Friday, October 31, 2014

Robotech RPG Tactics Unboxing

I am a huge fan of Robotech. Along with Star Blazers, it had a huge impact on me growing up. I eagerly snapped up Palladium's Robotech RPG, read the novels, bought the comic books, read Protoculture Addicts, bought some of the Revell models, and then the DVDs when they were released. Like I said, I was a huge fan. But there was something missing from the fandom. Palladium's Kickstarter for Robotech RPG Tactics filled that gap.

I'd finally get to play Robotech as a tabletop game with miniatures!  To say that I was excited was an understatement.  I opted for the Battle Cry pledge level, which included the basic game set, a host of additional UEDF and Zentraedi game pieces (miniatures).  I also ordered a Battle Foam Bag.  As I've gotten older, I've been more conscious about protecting my copious miniatures collection, so the Battle Foam Bag was a no-brainer for me.

The Kickstarter took place in the summer of 2013, and was announced to ship in December 2013.  Of course this proved optimistic, and as I'm posting this in late October 2014, you can see how long it took.  Of course this was frustrating for all involved, but I didnt' let it bother me too much.  I trusted that Palladium would ship a quality product when it was ready, and when it did arrive, it would be a nice surprise.  Palladium was good with keeping the backers informed with regular emails explaining the production process, why it was taking so long, so I was never concerned that they would fail to live up to their promise.  By the time the box arrived on my doorstep on October 30, 2014, however, I will admit that some of my initial excitement had worn off.  Only a little, though. 

So now to open up the box and see what kind of goodies I would get!  First off I should state that the Battle Cry Pledge level is being shipped in two waves, as specified by the Kickstarter email:

Wave One contains the following items: 
1x Robotech RPG Tactics Main Boxed Game
(contains 5 Valkyrie Fighters, 5 Valkyrie
Guardians, 6 Valkyrie Battloids, 2 Tomahawk
Destroids, 2 Defender Destroids, 12 Regult
Battlepods, 1 Glaug Officer’s Battlepod,
1 Quel-Regult Recon Pod, and 1 Quel-Gulnau
 Recovery Pod)
1x Battle Cry Art Print
4x Valkyrie Fighters
4x Valkyrie Guardians
4x Valkyrie Battloids
2x Spartan Destroids
2x Phalanx Destroids
12x Regult Battlepods
4x Artillery Regult Battlepods
1x Quel-Regult Recon Pod
1x Glaug Officer’s Battlepod
1x Quel-Gulnau Recovery Pod
Wave Two will contain the following items:
1x Valkyrie Fighter Rick Hunter
1x Valkyrie Guardian Rick Hunter
1x Valkyrie Battloid Rick Hunter
1x Valkyrie Fighter Roy Fokker
1x Valkyrie Guardian Roy Fokker
1x Valkyrie Battloid Roy Fokker
2x Super Valkyrie Fighters
2x Super Valkyrie Guardians
2x Super Valkyrie Battloids
 2x SF-3A Lancer II Space Fighters
2x QF-3000 Ghosts
1x Khyron Glaug Officer’s Battlepod
1x Miriya Queadluun-Rau
3x Gnerl Fighters
3x Nousjadeul-Ger Power Armor
3x Queadluun-Rau Power Armor

Since this is the first shipment, it's only Wave One, so here goes:
My first impression was that that box was somewhat small, but then I keep having to remind myself that the miniatures are in fact miniatures.  All miniatures seem smaller than I imagined when I see them in person.  Taking the goodies out of the box we see that there is the boxed game itself, a bag of extra sprues, and the Battle Foam Bag.
The Battle Foam Bag is sturdy--sturdier than I expected, which pleased me because this thing cost me $99! On the front is the Robotech RPG Tactics logo, and there are three pockets--one on the front to carry the rulebook, and one on each side to carry the cards, templates, and dice. 
The bag measures 16" x 14" by 9", and constructed of nylon.  The walls have rigid plastic embedded in them, making this thing good and sturdy.  Protected by the rigid walls and the foam trays inside, you could drop this thing without fear of breaking all your miniatures. 
Inside there are five foam trays with multiple sizes of slots to put in your miniatures.  Also inside the bag was the Battle Cry Art Print. (suitable for framing!)

Inside one of the side pickets I found the shoulder carrying strap.
Moving onto the game box itself, when I lifted it out of the packing box I could hear the sprues rattling around inside--it clearly was not a tight fit. 

Taking off the shrink wrap and cover, you can see that there's plenty of room to spare inside the box, which had me a little worried.  With all the handling involved in shipping, would there be any damage?
Carefully laying out all the pieces, you can see the UEDF sprues (tan) and the Zentraedi sprues (gray), along with bases, artillery template, and dice.  The UEDF die are white with red markings, while the Zentraedi dice are dark red with white markings.  The dice are standard sized rather than the very small dice you see in lots of games.
Here's one of the UEDF sprues.   (Sorry the picture quality isn't all that great)  The detail is very good, and there was no flashing on the sprues that I could see.  But it was at this point I noticed something wrong.
A close-up of the same sprue is below.  The damage I was worried about did in fact occur.  The VF-1S head piece in top center suffered one lost antenna/laser, and the other was bent.  These pieces are very small and fragile, so it seems inevitable that they might suffer some damage on shipment.  I examined the remainder of the sprues, and it looks like the VF-1S head piece is the most vulnerable, which is a shame since it's one of the coolest head styles.  I saw that several other antennae were bent (with the tell-tale whitish stress marks on the plastic at the bend) but no other ones appeared broken off. 
I know that Palladium has their hands full getting their shipments out to impatient Kickstarter backers, so there's no point going to make a big deal of this right now other than to point it out, and warn backers to treat the sprues with extra care.  If an entire sprue had been smashed or every sprue had lots of damage I think I'd complain, but fortunately that was not the case.

Moving onto rulebook and cards, etc--these were all placed at the bottom of the box underneath the sprues--the box was placed standing up in the shipping box, so again there was opportunity for the book to rattle around with the sprues and potentially cause damage during shipment.  With the set you get the rulebook, an informational sheet showing the Wave One and Wave Two Expansion packs, some assembly instructions, the data cards, an ad brochure from Ninja Division, and the decal sheets.  The decals are waterslide transfers, not stickers, and some of them are extremely small--but the detail does not suffer for it.
The rulebook is a 112 page softcover with glossy pages.  It has good production value and nearly every page has full-color art.  Towards the back are painting guides for both the UEDF and Zentraedi mecha.

Next to the second bag of sprues.  Things were definitely more tightly packed in here than they were in the game box itself, so less rattling around was possible for this part.  Still, I was careful in removing the pieces to make sure they were OK.  From that I could tell, these sprues survived shipment without noticeable damage.
Laying out all of the pieces, you can see plenty of sprues, decals, bases, data cards, and more (double-sided) assembly instructions. 
All in all, I'm very pleased with the contents of the box.  The sprues contained plenty of detail, the cards look to be good quality, and the rulebook was very good quality as well.  The only downside was the (small) amount of damage that was caused during shipping.  For that I have to blame the fact that the Robotech RPG Tactics box itself is too big for what it contains, allowing for far too much movement of the pieces inside.  I'm sure that other people are going to see damaged sprues, especially from some of the smaller and more fragile pieces, and if this ever gets shipped to retail stores (or direct from Palladium's website, for example), this may end up being a common occurrence.

I'll be sure to do an unboxing when Wave Two arrives.  For now, I have plenty to keep me busy with Wave One!

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