Rise of the Automatons!

| Monday, 11 August 2014 | |
Product: Automatons
Line: Secret Science and Victorian Science Fiction
Manufacturer: Parroom Station Miniatures
Designer: Robert N. "Bob" Charrette
Where to buy: Brigade Games

In keeping with the theme of reviewing miniatures, I would like to present a few automatons to tickle your imagination. Whether you are playing Victorian Science Fiction, Steampunk, or Pulp as your genre in whatever your favorite game system happens to be, I find—as a Game Master—that throwing an unexpected foe that doesn't look like something your players have encountered before is a marvellous way to provide a bit of shock value and sets them scrambling for solutions.

While there are many terrific foundries out there that provide affordable miniatures in volume, I would really like to showcase some of the smaller enterprises that produce some high-quality work. I hope that you can find a place at your table for these products and by doing so, encourage these and other designers and foundries to continue producing great products.

Backstory

Parroom Guardsman
Guardsman Automaton on strike-breaking duty
I wanted to introduce a new—to my friends—game system and setting; my friends are pretty much tied to the D&D/Pathfinder fantasy genre, whereas I'm not particularly dogmatic and I love trying new things. My experiment met with mixed results—I may review the setting and rule system in a future post—but I'm left with many great figures.

For the particular adventure that I ran, I needed several automatons in a few different configurations. For the standard sentries, I chose Parroom's Manikin Automatons and for the last battle, I chose Parroom's Guardsman Automaton.

Notes

Just a few thoughts and comments as to what I did and why. If you're curious, I used N-gauge railroad decals for numbers. Since automatons are mass-produced, each should have a serial number, right? Besides, I could never paint them as nicely.

Parroom Manikins
Parroom Manikins. Note the different heads and exhaust pipes.
I planned on using the Manikins in the Deadlands setting in which railroads often employ automatons as guards and sentries. With that in mind, I painted each of these with the idea that each should liveried and as railroad work equipment, each should look beaten to hell. After all, work train consists only appear shiny on the day they're delivered…after that, they rust, become dented, and lose paint here and there.

Each figure has a plain flat base. Using epoxy resin, I mounted each to a slotta base for stability and custom basing details.

Pros

  • This may seem like a minor issue, but these are all remarkably well cast. From the almost lack of flashing to the perfect alignment of the molds, the appearance is nearly flawless straight from the mail and these minis require only a minimal amount of prep work before painting.
  • The automaton figures from the Secret Science line (Manikins and Guardsman) also feature several heads and exhaust pipes to allow for a bit more customization. Of course, you could make all of them look the same if you desire, but sometimes competing railroad companies have their own standards and requirements.
  • Each figure has a great deal of personality, all the more impressive given their mechanical structure.
  • Manikins come in packs of five if you need to build a fireteam or a squad quickly.
  • Each figure is produced in white metal. Some may prefer resin or—Great Scott!—plastic, but in my mind metal is far preferable. Besides, using metal is in keeping with the Victorian theme; Wikipedia suggests that their use would be more appropriate in gaming applications set after 1936. At the very least.

Cons

Parroom Clockwork Soldier
Clockwork soldier with union organizer.
Honestly, there are so few cons that I had to scrape the bottom of the barrel for these. Take each with a grain of salt and a tongue in cheek.
  1. Gluing the smokestack exhausts was a pain in the neck when they did not stay in place. There's nothing more frustrating than gluing ones fingers together only to find that the little pipe falls right off of the figure and lands somewhere on the floor. Perhaps this speaks more to my technique and skill rather than the product itself. I'll let you know when my fingers separate…
  2. If you need it tomorrow, that's not going to happen. Lon at Brigade Games often does not have the parts in stock, which means that he needs to cast them the following weekend. On the other hand, he casts each of those figures just for me. ME! They're special, dammit!
In other words, there are no cons. 
Parrooms Automatons
Parroom's Automatons

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