The Robo-Hordes of Argo

I’ve been spending some time recently painting up more of the figures I got as part of the recent Crooked Dice 7TV Argonauts Kickstarter. In addition to the miniatures that I received as part of my pledge I have also been expanding the force with other suitable models from my collection.

For those not in the know, the Kickstarter was to fund a programme guide for 7TV with associated miniatures and profiles to represent the evil Doctor Ulysses Argo and his monstrous robotic creations. As a ode to fantastic and cult TV and cinema of the 1960s and 1970s, the original ‘spy-fi’ version of 7TV has always had a place in my heart. In painting up and modelling this cast for the game I very much wanted to reflect that style of the times, so have gone with a suitably ’70’s beige’ palette.

The majority of my robotic characters would have heavy gold and bronze accents, with my more human types wherever possible sticking to the mustards, yellows and browns from the decade that fashion forgot.

Nowhere is this more pronounced that in my representation of Argo himself. This was mainly painted with thin layers of various contrast paints and tied together with washes.

Following on we have ‘the Nightmare’, a tribute to frankly one of the most terrifying characters and scenes from an 80s movie of my youth – yup computer cyblorg lady from the end of Superman III. I had originally painted her with blue metallic hair but switched this over to a gold to tie it more in with the rest of the cast.

The Argonauts themselves are robots bearing a not disimilar look to a certain race of metallic beings from a 70s (and susequent noughties) space opera TV show. I have painted these up in a more traditional manner befitting the original source material as I am planning on a separate Battlestar Galactica set of casts in future.

Next up are a diversion from the 7TV models to my old favourites the Tehnolog plastic cyborgs (of which these four represent the last I have in my stash). While I had previously experiemented with a purple colour scheme for one, I have done the rest in the ‘team Argo’ colours of gold and silver. My gold technique is achieved using Humbrol spray paints using Brass as a base and then a light top down highlight of Gold. I intend to use these as proxies for the ‘titans’ in the programme guide.

While I am doing the robot thing, I’ve also added a couple of 3D prints from the Titan Forge Miniatures Cyber Forge Patreon, of which I am a member. While nominally for a more ‘cyberpunk’ setting I have again gone for an Argonauts colour scheme here to tie them in with the rest of the team.

One thing I have additionally done here and in other paint jobs for this team is to pull out some spot colours. In particular I like the idea that not all of Argo’s tech is necessarily homegrown and maybe he has had some outside (even alien help) in constructing his robotic hordes. As such I have used some of the Citadel technical gemstone paints to pick out across various models some glowing red, green and blue lights. This is really an ode to the martians from the War of the Worlds and is particularly apt when it comes to the following two centrepieces for the force.

I’ll be going in to more detail about both the Crooked Dice and Bombshell Miniatures tripod models in more detail in an upcoming blog.

Space (Force) 1999 – 3D Printed Eagle Transporter

This is the culmination of about four months worth of work. I came across this excellent set of 3D print files by alpokemon on Thingiverse earlier this year. For those that don’t know this is the classic Eagle Transporter from Gerry Anderson’s Space 1999.

The original in action.

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.

I did use my resin printer for some of the smaller parts like thrusters and cargo pod feet.

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.

An original Palitoy Cosmic Cruiser Action Force toy.

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 outdoor painting setup

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.

Print, Paint, Exterminate!

I’ve been on a bit of a quest to paint up as many Daleks as I can recently. No idea why (although catching up with loads of old Doctor Who on Britbox may have something to do with this).

From a gaming perspective Daleks are pretty easy to come by nowadays due to the release of Warlord Games Into the Time Vortex range of miniatures and supporting Exterminate boxed game a few years ago. I’ve recently written about painting up some of these models.

Warlord Games Davros (metal), Special Weapons Dalek (metal), Dalek (plastic)

More recently I’ve also been painting up some of the redesigned ‘new paradigm’ Daleks. This radical new design of Dalek is now believe it or not ten years old, and while the TV series went back to the classic design quite quickly I managed to buy up quite a lot of the cheap plastic models that were given away on the front of magazines at the time. Just coincidentally these are also the perfect scale for 28mm gaming.

The one thing I have been really missing is a proper old school classic design of Dalek for the tabletop. Here’s where the wonderful world of 3D printing comes to the rescue. There are loads of designs for Daleks uploaded to Thingiverse of varying quality and accuracy, but I eventually settled on trying the files by Stryker123.

These look to be designed to be printed at a much larger scale than the 28mm tabletop standard. The design files are split into components, but there is also a completed (assembled) version in the files. By chance this defaults to a near perfect size for the tabletop (although in the end after some trial and error in printing I scaled them by 105%).

Printed on my resin printer (an AnyCubic Photon) these have come out well, albeit with some problems printing the sucker arms and gun sticks (that are just that bit too fine for the resolution I am printing at).

This particular batch were printed in clear resin, which made for quite a spectacle working on them in the summer sun!

In the end following further test prints I ended up printing the sucker arms and guns seperately and sticking them on to the ‘completed’ models on which the majority of these features had not come out. In fact the gun stick was so fine I just ended up using trimmed bits of scaffold to represent them in the end.

Based and ready for painting

Stryker123 has provided incredicbly accurate Dalek designs covering all the 1960s variants. While to the non-geek eye many of these look very similar I was delighted to see the effort that had been put in here.

I have concentrated mainly on the models from the very first Dalek story and also from the classic ‘Evil of the Daleks’. My painting has also followed these stories. However for the very first Daleks I went with the colour scheme that this model was given when appearing in more recent ‘Nu-Who’ story a few years back.

For my ‘original Skaro Daleks’ I went for the colour scheme shown here.

The models were given a black undercoat and this was followed by a complete coverage of silver. Both colours were car paints from spray cans obtained from the local Poundland.

I painted the ‘grills’ (between body and dome) in this case using Black Templar contrast paint from Citadel. This provided a nice deep shading will keeping the grills hightlighted in silver. Nodules and for the banding on the original Daleks without shoulder slats was acheived using a light blue. The nodules or domes on Dalek models are very definitely not one of my favourite things to paint!

A couple of the ‘Evil’ versions were painted with black domes to indicate that they were part of the Emperor Dalek’s guard. In addition to the standard silver models I undercoated a handful of others using Citadel Wraith Bone with the intention of painting these in red and gold liveries.

Not canon in terms of Dalek colouring, but a nice contrast to the silver hordes.

Finally I left one of the black undecoated models as it was in order to paint up a Dalek Supreme to command my new forces. These are all still work in progress.

I’m currently working on some profiles for the Daleks for 7TV and will cover them in a future article.

Ainsty Castings OOP resin scenery piece shown alongside a couple of troops.

Hero Forge versus Cobra

During the month of May, Hero Forge ran a discount on their website which I took advantage of to design up a few characters for my Action Force in 28mm scale project.

I’ve tended to concentrate so far on modelling and gaming with the original Action Force teams and the Red Shadows. However I do have a growing set of Cobra forces to add to the mix. (You can read more about Cobra and their relationship with the Red Shadows in my previous article.)

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.

Doctor Mindbender

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.

Digital render
The printed and painted miniature

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

The Baroness was painted mainly with Citadel Contrast paints with the (very basic) Cobra logo freehanded.

Digital render
The printed and painted miniature

Finally (although not yet painted up) we have Copperhead, the Cobra Water Moccasin pilot.

Reichbusters troops, transport and E-100

Quite some time ago I 3D printed a couple of vehicles that I was intending for use in the games of 7TV I ran at Hammerhead.

These were rescaled from the original files that were downloaded from Thingiverse. Designed to be printed at 1/100 (15mm) scale I blew these up to 1/48. I wanted a couple of pieces of ‘terrain’ to add to my UFO/V2 rocket base board and so went for something suitably ‘Weird War’. So here we have an E-100 (one of the so called ‘paper panzers’) and a slightly more realistic (in that it actually existed) Opel Maultier.

In the end these were both surplus to requirements for the game (I’d got more than enough terrain in the end and hadn’t realised just how big the E-100 would end up being).

I got some nice smooth prints from my Creality CR-10S which made preparation and painting a joy. Both models were basecoated in Dunkelgelb spray (from Plastic Solder Company) over a black undercoat.

The airbrush was used to add the dark green camo patches and weathering was achieved using a sponging technique. Decals were appropriated from my stash (they were applied following the base coat / camo, but prior to the weathering).

Opel Maultier in 1/48 scale

I’ve also recently been making a dent on the big pile of plastic miniatures I need to paint for Reichbusters. At about 35mm (maybe even 40mm) scale these also fit in very well with the 1/48 vehicle prints.

As an aside I am a big fan of using 1/48 vehicles for my standard wargaming with 28mm figures. I find the usual 1/56 vehicles (such as the Bolt Action and Rubicon ranges) while albeit nice models, just a little small in comparison to based 28mm miniatures. The bonus here is that I could use these vehicles with slightly larger figures, such as the Reichbusters ones, without having to worry too much.

Having done a couple of test pieces I chose a squad of ‘standard’ German troopers from the game to tackle first. These are lovely one piece miniatures, the sculpting and ‘hardness’ is good for boardgame pieces so I can see them being used extensively outside the actual game for more wide ranging tabletop adventures.

The test model – I subsequently switched from a black to a white undercoat

One of the disadvantages of course with board game minis (especially when considering troop types) is a lack of variety in poses. To work around this a bit for this squad I varied the colour scheme slightly. While keeping the basic field grey fatigues (for which I used an excellent multi-shade set from Andrea Colour) I varied things like the trenchcoats and boots by using different colours. This was mostly achieved using Citadel contrast paints (black, grey and various browns).

I kept the bases simple this time, dropping the rust effect
Maultier with troops

Unlike the test models which I had undercoated black I worked up from a white undercoat here (as I knew I wanted to use contrast to save some time).

Three of the troops showing slight variations in paint scheme

Although these chaps did get a bit repetitive I really enjoyed painting them and as such I’ve picked a variety of different models from the game to paint up next. As the weather has been so good recently I have been doing a lot of undercoating outside and some of this lot have been done using my new favourite tool, Citadel Colour Wraith Bone spray.

SAS Force Attack Buggy

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.

The inspiration

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.

Render of the 3D model purchased from CGTrader (original scale 1/24)

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.

Black undercoat applied with spray can

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.

So, what is next for SAS Force…..?

Red Shadows New Recruits

The ranks of the Red Shadows have recently expanded with the addition of three new recruits.

First up we have this great model from Crooked Dice Game Design Studio, ‘The Jack Booted Sadist’. Bearing a not disimilar look to a 90s Bond villian I decided to go full on Red Shadows with the uniform.

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.

Yet again Blood Angels Red contrast paint was used for block colours. The highlighting and stripes were based on consulation of the excellent Palitoy Collectors Guide published by Blood for the Baron.

Action Force SHADO Mobiles

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.

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There were three in the bed…

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.

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Fresh off the printer.  One standard, two with turret options.  Note the size of the recess for the turret, I’ll come back to that later.

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.

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Tracks are one piece but applied to individual pegs which were extremely fiddly to glue in place on the model (as opposed to my fingers)

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.

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Turret recess

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?).

Having previously tackled Space Force I decided that it was the turn of Z Force (infantry) and Q Force (naval) to add to their arsenals.

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.

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Z Force camo for that 80s cold war flavour!

Camo was black with grey highlights and details were picked out in red and yellow as a nod to the original toy line.

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Windows were base coated white prior to a coat of Citadel Contrast Space Wolves Grey

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.

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Designed for the original toy vehicles which were scaled to the 3.75″ action figures these were also perfect for wargaming scale.

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.

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The original Q Force Swordfish toy provided some of the inspiration for the colour scheme as did the primarily yellow action figures.

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.

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Taken outside this photo shows the Wraith Bone much more grey than it actually is ‘in the flesh’.  It is nearer to a cream colour.

Basecoat was a dark yellow using again a spray can, this time Averland Sunset.

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Highlights were achieved with a lighter yellow Humbrol spray.

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Interestingly this is a gloss paint, but I was trusting to the final coat of Dullcote to sort this out.

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Tools of the trade.

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.

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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.

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Finished and ready to take the fight to the Red Shadows.

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….

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A Steampunk Pinky Ponk

Or “Adventures with airships and 3D printing”.

The 3D printing aspect of my hobby is both a source of great joy and great frustration.  I started off last year with no experience at all and ended the year with two 3D printers, an even bigger pile of unpainted models and a new level of zen-like patience I would never have though possible.

For all the great stuff that I’ve been able to do there are times when I just want to throw the damn things out of the window.  I made the decision last summer to invest in a resin printer (Anycubic Photon S).  This has been utterly fantastic (so far) – the quality that I have been able to get at home printing out miniatures is in my opinion a game changer for the industry moving forward.

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Anycubic Photon S – my new favourite

As an aside it has been interesting to note how the industry is starting to adapt to this new technology.  Patreon seems to be a very popular route for digital sculptors for tabletop games.  I have gone down the rabbit hole a bit with this recently and backed some amazing creators, many of which are pumping out quality designs for print at a heck of a rate.  In fact some of the ‘traditional’ miniatures companies are also seeing the value in this – I’ve recently subscribed to both Titan Forge Miniatures and Bombshell Miniatures patreon campaigns.

titan forge patreon

So the older (larger) FDM printer (Creality CR-10S) has now been put purely on scenery and vehicle printing duty and is still doing a good job.  However (and back on the subject of frustration) I have had a lot of breakdowns recently, much of which I am putting down to the hammer I have been putting it through.  I have noticed an unspoken law that seems to dictate that only one of my printers can be working at any one time!

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I’ve been getting some beautiful results from the Photon.  These retro sci fi bits will be added to my ‘Flash Gordon’ project

Moaning aside I have recently been working on some airship models I have printed.  These are nominally for use in games of 7TV Pulp (I fancy doing an inter-war sky pirates type thing), but these would also be useful for steampunk or even fantasy type games.  In fact the two models I have picked up were really designed for the latter (think Age of Sigmar’s ‘air dwarves’ or Dungeons and Dragons Eberron setting).

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‘Warhammer Steampunk Air Dwarves’ (probably not their actual name)

The first vessel was obtained from Dark Realms via their Patreon campaign and was made available to patrons during October last year.  This was printed almost exclusively on the FDM printer with some of the smaller parts being done in resin.

The print time on this was long, probably 80 plus hours in total.  The model went together OK once printed.  I was a bit over aggressive on some of my support settings and there was a bit of warping on some bottom layers leading to some slight deformities in detail (note the top of the doors).  That said, as a gaming model I am pretty pleased with how this came out.

I didn’t spend too much time cleaning the model up (I’d probably invest some more time on sanding and smoothing out the layer lines if I did this again).  However I did use a heat gun to remove some of the wispier bits of plastic filament that are often left over after a print.

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In addition to the blimp connector, the rudder and wheel (not shown) were also resin printed.

The blimp and ship parts of the model were assembled seperately and undercoated in black primer.

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For the blimp a simple block colour paint job was applied.  The body of the ship was painted primarily with diffferent brown shades from the Citadel contrast range.  This worked really well on the wood grain panels that make up most of this part of the model.

It was a case of painting on some Army Painter Quickshade Dark Tone.  I went very heavy with this, partly to give it a really dirty ‘steampunk’ luck and partly to smooth out some of the surfaces.

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When using Quickshade this bit is always messy, you have to wait until the subsequent stages to see the benefits.

Once dry (after 24 hours) this was tidied up, specifically successivly lighter shades of grey were applied to the canvas parts of the blimp and the metal work was rehighlighted and some rust effects applied.

I applied a mix of decals (I have gone for an Imperial German / Great War style), and then painted up the port holes using a white base over which I applied a blue contrast paint.

The base was supplied as a file with the rest of the model, so this was printed and then painted and adorned in such a way as to try and hide it as much as possible to give the illusion of flight.

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Blimp, ship body and base were all then put together.  Despite a desire to try and magnetise the blimp connector to the deck this wasn’t possible due to the weight of the components.  Therefore a bit of drilling and pinning was done to hold the whole thing in place.

I’m really pleased with the finished result, despite the fact that it has been pointed out to me that the design shares some similarities with the ‘Pinky Ponk’ of In the Night Garden fame.

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Possible inspiration?

I mentioned at the begining of this article that I was working on a second airship model.  This one is from Titan Forge Miniatures and I will cover this in a separate blog.

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The Titan Forge airship, work in progress.

I’ve also been alerted to the fact that there is a Kickstarter launching soon for 3D print designs for fantasy airships called Skies of Sordane and this is certainly something I may just get involved in….

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Action Force Hovercraft (3D Printed)

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.

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Footage from a previous episode. Z Force troops led by SAS Force’s Eagle face off against the Black Major (7TV).

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.

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AF Hovercraft data file from the pages of IPC’s Battle Action Force comic

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.

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Cover art from the amazing Palitoy Collector’s Guide available from BloodfortheBaron.com

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).

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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:

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Underneath all that stringing is a rather nice print.  Stringling easily removed with clippers and a heat gun (and since eliminated by some mucking about with settings)

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%.

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A cleaned up model (sanded and supports removed) prior to undercoat

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.

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Patching up the props!  I’ve since worked out some less destructive support settings.

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.

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Post clean up and priming

 

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Halfords grey primer is my current ‘go to’ spray can undercoat

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.

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Post airbrushing (various Vallejo Colour Air greys) and the still wet Citadel black contrast paint applied to the skirt

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.

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Block colours applied

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.

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Reproduction Action Force toy stickers.

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.

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The finished model with stickers applied.

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…

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SAS force troopers (Crooked Dice 7TV X-Commandos with head swaps).