7TV Apocalypse Vehicles – Interceptor and The Compact Pussycat

More work on the post-apocalyptic motor pool as I prepare for my first full game of 7TV Apocalypse.

Never one to start one new project, when I could do two in parallel, I’ve embarked on building the Crooked Dice V8 Interceptor resin kit and also a conversion of a die cast toy.  The latter is going to be the wheels for my PA ‘Penelope Pitstop’ figure which along with the Interceptor I picked up as part of the recent Kickstarter.

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The (second to) last of the V8 Interceptors

So first off the Interceptor kit.  I originally got hold of one of these when they were released last year and made sure I included another in my Kickstarter pledge.  This is a really nice, crisply cast resin model with loads of accessories.  Taking it’s inspiration from the Mad Max films, the extra bits and pieces allow it to be built in a number of configurations.

I had previously built and painted this as a ‘Main Force Patrol’ police pursuit car from the original Mad Max.  Looking back I wasn’t too keen on paint job I’d done, so the chance to built another one and make a better fist of it wasn’t to be passed up.

I’ve decided to go with a much more wastelands ‘last of the V8s’ look for this one, with the addition of the massive rear shield (which puts me in mind of the Death Race remakes of recent years).

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All the bits for the build (leaving plenty left over)

Following a soak in warm soapy water and using pound shop superglue the pieces went together really well (with minimal clean up required).  I was also left with plenty of accessories left over to use on other kits and conversions.

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Flipping the chassis over to attach the exhausts shows just what an amazingly clean cast the kit is
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Exhausts attached
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Bonnet and air intake / super charger (I think, I’m not really a car person)!
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Wheels attached – I’d attached one of the exhausts too far down the chassis, so one of the rear wheels needed some ‘persuasion’ to put into place
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Ready to attach the bonnet – the engine enclose contains sculpted detail in case you wanted to leave it open (just one of the nice touches on this kit)
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Finished kit ready for painting (bumper and rear shield in place)
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That rear shield should afford some protection out on the roads!

The Compact Pussycat (with claws)

Despite having a huge pile of figures to paint up from the Kickstarter all of which are excellent, there are a couple that stuck out that I really wanted to get to the top of the queue. One of these was the aforementioned Penny.  Now of course, Penny needs a ride for the ‘wacky wasteland races’, so off the the big pile of unused Teamsterz cars it was then.

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Teamsterz Street Machine (approximately 1/43 scale) with conversion bits from Crooked Dice

Using some of the left over Interceptor bits and bits from the stowage set I’ve come up with my own interpretation of the ‘Compact Pussycat’ (only this time with guns)!

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The guns were left over from the Interceptor kit.  Glued together as a twin linked set.
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The pimped up ride, ready for paint
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Bull bars adding a bit of grunt!
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Stowage bits from Crooked Dice

Paint job has yet to be finalised, and as I have now got the full boxed set of rules through for 7TV Apocalypse I shall also be shortly stating up this motor.

You can purchase the Interceptor kit directly from Crooked Dice, where you will also find the stowage sets and loads of other PA goodies for the tabletop.

You can find Teamsterz (sometimes called Roadsterz) in various discount stores and toy shops up and down the UK.

More soon…..

7TV Apocalypse Vehicles – Tamiya conversion

Having recently taken delivery of both the rules and a huge set of miniatures from the 7TV Apocalypse Kickstarter I decided I should probably finish off some of my incomplete PA projects before diving into any new stuff.

Back at the Wargames Illustrated 7TV day last summer I came away with a 1/48 scale Tamiya kit from the prize pool.  This was a World War II SS-100 aircraft tractor, but I immediately saw the opportunity for some conversion work to make this suitable for the wastelands.

Tamiya SS-100

The build of the basic kit was fairly straightforward and I cut some corners in terms of the detail (for example leaving out the interior and some of the smaller body work bits) to make it both more suitable for conversion and more sturdy as a gaming piece.

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Using some of the conversion parts made available by Crooked Dice and a few bits and pieces from the spares box (including some 1:1 scale car body mesh) I gave it a suitably shabby and cobbled together PA look.

I completed the build last year and it has sat on my hobby work bench ever since.  Inspired by the arrival of lots of lovely figures from the Kickstarter I was spurred on to finish painting and weathering it.

Basecoat was a from a spray can (Plastic Soldier Company Olive Drab) with a few suitably muted block colours used for stowage.  The exception being the fuel tanks on both the original kit and the conversion parts which I picked out in red.

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Weathering was completed using a thinned down wash of Army Painter Strong Tone wash and chipping was done using a dark brown using the sponge technique (a cross between dry brushing and stippling using a piece of foam).  The gunner was picked out in blacks and greys – the gas mask giving him an almost SAS look.

All in all I’m pretty please with the overall result.  It was quite a quick, but I think effective paint job.  I’m also thinking that this vehicle would go really well with the ‘Mutant Hill Mob’ cast, so I think they are going to move close to the top of my 7TV Apocalypse to-do list.

7TV Mutant Hill Mob

Robogear – the ultimate bits box

A few years ago while hoovering up random bits and pieces on eBay to resell via my old online store I happened across a starter box for a tabletop miniatures game called Robogear.

This was a science fiction game with plastic miniatures and vehicles,  released in the UK by Airfix in the noughties.  As an aside, I’ve since found out that the background to the game is slightly more complicated than simply an attempt by an (at the time) ailing scale model company to grab a piece of Games Workshop’s 40k market.  More on that in a bit.

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Airfix version of the Starter Set

The starter set I got hold of contained a lot of half built models and in the end I sold it off for not much more than I bought it for.  Not a hugely interesting story so far I’m sure you’ll agree.

However over the past few years as my gaming and hobby has become (slightly) more focused I got to thinking about how much potential there was in the Robogear starter box for a couple of the projects I have on the go.  In particular the set contained some interesting plastic terrain (in the form of platforms and gantries), that would not only do for Kill Team, but also would slot quite nicely into some of the post-apocalypse scenery I have been building for 7TV.  Similarly the vehicles could be cannibalised for bits for wasteland vehicles, but more specifically many had a 40k Imperial Guard feel to them.

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Stat card for one of the Starter Set models

So back to ‘the online auction site’ it was.  After a bit of searching around I managed to pick up two nearly completed starter boxes for only a tenner (albeit with the terrain bits missing), as well as complete unopened box for not that much more.

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Two for a tenner – bargain!

First thing to say is that the infantry figures are really not very good.  They are pretty large (maybe 1/48 to 1/35 scale) and very basic.  They are multi-part but are built with articulation that really puts them in the category I feel of a mini action figure rather than a wargames miniature.  Some of the hand weapons may get reused, but I suspect these will find themselves either in the back of a drawer or re-sold at some point soon.

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The not great figures

The vehicles on the other hand have a lot of potential.  Stylistically they are a bit ‘confused’.  There are elements of hard science fiction here, but also a touch of the grim dark too, as well as a bit of Battletech.  Various vehicles are included and these can be built in a number of ways – either with tank tracks, mech-style legs (think Astra Millitarum Sentinel) or insectoid (think Zoids!).

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Example of some of the part built vehicles (28mm figure for scale)

The weapons are of variable styling and quality and it has to say, again, that some of these look quite toy like.  There is a reason for this however, in the rules for the Robogear game you can either play with ‘virtual combat’ (i.e. rolling dice), or physical combat (yes the weapons actually fire mini missiles in some cases)!  All of this however could be worked out by swapping out bits and pieces from other spare parts in the bits box.  There are also a couple of ‘flyers’ in the box, again these have potential, but maybe not as much as the ground vehicles.

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Example of a complete frame

As I mentioned, only one of the three boxes I acquired contained the scenery components.  Now these do look useful.  Designed to be reconfigurable, they are provided with a ‘clip’ system to hold everything together (but not necessarily permanently).  Looking into the current availability of these terrain kits I discovered more about the background of Robogear itself.  It turns out that Airfix bought the rights in for the system from a Russian company called Tehnolog (similarly in the US the same game and kits were released and marketed by both IMEX and Pegasus Hobbies).

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Hexagon / Platformer Terrain from the Starter Set

 

A further search on eBay and I found a trader in Russia selling brand new Robogear kits for a bargain price of about $8 a kit.  I’ve ordered a few of this, with my eyes on the flyers as Imperial Guard air support and the buggy to be added to the wastelands of my post-apocalypse gaming.

 

Furthermore I also happened at the same time across this beauty of a kit from the same stable.  A modular chemical plant kit that snaps together and will be another fine addition to my stock of terrain pieces for multiple games.  Like a lot of the Tehnolog kits this appears to have been released by another firm for the Western market (in this case Pocketbond).

All in all I can see a huge amount of potential with all these purchases for conversions and kit bashing and can see them working across loads of my existing projects (and maybe spawning a few new ones).

First on the list, a proxy for an Imperial Guard Sentinel and we’ll then see where things go from there….

 

 

 

Warhammer 40k Imperial Guard – The Sons of Skaro

Or should I say Astra Militarum?

I recently posted about my return to Warhammer 40k after a couple of decades off.  My faction of choice for both 40k and the smaller scale Kill Team are the Imperial Guard.  There is something appealing to me about the freedom that fielding a Guard army gives in terms of background and modelling (especially if you look beyond the official line of Games Workshop / Citadel Miniatures).  I also really like tanks!

As per usual I’ve got more than one related project on the go at once.  On the back burner are my ‘Empire of Men not Death Korps of Krieg’ troops.  I started off thinking I’d use this in a Weird World War game (and painted the armour accordingly); however since the Kill Team bug has bitten I think I’ll be diverting them to the front line of the Grim Dark.

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Male Stormtroopers by Archon Studio – totally not Death Korps of Krieg
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My Empire of Men Stahlratte – not quite the right livery for 40k!

In the meantime however I’ve been continuing to expand my basic guard force from a Kill Team to a full 40k army.  Having concentrated on tanks initially I’ve recently gone back and continued to flesh out the grunts.  Primarily using the standard Cadian models with some head swaps from the Tempestus Scions kit to distinguish my veterans.  I have stuck with the colour scheme that harks back to the original Rogue Trader plastic set.

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I’ve also started to think about the background for my regiment.  So these guys originate from the planet Skaro.  In ancient times the home of a mythical race of metallic war like creatures….

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Over the millenia mutations have come full circle and the inhabitants of this once irradiated world have come full circle and back into the light of humanity!

This has got me thinking though – Chaos Daleks……

The Survivalist Returns (in 28mm scale)!

A few months ago I waxed lyrical about some inspiration for post-apocalypse gaming and in particular the Survivalist novels of the 1980s by Jerry Ahern.  As fulfilment of the Crooked Dice 7TV Apocalypse Kickstarter gets closer I’ve decided to revisit this irradiated world where men were men, women were women, guns were cool (and overly described repeatedly in the prose) and the red menace was real.

 

As a reminder this pulpy post-apocalyptic novel series racked up over 20 titles telling tales of the titular Survivalist, John Rourke and his adventures following the nuclear devastation of World War III and a subsequent Russian occupation.  In case you had forgot our hero had the following traits:

  • Ex-CIA operative
  • Weapons expert
  • Survival and wilderness expert
  • Medical doctor
  • Super-sensitive eyesight (so has to wear mirrored shades ALL the time)
  • Motorbike rider (almost exclusively always a Harley Davidson)
  • Smoker (because it was respectable in the 80s)
  • Fluent in multiple languages
  • Irresistible to women
  • His middle name is Thomas (yes really)

This guy is crying out for the tabletop!

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So two things to do.  Find a figure to represent this alpha male in 28mm scale, and stat him up for 7TV.

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Wargames Factory Male Apocalypse Survivors were repackaged by Warlord Games as part of their Project Z range

Miniature choice first!  Rourke has many weapons of choice, but the most iconic are his ‘twin Detonics Combat Master .45, shoulder holstered pistols’.  The novels are very focused on the exact name, model, calibre and so on of the various weapons being used, in fact arguably more effort is put into the description  of military hardware and material than is expended on characters.  But I digress, the key thing is I had a couple of sprues of the old Wargames Factory Male Apocalypse survivors laying around and a quick snip round with the clippers and plastic glue and I had the vested, shade wearing, pistol wielding post-nuclear survivalist I need.

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In terms of the stats, I used the excellent fan built Agency Casting Tool for 7TV to produce a suitably matching profile for 7TV.  I based the core profile on the generic Action Hero, but made a few changes to the attacks and special abilities to match the unique range of skill our hero has.  With a star quality of Burst of Action coupled with Blown Clear, Hard, Fight Back and Lucky as base special effects for this profile I felt we were nearly there, I swapped out Lucky for Medic (as previously mentioned Rourke is of course also a fully trained MD, and he’s so damned good he’s no need of luck).

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I used the rules in the 7TV Producer’s Guide to craft myself a hero

The only problem I really came across was how to represent the ‘twin Detonics’.  7TV doesn’t have any rules for dual wielding; the 2 shot ability most pistols have doesn’t really cut it as it simply allows more than one shoot action to be taken a turn.  What I wanted was double the fire power in just one attack.  After some head scratching I decided to swap out the standard pistol from the Action Hero profile with a high powered pistol from the military weapons list.  This gave me a boost to the strike value and still gave me the 2 shots option, but I didn’t really think that it still represented that balletic gun play action I was after.  Rather than invent any rules I think I solved the problem but adding the ‘Deadly’ effect to the attack profile.  This would allow me to chuck in an extra attack dice, so to me gave a nice approximation of the extra punch you might get from firing two pistols at once.

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Of course non of this came cheap.  Following the rules in the 7TV Producers Guide for customising profiles has led to John costing a chunky 15 ratings (points).  The vast majority of stars in 7TV only cost 10.  However as I’m sure you can appreciate our Survivalist has a very unique set of skills and is in effect a one man army, so I’m not too worried about this.

With 7TV Apocalypse due out in March John will be getting some action soon I’m sure.  Might even build him his ride if I can find that Project Z bikers sprue anywhere…..

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John Thomas Rourke – he always rolls a six

Princes of the Universe by Cold War Miniatures

Or how Betamax changed my life.

Back in the heady days of the mid-eighties my Dad made a decision.  A decision that would resonate for the rest of my childhood.  A decision that would fundamentally change my outlook on life.  A decision that would be looked back on as one of the most important of the late 20th Century. He decided to buy a video recorder.

Not just any video recorder, but a Betamax video recorder.

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At least it was a front loader (‘stock footage’ – not a photo of the actual VCR, which was finally skipped a few years ago)

Those of you that know your history will recall that back in these times of big hair and constant fear of nuclear Armageddon there were a number of competing formats for home video.  Betamax (arguably technically superior) backed by Sony and VHS by JVC appeared as the top runners and therein entered into a brief period of competition from which one only would emerge triumphant (spoiler – it was VHS).  (Older readers may also remember other formats, including the curious Video 2000 with it’s curious two sided cassettes – something that remained in use in my school anyway well into the nineties, often wheeled into classrooms on giant wheeled trolleys also holding very flammable looking wooden framed TVs).

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The classic L-750

So the fateful decision having being made we were then the proud owner of a technically great machine, but within a few months without the ability to rent or buy any tapes.  What this did mean was that as a youngster I was limited to those films we taped off the telly and the increasingly rare (and often ex-rental) tapes we could still buy.  Accordingly I had a relatively small pool of things to watch, and watch them I did, repeatedly.  Some of my all-time favorite films were discovered during this period, including the 1978 animated version of the Lord of the Rings, the second 60’s Peter Cushing Doctor Who movie (Daleks Invasion Earth 2150AD) and of course the camp, cult classic Flash Gordon.

 

I must have watched the 1980 Flash Gordon film hundreds of times over the past few decades, and I’ve often thought about how I might bring Flash to the tabletop.  A successful Kickstarter was recently run to publish a Flash Gordon setting for the Savage Worlds roleplaying system.  I’m more of a miniatures person though, and although the Kickstarter produced a limited set of miniatures they weren’t quick what I was looking for.

 

Fast forward to last year and a random Facebook post pointed me in the direction of Cold War Miniatures.  This is a small Scottish based miniatures produced (who interestingly despite their name do not have any Cold War ranges), but do have a number of interesting lines, including a wonderful range called Princes of the Universe (retro sci fi minis with a Flash Gordon flavour in 28mm scale miniatures in both resin and metal).  I ordered a couple late last year to check them out and they are very well sculpted, clean and crisp with no flash at all.

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Princes of the Universe by Cold War Miniatures

The style is very much based on the classic Flash Gordon comic strips of Alex Raymond from the 30’s and 40’s, with a significant nod to the Larry ‘Buster’ Crabbe movie serials of the same time.  (The black and white serials were often shown daily during school summer holidays on TV in the UK and I remember watching  and loving these way before I got a view of the Technicolor delights of the 1980 Mike Hodges film.)

 

As regular readers of my blog may know, my go-to miniatures game is 7TV as it allows me to game pretty much what I want and allows me to field all those random cool toys that catch my eye.  So it is that my ‘Flash Gordon’ cast is beginning to take shape.  I’ve decided to concentrate on the good guys to start with, so an additional order to Cold War Miniatures has resulted in the fleshing out of the team to include not only the dashing hero, his muse and their mad scientist companion, but also a couple of alien princes (one at home in the forest kingdoms, the other a winged behemoth with a passion for shouting!)

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These guys are currently work in progress.  I am due to attend a couple of 7TV gaming days this year.  The one at Board in Brum in January might be a bit too soon to get these guys finished, however I’ve also recently signed up for the Wargames Illustrated 7TV day at Wargames Foundry in the summer (at which conveniently the new Pulp version of the rules will be being used).  (You can read about last year’s event elsewhere on the site).

 

I’d highly recommend checking Princes of the Universe and Cold War Miniatures in general.  Not only lovely miniatures but great service and very quick postage within the UK.  In addition to the miniatures I also bought from them a couple of the 3D print files for a rocket ship and some giant trees to go have a go at with my newly acquired toy (but that is a story for another time….)

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New toy

Adventures with Amera Plastic Mouldings and Stone Textured Paint

One of the great pleasures I get from the hobby is the chance to view everything through the hobbyists eyes.  So when I am out shopping (ostensibly for real word stuff) I’ve always got half an eye on what I could use for the latest project on the tabletop.  I’ve written before about my ongoing love of re-purposing toys for gaming and toy shops are a great place to start.  However I never overlook what might be lurking in the local discount store, Poundland or craft supplies shop.

Although I have an airbrush I also make extensive use of spray cans to undercoat and basecoat miniatures and models.  There is a lot to be said for the convenience, particularly of the Army Painter coloured sprays of quickly and effectively getting minis to the table.  That said one of the areas that people often overlook are the basic colours used for undercoating (black, white and grey).  Yes you could shell out a tenner (or more) on some Games Workshop or Army Painter sprays for this, but the basic car primers you can get from places like Halfords or even the pound shop are in most cases just as good or even better (just be careful to avoid the gloss versions).  I’d highly recommend the matt black Halfords own brand cans, they give a really nice flat finish on most surfaces and are good value for the  amount you get).

Anyway, I digress.  On a recent lunchtime wander round my local Boyes store (one of the few places in the UK outside of specialist gaming shops that stock a good supply of Vallejo paints), I happened across these…

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Rust-oleum Stone Textured Finished Paint

Stone effect aerosol sprays in a variety of colours.  I had a few years ago used one of the these in a dark grey to provide a tarmac like surface to a game board I was building, but like many projects a few years back didn’t see it through to the end.  However having recently bought a Bastion Stronghold (Z2014) from Amera Plastic Mouldings for use as a ‘wasteland’ fortification for post-apocalypse gaming (and potentially a bit of Kill Team / 40k on the side) I had an idea…..

Amera have been on my radar for a while.  They produce a range of vac formed plastic terrain and scenery aimed at both the wargames and scale modelling (dioramas) markets. Their products are good value and in many cases substantial in terms of size.  One of the downsides of using vac-formed plastic however is that the surface details of larger pieces tend to be very flat and lack texture.  If only there was a quick and easy way to apply a textured finish, maybe to emulate concrete or pebble dash to my recently acquired ‘post-apocalypse’ stronghold?

So having  put two and two together I started work.  After the recommended wash in warm soapy water I gave the whole piece a black undercoat.  After leaving this to dry I applied the first coat of stone effect.  I had chosen ‘bleached stone’ as my preferred colour of sprays as I though it would match an arid PA wasteland type setting.

First thing to note on the stone effects aerosol is that it is under quite high pressure and comes out very forcefully.  It became quite apparent early on that this meant I was going to have to be very patient, do a number of thin coats and wait for each to dry properly.  Repeated application of layers on a surface that was not yet dry just ended up moving the stone effect paint already laid down around.

What also became clear was that the black undercoat was not working.  The light ‘desert yellow’ / ‘skeleton bone’ like colour of the spray was being overpowered by the dark base.  To rectify this, once the first thin layer was applied and was dry (after about 15 minutes) I gave the whole model a full all over spray of Citadel Averland Sunset (a darkish yellow).  Building subsequent layers over this was much more effective.

Once I’d completed about 4 or 5 coats using the stone effect I had a good covering and a good scale approximation of either pebble dashed concrete or sandstone.

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A couple of coats in and the effect was starting to look better

Where to take it from here?  I knew I definitely wanted to weather this down, especially as it was intended to be a wastelands style outpost, but simply dry brushing a highlight over the stone effect would perhaps make it too light.  I could of course have left it there, the effect was good enough for ‘basic tabletop standard’, but I was keen to take it further.

I also wanted to ensure that the stone effect paint was protected, so rolled the weathering and protection into one by painting on Army Painter Quickshade Strong Tone.  I’m a big fan of Quickshade; not the dipping method, rather painting in the same way as a shade or wash.  Normally with miniatures following an initial drying period the shade ‘pulls back’ into the recesses of the model and you can ‘dab’ up any excess with a brush.  With this scenery piece there weren’t really any recesses into which to recede so I had to work hard not to show brush strokes in the finished effect.  I achieved this using swirling motions with a cheap large brush.

At this stage, to be honest, I wasn’t very happy, it looked like I had dulled down the stone effect too much and the natural gloss of the Quickshade kind of made things worse (albeit I knew I was going to have to dull this down with a top coat).  A quick dry brush back up of Army Painter Skeleton Bone seemed to retrieve the situation, but I was now left with a much darker piece than I was originally intending.

I was on the verge of going back to the drawing board, when I thought about maybe rather than weathering this up as an arid desert stronghold, I could shift my post-apocalyptic mindset more towards a ‘nature reclaiming the landscape’ scenario.  To that end I liberally applied some green washes and made use of an old bottle of Modelmates mould effect I had.

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Midway into the weathering process

With the addition of some flock, tufts and overgrowth I was much happier with the final result.  The metal supports and door were painted silver and then (probably overly) weathered up using again a Modelmates rust effect.  Finally the whole thing was sealed with a couple of thin coats of Testors Dullcote.

All in all I’m pretty pleased with the outcome.  I’d highly recommend Amera Plastic Mouldings as a cost effective and striking alternative to other options for tabletop scenery.  Using the textured spray paint added that extra level of detail, but required some patience.  As they say, you learn from your mistakes.

This finished piece will hopefully be finding it’s way into a game of 7TV Apocalypse soon.

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