Grordbort Industries, in partnership with Weta, has opened their armory again, this time to unveil the second in Dr. Grordbort’s line of genuine “imitation metal” (or “plastic”) Infallible Aether Oscillators. The successor to the magnificent Righteous Bison Indivisible Particle Smasher raygun, The Saboteur 66 Ultra-Wave Equaliser is “The Wave-Weapon of Choice for Assassins, Space Ninjas and Competitive Hair Stylists.”
You’re deep underground in the Moon Men lair. Silently you approach the power core, ready to detonate this hive of tyranny and stinky smells, when UNHOLY BISCUIT-TIN OF SATAN you’re surrounded by Moon Soldiers! Look down, what have you got in your hands? A handkerchief? Some moisturising lotion? A length of garden hose? Egads! What were you thinking?
Quickly, open this Dr. Grordbort’s package and arm yourself with its contents — The Saboteur 66, and dissolve those brigands back to the primordial soup from whence they came!
Before we crack open the box, let’s take a gander at that packaging, shall we?
The Saboteur 66’s wrappings are pretty much utilitarian; once you’ve removed the raygun, you probably won’t have further use for the box. It has no clear acetate window under a top opening flap like the Righteous Bison’s box, and isn’t covered inside and out with glossy, full-colour artwork, but there’s a large photo of the Saboteur 66 on the cover and the box exterior and inner tray are printed in weathered sepia tones. Three smaller photos, showing the raygun at different angles, run along the top of the box’s back, accompanied, as has become standard on Dr. Grordbort weapons, by a humorous warning: “Not suitable for adults”, amended at the bottom edge of the box by “unless you like running around in the garden playing space soldiers of course” (and who doesn’t enjoy defending the backyard from invading alien hordes?). Essentially, the Saboteur 66’s box is much like a doughnut box in design, except that it’s made of heavier cardboard and has a lift-out tray liner. Instead of being held closed by magnetic or velcro tabs, the lid has tabs on the front that tuck into side slots, and, in place of a moulded plastic tray, the raygun is attached directly to the back of the cardboard liner with protective foam-covered wires. Okay, so it’s fancier than the average doughnut box, but it still performs the same function — protecting its sweet contents — and does it well. Anyway, you’re buying a raygun, not a decorative box. Weta clearly intends for you to get hands-on with the Saboteur 66, so break it out and start playing!
Compared to the Righteous Bison (2.6 pounds), the Saboteur 66 (1.1 pounds) is notably smaller. A stamp on the box reads “Now with 35% less Atoms!”, and this fact is reflected in the raygun’s price, which is somewhat lower than the Righteous Bison’s. The size reduction doesn’t mean a reduction in quality, though. Like the Righteous Bison, the Saboteur 66 is just as detailed; if anything, it has a bit more detail on its compact frame. Where the Righteous Bison’s two cast sides are mirror images, the Saboteur 66 has some asymetry that lends to its realism, since steampunk weapons tend to have a cobbled together and added-on appearance to them. In addition to the two valves on either side of the raygun’s body labelled “POW” and “Wheel of Fun”, with tiny raised needles, there’s an extra valve affixed to the top-left bulb marked “Science!” (yes, the exclamation point is included, to let you know that this is serious science here). The bulb that’s below the muzzle, in front of the trigger, appears to be a separate component from the body moulding, as well. Seams are unavoidable with plastic casts, but the Saboteur 66’s seam is so excellently minimized, even better than on the Righteous Bison’s, that it’s only really noticable along the top fin and on the trigger guard. The Saboteur 66 doesn’t have the built-in scratches and dents that the battle-worn Righteous Bison does, but this seems in keeping with its newer, more modern aesthetic, which is most apparent in a grip that looks like it was lifted straight off a military-use handgun. It would have been a nice touch if there was a red LED within the drilled-out muzzle, which lit up when the trigger was squeezed, but that feature would likely make this piece significantly more expensive, and the point of the plastic line is to be a less pricey alternative to the metal collector rayguns. While the Righteous Bison was rooted firmly in the realm of classic sci-fi, the Saboteur 66 is clearly a few steps along the munitions evolutionary chart. It’s interesting to see the progression, but hopefully this sci-fi/real-world hybrid is as far as Weta takes the experiment. A raygun sculpt that borrowed any more heavily from modern reality would appear out of place in the Grordbort world.
Once again, the paint quality in the plastic raygun line simulates metal to an amazing degree. From a distance, it truly does look like the genuine article. Where the Saboteur 66 differs from the Righteous Bison, paint-wise, is in the finishing touches. The paint job is, as expected from Weta and their exacting standards, spotlessly clean, but apart from the faces of the red and white pressure gauges, the Saboteur 66 has very little antiquing, especially on the grip, so it doesn’t look very old or worn. Steampunk purists who can’t abide the clean, unused look, and have some hobby painting skill, can easily add their own aging and weathering effects, though, to complete their cosplaying prop.
The Saboteur 66’s one moving part is its trigger, the same as the Righteous Bison.
Being a play piece, the Saboteur 66 comes with no attachments or accessories, and doesn’t include a stand or case like the metal rayguns. If you really want to display it in style, though, Weta offers a Universal Gun Stand for separate purchase. The small, square hole at the bottom of the Saboteur 66’s handle fits a matching rod on the metal stand, and the stand’s circular base is stamped with the Grordbort Industries logo. Another Weta item that complements the Saboteur 66 is the Dr. Grordbort’s Satchel. This roomy, hand-made canvas bag with multiple pockets matches the military look of the raygun, and the Saboteur 66’s concealable size means that it will fit neatly in the satchel’s large main compartment.
An open-ended edition priced at $89.99 US, the Saboteur 66 is a steal, especially considering that the full-size metal rayguns run several hundred dollars each.
So far, the plastic rayguns have been completely new, original designs. Continuing the practice of offering affordable versions of its wares, Weta should consider releasing plastic copies of some of its collector models, such as the Pearce 75 Atom Ray Gun, the most classic piece in the entire Dr. Grordbort range. It’s easy to imagine shouting “Zap!” when firing the Pearce 75, as opposed to the Saboteur 66, which has more of a “pew pew pew!” vibe to it — though, as befits the futuristic weapon of an assassin or space ninja, perhaps it has a silencer. After all, in space, no one can hear your target scream.
Order directly through the Weta website.