Review

Warmill Portable Utility Pod (P.U.P.)

Retail Price: 
£15

Only released in February, Warmill's range of PUPs is still fairly small although it's part of their larger Street Wars range of enclosures etc. 

 

Looks & Styling

This is a chunky model. With it's exoskeleton construction and splayed feet it looks like a prefab unit that's been airdropped into position or craned off a flatbed lorry. The unit is perfectly suited to use in a new colony, a research station or similar. With a bit of added frost and snow I keep expecting a snowmobile to pull up beside the steps!

Although I'm not totally happy with the door/hinges it's consistent with industrial-style doors with air-seals.

The flat sheet nature of the laser-cut material is successfully hidden through the layered construction and good use of the 3mm material in edge-on positions. Only a limited number of parts include surface detail in the form of etched markings but the detailed surfaces are generally the ones that are visible on the finished model.

 

Parts, Fit and Construction

The kit comes in a ziplock bag with a printed sticker front-and-back. The bag contains two folded A4 sheets of instructions and five sheets of laser-cut 3mm MDF. In the review kit the parts had been cut very cleanly from the sheets but due to the general lack of partially-cut retaining sections there were crossed pieces of masking tape holding the pieces in place.

 

    

 

It's important to note a couple of things now before describing the construction process. This is not a snap-fit model like some of the other manufacturer's ranges and it needs to be glued together during assembly. Also the MDF is quite low density and is not sealed on the surface - this stuff will soak up paint like a sponge if you're not careful. You'll also need to be careful when removing the masking tape as it will potentially take a little of the MDF surface with it.

 

The number of parts in the kit (55 according to the Warmill site) is a bit overwhelming at first, especially when added to all the 'waste' bits:

 

That said, there are some very useful-looking shapes in the offcuts and I shall be saving them for later use...

Instructions:

 

These are multi-step instructions and the pieces are similar enough that you need them when constructing a PUP the first time.

The first stage is to take the two U-shaped pices that start forming the outer cage and glue the long wall strips into place. These need to be attached first as they won't fit in past the floow and vertical walls once those are in place.

As mentioned above, these need to be glued in place, I used slightly diluted PVA glue which worked well. Due to the slightly porous surface texture excess PVA tended to soak into the surface.

As I ran out of hands, the parts looked like this for 5-10 minutes:

Next the floor and vertical wall sections are glued in. Make sure you take the laser-etched floor with fewer holes, the other one is the roof and they aren't interchangeable.

Now we turn the unit upside-down and add the underbelly section:

While that's drying the end-caps can be assembled. Each of these is made of two layers - watch out on the door end as the pieces aren't symmetrical. Although in hindisght this might be intentional to stop the door going too far into the doorway:

 

With the usual clothes pegs:

 

The assembled end-caps:

 

When gluing the end-caps on be careful not to glue the L-supports onto the bottom of the unit as you will need some movement in these parts later on when the legs get added.

Assembled unit so far, from both ends. It's starting to look like scenery rather than random bits of wood glued together:

 

I put the door together at this point, it's a flat piece with a pair of bug chunky hinge pieces. I'm not sure about this design, it looks OK on the model but you remove the door by sliding the open ends of the hinge out of some slots - there's no way to have the door partially open or wide open to take cover behind. I'll be looking at ways to change this to something that really hinges.

Each end of the unit also gets a pair of ledge pieces. At the door end these support the steps down to the ground, at the back end they do nothing so it might be worth cutting them down a bit for storage purposes.

Next came the legs and feet. These are formed from a triple-intersection and are very solid once glued:

 

The notches in the cross-brace fit over all the lengthwise pieces on the underside of the unit. As I'd glued the L-supports from the end-caps in place they didn't fit and I had to wiggle stuff around to get them to go on. As I'd only tacked parts in place with a small amount of glue it wasn't too bad.

The legs/feet assembles then slot onto the bottom of the unit, plus a bit of glue. Here you can see what I mean about not gluing the end-cap L-supports in place underneath:

 

With legs, with and without door:

 

Close-up of a foot:

The penultimate sub-assembly is the removable roof. It's much the same as the underneath of the unit but with short sections that complete the rest of the wraparound cage. Although there's a lot of different holes in it, each set of holes has a different amount of separation so that each piece should only fit in the right holes. Definitaly a case of doing some dry-fit tests first though:

   

The final part is the front landing and step. You will need to glue the sides onto the step and then glue the sides onto the landing:

 

For storage purposes it's best not to glue the steps onto the front of the unit as they will slot loosely into place:

 

The end result:

 

Construction from opening the packet to the finished item took about an hour and a half including gluing time. Now that I've assembled one, I think the next would take under half an hour including drying time, doing two side-by-side wouldn't take much longer as you could swap back and forth while one is setting.

 

Scale and Dimensions

The kit is scaled for use with 28mm models.

The single step at the front and the hinges are the only design elements that jar for scale. Both of these I can forgive though, as the step allows easy placement of models while the hinges are similar to certain types of external 'arm' hinges used on sealed doors and they fit the chunky industrial aesthetic of the rest of the model. The fine detail of the door surround and controls reinforce the look of this being a hefty bulkhead door.

 

Back to the usual thorny issue of door size. The PUP has a small single door which is big enough to fit a plastic Space Marine through. If it wasnt for the cut off corners he would just fit in the doorway including base. With the bulkhead coming up to about the same 3mm height as a base, a model placed inside the pod looks like it could easily step through:

 

 

However Mr. Spiky the Chaos Terminator would have to be assembled in-place and wouldn't be able to stand up inside:

 

The external dimensions of the Pod are 154x99mm (excluding steps) by 74mm high. Length including the steps increases to 196mm

The minimum ground clearance underneath is about 14mm but it's mostly closer to 16mm. The internal height is 40mm. 

The doorway is a fraction over 25mm wide by 35mm high. With the rounded corners this means that most 25mm-based models wont fit upright in the doorway.

Assembled unpainted weight is 125g.

 

Game Use and Robustness

For Infinity purposes, the legs and stairs give good distinct points for taking cover - for the corners it's more tricky, as is always with raised constructions.

With a single door and no windows unless you count the small skylights on the angled strips as accessible it's a bit of a deathtrap if a model gets trapped inside.

The roof lifts off giving decent access to the interior but is a snug fit - this is good for the purposes of picking the unit but you definitely need two hands to take the roof off. A distinct downside to the busy roof is that there are very few places where you can place a model on a 25mm base without it tipping - basically there is a small spot in the middle of each end, over the door and over where the door would be on the other end. This means careful placement of models looking for sniping positions on the roof, especially if your gaming table isn't rock-solid.

The height of the legs gives good access underneath the pod to empty bases being used to represent prone models crawling underneath the unit.

As mentioned earlier, the door is either closed or has to be removed totally, there is no way to have it half-open or swung fully open to hide behind. Added to the doorway being slightly too small to fit a figure standing in it and you have a problem for games that rely heavily on line of sight.

 

Due to the chunky 3mm construction the model is very robust. However due to the softer nature of the MDF used the more exposed edges may start showing dents under heavy use/bad storage. The lack of small protruding parts and the easily-removable steps add to the robustness.

If the unit was dropped and landed badly then I suspect that the ledges to support the landing and steps might get bent, but other than that there wouldn't be anything beyond some dents.

 

Summary

A lovely little kit if a bit long in construction time. Having been a bit underwhelmed on seeing the first internet photos it's grown on me a lot in the flesh and I'm looking forward to seeing how the range grows.

 

Pros

  • Convincing chunky look.
  • Very solid construction.
  • Good use of layered construction to hide the flatness of the sheet material.
  • Good sense of scale next to gaming models.

Cons

  • Door is just too small to fit a model on 25mm base.
  • Softer unsealed MDF material.
  • Must be glued instead of being snap-fit, order-specific construction process.
  • Few areas where you can place a 25mm base flat on the roof.

 

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Great Review

Excellent stuff, Ian.

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