Monday, 14 November 2011

Review: Micro Art Studios Tech Walkway

Catwalks and not a Tyra Banks in sight. Yay!!!

Now here is an odd thing to admit. When Micro Art first announced their 'Designed for Infinity' scenery I wasn't that taken with their catwalks. Now don't get me wrong I think they looked cool but they looked like they took up a lot of space on the board without actually providing that much cover, certainly at ground level. Then there was the fact that the railings weren't solid, so they shouldn't provide cover, and to the inner sniper in me that just seemed like a missed opportunity. They actually looked like they might make superb Necromunda or 40k scenery, if not aesthetically certainly in how they would play out on the game board. Nope, it was the buildings that tickled this particular gamers fancy... thing is opinions change, and after actually using these in some games I'm man enough to admit I was wrong and do a volte-face!

Product Description

As with the other Micro Art Infinity scenery I reviewed, the District 5 Apartment 1 building, these catwalks are a precision laser cut HDF kit. The pieces come attached to 4 HDF sheets and require 'poking' out of their spru's prior to assembly. Micro Art do provide a prodding tool on the spru's itself to aid with that prodding. However, I'd advise taking a very fine surgical grade exacto bladed craft knife to the back of them, to ensure they are cut all the way through and to stop you snapping any of the thinner pieces as you extract them from the spru. The kit comes in about 95 pieces excluding the 'prodding device' and although that might sound extremely complex, it's actually a really easy piece of kit to put together, and it's pretty obvious where everything goes. Having said that the 'construction' guide could do with a few more photograph examples maybe, but I didn't find it too hard and I built what you'll see in this review in under 30 minutes, and to be clear it's all from the one kit.

Usefulness 9 out of 10

As I said in my introduction to this review, I was totally unconvinced of these catwalks suitability for games of Infinity. I think I might even have said as much on the Official Infinity Forums. I felt they might not provide enough cover and also give maybe far too commanding a view of any given battlefield. Now in some respects what I said back then remains true, however that does not mean that theses walkways are in any way detrimental to the games of Infinity I have played. On the contrary they have enhanced the games in a number of ways I'll list below:

  1. They actually provide some very 'contained' height and help with providing a focal point.
  2. When combined with multistory scenery (like Micro Arts own buildings) they actually do a damn fine job of blocking LoS from high vantage points down to the ground level.
  3. They allow the positioning of ground level street 'furniture' around them to help create realistic looking battlefields that you can experiment with.

In short I was wrong, and I love them.

I'd also like to bring up some concerns people have about the railings not providing enough 'cover' for a game of Infinity, hell these are the exact same concerns I had when I first saw pictures of them too. Now for those of you who don't know the cover rules for Infinity that might not make any sense, but I'm sorry I'm not going to go through them here. However, all you need to know is that strictly speaking, according to the letter of the rules the 'open' nature of those hand rails means they should not confer any cover modifiers. There are two ways of looking at this and both are valid, the first one is the more obvious route, and that is to have a house rule and state before the game that they do in fact provide cover.

Just one of the many potential configurations

The second option might be a little bit more controversial to some. However, this is where I stand on the issue, I don't think they should provide cover and should be played as seen. Let me explain further, these walkways are really, really high when constructed to their full height, and as such can give a very domineering view of any battlefield. Therefore putting a good sniper or Heavy Infantry choice with a Missile Launcher on them can prove far too tough a nut to crack. Especially if they get there +3 cover armour boost and -3 Ballistic Skill bonuses as well. For this reason I say they actually work really well as they are designed, because there is a clear reward of dominance of the battlefield for taking such a lofty position, and indeed the risk you'll get shot to pieces for doing so. That seems perfectly fair and balanced to me.

This is the back of the spru, follow those feint lines with a craft knife

The kits are also pretty damn flexible, and can be assembled in a variety of configurations, and as a gamer I like that. Although I pretty much already know how I'm going to construct my walkways, and I intend to PVA glue them into place, I think if you were careful with the pieces it'd be more than possible and plausible for these to be flat packed away in storage and then to be re-assembled in a different configuration the next game. They're that versatile. It's also worth noting that the walkway itself is wide enough to fit two normal sized Infinity / 40k bases abreast, so they're a good width for gaming. All in all combined with the actual Infinity buildings and other pieces of scenery these are exceptionally useful and will help you construct a good solid multi-level gaming board of the sort that you need when play games of Infinity.

Character 9 out of 10

I think it's fair to say that I am more than a confirmed fan of the design 'brief' Micro Art have given themselves for their 'Designed for Infinity' range. I love the Hex pavements on their really detailed resin bases. I went a little bit nuts over the look of their buildings as well, even if they have their problems, I still think they look perfect for games of Infinity. Yet again I'm going to have to confess to being a bit of a fan of the design of these walkways. They continue the already pretty cool design theme Micro Art have set for their Infinity based products, and that's perfectly fine by me. They look like they belong in a bright and shiny anime inspired future. Sure OK, so the steps will probably get in the way of us all using our Sinclair C5's in the future, but surely that's a small price to pay for such lovely looking bridges and gantries?

Detail 9 out of 10

As I said in the review of the Sarissa Precision Livery Stables there is a difference between the levels of detail I expect from my miniatures and my scenery. Long story short, a 9 for a miniature means something very different to a 9 for a piece of scenery. That said the detailing on these catwalks is bloody brilliant. The walkway floor itself has loads of very finely cut out bits that give them a highly detailed look. In other places there are some really nicely etched geometric shapes cut onto what would otherwise be flat expanses of featureless wood. The fine details are also continued to those support struts that hold those railings in place, they really give a great sense of 3D, sticking out from the actual walkway. Yet again Micro Art have achieved a complex shape and a more realistic looking piece of scenery than you'd normally expect by layering different pieces of what is effectively a very 'flat' substance.

Do be careful when removing the thinner parts like these
Quality 9 out of 10

I think it's fair to say that yet again I'm impressed with a piece of HDF scenery. There was no problems with either kit that I received. I know I've told you all to be careful removing your pieces, and to use craft knives, and that's still good advice. However, I found that many of my pieces basically fell out of their spru's without any fuss or damage. The pieces went together absolutely no problem, a nice firm fit but there was no need to force anything into position, it just all went together genuinely very well. If you do intend on repositioning and reconfiguring them though you might want to sand or file some of the joints a bit to make them a little bit looser.

Service N/A out of 10   

Well what can I say? They sent it to me free of charge so it's probably an 11 out of 10. However, just so you have an idea of how good the service is from Micro Art Studio's themselves here's a link to a review I did of their resin Urban Bases and the service they gave then.

Price 8 out of 10

Again it's a bit unfair really to score this because they were given to me for free, however here are some prices for you to check out from various stockists:

Again, I think all prices are pretty good, and at those sorts of prices I think they will make excellent additions to any sci-fi gaming boards, but especially any Infinity boards.

Overall 9 out of 10  

Yeah I'm pretty damn pleased with these to be honest with you. I've played a number of games on the ones the 'Cursed' owns and also witnessed a number of games being played with them as well. And, I think it's clear to me that they add greatly to the games I've seen. They are well designed, fit perfectly with the design aesthetic of Infinity, as well as the play mechanics. They're also really well built and can be configured in  number of ways, which also makes them a very versatile option. The only thing I'd ask for is maybe a further conversion kit that could be sold separately to provide some extra step sections to help create some more complex shapes. Peace out!


  1. These and the apartment buildings are certainly high on my list of Infinity terrain purchaes. Combined with some scatter terrain from Antenociti and walls I think we'll have a nice table.

    I've gathered from other review that these are high quality but it's always good hearing it from a reliable source as well. :)

  2. I had already picked up a set of these for Necromunda but haven't had the chance to even open them yet. I like your review - am wondering what you think of painting - should it be done before assembly?

  3. @Martin, wow I'm a reliable source now. Awesome, when the hell did that happen? :/

    Cheers. The buildings and the walkways fit really well together. I'm really, really tempted to grab some more MAS scenery and maybe the odd bit of resin dohikeys myself from Antenocitis or Ainsty.

    @Tristan, hmm interesting one. I'll be painting my buildings separately, as in each piece separately. But I'm not too sure how I'll do the walkways. There appears to be some agent or other on the walkways too as something has rubbed off onto my fingers so I might need to wipe them down with some cotton wool pads and suuger soap. Also as they're HDF they'll suck any paint up like a sponge so it might actually be worth watering down some white paint or something first and giving them an ink wash of sorts or even a spray of varnish first.

  4. I think I have some of these on order...I say think because I placed an order so long ago I can't remember whats coming :) I guess I shouldnt be surprised given I'm in Canada and they are in Poland. They look awesome.

  5. @Minijunkie, you'll have to let me know what you think of them when they turn up.

  6. Well, you're realiable to me since we have a similar taste in games. :)

  7. @Martin, Ahhhh relative reliability... that's not quite as impressive I guess. :( Still at least I provide a useful barometer for somebody.

  8. Woooooooooow! Just Amazing!
    I want to play Aleph too! :)
    I just discovered your blog!
    You got a new follower!

  9. @Alviro, always glad to have an extra follower on board to read my own unique brand of nonsense! Especially if you're an Aleph player, although alas I'm not just an Aleph player. I also have Yu Jing, Nomad and Haqq forces as well. All of them fairly large too. I'm addicted to the sodding game. :)

    As always please feel free to comment. Even if it is to disagree with me vehemently. lol. All opinions are welcome here and you won't catch me editing or deleting posts because you disagree with me, unlike some famous bloggers out there :P