Legions of Mongo – The Skull Crawler!

For some time I have been working on a ‘pulp science fiction’ set of miniatures and models primarily for gaming with the 7TV ruleset.  I’ve previously blogged about the excellent range of ‘Flash Gordon’ style figures from Cold War Miniatures, including their wonderful 3D printed rocket ship.

9d3e8ebc38e603f11fd63b5100e264ff_original
Coming soon from Crooked Dice

With the recent completion of the 7TV Pulp Sci Fi miniatures Kickstarter I have a load more reinforcements coming over the next few months.  (For the record the 1980 version of Flash Gordon is my all time favourite and probably most watched film of all time).

7-ming-royal-guards

In the meantime I’ve been thinking about how to expand the legions of Mongo to include some themed vehicles to my selection of troops and personalities.

A while ago I picked up a Heroclix model of ‘Brainiacs Skullship’.  You can see the original below.  This was ostensibly in order to model a Roboskull for my Action Force project, but in the end I never quite got round to that.  However as a model it has a certain ‘pulp appeal’ and so I set about repainting this in some suitably Ming-like colours.

DC-HEROCLIX-BRAINIAC-SKULL-SHIP-EDICION-ESPECIAL
The ‘out of the box’ model

The model was first removed from it’s Heroclix base using a hobby saw (and a bit of blunt force).

2019-10-19 18.03.50

A basecoat of red primer was applied with the airbrush and a couple of progressively lighter reds (all Vallejo Game Air) were applied as highlights.  The clear plastic green panels were masked so that they could be left in place.

Detail was picked out in gold and black lining was done with Tamiya panel line wash.

All I am quite pleased with the result.  I think it has a aesthetic that matches the style of the Flash Gordon movie well.  I have another one sat on my shelf that I think I am going to do something similar with, but maybe in the black and gold of Klytus’s Imperial Secret Police.

2019-12-14 16.15.58
The finished Mongo Skull Crawler

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.

2019-11-17 11.05.31

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.

2019-11-17 15.48.05

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!

9d3e8ebc38e603f11fd63b5100e264ff_original

 

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!)

2019-10-20 11.18.23
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.

7TV Batman

A while back something caught my eye.  Not unusual for a hobby butterfly, this was on Kickstarter and was for the Monolith Games Batman Gotham City Chronicles board game.  Ultimately a bout of common sense took over and I didn’t hand over the big bucks for this.

Batman-Gotham-City-Chronicles-e1555688451112
Gotham’s best and worst face off in the Batman Gotham City Chronicles board game

Fast forward a couple of years and now that 7TV Pulp has been released the alure of doing a game if not with full blown superheroes at least with costumed vigilantes was strong.  What really attracted to me Gotham City Chronicles originally was (as with a lot of things) the miniatures.  I’d previously owned and played the Conan game upon which Batman was based, and liked it, although I found it a bit over complicated.  But the figures….

2019-10-11 12.49.39
Even the ‘supporting cast’ are lovely miniatures and a joy to paint.  Here we have Harvey Bullock of the GCPD.  Painted in contrast paints.

Quick trip to eBay and I found a reasonably priced base pledge from the Kickstarter and after an abortive attempt to play the game at one of my regular Wednesday night gaming sessions I then switched my attention to getting some paint down on some figures.  Oh, of course, thinking about how to port this to 7TV.

maxresdefault
Lots of lovely miniatures inside

First off the issue of scale.  The miniatures in Gotham City Chronicles are (in the majority of cases) one-piece.  They are all PVC plastic, but don’t suffer at all from ‘bendy sword syndrome’.  They are also on the big side – I’d say on the upper end of 32 to 35mm scale – almost ‘heroic 1:48’.

2019-10-11 13.00.59
My initial set of minis painted

So is that actually a problem for 7TV? Well obviously not if you are playing exclusively with these miniatures, but what if you want to do some mixing and matching?  To be honest, I can live with it.  In true 7TV style if it was noticeable it could always be passed off as a continuity error in the production!  I have in fact played a game using a standard 28mm scale cast against some chibi miniatures before – in my mind we were filming a crazy mix of animation and live action – ‘who framed Hugo Solomon?’ if you will.

So far I have been concentrating on the good guys.  As alluded to above, the thing that helps with the Batman setting (at least within the confines of the majority of the figures I have available) is that super powers are not really a major thing.  Most of the good guys (Batman, Robin, Batgirl and so on) are gadget laden combat specialists – sounds an ideal fit for the archetype approach 7TV takes to customising casts.  Likewise with the villians.  In fact even the addition of some limited super powers into the mix could probably be easily modelled using the guidelines in the various boxed sets available from Crooked Dice.

2019-10-11 12.53.45
Nightwing – painted primarily with Citadel contrast paints

So far I have only got the Batman himself stated up.  I used the base stats from the  ‘Crusading Crimefigher’ profile in the 7TV Pulp box and then adjusted the star quality and abilities according.  I wanted to give some Batman flavour to these, but avoid creating any new rules and abilities.  I therefore looked across the different 7TV books and profiles to see what I could switch out.

2019-10-11 12.49.49
Commissioner Gordon – again contrast paints getting a hammering here!

I switched in the ‘Pulse Pounding Action’ star quality from the Pulp ‘Intrepid Adventurer’ profile (but renamed this ‘Dark Knight).  This gives me a super strong close combat option, which seems about right, and I supplemented this with the ‘Martial Arts’ ability from the ‘Spy-Fy’ profiles.  Bruce Wayne loves gadgets, so to replicate this for his alter ego I included the ‘Gadget’ ability and then to make sure Batman’s detective skills are (kind of) represented I also added ‘Spy’ (again renamed for ‘flavour’).  Trying to stick to only four abilities became tricky here – there are loads of things that fit, but in the end I went for ‘Jump’ at the expense of ‘Climb’.

7TV_cast-Batman

So still work in progress, and yet to be tried in a game, so likely to be changed.  I am planning on adding Robin to the initial cast and will need to profile him up.  As for extras I’ll go with the existing 7TV cop profiles to add some of Gotham City’s finest into the mix.

(Custom card created using the Casting Agency app – check it out it’s great.)

 

Pulptastic – A 7TV Campaign Day

On Saturday 6th July I attended the now annual 7TV campaign day, organised by Wargames Illustrated and hosted at Foundry Miniatures just outside Newark.  This is the second year I have attended following last years event which focussed on playtesting the Apocalypse ruleset.

This time round the focus was Pulp and the newly released 7TV Pulp boxed set.  As per usual Mr. 7TV himself, Karl Perroton was in attendance.  Also there was Peter Wright from Edge Hill University and some of his students who had worked on the rules in collobaration with Crooked Dice.

As a change this year attendees were invited to bring along a board or table setup.  The 7TV community is well known for really pushing the boat out when it comes to scenery and terrain and there were some excellent setups in attendance.  The gaming area was spread across the Foundry shop, marquee and also a spare stable!

For those who don’t know, Wargames Foundry has for a few years now been based in the stable block at Stoke Hall.  The stable block is a circular building with a central exterior courtyard in which is based a semi-permanent hospitality tent.  The shop itself is large and filled with a huge number of blisters containing just about every type of 28mm scale metal wargames figures you could imagine.  Even more exciting for a man of my age, there are cabinets full of beautifully painted ‘old skool’ miniatures.  Many of these are old Citadel Miniatures sculpts from the 1980s that once graced the pages of White Dwarf back in the day (Bryan Ansell who owns Foundry is the former head of Games Workshop).  Any how, more on the cabinets in another blog!

The day was split up into three games and we were organised into two groups.  The ‘baddie’ casts were fighting for the sinister Hydra organisation, while the ‘goodies’ were on the side of the Strategic Scientific Reserve (SSR).  A general theme running throughout the day saw the games oriented around the scouting out and collecting of parts for a sinister super weapon, with the final game being a battle to ultimately control these doomsday devices.

2019-07-06 11.43.43
A super weapon!

Attendees were also encouraged to model and bring along their own super weapon.  I’ve already documented my adventures in putting together my big stompy robot for this purpose, and there were a wide variety of ‘devices’ on show (including a mysterious pyramid, various mechanical men and a plank of wood with some nails in).  My favourite however had to be a television set – symbolising the rise of TV in the home and the death of the cinema serial!

2019-07-06 09.09.32 - Copy
A possible super weapon?

Casts were many and varied (according to Wayne from Wargames Illustrated this is by far the most popular event they put on) and in total there were about twenty four attendees playing.  Although there was the overarching Hydra versus SSR theme, this did not mean a restiction in the types of casts fielded.  There were mobsters, adventurers, Lovecraftian horrors, space aliens from beyond the stars, rocketeers and many more.

My first game was against Peter James and his Rocketeers and was played on the Nazi flying saucer / V2 launch site table I had quickly put together for the event.  This was my first ever game using the Pulp variant of the rules and it was interesting to see how a few little things here and there had been tweaked.  The new countdown deck (now called the cliffhanger deck) provided a suitably ‘pulpy flavour’ to proceedings.  My cast from Mongo didn’t fair too well here, with Emperor Ming and his cronies being axed only just as we entered Act 2!

This gave me a bit of extra time to have a browse round the Foundry shop and discover that despite not being aware of it at the beginning of the day, I suddenly really needed to start an Elf army for Saga Age of Magic!

2019-07-07 08.50.31
Unexpected purchase in the hobby area!

Lunch followed including a question and answer session with Karl and the gang from EHU.  A few tasty titbits of info on upcoming activities and 7TV releases were forthcoming.  As you can probably guess I was particularly excited by the upcoming ‘classic sci-fi’ range of figures which are coming to Kickstarter soon.

Mongo Secret Police

The afternoon’s games soon came round.  First up I was up against Simon Clarke and his excellent ‘North Pole’ cast, which included a heavily armed Father Christmas as well as a particularly violent red nosed reindeer!  Two highlights in this game for me.  First off Princess Aura being gored off the top of a building by Rudolf.  Second (having survived and ultimately being the only cast member I had left), Aura attempting to seduce Santa in the last act of the game.  Needless to say my run of luck continued and the invaders from Mongo were once again banished (surely Hydra must have been offshoring to Mongo by now).

The final game of the day was against an old adversary, Kieron Mulholland.  I’d previously played Kieron at the Dales 7TV event earlier in the summer and got roundly spanked after about three turns when Skeletor and his crew totally decimated my cast of orange jumpsuited fascist space lizards.  Surely history couldn’t repeat itself?

It did.

While it wasn’t quite as short a game this time, my dice luck and tactical choices were similary awful and I was axed during act 2 as I valiantly tried to defend my stompy robot from Captain America, Bucky and pals.  All in all though another excellent game and a reminder (not that it’s needed) how much fun 7TV is to play.

After all the results were totted up and points allocated, stunningly (although in keeping with the cliffhanger nature of the pulp serials) it was a dead heat between the forces of Hydra and the SSR.  A number of prizes were allocated and a few freebies given out.  It was a fantastic day all in all.  Great to catch up with old faces and meet new ones.

A massive thanks to Wayne at Wargames Illustrated and the staff at Foundry for the organisation.  A big shout out to all the attendees and their brilliant casts and tables, and an especially loud ‘pip pip’ to Karl, Peter and the brilliant student team from EHU for crafting a fantastic new version of our favourite game.  Looking forward to next year already.

 

Emperor Ming’s Big Stompy Super Weapon of Doom

A quick update on the 7TV cast I am pulling together for the Wargames Illustrated campaign day on 6th July.

I’ve now finished the ‘super weapon’ that attendees were invited to bring along for the final game of the day.  Not quite sure how these are going to work in game and looking across the posts on the 7TV Productions Facebook page there is quite a variety of stuff being worked on by attendees.

I settled on finally painting the Mantic Mars Attacks robot that I have had for years and have now finished this off with the addition of a pilot and some suitable basing to tie it into the rest of my cast.

stompy robot 1
The finished model (unless I can find out the clear plastic dome – and if I do assuming it fits over the pilot!)
stompy robot 3
Metal ‘rocket ship pilot’ from Cold War Miniatures
stompy robot 2
The Giant Robot kit was originally released by Mantic for their now defunct Mars Attacks game.  A lovely kit to put together with loads of potential uses – they are becoming particularly hard to find now
stompy robot 4
The base was decorated to match the rest of the cast, giving it a cartoon-like alien vibe

Klytus I’m bored – Preparing for Pulp Day

Next weekend I am taking the relatively short drive over to Wargames Foundry at Stoke Hall near Newark for the sold out Wargames Illustrated annual 7TV event.  I attended last years gathering where the focus of the day was all about play testing the Apocalypse version of the game.

WI 7TV Pulp Day

This year things are a little different.  The theme is ‘Pulp’ and the day is focused around playing the newly released 7TV Pulp rules.  Now, there is a lot of debate on what Pulp means, but in this case we are talking primarily the movie serials of the 1930s and 1940s and associated settings.  I picked the new box set up at UK Games Expo this year and recently also received the initial set of supporting figures which were funded and released via a Kickstarter earlier this year.

7TV Pulp Kickstarter

I’ve spoken a little about the background to the Pulp boxed set before.  A collaboration between Crooked Dice and Edge Hill University Press, development of the game gave the opportunity to get involved to students and we punters are now able to reap the benefits of their hard work.

Back to the theme, having booked in for the day quite a while ago, but before the game was publicly released there was a bit of a dilemma as to what sort of cast to go for.  I kid of course, there was never any doubt I’d be going down the Flash Gordon route!  The only question really was I going to do Flash and chums, or turn to the villainy of Mongo?

Zarkov and Flash
Zarkov and Flash (they like short shorts!)

 

I have fond memories of watching the Larry ‘Buster’ Crabbe serials in the early eighties when they were often repeated daily during the school summer holidays.  However my number one love is the 1980 camp spectacular that is the Mike Hodges film.  Having already decided on the excellent Princes of the Universe range from Cold War Miniatures to form the core of my cast I then needed to decide which version of Flash I was therefore going to go for.  The range is very much based on the old black and white serials in terms of style and I did start down that route in terms of colour schemes (yes that is a weird thing to say about a black and white set of films, but really I was also taking inspiration from the aesthetic of the original Alex Raymond comic strips).

However at the point at which I started to paint up my 3D printed rocket ship I knew that going with the over the top awesomeness of the later film was the way to go.  It was also at this point that I settled on the bad guys as the cast I would be taking to the campaign day.

Ming and Klytus
There was only one choice of allegiance really

The main bulk of my force is made up of ‘Imperial Fleet Troopers’ from the Cold War Miniatures range.  Finding a Ming the Merciless figure was a bit problematic as they don’t really do one.  I settled on Hydra Miniatures to fill this gap, although I had to source the figure I wanted from the US as I couldn’t at the time find it closer to home.

2019-06-22 23.11.09
Cold War Miniatures Princes of the Universe – Imperial Fleet Troopers – more of a ‘Buster Crabbe’ era vibe to the colour scheme on these
2019-06-22 23.10.16
My Ming is ‘Xurr the Exalted’ from Hydra Miniatures Retro Raygun range

With only 30 ratings to work with for the campaign day I was somewhat limited to what additional characters from Flash lore I could bring in.  I really, really wanted a Klytus, but again couldn’t find a suitable figure.  Long term I am probably going to look at converting a Marvel Heroclix Doctor Doom, or keep my fingers crossed that Karl at Crooked Dice has this on his radar for a future release.  Therefore I decided to go with Princess Aura instead.  There is a great ‘Renegade Royal’ miniature in the 7TV Pulp kickstarter, but unfortunately this didn’t arrive in time, so I ended up using the ‘Dale’ from Cold War in this role.

2019-06-22 23.10.42
My version of Princess Aura is ‘Gail’ from Cold War Miniatures

While I’ve hit my ratings limit I have also carried on expanding the cast to include some robots, utilising the ever flexible range of 54mm scale plastics from Tehnolog.

2019-06-22 23.11.38
Death Robots of Ming – Tehnolog plastics (54mm scale or in this case ‘large’ 28mm)
7-ming-royal-guards
These guys were the inspiration for my robots

The schedule for the campaign day gives the option for attendees to bring along a super weapon for folk to fight over in the last game of the day.  Having scoured the internet for something suitably retro to 3D print I then remembered the ‘giant stompy robot’ I’ve got from Mantic Games now defunct Mars Attacks range.  I had started to prime this in the thought that it would go into a German ‘weird war’ force, but a quick airbrush job later and Ming has a new threat to bring to those pathetic Earthlings.

2019-06-30 15.27.05
Ming’s super weapon – at this point I’d totally switched over to the 1980 movie colour scheme

I’ve gone similar colours to the rocketship, trying to keep that red/gold/black theme that pervades in the movie.  For a pilot I’ll be using a seated Fleet Trooper from Cold War which fits just about perfectly (although being quite a chunky bit of metal on top of a plastic model might mean some weight has to be added to the base).

2019-06-30 15.27.17
Just the pilot to add (and maybe some ballast)

So apart from a few finishing touches I am raring to go and looking forward to what promises to be an excellent day next Saturday.