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…