Much of my recent hobby activity has been around the modelling and painting of 28mm scale post apocalypse figures and vehicles. This was inspired by my involvement in the beta testing of 7TV Apocalypse which is now coming towards it’s conclusion on Kickstarter.
Currently over three times funded, but with plenty of good stuff still to be unlocked I’d heartily recommend backing this (if not so we can please unlock the Alien Invaders (‘Visitors’).
The campaign is running until 9pm (GMT) on Tuesday 6th November.
I’ve been doing this Action Force in 28mm thing for a few years now. I keep getting distracted, but always get pulled back in. I blogged recently about the ultimate goal of getting a Roboskull to the table, but this reminded me I have a number of part finished other vehicles to add to the motor pool. So with a concerted effort I have gone back and revisited these.
Most of the vehicles I have previously started have been for the ‘Enemy’. I’ve kind of handled this in a couple of different ways – both accurate replicas of the toys/comics and an ‘inspired by’ approach.
The latter has basically involved me finding models and toys (in the right scale) that kind of fit the setting. For Action Force themselves this could be standard military type kit such as land rovers or tanks (concentrating on the eighties period), but for the Red Shadows I’ve thought a bit wider. So this has led to some interesting choices and conversions. Presented below are a couple of the more wild ideas I have completed, including a flying saucer and a ‘Dust 1947’ plane.
I’ve also recently gone down the ‘walker’/’mech’ route as well, utilising a Konflikt 47 resin/metal model kit from Warlord Games. A head swap for the pilot and voila – the Red Spider!
Going further back to the German World War II inspiration for the Enemy, many years ago I picked up a Tamiya 1:48 scale Sdkfz.69. I’ve recently gone back and finished this, with the idea that this could represent the ubiquitous Shadowtrak.
And this brings me back to the other of the two top level options – accurate replicas of the toys in 28mm scale. The obvious route to go down here is 3D printing – more about this later. However there is at least one off the shelf option that is (relatively) widely available.
This is a novelty gift pack / toy by Running Press – the sort of thing you normally see for sale in stands next to checkouts in bookshops alongside Harry Potter wands or small TARDIS or Dalek models. This particular item represents a Cobra HISS tank, better known to Action Force aficionados as the Enemy (and later Cobra) Hyena. The scale is pretty much spot on for 28mm scale.
This is also sometimes available from third party sellers on Amazon, and that is where a few years ago I picked up half a dozen of these bad boys. Out of the box it is coloured black and comes with a set of Cobra stickers to apply as well as an information booklet. It also has sound! Press a button on the turret and you get a slightly cartoony laser gun sound – totally unnecessary, but totally amazing.
I’ve painted these in a slightly different way than usually. As the base model is black, I wanted the main body to be red, but also wanted to leave a lot of the detail untouched (including the clear canopy in case I ever wanted to add a driver); I’ve gone down the Gundam marker route…..
Gundam markers are named for and used almost exclusively in the Gunpla (Gundam kit building) community. They come in various types ranging from large nibbed pens that apply enamel paint on application of pressure to fine tipped markers which are used for panel lining. I’ve found these to be an interesting addition to my hobby toolkit.
For the Hyena I used a thick nibbed paint pen to apply a base coat of red (leaving some of the recesses black where appropriate). Once dry (which takes a while longer for enamels) I drybrushed a light red acrylic over this to apply both a highlight and to dull down the shininess of the enamel base coat. The markings were applied with a thinner nibbed marker.
So, the elephant in the room then? Yes 3D printing. I still covet a printer of my own, but in the meantime and for those like me bereft of the hardware there are still plenty of options. There are a surprising number of 3D models of GI Joe vehicles out there (just search on Shapeways or Thingiverse). I have in the past both ordered a printed model from the former, but more recently have been able to get some files printed out by a friend.
Currently on my workbench are these two beauties – a Red Shadows Laser Exterminator (aka a GI Joe HAL) and an SAS Panther jeep (aka a Cobra Stinger). I’m going to do a detailed prep, build and painting guide on these in a future blog.
Where things are a little lacking in availability of 3D models on line is in those Action Force vehicles that weren’t based on existing GI Joe toys back in the day. What that does mean is that there is in particular a big Shadowtrak and Roboskull shaped hole in the Baron’s armoury.
One of the most unique and recognisable toys from the second wave ‘Baron Ironblood’ era of Action Force was the Roboskull. One of the last vehicles to be released prior to the switch over to repackaged GI Joe figures, this was an amazing piece of kit (and something as a kid I never had, but coveted intensely).
Back in the world of 28mm scale wargaming, I have recently blogged about the expansion of my Space Force ‘cast’ for 7TV. These guys really need something to go up against in games, something outer space based…., something robotic….., something skeletal.
When looking at vehicles for the project so far I have tended to concentrate on converting existing model kits or die-casts, and have dipped my toe a bit into 3D printing as well (more on that in a later post). However getting hold of something to represent what is a very strikingly unique vehicle as the Roboskull was proving challenging. I had thought that this might have to wait until I was able to invest some money and time into getting into the 3D printing hobby myself, or trawling through Thingiverse for someone who might have had a similar idea. Then I thought back to a Heroclix model I remember stocking when I ran a games shop. A quick ‘popular auction site’ search and behold a few days later in the post….
This is a Heroclix ‘Brainiac Skull Ship’ and it’s going to need a fair bit of work to get it into shape. The basis for a Roboskull is there though and it’s going to be an interesting ride. Plasticard, hobby saw and bits box at the ready!
(For more info on the Roboskull check out the excellent Blood for the Baron website, and also the video below which is a great documentary by Analog Toys on the production of the memorable original.)
Many years before Space Force was a real actual thing (maybe), they were the eyes and ears of Action Force monitoring the skies and protecting the Earth from afar from the evil machinations of Ironblood.
Along with Q Force (the underwater team), I think it is fair to say that they were not quite as popular as their ground based infantry comrades in Z Force and the SAS. Part of it was down to the more limited range of toys available and the fact that they didn’t feature as much as other teams in the comic strips.
In fact the overt sci-fi stylings of Space Force did seem to clash a bit with the modern militaristic feel of the rest of the range. It was not actually towards the end of this era of Action Force toys that the Red Shadows had anything ‘space-related’ to field against them, with the awesome Roboskull.
A couple of years ago I picked up the excellent ‘not Space Force’ miniatures from the Woodbine Design Company (part of Gripping Beast) and as part of this very long running project have just started to think about vehicles and transport for them.
Rather than go down the ‘spaceship’ route I’ve tried to mix the militaristic with near future sci-fi and have started to paint up a vintage IMAI model kit of the Shado Mobile from Gerry Anderson’s UFO.
Initially undercoated using an Army Painter Wolf Grey spray can. I have so far gone through and added some additional darker blue to match the general livery of Space Force vehicles from the toy range; as well as blocking out colour on the tracks and wheels.
The ‘Action Force’ logo sticker is from a reproduction set scaled for the toys. Next step will be adding some Space Force logos (which I will freehand) and some weathering. My target game system for this is of course 7TV!
I recently received my pledge rewards from the Empire of Men Kickstarter campaign by Archon Studio. The campaign was to fund production of a range of resin miniatures and vehicles, that although rules agnostic were clearly aimed at players of ‘grim dark’ games of the far future.
I was particularly attracted to this for the Weird World War look of some of the figures and vehicles. The background fluff for the setting is based around a Great War that never ended, and many of the vehicles on offer have a distinctly German feel to them.
Without a particular game system in mind and due to limited funds I went for a small selection of troops and a few vehicles; figuring that I would enjoy the modelling and also falling back on my usual approach of ‘it’ll probably work for 7TV‘ (a ‘Moon Reich’ perhaps?)
So what did I get? In addition to a handful of ‘stormtrooper’ troops I picked up the follow:
Reaper – a Horton style flying wing aircraft
Stalhratte Mk.1 – a super heavy tank that seems to draw it’s influences from the prototype World War II German Maus
Wolverine – a transport / medium tank option (probably the most 40k like of the lot)
First impressions on receiving delivery was that the casts were quite clean (particularly on the figures). The grey resin is lightweight and looked easy to work with. It looks and feels more like plastic, is soft (but not too soft) and not at all brittle.
The part count for the vehicles is quite low, meaning in particular for the Stahlratte there are some quite chunky pieces of resin. Once unboxed and gave the parts a good wash in hot soapy water to remove casting residue and make then easier to assemble.
Vehicle parts washed
Two Stormtrooper squads ready for assembly
So, I really couldn’t resist assembling the big fella first. All the parts seemed to come with peg joints and inserts, so theoretically it should be possible to do a dry fit before assembly. After an initial clean up primarily around the joints and edges to remove casting vents I attempted to ‘clip’ the Stahlratte together. It immediately became apparent that some of the parts were warped to some degree, so of course (as always when working with resin) having to boiling water to hand to soften and reshape was a must. Many of the issues were with the small peg joints so I found imersing these in water to make more malleable and ‘clipping’ together while still soft was the way to go. At this point I also decided to glue pieces in place as I got a good fit (using superglue and activator).
At this point things were beginning to take shape, but it was becoming apparent that a LOT of work would be needed to fill the gaps.
A generous application of green stuff and voila an almost completed Stahlratte Mk.1
Smoothing the turrent join
Filling a hole
Even more Greenstuff!
All that remained was tho straighten up some of the gun barrels and attached to the turret. I’ve decided to keep the turret and hull seperate for painting, so the pictures show one just delicately balanced on the other for the time being.
Hull and turret assembly
All in all I really enjoyed putting this together. It was more work than I originally expected when opening the box, but I think that is to be expected when working with resin (especially considering the budget price point). If anything I found the gap filling quite cathartic!
I’ve build up a fairly sizeable collection of 1/43 to 1/48 scale diecast toy cars to mod up. Using various bits and pieces including some very useful Tamiya plastic sand bags and some really old Gorkamorka sprues alongside the new range of resin bits from Crooked Dice.
The vehicles were sourced mainly from discount stores (Poundworld Plus, The Works etc.), but also from China via Ali-Express.
The first one on the production line is intended for my cast/warband of PA militia. The base toy here is a Teamsterz Mobile Police HQ truck (approx. 1/43 scale).
Relatively simple conversion, although I had to remove the ventilation fans and hatchway (now added to the bits box) from the roof before adding some resin stowage bits from Crooked Dice. The turrent and gunner are also from the new 7TV Apocalypse range by CD.
Post Apocalypse (PA) is all the rage nowadays. However the overarching theme and context no longer tends to be the aftermath of global conflict or nuclear armageddon, but the encroachment of the walking dead or the dystopian future nightmares of settings first originated by the likes of Orwell and entrenched in popular culture by the likes of The Handmaids Tale.
This kind of speculative fiction tends to be reflective of current social and geo-political conditions. From a tabletop gaming perspective while many of these themes and settings are future based, you can easily identify the time period in which they originated and were written. However trends have a way of coming back.
Recently we have seen an upturn in the emergence of the traditional post-nuclear PA settings, particularly that wasteland populated by road warriors and freeway fighters inspired by a certain style of movies from the early eighties and starting of course with Mad Max. Part of this can be explained by the cycle of nostalgia that appears to work on 30 year intervals. Recent games and rulesets like Gaslands, Devils Run Route 666 and the upcoming 7TV Apocalypse capture this feel. If you want to roll back to the steps leading up to armageddon there is a renewed interest in Cold War Gone Hot and World War III with the likes of Team Yankee and the upcoming Battlegroup NORTHAG.
My current favourite set of rules are 7TV by Crooked Dice Game Design Studio. A great and most importantly fun game that effectively allows your to recreate TV shows (and films) on your tabletop with tongue usually firmly in cheek. In fact the game is effectively a game about making a TV series. You dont have armies or warbands, you put together a cast containing stars, co-stars and extras. You spend ‘plot points’ to take actions, the card driven event mechanic allows things such as continuity mistakes, special effects mistakes and issues with difficult stars to affect gameplay. Now in its second edition the game is primarily focussed on the spy-fy genre (think Bond, Gerry Anderson, the ITC action series of the 60s), is figure agnostic but is supported by a great range of 28mm scale miniatures available directly from Crooked Dice.
7TV is branching out soon into the Post Apocalypse, with a standalone game that takes the core mechanics of second edition and tweaks the flavour and setting. Most notably the existing vehicle rules have been expanded to accomodate those Road Warrior type scenarios. The full game is due to hit Kickstarter this Autumn, but I had the opportunity back in July to attend a play test / campaign day to try out these rules.
One of the coolest things about this sort of thing from a hobbyists point of view is the creativity that it allows for things like conversions and sourcing figures. For the play test day I had to put together a cast and include a suitably post-apocalypsed up vehicle. I went for a ‘big rig’ approach and with a nod to 7TVs cult tv background a cast based around Garth Knight and his Goliath truck from Knightrider (imaging after the fall of society Garthe would be a magnet for scavengers and marauders).
Since then I’ve been bitten hard by the bug and have spent more time sourcing vehicles, bits, conversion parts and miniatures. This blog series will cover this project in detail as I prepare, strap on my survivalist gear, rev up the V8, scavenge the gasoline and face the white line nightmare of the wastelands.