Quarterly Challenge

Robots and mechs challenge July 1st to September 30th
Whether they’re emotionless overlords, slave labor, geniuses, giant battlesuits, or quirky sidekicks, there’s one staple that cuts across genre, time, and location, ROBOTS! They can be big and stompy, flying, steam-powered, or busted and rusted, robots in some form are in sci-fi, fantasy, modern, and alternate reality settings. That means our metal-clad subjects are an ideal canvas for any technique you want to try, from elaborate freehand to extreme weathering and decay. This quarter let’s celebrate our favorite buckets of bolts.
Left Giu’s Robot Repairs sculpted & painted by Raffaele Picca Right Operation Odessa Counter Attack by Mannen

For the third quarter of 2023, you need to paint a robot, mech, droid, etc. For this challenge, a Gundam suit counts as a robot, a tractor doesn’t. Data from Star Trek is not a robot, but C3P0 is in. And no cyborgs! The flesh is weak and any flesh will get you automatically disqualified (unless it’s somebody else’s and worn as a decoration, I never said they had to be nice robots).

But it can’t be that easy. You need to dive into the details of painting a mechanical subject. Robots, mechs, droids have unique parts of their robo-anatomy and signs of use that must be included. To give you some ideas, that can be coordinated color schemes and markings across a unit, grime and grease from moving parts, dirt and debris from hard use or a long campaign. Military and construction vehicles, abandoned farm equipment, fleets of aircraft or ships, can all provide great real world reference images.

Left gundam example middle droid example right weathered truck example

Submission requirements

  • Model must be a robot, droid, mech, or warsuit. The definition of “robot” is loose but it needs to be 100% mechanical and not a vehicle.
  • NO FLESH! (Unless it’s someone else’s, in that case, not too much.)
  • Less than 50% cloth or tactical gear.
  • Minimum TWO painted details that would not exist on an organic subject, not including basic TMM or NMM. Say what they are in the submission form.
    • Here are some examples. This is not a complete list. Please be creative and think of others.
      • Mechanical wear and tear
      • Weathering and rust
      • Grease and grime
      • Glowing lights and electronics
      • Coordinated paint schemes, unit markings, insignia, other signage or warning signs (Decals are ok, tiny freehand not required)

Want to paint robots but better, faster, stronger? There are two ways to get this quarter’s bonus points for display or tabletop painters.

  • Display option - Make a diorama. This includes a scenic display base and storytelling elements. 
    • For example, a Gundam docked in the hangar with scaffolding and support equipment around it or a poor, old, decommissioned robot, powered down and rusting apart, half covered in moss and vegetation.
  • Tabletop option - Paint a coherent squad/unit from your favorite tabletop game. 
    • Coherent means each model has matching details that clearly show they are in the same unit and have been to the same places doing the same things. We should be able to recognize your squad as a unified group the same way a platoon of tanks fighting in the desert are immediately recognizable as a single unit.
    • Number of models will vary from game to game. I’m expecting at least 3 models if they’re large (i.e. 28mm/40k scale) or 5 models if they’re small scale (i.e. 6mm/Titanicus scale).

When does it need to be finished?

September 30th


Can I use models already painted?

No, models for the quarterly may be new, assembled, or primed at the start of the challenge. If you plan to use a model that’s painted or partially painted, you must strip or prime over those areas and start fresh.


What scale can we choose?

You can choose any size and scale. Robots come in every size and shape.


Do I have to paint a recognizable character or mech? 

No! Robots are a great opportunity to kitbash, custom sculpt, or build a new character from your imagination and bring them to life.

What about mechanical warsuits? (e.g. Gundam, Battletech, 40k dreadnoughts, etc)

Yes, they’re allowed. This challenge is meant to welcome our dedicated Gunpla and Battletech hobbyists into the quarterly challenge with open arms. There are lots of models that fit in that piloted battlesuit category so it’s only fair to include them all.

The pilot should be fully contained in the warsuit. If the pilot is a significant visible feature of the model, like an Invictor warsuit, it’s not allowed. A Redemptor dreadnought is fine.

When is a visible pilot allowed?

If the pilot is part of a diorama, like a Gundam pilot in the hangar next to their Gundam, that’s fine. If your giant mech has a tiny little cockpit with a tiny little pilot inside, that’s probably fine since the pilot isn’t a significant portion of the model. If you’re concerned, ask in the Quarterly Challenge channel, we’ll probably say it’s ok.


You said 100% mechanical is allowed. Which 100% mechanical things aren’t allowed?

Vehicles are not allowed. Vehicles transport people and include non-sentient cars, trucks, trains, tanks, boats, submarines, planes, helicopters, spaceships, hovercraft, and wheeled transports. Sentient vehicles who’s only identifiable difference from a regular vehicle is that they’re sentient on TV (e.g. Kitt from Knight Rider or a transformer in their vehicle form) don’t count. For modeling purposes, that’s clearly a model car that you’re just saying is a robot. An example of a sentient vehicle is a robot horse. Its job is to transport a rider but it has a mind of its own. 

There is going to be some grey area when we draw a line between vehicles and robots/mechs. There are so many amazing examples of robotic ships and transports in science fiction, usually featuring walker legs and robotic arms. The intent is to focus your creativity on the challenge, not be overly restrictive. If there’s an idea you're excited about that’s on the edge, ask in the Quarterly Challenge channel, we’ll probably say it’s ok.


What about walkers?

Walkers, meaning piloted mechs with any number of legs, are good to go. It doesn't make sense to say a warsuit has two legs and is allowed but a spider mech isn't.

You said flesh isn’t allowed (unless it’s somebody else’s). Please elaborate, we’re concerned about you.

The intent is to disqualify cyborgs and androids. Limb replacements, body modifications, cyberware, human heads on mechanical bodies, or robot insides with human-looking outsides are not allowed. Sorry Adeptus Mechanicus. The point of the challenge is to paint a mechanical subject and I don’t want you to be distracted by painting skin.

That being said, we have some folks with fantastically dark creative sides and I don’t want to arbitrarily limit creativity. Some robots wear clothes. Some robots go insane. Maybe an insane robot wears skin as clothes.

What if my model is a cyborg or android sculpted with smooth skin but I paint it like something mechanical?

Yes. Of course. That sounds like an incredible challenge and I encourage you to run with it. Instead of skin you could paint metal, a futuristic nanoweave skin-like outer shell, or a transparent outer shell over mechanical insides.

Keep in mind that some form of TMM/NMM is expected and won’t count for the two additional mechanical details. Painting a normal human model with TMM paint and trying to say it’s a robot won’t count unless you push it further.

What were you saying about robots with clothes?

Sometimes robots wear clothes. It’s science fiction, baby. However, clothes must be less than 50% of the model. The intent is to paint mechanical bits, not clothes and gear. They’re fantastic storytelling elements and I encourage you to lean into painting clothes and gear in a way that adds to your robot’s narrative, but painting a fully clothed robot with only a metal head and metal hands sticking out isn’t going to cut it.

For the tabletop bonus points, you said I need to paint X models but a unit in my game has Y models. Why would you say something controversial and make me hate you forever?

I’m sorry. It wasn’t personal. I don’t know the rules for every game. If you want a different number, check in the Quarterly Challenge channel, we’ll probably say it’s ok.

  • If a squad of knight armigers in 28mm scale 40k is two giant models, not 3, that’s probably fine.
  • If a squad of stompy robots in your 6mm mech game is two models, sorry that’s not fair, please paint at least 3 more.
  • If a squad of stompy robots in your 6mm mech game is 10 models but you only paint 5, ugh fine. We’ll accept it but you should feel bad for cutting corners.

    If you need a refresher, here is the point system: http://bit.ly/miniac-point-system