Death’s Head in 28mm scale, yes?

One of the great joys I take from my gaming and modelling hobby is the ability to mash-up all different aspects of my favourite pop culture into something I can play with on the tabletop.  This is one of the reasons I love 7TV so much.  As well as having a decades long obsession with cult TV and movies, I’m also able to use the flexibility of the game to introduce some of my favourite comic book and toy characters from my youth.

Ancient Relics - Action Force and Transformers
Comics crossovers are common now, but when I was eleven this was the most exciting thing EVER!

I was born in the mid-seventies and so most of my childhood was spent growing up in the neon lit, shoulder pad wearing, verging on nuclear apocalypse, 1980s.  Comics were a huge part of my youth, but not perhaps in the way they were for other generations or in other parts of the world.  Superheroes were never really my thing.  In the early eighties the UK was culturally still living in the shadow of the second world war.  The war generation was very much still around and this was reflected in the popular culture of the time.  I had loads of toy soldiers (in the Action Man / Action Force / army men vein), war films were ten a penny on TV and in the cinema and the weekly adventure comics for boys were pretty much all focussed on war!

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Some recent eBay purchases through which I have been attempting to relive my youth (and get gaming inspiration of course!)

I existed on a weekly dose of Battle, with the occasional foray into Victor or the self contained Commando books (still going strong today).  Then things started to change, Marvel UK started gobbling up those toy licenses, including the ridiculously popular Transformers.  These were usually full colour comics on proper paper (unlike the war weeklies which were produced on standard newspaper stock).  Unlike their American equivalents, the output from Marvel UK titles like Transformers was weekly.  Most of the content was reprinted from the US titles, but due to the higher frequency of publication soon original UK content was required to fill the gaps.  It was here that some of the best characters and writing in the Transformers title occured.

Transformers 117

Anyway this is a hobby blog, so what has all this to do with tabletop gaming?  Well, as I alluded to above, I love taking some of my favourite characters from back in the day and dropping then into a game.

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Therefore I present to you Death’s Head, the freelance peacekeeping agent (don’t call him a bounty hunter), who first graced the pages of the Transformers UK comic, before spinning off into other titles (including Doctor Who, Dragon’s Claws and his own eponymous title, before eventually ending up facing off against some of the giants of the Marvel Universe).

DH - Shockwave
A legitimate WTF moment for me in the 80s (before the phrase was invented), was the brutal slaying of my fave Decepticon Shockwave at the hands of Death’s Head.  (Marvel Transformers UK, amazing art by Geoff Senior.)

Originally a Transformers sized mechanoid, he was eventually shrunk down to human size following an encounter with the Time Lord known as the Doctor (yes more crossovers!).  It is the human sized Death’s Head I am working with here.

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The Doctor shrunk Death’s Head down to human size using one of the Master’s Tissue Compression Eliminators.

As a Marvel character the easiest way to get hold of a figure was to look at the Heroclix range and success there is one available.  I picked him up off eBay a couple of years ago, but it is only recently I’ve managed to get round to deciding what to do with him.

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My starting point – a pre-painted Heroclix model

As a Heroclix figure he came pre-painted.  Often the Heroclix sculpts are great and only let down by a poor paint job.  In this case I was fairly happy with both, but in order to add some more defintion and match up with other tabletop miniatures I may be using alongside him I decided on a ‘splash on’ of Army Painter Dark Tone Quickshade.  I applied this by brush, being careful to soak up any excess before leaving it to dry for a day and then giving it a once over with Testers Dullcote.  I’d already removed the figure from it’s original ‘clix’ base and added to a standard 30mm round base which I then did a basic drybrush and flock job on.

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Re-based
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Post Quickshade, pre Dullcote
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Close up showing the shading effects of the Quickshade Dark Tone dip I painted on.
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Finished, matt coated and based, ready for the tabletop.

Now the figure was done it was time to think about the statistics.  I used the excellent online 7TV Casting Agency app to create a profile card.  I based this on the ‘Mean Machine’ profile from the 7TV Apocalypse set (itself a homage to a certain time travelling Austrian cyborg type chap).  Using the rules for customising stars and co-stars from the 7TV Apocalypse Producer’s Guide I switched a few stats and special effects around and have ended up with the following:

7TV_cast-Deaths-Head

For those of you who are interested in the ‘recipe’ for this, here are the steps I took from the base ‘Mean Machine’ profile, following the customisation rules.  Note that the starting point in terms of ratings cost for the base profile was 10:

  • Renamed Star Quality from ‘Ill Be Back’ to ‘Freelance Peace Keeping Agent, yes?’ (no ratings cost)
  • Removed Military Training special effect (reducing ratings value to 9)
  • Decreased Body stat from 5 to 4 (reducing ratings value to 8)
  • Increased Mind stat from 2 to 3 (increasing ratings value to 9)
  • Added Loner special effect (increasing ratings value to 10)
  • Replaced UZI 9mm attack with Grenade, Electrical attack (no ratings cost)
  • Renamed ‘Steel Grip’ attack to Hand Power Axe (no ratings cost).  Death’s Head had a nifty range of switchable hand weapons.

I’ll be making the profile downloadable from the 7TV Productions Facebook group shortly.

In the meantime this has got me thinking about how to mix in some bigger ‘mechanoids’ in with the standard 28mm scale 7TV figures I am using.  Cue both Wizkids and their new range of unpainted pre-primed Transformers and my 3D printer…..

Transformers 28mm scale comparison
Wizkids Transformers miniatures painted up (with 28mm scale figure for comparison)
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Is a possible revenge match on the cards?  Shockwave (scaled to the Wizkids Transformers size and so 28mm scale compatible).  Printed on my resin 3D printer.

 

The 7TV Open University – a report

On Sunday 17th November 2019 I had the pleasure alongside the rest of the Dales Wargames Club of hosting our latest 7TV event.

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Titled the 7TV Open University, this event was a follow up to the games day we held earlier in the year and was again held at the Whitworth Centre in Darley Dale near Matlock in Derbyshire.  The focus was once more on narrative play rather than competition, with an additional aim of getting new players into the game.

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I wanted to make the event beginner friendly in order to spread the joy of 7TV as far and wide as possible.  For the first event earlier in the year we really didn’t have any overarching theme and I was keen to address this for our second outing.  Therefore I came up with a theme of the ‘7TV Open University’ which would encompass both the scenarios we’d play through on the day in addition to the focus on new players.

To get new players into the action as quickly and easily as possible I created a number of pre-built casts for new players to pick from.  Cast size was set at 40 ratings for the event and for what I referred to as the ‘pick and play’ casts on the day I stuck to profiles from the core 7TV 2nd Edition ‘Inch High Spy Fi’ set.  These also happen to be the same profiles that can be obtained from Crooked Dice as a free download and are also available within the casting agency application.  This was a concious decision to demonstrate to new players how much fun can be had ‘out of the box’ with 7TV.

Eight ‘pick and play’ casts were created and I’ll be writing about each of these in future articles.  Basically it was a case of matching what painted miniatures I had in my collection against the core profiles and using a bit of imagination.  And it was a lot of fun.  Heres the list of casts:

  • Department XS (‘Excess’)
  • The Guru and the Spacemen
  • Knight Industries 3000
  • The Tuetonic Order of Luna
  • United Nations Alien Countermeasures Force
  • The Revengers
  • Cobra
  • The Cult of Fu Manchu

After a sudden surge of interest in the few days leading up to the event, I had my fingers crossed that I had casts for budding new players.  That also meant we had to get at least seven tables setup on the day.  I was able to dip into the clubs scenery collection as well as my own and we ended up with an eclectic mix of setups including a V2 launch site, a woodland area with mysterious stone circle, a dockside loading area, a cobbled townscape and a couple of post apocalypse wastelands.

A couple of attendees also brought along tables, including Simon Quinton and his excellent PA diner and highway.  Thankfully as well, there were enough sets of cards and templates and tokens to go around.

So, what about the scenarios (or more correctly in 7TV parlance, the episodes)?  To tie in with the university theme I came up with a narrative that had the studio obtaining a government grant for educational programming.  This was then immediately diverted into their adventure series and as bonuses for their top stars with the producers then having to work the system to avoid getting closed down by the government regulators.

Using the basic scenarios from the 7TV Spy-fi set I added some extra narrative tweaks.  This introduced events that included shoehorning famous scientists into the episode (guest starring as themselves) or potentially having to deliver public services messages at the expense of action sequences.

In future articles I’ll go into a bit more detail around how the episodes were setup and how they worked, as well as making them available for others who might want to try them out.

While not a tournament in any way, the kind offer of prizes from Karl at Crooked Dice and Wayne at Wargames Illustrated meant that we did need to find a couple of ways of measuring some degree of success on the day.  In addition to the usual ‘most sporting player’ (aka ‘best director’), we also had on offer a prize for most victory points accumalted and a wooden spoon for biggest margin of defeat.

I was busy moving between tables and didn’t get to see much of the action over and above helping out with rules and scenario queries (and taking lots of photos).  However a few of the attendees have kindly written up reports of the action on the day and you can find these here:

The day itself went really well.  It was extremely tiring but very satisfying experience and I’d like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who turned up and especially the veterans who helped guide the new players through their first games.  All in all there were a lot laughs had, which is really what it is all about isn’t it?

We are going to do it all again in 2020 with a 7TV Apocalypse day scheduled for Sunday 5th April with the working title of ‘White Line Nightmares!”.  In the meantime the club have agreed to run a couple of participation games at upcoming shows (more on that soon), but I’m also really looking forward to actually getting a game or two in myself.  First up in January is another event at Board in Brum in Walsall which promises to be great, with the now annual Wargames Illustrated event scheduled for the summer.

In amongst all this good stuff Crooked Dice are also (at the time of writing) running another Kickstarter campaign to fund a new set of ‘flashy’ retro sci-fi figures.  It’s a good time to be a 7TV fan!

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The 7TV Open University – coming soon…

I’m delighted to announce after the success of our first event, Dales Wargames are holding a follow up 7TV games day on Sunday 17th November.  We still have plenty of spaces left, so if anyone is reading this and is interested please see the full details here.

7TV University

Three full games at 40 ratings, any casts from across any 7TV sets (although for balance, no Apocalypse vehicles), custom casts welcome.

We are keen to spread the 7TV love, so if you’ve never played before or are just curious there will be pre-built casts available to borrow on the day and support available to learn the game. It is 7TV University after all. (Kipper ties are mandatory!)

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7TV ready to ‘start shooting’ at a recent Dales meeting

Cost is £7.50, paid either in advance or on the day (just let us know you are coming).  It’s also a normal meeting date for the Dales Wargames club, so if for some (crazy) reason you don’t want to play 7TV ago come along anyway, there’s bound to be something of interest (including cake).

The venue is the beautiful Whitworth Centre in Darley Dale, near Matlock on the edge of the Peak District with easy access from the M1.

Apocalypse update – Garden centre gore

So in amongst all the other stuff I have going on (including a new resin 3D printer, more on which another time), I am still working my way through the big pile of lead from the 7TV Apocalypse Kickstarter.

This time up its the turn of the Creepers!  These miniatures were multi-part so required a bit of superglue magic (i.e. activator) to get built.  They are very much an ode to those killer plants from an early eighties BBC TV adaption of a classic sci fi novel.  They are ‘triffic’ sculpts.

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Having had a break from the airbrush for a few months (I tend to do all my spraying with rattle cans, especially basecoating outside while the weather is good), I decided to crack it out again for these guys.  Over a white undercoat, building up a couple of successively lighter layers of green worked really well.  I supplemented this with the use of yellow washes/glazes and a purple contrast paint to make it all look suitably organic and plant-like.

I went to town on the basing with these, swapping out to some of the (now standard for Space Marines anyway) 32mm round bases from Games Workshop.  I added in various tufts, flock and static grass to tie in with the theme.

I also found the time to complete another of the cultists from the set, a rather lost looking survivor and am continuing to work on the motorbike gang.

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Cultists and Survivors for 7TV Apocalypse

The journey through the post-apocalyptic landscape that is my pile of unpainted models continues.

Next up some of the cultists that were released by Crooked Dice originally as part of the 7TV Apocalypse Kickstarter campaign and now available via their webstore.

These are nice chunky models and were a pleasure to paint.  Resisting the temptation to go down the contrast paints route on these like I did on my ‘protect and survive’ miniature, I concentrated on a more traditional approach.

I wanted to tie these guys together as a warband / cast while still reflecting their indivduality.  As such I chose a ‘german field grey’ as this base.

Feeling the call of the ‘fury road’, I also had a go at a test colour scheme for one of the ‘war boys’.  Trying to match the washed out white skin of the characters from the most recent Mad Max film was a bit of a challenge, and in the end I went for a combination of white drybrushing over a grey undercoat with some restained use of flesh wash.  Oh and don’t forget the chrome!

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What a lovely day

I also wanted to expand my generic cast of ‘survivors’, with the intention of using these not only in games of Apocalypse, but also in other settings.  A while ago I bought the Walking Dead miniatures game from Mantic, purely for the figures.

These are plastic and one-piece (and also by far the best miniatures I think Mantic have ever produced – at least from a quality control perspective).  I’m thinking that these would also make an ideal ‘resistance’ for modern day 7TV (perhaps facing down an invasion of visiting alien invaders)?

Next up (and in the same vein as the ‘Mantic survivors’), a female member biker, built from the Warlord Games Project Z Motorcycle Gang set.  These are former Wargames Factory models and are somewhat more spindly than their Mantic counterparts.  That said I found this a really enjoyable kit to put together and paint.  The majority of the figures on the sprue were bike mounted, but there was the opportunity to build a few ‘foot troops’.

Finally (and from way way way back), we have a Prince August Future Shock ‘police scientist’.  This is a one piece metal miniature – I decided again to paint him in a way that he could be used across multiple settings (he has a touch of  Spy-fi evil genius about him.  Black Templar contrast paint was used for the primary colouring here, with some fluroescent green and yellow on the flask / syringe.

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I’m finding Black Templar a really useful colour for doing black leathers and fatigues on modern setting miniatures.  It works particularly well for me over a grey undercoat, giving a nice coverage of black while retaining the highlights that both the undercoat and constrast paint emphasise

Next up for this project is a biker gang (and police opponents) which I am pulling together from Crooked Dice, Project Z and Future Shock ranges with a bit of kit-bashing on the way…..

Two minutes to midnight – 7TV Apocalypse update

In between everything else I have getting on with (to varying levels of success) over the last few weeks I’ve been gradually grinding through the 7TV Apocalpse lead pile.

One of the sets I picked up were the cultists.  My favourite figure from this selection is definately ‘billboard man’.  What could he be advertising though?  Probably not insurance, but maybe something more sinister?

cultists

Having grown up in the eighties I have a certain morbid fascination with nuclear armageddon and in particular the whole area of civil defence and in the termonuclear age, the utter pointlessness of it.  No better is this encapsulated than in the infamous ‘Protect and Survive’ booklet and films of the period.

Protect and Survive

These are widely available to view on YouTube and the booklet itself has recently been republished by the Imperial War Museum.  The iconic branding of the ‘nuclear family’ on the cover of the booklet and as a bumper to the films seems perfectly ironic and fitting for ‘billboard man’.

Now my freehand painting leaves a lot to be desired, but I gave it a go anyway.  I decided to try and paint the majority of the miniature using Citadel contrast paints.  I’m still playing around with finding the best use for these, but am finding them particularly effective on ‘organics’ and ‘clothing’, especially over a white undercoat.

The board itself was painted with a grey contrast paint over white as a base.  I then freehanded on to the best of my ability a rough approximation of the Protect and Survive logo (including the mushroom cload) on the front and the phrase itself on the back.

 

I’ve still got plenty of more stuff to do on the post-apocalypse lead pile, and am still not really approaching this with any real plan over ‘what looks cool next’.  Next up then (probably) will be a biker gang.  I picked up a couple of sets of these from the Kickstarter, but have also recently built a couple of the now out of production Warlord/WGF Project Z biker gang.  Really impressed the quality and options on this kit and wish I had picked up more while they were still widely available.

 

Also recently completed (and again another majority ‘contrast job’) is this guy from Mantic’s Walking Dead, who will be added to my pool of generic PA survivors.

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Painting the Apocalypse – Part 2 – Hazmat Troopers and the Mutant Hill Mob

I’m still stalwartly ploughing through the (possibly radioactive) lead pile that is the 7TV Apocalypse Kickstarter.

Recently I have completed the first of the two Hazmat Troopers from the set.  I have deliberately gone with a bright colour scheme for these guys and based them in such a way that suggests they might be ‘lost’ on a mysterious island somewhere, perhaps doing some work for a scientific ‘initiative’.

7TV Apocalypse - Hazmat Troopers

For the first time in a while I went with the technique of blocking in the base colours and then painting on Army Painter Quickshade dark tone dip.  This can be an effective way of shading miniatures providing you are careful to ensure that the dip is mixed well to start with, doesn’t pool too much and spend some time re-highlighting up afterwards.

Next up are the ‘Mutant Hill Mob’, a small band of ‘wacky racing’ wasteland warriors.  A lot of skin on display here, which always puts me off a bit, however utilising the wonder that is Citadel Reikland Fleshshade over a dark skintone base and then dry brushing and highlighting up with a lighter tone worked OK.

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I also felt that these guys would really benefit from spending the time to properly paint the eyes.  A very steady hand was required to varying levels of success.

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For the first time I also had a go at using the Citadel ‘blood effects’ technical paint – Blood for the Blood God!  This provided a nice glossy and gloopy effect that I used both on some of their weapons and also on their ‘skin conditions’.

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I’ve also finished my favourite figure from the entire release, the SLR armed traffic warden attempting to hold the ‘threads’ of society together in post-nuclear Sheffield.  I felt like this deserved a scenic base.

 

7TV APocalypse - Threads Traffic Warden 1

Next up I’ll be completely the ‘Road Warrior’, and then possibly dipping into some of the marauders, savages and militia.