Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Warbots Destro Walkers.

In 1984 Grenadier Models Inc. was producing some of my favorite miniatures. I was just getting into Dungeons and Dragons and Call of Cthulhu and Grenadier had both covered with their Dragon Lords line and the official CoC miniatures. I used to get the Grenadier Bulletin and stare with covetous eyes over the assortment of new minis, read every word of the adventure scenarios, and groan at the unfunny cartoons. Getting to go to my local game store was next to impossible so I would often re-read these bulletins over and over, memorizing certain photos or drawings and instilling them into my personal mythology.

One of the Grenadier Bulletins that I most remember was dated November 1, 1984 and contained a small article stating "Robots Invade!" The grainy black and white photo included with the story showed two insectile robots that seemed to be peering down at a small tank or hovercraft in front of some oddly out of time buildings that looked like something out of Ireland in the dark ages. The article explained that these two walkers were the beginning of the Warbots range and that there were rumors that other game companies were interested in created giant robot games as well. Oh boy, the industry scuttlebutt back then was fierce.

The article from The Grenadier Bulletin.

The Warbots designs and setting were the brainchild of John Dennett, at the time long known as one of the industry's best sculptors of fantasy miniatures, and were such a complete departure from his normal sculpting that these came as a bit of a shock to me. The designs were widely varied from the strange amalgams of the Activoids, the previously mentioned Runner Pods, and the mecha that I'll be talking about here, the Destro Walkers.

There were two boxes of Warbots released, The Runner Pod Attack Team and The Armored Destro Squad. The Armored Destro Squad contained three Destro Walkers and a much smaller Type IV Battle Trooper (this little fella will be discussed in a future review). The three Destro Walkers were meant to be very large walking mecha that could mount varied load-outs of weapons depending on their usage.

Much like the destroids from Macross all of these walkers shared the same leg sections. Although this must have helped somewhat with miniature production it also worked within the design framework of giant robot design from Japan. The torsos and arms also implied a modular system so that a gamer could create the weapons load-out that they wanted.

The three designs included in the Armored Destro Squad are as follows:


Code Name: Devastator. Armed with dual cannons, a long range missile rack on its back, and a battle claw this walker appears to be useful for long range bombardments. The front seems to have a huge radiator system which might be useful for long range units that don't require as much frontal armor.


Code Name Pulverisor. Armed with a gatling gun and and larger single barreled cannon. This walker seems to be more heavily armored and more of a close assault unit. It is designed to go in all guns blazing with a fast firing rotary cannon for quicker units and a large bore tank gun for more heavily armored foes.


Code Name Eliminator. This walker again appears to be a long range bombardier with a arm mounted pod of swarm missiles, the lovely kind you see streaking through the sky before any Macross engagement, plus three cannon which seem to be battleship weight weapons. Although the claws on both the Devastator and Eliminator could be used in close combat I also see them as useful for loading munitions on these walkers.

One of the super cool things about the original Warbots sets were the filler sheets that explained paint schemes for the various Warbot units. I chose the Tigersharks scheme of overall yellow with black and red trim. I used some microscale decals to add some unit markings and even attempted a shark's mouth marking on the Pulverisor gatling. Unfortunately this decal was really too small too look correct but would have fit right in with the Tigersharks' markings.

The Warbots line was originally designed for micro-armor scales but I think that they work equally well with 15mm minis. They are very cleanly sculpted which makes them a breeze to paint and gives lots of surface area for graphics or camo schemes. And the modular design allows them to be modified or converted easily. It would be really useful if the arms and torsos could be bought separately at some point to allow for other load-out combinations.

With Combine Infantry from OGRE Miniatures.
With 15mm Titan Marines from Rebel Minis.
I scored an original box of these, thanks to The Dozing Dragon from The Lead Adventure Forum, and was amazed at how crisp the castings were from twenty eight years ago. They are very smooth and even, something that the sculptors of Battletech miniatures struggled with during the same period. It's pretty amazing to see how John Dennett could switch from excellent biological to excellent technical sculpting without missing a beat. I guess he's just that good.

All of the original Warbots miniatures have been re-released by Mirliton in Italy and can be found here. Thanks to Stefano from Mirliton for making these available again and to John Dennett for his support.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely paintwork, and surprisingly well sculpted models for the vintage.