+ inload: Algoryn AI review +

+ Algoryn Armoured Infantry + 

+ Incident Team Gorun +

Strike on Kara Nine – the starter set for Beyond the Gates of Antares, which I found on eBay going for a song. I'll do a proper write-up/review of this at some point, but having broken into the box last night, I couldn't resist getting stuck in on some modelling. +

+ Model-wise, the set contains two sprues of Concord Combined Command Strike Troopers – you can see my thoughts on those in this inload [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+] – and fifteen Algoryn Armoured Infantry, or 'AI'. Let's have a look at the latter.+


+ About the Algoryn +

+ The Spill is an in-universe term used to refer to regions that aren't controlled by one of the three major powers (viz. the Panhuman Concord, the Isorian Senatex and the Vorl Domination) – essentially, all the other minor groups that occupy the systems accessible through the Gates of Antares. +

+ Some of these forces are tiny; single system or even planets with pre-spaceflight civilisations. Others, while small relative to the big players, are powerful and vigorous. The Algoryn Prosperate are a good example of the latter: they are the largest and amongst the most advanced minor civilisations. +

Ruling over a cooperative league of planets that includes other non-Algoryn panhumans and a few non-human species, the Algoryn are burly and powerful panhuman morphs (that is, they evolved from human stock in the earlier ages of Antares, rather than being aliens). As with almost all advanced groups in the Beyond the Gates of Antares setting, the Algoryn use advanced 'nanospore' technology that permeates their worlds and society, allowing for what amounts to a hyper-advanced communications system being accessible everywhere – a sort of 'space internet'. +

+ Alas, the reason the Concord and Isorian Senatex are so successful is that they have perfected dominant nanospore technology that inherently overruns and overrides  local versions. For this reason, the Algoryn are paranoid about their society being overtaken by either of the big human factions, and are willing to got to war – even destroy their own worlds – to avoid contamination and subsumation within either faction. +

+ The Algoryn have a regimented and militarised society in which all Algoryn serve, partially as a result of their history and partially as a result of their siege mentality. This is useful: not only does it allow them to compete militarily with the enormous C3 and Senatex (who only deploy a tiny proportion of their society), but it also means that they are well set to  but many of their systems are unfortunately accessible to the violent, aggressive and backwards Ghar. +

+ Caught between these two dire threats – one low-tech and the other hyper-advanced – the Algoryn have settled into a limited middle ground. Where the C3 or Senatex deploy sentient machine intelligences [+Appendnote edit: I use this rather clunky term rather than 'Artificial Intelligence' to avoid confusion with the Armoured Infantry.+] to pilot their drone-tanks – the Algoryn are all too aware that their less advanced technology can be overwhelmed by the C3 or Senatex's nanospore. As a result, the Algoryn use machine intelligences to assist and support Algoryn pilots and crew, rather than autonomously. +


+ Algoryn Armoured Infantry mini-review +

+ Two (mostly) unconverted Algoryn AI +

+ Theoretical: Overview +

+ First impressions of the sprue were positive. As with the C3 sprue, the Algoryn Armoured Infantry sprue is hard plastic and contains five Algoryn soldiers plus a little drone. The troopers are substantially bulkier than the very slight C3 troops, which gives them a bit more presence. Their aggressive culture comes across in the hard angles and deep recesses of the armour – they still look advanced, but also threatening. I particularly like the crested helm, which evoked elements of Predator and Halo while still looking quite distinctive. +


+ The good, the bad and the ugly +

+ Lacking the big fire support drone on the C3 sprue, the Algoryn sprue has more options. As well as the mag guns (solid-shot, reliable rifles) shown on the models here, there are a couple of mag repeaters (shorter-ranged mag guns that kick out more shots), and two micro x-launchers – a special weapon like a grenade launcher. It's nice to have the variety and options here. Apart from anything else, it allows the sprue to pull double duty for the Armoured Infantry squads, which are primarily armed with mag guns, and – if you have spares from another set – Assault squads, which are armed with mag repeaters. +

You get enough helms to equip everyone uniformly, along with two optional bare heads for a bit of variety: an improvement on the Concord sprue's lone unhelmed variants. There's a paired gesturing arm and pistol-wielding set. As with the C3, that's about it for options – and as there, I think it would have been nice to have had a couple of pouches or pieces of technology for some variety and interest. Comparing the Gates of Antares sprues with Warlord's own Bolt Action sprues shows that the latter have loads of pouches and bags and water bottles – even characterful little things like swords. Perhaps this is low-hanging fruit for a future upgrade set? +

+ Anyway, that's a minor complaint. The big problem I have with this sprue is the poses. I'm not sure what the sculptor was going for, and whether the limitations of plastic moulding caused compromises, but the legs are in very peculiar postures. This stock shot from the Warlord Games website shows what I mean:
+ The running legs (bottom half, right of centre line) are fine, but the others are very odd. They're not completely awful – they'd work perfectly fine for a dynamic individual pose – but the two odd half-lunges poses on the left really jump out. In a force where these poses are likely to be repeated three or four times, it'll end up looking like a gymnastics contest. Perhaps if there had been some arms that complemented the poses they might work better, but the arms are in fairly simple cradling/aiming postures. A final fault with these legs is that they're leaning to the right. Had they been leaning the other way, it might have made for a more convincing braced aiming pose or similar. Just a shame that these weren't replaced with kneeling legs or something similar:  a real missed opportunity +

+ The walking set on the bottom left is – again – perfectly serviceable, but a bit pigeon-toed, with the trailing leg pressed hard against the waist. It's not an unnatural position, but would be uncomfortable – and I suspect it's a compromise of keeping the legs as single pieces . +

+ It's my biggest complaint of what is otherwise a rather nice set of clean, simple and characterful figures with just enough detail to be rewarding for painting. Fortunately, the material means that the postures are relatively easily solved, as you can see in the 'Practical' section that follows below. + 


+ It's a pity about the questionable poses, as it's my only real complaint about the kit. The detail is crisp and clear, and all the parts fit together nicely. While I'd have liked some more options, that's an unfillable bucket – it's always nice to have more otions! There are improvements over the C3 sprue, too: the arm/shoulder joins are flat and, as a result, there's much less 'swim'. Secondly, the heads are aligned facing forwards, so there's no mouldline running down this focal point. +

+ Indeed, in terms of mouldlines, these are beautifully clean. Perhaps I was lucky to get an early batch, but there's little blurring or flash on the sprues I have. The kit has some nice deep detail, so I think these should be both fun and relatively easy to paint – great for beginners. They are definitely a good choice for this starter set. +

+ If you're building them stock, the poses might not be a problem, but if you're planning on building multiple kits, then I suggest either sharpening your conversion skills to avoid repetition, or kitbashing them with the Algoryn Command Squad sprue shown below. This looks to have some more conventional poses (though the uppermost ones on the right look to be a mirror of the pigeon-toed pose on the Armoured Infantry sprue) – and I think in combination, they'll combine to make some really interesting variety. +

I've ordered a set to double-check the mix-and-match potential, but I'm anticipating the joins being seamless. I'll come back to this review when I have the Command sprue in hand to put them into context, but I certainly think that the legs are the weak point of the standard Armoured Infantry sprue, and letting down what's otherwise a nice little kit. +


+ Practical +

+ When assembling, I couldn't resist making a few subtle tweaks. I've banged on about the legs above, but the other change I did was to add a neckpiece. The heads seemed to sit quite low in the chest, and I wanted to make them look slightly more upright and noble than the stock pose. Fortunately, the sprue includes little circular bits that I assume are something to do with getting the die in place. +

+ I carefully trimmed one of these off for each assembled body (the torsos are two-part), aiming to get a circular disc of plastic. By the nature of the material, a straight cut across will cause the disc to curve slightly, giving a slight 'dishing'. You can just about see what I mean in the picture above. The torso at the back has the neckpiece in place, while the foremost one has the neckpiece just to the right of it, ready to be glued in. +

+ A neutral posture on this one, to show how they look. This is using the bottom left set of legs – the ones I suggested looked a bit pigeon-toed. Perhaps surprisingly, they required the most conversion work. I trimmed both legs off at the hips, being careful to cut through the soft armour and leaving the plates intact as possible. I then cut more discs (like the neck pieces above) from the sprue and cut these in half to give 'D'-shaped pieces. I used these to pack out both hips, creating a wedge that turns the legs outwards from the groin. The curve of the 'D'-shape simulates the undersuit detailing elsewhere, so I don't think there's really much need to do any greenstuff work here. +

+ Another repose, this time using the less extended lunge pose (middle one on the left of the sprue). I think this one's my favourite, giving a nice 'combat prowl' impression. It's also the simplest conversion; little more than cutting the model's left leg (right of picture) off and removing the foot. These were then replaced at a different angle. +

+ And finally, the one that I most dreaded, the extended lunge. Again, I trimmed away the model's extended leg and carefully cut away the foot before replacing both at a new angle. This required a little stand of rubble to be built up – I used sprue (pictured) while the glue set, but will take them all off these temporary bases for painting. +


1 comment:

  1. Looking good so far! Appreciate the discussion of the flaws in the kit, AND how to fix the legs.

    I got a command box of these chaps for "free" from an old Warlords sale ($20 credit or some such), and was intending to use them for something in 40k. I was shocked to see how tall they were though, and they went back into the box.


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