Game Classy 57: “Game Assy”

by Joe on March 16, 2014

gc57Joe and Steve leave their buttcracks hanging in the wind as they give their uninformed opinoins on the latest Magic:The Gathering controversy. The boys also discuss Bar brawlin’ minis, Shadows of Esteren, Robotech’s fan’s latest complaints, Arcadia Quest, and Dwarven Forge’s latest Kickstarter. All this and Joe’s state of Chicagoland gaming review.

A special thanks to our sponsor: Northampton Wargamers…Keep reaching for that rainbow!

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Basara 549 March 16, 2014 at 6:29 pm

First of all, someone’s memory is seriously off concerning Robotech.

First there was the Revell model line (which had models imported from Japan, from the series Macross, Dougram, and Orguss). Two of these (Macross and Dougram) were series that FASA also used in Battletech (through a contract with another model importer that was actually defrauding FASA – he didn’t have the rights to sublet the designs). None of the Robotech models were smaller than 1/144, and most were 1/100 or larger.

Then, Harmony Gold tried to import the Macross and Mospeada anime, had to come up with 65 episodes for weekday syndication, and merged those two series with a third to create an 85-episode series. Since Revell had the rights to the Macross models in their Robotech line, they worked out a deal to call the composite series “Robotech” as part of a marketing strategy.

A year later, a Robotech RPG was put out by Palladium, with large scale minis put out by a company called Dark Horse (no relation to the comic company). Dark Horse went out of business in a year or so, probably from making lead minis that were 1/100 to 1/72 scale (comparable in size to the 3-4 inch tall small toys released by Matchbox (metal) or Playmates (plastic 90s reissue)).

The Battletech minis were 1-1.5 inches tall lead and had 1-4 pieces each.
The Robotech Dark Horse Minis were 3-4 inches tall lead and had 5-8 pieces.
The Matchbox toys were, obviously, released as completed toys with a decal sheet.

Anything someone remembers that was on plastic on sprues and required major assembly was a model, either from Revell, or a still Macross-branded import from Arai, Imai, etc., NOT a mini meant for any sort of game play.

The Robotech Tactical Game kickstarter minis are about 2 inches tall, and the prototypes are 30 pieces each (~20 pieces, plus about 10 optional pieces to swap out), split down the middle of all the front surfaces (even the parts that in most other company’s minis are split front/back to reduce the visibility of the lines). The majority of the minis being half the height of the 1984-1985 models one of you was misremembering results in a set of 70-80 minis for a “Battle Cry” KS set having about 2000 parts in the box (about a quarter of which go to “optional pose” parts).

Most of the people buying into it were Battletech mini players or RPGers, where you typically working with minis this size shipping as 1 piece, or at worse a large piece and 2-5 attachments. Even 40k Space Marines (the last time I messed with any) only had about 4-6 parts each, with most of the body cast as one part. The Robotech RPG Tactical Spartan mech minis are about twice the size of a space marine, and have at least 4 leg parts, at least 10 body sections, and at least 6 parts for a standard arm, plus multiple optional arm weaponry parts, and 4 optional parts for modifying the missile launchers to be open on the finished mini instead of closed. That’s before the issue of what should be the primary weapon of the mech being split in two and no option to actually show it deployed.

A good analogy would be if the Epic-scale (if I remember the terminology right – been over a decade) Land Raiders had as many parts to assemble as the standard scale ones that stand 3″ tall.

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Steve March 17, 2014 at 9:24 am

Wasn’t so much memory fuzziness as much as I was never a big Robotech guy. Thanks for the info though. I’ll store it in the databank.

Without seeing that it was 20+ pieces for the figures I assumed it was going to be a reasonable 3-6 per figure. 20+ is ABSURD.

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MEP March 18, 2014 at 10:49 am

“Two of these (Macross and Dougram) were series that FASA also used in Battletech (through a contract with another model importer that was actually defrauding FASA – he didn’t have the rights to sublet the designs).”

You have that mostly right, but there is actually still some debate as to whether or not Twentieth Century Imports actually had derivative rights. Their contract with Tatsunoko was drawn up in the clearest possible language (even by legalese standards), and there are many legal scholars who have suggested that TCI actually did have the derivative rights they licensed the FASA.

What’s important to remember here is that the whole mess between HG and FASA was really created by Playmates. Prior to the lawsuit, FASA and Playmates pursued a partnership to produce Battletech toys in the US market. The deal fell through for various reasons, but not before Playmates made some molds to actually produce mech toys based on the TCI-licensed designs (and a Mad Cat).

Playmates began pursuing the deal with Harmony Gold to make Robotech toys because they already had the designs ready to go (which is also why HG ended up choosing them). But Playmates made an idiotic mistake. They released a toy Mad Cat under a different brand than Battletech. When FASA found out, they immediately sued Playmates (because the Mad Cat was an original FASA design, and an iconic one too).

Playmates, in retaliation for the FASA suit, told HG, “Hey, these guys are using stuff from your license without rights.” Up until that point HG was only barely aware of Battletech, and no legal action was planned. But FASA was threatening one of their vendors now so they took action to make sure they had sole rights to the mech designs in Robotech. They filed a suit against FASA.

The end result in a nutshell: Playmates successfully defended themselves from FASA’s suit but they were not awarded any damages. Judge Castilo’s remarks make it pretty clear that Playmates was not entitled to any damages, and that FASA’s suit was “meritorious”. In other words, FASA, faced with the burden of proof, could not demonstrate beyond a reasonable that Playmates ripped them off, but the case was by no means frivolous. His exact words were “one does not reach the conclusion that Playmates achieved a true victory.” Which is akin to saying we know Playmates ripped FASA off, but we can’t prove it so get out of my courtroom. Playmates appealed for damages and couldn’t even get the appeal to trial.

The HG vs. FASA case never reached a verdict. It was dismissed and settled out of court in a secret agreement. The question of whether FASA’s license through TCI was valid was never addressed in court and never conclusively determined (though it would become moot in 2003 anyway, see next paragraph). FASA had discontinued the use of the designs before the settlement, and have since only used original designs in every BT product.

As an aside, in 2003 it was determined that Tatsunoko didn’t actually have the licensing rights for Macross, and so neither do TCI or Harmony Gold in the end. The licensing rights actually belong to Studio Nue. But Harmony Gold still somehow holds on to international distribution rights. The whole Macross/Robotech/Battletech licensing thing is a complete clusterf—, and if you have any interest at all in intellectual property, it’s a fascinating example of how our current IP systems work and very often don’t.

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MEP March 18, 2014 at 10:50 am

Wasn’t… TCI’s contract WASN’T drawn up in the clearest possible language. Really changes the meaning of that sentence.

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Eric March 23, 2014 at 1:11 am

1. When are you going to check out the Firestorm Armada 2.0 rules, Joe? Stop dodging this question!
2. You guys have any National Tabletop Day plans?
3. Where can I get a Game Classy T-shirt?
4. You guys going to GenCon this year?
5. Does this podcast make me look fat?

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Steve March 24, 2014 at 10:22 am

1. Never
2. Nope
3. Ask Joe
4. I’m not.
5. Absolutely

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Joe March 24, 2014 at 10:35 am

1. I’m assuming they are just patches on the old system, so a passable boat game. I liked the original rules, I gave them a Grade B- (mainly for having overly complicated British writers.)
2. I live every day likes it’s National Tabletop Day. People who only do one day are plebs
3. maybe someday soon. I don’t see demand quite yet
4. I’m still up in the air on going.
5. Absolutely.

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