Hello Mr.Dinosaur – Wizkids Unpainted Miniatures T-Rex

I’ve previously spoken about my adventures with the Reaper Miniatures Bones range.  This eclectic range of good value plastic miniatures has something for everyone, except of course when I wanted a big dinosaur for my latest project.

So I am wanting to do something with dinosaurs and probably Nazis.  A Jurassic Reich if you like, for pulp gaming.  Possibly, just possibly this might replace my ‘Flash Gordon’ cast for the 7TV Pulp day, though I am still procrastinating on this.  (Always good to have choices though.)

Jurassic Reich - Eureka Miniatures
Eureka Miniatures Jurassic Reich – inspiration for this project (and on the shopping list)

Now there are now shortage of options available out there (including a rather wonderful range of dinosaur riding Nazis from Eureka Miniatures).  Furthermore there is even more choice if you look beyond the world of miniatures into the realm of toys (something I enjoy doing often).  However I wanted something quite specific – a big brutal looking T-Rex.  Many of the toys out there have problems with scale and not unreasonably tend to look a bit toy like.

Wizkids Unpainted 1
My first Wizkids unpainted miniatures – the Orc is for another project

A few years ago Wizkids the chaps behind the incredibly popular pre-painted Heroclix collectable miniatures game decided to dip their toes in the ‘proper’ miniatures market with the release of a range of licensed Dungeons and Dragons and Pathfinder figures.  This in of itself was not new, they had been releasing ‘blind booster’ style collectable pre-painted figures in a similar vein to Heroclix for many years.  What was different this time was that they would be unpainted.  In effect they were tapping into that wider hobbyist market of role-players and wargamers who wanted to paint their minis and saw this as a key part of their hobby.  As far as I can tell these ranges have proved very popular, like Reaper Bones are priced well, unlike Reaper Bones come pre-primed and most importantly for me the range includes a great big T-Rex.

T-Rex 5
“Dinosaur, dinosaur, hello Mr.Dinosaur” (copyright George Pig!)

This guy is from the Nolzur’s Marvellous Miniatures range of Dungeons and Dragons figures (personally I can never remember dinosaurs being a big part of D&D in my day, but hey ho).

First impressions were good.  Wizkids have gained some notoriety in the past for the quality of some of their Heroclix sculpts, but this really didn’t compare at all.  Detail was crisp and clean, there was no sign of any flash or mould lines and the grey Vallejo undercoat was applied well (consistently, not too thick and a nice light grey shade).  The tail was supplied separately and pushed to fit (although I did use super glue to fix it in place).  I probably should have used a little green stuff to fill the gap between body and tail, but to be honest, for me, it was acceptable without.

T-Rex 7

Upon opening the blister the first thing that surprised me was that unlike Reaper Bones the plastic material is quite hard.  Now whether this was a result of the bulk of this particular model I can’t really say.  However it certainly felt a bit more like the harder plastics you would associated with wargames miniatures rather than the PVC like Bones.

T Rex WIP
Airbrush applied dark green over the ‘out of the box’ undercoat

I set about painting using an airbrush to apply a dark green base coat and then highlighted this (again using an airbrush) with a lighter green.  I added shade by brushing on Army Painter Green Tone wash and picked out the mouth and tongue with flesh colours followed by a wash of flesh tone from Games Workshop.  The model was finished off by applying ochre to the teeth and claws and painting the integral scenic base in various greys.  I was impressed that the model came with both an integral base and a round plastic base to glue this to.

T-Rex 1
Finished model – flock and tufts added to the edge of the base
T-Rex 2
Roar!

All in all I am pretty pleased with the result and will certainly check out more of the unpainted Wizkids line in future.  (I couldn’t resist a rather nice looking Orc on Dire Wolf to paint up – having half an eye on Saga Age of Magic which is released later this month).

So this is the first addition to my ‘Deutsche Dinosaurier Korps’.  In terms of addition dinos I will be playing around with some other toy and model kit purchases over the next few weeks and adding some Teutonic wranglers into the mix also.

Scratch Built Oil Rig – Part 1 – superstructure

I’ve always been kind of fascinated by North Sea Oil Rigs.  There is something brutal, impossible and imposing about these behemoths.  They just kind of look impossible (and a bit frightening).

oil rig ref
© Brian Jobson / Alamy

From a gaming perspective I’ve never really been into sea based or naval wargaming, but having an oil rig/platform to play on brings to mind such inspiration as Bond (Diamonds are Forever) and the classic (in my eyes) North Sea Hijack!  Of course the ideal game for such a setting is my go to favourite, 7TV.

North Sea Hijack
In which Roger hates women but loves cats

So a few months ago I made up my mind that I was going to build an oil rig as a gaming table.  The objective of this project would be to produce something that looked kind of realistic, was easy to game on and was modular and therefore easy to transport.  I also felt that I wanted to have a go at scratch building much of this from household bits and pieces wherever possible.  So just after Christmas I put the call out to friends and colleagues for any spare coffee and sweet tins.  Because of the season I managed to get a huge variety of Roses, Miniatures Heroes, Celebrations and Roses tins in various shapes and sizes.  At the time I wasn’t quite sure of my design but felt these would provide a good basis for legs or supports.

Rig 27
The design takes shape

Likewise for coffee tins, but I found these a bit harder to come by.  I will admit at this point that I resorted to eBay and actually bought a job lot of empty Illy coffee tins (who know there was such a market for such a thing online?).  Once these arrived my design began to take shape and these seemed like an obvious choice for my legs.

The actual playing surface itself was a bit of a cheat (and not at all based on recycling household items).  Many years ago when running the shop I had stocked some modular plastic gaming tiles from Secret Weapon Miniatures.  I still have four of these that were originally designed for Mantic’s Deadzone.  As these were 1 foot square they would allow me to build the rig in four parts, each supported by a coffee tin leg with a chocolate tin as the concrete ‘boot’ or foundations.

Extending the modular idea, each quarter tile would be built in such a way that they could be put together in any order.  I decided that each tile would also have a different purpose and I divided them as follows:

  • crew quarters / offices / command deck (I’m not entirely sure if on an Oil Rig you refer to a ‘bridge’
  • refinery (an industrial looking bit)
  • crane / cargo area
  • helicopter landing pad

I’d also aim to have some form of removable central structure that would be higher than the other parts of the rig and maybe culminate in some form of radar mast or communications array.

I’m going to cover the individual area builds in some future blog entries, but for the time being, with the weather being good and some free time on my hands this weekend I’ve cracked on with the super-structure!

First off, the coffee tins proved to be really spot on for the purpose I had in mind.  Each was the same size and came with a screw on lid.  By affixing one lid to the bottom of each platform tile I have been able to easily implement a system for taking the rig apart for transport and storage.  I decided on a ‘two tin’ height for each leg.  By gluing the top of one tin to the bottom of another I could further disassemble each leg into two parts, again meeting the modular objective.

rig 36
Lid affixed with super glue to the bottom of each platform section
rig 30
Next lid glued to the base of the ‘previous’ tin

 

Rig 5
All four sections – showing assembly method
Rig 3
And the right way up

Four matching plastic chocolate ‘tins’ (Cadbury’s Miniature Heroes for those of you who are interested) were chosen as the ‘concrete’ foundations for each leg.  These were inverted so the lid was at the bottom and a coffee tin sized hole was cut in each for the main leg to slot into and provide stability.  I decided not to glue the lids of chocolate tins together as they had a good seal and I want the ability to add ballast to these if necessary in future.

The tiles themselves come with a system of clips which link them together, so these would provide some extra stability and stop the sections moving independently.

Rig 2
Top view

Paint was applied to ‘legs’ and ‘boot’s next.  Black car primer for the undercoat followed by a cheap Nato green spray for the legs and my old favourite textured stone paint for the ‘boots’.

 

Rig 17
Paint Factory Nato Green (Matt) was only £2 a can (from Boyes)

I’ve covered the use of textured stone paint in a previous blog entry, but needless to say the same principles applied – lots of coats and considerable drying time between each.  I started off using a mid-tone stone, but soon ran out so ended up with subsequent coats of a lighter ‘bleached stone’.  Once this is weathered down I don’t think it will look too bad, and certainly from the off it gives a great representation of concrete.

Once I’d taken advantage of the decent weather to dry these components outdoors, it was time for a test build.

Et voila, so far, so good.

Rig 26

Rig 25

Size wise on it’s own this gives a 2′ by 2′ playing surface which is ideal for a small skirmish game, but plonk this on a bigger layout (maybe on a blue ‘sea’ cloth) with a few strategically placed boats and you could have for some quite interesting scenarios.

Rig 24

Rig 23

Next up will be to work on some the individual tiles.  For the refinery I will be using a Pegasus/Conflix/Tehnolog ‘Chemical Plant’ kit with some Games Workshop and Mantic additions.  The crane and containers will be an MDF kit, as will the living quarters, while for the helicopter pad I will be sticking with the coffee tin / confectionery container approach.

Quite a bit still to do, but I am aiming to get this ready for the 7TV campaign day at Dales Wargames Club in May.

Further updates soon…

 

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

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.

7TV Apocalypse Vehicles – Interceptor and The Compact Pussycat

More work on the post-apocalyptic motor pool as I prepare for my first full game of 7TV Apocalypse.

Never one to start one new project, when I could do two in parallel, I’ve embarked on building the Crooked Dice V8 Interceptor resin kit and also a conversion of a die cast toy.  The latter is going to be the wheels for my PA ‘Penelope Pitstop’ figure which along with the Interceptor I picked up as part of the recent Kickstarter.

PA cars 1

The (second to) last of the V8 Interceptors

So first off the Interceptor kit.  I originally got hold of one of these when they were released last year and made sure I included another in my Kickstarter pledge.  This is a really nice, crisply cast resin model with loads of accessories.  Taking it’s inspiration from the Mad Max films, the extra bits and pieces allow it to be built in a number of configurations.

I had previously built and painted this as a ‘Main Force Patrol’ police pursuit car from the original Mad Max.  Looking back I wasn’t too keen on paint job I’d done, so the chance to built another one and make a better fist of it wasn’t to be passed up.

I’ve decided to go with a much more wastelands ‘last of the V8s’ look for this one, with the addition of the massive rear shield (which puts me in mind of the Death Race remakes of recent years).

V8 1
All the bits for the build (leaving plenty left over)

Following a soak in warm soapy water and using pound shop superglue the pieces went together really well (with minimal clean up required).  I was also left with plenty of accessories left over to use on other kits and conversions.

V8 2
Flipping the chassis over to attach the exhausts shows just what an amazingly clean cast the kit is
V8 3
Exhausts attached
V8 4
Bonnet and air intake / super charger (I think, I’m not really a car person)!
V8 5
Wheels attached – I’d attached one of the exhausts too far down the chassis, so one of the rear wheels needed some ‘persuasion’ to put into place
V8 6
Ready to attach the bonnet – the engine enclose contains sculpted detail in case you wanted to leave it open (just one of the nice touches on this kit)
V8 7
Finished kit ready for painting (bumper and rear shield in place)
V8 8
That rear shield should afford some protection out on the roads!

The Compact Pussycat (with claws)

Despite having a huge pile of figures to paint up from the Kickstarter all of which are excellent, there are a couple that stuck out that I really wanted to get to the top of the queue. One of these was the aforementioned Penny.  Now of course, Penny needs a ride for the ‘wacky wasteland races’, so off the the big pile of unused Teamsterz cars it was then.

CP 1
Teamsterz Street Machine (approximately 1/43 scale) with conversion bits from Crooked Dice

Using some of the left over Interceptor bits and bits from the stowage set I’ve come up with my own interpretation of the ‘Compact Pussycat’ (only this time with guns)!

CP 2
The guns were left over from the Interceptor kit.  Glued together as a twin linked set.
CP 3
The pimped up ride, ready for paint
CP 4
Bull bars adding a bit of grunt!
CP 6
Stowage bits from Crooked Dice

Paint job has yet to be finalised, and as I have now got the full boxed set of rules through for 7TV Apocalypse I shall also be shortly stating up this motor.

You can purchase the Interceptor kit directly from Crooked Dice, where you will also find the stowage sets and loads of other PA goodies for the tabletop.

You can find Teamsterz (sometimes called Roadsterz) in various discount stores and toy shops up and down the UK.

More soon…..

Red Shadows Helicopter

I recently picked up an inexpensive die cast toy helicopter and have set about quickly adding it to the ranks of Baron Ironblood’s forces.  This was a relatively quick and easy conversion using as it’s basis a Teamsterz Rescue Helicopter, which cost me about £4.

Taking advantage of the unseasonably good weather I was able to spray this up quickly outside using Halfords Black as a primer followed by an all over of Humbrol Crimson and then a zenith highlight (well a top down spray) of Humbrol Red.

chopper4
Halfords Black primer provides a wonderfully Matt finish when dry

The Humbrol sprays while being acrylics were gloss.  I’d didn’t think this would look too out of place for a chopper, however it ended up being a little too shiny, so this was solved with a once over of Testors Dullcote (which also provided a good base for the details and highlights).

chopper5
Humbrol gloss crimson applied – shiny!
chopper6
Red highlight – even shinier!

The toy had some decent panel lined detail, so I highlighted this using a black marker pen (designed for lining Gundam models).  Windows were painted with Citadel Magragge Blue and tints were applied using a white Gundam marker this time.  Other bits and pieces were painted black or silver and really that was it.

chopper7
Post Dullcote, windows done, awaiting panel lining

It wasn’t until after I had nearly finished that I noticed the screw holes holding the model together on one side.  Had I realised from the start these would have been filled, however as a gaming piece I can live with this.

Final touch was the addition of some decals which I had picked up a few months back on eBay.

chopper12
Decals – originating from a Tattoo studio in the US
chopper10
Survivalist for scale!

There we have it – air transport for the Baron.  Scale is just about OK for 28mm scale miniatures, if anything it is slightly large, but hey, more room for Mutons!

chopper14
Battle Action Force – Operation Bloodhound – helicopter getaway

Next up for the Shad motor pool is an armoured car based on a 1/43rd die cast Puma….

chopper15

Meeples & Miniatures – Episode 256 – View from a Twisted Pinnacle

I was recently given the opportunity to go on the long running Meeples and Miniatures Podcast as a guest presenter.

I talk to regular presenters Mike and Neil about my background in the hobby, current projects and purchases and also spend sometime discussing my experiences of working in the industry.

The episode is now available to download for free from their website (or via your favourite podcasting app). They also have a Patreon account setup up if you feel like donating a few pennies to the upkeep and ongoing production of the show.

Meeples & Miniatures

Download Episode 256

Neil Shuck & Mike Hobbs are joined by a guest presenter in the shape of Patreon backer James Aldridge for this episode of the podcast.

  • 00:00 – Introduction – We chat with James and discover how he got into the hobby and what his favourite games/miniatures are.
  • 21:20 – Confessional – Time to own up to all those hobby purchases we have made recently.
  • 57:55 – Our Hobby – We talk about our recent gaming, including Keyforge, 1066 Tears for Many Mothers and Kill Team. James tells us about his recent trip to Warhammer World whilst Hobbsy reveals all about his adventures at Grogmeet.
  • 1:34:35 – Tales of a Twisted Pinnacle – James tells us his somewhat cautionary tale of his brief foray into the hobby as a retail seller. On a more positive note, he then shares with us his passion for repurposing toys as wargaming…

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