+ inload: Iron Circle review +

+ inload: Machina ex deo +

+ I have thoughtful and generous pals – over the weekend I received a pair of the vaunted Iron Circle from my mates in the PCRC as a birthday gift. Cheers lads! +

+ Domitar-Ferrum Battle Automata review +

+ Needless to say, I couldn't resist putting them together; and thought I'd exload a little review of the kit for interested readers. +

+ Preparation +

+ The kit comes packaged in a plastic bag, with the larger pieces loose and the smaller parts contained in a sealed blister pack. As with other large kits from Forge World, the bag contains a coloured step-by-step set of instructions – a nice easy-to-follow visual approach. New to me this time was a 'working with resin' leaflet, which contained some useful basic information for beginners. Perhaps Forge World have started including this in every kit? +

+ It may seem extraneous to experienced modellers, but I'm really glad to see Forge World include stuff like this as it gives a nice polish to the product, and makes construction more enjoyable. While the kit is largely straightforward, made up of clearly identifiable parts, it's good to have some of the smaller pieces – like the two sets of leg pistons and the optional ablative armour plate – identified. In the past I've had a couple of kits where the orientation of a small part is unclear, and essentially had to guess how to place it if the image wasn't clear online. +

+ Anyway, the quality of the kit was very high – no miscasts, little flash and only one of the smaller sprues had any misalignment. This was easily resolved by gently trimming down the length of a piston. Confession time – I was so enthused about building these that I didn't wash it beforehand. Bad practice; so remind me of it if I complain that the paint's flaking off later! Fortunately, the kits seem relatively free of mould release; there's none of the characteristic greasiness, gloss or soapiness. +

+ Some of the longer parts, like the shaft of the weapon, were a little bent, but given the design, I think this is unavoidable owing to the medium. In any case, it's easily fixed with a little hot water. +

+ Construction +

+ The design of the kit is very sensible, with parts designed with secure fits to other sections that will mostly hide the joins. Although this is less important on a mechanical figure like the Iron Circle, it's good practise and I'm glad Forge World have taken the time to think it through. Complex core parts like the torso have shims to avoid miscasts, ensuring a nice crisp result – just make sure you catch 'em all. +

+ The kit goes together well, with all the parts fitting snugly and securely. The design of the graviton maul – the enormous hammer that makes up their right hand and wrist – was my only main concern. The section is very posable, being made up of six parts. The shaft of the maul is split into two sections which both connect to a central part – this makes the +

+ The number of parts makes this the most complex part of the kit; but the instructions are poor here; the angle chosen obscuring which parts are involved and how they're placed. Fortunately, it's easily worked out with a little dry fitting – just be aware that the piston that sits on top of the wrist is what determines the angle of the hammer. This piston is connected to the sprue by the piston rod itself (rather than an extra bit of resin), so I can see much cursing if you accidentally trim the rod off by cutting too close to the piston. +

+ If this does happen, you can either replace the shaft with brass rod, or glue the resin rod in place – it would be supported at both ends, and shielded from dropping out. The image below shows the one I constructed with the full length of the piston:

+ As you can see, this results in the graviton maul being set out at its full extent – allowing for a nice sweeping effect. Compare this with the other (below), which I constructed with the piston rod trimmed back:

+ This results in a more guarded pose. Note that the nature of the hammer and wrist means that the piston rod can't retract fully, so don't trim the whole thing off! Instead, cut it at its full length, then dry fit before trimming the rod down gradually, easing the hammer into the pose you want. +

+ The potential for cool poses means that if you have multiple unit members, you can have them looking very different. However, the decision to split the hammer into three pieces was an odd one. Perhaps there's a manufacturing restriction, but it puts a lot of potential stress on the join between the shaft at either end and the hand. Forge World have give the join a lip which helps to get the pieces aligned properly, but it's too shallow to help support the maul. I'd recommend that you drill and pin the shaft of the maul at either end, just for peace of mind. +

+ My only other criticism of the design is the legs. The upper legs and groin are three separate parts, but the hips are fixed so that the left leg will always be striding forward and right leg trailing. It wouldn't be difficult to trim and reposition, but the weight of the model rests here, creating a point of stress. For the asking price, I'd have liked some way of altering the standard pose; either by redesigning the area or perhaps through the inclusion of an alternative set of upper legs (akin to the Contemptor dreadnought kits alternative feet etc.) +

+ One note on posing – my initial plan was to have the two in mirrored poses; with the shield and hammer swapped on the second robot. However, the shield arm has a cable that extends from the left shoulder. Posing them with the shield on the right arm would thus by restricted by the length of the cable. Not insurmountable (you could of course simply leave the cable off), but worth bearing in mind. In the end, I decided to stick with a uniform look and keep the shield on the left arm. +

+ Alternatives and addenda +

+ The nature of the highly characterful design means that there aren't any ideal alternatives – you'll get robots with hammers and shields, but they won't be identifiable as the Iron Circle. The standard Domitar [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+] is slightly cheaper if price is a consideration, but the difference is fairly negligible for the amount of effort you'd need to make to create the hammer and shield. +

+ However, if your budget extends, the standard Domitar might be a good way to add some variety to a large group. The hips suffer from the same fixed leg position, but here it's the right leg advancing and the left leg trailing. In an earlier inload, I'd built one myself – using a bit of greenstuff to sculpt the IVth Legion mask:

+ The detail on the legs differs slightly between the kits – the Iron Circle having additional armour plating compared to the standard Domitar, but I think combining the lower legs of an Iron Circle kit with the upper legs of a Domitar – and then vice versa – would give a great hybrid mix that would add some variety without breaking the overall aesthetic. +

+ If you're intending to recreate Peturabo's entire bodyguard of six, the Iron Circle kit might suit you as-is. They'd certainly look robotic and intimidating in lock-step and single pose, utterly impersonal and uniform. Depending on your interpretation of the background, however, I think mixing in some parts from the standard Domitar would be a great way to create interest and variety. As long as you show the graviton maul, shield and bolt cannon that are the fundamental visual identifiers, having some differences in the face plates, leg decor and torsos could be used to suggest the refinements and tinkering of Perturabo's pet project – the Iron Circle are his personal design, after all, so some personalisation might suit your interpretation. +

+ Shield-wise, Games Workshop's Ogryn kit [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+] comes with the option for large tower shields. While not identical, they're certainly large enough to get the impression across. You also get five in the kit, which would allow you to swap them en-masse in a large group of Iron Circle for a different appearance. The Bullgryn shields are also notable for giving the apperance of slotting together – very fitting for the Iron Circle. +

+ Other than that, I'd recommend Zinge industries' excellent flexible resin power cables and ammo feeds [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+]. As the name suggests, these are resin that has a core of wire, making them completely poseable. While the ammo and power feeds of the Iron Circle behaved alright for me, the Zinge cables would make posing much freer and easier. In addition, having a core of metal gives you an in-built pin, so with a little trimming you'll give you Iron Circle member a bit more resilience. +

+ Conclusion +

+ Minor design critique aside, I love this kit. The appearance is brutal and crisp, with the right balance between clean areas and detail. The quality of the figure itself is high, and they were a real pleasure to put together – even the ammo feeds (normally a bit of a bugbear of mine) seemed to be cooperative. +

+ Subjectively speaking, I think the models are dripping with character: full of mechanical menace and a certain dynamism while retaining a sense of weight. Even given the limitations of the hip posing, the use of ball joints at the waist and shoulders means there's a huge potential for posing. + 


+ Eighth edition playtesting +

+ The Iron Circle is notable for its absence in 8th edition 40k – understandable really – but since The Eightfold Path project toddles along slowly, here's some rules you can use for playtesting, should you so wish. +

+ The basic unit (two Automata) is 15 power. +

1 comment:

  1. Glad you did a run through of them, they have been tempting me for a while.


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