"Mommy, mommy, can I keep it?"
- – Every imperial engineer's reaction after seeing one of this.
The Mechanical Steed, also known as the Meikle's Equine Effigy of Dynamic Locomotion or Giddyup Buttercup is one of the weirdest and most extravagant inventions that came out from the Imperial School of Engineers. In an age where most of the Empire's top heavy weaponry relies heavily on either powder, simple steam engines or magic, the Mechanical Steed is a piece of technology so advanced even the Skaven's most brilliant minds look at it with undisguised envy (though being envious is part of their nature, so...).
Build by Frau Meikle, the first woman ever to be admitted in the School of Engineers, she designed a mechanical horse through a complex system of gears and steam, capable of emulating the behaviour and movement of a regular horse, but with much, much better strength, speed and durability. It needs the maintenance, though, since without it the horse could just grind to a halt in the middle of battle, sending the poor rider flying right into the enemy. This machine relies on a mechanism so complex and difficult to adjust and repair that many engineers end up being kicked in the face by the almost robot while in maintenance duties.
The Mechanical Steed is not just a simple substitute for an equine mount. The machine is equipped with top of the line weaponry: a pair of brass globes are attached to the head with a dynamo located in the legs. The movement of it generates its own energy, which goes to the battery globes (and you thought the Mechanicum were the only ones capable of creating a perpetual motion machine), and that energy is then unleashed in an extremely powerful lightning arc, perfect for roasting waves of enemies. If that doesn't work, you can always count on the weight of the horse itself to trample the enemy under almost a ton of pure imperial iron. Only some of the most important and capable engineers and other V.I.P. personnel are allowed to mount these things, considering their really difficult maintenance and production.
On the Tabletop
The only rules I've been able to find for this thing is in Warhammer Fantasy Battle 8th Edition, as an exclusive mount to the Master Engineer units. Unfortunately, while it provides some extra armor, it also suffers a bit from its ramshackle nature as it has some randomized movement that renders it inferior to just a standard flesh-and-bone horsie.
Unfortunately, this mini has been discontinued for ages now, and with Age of Sigmar using more magic stuff than mechanical ingenuity (Excepting things like the Kharadron Overlords), it doesn't look like it's coming back. Which is a shame, because the model itself looks fucking amazing. If the Skitarii ever get mounted units, they MUST have this things recycled and put back into production. Seriously, someone do a skitarii conversion on this.