Scratch Built Robots

Internet distraction disorder can be a real hindrance to getting anything worthwhile done. Just occasionally though the random tangents can lead to something truly interesting.

This happened to me late last year while looking for inspiration for building fantasy scenery. By pure chance I stumbled across Alessandro Conti’s scratch built Necrons posted on the Matakishi’s Tea House site.

It seems Alessandro’s models divided opinion when pictures were posted on Warhammer 40K forums about 7 years ago.

I know very little about the Necrons. They weren’t in the 1st edition of W40K (which was the only version of the game I owned) and Wikipedia tells me they appeared as a new race towards the end of 2nd edition W40K’s lifecycle via an article in White Dwarf issue 216.
Since my return to painting/gaming I’ve obviously seen the models produced by GW over the years. They seem to share more than a passing resemblance to both the Chaos Android model that appeared in the MB/GW 1990 game ‘Space Crusade’ and the T-800 of the Terminator Movies. However in W40K they’re apparently an ancient race of skeletal robot warriors. Picture that eh? GW in more skulls shocker…

Anyway, as noted above, Alessandro’s models didn’t suit everyone’s tastes. I can see why some people might have disliked them. They lack the detailed skeletal, anatomical finesse and metallic skulls that seem to visually define the Necrons. I don’t care that these creations didn’t meet a particular specification for some gamers. As generic, low technology robots I think they’re inspired!

This got me thinking about creating my own and what I had of use lying around in toolboxes. After a quick search I was still short of parts.
Luckily I remembered about a new store that’s opened nearby. It’s an independently owned ‘pound store’ that (unlike a lot of the bigger outlets doing this in the UK) stocks hundreds of cheap DIY items including hand tools, electrical components, plumbing supplies as well as the usual houseware, toiletries, etc.
Most of this DIY gear is poor quality and looks like it wouldn’t really survive regular usage but that’s reflected in the price.
Of course for my needs that made it perfect and I purchased the extras I needed.
On top of the wire, rawl plugs, nuts, washers, cable clips and crimp connectors used in the original models I’ve also incorporated small rubber gaskets, plastic beads and fluorescent light tube starters in some of mine.

As far as gaming I’d incorporate them into a 28mm Sci Fi skirmish game, which I’ll admit is unlikely to ever happen. Never mind, here’s the background I’ve envisaged for them.

These individuals were originally agricultural robots on a distant colony. After severe dust storms devastated crops the settlers either starved or fled with only what they could carry on passing trader vessels.

Decades later Religious Zealots/Pirates/Goblins have landed on the uninhabited planet, finding the robots in the ruins of the abandoned farmsteads.

After hot wiring them into action again, the robots were crudely repaired and converted. Corroded panels were welded back on, damaged or safe mode circuits bypassed, leaky hydraulic cables cut down and reswaged to such an extent that the new owners managed to get these primitive mechanisms back into service – not as machines to farm with but as assault droids to quickly rip through the unsuspecting light infantry of any invaders.

These machines have been patched back together haphazardly and as a result are unreliable and very dangerous. Not only have they had weapons attached which their circuits aren’t designed for, the new owners have also packed explosives into cavities in the bodywork. This can be triggered by remote control once they get amongst enemy troops or it might happen if the robots break down or suffer damage from enemy fire.

Movement can be sporadic due to poor performance from elderly energy units and CPUs struggling to deal with programming conflicts created by patched up circuitry. These robots really need to be followed by *ahem* ‘technicians’ to make minor ‘alterations’ as they approach the enemy – a quick tinkering with a 4lb club hammer can often work wonders.
The technicians really need to keep up with the robots to stay in range to monitor/diagnose/repair. Of course this means that if a robot explodes then there’s a high probability the technician will be killed too if in range of the blast.

The exploratory landing party from the Imperialists/Evil Empire/Betterware Door to Door Sales people might have their work cut out…

And here are the robots:-

Locust TxH34


The Locust TxH34 (pictured here with weapons not part of the factory fit) became a standard in agriculture for over 50 years, superseded by the later DxH44 and TxH54 models.

Aardvark AS253a


Before conversion this was an Aardvark SZ253a, aimed at the far flung cash conscious colonist. With a performance comparable to higher priced units in the same range but without the added cost of extra features this was marketed as the most reliable robot ever, repairable in the field with even the most basic of toolkits.

Locust GR5000


The Locust GR5000 was considered a combination of the best elements from both the DxH and TxH ranges until it too was replaced by later advancements. Again this one carries armament that would invalidate the manufacturer’s warranty.

This group shot includes Rookbrow to give a sense of scale.



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