More minions for the evil Baron Ironblood! The Red Shadows were an iconic bad guy for me, almost up there with Star Wars Imperial Stormtroopers (and about as accurate in their shooting).
One thing they didn’t have however was much variation. While Action Force has specialist teams for undersea (Q Force) and off planet (Space Force), the Baron could not really match this in terms of his rank and file troops, at least as the toys were concerned. As an aside, the Battle Action Force comic occasionally showed some interesting variations on the standard enemy troops such as frogmen and astronauts, but actual action figures were sadly lacking.
So while I continue my quest to model and game Action Force and the Red Shadows in 28mm scale I’ve set about trying to redress this balance.
First up we have some ‘hostile environment’ or maybe special forces troopers. These are the rather excellent Wargames Atlantic Raumjager miniatures given a suitably red uniform. I imagine these guys would maybe be Ironblood’s special shock troops for fighting in hazardous or even alien environments.
To lead this squad I did a bit of kitbashing using a plastic body of a Bauhaus officer from the original Mutant Chronicles Warzone boxed game from the late 90s. I swapped the head out for one from my bits box that originated in the old Wargames Factory Greatcoat Troopers set.
Next up we have a Red Shadows space engineer. This miniature is from Gripping Beast and is itself inspired by the original Space Force Engineer figure. In my mind the Enemy wouldn’t be shy about stealing and repurposing Action Force technology and kit, and this guy represents that albeit with a suitably updated paint scheme.
Last but not least we have another variation on the Muton – the death robots of the Baron! These miniatures are ‘Harvesters’ and are a multi-part plastic kit found in one of the expansion from the Shadows of Brimstone board game. They have that ‘deep sea diver gone wrong’ look that really chimes with the aesthetic of the original action figure.
Now if I could only find a suitable miniature for this guy…
Although most of my Action Force in 28mm scale project is based around the Red Shadows as the primary protagonists, I do occasionally dip into the world of their successors, Cobra.
I’ve recently been kitbashing some Cobra infantry using various bits and pieces from my sprue mountain. The bodies and legs for these guys have all come from Warlord Games World War II US Infantry. The arms are are mixture of the same US infantry and the old Wargames Factory apocalypse survivors and biker sprues. These are also where most of the weapons were sourced from.
The heads are all I have left from a set of specially produced GI Joe bits – two in the style of Cobra Troopers, the remaining two representing Cobra Vipers. The backpacks are from the same source.
These are very much ‘inspired by’ conversions rather than an attempt to accurately model the old toys or cartoon and comics characters.
Transport for these foot troopers is a 1:48 scale Tamiya model of a modern Japanese Defence Force Light Armoured Vehicle.
I built this a couple of years ago and it has been waiting on the painting table for quite some time. The transfers are in fact stickers from a small GI Joe toy.
The paint job on this was a basic blue block colour (applied by spray can) with detail added using an Army Painter wash. The kit as built was unmodified (although I didn’t bother with the interior detail – there is an upainted driver in there though!)
I set about printing this with the idea of using it as a centrepiece for 28mm scale gaming (more specifically 7TV). By doing some back of the envelope calculations I worked out that I would need to scale the files up in order to meet my favoured 1/48 vehicle scale for gaming.
So then the printing began……and it took a very long time indeed.
Back in March I was keeping a log of how much time the individual print jobs were taking. I soon gave up adding this up, but lets say we are talking about well over 100 hours worth of printing at least.
As per usual for scenery and vehicles I printed this using my FDM printer, a CR-10S by Creality. I originally chose this printer for the larger than standard print bed size and this was very useful when printing out this model.
The print quality (and tolerances) I am getting at the moment are really good, which helped significantly with this model as it did require quite a bit of fitting and assembly. The one weak point was the landing gear which have snapped numerous times and have been continually super glued back together.
At this point I started to think about painting and colour schemes. Rather than paint up in the traditional TV series colours I decided to merge this with one of my other ongoing projects – Action Force in 28mm scale. At this point I need to take a slight diversion, promoted by this project I have recently got into collecting the original toy line of 3.75″ (1/18) scale action figures and vehicle sets. One of the vehicles I have recently aquired is the Space Force Cosmic Cruiser. It is this that I decided to base the Eagle paint scheme on.
Due to the current long summer hours and (occasional) decent days of British summer weather I switched my airbrushing to outside. This has been aided by the aquisition of a new mini-compressor. The completed model after getting an all over undercoat of black from a spray can was ready for airbrushing.
The main body and cockpit were given coats of progressively slightly lighter coats of grey.
The four ‘legs’ of the craft were then completed using the same technique with blue.
Finally the engines were also airbrushed using a base gun metal followed by a silver highlight. All paints were from the Vallejo Game Air or Model Air ranges.
I switched back to traditional brushwork for the orange of the frame. This was mainly because I would have struggled to effectively mask the model for airbrushing on top of the work I had already done.
I went to my stash of decals and transfers to add some detail (including some small reporduction Action Force logo toy vehicle stickers). The one thing I wasn’t able to source was the Space Force specific logo. While in the past for miniatures I have hand painted this I wasn’t confident I’d be able to do a good job of this freehand at this scale. I may subsequently add something to the nose cone of the ship if I can figure out printing on decal paper on my Inkjet printer.
The final stage was weathering, and as per usual I feel I may have gone a little overboard here. I used a mix of Plastic Soldier Company and Modelmates weathering spray cans for this, plus a sponge chipping technique using a dark brown paint. I do think the engines came out looking pretty good.
All in all I am really please with the result and I look forward at some point in the future (when face-to-face gaming can resume in earnest) using this in a game of 7TV. Perhaps as part of a Space Force versus The Argonauts game (the latter of which I am eagerly awaiting delivery from the most recent Crooked Dice Game Design Studio Kickstarter).
In the meantime here is a selection of images showing a Space Force Eagle Transporter being prepared for a mission by Action Force personel. All figures are from Gripping Beast and are heavily inspired by the original action figure line.
All of these figures were designed using the Hero Forge tools and then purchased as STL files and printed in resin on my AnyCubic Photon 3D printer.
First up we have the villainous Doctor Mindbender. Not a character I remember much about from my childhood. He was never part of the ‘Battle Action Force era’ Cobra team and to be honest I cannot remember him from the Marvel UK title or subsequent toy ranges either.
However, having been catching up with GI Joe in comics over the last few years I felt that his distinctive look would be a good fit with my tabletop forces.
Next it is the iconic Baroness. I’ve previously painted up and used a miniature from Hasslefree to represent her, but wanted something a bit closer to the source material.
The Baroness was painted mainly with Citadel Contrast paints with the (very basic) Cobra logo freehanded.
Finally (although not yet painted up) we have Copperhead, the Cobra Water Moccasin pilot.
This started off as something else, an oft stated phrase that applies to most of my hobby projects. In this case I was looking for 3D models from the ‘so bad it’s good’ 1982 cinematic masterpiece Megaforce.
I’m going to be covering Megaforce in it’s own project at some point soon, but having purchased and printed some excellent versions of the buggies from the movie I once more got distracted.
So here we have some more additions to the 28mm scale Action Force motor pool. This time it’s SAS Force getting some new wheels.
The buggies in the Megaforce film had a nightime adaptive camoflage and this idea of a fast stealth single man attack vehicle kind of fits in with the SAS aesthetic.
The 3D print files were scaled down from their original 1/24 scale to 1/48 (my chosen vehicle scale for 28mm gaming). After an unsuccessful test print on my FDM printer (too many tiny parts), I switched to the DLP resin printer and mangaged to get two done in a single print.
Painting was a simple black undercoat followed by a grey drybrush, concentrating on edge highlights.
Details were picked out in yellow to match the colour scheme of the classic toy line. Weapons and windscreen were painted silver (with the later getting a blue wash). Reproduction stickers were from Vintage Star Wars Collectibles.
My plan from a gaming perspective is to use these in 7TV, with the vehicle rules from the 7TV Apocalypse box set.
Painted primarily in contrast paints, I’m still trying to think of a suitable moniker for her. Red Fury perhaps?
Next we have a miniature I have painted quite recently in the past, but which once I’d completed I knew I would have to re-do as one of the Baron’s fanatics. This guy is from the Prince August Future Shocks line of vintage post-apocalyptic models. Getting on for 40 years old, these sculpts are lovely and benefit from being 32mm scale (which of course dating from the 80s means they match up well with modern 28s).
Again I used contrast paints for the block colours, but then highlighted up using more traditional methods. I’ve gone for an Asian skin tone here using Citadel Darkoath Flesh contrast over a white undercoat. I’m quite pleased with how it has turned out.
Finally we are onto a 3D print. This is the ‘Enemy Escape Armour’ (more familiar to GI Joe fans as the Cobra Snake Armour). A 3D print design by ‘Jabberwock’ on Thingiverse (based on the original toy), this was scaled to 45% and printed in resin on my Anycubic Photon.
I’ve recently been on a roll with the 3D printing and have got a setup I am really happy with now for both FDM and resin.
On the FDM side (using my Creality CR-10S) I have been concentrating on vehicles and scenery. This has given me the opportunity to go back and visit models I previously tried to print with limited success.
One such example is the excellent SHADO mobile by AlPokemon that is available free to download on Thingiverse. I had previously tried to print this before I had got my settings ‘fully dialed in’. Armed with a new found (if not slightly tentative) confidence I loaded up the printer bed and set to work on not one, but three of these iconic vehicles.
At the same time I have been going back to my ‘Action Force and the Red Shadows in 28mm scale‘ project. Having done something similar before (albeit with a commercial model kit) I decided it was time for the Action Force teams to buy up some of that surplus SHADO inventory and kit themselves out with some mobile support.
I printed two variants this time, one the standard SHADO mobile, but the other with a ‘turret’ option. The STL files contained options for a gun turret and a couple of different communiations arrays. In order to provide some flexibility for gaming I decided to magnetise these turrets and their attachments.
In the end I went with a tiny magnet and a 5p piece, which just perfectly fit the recess in the model.
It’s probably important to note at this point that I made no scaling changes to the file prior to printing, and the models I would say at a rough guess are approximately 1:48 scale (more than good enough for 29mm gaming).
Top tip if using coinage with magnets – check them first. Apparently not all 5p coins are magnetic (who knew?).
For the Z Force Mobile (which I envision as a HQ vehicle or forward observer) I went with the traditional green and black camo. The airbrush was used for this with Vallejo Russian Green as the base over a black undercoat.
Camo was black with grey highlights and details were picked out in red and yellow as a nod to the original toy line.
Decals and stickers were primarily reproduction Action Force toy stickers from Vintage Star Wars Collectibles. However I also added some waterslide decals from my stash. In both cases I applied a coat of Humbrol gloss varnish to the area prior to application.
For sticker application I did not wait for the varnish to dry; this enabled me to reposition these with relative ease. Once dry I then re-applied gloss varnish as a top coat to seal both the stickers and decals.
Finally some highlights were picked out in yellow and red and some weathering was applied (more on which later).
The end result, ready to take on the Baron!
On to the Q Force variant. Unlike the Z Force mobile I went for one of the turreted versions. Many of the Q Force toys had a strong yellow, blue and red livery and I decided to try and, if not replicate, at least give a nod to this.
Unlike the previous version, the majority of this model was painted from spray cans, rather than using the airbrush. Undercoat for this one was Citadel Wraith Bone (which is a kind of off white) applied from a can.
Basecoat was a dark yellow using again a spray can, this time Averland Sunset.
Highlights were achieved with a lighter yellow Humbrol spray.
Interestingly this is a gloss paint, but I was trusting to the final coat of Dullcote to sort this out.
Highlights were picked out in blue, with an orange tint for the windscreens. Next up was weathering, which as per usual I went unintentionally a little overboard with. Chipping on both this and the previous model was achieved using a sponging technique. A weathering spray (from Plastic Soldier) was further added for a really grimy look.
On the assumption that the Q Force vehicle would spent a lot of time by the sea I also added in some streaking using a Modelmates rust effect.
For both models, tracks were simply painted dark grey, dry brushed with a ‘plate mail’ silver and then weathered down with Army Painter Dark Tone wash.
So you may have noticed from the photos that I printed three models and have only mentioned the two so far. Well the final one isn’t going to the Action Force motor pool, it’s destined for another fighting force, a Megaforce if you will….
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…
As I continue to prepare my 7TV secret base board I’ve been thinking about the sort of rooms and components that make up a good lair.
One thing that evil geniuses such as Baron Ironblood are always keen on is some form of twisted scientific research. Part of the lore of the Red Shadows organisation both in the toy line and the accompanying comic strips in Battle Action Force was the idea of the Kraken.
The Kraken in toy form was originally only available via a special offer leaflet in some Action Force vehicle boxes. In the story line this was a bit more of a science fiction diversion for what primarily up to this point was a more hard military tale. Discovered in stasis beneath the artic ice the Kraken was then engineered by the Baron and his servants into servant of the Enemy, armed with ‘trident gun’ and net (and then cloned many times over).
I’m yet to model a Kraken for inclusion in my cast (an official stat card exists for the creature in the 7TV 1969 Annual), but undoubtedly this will happen at some point. However in the meantime and considering my focus on pulling a secret base layout together I’ve gone back to the early stages of the Baron’s experiments.
I’ve been waiting for a while to do anything with them so have decided to paint them up as features for a laboratory in the base.
The kit is all metal apart from the clear plastic tubing. A quick paint job on the metallic parts using some washes and Citadel Ryza Rust gave me the kind of murky grimy evil lab setting I was after. For the ‘specimens’ it was another excuse to use some Citadel Constrast paints. Guilleman Flesh over a white undercoat is one of the best results I have come across yet for this new range and it works particularly well for these gribbly creatures. I also used some ‘Nurgle’s Rot’ to add a bit of slime to the bases.
One mistake I made was the overuse of super glue to fix the clear plastic tubes to the metal ends resulting in a bit of frosting. In the end though I think this kind of adds to the effect.
The accompanying white coated scientist becomes a red coated scientest and voila I have some set dressing for the lab. I can also use the scientist in my 7TV cast as an extra, so bonus.
I’ll be adding a few more bits and pieces to the lab (including of course some walls and doors) and a thinking about a command centre.
One idea is to add some of the plant based post-apocalyptic miniatures from 7TV to the mix. Can’t help but think that the Baron would certainly be in the market for a few Triffids.