About ten, maybe eleven years ago I attended the (now defunct) Triples wargames show in Sheffield. This was years before I was there as a trader and so I was purely there to have a nosey and spend some hobby coin.
One of the things I picked up at the time was some plastic vac-formed hex terrain from Kallistra . This is part of their Hexon terrain system and I fancied using it at the time for…. Well to be honest it is so long ago now I have no idea why I picked it up, other than I liked the look of it and its was (and remains) good value.
I then spent some time painting this up. As far as I remember I went with a black primer and then used some brown acrylicto basecoat (the sort of stuff you get in tubes from the cheapo shops). This was followed by a drybrush of ochre. I then liberally brushed on some Army Painter Quickshade Strong Tone dip. Once dry I matt coated it and then there it sat for about a decade unfinished in my pile of shame.
Re-invigorated however by amongst other things the imminent release of the new version of Kill Team (and the trench loving Death Korps of Krieg contained therein) I decided now was the time to finally get this done. While I had done a the majority of the graft, I still needed to paint the insides of the trenches and add some flock and other terrain ‘dressing’ to spruce it up a bit.
In deciding on the general scheme I have left it open so these trenches could be used in historical, fantasy or sci-fi games. I went with a grey green for the trench inards and avoided painting any details like sandbags to keep it generic.
I went with Quickshade again for the shading on the trench interiors (although this time using the Dark tone).
I went with liberal use of flock and clump foliage / lichen to give some interest to the expanses of brown concentrating in particular in placing this to hide the ‘hex lines’. For extra effect I also used Citadel Nurgle’s Rot to add slime/toxic waste/stagnant water to the small craters and holes molded into the parts.
Once complete and dry everything was given a very liberal matt varnish spray.
I’ve not had chance to use these in a game yet, but have set them up on a table for some photos and to test out some layouts. In general they look pretty good but they don’t fit together very flush so I may have to play around with a knife removing some of the plastic ‘lip’ from the edges of the pieces which I think will help a little.
I managed to get this finished in a couple of evenings, which brings to the end a story that started many many hobby years ago. A small dent in the backlog, but very satisfying all the same.
I’ve been having fun playing around with the three new(ish) Stargrave plastic kits from North Star Military Figures and Osprey Games. Released to coincide with the game launch a couple of months ago, there are three sets: Crew, Mercenaries and Troopers. Alongside these plastic kits I also picked up the metal miniatures as part of the launch deal.
These all have a great (almost generic) hard science fiction aesthetic to them and fit in well alongside some of the other minis and scenery modelling I have been working on as part of my long gestating space port project.
The plastic kits all intermix really well (and also fit in well with the fantasy Frostgrave kits) – also included in the launch deal from North Star were a sprue of the Gnolls and Cultists and have been playing around with these too.
First up – troopers! The troopers sprues are probably the least varied of the three sets but provide a good basis for building grunt squads or expendable space minions for your games. Having recently rewatched the awesomeness that is the (original) Total Recall, my first paint job attempts to replicate the ‘Martian federal forces’ from the film (i.e. the Arnie cannon fodder).
However nothing says dystopian nightmare future like black uniforms. My next batch of miniatures were primarily from the troopers set with some bits from the mercenaries mixed in. I went with a Citadel Contrast Abaddon black over a white undercoat, followed by some lighter grey drybrush highlight. Simple block colour highlights finishing off the scheme.
Inspiration here from both the classic Blakes 7 Federation troopers and the Dalek troopers from the classic Doctor Who serial ‘Resurrection of the Daleks’. In fact regarding the former having a spare head from the Beast in the Broch range I created my own version…
I also did a variation on the colour scheme with another squad based more around dark greens and turquoise. Wasn’t quite as pleased with how these turned out, but did like the look of the hex bases I put these on. (I think hex bases are my thing at the moment!)
Taking a break from squad building I moved onto using the sprues from across all three sets to put together some more individual looking miniatures. This gave me the opportunity to be a bit more creative with the colour palette. I was also able to utilise some of the cool non-human heads available on the frames.
On to the metal miniatures. There are some lovely and varied sculpts here.
While most of the non-trooper models I have built and painted have been done in an individual style, I’ve gone for a bit of a black/red/gold theme on some of them with half an eye on building a crew for the game at some point.
To finish off this batch I had a go at kit bashing with the Frostgrave Cultists sprue.
So a lovely set of kits and individual miniatures which have been a joy to paint. From a gaming perspective I can see them being used in not only Stargrave, but also of course my perenial favourite 7TV.
I’m on a sci-fi burst at the moment and have also been painting up a number of Blakes 7 miniatures as well as looking at a number of 3D printing options for fleshing out possible tables and scenarios for these games.
I’ve just received my copy of the recently released 7TV Fantasy boxed set and what a corker it is. I’ve not had a full look through it all yet, but as a big fan of the game system I cannot wait to get playing. The sheer volume of content (including literally hundreds of profiles) and the absolutely lovely old school fantasy gaming aesthetic and graphic design have really got me thinking about fantasy as a genre again.
Fantasy was my first love in gaming, though over the past few years it has fallen into the background for me in both terms of playing games and also hobby. This is just the kickstart I need, and there are a number of ideas starting to perculate. I have a whole load of CMON Song of Ice and Fire plastic Lannister miniatures to paint up and no shortage of STL files to print out.
Being a 7TV game of course, the focus is never too far from popular culture and as per the spy-fi, apocalypse and pulp editions there is the added meta in the game of playing the role of producer of a film or TV series.
One of my favourite fantasy films of all time is Krull. That strange early 80s mix of sword and sorcery with a few lasers thrown in. That is not to mention of course a stellar cast including early appearences from Liam Neeson and Robbie Coltrane as well as a post Grange Hill, pre-Eastenders Todd Carty and Carry On legend Bernard Bresslaw as the Cyclops.
The iconic baddies of the movie and minions of the evil ‘Beast’ are the really quite weird Slayers. These ‘imperial stormtrooper’ proxies have a strange almost sci-fi look and feel, enhanced by their laser beam shooting spears and their very odd death throes. Yup when these boys get killed they let out a strange scream and a little wiggly creature bursts out of their cracked open heads. Ironically this film came out the year after the villainous Khan had inserted something similar into Commander Chekov’s ear in Star Trek II.
I mentioned earlier the massive number of profiles (all represented by cards) in the boxed set and it just so happens there is one that very tips a very big nod to the Slayers of Krull. There also happens to be a very iconic looking ‘throwing star’ included as a maguffin card in the set and a scenario that involves a teleporting citadel manned by familiar looking ‘Sorcerous Sentinels’.
From a miniatures point of view, well you wait thirty years and three different sets come along at once. First up Crooked Dice themselves are releasing a set to support the 7TV Fantasy release and these are due out soon. Wayne at Tangent Miniatures (for whom I produce 3D printed masters) also has plans for the Beast’s hordes.
However in terms of what is available right now, I was able to purchase a set of STL files from the excellent Mike Tong (aka BigMrTong) via his CG Trader store front. There are ten different poses available and I initially printed out twenty (two of each pose) in Elegoo standard grey resin on my Elegoo Mars Pro 2.
Unlike a lot of 3D printed files these came with a traditional slotta base tab modelled onto the miniature. This enabledme to easily base these on some existing plastic bases I had available. Rather than go with the usual round bases I opted in this case to keep the old school gaming vibe by going with hex bases. Those who are old enough may remember back in the day that Citadel Miniatures in particular released certain (usually non-Warhammer ranges such as their Elric line) on these. I didn’t have to do any rescaling on these figures, they are pretty much standard 28mm scale and fit in very nicely for example with Crooked Dice’s miniatures.
Using some source photos from the film I decided to go with a very dark brown (rather than grey or black) scheme for the majority of the Slayers. It’s pretty difficult to work out the exact colours, but I liked the deep brown that the Citadel Wyldewood contrast paint gives. So basically a couple of thin coats of this followed by a brown wash for further definition meant I could power through these quite quickly.
I seemed to recall in the film (it is a while since I have seen it), that there were some white coloured Slayers in the climax of the film which takes place in the Beast’s teleporting Black Fortress. As I was working from a white undercoat for all these figures I put about half a dozen aside to paint up as these ‘Fortress Guard’. Again Citadel Contrast paints to the rescue with a thin coat of Apothecary White.
For both sets I painted the heads grey and the weapons black and silver. Basing was completed using textured Valejo basing paste (of which I have a couple of big pots which have lasted me years). Black base coated and then drybrushed up in grey these were then finished with various flock, static grass and tufts (keeping the look as swamp like as possible to mirror one of the major set pieces of the film).
All in all I am pretty happy with these. Twenty miniatures printed and then painted up in a pretty short time period to a decent tabletop standard.
There are far too many here to use in 7TV Fantasy but at least I have options when it comes to posing and colours.
I’ll most likely pickup both the designs from Crooked Dice and Tangent in the future, but for the time being I’d highly recommend anyone with a 3D printer checks out these files.
Oh and also buy 7TV Fantasy – as we said back in the day – “it is skill and also decent”.
After nearly fourteen months out of action due to the pandemic, my local club recently was able to start having meetings again. So it was a couple of weeks back that myself and my good buddy Dorian ventured over to Darley Dale from Chesterfield to actually roll some dice in person.
We chose to give ‘A Billion Suns’ by Mike Hutchinson from Osprey Games a go. I picked the rule book up a couple of months ago because I had heard good things about it. I particularly liked the idea of there being no before-game force building (with ships requisitioned as required), and the concept of playing across multiple tables. Being part of the Osprey Wargames ‘blue book’ series the rules are concise and the author has good pedigree with Gaslands (a game I have not played, but have heard very good things about, particularly from the point of view of being an easy to ‘pick up and play’ game).
As a spaceship combat system I of course needed to source some ships. Having had a previous daliance with Gunpla I was aware of a range of Bandai kits based on the Japanese anime series ‘Space Battleship Yamato’ (known in the US as Starblazers). These inexpensive plastic kits (even taking into account the postage from the far east) have a really cool ‘warships in space’ vibe, so I picked up a few from Hobby Link Japan. (This was of course dangerous as I got distracted by Gundam models, but that is another story.)
The other advantage of these kits apart from the cost is the ease of assembly. As with most modern Bandai kits these are hugely well engineered and push fit (no glue required). Although not designed as gaming pieces, each comes complete with a flight stand which is useful for the game, and most are pre-coloured in mutliple shades (with the aim being of getting them on the table quickly, a quick wash / panel lining would make them look presentable).
While these kits gave me some really interesting and unique models for the game I also wanted to bulk out my available fleets with some more utilitarian designs. It is here that I remembered that Plastic Soldier Company (PSC) often released ‘grab bags’ of plastic ships from their space based version of Commands and Colours called Red Alert. I duly picked up a huge number of ships and stands from them for around £10 to £20 in total.
The club meeting soon came round and in the spirit of our club (where play is the most important thing), Dorian and I played our first game with a completely unpainted set of models!
We managed to get two games in during the day and I have to say it was a lot of fun. The rules were easy to digest and navigate round. I had the night before spent some time downloading and laminating tokens, cards and other game aids from the A Billion Suns website and this certainly helped keep the game flowing.
I am not going to fully review the rules here, other than to alude to the fact that being a game where the outcome is based on earning credits from contracts (with the cost of your ships coming out of your total budget), it was an interesting variation on other much more crunchy games I have played in the past (I am looking at you Star Wars Armada!). Both games we played during the day were quite different (and this was due to the generation of the contracts you play for at the beginning of the game). This also resulted in a situation where in game one we were playing over three tables, while in game two it was entirely focussed on a single table.
I made the mistake of jumping in a massive battleship in game one, which while it looked cool (my primary reason for doing it), did mean I was in financial defecit from the get go and didn’t really figure out how I was going to earn this back. One of the things that became apparent during the game from a modelling perspective was that while we had lots of bigger ships we were lacking a bit when it came to the smaller stuff like fighters.
So with the aim of playing again at the next meeting (and doing a three player game next time – the rules seem to support multiple players very well and I can see that being a lot of fun), I have gone back to the modelling and painting.
This has primarily involved painting up the Red Alert ships, but also sourcing some additional ‘smaller mass’ ships to act as the recon, fighter and bomber wings the rules dictate.
For these I remembered that EM4 Miniatures (who I used to stock when running the store) did inexpensive plastic sprues of spaceships that would fit the bill. I picked a couple of these up and set about basing them on the spare stands I had picked up from PSC. (Interesting it has been pointed out to me that these designs actually hark back to a very old game by I.C.E. called Silent Death).
From a painting perspective both these and the Red Alerts ships were given a variety of base coats with a view to using both drybrushing and contrast paints to quickly get them done. I like the idea of replicating in part that 1970s sci-fi paperback cover style of spaceship, art by the likes of Chris Foss or similar to the old Terran Trade Federation books, so I have gone for quite a colourful palette.
To make them pop a bit more I did some selective highlighting with spot colours to represent lighting and variation in panel colours. I then touched up the bases painting them completely black (to match the tables).
One other idea picked up after playing the first game that I am going to do is to mark on the bases the in-game mass of the ships. This should make it a lot quicker and easier to requisition ships of different sizes during a game.
Next up will be to do some more work on the Bandai ships. Many of these come with decals or stickers, which once they are applied will be followed by a top coat and them some subtle shading and panel lining.
Of course I would be remiss not to mention 3D printing here, and I have added to my fleets with some resin 3D prints, most of which I sourced from Thingiverse and printed on my Elegoo Mars Pro 2. I picked the designs based on one of my favourite animes from back in the day (based more on my experiences of playing the role-playing game rather than watching the series) – Robotech. These will be painted in a similar way to the PSC and EM4 models.
From a hobby perspective I really like the flexibility the game gives you with fleet modelling (and this is mainly due to the fact as previously mentioned ships are requisition during play rather built into lists beforehand).
I’ve been recently revisiting my 28mm scale post-apocalypse miniatures. In particular those that have been in a state of semi-completion for some time.
Prior to the current pandemic I had organised a 7TV Apocalypse event at our club, which sadly had to be put on hold. (As an aside we are starting up club meetings again at the end of May after a 14 month hiatus – some actual gaming, can’t wait). Any how as part of the prep for that cancelled event I had continued to work on my 7TV Apocalypse Kickstarter miniatures. In addition since then I have added to the unpainted pile by adding in a whole load of 3D printed models. So plenty to revist.
First up is a vehicle – this has sat 80% done for about the last two years. Based on an Warhammer 40k Ork Wartruck kit I swapped out the greenskin crew with a Crooked Dice ‘vehicle gunner’ and some bits from the old Project Z biker sprue.
I had already weathered this bad boy up a fair bit, but I tied it all up with a brush on application of Army Painter Strong Tone Quickshade. Once dry ,a once over with a matt varnish sealed everything together.
Most of the figures I am painting up for this project at the moment would, I suggest, fit into the category of ‘marauder gangs’. Working up from a white undercoat most of the following were painted up using Citadel contrast paints.
To maintain consistency across the ‘gang’ I’ve tried to keep the basing similar, using a dark yellow basecoat followed by a strong tone wash and then a bone drybrush highlight. I’ve used some deep red flock and some wasteland tufts to add some features.
A good gang needs an awesome leader and I have a couple to choose from. First up a 3D print from Cyber Forge (Titan Forge Miniatures). QB Turner has a certain resemblance to someone who perhaps might be at home running some sort of dome based gladitorial games. (She also doesn’t need another hero.)
Secondly there is the big fella himself – the humungous one, who for the purposes of my games is henceforth to be referred to as the Lord Beefcake. This is another 3D print, this time from the recent Kickstarter by Kirstie Greyskull of Powersword Miniatures.
(I also have a similar model from Crooked Dice that I am also going to paint up shortly.)
The good guys (if there is such things in the wastelands) don’t miss out totally either. These two are both 3D prints from Cyber Forge again. I particularly like the child who is a sort of mix of the feral kid from Mad Max 2 and Newt from Aliens.
That’s it for the time being, but I have really got the PA bug again, so am continuing to paint up more from the genre from my pile of shame. I’ve also recently picked up a really interesting looking model kit that I think will fit in with these guys really well.
Or – painting up some World War II French Resistance miniatures from Wargames Atlantic.
It’s been a bit quiet on the blog recently, but that is mostly because I have been busy on a number of different hobby projects. Primarily I have been preparing spaceships for games of Osprey’s A Billion Suns, as well as revisiting my 28mm scale 7TV Apocalypse bits.
Despite this I have still found the opportunity to get distracted and try something different. Wargames Atlantic have for the last couple of years been releasing some really interesting hard plastic 28mm scale kits across loads of different periods and settings. I’ve got into the habit of buying individual sprues from eBay of sets that interest me, more often than not just to have a look at the kits and painting something up a bit different.
One of their recent releases was a set of World War II, (nominally French) resistance fighters. However I could see these guys working in a range of games and settings from pulp and inter-war right through to later twentieth century armed civilians.
There were loads of options on the sprue and I went with a mix of armaments, inclusing quite a crazy looking dual stick genade weilding chap.
For the most part I used contrast paints to paint these fellas up. I am quite pleased with the way these turned out and they will be going into my pool of figures for 7TV.
I recently also picked up some other releases from WGA I also liked the look of, including a sprue each of the Napoleonic British Riflemen and the Classic Fantasy Lizardmen.
The latter come with some sci-fi options on the sprue and as I am currently reading the alt-history World War series of novels by Harry Turtledove I am somewhat inspired to build some members of the so called alien ‘Race’. (This is a truly bonkers series of novels by the way where some space lizards decide to invade Earth during the second world war!)
One of the many figures I have recently 3D printed is ‘Jerick Raval’, designed and released by Papsikels as part of their Patreon last year (and now also available from their MyMiniFactory store).
Eagle eyed readers may recognise a certain similarity to Kung Fury, the frankly and totally intentionally bonkers short film from a few years ago.
If you haven’t seen it and have half an hour to spare, watch it!
I don’t really have the eloquence or prose to adequetly describe the movie, but here are a few keywords: 80s, swearing, kung fu, dinosaurs, vikings, time travelling Hitler, gore, Tricerocop, loner maverick cop kung fu chosen one.
It is the last ‘apect’ I am exploring here on the tabletop, both in terms of the 3D printing and painting of the eponymous Kung Fury, but also through presenting a game profile for him for my favourite game, 7TV,
First up the miniature. There were two poses available to download and print and I did both of these on my SLA resin printer (an AnyCubic Photon) using Elegoo standard resin. The figure is on the heroic side of the 32 to 35mm scale I’d say, nice and chunky and therefore relatively easy to paint.
Starting with a white undercoat I used a lot of Citadel contrast paints and tried to stick to as close a match to the movie representation as I could. I’ve found the ‘wolf grey’ paint applied thinly over white is particularly good for blue denim. (I did notice when I rewatched the film AFTER finishing the painting that Kung Fury sports a snazzy pair of red trainers and I had gone for white on the mini!)
Due to the size of the miniatures and in particular one of the poses I went for 32mm round bases and decorated these up using tufts and flock to represent the ‘Viking’ section of the film.
From a gaming perspective I used the 7TV Casting Agency online app to modify one of the standard 7TV 2nd Edition archetypes. Using the ‘Action Hero’ as a base I tweaked the name of the ‘Star Quality’ and swapped around some of the Special Effects (using the rules from the Producers Guide). The ‘Action Hero’ attacks and stats were left as is and overall the ‘ratings’ value remained at 10 (as per the majority of profiles of ‘stars’ in the game. You can see the resulting profile card below and this is also available from the 7TV Productions Facebook page.
If I can find a suitable miniature I think Hackerman has got to be next on the list…..
I’ve recently finished off the remaining Wizkids Deep Cuts Transformers miniatures that have been sat half completed on my painting desk for a long while.
First up we have the Decepticon Soundwave. I’ve gone for a cartoon/comic colour scheme on these models, so primarily bold colours with some strident edge highlighting. This is not the way I usually paint but I think this is quite effective for these kinds of models.
Next up is Arcee. Introduced around the time of the Transformers movie in the mid-eighties Arcee was the first female Robot in Disguise. Of course because this was the eighties and she was a lady the colour scheme at the time was predominantly pink!
I’ve tried to replicate the original characters’ colour scheme on the mini and have again gone with some edge highlights to complete the look. As with all models in this range they came pre-undercoated in a Vallejo grey primer out of the box. An application of white contrast paint over that did me the job of panel lining and gave a good off-white colour for the main body.
In addition to the two miniatures I also recently finished off painting a ‘space bridge’ scenery piece that I 3D printed some time ago. Designed by ‘Doctor Merkury’, this is freely available for download from Thingiverse.
Finally here is a scale shot showing the two completed miniatures alongside an old pre-painted AT-43 figure. As you can see for 28mm (ish) scale gaming these could work quite well.
The aim here is to pull together a 4′ by 4′ table for playing science fiction based games on (obviously) using primarily the 7TV rule set, but also with half an eye on the upcoming release of Stargrave by Osprey Games.
Thematically I am trying to keep the terrain generic enough to be used across multiple sci-fi settings including games inspired by or directly set in specific fictional universes. Star Wars is the obvious choice here (certainly based on my recent hobby activity), but I also aspire at some point to do something with the Gale Force 9 Aliens miniatures I recently bought and additionally the Future Freedom Fighters 7TV Programme Guide from Crooked Dice . I certainly have a work in progress ship for this one!
However initially I wanted to be a bit more freeform in the way I populate my (as yet unamed) spaceport. I particularly like the idea of a far future setting with no particular overarching story, more a freely adaptable ‘make it up as you go along’ approach if you like.
I used to read a comic called Starblazer in my youth (and have recently started collecting old issues again). These were self-contained 63 page stories (from DC Thomson, the same publishers of the more famous Commando comic). While there were the odd recurring characters and settings, it was pretty much something different each time (albeit with a heavy recurring vein of spaceships, aliens and lasers running throughout).
In fact some years ago Cubicle Seven released a role-playing game based on these comics which I am lucky to have in my collection. Called Starblazer Adventures – The Rock and Roll Space Opera Adventure Game, this effectively provided a sandbox for creating your own settings and adventures in a ‘generic’ science fiction setting. One of the suggested settings within the book is referred to as ‘The Cosmopolitan Era’ and is described as…
The Cosmopolitan Era or ‘Who Elected the Guy with Two Heads’ is set around the rise and fall of galactic civilisation – thousands of strange alien races share every corner of the galaxy with mankind who is now just part of the melting pot.
Chris Birch and Stuart Newman, Starblazer Adventures, 2008, Cubicle Seven
It is this feel exactly I want to go for in terms of miniatures with which to populate the spaceport initially. Luckily there has been an explosion in the availability of science fiction miniatures (that are not Warhammer 40k) recently, particularly in the field of 3D printing.
My initial spaceport denizen comes from Titan Forge Miniatures and was originally released as part of their monthly CyberForge Patreon, but is also available via MyMiniFactory. Crocko Bo is a cape wearing, big gun wielding space crocodile man, and that is really all you need to know about him.
I printed him in resin alongside a base that was also released as part of that month’s release and started off with a white undercoat. From that it was mainly a Citadel contrast based paint job for the skin tone, with additional detail picked out using coloured metallics from the Scale75 range. Rather than go with a metallic look base I stuck with the method I have been using on my Star Wars stuff recently and went for an ‘industrial grey’ colour scheme, primarily via drybrushing.
Keeping on the ‘aninals in space’ them, next up is a ‘Tortle’ by Manuel Boria (also available for download from MyMiniFactory ). I took a similar approach with this chap, again sticking with contrast paints for the skin tones and webbing with used metallics elsewhere.
Back with Cyber Forge and next up is a rather squat gentleman. This is Harry Stone – in my setting he is a space marshall travelling onbaord frieghters and passenger ships providing extra security (for a price). Another fairly simple paint job which I over complicated for myself by trying to do a desert camo pattern on his combats. In the end I think this worked OK, and although he probably as designed was intended for a more Cyberpunk setting I think he will fit in OK.
First up a group of human soldiers called ‘The Alliance Patrol’ which I am using as my port authority security detail. These printed really nicely and I went for a white undercoat here followed by contrast. The difference here is that I tried an all over shade of dark tone wash before applying the contrast layer. This work particularly well with the yellows and whites I concentrated on for their colour scheme.
Finally also from the Novus Landing range we have an alien arms dealer. Again I went with a dark wash over a white undercoat to start with and this really helped particaulrly with the orange of his spacesuit in terms of getting a suitably quick and effective shading. One thing I will say about contrast paints is that they have made me more likely to consider painting colours I would have previously avoided, in particular white.
One thing you may have noticed with the miniatures above is that they are all 3D printed. I am not restricting myself to just 3D prints, it just seems to be the way things have gone so far on this project. It is perhaps at this point worth pointing at that Wayne at Tangent Miniatures has recently aquired a license with EC3D studio to supply physical copies of the miniatures from Novus Landing. These will be cast in metal and the first few packs should be available soon from the Tangent website. (Coincidentally I will be producing the resin masters for these for the mold making process, part of the reason I chose these miniatures to test print for this project.)
In terms of next steps I have more miniatures to print, have various ships in various stages of completion and have also started on the actual terrain pieces. This includes the part 3D printed, part scratch built port authority control tower. More of which soon…
There are many iconic spaceships in the Star Wars universe. One of my favourites has always been the Imperial (Lambda Class) Shuttle, originally featured in Return of the Jedi.
In part this is because it is a clean classic design, but primarily it is because I have a soft spot for the original toy version. Now I never had this, but I do distictly remember the TV ad (probably because this was one of the last things to be released in the original toy line).
Any how, I have wanted a centrepiece model for Star Wars gaming for a now while and some time ago came across a set of STL files on Thingiverse. The issue here was that I wanted to do this Legion scale so from the off this was going to be a long project in terms of print time.
The model as available for download would not fit on my print bed when scaled up to the size I wanted (and I wasn’t keen on the suggested way of splitting the file on Thingiverse). I therefore spent some time ‘re-cutting’ the model in Meshmixer in order to come up with parts that would both scale up and fit on the print bed. From a scaling perspective I dropped a Stormtrooper model into the slicer alongside the cockpit to try and get an approximate scaling factor. I know I am bound to be asked at some point what the scaling was, but to be honest I cannot remember I’m afraid.
In the end I cut the model into seven parts – main hull, cockpit, fin and then each wing split in two.
The printing on this took a VERY long time. My Creality CR-10S FDM printer has a relatively large build area and even with the model split as I did I totalled the time at approximately 22 days!
Once printing was completely I needed a way of adequetly assembling the model. I’m no expert in 3D modelling, so when cutting the model up I did this very simply with ‘flat cuts’ – I’m sure someone more skilled would have been able to create pegs and or plugs to align the model parts. I went somewhat old school here however and got the hobby drill and a few wooden kebab skewers out in order to do some traditional pinning.
Green stuff was used to gap fill and the whole model was given a good going over with sandpaper to smooth out any layer lines from the printing process.
A comment on the 3D model itself at this point. This had been designed to have foldable wings, and I was keen to maintain this feature. However the truth of the matter is that as a tabletop ‘scenery’ piece it would be for the most part in landing configuration with wings folded up. The kebab skewers were used again this time thread through the model to provide the ‘axle’ for the folding mechanism. Due to some variance in the tolerances of the print I did have to realign some of the holes in the wings in order to get these to fit.
In addition, there was no means of holding the wings in this position as part of the 3D model itself, so again the drill and some cut down kebab skewers were the answer to the problem.
The 3D design also missed a couple of features of the original ship. While I could live without the wing cannons, I really wanted to do something to add in a landing gear and ramp. There is something very iconic about the scenes in the film where first Vader and later on when the Emperor emerges from the shuttle.
After studying some reference photos I realised that the landing gear of the shuttle comprised of two legs mounted mid way down the hull. The key here from a modelling perspective was finding something that I could get it to balance on while keeping the shuttle stable as gaming piece on the tabletop.
A brief scan of the bits box resulted in almost the perfect parts for this. Originally from the Mantic Deadzone scenery set these small ‘stumps’ (originally the base of some sort of cannon) were perfect. I then positioned these in such a way that the shuttle with wings folded up would balance perfectly.
At the same time I found a similar suitable piece from my spares box, again part of a Mantic scenery kit. I was keen that this could be opened and closed and after a quick visit to my daughters Lego collection I ‘borrowed’ a few bits to fashion a hinge. A small square base was then used to hide the visible Lego.
I actually added the landing gear and ramp after I had begun the painting of the model, but for the purposes of narrative I’ll cover the painting process now. The assembled model was given a once over of grey Halfords car primer with the intention that I then airbrush on successively lighter shades of grey.
It soon became apparent that this would take way too long. The undercoat colour was close enough to what I was aiming for, so I simply stuck with this while I picked out some of the panels with a darker grey. I tied the whole thing together with an overall drybrush of light grey, concentrating particularly on edge highlights. The cockpit was painted black and then given a coat of Games Workshop Nuln Oil gloss wash to give it a shiny appearence. The images below also show the ramp attached and in place.
The engines were painted white and then given a blue contrast coat, followed by an off-white drybrush highlight.
The final touch was to add a few subtle decals (the Galactic Empire was never much for strident liveries). I happened to have a couple of left over Imperial symbols from a Bandai AT-ST kit I had built a few years ago. I placed a couple of these on the cockpick as well as on the main fin.
And there we have it, probably one of the longest hobby projects I have ever done from start to finish and another reminder that while 3D printing is an excellent addition to the tabletop hobby it comes with a signficiant requirement for patience. At some point soon I intend to setup the shuttle with some of my recently painted Star Wars miniatures in order to take some additional photos, but for the time being I am calling this project done.
I have to say that one of the most enjoyable bits of this project for me was the additional kitbashing on top of the 3D printed model and this is something I have taken to the extreme in my next big spaceship project, more of which soon….