With epic room clearing task finished and the Elder Vesuvius packed off to his weekly hospital visit, I was able to sit down today and finally take a proper look at the Black Pyramid resin landships that you may recall were previewed at Britcon a couple of months back. Well as soon as they became available about two weeks ago I ordered all three models. The add-on kits that were also demoed at Britcon aren't available yet, but hopefully will be soon. What I didn't realise when I placed my order was that Black Pyramid have a special offer on at t he moment - for every landship ordered between now and December 31 will receive a free pack of Tea Wars miniatures. BP kindly pointed this out and asked which figures I'd be wanting, so I asked for a couple of packs of Aether gunners and the Command pack. More on them later.
The first thing you notice is that for your £17.50 you get a big chunk of resin. All three models are roughly the same size, despite two being dubbed "medium" and a "heavy" landships. But cunningly the hulls of these two landships are hollow shells, so the vehicle is a lot lighter than you'd expect given the size. The moulding is very crisp, and of the three vehicles only the Heavy Landship required significant sanding to level off the bottom of the vehicle
Without the extra add-ons that were shown on the Britcon preview vehicles, these three come out quite plain looking, leaving me wanting to dive into the Ramshackle tridlins box to "finish them off". The two landships are boxy and slab-sided, and the heavy version really does need a pain of wing sponsons on either side to make it really rock out. The amoured traction engine is, in its default configuration unarmed, making its use on the battlefield limited. I've armed mine with a couple of spare mortars from Ramshackle's Scrap Tank turret pack, mounted sideways like sponsons.
The one piece missing from all three models is a small but vital one. None of them come with any sort of smokestack. Anyone who's ever kitbashed a steamtank from another vehicle knows that the smokestack is what says "Hey, this is a steam powered contraption" and is the first thing you consider adding. Missing out the smokestacks from the basic models and including them in the add-ons is like selling a car (steering wheel not included)
But apart from that these are three good, solid, plausible steam conveyances. With their slab sides and lots of flat surfaces, they make a good starting point for further customisation. It takes some lovin' from the bitz box, or BP's own add-on packs to really make them sing. Worth £17.50? Weill they're a similar size to the Scheltrum Armoured Pullman, which is the same price. Ironclad's models work out a few quid cheaper for a vehicle with similar overall dimensions, but don't quite match the chunkiness of these models. Overall I'd say these are well worth it, provided you consider the need for customisation to be an opportunity rather than a flaw.
As mentioned earlier, Black Pyramid's special offer meant that I received three free packs of figures with these steamtanks. The regular infantry are multi-part figures - head, torso, legs and weapon being separate, and come with plenty of spare heads and weapons. The command pack comes with one complete figure (wrapped in some sort of weird science electrical gear, so I'm guessing he's some sort of communications operator), and a standard bearer and officer with separate heads. Since the default Black Pyramid "Tea Wars" infantry comes with a tropical-service pith helmet, they're of limited use to me and my strictly home-service collection, so I'm going with the idea I mentioned previously and using BPs spiked helmets with gasmasks to turn these Aether weapon gunners into a small elite Special Aether Service unit.
Finally it's with mixed feelings that I read that Black Pyramid have now acquired the Steam & Steel range of figures from Design28. While I'm sure BP will be a good home for the range, it's sad to think that the range isn't going to be expanded, as the sculptor for Design28 had some really nice, quirky ideas. Since I'm currently on a quest to boost the number of steampunky adventurer figures I have (rather than historical soldiers or civilians) I'm looking forward to when they'll be available again.