i started in 05 with a loaner which i later learned to be an xtra.
bought my own tl-x for the 2nd game, then an amg off ebay from who i suspect is tom cole. later went with a macdev cyborg, but still got an 08 spyder electra as its back up. thing hasn't let me down yet.
i remember i was so impressed by the xtra owner when he told me "don't worry about breaking it, i can fix anything with that gun." i know my spyders probably to the same degree these days.