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….
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.
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).
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.)
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.
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).
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….
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.
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.
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.
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).
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:
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%.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…