Let me be your fantasy (miniatures)

The vast majority of my gaming and hobby activity falls firmly under the category of science fiction or pulpy type stuff (be that historical or modern but with that certain twist).

However with the release of 7TV Fantasy last year (including an upcoming gaming day at Board in Brum) and a plethora of 3D printing options open to me (especially via Patreon), I have been delving back into the worlds of fantasy.

Like many, my start in the hobby was inspired by reading The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings in my early teens. It was this that ultimately got me into initially role playing games and then miniatures.

The paperback versions of The Lord of the Rings from back when I first read it (late eighties)

With that in mind I have been slowly painting up a number of fantasy miniatures in between other projects over the last few months.

First up we have a likely pair – a renegade wizard and a sneaky advisor from ‘The Printing Goes Ever On’. These are 3D prints from their Patreon (also available for purchase via MyMiniFactory). I scaled them up by 114% from the default size which is obviously designed to be used with The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game. This effectively changed them from ‘true 28mm’ scale to more ‘heroic’ 32mm scale, which more closely matches most of my miniatures.

Staying ‘old skool’ I have popped them on hex bases. It’s been a while since I completed these and so I cannot remember the exact paints used, but it is a mix between traditional acrylics and Citadel Contrast paints.

From the same range (and similarly scaled up) here is an Uruk-inspired mini. He was painted up from a dark base coat and given a red skin colour as an alternative to the usual green used for Orcs and Goblins.

A servant of the white hand

Next up there is a model obviously inspired by the Dark Lord himself (you know the proper one, not the one that was ‘ROFL-stomped’ by a boy wizard). This is another 3D print from the Patreon of RN EStudio (also available on MyMiniFactory).

3D prints prior to undercoating. These were both undercoated black.

This was a fantastic model to both print and paint. By default this was more heroic scale so I didn’t have to do any resizing. He was given a black undercoat and liberal amount of metallics were then drybrushed on, with traditional highlighting to complete the look. The ‘magic fire’ effect was then achieved using Tesseract Glow from the Citadel Technical paints range on top of a white base.

A big bruiser of an Orc next from the Tusklands range by Rocket Pig Games. This guy is really chunky and I have a bunch of his mates in various states of completion at the moment. Again I have gone for a ‘non-traditional’ Orc skin colour here, with a yellow base coat washed down with various shades.

Finally and still WIP are my ‘lost adventuring kids’ who will be forming the core of my cast for the upcoming 7TV Fantasy event. These are 3D prints of files from Monstrous Encounters. (Not shown is the little Barbarian who had gone off on a side quest at the time of taking this photo.)

Red shirts and blue shirts – expendable extras

I’ve been finishing a lot of half completed projects recently. Two have synced in and completed at the same time. Although inspired by different franchises they have something in common. They are the expendable extras or cannon fodder of their respective universes, which are in this case Star Trek and G.I. Joe.

First up we have a set of ‘away team’ operatives, ready to beam down to a planet to be bumped off by whatever alien life awaits them. These are 3D prints from the Patreon of Bill Thornhill aka Lost Heresy.

With a very ‘star fleet’ vibe I have painted these guys up not just as the titular red shirts, but also in some of the other common colours from the original series. (I’m not a massive Star Trek fan, so not sure on the exact meaning of each colour uniform, however I have gone with the ‘rule of cool’.)

I scaled these up slightly from the originals to be more 32mm than 28mm, and like the chunky look that this helps enhance.

I’ve been trying to improve on my painting of faces recently and have taken some tips from the excellent Sonic Sledgehammer YouTube channel. I am now going all Citadel for my caucasian skins tones using the following steps (starting from a grey undercoat):

  • Base coat – Bugmans Glow
  • Wash – Reikland Fleshshade
  • First highlight – Cadian Fleshtone
  • Second highlight – Kislev Fleshtone (extreme highlights only)

I’m quite pleased with how these have turned out for a tabletop standard paint job and will probably be sticking to this method for faces moving forward. (I am also really enjoying the effect of using various contrast paints for non-white skintones.)

I am currently working on some other prints from this range armed with phaser rifles to go alongside these chaps, who I expect may end up getting some homebrew profiles for 7TV soon.

The second set of ‘minions’ of the painting production line are also 3D prints – this time by Monstous Encounters. Switching over to the bad guys this time these are ‘Venom Troopers’, obviously inspired by G.I Joe’s snake themed bad guys.

Not as pleased with the paint job on these guys, but as gaming pieces these will go well with some of my other Action Force / G.I. Joe minis I continue to add to (again mainly for 7TV).

Stationery Wars – PEN TOP Bots for 7TV

I’ve recently been printing and painting the excellent ‘Pen Top Droids’ from BMT3D. These are a lovely set of sculpts that evoke a variety of aesthetics, from steampunk and dieselpunk to pulp and sci-fi.

To me however they scream spy-fi and therefore would be ideal for a 7TV cast. Before I go into the background I have come up with for these automatons a note about how I painted them.

The squad – printed and ready for painting

Following printing and curing I based them on hex slotta bases (because for some reason I cannot adequetly explain I am really into hex bases at the moment). I then proceeded to undercoat them with a spray can of silver paint. My usual source of cheap silver paint from Poundland seems to have dried up (not literally, they just haven’t had any in stock for a while). So I went slightly up market and bought from my local branch of Boyes a can of Rustoleum Metallic Silver.

Rustloleum Metallic Silver

Wanting to paint the squad of ten miniatures quickly I dispensed with a usual grey or white undercoat and went straight on with this silver. It went on really well but is much more highly pigmented with metallic than normal miniature paints. Conclusion – very ‘sparkly’ and ideal therefore as a base for contrast paints.

WIP – heads / domes painted – showing how the silver shines through.

At this point I have to switch back to the lore and background that I have created for these robots. Being based on the design of a pen top I decided to colour code their heads based on the typical colours you would get in a set of writing pens or biros. My original idea was to have my troops with blue tops (as the common rank and file), but the blue Ultramarines contrast paint is quite thick and the silver didn’t sparkle through as much as I would have liked. Also wanting to avoid black for the same reason I eventually went with the following colour coding.

  • Unit leader – Blue
  • Section leaders – Red
  • Troops – Green
  • Specialists – Yellow
Green top troopers
Blue unit leader

The rest of the bodies were given a wash, first with black and then sepia to give them a slightly worn appearence. The small piece of tubing on the guns was painted grey and one of the Citadel ‘gem effect’ paints was used for the red power indicator. The gun barrel was painted bronze. A nice touch on the sculpts were some ammo pouches on the back of the models and these were painted a light canvas brown. These were all then also washed as per the main body.

Yellow specialist

To keep the domes ‘sparkly’ I dispensed with the matt varnish phase for once and finished up the bases with some texture paint, a simple drybrush and some tufts. The edges of the bases were finished with grey.

Red section leaders

So once the miniatures were painted I turned my attention to getting them organised and usable in games of 7TV. Using the rules for customising profiles and the excellent casting agency app I have pulled together so far a profile for my unit leader and troops.

These are based on the Minion Commander and Minion profiles from the 7TV 2nd Edition (aka Spy-Fi) core set, which can be both purchased as a boxed set and is available also as a free download from Crooked Dice. There have been some minor tweaks based on the cutomisation guidelines and these are outlined below:

  • Addition of the ‘Robot’ special effect to both profiles
  • Replacing melee attacks in both cases with Shield Bash (renamed to Body Bash – I can imagine these guys using their shape just to push assailants away)
  • Removal of all ranged attacks bar SMG (which is what I feel matches most closely the miniatures as sculpted)
  • All of which has resulted in slightly higher ratings costs for each compared to the base profiles
PEN TOP Bot Leader profile for 7TV 2nd Edition (created in the 7TV Casting Agency app)
PEN TOP Bot profile for 7TV 2nd Edition (created in the 7TV Casting Agency app)

What about the background then? Well I am imagining a series called ‘Stationery Wars’ where the evil genius and crackpot scientist ‘Doctor Ryman’ has unleashed his robotic creations on the world. Created deep within the bowels of the secretive B.I.C (Binary Input Conglomerate) organisation the hordes of P.E.N.T.O.P (Positronic Enhanced Neural Tactical Operational Prototype) bots are ready. Their aim? Nothing less than world domination and the implementation of a new world order based on Rymans twisted science.

Who can stop them? Rumour has it that an initial prototype was smuggled out of the B.I.C labs many years ago by a disgruntled employee alarmed and disgusted by the direction in which the research was going. Wanting to adapt robotics for good and the service of mankind, maybe the S.T.A.P.L.E.R (Super Tactical Armed Prototype Laser Enhanced Robot) programme is our only hope.

STAPLER – coming soon

A quick postscript – Mike at BMT3D does some lovely 3D designs. You can find some of these on Thingiverse, but his full range is available via his Patreon. If you haven’t got a 3D printer and would like to buy printed copies of these and his other minis I have a license to do so and they are available through either my Etsy store or online at Tangent Miniatures.

Hexon Trench Terrain – finishing a really (really) old project

About ten, maybe eleven years ago I attended the (now defunct) Triples wargames show in Sheffield. This was years before I was there as a trader and so I was purely there to have a nosey and spend some hobby coin.

One of the things I picked up at the time was some plastic vac-formed hex terrain from Kallistra . This is part of their Hexon terrain system and I fancied using it at the time for…. Well to be honest it is so long ago now I have no idea why I picked it up, other than I liked the look of it and its was (and remains) good value.

I then spent some time painting this up. As far as I remember I went with a black primer and then used some brown acrylicto basecoat (the sort of stuff you get in tubes from the cheapo shops). This was followed by a drybrush of ochre. I then liberally brushed on some Army Painter Quickshade Strong Tone dip. Once dry I matt coated it and then there it sat for about a decade unfinished in my pile of shame.

Untouched for over ten years!

Re-invigorated however by amongst other things the imminent release of the new version of Kill Team (and the trench loving Death Korps of Krieg contained therein) I decided now was the time to finally get this done. While I had done a the majority of the graft, I still needed to paint the insides of the trenches and add some flock and other terrain ‘dressing’ to spruce it up a bit.

I have about nine trench sections of various sizes.

In deciding on the general scheme I have left it open so these trenches could be used in historical, fantasy or sci-fi games. I went with a grey green for the trench inards and avoided painting any details like sandbags to keep it generic.

Trench interior planking given a green grey coat.

I went with Quickshade again for the shading on the trench interiors (although this time using the Dark tone).

I went with liberal use of flock and clump foliage / lichen to give some interest to the expanses of brown concentrating in particular in placing this to hide the ‘hex lines’. For extra effect I also used Citadel Nurgle’s Rot to add slime/toxic waste/stagnant water to the small craters and holes molded into the parts.

Once complete and dry everything was given a very liberal matt varnish spray.

I’ve not had chance to use these in a game yet, but have set them up on a table for some photos and to test out some layouts. In general they look pretty good but they don’t fit together very flush so I may have to play around with a knife removing some of the plastic ‘lip’ from the edges of the pieces which I think will help a little.

I managed to get this finished in a couple of evenings, which brings to the end a story that started many many hobby years ago. A small dent in the backlog, but very satisfying all the same.

Stargrave Miniatures Painting and Modelling

I’ve been having fun playing around with the three new(ish) Stargrave plastic kits from North Star Military Figures and Osprey Games. Released to coincide with the game launch a couple of months ago, there are three sets: Crew, Mercenaries and Troopers. Alongside these plastic kits I also picked up the metal miniatures as part of the launch deal.

These all have a great (almost generic) hard science fiction aesthetic to them and fit in well alongside some of the other minis and scenery modelling I have been working on as part of my long gestating space port project.

The plastic kits all intermix really well (and also fit in well with the fantasy Frostgrave kits) – also included in the launch deal from North Star were a sprue of the Gnolls and Cultists and have been playing around with these too.

First up – troopers! The troopers sprues are probably the least varied of the three sets but provide a good basis for building grunt squads or expendable space minions for your games. Having recently rewatched the awesomeness that is the (original) Total Recall, my first paint job attempts to replicate the ‘Martian federal forces’ from the film (i.e. the Arnie cannon fodder).

However nothing says dystopian nightmare future like black uniforms. My next batch of miniatures were primarily from the troopers set with some bits from the mercenaries mixed in. I went with a Citadel Contrast Abaddon black over a white undercoat, followed by some lighter grey drybrush highlight. Simple block colour highlights finishing off the scheme.

The helmet visors were painted using a Vallejo neon green.

Faceless minions of a brutal regime!

Inspiration here from both the classic Blakes 7 Federation troopers and the Dalek troopers from the classic Doctor Who serial ‘Resurrection of the Daleks’. In fact regarding the former having a spare head from the Beast in the Broch range I created my own version…

The kits support head swaps from other ranges really well.

I also did a variation on the colour scheme with another squad based more around dark greens and turquoise. Wasn’t quite as pleased with how these turned out, but did like the look of the hex bases I put these on. (I think hex bases are my thing at the moment!)

Taking a break from squad building I moved onto using the sprues from across all three sets to put together some more individual looking miniatures. This gave me the opportunity to be a bit more creative with the colour palette. I was also able to utilise some of the cool non-human heads available on the frames.

I went for an X-wing pilot vibe with this fella
In part this guy is inspired by an old Action Force / G.I. Joe figure

On to the metal miniatures. There are some lovely and varied sculpts here.

His bark is worse than his bite!

While most of the non-trooper models I have built and painted have been done in an individual style, I’ve gone for a bit of a black/red/gold theme on some of them with half an eye on building a crew for the game at some point.

Another G.I. Joe inspired paint job – Space Destro!
Space cult leader

To finish off this batch I had a go at kit bashing with the Frostgrave Cultists sprue.

Certain Adeptus Mechanicus Skitari vibes to this one
The beginnings of a crew

So a lovely set of kits and individual miniatures which have been a joy to paint. From a gaming perspective I can see them being used in not only Stargrave, but also of course my perenial favourite 7TV.

I’m on a sci-fi burst at the moment and have also been painting up a number of Blakes 7 miniatures as well as looking at a number of 3D printing options for fleshing out possible tables and scenarios for these games.

More on these to follow soon…

A Billions Suns – First Play and Fleet Building

After nearly fourteen months out of action due to the pandemic, my local club recently was able to start having meetings again. So it was a couple of weeks back that myself and my good buddy Dorian ventured over to Darley Dale from Chesterfield to actually roll some dice in person.

We chose to give ‘A Billion Suns’ by Mike Hutchinson from Osprey Games a go. I picked the rule book up a couple of months ago because I had heard good things about it. I particularly liked the idea of there being no before-game force building (with ships requisitioned as required), and the concept of playing across multiple tables. Being part of the Osprey Wargames ‘blue book’ series the rules are concise and the author has good pedigree with Gaslands (a game I have not played, but have heard very good things about, particularly from the point of view of being an easy to ‘pick up and play’ game).

As a spaceship combat system I of course needed to source some ships. Having had a previous daliance with Gunpla I was aware of a range of Bandai kits based on the Japanese anime series ‘Space Battleship Yamato’ (known in the US as Starblazers). These inexpensive plastic kits (even taking into account the postage from the far east) have a really cool ‘warships in space’ vibe, so I picked up a few from Hobby Link Japan. (This was of course dangerous as I got distracted by Gundam models, but that is another story.)

The other advantage of these kits apart from the cost is the ease of assembly. As with most modern Bandai kits these are hugely well engineered and push fit (no glue required). Although not designed as gaming pieces, each comes complete with a flight stand which is useful for the game, and most are pre-coloured in mutliple shades (with the aim being of getting them on the table quickly, a quick wash / panel lining would make them look presentable).

While these kits gave me some really interesting and unique models for the game I also wanted to bulk out my available fleets with some more utilitarian designs. It is here that I remembered that Plastic Soldier Company (PSC) often released ‘grab bags’ of plastic ships from their space based version of Commands and Colours called Red Alert. I duly picked up a huge number of ships and stands from them for around £10 to £20 in total.

The club meeting soon came round and in the spirit of our club (where play is the most important thing), Dorian and I played our first game with a completely unpainted set of models!

We managed to get two games in during the day and I have to say it was a lot of fun. The rules were easy to digest and navigate round. I had the night before spent some time downloading and laminating tokens, cards and other game aids from the A Billion Suns website and this certainly helped keep the game flowing.

P

I am not going to fully review the rules here, other than to alude to the fact that being a game where the outcome is based on earning credits from contracts (with the cost of your ships coming out of your total budget), it was an interesting variation on other much more crunchy games I have played in the past (I am looking at you Star Wars Armada!). Both games we played during the day were quite different (and this was due to the generation of the contracts you play for at the beginning of the game). This also resulted in a situation where in game one we were playing over three tables, while in game two it was entirely focussed on a single table.

I made the mistake of jumping in a massive battleship in game one, which while it looked cool (my primary reason for doing it), did mean I was in financial defecit from the get go and didn’t really figure out how I was going to earn this back. One of the things that became apparent during the game from a modelling perspective was that while we had lots of bigger ships we were lacking a bit when it came to the smaller stuff like fighters.

So with the aim of playing again at the next meeting (and doing a three player game next time – the rules seem to support multiple players very well and I can see that being a lot of fun), I have gone back to the modelling and painting.

This has primarily involved painting up the Red Alert ships, but also sourcing some additional ‘smaller mass’ ships to act as the recon, fighter and bomber wings the rules dictate.

For these I remembered that EM4 Miniatures (who I used to stock when running the store) did inexpensive plastic sprues of spaceships that would fit the bill. I picked a couple of these up and set about basing them on the spare stands I had picked up from PSC. (Interesting it has been pointed out to me that these designs actually hark back to a very old game by I.C.E. called Silent Death).

From a painting perspective both these and the Red Alerts ships were given a variety of base coats with a view to using both drybrushing and contrast paints to quickly get them done. I like the idea of replicating in part that 1970s sci-fi paperback cover style of spaceship, art by the likes of Chris Foss or similar to the old Terran Trade Federation books, so I have gone for quite a colourful palette.

To make them pop a bit more I did some selective highlighting with spot colours to represent lighting and variation in panel colours. I then touched up the bases painting them completely black (to match the tables).

One other idea picked up after playing the first game that I am going to do is to mark on the bases the in-game mass of the ships. This should make it a lot quicker and easier to requisition ships of different sizes during a game.

Next up will be to do some more work on the Bandai ships. Many of these come with decals or stickers, which once they are applied will be followed by a top coat and them some subtle shading and panel lining.

Of course I would be remiss not to mention 3D printing here, and I have added to my fleets with some resin 3D prints, most of which I sourced from Thingiverse and printed on my Elegoo Mars Pro 2. I picked the designs based on one of my favourite animes from back in the day (based more on my experiences of playing the role-playing game rather than watching the series) – Robotech. These will be painted in a similar way to the PSC and EM4 models.

From a hobby perspective I really like the flexibility the game gives you with fleet modelling (and this is mainly due to the fact as previously mentioned ships are requisition during play rather built into lists beforehand).

I’m looking forward to many more games to come.

Return to the Wastelands

I’ve been recently revisiting my 28mm scale post-apocalypse miniatures. In particular those that have been in a state of semi-completion for some time.

Prior to the current pandemic I had organised a 7TV Apocalypse event at our club, which sadly had to be put on hold. (As an aside we are starting up club meetings again at the end of May after a 14 month hiatus – some actual gaming, can’t wait). Any how as part of the prep for that cancelled event I had continued to work on my 7TV Apocalypse Kickstarter miniatures. In addition since then I have added to the unpainted pile by adding in a whole load of 3D printed models. So plenty to revist.

First up is a vehicle – this has sat 80% done for about the last two years. Based on an Warhammer 40k Ork Wartruck kit I swapped out the greenskin crew with a Crooked Dice ‘vehicle gunner’ and some bits from the old Project Z biker sprue.

The kit I based the conversion on

I had already weathered this bad boy up a fair bit, but I tied it all up with a brush on application of Army Painter Strong Tone Quickshade. Once dry ,a once over with a matt varnish sealed everything together.

Weapons and stowage from various sources – but mainly Crooked Dice

Most of the figures I am painting up for this project at the moment would, I suggest, fit into the category of ‘marauder gangs’. Working up from a white undercoat most of the following were painted up using Citadel contrast paints.

An old Mantic Mars Attacks miniature joins the gang
Bombshell Miniatures (3D print)
Anvil Digital Forge (Anvil Industries 3D print)

To maintain consistency across the ‘gang’ I’ve tried to keep the basing similar, using a dark yellow basecoat followed by a strong tone wash and then a bone drybrush highlight. I’ve used some deep red flock and some wasteland tufts to add some features.

I’ve tried to tie the basing together across these miniatures

A good gang needs an awesome leader and I have a couple to choose from. First up a 3D print from Cyber Forge (Titan Forge Miniatures). QB Turner has a certain resemblance to someone who perhaps might be at home running some sort of dome based gladitorial games. (She also doesn’t need another hero.)

She’s a private dancer

Secondly there is the big fella himself – the humungous one, who for the purposes of my games is henceforth to be referred to as the Lord Beefcake. This is another 3D print, this time from the recent Kickstarter by Kirstie Greyskull of Powersword Miniatures.

3D print (Powersword Miniatures)

(I also have a similar model from Crooked Dice that I am also going to paint up shortly.)

The good guys (if there is such things in the wastelands) don’t miss out totally either. These two are both 3D prints from Cyber Forge again. I particularly like the child who is a sort of mix of the feral kid from Mad Max 2 and Newt from Aliens.

That’s it for the time being, but I have really got the PA bug again, so am continuing to paint up more from the genre from my pile of shame. I’ve also recently picked up a really interesting looking model kit that I think will fit in with these guys really well.

Kung Fu Freak of Nature

One of the many figures I have recently 3D printed is ‘Jerick Raval’, designed and released by Papsikels as part of their Patreon last year (and now also available from their MyMiniFactory store).

Eagle eyed readers may recognise a certain similarity to Kung Fury, the frankly and totally intentionally bonkers short film from a few years ago.

If you haven’t seen it and have half an hour to spare, watch it!

I don’t really have the eloquence or prose to adequetly describe the movie, but here are a few keywords: 80s, swearing, kung fu, dinosaurs, vikings, time travelling Hitler, gore, Tricerocop, loner maverick cop kung fu chosen one.

It is the last ‘apect’ I am exploring here on the tabletop, both in terms of the 3D printing and painting of the eponymous Kung Fury, but also through presenting a game profile for him for my favourite game, 7TV,

First up the miniature. There were two poses available to download and print and I did both of these on my SLA resin printer (an AnyCubic Photon) using Elegoo standard resin. The figure is on the heroic side of the 32 to 35mm scale I’d say, nice and chunky and therefore relatively easy to paint.

Starting with a white undercoat I used a lot of Citadel contrast paints and tried to stick to as close a match to the movie representation as I could. I’ve found the ‘wolf grey’ paint applied thinly over white is particularly good for blue denim. (I did notice when I rewatched the film AFTER finishing the painting that Kung Fury sports a snazzy pair of red trainers and I had gone for white on the mini!)

Due to the size of the miniatures and in particular one of the poses I went for 32mm round bases and decorated these up using tufts and flock to represent the ‘Viking’ section of the film.

From a gaming perspective I used the 7TV Casting Agency online app to modify one of the standard 7TV 2nd Edition archetypes. Using the ‘Action Hero’ as a base I tweaked the name of the ‘Star Quality’ and swapped around some of the Special Effects (using the rules from the Producers Guide). The ‘Action Hero’ attacks and stats were left as is and overall the ‘ratings’ value remained at 10 (as per the majority of profiles of ‘stars’ in the game. You can see the resulting profile card below and this is also available from the 7TV Productions Facebook page.

If I can find a suitable miniature I think Hackerman has got to be next on the list…..

New arrivals via the Space Bridge from Cybertron

I’ve recently finished off the remaining Wizkids Deep Cuts Transformers miniatures that have been sat half completed on my painting desk for a long while.

First up we have the Decepticon Soundwave. I’ve gone for a cartoon/comic colour scheme on these models, so primarily bold colours with some strident edge highlighting. This is not the way I usually paint but I think this is quite effective for these kinds of models.

Next up is Arcee. Introduced around the time of the Transformers movie in the mid-eighties Arcee was the first female Robot in Disguise. Of course because this was the eighties and she was a lady the colour scheme at the time was predominantly pink!

I’ve tried to replicate the original characters’ colour scheme on the mini and have again gone with some edge highlights to complete the look. As with all models in this range they came pre-undercoated in a Vallejo grey primer out of the box. An application of white contrast paint over that did me the job of panel lining and gave a good off-white colour for the main body.

In addition to the two miniatures I also recently finished off painting a ‘space bridge’ scenery piece that I 3D printed some time ago. Designed by ‘Doctor Merkury’, this is freely available for download from Thingiverse.

Finally here is a scale shot showing the two completed miniatures alongside an old pre-painted AT-43 figure. As you can see for 28mm (ish) scale gaming these could work quite well.

Denizens of the spaceport or crocodiles in space!

I’ve been 3D printing a lot of spaceship models recently and have also started pulling together a few ideas for a spaceport table setup to use them on.

The aim here is to pull together a 4′ by 4′ table for playing science fiction based games on (obviously) using primarily the 7TV rule set, but also with half an eye on the upcoming release of Stargrave by Osprey Games.

Thematically I am trying to keep the terrain generic enough to be used across multiple sci-fi settings including games inspired by or directly set in specific fictional universes. Star Wars is the obvious choice here (certainly based on my recent hobby activity), but I also aspire at some point to do something with the Gale Force 9 Aliens miniatures I recently bought and additionally the Future Freedom Fighters 7TV Programme Guide from Crooked Dice . I certainly have a work in progress ship for this one!

I’ll be doing an article on my Scorpio build soon.

However initially I wanted to be a bit more freeform in the way I populate my (as yet unamed) spaceport. I particularly like the idea of a far future setting with no particular overarching story, more a freely adaptable ‘make it up as you go along’ approach if you like.

I used to read a comic called Starblazer in my youth (and have recently started collecting old issues again). These were self-contained 63 page stories (from DC Thomson, the same publishers of the more famous Commando comic). While there were the odd recurring characters and settings, it was pretty much something different each time (albeit with a heavy recurring vein of spaceships, aliens and lasers running throughout).

Some of my Starblazer collection

In fact some years ago Cubicle Seven released a role-playing game based on these comics which I am lucky to have in my collection. Called Starblazer Adventures – The Rock and Roll Space Opera Adventure Game, this effectively provided a sandbox for creating your own settings and adventures in a ‘generic’ science fiction setting. One of the suggested settings within the book is referred to as ‘The Cosmopolitan Era’ and is described as…

The Cosmopolitan Era or ‘Who Elected the Guy with Two Heads’ is set around the rise and fall of galactic civilisation – thousands of strange alien races share every corner of the galaxy with mankind who is now just part of the melting pot.

Chris Birch and Stuart Newman, Starblazer Adventures, 2008, Cubicle Seven

It is this feel exactly I want to go for in terms of miniatures with which to populate the spaceport initially. Luckily there has been an explosion in the availability of science fiction miniatures (that are not Warhammer 40k) recently, particularly in the field of 3D printing.

A mightly tome that is not only a RPG rulebook but a useful and interesting reference guide to the comics

My initial spaceport denizen comes from Titan Forge Miniatures and was originally released as part of their monthly CyberForge Patreon, but is also available via MyMiniFactory. Crocko Bo is a cape wearing, big gun wielding space crocodile man, and that is really all you need to know about him.

Crocko Bo by Titan Forge Miniatures (Cyber Forge)

I printed him in resin alongside a base that was also released as part of that month’s release and started off with a white undercoat. From that it was mainly a Citadel contrast based paint job for the skin tone, with additional detail picked out using coloured metallics from the Scale75 range. Rather than go with a metallic look base I stuck with the method I have been using on my Star Wars stuff recently and went for an ‘industrial grey’ colour scheme, primarily via drybrushing.

Keeping on the ‘aninals in space’ them, next up is a ‘Tortle’ by Manuel Boria (also available for download from MyMiniFactory ). I took a similar approach with this chap, again sticking with contrast paints for the skin tones and webbing with used metallics elsewhere.

Back with Cyber Forge and next up is a rather squat gentleman. This is Harry Stone – in my setting he is a space marshall travelling onbaord frieghters and passenger ships providing extra security (for a price). Another fairly simple paint job which I over complicated for myself by trying to do a desert camo pattern on his combats. In the end I think this worked OK, and although he probably as designed was intended for a more Cyberpunk setting I think he will fit in OK.

Finally we have a few models from the recent Novus Landing Kickstarter by EC3D Design.

First up a group of human soldiers called ‘The Alliance Patrol’ which I am using as my port authority security detail. These printed really nicely and I went for a white undercoat here followed by contrast. The difference here is that I tried an all over shade of dark tone wash before applying the contrast layer. This work particularly well with the yellows and whites I concentrated on for their colour scheme.

Finally also from the Novus Landing range we have an alien arms dealer. Again I went with a dark wash over a white undercoat to start with and this really helped particaulrly with the orange of his spacesuit in terms of getting a suitably quick and effective shading. One thing I will say about contrast paints is that they have made me more likely to consider painting colours I would have previously avoided, in particular white.

One thing you may have noticed with the miniatures above is that they are all 3D printed. I am not restricting myself to just 3D prints, it just seems to be the way things have gone so far on this project. It is perhaps at this point worth pointing at that Wayne at Tangent Miniatures has recently aquired a license with EC3D studio to supply physical copies of the miniatures from Novus Landing. These will be cast in metal and the first few packs should be available soon from the Tangent website. (Coincidentally I will be producing the resin masters for these for the mold making process, part of the reason I chose these miniatures to test print for this project.)

In terms of next steps I have more miniatures to print, have various ships in various stages of completion and have also started on the actual terrain pieces. This includes the part 3D printed, part scratch built port authority control tower. More of which soon…

Port Authority control tower under construction.