An honest review of a product I bought, Anvil Industries has not sponsored this in any way (I highly doubt they know we exist). This is my first experience buying virtual 3d models, rather than physical, and I jumped right into the deep end with a large highly customisable vehicle model. (Please note, as mentioned later, the chainsword on its back is a custom addition and not part of the base kit.)
What is it?
The Light Assault Mech is a highly customisable digital model from Anvil Industry’s “Digital Forge” range, designed for you to print yourself. What you purchase is a .zip file full of digital files you can use to customise your own model. The end result is about a dozen separate pieces printed out that you need to stick together to build the finished model.
Anvil seems to have tried quite hard to provide for the full spectrum of customisation here. At one end of the spectrum they have provided the files to build this standard model as is, without any customisation at all:
|Image Credit: Anvil Industries, used without permission for illustrative purposes only.
At the other end they have provided fully rigged files that you can completely pose yourself any way you like.
I’m going to talk about the Goldilocks zone. For people who don’t want the basic bitch edition, but also don’t want to get into the incredibly fiddly world of digital modelling, they have provided some very easy to use options.
There are three legs, bent, neutral and extended. The feet and hips are printed separately with ball joints, so by picking the legs you want and posing them when you build it you can get a huge range of leg positions.
Arms wise, there’s neutral or shooting. Both options are holding the rifle with both hands. It would have been nice to maybe throw in a few other options, like the classic holding rifle upright in one hand and pointing with the other. You can do that if you want, but that requires posing it yourself.
Then there are two “Assembler” files. One for the gun and one for the torso. To open these you do have to download the free Blender software, which is a digital modelling tool, but no modelling is required. You just use the menu to turn on and off the different parts. It’s not completely foolproof, if you turn on one barrel but don’t turn off the one that was already there you get both superimposed, and when you export the final model you want you must remember to tick a specific checkbox or you just end up with every single part superimposed no matter what you had chosen, but it really is a case of clicking a few buttons and they have an excellent video guide to walk you through it step by step.
So to customise the mech you just need to use the two Assembler files to customise the rifle and torso however you want it, and then just select the rest of the parts from the wide array of options included as pre-supported STLs.
A quick note on the chainsword. I wanted the mech to have a melee option, and the Anvil kit does not come with one. I found a 3d model of a chainsword for 40k and Jeff was kind enough to rework the teeth that really didn’t look very good scaled up to mech size. I just attached it to the side of the power plant, on the basis that it would have a clamping mechanism there out of the way, rather than some awkward waist scabbard.
I don’t have a printer myself, so I passed the resulting files over to Photon Fabrication for printing. The Beard Bunker is unofficially but closely affiliated with Photon Fabrication, so I cannot give them an unbiased review. In my highly biassed opinion, they are great. The licence with the model does explicitly call out, “You are permitted to purchase 3D prints of the digital assets from a third party 3D printing service, so long as the prints are strictly for your personal use”, so you don’t have to have your own printer to use it.
I understand that the scaling was perfect and there were no issues with the printing.
Building her was, to be honest, a bit of a pig. Resin is always harder to work with than plastic, so a lot of the difficulty is just baked in. Regular 3d print users will probably be very used to this, but anyone new to the concept should be aware that it’s a lot more faff than a plastic GW kit. Clipping off the supports can leave little pockmarks if you’re not careful, so I tried to clip a little further out from the model itself and then carefully remove what’s left with a sharp knife. That said, the kit was entirely pre-supported and the support locations were, from a modelling perspective, excellent. Always on the bottom or rear, they avoided most of the visible detail.
There were a few issues specific to this kit. It may be that Anvil expected it to be printed with resin with a bit more give, but I found that the little nubs on the cockpit hinges just got in the way, there was no way I could force my hatches to pop in and hinge. If I wanted to have this model open up, I would have been drilling the hinges and putting in magnets anyway, but in this case with the arms where they are I didn’t see the point. I trimmed off the nubs, filed down the edges a little to get it to fit, and glued it in.
The hip joints were also a problem. The circular joint where the hip pieces join the crotch piece were a bit too big, so they had to be filed down, and the ball sockets didn’t fit into the legs. Again a resin with a bit of give might have popped them right in, but in my case I had to file off the edges of the socket to get it in. Same with the ankle ball joints.
Of course I can’t swear this is the 3d model, and not an issue with the printing. I know everything for this kit was printed in a single batch on one printer, but… I dunno, could it be that some resin expands slightly so everything gets a little bit tighter? I don’t know. Ultimately some joints took some filing to get to fit, but everything did end up fitting in the end.
I drilled magnets into the wrist joints so I can swap weapons, and I left the head off so I could paint it as a sub-assembly, but everything else I glued together. I stole the base from a spare sentinel kit, so I guess if you don’t have a suitable base lying around you might consider printing something at the same time. If you aren’t wargaming with it, you probably could balance it on its feet with careful leg placement, but it would fall over very easily.
Size-wise she comes in just a little taller than an old style Sentinel when printed at the out of the box scale, although I think there’s some room for adjusting the scale up or down a bit and keeping it within believable limits.
Not really relevant to the review of the kit, but I may as well mention that I painted it very much in the same way as my Leman Russ squadron which I have already written about, just missing out the initial step of Zandri Dust. The extra yellow bits add a splash of colour as befits the character of the pilot, and that was done with Averland Sunset highlighted with Eldar Flesh prior to the wash.
Initially I had painted the weapon green as well, but it just didn’t look right, so I repainted it black and am really pleased that I did
But why tho?
So what is it actually for? To be honest I’m not sure what Anvil designed it to be used as. Whilst they did once sell their own wargame, this isn’t specifically for that. It’s just there to be whatever you want to use it for. All I can talk about is what I want to use it for. I’m about to get very self indulgent and talk about my own characters and game history, to feel free to skip on down to the Conclusion.
Some of us here at the Bunker periodically play our own twist on Inquisitor 28. One of my characters is a tech genius called Winifred Dietersman, but prefers to go by “Acid”.
When a Sororitas Sister in power armour was introduced into the story, Acid fell wildly in love. Not with the sister, but with her power armour. Acid’s Inquisitor did not have the resources or influence to give Acid power armour, and if he did, he wouldn’t be giving it to a tiny tech specialist. Their in-house workshop is well equipped, and the Techpriest Fabricate Acetae (weirdly similar names, I know) is highly skilled, but power armour is the amongst peak of human technical prowess and creating their own was beyond their reach.
But the warband is Ordo Xenos, and in time they came across some T’au battlesuits. Whilst certainly inferior to the glorious Imperial Power Armour, their inferiority was, in a way, inspiring. It’s just a cramped box with robot limbs on the outside, much easier to build than something that wraps around a biological limb and moves with and enhances it. Crude but effective. The Inquisitor gave his blessing to the project to build something similar, as long as they did not use any actual T’au components or even appear to be based on T’au technology.
The first version used a modified Ambot, with the brains ripped out and space added in the rear of the torso for the diminutive Acid to fit inside and control it via a combination of MIU and physical controls. Modular weapon slots on the sides of the limbs allowed reconfiguration for different missions.
It served Acid well as a remote command post and occasional assault unit for several years, but its size and devastating lack of subtlety was a severe limitation. On many missions she would simply wait nearby in a truck until/in-case she was needed, monitoring the team on comms and controlling a swarm of servo-skulls for recon and utility. Sometimes if she was needed for her technical abilities on a stealth mission, or within a building, the mech had to be left behind.
After a particularly hazardous mission where the stealth approach meant it could not be used, but in the following firefight it would have been extremely helpful, Acid was inspired to upgrade it. She really wanted to be able to move around on foot and then call in the battlesuit when required. The new improved version would be a servitor, able to move and act on its own and follow simple instructions, but which she could also then board and pilot with far more subtlety and sophistication than a servitor was capable of.
At this point the project had drifted a long way from the initial idea of making low-budget power armour, and appears outwardly to be some kind of advanced Sentinel, whist actually on the inside is a bizarre amalgamation of servitor and T’au battlesuit and ultimately not entirely dissimilar to a very small Imperial Knight. If challenged, Fabricator Acetae would argue that it was simply a recombination of existing blessed and ordained Imperial Technology derived from STC components. Perhaps not yet approved for mass production, but certainly not any kind of tech-heresy.
In a grimdark twist (because of course), when Fabricator Acetae was procuring the necessary components for the servitor, he decided to grow a clone of Acid’s own brain, as that would be easier to integrate into the existing MIU configured for her. Acid is not (yet) aware of this. Here’s hoping it doesn't become self aware in the future and try to replace her.
Acid has named it “Salty”. If challenged she will sometimes claim it is short for “Assault Mech” or something similar. In truth it’s a joke name; if you combine an acid with a metal you get a salt.
Ironically, it was only after I had come up with the idea of having a servitor in Salty that I played Titanfall 2 and realised I had essentially invented a Titanfall Titan for 40k. My initial inspiration was actually the Batmobile which has, across many iterations and media, often been able to be summoned via remote control. Of course once I had played Titanfall it highly skewed my idea of what Salty should look like and how it might act. You’ll notice the newer version is now green and yellow instead of silver and yellow, skewing much closer to the Titanfall look (but also fitting in nicely with my Guard army).
|Image Credit: Respawn Entertainment, used without permission for illustrative purposes only.
I spent a lot of time searching the internet for a more suitable model than the Ambot (which I never hugely loved) and when I found Anvil’s Light Assault Mech I was pretty shocked by just how perfect it was. I was a little worried when I bought it that the option with the robot head on it would be designed to make it a robot, instead of a pilotable suit, but once I got the kit and had a real good look I found that it was exactly as I had hoped. The front of the torso flips up to reveal a large rounded screen inside for the pilot.
The primary armament I have selected is the versatile autocannon and I added a giant chainsword (the Anvil Light Assault Mech does not include this or indeed any melee weapons at all), although I have magnetised the wrists and given Acid the option of a chaincannon or a lascannon if there is a specific target in mind. Conveniently this means in games of 40k I can play it as an Imperial Guard Sentinel, as the model is pretty much the same size as the new Sentinel model.
Certainly if you like the model and wanted to include it in your army, a Sentinel would be my advice. It doesn't really have options for a plasma cannon or missile launcher, but I think it works fine for lascannon, autocannon and multi-laser.
I think the kit looks fantastic. The design is impressively user friendly, I was a little worried when it said I’d have to download a new bit of software, but honestly it couldn’t be easier. It’s hard work to physically build it, but for me it’s worth it.
If I were to offer one suggestion for improvement, it would be that Anvil could bundle one or two pre-posed sets of legs, waist all the way down to feet. There was a lot of work and effort required to construct those physically, and I wasn’t trying for any particularly interesting pose. That said, they did give me the fully rigged models, so I could pose and print my own.
It certainly wasn’t cheap, the digital model plus printing costs quite a bit more than a GW model would cost, but it would become more economical if I were to print more of them.
Ultimately I’m happy with my purchase, it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s given me exactly what I wanted.