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.

Friendship is Universal – A Visitors Cast for 7TV

At the recent 7TV campaign day I fielded my Visitors cast from V.  You know V, the one about the fascist space lizards who came in peace but really just wanted to eat us (and as many rodents as they could get their hands on).  Oh yeah and I’m not referring to the 21st Century remake (which frighteningly is around ten years old now).

 

 

I’ve had some figures painted up for a while.  Prior to the release of the excellent miniatures early this year by Crooked Dice, I had previously painted up some of the alternatives released a few years back by Nexus Miniatures (now YFT Design Studio) as well as doing some conversions.  In addition I’d also found some excellent close matches in the Inspectors set from Heresy Miniatures.

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Nexus Miniatures ‘Uni-tech’ Troopers
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More Nexus ‘Visitors’
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Heresy Miniatures ‘Inspectors’ – painted as Visitor technicians

I’m a big fan of V and quite rightly the original mini series is held in high regard, as is the slightly more action packed sequel, The Final Battle.  However I personally have a soft spot for the really quite terrible TV series that followed.

V_original
Some of the cast of the 1984 TV series

Possibly because this was my first exposure to the series as a teenager when Sky repeated it in the UK in the early nineties.  While (I think) the series starts off well with the whole concept of Los Angeles as an open city after the second alien invasion it quickly goes downhill and degenerates into ‘space Dynasty’ by the end.  For me the ‘jumping the shark’ moment was the exit of (the frankly excellent in anything) Michael Ironside from the main cast; for others I suspect this downward spiral came much earlier.

Minion Visitors - 7TV
I’d previously done some conversions using the 7TV Minion miniatures and alien heads

Anyhow, the point of this is that when considering a cast for my alien visitors I have included possibly an unexpected bias to some of those characters from the TV series.

My approach has been to base these on the base 7TV second edition profiles rather than use the alien cards from the recent Apocalypse edition of the game.  Following the (not too subtle) allegory of the rise of Nazism that the original mini-series followed I felt that using base profiles such as ‘Despotic Dictator’ and the various types of ‘Minion’ was a better fit.

The one profile that has proven tricky to get right is the iconic Visitor shock trooper.  I based these guys originally on ‘Minions’ but once the advanced alien weaponry was added they felt overpowered for the number of ratings they cost.  In the end I have aligned these more with the X-Commando profile from the Department X programme guide.

I roughly followed the guidelines for modifying profiles which you will find in the Producers Guide of the second edition rules.  In many cases this was just a case of changing the names of existing special abilities to make then fit thematically.  One good example being Diana’s ‘Conversion Process’ which is simply ‘Alien Duplicate’ from the Otherworldy Invader renamed.

I created all the card layouts using the 7TV Casting Agency online app, and the profiles are stored in various formats in the 7TV Productions Facebook group (where I will place any updates).  However they are also presented in full below.

Feel free to download and utilise in your own Machiavellian plans for world domination and inter-species dining.

Oh and remember, ‘Friendship is Universal’.

7TV_cast-Diana

7TV_cast-Charles

7TV_cast-John

7TV_cast-Lydia

7TV_cast-Steven

7TV_cast-James

7TV_cast-Nathan-Bates

7TV_cast-Mr-Chiang

7TV_cast-Visitor-Shocktrooper

7TV_cast-Visitor-Security-Trooper

7TV_cast-Visitor-Spy

7TV_cast-Visitor-Technician

7TV_cast-Sky-Fighter

7TV_cast-Visitor-Shuttle

7TV_cast-Visitor-Jeep

Invasion Aftermath – 7TV Event Report

The late May bank holiday Sunday saw a small (but very select) group of 7TV players gather in Darley Dale, Derbyshire.  This was the inaugural  7TV event for the Dales Wargames Club, who have recently caught ‘Baron Studios’ fever.

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The Mannequin goes for a stroll

Now as I may have mentioned before I am rubbish at writing up battle reports.  I simply cannot remember all the details of what happens in a game to a level at which I could write up something interesting.  Therefore this little narrative is more about my experience of the day as both a participant and the chief organiser.

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Just another day repelling the alien horde while sipping Dom Perignon for Hugo Solomon

The event was put together at pretty short notice, but following the mantra of ‘if you build it, they will come’ we got a good number of players expressing interest, primarily through the highly recommended and super friendly 7TV Productions Facebook group.  In the end we got about ten ‘producers’on the day, with the furthest distance being traveled from Cambridge!

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Summoned from the deepest darkest corner of the universe, behold the eldritch light!

The theme of the day was ‘Invasion Earth’, and there were some interesting casts fielded both in the defence of and plotting against our blue planet.  So Skeletor and his evil minions rubbed shoulders with the likes of Diana’s ‘Visitors’, some ‘ack, ack’ Mars Attacks aliens and robotic centurions from the 12 colonies.  Meanwhile our stalwart defenders included the SG-1 team, some special forces troops, Murtaugh and Riggs with uniformed support and of course (because it is 7TV) some East End gangsters.  Of course the Guru and Shiva also chanced their arm by trying to cash in on the chaos, as did the slippery Cobra Commander and his Cobra hordes.

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The dockside (with a sign of unwelcome ‘Visitors’)

Following the example of other events I have attended this was very much about having fun and telling a story, rather than being in any way competitive.  As a number of the Dales club members were also very new to the game I was keen to keep it as beginner friendly as possible.  We worked on the basis of 30 ratings casts drawn from either the Spy-Fi or Apocalypse versions of the game (but without the use of the Apocalypse vehicle combat rules).  I provided a few sample casts for folk to use who might not have access to figures and made sure we had access to quick reference sheets as well as trying to pair folk off together so veterans could play against novices.

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The wasteland refinery

Running at 30 ratings meant we could get at least 3 games in, and we sized most of the tables and terrain layouts to support the smaller sized games.  As well as using some of my personal terrain and scenery we also lent on the extensive collection at the club.  In addition we also asked for attendees to bring along a board if they could.  Special mention to Carl for his airbase setup (complete with cargo transporter) which took away the prize for best ‘set designer’.

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The award winning airbase table

Talking of prize support, a very special thanks must go out to Karl at Crooked Dice for donating a 7TV boxed set as the top prize and Wayne from Wargames Illustrated (who attended with his Cyclons) for additional prizes of annual subscriptions to the magazine.  Also massive thanks to Wayne for also donating a significant number of miniatures and models which we were able to offer to attendees for a donation to the club coffers.

So how did my games go?  OK I think is the answer.  I was fielding my ‘V’ cast which is pretty much exclusively based on 7TV core profiles (with some minor tweaks) using a mix of the excellent recent models from Crooked Dice as well as some older miniatures from Nexus/YFT Design Studio.

My first game was against a new club member Nigel who had turned up on the day just wanting to watch some games and was immediately drafted into the event.  Fair to say I think we got another convert there.  We played pretty much a ‘learning game’ on the airbase setup where the Visitors took on Hugo Solomon and Department X.  Let’s just say it didn’t end up well for the lizards from Sirius.

My second game was against fellow club member and recent 7TV evangelist Robin on our ‘Weird World War’ table.  This time Diana and her orange glad goons were up against the sinister Guru and his Shiva organisation.  Another fun game on one of the larger boards on the day.  For the life of me I cannot remember the outcome of this (I think it was a tie).  The highlight had to be the draw of that classic countdown event card (‘script editing’ I think) that resulted in our stars swapping places, with hilarious consequences (not many of which were good for either of us).

Finally I was up against Kieron and his excellent ‘Masters of the Universe’ cast. Comprising of Skeletor, Beastman, Trap Jaw and other undesirables from Eternia, they just happened to find themselves in the cargo area of a typical industrial sea port.  I do remember the details of this one pretty well, because due to a combination of excellent dice rolling on the one hand, terrible dice rolling on the other and really effective use of tactics I conspired to lose this game about four turns in.  For the uninitiated a typical game of 7TV can last anything up to twenty or more turns!  Now as we know it’s all about the narrative with a game like this, but I take some pride in being able to say I lost eleven victory points to nil in such record time.

Needless to say we had time for another game, but consigning Diana and co to the long list of failed invaders of Earth I swapped out for a small G.I.Joe Cobra cast I had put together.  A much more even (and indeed longer) game was had.  Again a lot of laughs and a very tight finish.

All in all an excellent day.  Our club venue worked well as did the format.  I think one lesson learned for future events is not to hold these on a bank holiday weekend, we had quite a list of people who were unable to attend because of this.

As I’ve already mentioned Carl won a years subscription to Wargames Illustrated for best table.  Kieron won best Director (players favourite cast) with Skeletor and friends, and Colin won the overall prize for best Producer for most sporting player and favourite opponent.  All awards were voted for by the participants.

Buoyed by the feedback we’ve got, I’m already planning on running another event at some point.  Dales Wargames Club continues to meet on a monthly basis at the Whitworth Centre in Darley Dale just outside Matlock.  You can checkout our Facebook group for details about upcoming meetings (we have a Saga Ironman event scheduled in July).

I’d also like to give a shout out to Kieron and Carl who have both written up nice articles about the day on their respective blogs:

Finally I’d like to give another big shout out to Karl at Crooked Dice for continuing to produce such a great game, but equally in supporting the community that has built up around it.

 

Scratch Built Oil Rig – Part 2 – Refinery and Crane

I’ve managed to get a bit more work on the 28mm scale scratch built Oil Rig.  Having finished off the bulk of the superstructure I’ve now moved on to looking at the main body of the rig.

As previously discussed I have approached this in a module manner.  Each of the 2 foot square tiles now has a removable leg support and ‘concrete boot’, the idea being that the four of them can be arranged in any combination to vary the gaming service as required.  Each of these component parts of the platform will be themed to a specific ‘function’ of the oil rig and in summary these will be bridge/ops centre/crew quarters, helicopter landing pad, loading crane/storage area and refinery.

It’s the latter two that I have been initially concentrating on.

Refinery

For the refinery I have used a modular plastic model kit of a ‘Chemical Plant’.  Manufactured by Tehnolog in Russia, but sold under licence around the world (in the US by Pegasus Hobbies and the UK by Pocketbond) this kit is out of production but you can still find the odd boxed and version on eBay.

chemical_plant_box

I picked up a complete set a few months ago with the original intention of this being used for a post apocalypse tabletop for 7TV.  In the end this fits the bill for ‘the business end’ of the oil rig quite nicely.  Fully hard plastic and stuffed full of components, this is really like a lego kit for wargames scenery builders.  It does have some instructions and suggestions on how to build, but I really just free formed it with all the pipes, valves and tanks available.  This did end up being a bit fiddly, but was a gentle distraction for a couple of hours.  In addition to the core bits and pieces from the kit I added in some extra touches from my bits box, including some 40k scenery bits (in red plastic in the photos) and some platform pieces from the Robogear Starter Set (also produced by Tehnolog).

Rather than build this directly onto the platform I found a separate base for this (an old Warhammer movement tray), with addition of some magnets I’ll be able to use this as part of the rig table or just as a standalone piece elsewhere (meaning it may see the apocalypse after all).

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Refinery sat on modular platform (Zulu for scale!)

For the time being I have kept painting simple, a black undercoat and all over gun metal drybrush.  Various ‘tanks’ have been picked out in red, with ‘valves’ painted gold.  At some point moving forward I will look to weather this up suitably.

 

Crane and loading area

For this part of the board I wanted a big structure and rather than try and build something completely from scratch I’ve gone down the MDF kit route.  TTCombat do some really good value kits and I’ve gone with their ‘dockside crane’.  Again I’m approaching this from a modular view point with the idea being this can be removed from the rig and used as a separate piece on a different board as required.

The build on this was fairly straightforward, with minimal fuss, although the tolerances were very tight and I have had to do some creative trimming to make all the parts fit.  This was more down to my lack of care and precision rather than any inherent issue with the kit.

 

I painted this in quite a basic manner blocking out colours roughly and allowing the subsequent weathering to do a lot of the work for me (masking mistakes and dulling down some of the primary colours). Warning stripes were added using an MDF stencil, again from TTCombat.  The stenciled lettering and logos on were ‘painted’ using Gundam paint marker pens.

I wanted to give the crane a look that, although operational, it was no longer cared for or maintained properly.  This involved extensive use of rust effects, including dry brushing of Citadel Ryza Rust, a liberal application of some Modelmates Rust Effects and the use of weathering sprays from Plastic Soldier Company.  The whole model was then sealed using a liberal all over spray of Testors Dullcote.

Platform tiles

I’ve also started to add some colour to the platform tiles themselves.  Again I am keeping this quite basic for the time being.  A base coat of silver was applied using a cheap (and very smelly) can of paint sourced from Poundland and an brush on of Army Painter Quickshade Dark Tone was then applied.  This was again dulled and sealed using Dullcote.  There is some further tidy up and weathering to do here, but that is for another time.

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It’s all starting to come together and although time is rapidly running out,  I’m still on track to debut this at the 7TV campaign day at Dales Wargames on May 26th.

 

Painting the Apocalypse – Part 1

I’ve been making some in roads into the huge lead pile that arrived as part of the 7TV Apocalypse Kickstarter.  In true ‘hobby butterfly’ style I’ve just been picking stuff up to paint that I fancy the look of, rather than having any particular plan.

mean machine
Mean Machine

It goes without saying that the figures are as always with Crooked Dice lovely sculpts, with next to no clean up required.  For the majority of these I’ve chosen a grey or white undercoat as a base.

Science division 1
Science division character

In addition to the figures I’ve also been adding in some vehicles to the mix.  I got an extra Interceptor in my pledge and have gone for a basic, but what I think is quite effective black colour scheme for this.  It was also my first time using the Citadel technical/dry paint rust effect (I forget it’s actual name).  Although this looks VERY orange in the pot once dry brushed on it gives a really subtle effect that could pass for both rust and dust.

Finally I’ve completed the conversion of the 1/43rd Teamsterz toy car I have been working on.  Post apocalypse Penny has finally got her Compact Pussycat – although I feel to be properly PA we should refer to this as the Kompakt Puzzycat!

Next on the apocalypse painting production line – Science Division Hazmat troopers.

Hazmat wip

But I might be about to get distracted by dinosaurs!

T Rex WIP

Dales Invasion Earth 2019 AD – A 7TV Campaign Day

Following the successful introduction to the game at the last meeting, Dales Wargames Club have got 7TV fever.

So much so that we are looking to hold a campaign day on Sunday 26th May at our Whitworth Centre venue in Darley Dale near Matlock, Derbyshire.

The cost is a mere £7.50 and will include refreshments (and quite possibly cake).  More details can be found on the event Facebook page. We’ve taken inspiration from the amazing Board in Brum days and indeed have the backing of some of the big minds behind those great events.

In the true spirit of 7TV this won’t be a competitive event, but a chance for like minded ‘directors’ and ‘producers’ to get together to enjoy some fun narrative gaming and have a jolly good time.  There will however be spot prizes for best painted cast, most sporting player and best terrain/table build (we are encouraging people to bring along a layout if they can).

The format for the day will be three games based around the theme of ‘Invasion Earth’.  Casts can be based on any of the archetypes from the Spy-Fi or Apocalypse lists and be around 30 ratings.  In order to accommodate the widest possible variety of casts, the games will not however include vehicle combat from the Apocalypse rules.

We are really keen to encourage new players and share this wonderful game with them, so even if you have never played before and/or don’t have any figures please do sign up and we can sort you out with a cast and some guidance on the day.

In addition to the standard games I’ve also volunteered to run a drop-in game of 7TV Apocalypse using the vehicle rules and destruction derby scenario, so players can jump into a buggy or war rig for a bit of distraction if games finish early.

I’ve not yet decided what cast to field myself yet, but I did find myself digging these guys out to finish the other day (after all they fit the theme)!

Robomen
Classic Doctor Who Robomen by Harlequin Miniatures / Black Tree Design

For more information and to book your place visit the event page or drop me a line via the blog.

By the way did I mention there may be cake?

No, not the Goremaw! Revisiting Reaper Miniatures Bones

When Kickstarter first emerged as a ‘thing’ for tabletop games a few years ago Reaper Miniatures launched their Bones range of miniatures on the crowdfunding platform.  It’s fair to say that their campaign was a success raising nearly three and a half million dollars in 2012!  Three additional Kickstarter campaigns have followed all raising huge amounts and following each the majority of the miniatures have found their way into retail.

Bones Kickstarter
A small example of some of the miniatures funded by the first Reaper Bones Kickstarter

 

In fact when I ran Twisted Pinnacle Games as a online retailer Reaper Bones was one of my core ranges.  It was difficult to get hold of in the UK (Reaper have only within the last year opened a distribution centre over here) and offered a huge range of mainly fantasy miniatures.  This appealed not only to the wargaming crowd who were my core customers but also role-players and collectors.

Reaper-Bones

For those who don’t know, Reaper are a US miniatures company that started back in the 90s and are proudly based in Texas.  Although they have dabbled in rules in the past they are primarily a miniatures company.  The core of their range were 28mm scale metal fantasy miniatures in the classic high fantasy vein.  Rather than rank and file troops the concentration is mainly on characterful individual figures which very much have that Dungeons and Dragons vibe.  That said one of the fantastic things about Reaper is the sheer range of different sculpts, races and figure types in their catalogue and not just restricted to fantasy.  Need a cat person, a brain in a jar, some Victorian civilians or even just some different looking Orcs then their are bound to have what you need.

Brain in a jar
You didn’t know you wanted a brain in a jar until you realised you could have a brain in a jar (with legs)!

So what about Bones? The Bones range which launched in 2012 were initially versions of their existing metal models recast in a white PVC style plastic.  The selling point and marketing for these concentrated on their value and the ability to paint them straight out of the box without primer (more of which later).  While the detail was slightly less crisp than their metal versions, you could not argue with the value.

Reaper Bones - selection
A selection of Reaper Bones Miniatures – (l to r) Werewolf, Gnoll, Ogre

In addition to standard sized figures Reaper were also able to tool and release a number of larger figures including a rather splendid Cthulhu and plenty of Dragons.

Khanjira
Huge dragon miniatures are a hallmark of the range

So needless to say I bought into the first couple of Kickstarters in quite a significant way (this we before I had children and before I dabbled in wargames retailing for a while – i.e. I had the disposable income).  I never did that much with them (I hadn’t got a game in mind for using them with, but was really taken with just paining them up).  I ended selling most of my collection alongside my bought in stock during my retailing years and when post trading and company wind up I was able to get back into the hobby more I often thought about revisiting the range for myself.

Roll on a few years and I happened across this guy on the new UK Reaper Miniatures web store.  The Goremaw!

77579_w_1
Goremaw – Giant Worm

Now, I think this big worm-like fellow is based on some of the classic D&D style fantasy monsters, but I immediately thought – Tremors!  And then of course I thought – 7TV Apocalypse.  There just happens to be a ‘Death Worm’ profile in the game that this chap would be excellent for.

After a quick order to Reaper (it did feel strange not doing this in bulk as a trader), I received the Goremaw and set about putting him together.  The Bones plastic has a tendency to be a bit soft on smaller models, bendy swords and legs can be a problem.  This wasn’t however a problem with my work who was cast in a handful of mostly really chunky pieces of plastic which following a thorough wash in soapy water, I assembled using super glue (polystyrene cement / plastic glue does not work on this material).

Undercoating was achieved using an Army Painter primer spray can.  As I mentioned earlier Bones have been pushed in the past as not needing a primer.  In fact some primers have been noted to not work at all well with the material.  Reaper provide guidance on their website on which primers are most effective and how to use them.  I have never had any problem with Army Painter primer on Bones miniatures.  Wanting to go with a subdued ‘desert type’ palette I put down a layer of ‘British Army Uniform’ brown from the old Bolt Action range which was produced under license by Army Painter.

Goremaw 5

I then applied a top down yellow highlight using a can of Games Workshop Averland Sunset.

Goremaw 6

The idea with this project was to keep things simple, so I used the highlighted brown undercoat as the base coat and blocked out using a limited palette the other base colours on the model.  This really only amounted to a deep pink flesh colour within the maw, a light flesh up the exposed frontage of the model and an ochre/bone for the teeth and horns.

Goremaw 9
Blocking in the base colours
Goremaw 8
Rear view

Then to the dip.  I’ve never been much of a fan of dip in the conventional sense.  I have tried in the past the full Army Painter method, actually submersing figures in Quickshade and shaking them off and always found that I ended up with just a dirty looking miniature.  However I have had a lot of success (particularly when wanting to paint up large batches of figures) in brushing on the shade.  I have found that you can control the flow and thickness of the dip much more effectively using a brush, and used sparingly it can produce an effective result.  I have been using this method to paint up the Space Marines I have been collecting as part of the Warhammer 40k Conquest part work, and have also in the past done a relatively decent job on Star Wars Imperial Assault figures (including the Rancor who was a similar colour palette to my worm).

Long and the short of it was that the old tin of Quickshade Strong tone was dug out and following an argument with a screw driver was open, only to find a mess of thick gloop!  I’d not put the top on properly last time and a thick skin had developed, which although was easy to remove meant the the small amount of shade I had left was thicker than I would have liked.

Goremaw 11
Shading is effective but looks very messy at this point

When using this method the next bit is always the worse bit.  You go from a neatly painted model, albeit only in a limited set of colours with no shading, to a very shiny, dirty looking object.  The key is to hold your nerve, it will get better.

Goremaw 12
It’s shiny!

As the dip dried I soaked up any excess pooling with a brush and then gave it a good day or so to drive thoroughly.  Following this a combination of dry brushing and highlighting was used particularly on the belly and the teeth/horns.  By this stage it is starting to look neater, but is still really shiny (Quickshade is both a shade and a protective varnish after all).  Decent weather meant I was able to get outside and spray some Testers Dullcote and voila a nearly complete Goremaw.  The base was finished off with some dry brushing followed by a green wash to give it a mossy look and the ‘Death Worm’ is ready for the wastelands of the post-apocalypse.

Goremaw 2

I’ve got some ideas about maybe using this as an AI or referee controlled model in a vehicle only multi-player destruction derby scenario.  Having a giant worm burst out of the ground could really bend some fenders out of shape!

Goremaw 4

All in all I really enjoyed building and painting this model, and it reminded me of why I fell in love with the Bones range in the first place – lots of choice, inexpensive and fun to paint.