I’ve blogged extensively about my project to realise my favorite action figure toys from back in the day, Action Force. I have a young daughter, but despite not pushing her in any real direction toys, she has gravitated towards traditional girls toys. Therefore I am not really up-to-speed with boys stuff, and in particular action figures. So other than knowing that Star Wars is obviously still a thing I’ve no ideal if there is a modern and up-to-date range of military action figures similar to those I used to play with. However a few weeks back while stocking up on instant noodles during my lunch break in the local discount shop I happened into the toy aisles. And there I spotted it!
So this is the Corps Elite Battle Cruiser. Corps Elite appear to a modern day (but budget version) of Action Force / G.I.Joe, and boy does this one look like it would be perfect for 28mm scale. As per usual 7TV is never far from my mind when considering these things.
Having succumbed and picked one up, upon initial inspection the vast majority of the components looked like they could easily stay and represent the ‘down-scaled’ versions of themselves.
Having opened the box and inspected the ship, the scale looks pretty spot on for 28mm scale minis. The flat bottom / ‘water line’ means this will look great on the tabletop.
There are a few things that will have to be removed and replaced to really hide the larger scale aspects of the thing, namely:
The turret and ‘machine gun’ on top of the bridge will be removed and replaced with something more realistic (aerials, radar etc. maybe)
The clear plastic ‘fin’ and aerials will need some work
The large hatch/doorway molded on the side of the bridge will need hiding
Painting wise, it looks like a relatively easy job and will be down to a combination of spray cans and airbrush. The existing decals were easy to peel off and the entire ‘model’ was given an undercoat of black (using a couple of layers in order to effectively mask the painted on pattern on the hull).
It’s also worth mentioning that I’ve had a bit of a look at the wider Corps Elite range. While most of the accessories and vehicles are way out of scale for the tabletop, I’ve got to say with a bit of work the ‘Beast Bomber’ could make for an excellent centre piece!
I’ve been doing this Action Force in 28mm thing for a few years now. I keep getting distracted, but always get pulled back in. I blogged recently about the ultimate goal of getting a Roboskull to the table, but this reminded me I have a number of part finished other vehicles to add to the motor pool. So with a concerted effort I have gone back and revisited these.
Most of the vehicles I have previously started have been for the ‘Enemy’. I’ve kind of handled this in a couple of different ways – both accurate replicas of the toys/comics and an ‘inspired by’ approach.
The latter has basically involved me finding models and toys (in the right scale) that kind of fit the setting. For Action Force themselves this could be standard military type kit such as land rovers or tanks (concentrating on the eighties period), but for the Red Shadows I’ve thought a bit wider. So this has led to some interesting choices and conversions. Presented below are a couple of the more wild ideas I have completed, including a flying saucer and a ‘Dust 1947’ plane.
I’ve also recently gone down the ‘walker’/’mech’ route as well, utilising a Konflikt 47 resin/metal model kit from Warlord Games. A head swap for the pilot and voila – the Red Spider!
Going further back to the German World War II inspiration for the Enemy, many years ago I picked up a Tamiya 1:48 scale Sdkfz.69. I’ve recently gone back and finished this, with the idea that this could represent the ubiquitous Shadowtrak.
And this brings me back to the other of the two top level options – accurate replicas of the toys in 28mm scale. The obvious route to go down here is 3D printing – more about this later. However there is at least one off the shelf option that is (relatively) widely available.
This is a novelty gift pack / toy by Running Press – the sort of thing you normally see for sale in stands next to checkouts in bookshops alongside Harry Potter wands or small TARDIS or Dalek models. This particular item represents a Cobra HISS tank, better known to Action Force aficionados as the Enemy (and later Cobra) Hyena. The scale is pretty much spot on for 28mm scale.
This is also sometimes available from third party sellers on Amazon, and that is where a few years ago I picked up half a dozen of these bad boys. Out of the box it is coloured black and comes with a set of Cobra stickers to apply as well as an information booklet. It also has sound! Press a button on the turret and you get a slightly cartoony laser gun sound – totally unnecessary, but totally amazing.
I’ve painted these in a slightly different way than usually. As the base model is black, I wanted the main body to be red, but also wanted to leave a lot of the detail untouched (including the clear canopy in case I ever wanted to add a driver); I’ve gone down the Gundam marker route…..
Gundam markers are named for and used almost exclusively in the Gunpla (Gundam kit building) community. They come in various types ranging from large nibbed pens that apply enamel paint on application of pressure to fine tipped markers which are used for panel lining. I’ve found these to be an interesting addition to my hobby toolkit.
For the Hyena I used a thick nibbed paint pen to apply a base coat of red (leaving some of the recesses black where appropriate). Once dry (which takes a while longer for enamels) I drybrushed a light red acrylic over this to apply both a highlight and to dull down the shininess of the enamel base coat. The markings were applied with a thinner nibbed marker.
So, the elephant in the room then? Yes 3D printing. I still covet a printer of my own, but in the meantime and for those like me bereft of the hardware there are still plenty of options. There are a surprising number of 3D models of GI Joe vehicles out there (just search on Shapeways or Thingiverse). I have in the past both ordered a printed model from the former, but more recently have been able to get some files printed out by a friend.
Currently on my workbench are these two beauties – a Red Shadows Laser Exterminator (aka a GI Joe HAL) and an SAS Panther jeep (aka a Cobra Stinger). I’m going to do a detailed prep, build and painting guide on these in a future blog.
Where things are a little lacking in availability of 3D models on line is in those Action Force vehicles that weren’t based on existing GI Joe toys back in the day. What that does mean is that there is in particular a big Shadowtrak and Roboskull shaped hole in the Baron’s armoury.
I’d got to the point of having assembled the resin beast and through copies use of greenstuff and a bit of boiling water got the build to the point at which I was ready to get some paint down.
Initial undercoat using Modelmates White Primer
Basecoated using Plastic Soldier Panzer Grey
First off, I’d made a decision to go ‘German Weird World War’ rather than ‘Grimdark Future’ in terms of theme. However rather than go with the classic late war yellow / camo look of the immediate post war timelines of things like Dust and Konflikt 47, I decided to go with a more science fiction / modern camo look. Originally I was planning on using some splinter style camo templates from Anarchy Models, but upon inspection these looked a bit too small. In the end I decided on a light grey/dark grey angular camo pattern using masking tape to mark the pattern out. Using a Panzer Grey spray from Plastic Soldier Company over a white undercoat, the masking was applied and a light grey then applied (Humbrol).
Masking in progress
All over spray of Humbrol Grey
Once dry I tackled the tracks, using a Reaper Miniatures Charred Brown mixed with a few drops of Valejo Glaze Medium to help thin. This was then followed with a silver drybrush using Army Painter Plate Mail.
A dark brown (mixed with a couple of drops of glaze medium) was brushed onto the tracks, prior to a silver drybrush
I decided to tackle decals next (prior to weathering). Decals were sourced from my decals spares box. Most of these were Dust Tactics Axis decals.
Weathering was achieved by applying an all over brush on of Army Painter Quickshade Dark. Once dry chipping was applied using a bit of old sponge, first using a dark brown and then a silver, concentrating on the edges and areas that would be subject to the most wear. Finally (and as an experiment) I applied a bit of Modelmates engine oil around some of the grills and as vertical streaks on the side panels. Final steps were to dull down the Quickshade using an all over spray of Testors Dullcote.
All in all I pretty pleased with the outcome. I haven’t really got a game lined up for this, but I imagine this might be appearing in a ‘moon Nazis’ scenario in 7TV as a centrepiece or objective.
I’ve still got a couple more vehicles to finish off from the Kickstarter and the troops I’ve got are ear marked for Imperial Guard proxies for Kill Team (not a game I have tried yet, but something my gaming group is starting to get into).
Many years before Space Force was a real actual thing (maybe), they were the eyes and ears of Action Force monitoring the skies and protecting the Earth from afar from the evil machinations of Ironblood.
Along with Q Force (the underwater team), I think it is fair to say that they were not quite as popular as their ground based infantry comrades in Z Force and the SAS. Part of it was down to the more limited range of toys available and the fact that they didn’t feature as much as other teams in the comic strips.
In fact the overt sci-fi stylings of Space Force did seem to clash a bit with the modern militaristic feel of the rest of the range. It was not actually towards the end of this era of Action Force toys that the Red Shadows had anything ‘space-related’ to field against them, with the awesome Roboskull.
A couple of years ago I picked up the excellent ‘not Space Force’ miniatures from the Woodbine Design Company (part of Gripping Beast) and as part of this very long running project have just started to think about vehicles and transport for them.
Rather than go down the ‘spaceship’ route I’ve tried to mix the militaristic with near future sci-fi and have started to paint up a vintage IMAI model kit of the Shado Mobile from Gerry Anderson’s UFO.
Initially undercoated using an Army Painter Wolf Grey spray can. I have so far gone through and added some additional darker blue to match the general livery of Space Force vehicles from the toy range; as well as blocking out colour on the tracks and wheels.
The ‘Action Force’ logo sticker is from a reproduction set scaled for the toys. Next step will be adding some Space Force logos (which I will freehand) and some weathering. My target game system for this is of course 7TV!
Earlier in the year I got really invested in Legion, the tabletop miniatures game in the Star Wars universe, published by Fantasy Flight Games. Having spent some time assembling and painting minis, I immediately got distracted (as all good hobby butterflys do) by terrain and re-utilising old toys for the tabletop. A couple of vintage Kenner / Palitory AT-ATs were purchased from eBay (and then resold as I say sense), as were some Rebel Transports, a U-Wing and various other bits and pieces.
Then as often happens I just didn’t get to play the game. I had a learning game with my good friend and gaming compadre, Mr.Hawkins, back in the Spring and then nothing. This was partly due to the distraction of other shiny things, and partly because my best chance of getting a game was at my local club. Due to other commitments I wasn’t able to get down and I missed most of the monthly meetings over the summer.
However this last Sunday I was finally able to Legion to the tabletop for a couple of games at Matlock and Dales WRG (at the request of another member who similarly had sat on the game for quite a while without actually playing).
MDF Shield generators by TTCombat
Game was played on a 6 by 4 table
My heroes – The Rebel Fleet Troopers
Spot the recycled old toy
Snowtroopers in entirely the wrong choice of coats
Captain Antilles about to be ambushed
I’m no good at reviews, but will say this (and have said so before); it’s a good game. A very good game. Bearing striking similarities to other Star Wars games in the Fantasy Flight catalogue (lots of tokens and cards, custom dice, the ‘surge’ mechanic), it seems to have ironed out some of the inconsistencies and clunkiness of games like Armada and Imperial Assault. Adding to the mix an alternative unit activation mechanic and innovative and intuitive command and control element, this puts it above many similar games I have had experience of in the past. My opponent and I did get quite a few things wrong in the early rounds, but this wasn’t really noticed and didn’t interupt the cinematic flow of the game (I was making a lot of ‘pew pew’ sound effects in my head).
The second game of the day was played on a smaller mat with no vehicles (due to time)
Paper mat courtesy of the Doctor Who Exterminate Miniatures Game
In getting ready for the game I wanted to just share a couple of hints and tips, both on the painting and army construction side of things.
While I had got at least a basecoat down on most of my miniatures (the contents of two core boxes and a handful of expansions), there were a few I had not yet touched. It wouldn’t be realistic to get everthing done in time for the game (real life is quite hectic at the moment), but I at least wanted to be avoid playing with any completely unpainted models.
Therefore I concentrated on detailing up all the Imperial Stormtroopers I had previously undercoated white, adding in some basic detail and making them tabletop ready (with the intention of going back and finishing them off to a higher standard later). Here, the humble toothpick was my friend. Rather than rely on a brush and a steady hand to pick out the black details on helmets and armour and to minimise the chances of despoling that trademark white with any overbrushing I found toothpicks gave me the control and steadyness I needed (but maybe not the patience!). This was particularly useful when doing helmet eye lenses and something I will try out for painting eyes in general moving forward.
My next job was to paint up the only fully unpainted squad I had not yet tackled, the Rebel Fleet Troopers. These are the guys who valiantly get slaughtered by Darth Vader at the begining of the very first Star Wars film (and of course we now know this fight continued on from the end of Rogue One). As figures go, I think these are some of the nicest that have been released so far. Very characterful sculpts and true to the films. I’d picked these guys up at UK Games Expo back in June, assembled them and then, well, got distracted…
Taking a very methodical approach I blocked out each colour (having applied a grey undercoat). Following a production line approach of doing all of one colour across the squad before returning to the first and adding the next hue I was able to get these guys done in only a couple of hours. I left the dark grey undercoat showing through for the mainly black coloured vests and let Army Painter washes do the rest.
Building up basic block colours over a dark grey undercoat
Guest appearence from Princess Leia (she didn’t get finished for the game)
The squad leader is based on Captain Antilles from the film and follows a different scheme. The intention with these is that I will go back and do some proper basing and highlighting at a later date.
I have to say I’m not a huge fan of painting armies or even squads (I much prefer to do more individual character models): however the fact I was actually going to able to field these in a game was a real motivator.
Pre-wash and tidy up
Wash and basic base colouring done. Highlighting and basing to be completed at a later date
The Rebel Fleet Troopers proved to be a really solid choice in play (and are my new favourites), having almost taken down Vader in the first game. Some form of sweet revenge for their on screen performance perhaps?
I also just wanted to give a quick mention to the Tabletop Admiral online army building application for Legion. I used this to quickly knock up the forces the night before the game allowing me to sort out cards, tokens and minis quickly beforehand and enabling us to setup quickly on the day. If you are a player of Imperial Assault or Runewars this also might be of interest to you.
I’ve build up a fairly sizeable collection of 1/43 to 1/48 scale diecast toy cars to mod up. Using various bits and pieces including some very useful Tamiya plastic sand bags and some really old Gorkamorka sprues alongside the new range of resin bits from Crooked Dice.
The vehicles were sourced mainly from discount stores (Poundworld Plus, The Works etc.), but also from China via Ali-Express.
The first one on the production line is intended for my cast/warband of PA militia. The base toy here is a Teamsterz Mobile Police HQ truck (approx. 1/43 scale).
Relatively simple conversion, although I had to remove the ventilation fans and hatchway (now added to the bits box) from the roof before adding some resin stowage bits from Crooked Dice. The turrent and gunner are also from the new 7TV Apocalypse range by CD.
Post Apocalypse (PA) is all the rage nowadays. However the overarching theme and context no longer tends to be the aftermath of global conflict or nuclear armageddon, but the encroachment of the walking dead or the dystopian future nightmares of settings first originated by the likes of Orwell and entrenched in popular culture by the likes of The Handmaids Tale.
This kind of speculative fiction tends to be reflective of current social and geo-political conditions. From a tabletop gaming perspective while many of these themes and settings are future based, you can easily identify the time period in which they originated and were written. However trends have a way of coming back.
Recently we have seen an upturn in the emergence of the traditional post-nuclear PA settings, particularly that wasteland populated by road warriors and freeway fighters inspired by a certain style of movies from the early eighties and starting of course with Mad Max. Part of this can be explained by the cycle of nostalgia that appears to work on 30 year intervals. Recent games and rulesets like Gaslands, Devils Run Route 666 and the upcoming 7TV Apocalypse capture this feel. If you want to roll back to the steps leading up to armageddon there is a renewed interest in Cold War Gone Hot and World War III with the likes of Team Yankee and the upcoming Battlegroup NORTHAG.
My current favourite set of rules are 7TV by Crooked Dice Game Design Studio. A great and most importantly fun game that effectively allows your to recreate TV shows (and films) on your tabletop with tongue usually firmly in cheek. In fact the game is effectively a game about making a TV series. You dont have armies or warbands, you put together a cast containing stars, co-stars and extras. You spend ‘plot points’ to take actions, the card driven event mechanic allows things such as continuity mistakes, special effects mistakes and issues with difficult stars to affect gameplay. Now in its second edition the game is primarily focussed on the spy-fy genre (think Bond, Gerry Anderson, the ITC action series of the 60s), is figure agnostic but is supported by a great range of 28mm scale miniatures available directly from Crooked Dice.
7TV is branching out soon into the Post Apocalypse, with a standalone game that takes the core mechanics of second edition and tweaks the flavour and setting. Most notably the existing vehicle rules have been expanded to accomodate those Road Warrior type scenarios. The full game is due to hit Kickstarter this Autumn, but I had the opportunity back in July to attend a play test / campaign day to try out these rules.
One of the coolest things about this sort of thing from a hobbyists point of view is the creativity that it allows for things like conversions and sourcing figures. For the play test day I had to put together a cast and include a suitably post-apocalypsed up vehicle. I went for a ‘big rig’ approach and with a nod to 7TVs cult tv background a cast based around Garth Knight and his Goliath truck from Knightrider (imaging after the fall of society Garthe would be a magnet for scavengers and marauders).
Since then I’ve been bitten hard by the bug and have spent more time sourcing vehicles, bits, conversion parts and miniatures. This blog series will cover this project in detail as I prepare, strap on my survivalist gear, rev up the V8, scavenge the gasoline and face the white line nightmare of the wastelands.