A Peek at BTU's 2004 Mecha Calendar
by Jamie Badgerow - crowfoot
January 3, 2004
As regular visitors already know, BattleTechUniverse.org has been working on a 2004 Calendar over the last 6 months. I received a copy of it last week and have looked it over quite a few times trying to get a handle on what I thought of it. While the calendar's creators termed everything as 'mecha' to avoid any copyright confusion, I'll be referring to them as 'Mechs. We know what they mean.
As I got my first look at the calendar, I was kind of shocked to see the cover. It looked very 'last minute' to me, which may have been the case. The cover's concept is great -- a collage of 'Mech drawings seen at earlier development stages along with some scribbled notes and explanations. It just didn't come out as well as it could have. It's a poor representation of what's actually on the inside. But it's just a cover, so not a big deal. I also noticed there were no holes in the paper to hang the calendar on the wall. Oops. Get out your paper punches.
In the interior, the black & white drawings were reproduced fairly well on the calendar stock paper. The presentation is not perfect, but the pictures of the 'Mechs are crisp and clean. Overall, the art is good for a self-proclaimed beginner. It's better than BattleTech TRO art in some cases, but there is still a lot of room for improvement and refinement on the finer details that will be gained through time and experience.
The style of drawing from 'Mech to 'Mech is quite varied, which I highly appreciate. In their quest to make 'Mechs "look like war machines", some artists out there (hand drawn and 3d renderers alike) end up with a bunch of designs that look all the same. That is everything I dislike about universes like Heavy Gear. BattleTech has always been about variety and this calendar represents that well.
Here's the breakdown of the 'Mechs in the Calendar:
1 Land-Air-Mech (LAM)
1 Quad LAM
7 designs with Jumpjets
I don't think you could ask for a better balance of designs. There are more mediums 'Mechs than anything else and there is a good mix of technology. Spread well over the designs are ERs, standard Inner Sphere tech, and even a Heavy Guass Rifle. C3 Slave units show up in a couple of units and there are two with Triple Strength Myomers. So while there are a couple examples of higher level technology, I would say that this batch of 'Mechs stays away from 'munchkinism.'
VL-01 Valor - 100 ton BattleMech
A good looking, jump capable assault BattleMech.
BL-1B Ballista - 65 ton BattleMech
This is truly a cross between the Hunchback and the Hollander. Packing a Heavy Guass Rifle that takes up it's entire right torso, this 'Mech is going to wreck some MechWarrior's day.
Seraphim LAM - 55 ton LAM (Land-Air-Mech)
If you are into LAMs, this is a great representation of one. Aside from the gangsta lean with the Large Pulse Laser, the anime pose is not too over the top and the 'Mech is well drawn. I must take issue with the cockpit, however. I'll never understand why any 'Mech artist would do this with a 'Mech. It is reminiscent of the Dragon Fire's ridiculous crotch gun (see TRO 3058, page 128). It would have been better just to use the classic downward angle.
Recarast - 100 ton OmniMech
This is definitely the beast of the bunch. It's a 100-ton Inner Sphere OmniMech that is perfect as a command and support 'Mech.
TRS-1A Taurus - 65 ton BattleMech
An older design, this 'Mech is very blocky and seemingly has no ankles. This would be a challenging 'Mech to play with its standard chassis, armor, and Inner Sphere weapons.
DSN-1S Desolation - 70 ton BattleMech
This is a axe-wielding, jump-capable 'Mech that gives you the option of dropping behind the enemy and getting a shot at their weak rear armor while not generating much heat. But heat is not too much of a concern since this thing is equipped with Triple Strength Myomers making it just that much deadlier. Being a big fan of the Hatchetman, this is a 'Mech I'd like to play.
CRKT-01 Cricket - 35 ton BattleMech
This is one of my favorites from the calendar. It has some weird quirks like the crotch guard, and that way-too-big gun in its right arm, but I like it all the same.
Nemean Lion - 45 ton Quad
I really do like Quads. Maybe I watched too many cartoons as a child, but I can't help but think Voltron when I look at the Lion. It is very animal-like and probably could have passed as a Smoke Jaguar totem-Mech if they were still around. History buffs will recognize its namesake.
Feral Strike - 40 ton BattleMech
Borrowing looks heavily from the Jenner, this scout 'Mech packs some decent firepower in case it gets entangled with some enemy 'Mechs.
CRS-1X Crossfire - 30 ton BattleMech
This is a deadly light 'Mech that should put heavy and assault pilots on their guard.
WKZ-2X Wakizashi - 50 ton BattleMech
Armed with Triple Strength Myomers and a C3 Slave unit, this 'Mech is best used as an infiltrator and harasser. Skirt this thing along the enemy flank, and the rest of its unit can throw in support fire from afar while it deals with close range threats.
SPX-01 Sphynx - 55 ton Quad LAM
This should get a grin out of most BattleTech players. It's a Quad LAM - what else can I say?
The fluff for these 'mechs is hit and miss, but I attribute some of that to avoiding using copyrighted material. The areas where it is weakest is the historical aspect, and trying to explain things without using Houses or Clans from the BattleTech universe. Granted this is a 'mecha' calendar, but we know they really mean this to be an extension of BattleTech. However, the fluff is strongest in its explanations of why a 'Mech was designed the way it was -- it just makes sense. Overall, the fluff is good in that it tries to cover all aspects of the design's history, much like the BattleTech TRO's of old.
Information on obtaining a calendar or posters of the 'Mechs can be found at BattleTechUniverse.org