Riddle me this – a Batman painting update

A quick update on the long term project to paint up the miniatures from the Monolith Batman City Chronicles board game (which I am intending to use in games of 7TV).

I’ve switched over from doing individual characters to concentrating on getting through some bad guys and their minions.

I fancied giving the Riddler and his goons a go, and these are the results. I am concentrating on tabletop standard here so plentiful use of contrast paints and washes. To break up the monotony of painting lots of the same pose of miniatures and give them some variety on the table top I have played around with variations on a standard scheme – changing up the different shades of green and also varying skintones and hair colour.

All in all these have come out okay I think, but I have to say I am not a massive fan of the range of green contrast paints in the Games Workshop range. I am (as many others have), coming to the conclusion that contrast is just one of many tools in a painters arsenal and really aren’t always a complete solution. Without going off on too much of a tangent, the browns (and Snakebite Leather in particular) are wonderfully versatile and the Basilicanum Grey is my new favourite method of shading metallics. The greens however….not so great for me.

Back to the miniatures, I also painted the boss man himself, spending a little more time on the detail here.

Riddle me this!

I painted all of these miniatures based on what I think the characters should look like, rather than basing them on any reference materials (so I am sure any DC Comics fans would have a thing or two to say about some of my choices).

In addition I have also recently completed both Catwoman and Killer Croc figures from the set.

Catwoman (one of two versions in the game)
Killer Croc

Killer Croc was a joy to paint, certainly the larger miniatures like this in the set contain more detail and are perhaps of a higher standard than some of the more standard sized ones.

Much, much more to do, with Red Hood and his gang and the Court of Owls both contenders for my next job.

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.

Pulp Painting Update

In between everything else I am finishing off at the moment I got the chance to put the final touches to a few Pulp themed miniatures (some of which I have had on the painting desk for a long time).

First up a trio of ‘bad ‘uns’ from Warlord Games. A BUF section leader and two blackshirt goons. Ostensibly for the ‘Very British Civil War’ or ‘Operation Sealion’ settings, I’ll be using these guys in my games of 7TV Pulp. Always good to have a few fascists to give a damn good thrashing to.

Extensive use of contrast paints on these chaps.

Next, more evil! This time a tommy gun armed cultist from the CMON board game, Cthuhlu Death May Die. Just slightly bigger than 28mm this lady owes her allegience to Hastur and is from that same expansion set.

Combination of airbrush base coat of light green with a yellow wash.

Next up, another rotter! This time a Crooked Dice 7TV Pulp era gangster. The base for this no good scoundrel was aquired from a set of Batman Miniatures Game figures I have not yet done anything with.

I used flock and a Modelmates mould effect to cover the slotta base and add some character to the flagstone base.

This next guy could sit in any number of settings or factions. I have had this figure for years (it is in fact from some of the left over stock I had when I ran the shop). He’s a Kung Fu master from the Ral Partha Europe Pulp Adventure range.

With the advent of contrast paints, I’m not longer actively avoiding painting white

Finally for now, some space based adventure. Here is one of the macguffin markers from the recent 7TV Pulp Science Fiction Kickstarter. Wouldn’t look out of place inside an Imperial palace on a far off world.

Warp Lightening green contrast paint over a silver base coat, highlighted with a dry brush of silver.

It is joined by some ‘Alien Legionaries‘ in an alternative blue garb (as opposed to their movie inspiration red).

I love these minis, but have really struggled to paint them to my satisfaction. Switching from red to blue has strangely helped.

“Fire in that direction!”

Reich Busters Vril Panzer

I recently got a rather large box in the post all the way from France.  Inside, my Reichbusters Kickstarter pledge rewards.  I am a bit of a sucker for Weird War settings and games and from what I saw when the campaign was running, the game looked right up my street too.

However it was really the miniatures I was after.  I fully intend to play the game, but like many things in my collection the thought ‘I could always use this for 7TV‘ is never far from my mind.

Now, there are a LOT of figures here.  The scale is somewhat larger than standard 28mm and probably sits somewhere between 35 and 40mm.  Fine on there own in any game, but might look a little odd alongside other parts of my collection.  Where this isn’t really a problem is with the ones that immediately caught my attention when opening the boxes for the first time.  The ‘Vrill Panzers’ – basically big stompy (piloted) robots.

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Vrill Panzer top right (more on the big chap in a bit…..)

There are two of these in the set of boxes I received, they are (like all the miniatures) one piece casts in a very hard PVC style material.  Absolutely no sign of warping or bending weapon syndrome from what I have seen so far.  The Vrill Panzers are chunky, really nicely detailed and heavy; however they are by no means the biggest models in the set (more on that later).

So in terms of getting the Vrill Panzers painted up I thought I would go for a ‘late war’ dunkelgelb, by really weather it up.  With there being two in the set I could afford to experiment a bit on this first one.

First step was a wash in warm soapy water.  This is something I never used to do on any models, but now religiously do whether I am painting PVC, hard plastic, resin or metal.

Once dry I undercoated with a can of black primer and followed this with a base coat of dunkelgelb (from Plastic Soldier Company – again in a can).

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Once dry I applied decals.  There were none provided with the game, but I have a huge stash of World War II and Dust Tactics decal sheets that I have amassed over time, so I had plenty of choice.  My usual approach, which I used here, is to paint the area I am going to apply the waterslide decal to with gloss varnish first.  Once dry I applied the decal itself and again let it dry before another coat of gloss.  I placed a few markings strategically then moved on to the weathering.

The first stage was to stipple using an old bit of sponge both dark brown and then silver across the most worn areas of the model.  Next it was time to dirty it all up. My plan here was to paint on Army Painter Quickshade Dark Tone.  I have had some success in the past with a fairly light coat of this brushed on to models.  It leaves them very shiny, but protected and I always apply matt varnish as the final step in these cases.

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Ready for Quickshade

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It’s all about to go wrong

The problem I hit here was my can of Quickshade was quite old and hadn’t been sealed properly the last time I used it.  As such I had to remove a thick skin from the surface of the shade within the tin before application to the model.  This is where the alarm bells should have run, however I proceeded to ‘slap in on’.  It was at this stage I noticed how thick and gloopy it was.  I stirred it up as usual but once applied it became obvius that something was wrong.  Rather than apply the subtle shading I was after, and rather than immediately receeding into the contours and crevises of the model it just sat there like some vile dark slime.

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Bit much?

Through excessive mopping up with a brush I was able to dave things to some degree, but the weathering has ended up being much, much heavier than I intended.  Once the matt varnish (Testors Dullcote) was applied things looked a lot better, although I had made some of the decals rather difficult to make out.

The final weathering stage was to add some rust (it seemed apt with how heavy beat up the mech now looked).  I drybrushed on some Citadel Dry Ryza Rust and in the end I think this turned out OK.

The base was in part basecoated in silver and then painted over with Citadel Basilicanum Grey (a contrast paint, this is my new favourite way of painting a gun metal effect).  All the bases in the game have a metal gantry / walkway look to them, so this fitted quite well especially when finished up with some more drybrushed rust.  The areas that looked more stone like were done in greys.

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The finished article

All in all I think I managed to rescue it.  Apart from the Quickshade incident it was an enjoyable model to paint.  As I have another one in reserve I might go with a different, cleaner, more fresh of the production line look.

In addition to the Vrill Panzer I also painted a couple of the ‘troop’ models from the game to test out some colours and techniques.

I’ve also started on the monstrous Projekt X mech.  Remember when I said the Vrill Panzers weren’t the biggest model, well this fella is truly gigantic (and actually quite difficult to lift).  He is still work in progress and I’ll cover this in another article.

Go Flash go – A Legions of Mongo update

(Or – How much Ming is too much Ming?)

More work on the pulp sci fi project, and further in roads into the big pile of Crooked Dice goodies I received from the last Kickstarter.

First up we have the hero himself, that chap who will save every one of us.  The inspiration for this model is very clearly the original (and possibly the best) Flash of them all, Larry ‘Buster’ Crabbe.  This is a lovely sculpt that perfectly captures that old school retro science fiction look.

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Stands for everyone of us.

Also a pleasure to paint, I went for a fairly traditional colour scheme here based on the original comic strips.  Citadel contrast was used for the majority of this model.

Following on from our lead, we have an ally and co-star in the form of the ‘Renegade Royal’.  This is one of two variations of this sculpt I received and has a passing resemblance to a certain James Bond from the eighties.  Again all painted in contrast, not so keen on the green here, maybe a bit too rich, but all the same a suitable shade for a prince of Arboria.

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To go along with the Prince I tried out another colour scheme on one of the ‘Otherworldy Guards’, this time as a tree man to accompany Barin. 

Finally for this update we have a slight diversion to the excellent Princes of the Universe range by Cold War Miniatures.  I’ve previously written about this excellent set of figures, and a few months ago picked up some of their then new ‘space Mongols’ range.  So yes, it is yet another Ming, but a bit more kitted out for action and leading the Legions of Mongo on the frontlines.

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This resin miniature is probably slightly bigger in scale than the Crooked Dice range, but it is close enough for me.

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Just as an addendum, I also completed one of the ‘macguffin’ tokens/models from the 7TV set.

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“You’ve saved your Earth. Have a nice day!”

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Next up some more expendable Mongo minions…..

Legions of Mongo – Hail Ming!

Having recently taken delivery of a big bag of ‘lead’ from Crooked Dice making up the recent Pulp Sci-fi Kickstarter I’ve gone back to my ‘Legions of Mongo’ project.

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First up we have ‘Klytus’ and ‘General Kala’ of the Imperial Secret Police.  Both fantastic sculpts and with inspiration clearly taken from the 1980 Flash Gordon movie (also known as the best film ever).

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Kala – great at dispatching war rockets

This pair were painted mainly using Citadel contrast paints.  I’ve found I can get fairly pleasing results using Black Templar over a white undercoat.

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Are you bored?  Klytus can help.

Similarly inspired from the same source are these ‘Alien Legionnaires’.  These are quite iconic and one of my favourite designs from the movie, as such I went a bit overboard and ended up with quite a lot of these to paint (including two heavy weapons teams).

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Also bought in bulk were the ‘Otherworldly Guards’.  I’ve seen these painted up as both allies (Treemen) and enemies (Ming’s guards).  I’ve gone for a similar colour scheme here to Klytus and Kala, this guy being a grunt in the secret police.

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Finally in this first batch of Crooked Dice miniatures I’ve painted is the big dog himself, the Emperor Ming.  The styling of this sculpt is more of an ode to the classic comic strips and Buster Crabbe serials of the 1930s than the movie.  In fact there is a touch of Defenders of the Earth about this Ming, so the big question was whether to go ‘green skin’ or not.  In the end I decided on a more human look, but in contrast to the blacks and reds I had themed most of the previous figures on I decided to go mainly white and ‘royal’ purple.  Again I used contrast paints for this (in the past I would never even of attempted this much white on a figure, which makes me wish contrast had come out back when I was painting a lot of Star Wars Stormtroopers for Legion).

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Emperor of the Known Universe (easily bored).

Talking of Star Wars (which was of course inspired by Flash Gordon) I recently printed some ‘Battle Droids’ that I’d found files for freely available online.  I had no intention of adding them to the Legions of Mongo until I got hold of the other figures, but I kind of think the aesthetic of them fits in nicely.

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This also gave me the chance to break out the airbrush after a long hiatus and I subesequently went with what I am now referring to as a ‘Mongo Military’ red and gold colour scheme.  I don’t think a galactic despot can really have enough robots when it comes to it!

Next up I’ve got some of the good guys to paint, including the ‘saviour of the universe’ himself.

Pulp Painting Progress

Recently I’ve been catching up with some ‘Pulp’ painting, finishing off a group of figures I didn’t get round to for the 7TV game at Hammerhead and also completing a number of half painted minis that have been on the table (in some cases for years).

First up are my ‘Sky Pirates’. A mix of figures I have been planning for us with some of the lovely looking 3D printed airships I’ve been working on recently.  The red headed heroine is an out of production mini from Statuesque Miniatures from their Pulp Alley line.  Talking of Pulp Alley, her team mates are from some Pulp Figures packs I picked up over Christmas.

Next up we have a really characterful figure from Artizan Designs.  This chap has been sat undercoated on my workbench for quite a few years now, so it was great to be able to finally get round to finishing him.  Kind of has the look of either a dependable sidekick, a guide or perhaps even an evil henchman?

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Shifting forward about a decade to more 1940s style aesthetic we have a Warlord Games ‘female agent’ style figure who wouldn’t look out of place next to a certain WW2 era star spangled Captain.

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Next we have a dastardly German office from the Thrilling Tales range of figures from Artizan Designs.

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Finally here is a set of security guards from Crooked Dice for 7TV Pulp.

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Across all of these I’ve used a mix of normal acrylic paints from the likes of Vallejo, Army Painter, Citadel, Coat d’Arms, Reaper and Andrea Colour, as well as contrast paints from Games Workshop.

I’m beginning to learn which contrast paints suit my painting style the best, with black, white and red being particular favourites.  I’m sure this is going to prove handy as I have started on the Pulp Sci Fi rewards from the latest Crooked Dice 7TV Kickstarter.

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Cobra Commander Heroclix conversion

As is often the case this little hobby activity was in no way planned.  Having bought a few cheap Heroclix figures from eBay in order to try out a new set of rules, I found the following in the booster packs I was opening….

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The original model (minus base)

Now I am not a massive Marvel or superhero comics chap, but I do know that this is Magneto, nemesis of the X-Men.  However my immediate thought was, with a bit of work that could easily be Cobra Commander seated in his throne room.

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Cobra Commander – arch enemy of GI Joe (or Action Force, if like me you grew up in the UK)

So, first up basing.  This looked to be a flying model so rather than being directly attached to the usual Heroclix chunky base, all I had to remove and replace was the clear plastic around the bottom of the model.

In my bits box I knew I had a hooded Cobra Commander head (sourced from a limited run of private commission GI Joe miniatures).  So one quick snip and a touch of superglue later and the king snake himself was pretty much done (at least in terms of modelling).

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Ready for painting.

Now the only problem I had with making this a convincing conversation was the facts that the original bare headed figure has his hand placed on a helmet.  As it happens the choice of going with the ‘hooded’ version of Cobra Commander proved fortuitous.  With a bit of filler I could convert the helmet in hand into his alternate head wear.  In fact even better I could go with the ‘Action Force’ version of the Commander and model the helmet as his previous ‘Baron Ironblood’ persona.

(For those readers not familiar with the British Action Force mythology, Cobra was born out of the ashes of the Red Shadows organisation, with Cobra Commander previously being the head of that organisation, the fearsome Baron Ironblood.  You can read more about my Action Force project and Baron Ironblood in my past blog posts.)

Introducing Cobra Commander
Baron Ironblood is reborn as Cobra Commander (from the pages of Battle Action Force comic).

Next step, painting.  I gave the pre-painted figure a covering with a white primer applied with the airbrush.  Then it was down to a combination of Citadel Contrast and ‘traditional paints’ to finish things off.  All in all a quick but effective conversion, which will probably see some action on the tabletop in games of 7TV at some point in the future.

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The Commander will see you now.

What this has reminded me is that while some of the pre-paints on Heroclix models can be a bit ropey, there are often some good sculpts hiding underneath.  Heroclix can be incredibly cheap to pick up and the vast array of characters means that these can be a really good source for conversions (whether you choose to re-paint them or not).

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Have throne – will travel

Thing is this all started off with a desire to do some super hero hobby and gaming.  I still plan on pursuing this (especially in light of the theme of this years Wargames Illustrated 7TV Day).  Well these turned up recently (I ordered them, but has kind of forgotten about them)….new unpainted X-Men Heroclix, including of course a certain Magneto….

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Wizkids ‘Deep Cuts’ unpainted Marvel Heroclix miniatures.