7TV Day 4 at Board in Brum

This last weekend I had the pleasure of attending the latest 7TV event at Board in Brum in Walsall.  Having missed the previous event in the Autumn (due to an inability to organise my diary properly) it was almost exactly a year since the last event at this great location.

Since my last visit the store had expanded into the full building it previously only occupied a part of.  In fact the day of the event was the last full day at that location as they are moving to new expanded premises.  As someone who struggled in the retail side of the industry it is heartening to see a local games store doing well and able to expand in this way.

While hosted by Simon of Board in Brum, the event was organised by the talented Mike Strong, who has a track record of adding some great additional narrative to these events.  In true 7TV style this involved the ‘production studio’ having to cut back on costs, so across the three games in the day there were various additional objectives added in to try and keep the accountants at ‘Baron Studios’ happy.  At the end of each game, based on your success at meeting these objectives (for example moving your cast the least amount of space across the board to save on cost) additional bonuses or abilities were made available for the next game.  There was even a ‘scoreboard’ so the accountants could keep track of which producers were in the black and which were in the red.

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My Red Shadows, ready for action.

The event followed a standard pattern of three games at 40 ratings each.  This allowed for compact games run on either 3 by 3 or 4 by 4 tables with some flexibility on the number of stars and co-stars.  This allowed me to take a reasonably sized cast, for which this time I chose Baron Ironblood and his Red Shadows using the ‘official’ profile cards for these characters published in the 7TV 1967 Annual.

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Blood for the Baron!

There were a number of excellent tables available on the day, some provided by the venue, others brought by attendees.  I brought along my secret Nazi rocket base complete with V2 launch site and Haunbau flying saucer (neatly parked in a stone circle).

Also worthy of mention was Mike’s Venetian layout (complete with what I can only assume was a lost submarine), David’s sinister funfair and Paul’s hex based ‘Children of the Fields’ themed setup.  In fact there was a surplus of boards available on the day and we ended up sharing these with a Marvel Crisis Protocol event that was also taking place at the same time.  (Which reminds me I need to finish of painting up my set for a game at the next Dales Meeting in February).

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The zombie hoard led by the preacher (played by Dick van Dyke)!

My first game was against my old adversary Kieron, who had somehow made his 40 ratings stretch to a 30 plus figure cast.  There was a reason for this and that reason was…..zombies.  Now I usually have epic bad luck with dice when playing against Kieron and this was no different.

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Playing on my V2 rocket site board things started off bad and continued from there as two of my extras were immediately infected and replaced with zombies and the rest of the horde started their relentless stumble across the board towards the Baron and his fanatical followers.  I’m terrible at remembering the specific details of games so I’d point you towards Kieron’s blog for an excellent narrative overview of the ‘episode’.

Unlike previous games between us, we did at least get through the first act and in fact managed to play through to the end of the countdown deck.  The upshot was a win in terms of victory points for my opponent and ‘a slip into the red’ for me as a producer.

The second game of the day followed on from lunch and I found myself up against Simon and his gang of wasteland marauders.

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Wes and gang.

This cast took a similar approach to the zombies with a single star and lots of lots of expendable extras.  While not quite the size of the previous cast I’d faced, it did give me plenty of opportunity for some target practice for my fanatical Red Shadows.

Somehow all the bad dice luck I had had in the previous game was immediately passed over to my opponent who had some truly horrendous bad luck with his rolls.  Again we managed to play through the full episode (the cost saving aspect for the studio here was that a bonus was conferred to the player who burnt through the most countdown cards).  Despite losing a larger proportion of my cast I just about sqweaked a win in terms of victory points, although we both ended up with the same number of countdown cards, which at least meant I’d moved out of the red into the ‘grey’ prior to the final game of the day.

My final game of the day was against David and his biker gang.  We played this on Kieron’s city table.  It was a standard ‘steal’ scenario in which the defender had to keep and defend the Macguffin from the attacker.

I ended up with the Macguffin to start with and to my delight and my opponents dismay the random gadget I ended up drawing for this was the jet pack.  Queue a game of cat and mouse, where the mouse was airbourne for much of the time, in what can only be described as a valiant rearguard action (i.e. I spent much of the game, running away).

The added cost saving objective for this game was to end the episode with the most left over plot points.  Running entirely against type I managed to achieve this as David my opponent valiantly tried but ultimately failed to retrieve the Macguffin, burning through many of his remaining plot points to do so on the final turn.

All in all three cracking games, a well organised event at a friendly venue against a great bunch of opponents with lots of laughs.  Just what a 7TV event should be.

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I didn’t get to play against Paul’s ‘Children of the Fields’; however he deservedly won the award for best cast.

I was also delighted to come away from the day with the prize for best table layout (goodies already ordered from Crooked Dice).

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Mike’s sailors (no monkeying around here).
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The monkey theme continues with part of Simon Clarke’s cast (including at least one Marx brother).

Next up in terms of 7TV events is the day I am hosting at Dales Wargames in Darley Dale on Sunday April 5th.  This is a 7TV Apocalypse focussed event. 

White Line Nightmares

Also later in the year on Saturday July 4th there is the annual Wargames Illustrated 7TV day at Foundry Miniatures near Newark.

The next day at Board in Brum (at their new venue) is tentatively scheduled for September or October this year.  I’d heartily recommend checking out the 7TV Productions Facebook group for all the latest news.

 

 

A Steampunk Pinky Ponk

Or “Adventures with airships and 3D printing”.

The 3D printing aspect of my hobby is both a source of great joy and great frustration.  I started off last year with no experience at all and ended the year with two 3D printers, an even bigger pile of unpainted models and a new level of zen-like patience I would never have though possible.

For all the great stuff that I’ve been able to do there are times when I just want to throw the damn things out of the window.  I made the decision last summer to invest in a resin printer (Anycubic Photon S).  This has been utterly fantastic (so far) – the quality that I have been able to get at home printing out miniatures is in my opinion a game changer for the industry moving forward.

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Anycubic Photon S – my new favourite

As an aside it has been interesting to note how the industry is starting to adapt to this new technology.  Patreon seems to be a very popular route for digital sculptors for tabletop games.  I have gone down the rabbit hole a bit with this recently and backed some amazing creators, many of which are pumping out quality designs for print at a heck of a rate.  In fact some of the ‘traditional’ miniatures companies are also seeing the value in this – I’ve recently subscribed to both Titan Forge Miniatures and Bombshell Miniatures patreon campaigns.

titan forge patreon

So the older (larger) FDM printer (Creality CR-10S) has now been put purely on scenery and vehicle printing duty and is still doing a good job.  However (and back on the subject of frustration) I have had a lot of breakdowns recently, much of which I am putting down to the hammer I have been putting it through.  I have noticed an unspoken law that seems to dictate that only one of my printers can be working at any one time!

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I’ve been getting some beautiful results from the Photon.  These retro sci fi bits will be added to my ‘Flash Gordon’ project

Moaning aside I have recently been working on some airship models I have printed.  These are nominally for use in games of 7TV Pulp (I fancy doing an inter-war sky pirates type thing), but these would also be useful for steampunk or even fantasy type games.  In fact the two models I have picked up were really designed for the latter (think Age of Sigmar’s ‘air dwarves’ or Dungeons and Dragons Eberron setting).

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‘Warhammer Steampunk Air Dwarves’ (probably not their actual name)

The first vessel was obtained from Dark Realms via their Patreon campaign and was made available to patrons during October last year.  This was printed almost exclusively on the FDM printer with some of the smaller parts being done in resin.

The print time on this was long, probably 80 plus hours in total.  The model went together OK once printed.  I was a bit over aggressive on some of my support settings and there was a bit of warping on some bottom layers leading to some slight deformities in detail (note the top of the doors).  That said, as a gaming model I am pretty pleased with how this came out.

I didn’t spend too much time cleaning the model up (I’d probably invest some more time on sanding and smoothing out the layer lines if I did this again).  However I did use a heat gun to remove some of the wispier bits of plastic filament that are often left over after a print.

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In addition to the blimp connector, the rudder and wheel (not shown) were also resin printed.

The blimp and ship parts of the model were assembled seperately and undercoated in black primer.

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For the blimp a simple block colour paint job was applied.  The body of the ship was painted primarily with diffferent brown shades from the Citadel contrast range.  This worked really well on the wood grain panels that make up most of this part of the model.

It was a case of painting on some Army Painter Quickshade Dark Tone.  I went very heavy with this, partly to give it a really dirty ‘steampunk’ luck and partly to smooth out some of the surfaces.

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When using Quickshade this bit is always messy, you have to wait until the subsequent stages to see the benefits.

Once dry (after 24 hours) this was tidied up, specifically successivly lighter shades of grey were applied to the canvas parts of the blimp and the metal work was rehighlighted and some rust effects applied.

I applied a mix of decals (I have gone for an Imperial German / Great War style), and then painted up the port holes using a white base over which I applied a blue contrast paint.

The base was supplied as a file with the rest of the model, so this was printed and then painted and adorned in such a way as to try and hide it as much as possible to give the illusion of flight.

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Blimp, ship body and base were all then put together.  Despite a desire to try and magnetise the blimp connector to the deck this wasn’t possible due to the weight of the components.  Therefore a bit of drilling and pinning was done to hold the whole thing in place.

I’m really pleased with the finished result, despite the fact that it has been pointed out to me that the design shares some similarities with the ‘Pinky Ponk’ of In the Night Garden fame.

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Possible inspiration?

I mentioned at the begining of this article that I was working on a second airship model.  This one is from Titan Forge Miniatures and I will cover this in a separate blog.

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The Titan Forge airship, work in progress.

I’ve also been alerted to the fact that there is a Kickstarter launching soon for 3D print designs for fantasy airships called Skies of Sordane and this is certainly something I may just get involved in….

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Cobra Commander Heroclix conversion

As is often the case this little hobby activity was in no way planned.  Having bought a few cheap Heroclix figures from eBay in order to try out a new set of rules, I found the following in the booster packs I was opening….

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The original model (minus base)

Now I am not a massive Marvel or superhero comics chap, but I do know that this is Magneto, nemesis of the X-Men.  However my immediate thought was, with a bit of work that could easily be Cobra Commander seated in his throne room.

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Cobra Commander – arch enemy of GI Joe (or Action Force, if like me you grew up in the UK)

So, first up basing.  This looked to be a flying model so rather than being directly attached to the usual Heroclix chunky base, all I had to remove and replace was the clear plastic around the bottom of the model.

In my bits box I knew I had a hooded Cobra Commander head (sourced from a limited run of private commission GI Joe miniatures).  So one quick snip and a touch of superglue later and the king snake himself was pretty much done (at least in terms of modelling).

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Ready for painting.

Now the only problem I had with making this a convincing conversation was the facts that the original bare headed figure has his hand placed on a helmet.  As it happens the choice of going with the ‘hooded’ version of Cobra Commander proved fortuitous.  With a bit of filler I could convert the helmet in hand into his alternate head wear.  In fact even better I could go with the ‘Action Force’ version of the Commander and model the helmet as his previous ‘Baron Ironblood’ persona.

(For those readers not familiar with the British Action Force mythology, Cobra was born out of the ashes of the Red Shadows organisation, with Cobra Commander previously being the head of that organisation, the fearsome Baron Ironblood.  You can read more about my Action Force project and Baron Ironblood in my past blog posts.)

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Baron Ironblood is reborn as Cobra Commander (from the pages of Battle Action Force comic).

Next step, painting.  I gave the pre-painted figure a covering with a white primer applied with the airbrush.  Then it was down to a combination of Citadel Contrast and ‘traditional paints’ to finish things off.  All in all a quick but effective conversion, which will probably see some action on the tabletop in games of 7TV at some point in the future.

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The Commander will see you now.

What this has reminded me is that while some of the pre-paints on Heroclix models can be a bit ropey, there are often some good sculpts hiding underneath.  Heroclix can be incredibly cheap to pick up and the vast array of characters means that these can be a really good source for conversions (whether you choose to re-paint them or not).

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Have throne – will travel

Thing is this all started off with a desire to do some super hero hobby and gaming.  I still plan on pursuing this (especially in light of the theme of this years Wargames Illustrated 7TV Day).  Well these turned up recently (I ordered them, but has kind of forgotten about them)….new unpainted X-Men Heroclix, including of course a certain Magneto….

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Wizkids ‘Deep Cuts’ unpainted Marvel Heroclix miniatures.

 

Action Force Hovercraft (3D Printed)

The Action Force project continues.  I’ve recently arranged to run a participation game of 7TV at an upcoming show in 2020, and am going to run an Action Force scenario.  This is likely to be an assault on the Baron’s secret base by our brave heroes.

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Footage from a previous episode. Z Force troops led by SAS Force’s Eagle face off against the Black Major (7TV).

I’ve already got ideas around the setup and my recently completed submarine will be making an appearence.  Therefore an amphibious assault on a port seems like a great idea.  As such I need a way to deliver my forces to the combat zone.

Enter the Action Force hovercraft.

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AF Hovercraft data file from the pages of IPC’s Battle Action Force comic

More commonly known as the G.I.Joe Killer W.H.A.L.E this was a toy that was released originally in the third wave of releases by Palitoy in the mid-1980s.  By this stage the range was almost exclusively repackaged G.I.Joe figures and vehicles.  The background (supported by the weekly Battle Action Force comic) had shifted to a combined Action Force team facing off against the forces of Cobra.

Now at the time I loved this change, but in retrospect my heart always lay with the original Baron Ironblood and the Red Shadows setup.  Subsequently this is where the focus of my 28mm scale Action Force wargaming has been.

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Cover art from the amazing Palitoy Collector’s Guide available from BloodfortheBaron.com

However, never one to let ‘canon’ get in the way of a good gaming project I’ve decided to model my hovercraft, rather than as a combined Action Force vehicle, as if it were part of the Q Force armoury.  As a reminder the original Action Force organisation was split into four arms; Z Force (the infantry backbone), SAS Force (special ops), Space Force (does what it says on the tin) and Q Force (the naval team).

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Q Force (like Space Force), never got quite as much love as their land based cousins, so the toy range wasn’t quite as wide in terms of figures or indeed vehicles.  What there was though was great.  The vehicle sets were original and designed by Palitoy (i.e. they were not G.I.Joe repaints).

 

 

Wanting the hovercraft to feel like part of Q Force means looking at an alternative to the quite dull green original scheme.  So we are looking primarily at greys and blues with red and yellow accents.

 

All this talk of colour schemes is very good, but first of course I needed a model.  Enter Thingiverse and the world of 3D printing.  Having located an amazing model I set this going on my 3D printer and a mere 45 hours later I had the following:

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Underneath all that stringing is a rather nice print.  Stringling easily removed with clippers and a heat gun (and since eliminated by some mucking about with settings)

Interestingly this model was originally scaled as per the original toy, which was huge (and always coveted by me as a boy).  In order to scale this for 28mm gaming I reduced the print size by 45%.

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A cleaned up model (sanded and supports removed) prior to undercoat

Clean up was a challenge particularly removing the generated supports on the propellors.  I basically had to break these and manually rebuild them (with the addition of some plasticard and plastic filler).  The plan is to print two more in the future, and I think I will try printing without supports next time and see what happens.

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Patching up the props!  I’ve since worked out some less destructive support settings.

The model was undercoated using a light grey Halfords car primer. I went quite close and thick with this in order to compensate for some of the layer lines that are an artefact of this type of 3D printing.  In combination with a pre-undercoat sanding the finish turned out quite smooth.

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Post clean up and priming

 

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Halfords grey primer is my current ‘go to’ spray can undercoat

So back to the colour scheme and working out a Q Force style livery.  I wanted to keep the main body of the craft a traditional naval style grey so went at this with the airbrush using three successively light coats.  Once this was dry it was time to block out some colours.  It was all brush work from this point on.

The skirt was done using the black Citadel contrast paint, which I think over the grey gives a good ‘rubberised’ look.  In fact I’d go as far as saying the slightly visible layer lines actually helped in achieving this effect.

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Post airbrushing (various Vallejo Colour Air greys) and the still wet Citadel black contrast paint applied to the skirt

Following this I chose various points of interest to block out in a limted colour palette of yellow, blue and red (all Citadel base paints).  To be true to the toys I probably should have continued the block colouring on the weapons and props, but I went for a more ‘realistic’ dark metallic colour for these (Foundry Blackened Barrel C).  The windows were done using the Space Wolves grey Citadel contrast paint.

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Block colours applied

Next up, markings.  Luckily the original stickers for many of the original toys are still available.  A quick visit to Vintage Star Wars Collectibles set me up with a reproduction sticker sheet for the Q Force Swordfish.  I applied these stickers direct to the model and sealed them using a gloss varnish.

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Reproduction Action Force toy stickers.

Finally the model was finished off with a few basic highlights and a matt top coat.  I had considered a final weathering step, however something about the finish with the primary colours and the similarity to the toy range stayed my hand.

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The finished model with stickers applied.

All in all I am pretty pleased with the outcome.  Since I completed this project I have further refined some of my 3D printer settings, which should reduce damage when removing supports and ease the clean up prior to printing should I attempt a similar model in future.

Final touches will be to add some Q Force personel.  I have some Crooked Dice frogmen that will fit the bill well.  In the meantime I have to stick with ferrying the SAS boys around…

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SAS force troopers (Crooked Dice 7TV X-Commandos with head swaps).