogear medium kits will make excellent reinforcements. Even if I end up selling the Battletech and larger Robogear toys, perhaps they can fund the acquisition of some other rare mech models.
-- Karl, Chicago Skirmish Wargames club member