My copy of Aberrant's Warlands "black box" arrived yesterday, and I've taken pictures of it as it came out of the box.
The box was shipped in a plain white box by USPS Priority Mail for $5.60. I was charged $6.00 shipping, so no complaint there. Inside the box, the "black box" was padded on two sides by white pillow stuffing, and was snug and packed well.
Inside the black box, my resin vehicles were inside the firm plastic clamshells. One the one hand, they were pretty well protected from the outside world; but on the other hand, they had a lot of room to bounce around in. As you can see, one wheel of one of my buggies was broken in transit. It doesn't seem like too difficult a job to glue it back, but it was still not what you want to see when you open a box.
There are no assembly instructions. Most parts seem pretty self-evident, such as the roll cages and drivers for the buggies. I guess that the plates and packs are just decoration, and serve no game purpose, meaning I can put them wherever I want. But what about the little turret? I don't see that in the store picture. Plus, not to be too juvenile, but just what, exactly, is the floppy thing hanging out of the bazooka drivers crotch? Looking at the rules, it appears that all three of the gunners ride the backs of the buggies (which means the bazooka guy wisely has a harness-- indeed, you can see it wrapped around his waist). I either have an extra "spud" gunner, or you get an extra. I guess the truck is unarmed? No, looking at the stats again, the driver and passenger have hand weapons, which aren't represented by figures.
The rules look visually nice. The page numbers count the cover as page one, with the table of contents on page four and the content starting on page five. They end on page twenty two, with templates on the last page/rear cover (pages twenty three and twenty four). There are five pieces of promising art (three of individuals, one of the jumping buggy pictured below, and another of an action scene) as well as one diagram showing the firing arcs of individuals in vehicles. There don't appear to be rules for vehicle mounted weapons in this early version, but there are rules for running over pedestrians. I haven't read the rules yet, so I won't try to comment on the quality of the contents included.
Here are the models from the box up against some others for size comparisons. The red truck is a "Hot Wheels" style Johnny Lightning truck I picked up off the rack somewhere. The truck is definitely bigger, but still in line. I think of it as on old '50s truck vs. a modern F-150. The buggy itself could be perfectly in scale.
Here are the figures lined up against some 20mm wargaming figures. The Israeli soldiers on the right are from Liberation Miniatures; the PLO on the left from Combat Miniatures. They seem to fit in just fine with both. The LibMins figures are chunkier, but they are heavier than most figures.
All in all, I say the game looks promising. I don't really think it's a bargain at $35.00, but I feel satisfied with the purchase. A lot will depend on how well the rules actually play. Considering that you can go get a $1 Hot Wheels car and beat the crap out of it and use it as it, I'd say a lot is riding on the quality of the rules. I can't imagine too many people will be paying $5-10 for resin vehicles. Of course, their initial run has already sold out, so maybe I'm wrong. I'd say there's a market for post-Apocalyptic figures and add-ons. I may need to put an order in to Stan Johansen soon...