Scratch Built Oil Rig – Part 2 – Refinery and Crane

I’ve managed to get a bit more work on the 28mm scale scratch built Oil Rig.  Having finished off the bulk of the superstructure I’ve now moved on to looking at the main body of the rig.

As previously discussed I have approached this in a module manner.  Each of the 2 foot square tiles now has a removable leg support and ‘concrete boot’, the idea being that the four of them can be arranged in any combination to vary the gaming service as required.  Each of these component parts of the platform will be themed to a specific ‘function’ of the oil rig and in summary these will be bridge/ops centre/crew quarters, helicopter landing pad, loading crane/storage area and refinery.

It’s the latter two that I have been initially concentrating on.

Refinery

For the refinery I have used a modular plastic model kit of a ‘Chemical Plant’.  Manufactured by Tehnolog in Russia, but sold under licence around the world (in the US by Pegasus Hobbies and the UK by Pocketbond) this kit is out of production but you can still find the odd boxed and version on eBay.

chemical_plant_box

I picked up a complete set a few months ago with the original intention of this being used for a post apocalypse tabletop for 7TV.  In the end this fits the bill for ‘the business end’ of the oil rig quite nicely.  Fully hard plastic and stuffed full of components, this is really like a lego kit for wargames scenery builders.  It does have some instructions and suggestions on how to build, but I really just free formed it with all the pipes, valves and tanks available.  This did end up being a bit fiddly, but was a gentle distraction for a couple of hours.  In addition to the core bits and pieces from the kit I added in some extra touches from my bits box, including some 40k scenery bits (in red plastic in the photos) and some platform pieces from the Robogear Starter Set (also produced by Tehnolog).

Rather than build this directly onto the platform I found a separate base for this (an old Warhammer movement tray), with addition of some magnets I’ll be able to use this as part of the rig table or just as a standalone piece elsewhere (meaning it may see the apocalypse after all).

2019-05-10 22.41.38
Refinery sat on modular platform (Zulu for scale!)

For the time being I have kept painting simple, a black undercoat and all over gun metal drybrush.  Various ‘tanks’ have been picked out in red, with ‘valves’ painted gold.  At some point moving forward I will look to weather this up suitably.

 

Crane and loading area

For this part of the board I wanted a big structure and rather than try and build something completely from scratch I’ve gone down the MDF kit route.  TTCombat do some really good value kits and I’ve gone with their ‘dockside crane’.  Again I’m approaching this from a modular view point with the idea being this can be removed from the rig and used as a separate piece on a different board as required.

The build on this was fairly straightforward, with minimal fuss, although the tolerances were very tight and I have had to do some creative trimming to make all the parts fit.  This was more down to my lack of care and precision rather than any inherent issue with the kit.

 

I painted this in quite a basic manner blocking out colours roughly and allowing the subsequent weathering to do a lot of the work for me (masking mistakes and dulling down some of the primary colours). Warning stripes were added using an MDF stencil, again from TTCombat.  The stenciled lettering and logos on were ‘painted’ using Gundam paint marker pens.

I wanted to give the crane a look that, although operational, it was no longer cared for or maintained properly.  This involved extensive use of rust effects, including dry brushing of Citadel Ryza Rust, a liberal application of some Modelmates Rust Effects and the use of weathering sprays from Plastic Soldier Company.  The whole model was then sealed using a liberal all over spray of Testors Dullcote.

Platform tiles

I’ve also started to add some colour to the platform tiles themselves.  Again I am keeping this quite basic for the time being.  A base coat of silver was applied using a cheap (and very smelly) can of paint sourced from Poundland and an brush on of Army Painter Quickshade Dark Tone was then applied.  This was again dulled and sealed using Dullcote.  There is some further tidy up and weathering to do here, but that is for another time.

2019-05-13 19.30.37

It’s all starting to come together and although time is rapidly running out,  I’m still on track to debut this at the 7TV campaign day at Dales Wargames on May 26th.

 

Hobby 2.0 – 3D printing for tabletop gaming

I’ve been sitting on the fence when it comes to 3D printing for a couple of years now.  This has partly been down to funds, but also in no small part to the time investment required and ease of use of both hardware and software.

However this last Christmas I took the opportunity to pick up a 3D printer for the first time.  After a couple of months of sitting in a box I finally got this up and running over the last couple of weeks and have started my journey into what I am calling ‘Hobby 2.0’.

2019-04-06 23.01.12
The printer I chose is a Creality CR-10S – a good budget printer with a large print bed

Let’s get things straight from the off, 3D printing at home is by no means a ‘plug and play’ experience yet.  Yes, the affordability has put this technology within the reach of most now (in the same way as other new technology over the years has gradually got both more affordable and more powerful over time).  The key thing to accept though is that 3D printing at the moment is a hobby in its own right.  It requires time and patience and a willingness to fail in order to get better.

2019-04-07 19.13.37
My very first 3D print – a cobblestone base.  Start small in order to test and tweak settings.

There are plenty of great articles and resources out there on the internet for those wanting to get involved for the first time, so the purpose of this article is not to present a detailed guide to getting started, but to offer some advice and share my experiences so far as a tabletop gaming hobbyist trying to get into this new and exciting technology.

My main takeaways from about a month of 3D printing for tabletop gaming so far are as follows:

  • Don’t expect miracles (be patient and take stock) – prints will fail and in some cases may not turn out exactly as you planned, but bear in mind just what we are now able to achieve in our own homes!
  • Expect to do more work after the print is finished – you are not going to get a tabletop ready model straight off the printer.  Some clean-up will be required (but then that’s half the fun of being a hobbyist isn’t it?)
  • It takes a long time – prints can take hours or even days – again, however just consider what we are now able to do in our own front rooms!
  • Little things can make a big difference, be that ‘bed leveling’, temperature settings or the type and make of filament you are using.
  • Get a buddy or a guru if you can – I’ve been very lucky to get some great support off a fellow 3D printing gamer via Facebook.  Ask questions on forums and social media, watch YouTube videos, read articles, but accept that everyone’s’ experiences and setup can very.
  • Get on Thingiverse and have a browse!  Can’t recommend this site enough for free model files.
  • In order to process 3D print files (STL) for you printer you will need some ‘slicing’ software.  Find some software you like and can get on with.  For me Cura has proven ideal, is widely used in the community, is relatively easy to use and has some good features.

So as I say this isn’t a detailed ‘how to’ guide, but I hope it offers some perspective on what to me is a fascinating new aspect to the tabletop hobby.

I’ll be doing plenty of articles moving forward on taking my 3D prints to the tabletop, so stay tuned.  You can see some of my efforts so far below:

 

Hello Mr.Dinosaur – Wizkids Unpainted Miniatures T-Rex

I’ve previously spoken about my adventures with the Reaper Miniatures Bones range.  This eclectic range of good value plastic miniatures has something for everyone, except of course when I wanted a big dinosaur for my latest project.

So I am wanting to do something with dinosaurs and probably Nazis.  A Jurassic Reich if you like, for pulp gaming.  Possibly, just possibly this might replace my ‘Flash Gordon’ cast for the 7TV Pulp day, though I am still procrastinating on this.  (Always good to have choices though.)

Jurassic Reich - Eureka Miniatures
Eureka Miniatures Jurassic Reich – inspiration for this project (and on the shopping list)

Now there are now shortage of options available out there (including a rather wonderful range of dinosaur riding Nazis from Eureka Miniatures).  Furthermore there is even more choice if you look beyond the world of miniatures into the realm of toys (something I enjoy doing often).  However I wanted something quite specific – a big brutal looking T-Rex.  Many of the toys out there have problems with scale and not unreasonably tend to look a bit toy like.

Wizkids Unpainted 1
My first Wizkids unpainted miniatures – the Orc is for another project

A few years ago Wizkids the chaps behind the incredibly popular pre-painted Heroclix collectable miniatures game decided to dip their toes in the ‘proper’ miniatures market with the release of a range of licensed Dungeons and Dragons and Pathfinder figures.  This in of itself was not new, they had been releasing ‘blind booster’ style collectable pre-painted figures in a similar vein to Heroclix for many years.  What was different this time was that they would be unpainted.  In effect they were tapping into that wider hobbyist market of role-players and wargamers who wanted to paint their minis and saw this as a key part of their hobby.  As far as I can tell these ranges have proved very popular, like Reaper Bones are priced well, unlike Reaper Bones come pre-primed and most importantly for me the range includes a great big T-Rex.

T-Rex 5
“Dinosaur, dinosaur, hello Mr.Dinosaur” (copyright George Pig!)

This guy is from the Nolzur’s Marvellous Miniatures range of Dungeons and Dragons figures (personally I can never remember dinosaurs being a big part of D&D in my day, but hey ho).

First impressions were good.  Wizkids have gained some notoriety in the past for the quality of some of their Heroclix sculpts, but this really didn’t compare at all.  Detail was crisp and clean, there was no sign of any flash or mould lines and the grey Vallejo undercoat was applied well (consistently, not too thick and a nice light grey shade).  The tail was supplied separately and pushed to fit (although I did use super glue to fix it in place).  I probably should have used a little green stuff to fill the gap between body and tail, but to be honest, for me, it was acceptable without.

T-Rex 7

Upon opening the blister the first thing that surprised me was that unlike Reaper Bones the plastic material is quite hard.  Now whether this was a result of the bulk of this particular model I can’t really say.  However it certainly felt a bit more like the harder plastics you would associated with wargames miniatures rather than the PVC like Bones.

T Rex WIP
Airbrush applied dark green over the ‘out of the box’ undercoat

I set about painting using an airbrush to apply a dark green base coat and then highlighted this (again using an airbrush) with a lighter green.  I added shade by brushing on Army Painter Green Tone wash and picked out the mouth and tongue with flesh colours followed by a wash of flesh tone from Games Workshop.  The model was finished off by applying ochre to the teeth and claws and painting the integral scenic base in various greys.  I was impressed that the model came with both an integral base and a round plastic base to glue this to.

T-Rex 1
Finished model – flock and tufts added to the edge of the base
T-Rex 2
Roar!

All in all I am pretty pleased with the result and will certainly check out more of the unpainted Wizkids line in future.  (I couldn’t resist a rather nice looking Orc on Dire Wolf to paint up – having half an eye on Saga Age of Magic which is released later this month).

So this is the first addition to my ‘Deutsche Dinosaurier Korps’.  In terms of addition dinos I will be playing around with some other toy and model kit purchases over the next few weeks and adding some Teutonic wranglers into the mix also.

Scratch Built Oil Rig – Part 1 – superstructure

I’ve always been kind of fascinated by North Sea Oil Rigs.  There is something brutal, impossible and imposing about these behemoths.  They just kind of look impossible (and a bit frightening).

oil rig ref
© Brian Jobson / Alamy

From a gaming perspective I’ve never really been into sea based or naval wargaming, but having an oil rig/platform to play on brings to mind such inspiration as Bond (Diamonds are Forever) and the classic (in my eyes) North Sea Hijack!  Of course the ideal game for such a setting is my go to favourite, 7TV.

North Sea Hijack
In which Roger hates women but loves cats

So a few months ago I made up my mind that I was going to build an oil rig as a gaming table.  The objective of this project would be to produce something that looked kind of realistic, was easy to game on and was modular and therefore easy to transport.  I also felt that I wanted to have a go at scratch building much of this from household bits and pieces wherever possible.  So just after Christmas I put the call out to friends and colleagues for any spare coffee and sweet tins.  Because of the season I managed to get a huge variety of Roses, Miniatures Heroes, Celebrations and Roses tins in various shapes and sizes.  At the time I wasn’t quite sure of my design but felt these would provide a good basis for legs or supports.

Rig 27
The design takes shape

Likewise for coffee tins, but I found these a bit harder to come by.  I will admit at this point that I resorted to eBay and actually bought a job lot of empty Illy coffee tins (who know there was such a market for such a thing online?).  Once these arrived my design began to take shape and these seemed like an obvious choice for my legs.

The actual playing surface itself was a bit of a cheat (and not at all based on recycling household items).  Many years ago when running the shop I had stocked some modular plastic gaming tiles from Secret Weapon Miniatures.  I still have four of these that were originally designed for Mantic’s Deadzone.  As these were 1 foot square they would allow me to build the rig in four parts, each supported by a coffee tin leg with a chocolate tin as the concrete ‘boot’ or foundations.

Extending the modular idea, each quarter tile would be built in such a way that they could be put together in any order.  I decided that each tile would also have a different purpose and I divided them as follows:

  • crew quarters / offices / command deck (I’m not entirely sure if on an Oil Rig you refer to a ‘bridge’
  • refinery (an industrial looking bit)
  • crane / cargo area
  • helicopter landing pad

I’d also aim to have some form of removable central structure that would be higher than the other parts of the rig and maybe culminate in some form of radar mast or communications array.

I’m going to cover the individual area builds in some future blog entries, but for the time being, with the weather being good and some free time on my hands this weekend I’ve cracked on with the super-structure!

First off, the coffee tins proved to be really spot on for the purpose I had in mind.  Each was the same size and came with a screw on lid.  By affixing one lid to the bottom of each platform tile I have been able to easily implement a system for taking the rig apart for transport and storage.  I decided on a ‘two tin’ height for each leg.  By gluing the top of one tin to the bottom of another I could further disassemble each leg into two parts, again meeting the modular objective.

rig 36
Lid affixed with super glue to the bottom of each platform section
rig 30
Next lid glued to the base of the ‘previous’ tin

 

Rig 5
All four sections – showing assembly method
Rig 3
And the right way up

Four matching plastic chocolate ‘tins’ (Cadbury’s Miniature Heroes for those of you who are interested) were chosen as the ‘concrete’ foundations for each leg.  These were inverted so the lid was at the bottom and a coffee tin sized hole was cut in each for the main leg to slot into and provide stability.  I decided not to glue the lids of chocolate tins together as they had a good seal and I want the ability to add ballast to these if necessary in future.

The tiles themselves come with a system of clips which link them together, so these would provide some extra stability and stop the sections moving independently.

Rig 2
Top view

Paint was applied to ‘legs’ and ‘boot’s next.  Black car primer for the undercoat followed by a cheap Nato green spray for the legs and my old favourite textured stone paint for the ‘boots’.

 

Rig 17
Paint Factory Nato Green (Matt) was only £2 a can (from Boyes)

I’ve covered the use of textured stone paint in a previous blog entry, but needless to say the same principles applied – lots of coats and considerable drying time between each.  I started off using a mid-tone stone, but soon ran out so ended up with subsequent coats of a lighter ‘bleached stone’.  Once this is weathered down I don’t think it will look too bad, and certainly from the off it gives a great representation of concrete.

Once I’d taken advantage of the decent weather to dry these components outdoors, it was time for a test build.

Et voila, so far, so good.

Rig 26

Rig 25

Size wise on it’s own this gives a 2′ by 2′ playing surface which is ideal for a small skirmish game, but plonk this on a bigger layout (maybe on a blue ‘sea’ cloth) with a few strategically placed boats and you could have for some quite interesting scenarios.

Rig 24

Rig 23

Next up will be to work on some the individual tiles.  For the refinery I will be using a Pegasus/Conflix/Tehnolog ‘Chemical Plant’ kit with some Games Workshop and Mantic additions.  The crane and containers will be an MDF kit, as will the living quarters, while for the helicopter pad I will be sticking with the coffee tin / confectionery container approach.

Quite a bit still to do, but I am aiming to get this ready for the 7TV campaign day at Dales Wargames Club in May.

Further updates soon…

 

Painting the Apocalypse – Part 1

I’ve been making some in roads into the huge lead pile that arrived as part of the 7TV Apocalypse Kickstarter.  In true ‘hobby butterfly’ style I’ve just been picking stuff up to paint that I fancy the look of, rather than having any particular plan.

mean machine
Mean Machine

It goes without saying that the figures are as always with Crooked Dice lovely sculpts, with next to no clean up required.  For the majority of these I’ve chosen a grey or white undercoat as a base.

Science division 1
Science division character

In addition to the figures I’ve also been adding in some vehicles to the mix.  I got an extra Interceptor in my pledge and have gone for a basic, but what I think is quite effective black colour scheme for this.  It was also my first time using the Citadel technical/dry paint rust effect (I forget it’s actual name).  Although this looks VERY orange in the pot once dry brushed on it gives a really subtle effect that could pass for both rust and dust.

Finally I’ve completed the conversion of the 1/43rd Teamsterz toy car I have been working on.  Post apocalypse Penny has finally got her Compact Pussycat – although I feel to be properly PA we should refer to this as the Kompakt Puzzycat!

Next on the apocalypse painting production line – Science Division Hazmat troopers.

Hazmat wip

But I might be about to get distracted by dinosaurs!

T Rex WIP

7TV Pulp Miniatures Kickstarter

Crooked Dice Game Design Studio are launching a very short Kickstarter on Friday 29th March at 7pm GMT.  This is to fund a small range of 28mm scale miniatures to support the 7TV Pulp boxed set which is launching for retail at the UK Games Expo this year.

It’s a short campaign running until Monday 1st April at 7pm GMT, with three main simple pledges – six heroes (£22), six villains (£22) or all 12 (£40).  More details on the Crooked Dice Facebook page.

7TV Pulp Kickstarter

For more information on 7TV Pulp which is a joint venture between Crooked Dice and Edge Hill University you can check out their development blog here.

7TV-Pulp-2

Dales Invasion Earth 2019 AD – A 7TV Campaign Day

Following the successful introduction to the game at the last meeting, Dales Wargames Club have got 7TV fever.

So much so that we are looking to hold a campaign day on Sunday 26th May at our Whitworth Centre venue in Darley Dale near Matlock, Derbyshire.

The cost is a mere £7.50 and will include refreshments (and quite possibly cake).  More details can be found on the event Facebook page. We’ve taken inspiration from the amazing Board in Brum days and indeed have the backing of some of the big minds behind those great events.

In the true spirit of 7TV this won’t be a competitive event, but a chance for like minded ‘directors’ and ‘producers’ to get together to enjoy some fun narrative gaming and have a jolly good time.  There will however be spot prizes for best painted cast, most sporting player and best terrain/table build (we are encouraging people to bring along a layout if they can).

The format for the day will be three games based around the theme of ‘Invasion Earth’.  Casts can be based on any of the archetypes from the Spy-Fi or Apocalypse lists and be around 30 ratings.  In order to accommodate the widest possible variety of casts, the games will not however include vehicle combat from the Apocalypse rules.

We are really keen to encourage new players and share this wonderful game with them, so even if you have never played before and/or don’t have any figures please do sign up and we can sort you out with a cast and some guidance on the day.

In addition to the standard games I’ve also volunteered to run a drop-in game of 7TV Apocalypse using the vehicle rules and destruction derby scenario, so players can jump into a buggy or war rig for a bit of distraction if games finish early.

I’ve not yet decided what cast to field myself yet, but I did find myself digging these guys out to finish the other day (after all they fit the theme)!

Robomen
Classic Doctor Who Robomen by Harlequin Miniatures / Black Tree Design

For more information and to book your place visit the event page or drop me a line via the blog.

By the way did I mention there may be cake?