17 May 2019
Game over man, game over!
In one of our Industry Interviews (the first, in fact!) we had the chance to speak with Steve Sodden, who runs Mad Robot Miniatures out of Phoenix, Arizona. According to Steve, one of the most popular lines is the CDF squad; we had the chance to review it here.
The first, most noticeable thing about the CDF is just how similar they are to a particular group of marines from a certain cult classic movie. Let’s not beat around the bush here; the CDF straightareup the Colonial Marines from Aliens in all but name, right down to the ‘not-a-SMART-gun’ heavy machine gun the kit comes with. The twist here is that it’s in 28mm heroic scale – or specifically, Games Workshop’s idea of 28mm heroic scale – so they’re clearly intended as proxies for regular Imperial Guard (sorry, “Astra Militarum” as they’re now called) as well.
The kit comes in various pieces – heads, torsos, arms, weapons, legs and shoulder pads. It also comes with several optional upgrades, namely a special weapon, a heavy weapon, shoulder-mounted lamps and arms for a sergeant. Our review copy came with the aforementioned heavy machine gun for the heavy option and a flamethrower for the special weapon. There are also multiple choices for a few other bits like the heads when you order them on the Mad Robot website.
Quality-wise, the details on the figures are as good, if indeed not better, than a lot of offerings from larger organisations. Considering that Mad Robot is a one-man operation, that’s quite a feat. If you look at the torsos, for example, you can see that the shotgun shells and their holders are pristinely cast despite their size. Although I’m not one of these people who feels that miniatures necessarily need to be as detailed as possible, the crispness of the features on the miniature are still worth mentioning for the sheer technical expertise alone.
Casting quality overall is good, with very little flash on the miniature, although there were a few places where the rubber from the mold had gotten stuck to the pieces. They’re easily removed, but it’s still worth mentioning. The only real quality complaint was the 25mm resin bases the squad came with which just look and feel a bit cheap. Then again, since they seem to be freebies anyway I suppose one can’t look a gift horse in the mouth.
The final area to look at is cost. Being US-based the pricing is in dollars, and comes to $39.99 (about £30) plus postage or shipping depending on where you live. They’re not the cheapest miniatures out there (not considering the variances of shipping costs, which being beyond the manufacturer’s control wouldn’t offer a fair comparison) but aren’t as costly as some other figures I’ve reviewed recently. Since the nearest equivalent to the CDF (and the other squads that Mad Robot does, for that matter) would be a basic box of Imperial Guard, there’s a certain logic that suggests measurements of value should be conducted based on how the two compare. A 10-man Cadian squad currently costs $29 to buy directly from Games Workshop, so the question is whether you think an extra $11 is worth it for something off the beaten track. The equation breaks down slightly when you’re looking outside the US (due to the aforementioned shipping costs), although the difference in cost is still £10 or so.
In previous issues (412, 413, 417 and 424) we’ve covered various aspects of the Alien Versus Predator game from Prodos Games. Since Prodos no longer makes miniatures for AVP after losing the licence the CDF forces would make ideal proxies for those looking to do some xenomorph hunting. They’d also be good stand-ins for a Starship Troopers-themed game.
In short, the CDF squad aren’t the cheapest miniatures around, especially if you’re buying them out of the US. However, they’re competently built and (to misquote Samuel L. Jackson), ‘If you absolutely, positively have to kill every single facehugger in the room, accept no substitutes.’