Technolog, a Russian company, manufactures plastic kits that allow you to assemble your own industrial fortifications and structures. The two kits are Hexagon and Platformer. They're imported by IMEX for their RoboGear game and by Urban Mammoth for VOID and Urban War. They look great and seem perfect for Necromunda. They're probably useful for Warhammer 40,000 too.
I saw these kits on the internet and thought they look terrific, but they weren't available in retail stores yet and I assumed they would be expensive. Then I found them at my favorite local game store -- $12 for the small kits and $20 for the big kits.
Hold on ... $12 and $20 each? That's the suggested retail price! It wasn't a discount. I bought one big Hexagon kit and one big Platformer kit! Later, I went out and bought two small Hexagon boxes. They're the same as half of a big box. I'm not sure if buying two smalls at $24 makes much sense when the big is $20.
Discovery #1: These are cheap!
I took the sets home, opened the Hexagon box and saw the detail with my own eyes. One thing that is not said on the boxes is that these are unpainted. The surface textures are unquestionably great but the color of the plastic is silvery-gray. That's a bit of a let-down. On the other hand they are the perfect size for Necromunda, so that's good! Check out the pictures above to see the color, detail and scale.
Discovery #2: You'll have to paint them to make them look like the ones on the box.
You immediately notice how many pieces there are. There are a lot of thin panels and each has plenty of rivets, hatches, tubes, cables and overlapping sheets of metal. You will not be disappointed with the detail. I found no flaws in the casting. (I made a couple strange little pyramid objects, which you can see above.)
Then there are hundreds of connectors, in five shapes with different angles. When assembling, it helps to have an understanding of angles. If you don't know that every inside corner of a hexagon is 120 degrees, then you might not reach for the Y connector first. Study the angles of the connectors before just snapping things together. You'll find there are plenty of them and you'll have extras.
I noticed that the instructions sheet explained the angles of the connectors (90 degrees, 60 degrees, etc.) but there were no assembly diagrams to be found. All you get are the photos on the box. (Note: The small Hexagon kit does have nice diagrams for one building.)
On that point, I decided to check the internet. There are no construction plans or detailed images of these products on the internet, which sucks. The website for Technolog (http://www.technolog.ru) is in Russian and the English version is mostly untranslated. The Urban Mammoth site (http://www.urbanmammoth.com) and the IMEX website (http://www.imex-model.com) have pictures of just the fronts of the boxes. The lack of support for the product is unfortunate.
Discovery #3: The kit won't be useful for young children; it's probably a 12 year old and up kind of toy.
Discovery #4: Trimming each piece makes this a whole-day project, but I recommend doing it that way.
Once I had everything off the sprues, I picked a photo on the box that I liked -- the Iron Fortress -- and began assembling it. Glue is not needed! (See the completed pictures above. The figures are my Buns of Steele gang for Necromunda.) Without any diagrams and only a small picture, it was difficult to tell what went where. They didn't show a picture from the back, just the front, so I couldn't tell what pieces were used in the back. Anyway, once I had the basic structure started, I gave up trying to make it exact.
When assembling, you hear a distinct 'click' when it snaps together. That sounds satisfying at first but you'll learn otherwise. From time to time you might need to change from a T shape to an L shape connector. But it's difficult to pull them apart without applying so much force that other connectors pop apart. You learn to be careful choosing connectors as you assemble the building because if you get it wrong and have to reach 4" into the building to change one connector, you'll be sorry.
Also, ladders are flimsy things that break easily. Everything else in the kit was sturdy and durable, but the ladders broke every time I tried to connect them. There aren't enough of them, either. The most common thing I've heard people say is, "How do you get UP to the next level?"
Hours later my Iron Fortress was assembled and my fingers were raw. The plastic is very strong and quite stiff. The connectors are tiny. I found it a slightly frustrating experience to assemble my first building. It wasn't fast, there were no instructions, and my fingers hurt. Here is my biggest warning: Hexagon structures are semi-permanent. You could disassemble them, but it would take an entire day just to pull one apart and put it back together into a new layout.
Discovery #5: Plan on keeping the structure the way it is!
So do I like my Iron Fortress? It's awesome! It's sturdy, useful and totally the right scale for 28mm Necromunda miniatures. Honestly, a better Necromunda terrain system has never been invented. Games Workshop should have come up with this idea.
The Hexagon construction set is a great product. It's inexpensive and looks fantastic. We must live in a golden age of gaming, because there was nothing close to this when we were kids! Even though it may be hard, my plan is to disassemble the Iron Fortress (because I just built it for this review). Then I'm going to assemble a bigger, better Iron Fortress with my one big box and two small boxes. I'll definitely trim the pieces with a knife and paint it once it's assembled. I may get around to reviewing the Platformer construction set, too.
Disassembling the Iron Fortress and sorting the pieces into their appropriate piles took about 20 minutes. I bought another Hexagon big box so that I wouldn't be limited. Once everything is off their sprues, you can fit two boxes of Hexagon pieces into one box, if that matters.
For my Gateway, I used a first level similar to the Iron Fortress, but the rest is completely different. One final discovery with the Hexagon set: you end up with a fistful of triangle pieces that you can't find a use for. It's not a big waste, but I can't figure out why there are so many isosceles and equilateral triangles in the box. There aren't enough support beams either, so that's why a lot of the structures look unrealistic: platforms are hanging out in space.
Farseer Ahnd-maan bought the Platformer set and made a structure out of it for Warhammer 40k. I hadn't seen it yet or talked to him, so I bought a big Platformer box (again $20) to see what it was like. I knew the two sets don't fit together in any way, shape or form.
Like the Hexagon set, the Platformer set says "Quick Fit No Glue" on the cover. Within seconds I discovered that this is not true! You must use glue with the Platformer set. You also should glue it down to a base of some kind. This was a big disappointment.
I assembled a small structure from the side of the box and was completely unhappy with it. It toppled over at the slightest touch. Even a pewter miniature made walkways sag. This does not happen with the Hexagon set. I can pick up my Hexagon fortification with one finger. The structure isn't solid at all.
There are microscopic pieces in the Platformer set that are used strictly to fill holes. They don't click in or anything, you just apply some glue to them and stick them in the appropriate space. I found 8 of them in the bottom of the box because they had come off the sprue. There aren't any gaps in the Hexagon set that need filling.
So my conclusion is that the Platformer set is fine -- not quite as nice as the Hexagon set -- as long as you don't mind using a little model glue. I decided to take my Platformer set and use some parts on my Gateway. Remember the lack of support beams in the Hexagon set? The Platformer set has lots of them! My next project will be to combine elements from both. Also, I have some kits for industrial buildings for railroading that I've been meaning to use for many years, so I'm going to bring in some elements of those.