In the first of (hopefully) many such articles, I'm going to take a look at some figures that I think are suitable for use in your games of Laserblade or Alien Worlds; the excellent Galaxy Laser Team from J. Lloyd International. They are sold in packs that look very much like this:
I paid about US$12 for mine plus shipping, call it €20 - that works out at less than 50 cents per figure and they're in traditional 54mm "army men" scale. The team have their own Facebook page which can be found here and it gives a brief rundown on the toys' history. If you have a particular interest in that side of things, it's the place to go. What I plan to do is look at the figures one by one and explore how they might appear in your games of Alien Worlds or Laserblade.
As you can see from the image above, you get a big sack of toys in two colours. Mine were a mixture of blue and green but there are several different combinations available. The sack contains 48 miniatures and mine had 24 of each colour. There are eight different sculpts but they weren't quite distributed evenly in my pack - almost, but not quite. You also get a couple of unusual x-wing fighters, one in each colour. These are nice to look at but as they're out of scale (in the time-honoured army men tradition) and I haven't come up with any vehicle rules yet, I'm going to put them to one side for now and just look at the figures. So, who's in the pack?
First under the spotlight are the two figures above. The guy on the left is a kind of Flash Gordon meets Han Solo (which is no bad thing). I love the retro raygun and antenna on his helmet. On his own, this guy looks to me like the hero of the story but if you line a few them up side-by-side, they start to look like officers of some sort of space police. Lots of gaming potential here. His female companion is dressed in sometthing that resembles the Starfleet-issue mini-dress from the original Star Trek series and she comes brandishing a rather boring-looking computer terminal. Now, we don't stipulate that your models have to be shown with weapons that match the stats you give them in any off our games and of course you could use her as she is. Personally, however, I've modified one of mine using the hands from her buddy Flash Solo so that the two have matching armaments.
You can come up with whatever stats you like of course but for Laserblade I'd be tempted to give them both something like this:
Ranged Combat - 5+
Close Combat - 6+
Abilities - Marksman, Valiant
Cost - 14CP
If they are the heroes of the piece then I think there's good reason to throw in hard to hit as well, bringing them to 17CP, as the stars of the show always have a knack for avoiding enemy fire.
If you're playing Alien Worlds then these could just as easily be your regular characters or special characters and Flash Solo there would make a dashing hero.
Next, the two aliens in the line-up. On the left is a guy that reminds me a bit of a prototype drawing for Chewbacca that I saw several years ago while on the right is arguably the most iconic of this set's members - the mysterious lurtle (part lobster, part turtle, see). Maybe it's the Chewbacca effect but I can't help seeing the furry guy as a loyal companion to Flash Solo and I think if I was using him in Alien Worlds I'd include him as a special character with the brawler ability. The lurtle meanwhile I think has got to be a regular character who's a close combat fighter and hard to kill. I'd be tempted to field three off them in my six-man team, maybe as servants of my (evil) hero or as primitives that have vowed to help the space police for some reason. For Laserblade how about:
Ranged Combat - 5+
Close Combat - 5+
Abilities - Brawler, Heavy Weapon (ranged), Marksman
Cost - 19CP
There's a good argument for giving the Furry Guy valiant for an extra CP although that would make him elite at 20VP total. You could also claim that's a rapid fire weapon he's brandishing and possibly give him a little bit of armour thanks to his innate toughness. You could move the lurtle's armour rating up and down depending on how many CPs you have to spend. You could even have him shoot laser beams out of his eyes if you wanted. Loads of potential here!
Ranged Combat - none
Close Combat - 5+
Abilities - Armour (8+), Brawler, Close Combat Fighter, Heavy Weapon (close combat)
Cost - 13CP
Now this guy, I'm not sure about him, he's a kind of mix between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Ming the Merciless. For Alien Worlds, I quite like the idea of having this guy as an evil hero, two Furry Guys as special characters (his personal body guards) and three enslaved Lurtles to make up the numbers. Or he could be the friendly old space monk and possible leader of the crew with an energy sword and mystical powers to protect him. With that in mind:
Wise Old Space Monk
Ranged Combat - none
Close Combat - 4+
Abilities - Commander, Close Combat Fighter, Hard to Hit, Heavy Weapon (close combat), Martial Artist
Cost - 22CP
That's a set-up that would work for a goodie or a baddie, I think. You could add some armour to represent his skill at deflecting blows with his energy sword. Again, lots off potential and I think he more than any other could take on a different persona depending on if and how you choose to paint him!
The remaining figures in the set are a droid (on the left) that resembles my drawings of R2-D2 when I was little and two old-fashioned astronaut types (on the right). Even though we don't pay too much attention to the weapons a model is shown using, it's still hard to come up with some convincing stats for the droid, at least any that would make him competitive in game terms. That said, I do think he would make a good token for a retrieval scenrio, perhaps stranded on an alien planet with the plans for a super weapon stuck in his disk drive, that sort of thing. The astronauts would do as regular characters in Alien Worlds and could be modified to look as though they're carrying weapons if you wanted to. Of course these are just ideas. We encourage you to come up with your character designs in your games.
The Galaxy Laser Team can be bought here!
Galaxy Laser Team
by Neil Goodacre
And whatever you come up with, there is no denying that these are great figures. The fact that they aren't based directly on any other property is their big advantage, for regular play as well as in our games. The fact that you get so many figures in a pack means that you can have a lot of fun with colour schemes should you choose to paint them, and could even make two identical teams in different colours for a truly balanced game. This same fact gives you the potential to modify them too, of course. On that note, I have based mine on 50mm wooden bases and I think (if I say so myself) that they look great as a result. I know that I for one can't wait to use them in my own games of Laserblade and hope you've been inspired to pick up a pack yourself!
Copyright Echidna Games 2014
Models by J. Lloyd International, painted by Neil Goodacre