Amazing Automatons- being an examination of metal miniatures suitable for wargames and dioramas, depicting alarming mechanical men and fine modern engineering miracles- Compiled by Jakar Nilson

Yet we, the bond slaves of our day,
Whom dirt and danger press--
Co-heirs of insolence, delay,
And leagued unfaithfulness--
Such is our need must seek indeed
And, having found, engage
The men who merely do the work
For which they draw the wage.
- Kipling, The Wage Slaves

Large open quotesUtter nonsense, Jack me boy. Utter nonsense.”

“Mr. Nilson, I can assure you that is a clockwork man before you. The latest creation of Professor Erlanger Travis, I must say.”

Illustration: Nilson and the Clockwork Man test their strengthHere it was that the strangest foreigner going by the name of Jakar Nilson and myself, were strolling through the East End when we came upon a commotion. It was Professor Travis, challenging the crowd gathered around him to overawe his clockwork man in a contest of strength. His nit-brick creation stood nearby him, in position to hammer a huge iron spike into the ground.

I could see that Mr. Nilson was intrigued by this strange wonder, and it seemed that the Professor was just as intrigued in Mr. Nilson, for at once he dragged the troll out into the performance area.

“You, Sir,” Professor Travis said, “seem as fine a specimen of nature as ever could be created. Yet I'll wager that my clockwork man could drive these spikes into the ground faster and surer. What say you, my good fellow?”

Jakar Nilson accepted at once, shedding his coat and top hat for a sledge hammer that seemed like a matchstick in his green hands. At once both he and the automaton started pounding their spikes, Mr. Nilson swinging wildly as if he held a warhammer while the clockwork man just repetitively hammered it in. It was hard to judge at first which of the two creatures (for Mr. Nilson is indeed a troll, just as you and I are human) had gained the upper hand, but then one of the spikes clinked into place and wouldn’t sink any further…


Here is an attempt to catalogue and illustrate all the various 28mm automatons one could use for Victorian Science Fiction.


These plucky colonials really have lots to offer for the Scientific Romance addict.

Armoured penny farthings! (Or, cough, Daleks, cough) Mechanical Trousers from the Kaiser! Clockwork Teddy Bears! What mechanical marvel will they think of next?

Iron Wind Metals (Ral Partha)


One of the most distinguished firms of our esteemed hobby, now produced by two companies either side of the Atlantic.

Though it’s not what most think when the words Ral Partha come up, they do have the most animated and diverse selection of automatons in the guise of 'dwarven golems'. Currently only available from Iron Wind Metals across the water!

Parroom Station

Of all the troops enlisted to fight on Mars, none bring delight to young children as much as the Tsar’s Clockwork Soldiers. With their dashing riveted uniforms and their mechanical performances, these monstrous wonders will set fear in the hearts of friends and foes alike.

Black Tree Designs

Formerly known as Icon, and Harlequin before that, BTD have a Doctor Who range, which is a kind of Victorian Science Fiction (upon my word). The sculpt is of a higher quality than the stuff from BBC’s prop department… howver the packs tend to match Foundry prices for some reason, and that you’ll have to browse to find the figure you’re looking for, as well as four others you might have not wanted…

Daleks, Cybermen, Autons you know them all better than I do. Yes, neither Daleks nor Cybermen are technically automatons, but we could consider this just another rewrite (like version 75 of the Daleks’ origin)…

Pinnacle/Jeff Valent

Known for the card-dealing Weird Wild West game Deadlands, where magic runs wild through the North American frontier. Though they normally be a tad oversize for the automatons, that’s precisely what we’re looking for!


As one of the premiere Fantasy studios, it is our delight that they have come up with this lumbering, riveted, automaton. To those that have cried out that they could never find clockwork Gorillas, here is your chance to own one (or many…)

Guardians of Order Inc.

Sandra Garrity, does not, I repeat, does not, only sculpt fantasy women from the 1980s! These mechanical marvels come from her hands, and what marvels they are!

Privateer Press: Warmachine

Warmachine, where Steam meets Fantasy, and made big robots called "Jack". ‘Ere’s a few right now. Ain’t they a beaut?

Granted, they’re only 12’ tall in the background fluff, but the actual models still tower greatly over any infantryman. Plus they’ve enough bolts, steam and character to impress fear upon any enemy you’ll encounter.

Dream Pod Nine

The Mechanical Men from Montreal are more into anime and WWII than Scientific Romance, but they did churn out some nice steam-powered walkers for their d20 Mecha Compendium…

Freebooter Miniatures

From the state of Germany (shouldn’t we say Prussia? No, it’s currently AFTER 1871), Herr Klocke has sculpted a clockwork version of Jolly Old Saint Nick as we know him. Quite a good piece of craftsmanship, I must say, though remember its a limited edition!

Wizards of the Coast

Chainmail is now dead, and by crikey its been superceded by some right plastic pony at WotC- best to raid old boxes and ebay for the original metal.

There are in fact two automatons hidden with this strange fantasy range, both from the 'Thalos' faction- (#88362 Hammerer, right and #88360 Pulverizer, left).


West Wind

The Gothic Horror range has a couple of clockwork/wax humanoid machinery, which might be Madame Tussault’s revenge on those little brats who keep fooling around in her museum...


In a world where Man can leap over a skyscraper in a single leap, one should expect enough mad science to allow mechanical beings of the most surprising kind. Of course, in the Era of Queen Victoria, such athletic feats are only feasible on other worlds, but the mechanical geniuses are quite real indeed. So bravo, and please make more!


While looking through the Mageknight and Mechwarrior ranges, many handy clockwork men of sturdy and industrious composition appear, often ready to be fielded beside our brave Tommies with only a quick adjustment needed.

Over The Wire

Makers of England Invaded, a late Victorian wargame where the Great War breaks out two decades early. The only automaton is the Aerial Mine, which no Officer of the Engineer Corps should be without. Unfortunately, they seem to have vanished off the face of the planet, but the miniatures can still be bought at Warrior Online.

Steve Jackson Games

They have a boxed set that includes a Steam Man and a clockwork cat. Quite quaintly made, and come in a box with 6 ladies and gents for twenty US Dollars. You will need to go to Warehouse 23 though, or inherit them from an eccentric uncle, becaue SJG don't make them any more!

Grim Reaper

Not to be confused with Reaper Miniatures. They have quite a liking for
the fantastical, but they have come out with a circus of construcs. See
their Mechanical Men and Bestiary of Bronze.

We had some trouble tracking these down because Grim Reaper don't have all the pictures on their website... fortunately Draggletown (who carry the range) are more obliging. Thanks to frother Steve Weidner for spotting them!

Toys and Miscellania

If you find any neat toy, then pick it up and don’t be afraid to use it! Scratch-building and bargain hunting are great ways of creating a wacky collection!

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