Klytus I’m bored – Preparing for Pulp Day

Next weekend I am taking the relatively short drive over to Wargames Foundry at Stoke Hall near Newark for the sold out Wargames Illustrated annual 7TV event.  I attended last years gathering where the focus of the day was all about play testing the Apocalypse version of the game.

WI 7TV Pulp Day

This year things are a little different.  The theme is ‘Pulp’ and the day is focused around playing the newly released 7TV Pulp rules.  Now, there is a lot of debate on what Pulp means, but in this case we are talking primarily the movie serials of the 1930s and 1940s and associated settings.  I picked the new box set up at UK Games Expo this year and recently also received the initial set of supporting figures which were funded and released via a Kickstarter earlier this year.

7TV Pulp Kickstarter

I’ve spoken a little about the background to the Pulp boxed set before.  A collaboration between Crooked Dice and Edge Hill University Press, development of the game gave the opportunity to get involved to students and we punters are now able to reap the benefits of their hard work.

Back to the theme, having booked in for the day quite a while ago, but before the game was publicly released there was a bit of a dilemma as to what sort of cast to go for.  I kid of course, there was never any doubt I’d be going down the Flash Gordon route!  The only question really was I going to do Flash and chums, or turn to the villainy of Mongo?

Zarkov and Flash
Zarkov and Flash (they like short shorts!)

 

I have fond memories of watching the Larry ‘Buster’ Crabbe serials in the early eighties when they were often repeated daily during the school summer holidays.  However my number one love is the 1980 camp spectacular that is the Mike Hodges film.  Having already decided on the excellent Princes of the Universe range from Cold War Miniatures to form the core of my cast I then needed to decide which version of Flash I was therefore going to go for.  The range is very much based on the old black and white serials in terms of style and I did start down that route in terms of colour schemes (yes that is a weird thing to say about a black and white set of films, but really I was also taking inspiration from the aesthetic of the original Alex Raymond comic strips).

However at the point at which I started to paint up my 3D printed rocket ship I knew that going with the over the top awesomeness of the later film was the way to go.  It was also at this point that I settled on the bad guys as the cast I would be taking to the campaign day.

Ming and Klytus
There was only one choice of allegiance really

The main bulk of my force is made up of ‘Imperial Fleet Troopers’ from the Cold War Miniatures range.  Finding a Ming the Merciless figure was a bit problematic as they don’t really do one.  I settled on Hydra Miniatures to fill this gap, although I had to source the figure I wanted from the US as I couldn’t at the time find it closer to home.

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Cold War Miniatures Princes of the Universe – Imperial Fleet Troopers – more of a ‘Buster Crabbe’ era vibe to the colour scheme on these
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My Ming is ‘Xurr the Exalted’ from Hydra Miniatures Retro Raygun range

With only 30 ratings to work with for the campaign day I was somewhat limited to what additional characters from Flash lore I could bring in.  I really, really wanted a Klytus, but again couldn’t find a suitable figure.  Long term I am probably going to look at converting a Marvel Heroclix Doctor Doom, or keep my fingers crossed that Karl at Crooked Dice has this on his radar for a future release.  Therefore I decided to go with Princess Aura instead.  There is a great ‘Renegade Royal’ miniature in the 7TV Pulp kickstarter, but unfortunately this didn’t arrive in time, so I ended up using the ‘Dale’ from Cold War in this role.

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My version of Princess Aura is ‘Gail’ from Cold War Miniatures

While I’ve hit my ratings limit I have also carried on expanding the cast to include some robots, utilising the ever flexible range of 54mm scale plastics from Tehnolog.

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Death Robots of Ming – Tehnolog plastics (54mm scale or in this case ‘large’ 28mm)
7-ming-royal-guards
These guys were the inspiration for my robots

The schedule for the campaign day gives the option for attendees to bring along a super weapon for folk to fight over in the last game of the day.  Having scoured the internet for something suitably retro to 3D print I then remembered the ‘giant stompy robot’ I’ve got from Mantic Games now defunct Mars Attacks range.  I had started to prime this in the thought that it would go into a German ‘weird war’ force, but a quick airbrush job later and Ming has a new threat to bring to those pathetic Earthlings.

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Ming’s super weapon – at this point I’d totally switched over to the 1980 movie colour scheme

I’ve gone similar colours to the rocketship, trying to keep that red/gold/black theme that pervades in the movie.  For a pilot I’ll be using a seated Fleet Trooper from Cold War which fits just about perfectly (although being quite a chunky bit of metal on top of a plastic model might mean some weight has to be added to the base).

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Just the pilot to add (and maybe some ballast)

So apart from a few finishing touches I am raring to go and looking forward to what promises to be an excellent day next Saturday.

Painting the Apocalypse – Part 2 – Hazmat Troopers and the Mutant Hill Mob

I’m still stalwartly ploughing through the (possibly radioactive) lead pile that is the 7TV Apocalypse Kickstarter.

Recently I have completed the first of the two Hazmat Troopers from the set.  I have deliberately gone with a bright colour scheme for these guys and based them in such a way that suggests they might be ‘lost’ on a mysterious island somewhere, perhaps doing some work for a scientific ‘initiative’.

7TV Apocalypse - Hazmat Troopers

For the first time in a while I went with the technique of blocking in the base colours and then painting on Army Painter Quickshade dark tone dip.  This can be an effective way of shading miniatures providing you are careful to ensure that the dip is mixed well to start with, doesn’t pool too much and spend some time re-highlighting up afterwards.

Next up are the ‘Mutant Hill Mob’, a small band of ‘wacky racing’ wasteland warriors.  A lot of skin on display here, which always puts me off a bit, however utilising the wonder that is Citadel Reikland Fleshshade over a dark skintone base and then dry brushing and highlighting up with a lighter tone worked OK.

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I also felt that these guys would really benefit from spending the time to properly paint the eyes.  A very steady hand was required to varying levels of success.

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For the first time I also had a go at using the Citadel ‘blood effects’ technical paint – Blood for the Blood God!  This provided a nice glossy and gloopy effect that I used both on some of their weapons and also on their ‘skin conditions’.

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I’ve also finished my favourite figure from the entire release, the SLR armed traffic warden attempting to hold the ‘threads’ of society together in post-nuclear Sheffield.  I felt like this deserved a scenic base.

 

7TV APocalypse - Threads Traffic Warden 1

Next up I’ll be completely the ‘Road Warrior’, and then possibly dipping into some of the marauders, savages and militia.

Cold War Miniatures 3D Printed Rocket Part 1

“Dispatch war rocket Ajax to bring back his body”

A while back I enthused about the wonderful retro science fiction figures available from Cold War Miniatures in their Princes of the Universe range.

Cold War Miniatures - Episode 4 - Attack of the Hawkmen

At the same time as picking these up I also purchased a set of STL files to allow me to print out a suitably retro rocket ship using my newly acquired 3D printer.

Cold War Miniatures - print your own rocketship
An example print as featured on the Cold War Miniatures website

The model was provided in parts to print up, clean and assemble.  It features a detailed interior with a removable roof and the option to model with steps up or down.  Once put together this would provide me with a great centre piece to go with my Flash Gordon cast for 7TV Pulp.

The print time was fairly long across all the different components.  I didn’t track it exactly, but when adding everything together I’d suggest that it probably took well over twenty four hours.

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The majority of the parts printed

I printed the parts a few weeks ago when I was still tweaking the settings on my printer, overall however they came out with the need for minimal cleanup.  I used a bit of plastic putty in some areas to smooth over rough parts of the print.  As there are quite a few curved surfaces I also spent some time sanding.

Once I’d cleaned up the parts, assembly was straight forward.  Superglue was used to assemble the components, all of which were printed using PLA filament.  The roof is designed to sit loose on the model to allow miniatures to be placed inside and I also chose not to permanently attach the steps so these could be swapped out with the ‘ramps down’ version in future.

In terms of painting the plan was to go full on chrome and silver, however right at the last moment I changed my mind and went for a striking red and gold colour scheme.  Although retro-styled to the 1930s pulp serials (as is the majority of the Princes of the Universe range); I wanted at least a nod to the classic 1980 Flash Gordon movie and this colour scheme fitted in well.

To further minimise print lines on the body of the ship I tended towards over spraying both when undercoating and base coating.  I also wanted a glossy look to the paint job and just so happened to have a can of Humbrol Red Gloss acrylic lying around.  By spraying closer to the surface that I would normally I was able to get a smooth finish on the (albeit not too course) surface of the print.

Other block colours were done using a variety of bright metallics in order to maintain the shininess.  Black was used to pick out the windows and fine details.

In the second part of this article I’ll detail the interior and look at other similar models that are available for 3D printing.

 

 

Friendship is Universal – A Visitors Cast for 7TV

At the recent 7TV campaign day I fielded my Visitors cast from V.  You know V, the one about the fascist space lizards who came in peace but really just wanted to eat us (and as many rodents as they could get their hands on).  Oh yeah and I’m not referring to the 21st Century remake (which frighteningly is around ten years old now).

 

 

I’ve had some figures painted up for a while.  Prior to the release of the excellent miniatures early this year by Crooked Dice, I had previously painted up some of the alternatives released a few years back by Nexus Miniatures (now YFT Design Studio) as well as doing some conversions.  In addition I’d also found some excellent close matches in the Inspectors set from Heresy Miniatures.

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Nexus Miniatures ‘Uni-tech’ Troopers
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More Nexus ‘Visitors’
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Heresy Miniatures ‘Inspectors’ – painted as Visitor technicians

I’m a big fan of V and quite rightly the original mini series is held in high regard, as is the slightly more action packed sequel, The Final Battle.  However I personally have a soft spot for the really quite terrible TV series that followed.

V_original
Some of the cast of the 1984 TV series

Possibly because this was my first exposure to the series as a teenager when Sky repeated it in the UK in the early nineties.  While (I think) the series starts off well with the whole concept of Los Angeles as an open city after the second alien invasion it quickly goes downhill and degenerates into ‘space Dynasty’ by the end.  For me the ‘jumping the shark’ moment was the exit of (the frankly excellent in anything) Michael Ironside from the main cast; for others I suspect this downward spiral came much earlier.

Minion Visitors - 7TV
I’d previously done some conversions using the 7TV Minion miniatures and alien heads

Anyhow, the point of this is that when considering a cast for my alien visitors I have included possibly an unexpected bias to some of those characters from the TV series.

My approach has been to base these on the base 7TV second edition profiles rather than use the alien cards from the recent Apocalypse edition of the game.  Following the (not too subtle) allegory of the rise of Nazism that the original mini-series followed I felt that using base profiles such as ‘Despotic Dictator’ and the various types of ‘Minion’ was a better fit.

The one profile that has proven tricky to get right is the iconic Visitor shock trooper.  I based these guys originally on ‘Minions’ but once the advanced alien weaponry was added they felt overpowered for the number of ratings they cost.  In the end I have aligned these more with the X-Commando profile from the Department X programme guide.

I roughly followed the guidelines for modifying profiles which you will find in the Producers Guide of the second edition rules.  In many cases this was just a case of changing the names of existing special abilities to make then fit thematically.  One good example being Diana’s ‘Conversion Process’ which is simply ‘Alien Duplicate’ from the Otherworldy Invader renamed.

I created all the card layouts using the 7TV Casting Agency online app, and the profiles are stored in various formats in the 7TV Productions Facebook group (where I will place any updates).  However they are also presented in full below.

Feel free to download and utilise in your own Machiavellian plans for world domination and inter-species dining.

Oh and remember, ‘Friendship is Universal’.

7TV_cast-Diana

7TV_cast-Charles

7TV_cast-John

7TV_cast-Lydia

7TV_cast-Steven

7TV_cast-James

7TV_cast-Nathan-Bates

7TV_cast-Mr-Chiang

7TV_cast-Visitor-Shocktrooper

7TV_cast-Visitor-Security-Trooper

7TV_cast-Visitor-Spy

7TV_cast-Visitor-Technician

7TV_cast-Sky-Fighter

7TV_cast-Visitor-Shuttle

7TV_cast-Visitor-Jeep

Invasion Aftermath – 7TV Event Report

The late May bank holiday Sunday saw a small (but very select) group of 7TV players gather in Darley Dale, Derbyshire.  This was the inaugural  7TV event for the Dales Wargames Club, who have recently caught ‘Baron Studios’ fever.

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The Mannequin goes for a stroll

Now as I may have mentioned before I am rubbish at writing up battle reports.  I simply cannot remember all the details of what happens in a game to a level at which I could write up something interesting.  Therefore this little narrative is more about my experience of the day as both a participant and the chief organiser.

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Just another day repelling the alien horde while sipping Dom Perignon for Hugo Solomon

The event was put together at pretty short notice, but following the mantra of ‘if you build it, they will come’ we got a good number of players expressing interest, primarily through the highly recommended and super friendly 7TV Productions Facebook group.  In the end we got about ten ‘producers’on the day, with the furthest distance being traveled from Cambridge!

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Summoned from the deepest darkest corner of the universe, behold the eldritch light!

The theme of the day was ‘Invasion Earth’, and there were some interesting casts fielded both in the defence of and plotting against our blue planet.  So Skeletor and his evil minions rubbed shoulders with the likes of Diana’s ‘Visitors’, some ‘ack, ack’ Mars Attacks aliens and robotic centurions from the 12 colonies.  Meanwhile our stalwart defenders included the SG-1 team, some special forces troops, Murtaugh and Riggs with uniformed support and of course (because it is 7TV) some East End gangsters.  Of course the Guru and Shiva also chanced their arm by trying to cash in on the chaos, as did the slippery Cobra Commander and his Cobra hordes.

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The dockside (with a sign of unwelcome ‘Visitors’)

Following the example of other events I have attended this was very much about having fun and telling a story, rather than being in any way competitive.  As a number of the Dales club members were also very new to the game I was keen to keep it as beginner friendly as possible.  We worked on the basis of 30 ratings casts drawn from either the Spy-Fi or Apocalypse versions of the game (but without the use of the Apocalypse vehicle combat rules).  I provided a few sample casts for folk to use who might not have access to figures and made sure we had access to quick reference sheets as well as trying to pair folk off together so veterans could play against novices.

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The wasteland refinery

Running at 30 ratings meant we could get at least 3 games in, and we sized most of the tables and terrain layouts to support the smaller sized games.  As well as using some of my personal terrain and scenery we also lent on the extensive collection at the club.  In addition we also asked for attendees to bring along a board if they could.  Special mention to Carl for his airbase setup (complete with cargo transporter) which took away the prize for best ‘set designer’.

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The award winning airbase table

Talking of prize support, a very special thanks must go out to Karl at Crooked Dice for donating a 7TV boxed set as the top prize and Wayne from Wargames Illustrated (who attended with his Cyclons) for additional prizes of annual subscriptions to the magazine.  Also massive thanks to Wayne for also donating a significant number of miniatures and models which we were able to offer to attendees for a donation to the club coffers.

So how did my games go?  OK I think is the answer.  I was fielding my ‘V’ cast which is pretty much exclusively based on 7TV core profiles (with some minor tweaks) using a mix of the excellent recent models from Crooked Dice as well as some older miniatures from Nexus/YFT Design Studio.

My first game was against a new club member Nigel who had turned up on the day just wanting to watch some games and was immediately drafted into the event.  Fair to say I think we got another convert there.  We played pretty much a ‘learning game’ on the airbase setup where the Visitors took on Hugo Solomon and Department X.  Let’s just say it didn’t end up well for the lizards from Sirius.

My second game was against fellow club member and recent 7TV evangelist Robin on our ‘Weird World War’ table.  This time Diana and her orange glad goons were up against the sinister Guru and his Shiva organisation.  Another fun game on one of the larger boards on the day.  For the life of me I cannot remember the outcome of this (I think it was a tie).  The highlight had to be the draw of that classic countdown event card (‘script editing’ I think) that resulted in our stars swapping places, with hilarious consequences (not many of which were good for either of us).

Finally I was up against Kieron and his excellent ‘Masters of the Universe’ cast. Comprising of Skeletor, Beastman, Trap Jaw and other undesirables from Eternia, they just happened to find themselves in the cargo area of a typical industrial sea port.  I do remember the details of this one pretty well, because due to a combination of excellent dice rolling on the one hand, terrible dice rolling on the other and really effective use of tactics I conspired to lose this game about four turns in.  For the uninitiated a typical game of 7TV can last anything up to twenty or more turns!  Now as we know it’s all about the narrative with a game like this, but I take some pride in being able to say I lost eleven victory points to nil in such record time.

Needless to say we had time for another game, but consigning Diana and co to the long list of failed invaders of Earth I swapped out for a small G.I.Joe Cobra cast I had put together.  A much more even (and indeed longer) game was had.  Again a lot of laughs and a very tight finish.

All in all an excellent day.  Our club venue worked well as did the format.  I think one lesson learned for future events is not to hold these on a bank holiday weekend, we had quite a list of people who were unable to attend because of this.

As I’ve already mentioned Carl won a years subscription to Wargames Illustrated for best table.  Kieron won best Director (players favourite cast) with Skeletor and friends, and Colin won the overall prize for best Producer for most sporting player and favourite opponent.  All awards were voted for by the participants.

Buoyed by the feedback we’ve got, I’m already planning on running another event at some point.  Dales Wargames Club continues to meet on a monthly basis at the Whitworth Centre in Darley Dale just outside Matlock.  You can checkout our Facebook group for details about upcoming meetings (we have a Saga Ironman event scheduled in July).

I’d also like to give a shout out to Kieron and Carl who have both written up nice articles about the day on their respective blogs:

Finally I’d like to give another big shout out to Karl at Crooked Dice for continuing to produce such a great game, but equally in supporting the community that has built up around it.