BattleTech Reviews

Black Knight Clanbuster Miniature Review

In June, I bought one of the Black Knight Clanbuster premium miniatures from Catalyst Game Labs. These premium miniatures are multi-part plastic kits for design variants that are not covered by the main pre-assembled plastic miniature line. The Black Knight Clanbuster was the first one offered for sale, and a Stormcrow TC variant will be available this Friday. These first two are linked to the Battle of Tukayyid book since they are both designs used in that battle. A company called Creative Juggernaut is manufacturing the premium miniatures for Catalyst Game Labs.

When the Black Knight went up for sale on Catalyst’s web store, it sold out within a few hours. Catalyst has announced that they have ordered more stock and do not intend for the premium miniatures to be hard-to-get. They were simply unsure about demand for the more expensive premium miniatures. It sounds like the Stormcrow will also have limited initial stock.

The Black Knight premium miniature was $24.99. That is about the same cost as a box of 4-5 standard plastic miniatures. That price has been explained as the increased cost of manufacturing in the United States. While the price is high compared to the BattleTech plastics, it doesn’t feel out of line if I think of these premium miniatures similarly to special character miniatures in other lines.

Because the premium miniatures are exclusive to the Catalyst Game Labs online store, they do not have what I’d consider full retail packaging. The pieces of the miniature were packaged in a small ziploc bag with a fairly simple cardboard label. The pieces do not come attached to any sort of sprue and are just loose in the bag.

The miniature requires assembly, but it comes with multiple choices for some pieces. For the Black Knight, there are two left leg options and multiple hand choices. When combined with the ability to pose the miniature a bit while gluing it together, this gives a lot of freedom to decide how you want your Black Knight to look. A plastic base that is a close match to the bases on the standard plastic miniatures is also included.

My Black Knight miniature had some casting issues. One of the left legs looked like it had slipped in the mold and was bad enough that I didn’t really consider it as an option. Luckily, the other left leg in the kit was ok. The other large defect that my Black Knight had was that the half-sphere connector for the waist was misshaped and too small to make good contact with the torso. Since this isn’t visible, my fix was to add some green stuff so that I could connect the two pieces during assembly. Outside of those two big issues, there are a few minor defects in the casting. For example, the central large laser on the torso looks like part of its barrel is missing and the details are soft in a couple of places on the back of the miniature. Overall, I’m happy with the miniature I was able to assemble, but if the casting issue on the leg had been on a piece where I didn’t have an alternate option, it would have prevented me from being happy with my assembled miniature.

The miniature did not include instructions, but it was fairly straightforward to assemble. The pieces had shaped pegs and sockets, but they were not tight fits and you’ll definitely need glue to hold them together. I used Gorilla Super Glue Gel and it worked great with the plastic.

For painting, I went with a plain white scheme that will work for either the Com Guards or the Word of Blake Militia. Like the new plastic miniatures, the sculpt was nice to paint with details that worked well with washes and edge highlights. As with most of the miniatures I paint, I used Citadel Colour paints, and I was pretty happy with the results.

On the table, the miniature matches the Black Knight BL-9-KNT variant, but could be used for any Black Knight. Here’s the basics of the BL-9-KNT:

  • Role: Brawler
  • Tech Base: Inner Sphere (3052)
  • Chassis: 75 tons (Endo Steel)
  • Movement: 4 / 6, XL
  • Armor: 216
  • Heat Sinks: 15 (30)
  • Weapons:
    • ER PPC
    • Large Laser × 2
    • Large Pulse Laser
    • Medium Pulse Laser × 4
    • Hatchet
  • Battle Value: 1678

Overall, it is nice to have a distinctive command ’Mech for the Com Guards force that I’m assembling from some of my new miniatures from the Clan Invasion Kickstarter. I think the quality of the miniature needs some work since at least one piece of mine had a large enough defect that I wouldn’t want to use it. Unfortunately, I’ve also learned more about one of the primary people involved with Creative Juggernaut and have decided that for the time being I’m not planning to purchase the upcoming Stormcrow TC or any other premium miniatures that they produce.

Blaine Pardoe is one of the primary members of Creative Juggernaut and seems to serve as their main representative in fan communities. He’s been involved in BattleTech as an author for a long time, but I hadn’t followed him closely until I saw a blog post from him in July that made accusations about another author. That post had enough red flags that it encouraged me to look deeper, and what I found is that Blaine seems to be aligned with the United State’s far-right. He follows and supports far-right personalities like Andy Ngo, Jack Posobiec, Steven Crowder, Sebastian Gorka, and Joe Arpaio. He posts and likes messages that are misogynistic, anti-LGBTQ, and anti-Black Lives Matter. He praises Confederate generals. He seems supportive of the continuing far-right effort to overturn last year’s presidential election and of the January 6th attack on the Capitol. He embraces violent rhetoric such as claiming America is in a new civil war, and he has written a book set a few years in the future where progressives have overthrown America and conservatives need to violently fight back. Given his public positions and seeming support for far-right violence, I feel that supporting him is too high of a cost to pay for a new toy.

By Scott Boehmer

A game enthusiast and software engineer.

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