I, Dædalus; my poor boy, Icarus; Thy father, Minos, that denied our course; The sun, that sear’d the wings of my sweet boy, Thy brother Edward, and thyself the sea, Whose envious gulf did swallow up his life. Ah! kill me with thy weapon, not with words. – William Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part 3, Act 5, Scene 6
Okay, I get it. The Technical Readout: 3145 series – with each major faction receiving its own book – was fairly massive in the sheer amount of content produced. We received a relatively huge amount of new ‘Mechs, battle armors, vehicles of every kind, DropShips, Aerospace fighters and even ProtoMechs. Heck, we even got a new class of unit: the QuadVee. Vehicles transforming into four legged ‘Mechs. For those people who thought the “beloved” Land Air ‘Mech wasn’t bastardized enough. Or possibly for those people who thought that BattleTech needed to be more like The Transformers. One of those. So in a sense, it is understandable that Catalyst Games would release a significant sampling of choice units from the books of the 3145 series. It is totally understandable, in fact.
Last week my order of Technical Readout: 315 arrived from BattleCorps. I’ve since gotten a chance to read through the book twice, and there are several designs that tweak my interest. What are the early impressions from the book?
After their unsuccessful Kickstarter in October of last year, the Oakland California-based MegaBots Inc. seems to have done the best thing they could do to stay active in the public arena. They picked a fight.
In late June via video, Andrew Stroup and Gui Cavalcanti challenged Suidobiashi Heavy Industries to a duel- Abatchall, if you will, to fight against Suidobiashi’s current combat mecha- Kuratas. Neither Stoup nor Cavalcanti are unfamiliar with either engineering competitions nor high media exposure. Both appeared in the 2012 Discovery Channel reality show: The Big Brain Theory: Pure Genius.
A new video game, Mechs and Mercs: Black Talons, was released on January 9, 2015. Developed by Camel 101 games and published by Kasedo Games, this independent real-time strategy game is available now on Steam.
It was over a month ago that I wrote about a Warhawk ‘mech cosplay; I mentioned that the BattleTech themed projects I’ve seen online have been almost universally reverse-join clan designs entered in competitions. These have been more puppets than outfits, really; with the operator’s black-clad legs sticking out the back and between those of the ‘mech.
But in this My Modern Met article, a BattleTech fan has not only put together an inner sphere assault ‘Mech, but it’s a proper suit since the Sunder is a nice, slat-sided humanoid design with limbs bulky enough to accommodate both himself and his infant son Geraint- who seems more than happy to pilot the BattleMech powered by his dad, Ryan.
The article also explains that the torso and arms attach by velcro around Ryan and Geraint- who sits in a baby harness strapped to dad’s chest. The legs attach to a belt around the waist, so it doesn’t take long to don the Sunder suit.
I think the BattleTech cartoon was probably as close the franchise came to making the mainstream of popular culture. I could include the videogames (which I have discussed before) but the cartoon took place during a time where big fighting robots were generally in the mainstream anyway. MechWarrior 2, Robot Jox, and of course blockbusters like Terminator 2. Even Japanese distributors were beginning to test the US market with titles like Patlabor and different flavors of Gundam. Big robots were beginning to become as much a staple of science fiction as the space opera. (Some media, like Gundam and BattleTech combined the two).
So how does one market a mech-centric space opera towards children? As seen with other US franchises like Exosquad, don’t sugar coat it. In space operas, there are big wars going on, and people die. 1st Somerset Strikers doesn’t show death like Exosquad does, but one of the plot developments banks on one of the major characters failing to eject from his devastated BattleMech before it explodes and being thought dead by his compatriots for most of the season. Likewise, though it specifically mentions in the official BattleTech canon that the Jade Falcons evacuated the city of Romulus before glassing it with orbital bombardment, it was never brought up on the show. So the viewer thinks they just watched an entire city of people get vaporized. Heady stuff. I really wish they had made more of a deal of the destruction of Edo on Turtle Bay later in the season, considering that most of the inhabitants in fact WERE massacred by the Smoke Jaguars (one of the reasons that clan was targeted for termination during Operations Serpent and Bulldog)
The BattleMech Naming Society calls its first official meeting in order to create a taxonomy of naming conventions for the powerful machines that captured the hearts and battlefields of people across known space.
Let us begin. After discussing potential categorizations of ‘Mechs, and debating whether or not certain animals are actually insects, we have created a six stage system that classifies virtually every BattleMech name currently used. Please note, these lists are not exhaustive, but intended to show the names of ‘Mechs commonly used.
Over the course of writing my reviews on the Technical Readout : 3145 series, I feel the need to regain perspective and look at the series as a whole, with respect to the units offered. The ‘Mechs, combat vehicles, battle armor suits, AeroSpace fighters and other units covered in these technical readouts essentially represent a new era. We shouldn’t compare them to every other ‘Mech ever made, we’re comparing them to their contemporaries. So I’m starting over, taking a second look at everything, and then we’ll see how close my original assessments were to how I feel about them now. For this article, I’m reviewing the BattleMechs. I was originally going to make this a comprehensive article, but I felt the size just didn’t work for the kind of detail I wanted.
Even though it was decades ago, I’ll never forget the Saturday morning where I became forevermore helplessly, HOPELESSLY addicted to large military robots. I have since developed a bit of ‘flowery’ disdain for the bastard chimera that is the Robotech saga, but I am at least nostalgic that it was the vehicle with which I first was introduced to Supredimensional Fortress Macross.
It was 1985. I was eight years old, and until then Saturday morning cartoons consisted mainly of an assortment of Hasbro toy advertisements and video game tie-ins. Anime was and would continue to be very sparse (though much of it was animated in Japanese studios). Transformers (of the aforementioned Hasbro adverts) had a very strong effect on me for getting turned on to big stompy bots.
And then Robotech showed up; which took the transformable robot thing and showed that “hey- people can drive these things dammit!”. The VF-1 Valkyrie in all its flavors (which became the Wasp, Stinger,Phoenix Hawk and their LAM equivalents), was NOT a nae indestructible machine like the Transformers were (until half of them got spawn-fragged in the animated movie the following year). They, at least the tan-colored ones popped like zits throughout the show. But they had it easy compared to the thrashings the poor Destroids received.
Three variant Valkyrie variable fighters; originally used as the Wasp, Stinger, and Phoenix Hawk ‘mechs.
The Republic of the Sphere is somewhat unique in that there was no equivalent whatsoever in the “pre Jihad” era. We had years to become accustomed to the Successor States, ComStar, the Clans, the major mercenary units and the Periphery States. Even the Word of Blake itself was a faction that slowly built up to be the ultimate big bad. They all developed their own identities, and they all had their fans among the community. Heck, I’m sure somewhere there were players who decided Clan Fire Mandrill was their cup of tea. It’s all good. The Republic of the Sphere, however, is a different animal. We got a glimpse of it when MechWarrior: Age of Destruction was an active system, and then it was effectively defunct until the “current” Classic BattleTech line moved into the “post Jihad” era. Even then, after the 3085 releases (including a Technical Readout and Field Manual) we received few updates on the Republic itself, due to the Fortress Republic. We heard a good bit about how bad things were in the former Republic, but virtually nothing from behind the wall. Having never read the Dark Age novels, I don’t have much of a connection to this faction.