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).
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.
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).
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.
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).
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.
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….
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.
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).
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.)
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.
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).
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….
Having spent my holiday hobby time back in the summer building the kit (which can be broken down into various sections and therefore configured in a number of ways), I recently went back and finished the painting. It’s worth noting that the model could double as many different sorts of sub on the table top from World War 2 U boats to more modern types. One of the sections contains a set of missle tubes (which you would probably drop if using this for WW2), likewise the section which mounts a deck gun is probably specific to an earlier era boat.
I wanted to maintain the generic nature and usability of the model across different time periods and games in the way I painted it too. A black undercoat was applied using matt black primer from a spray can, followed by a dark grey spray and this was then sealed using a top coat spray (the currently incredibly hard to find in the UK Testors Dullcote).
Next up were decals. Again I wanted to keep it generic, but the more I looked at the painted model the more I felt it deserved some extra treatment with the decals in order to break up the monotony of black. I’ve got lots of decal sheets left over from my long since departed Dust Tactics collection, many of which were generic warning signs and symbols, which would do nicely to a certain degree. However I then came across a set of Soviet decals for Dust with some nice big red stars that would really stand out. These were applied over a gloss varnish and then sealed again with the same before another dullcote layer.
The final step was to apply some airbrush highlighting using some lighter grey from the Vallejo Air range. (I’ve purposely left the deck gun off at the moment as I wasn’t happy with the build, I’m planning on maybe looking to 3D printing for a replacement.)
At some point in the future I will go back and add some weathering, but at present I’m happy to get this to the table.
So in amongst all the other stuff I have going on (including a new resin 3D printer, more on which another time), I am still working my way through the big pile of lead from the 7TV Apocalypse Kickstarter.
This time up its the turn of the Creepers! These miniatures were multi-part so required a bit of superglue magic (i.e. activator) to get built. They are very much an ode to those killer plants from an early eighties BBC TV adaption of a classic sci fi novel. They are ‘triffic’ sculpts.
Having had a break from the airbrush for a few months (I tend to do all my spraying with rattle cans, especially basecoating outside while the weather is good), I decided to crack it out again for these guys. Over a white undercoat, building up a couple of successively lighter layers of green worked really well. I supplemented this with the use of yellow washes/glazes and a purple contrast paint to make it all look suitably organic and plant-like.
I went to town on the basing with these, swapping out to some of the (now standard for Space Marines anyway) 32mm round bases from Games Workshop. I added in various tufts, flock and static grass to tie in with the theme.
I also found the time to complete another of the cultists from the set, a rather lost looking survivor and am continuing to work on the motorbike gang.
A month or so back I went along to my regular club meeting without any real plans for a game. Last minute I arranged to play a game with one of my mates who had some World War II micro-armour and a few different rulesets he wanted to try out. Having had a flick through the different books we settled on Iron Cross by Great Escape Games.
What appealed about this was both it’s simplicity but also its approach to getting a lot of toys on the table at once. Add to this a (welcome) lack of weapon ranges and things seemed to add up to this being the one to try.
Iron Cross in 6mm scale
Iron Cross in 6mm scale
The rules themselves only span about ten pages and what immediately appealed was the use of ‘command tokens’ to activate, react and plan your actions. This put me in mind of the use of plot points in 7TV, so of course this immediately drew me in. It’s fair to say that I have not played that many historical wargames in my admitedly long gaming career, but I have done extensive painting and modelling of particularly WW2 in primarily 28mm.
Playing in 6mm scale (and adjusting inches to centrimetres for movement) on a 2 foot square board resulted in some really fun and fast paced games. Although the placement of tokens on the board to represent activated units provded a unique problem with this scale as the glass beads we were using were in some cases as big as the models. What became apparent to me as we played through (and was backed up by reviews I have read of the game) was that this would be ideally suited to a larger scale on a larger battlefield. 15mm seemed an ideal way to go. So emboldened with yet another new project I started plotting.
I wanted to put together two forces (rather than just build up a single army) and knowing that Flames of War 4th edition is currently hot I sought out the new (and really good value) Hit the Beach starter set. This provided me with a good basis for two starting forces and I supplemented this with some eBay purchases and also managed to track down a reduced price full German army box by Plastic Soldier Company.
My start in 15mm scale WW2 gaming
The contents of the current good value Flames of War starter set
15mm had never really appealed before, but with the enthusiasm gained from my first outing with Iron Cross in 6mm I really begun to see the attraction of getting a lot of figures and armour on the table at once.
Having agreed to give the game another go game at this larger scale at the next meeting which was only a few weeks away I got to work assembling and painting.
Most of the armour was a pleasure to put together. I’d probably say that the Battlefront Miniatures Flames of War stuff is slightly easier to assemble with the Plastic Soldier kits being slightly more fiddly. I also picked up a couple of Zvezda 1:100 scale snap fit kits to add a few of the big cats to the German forces (including a King Tiger). While cheap and ‘snap-fit’ I found that these do need a lot more after-assembly love and care (gap filling in particular).
In addition I’ve also done a bit of 3D printing to expand some forces. You can see a comparison between the Zvezda King Tiger and a 3D printed version below. While not a bad model, the obvious issue with 3D printing at this scale for a large game is simply the length of time it takes. We are not yet in the position I don’t think where the availability of 3D printing files for WW2 armour is going to have much of an impact on traditional kit sales for this very reason.
Painting the tanks and vehicles was case of keeping it quick and easy. Basecoat, dry brush highlight, wash, silver drybrush and spong chipping. For the allied armour I used a Halford Camo Green spray for the basecoat, which I would highly recommend.
The German armour was basecoated using Plastic Soldier’s Dunkelgelb yellow from a spray can. Trying to keep things at least a bit historically accurate I did various camo patterns on some of the German tanks. I am not hugely happy with these as I think they were a bit rushed. I hand painted these, whereas really I ought to have broken out the airbrush to get a better result.
Both allied and German decals have been purchased, but I haven’t yet got round to applying these.
So, the elephant in the room for me with respect to painting were the infantry. I’ve never painted anything smaller than 25mm so this was going to be interesting. In the end as the majority of the miniatures I was working with were one-piece I decided to try painting them on the sprue. In general this has worked quite well so far.
Anyhow after a productive couple of weeks assembling models and painting, this last weekend at the club we got a couple more games of Iron Cross this time on a 6′ by 4′ table in 15mm scale. Taking a very relaxed approach to matching up our forces, in the first game I got the upper hand as the Germans. In the second game we adjusted the forces to be slightly more realistic in terms of numbers (with the allies outnumbering the superior German tanks) and it went as you would expect with a victory for the British/Americans.
The rules worked really well again, we spotted some mistakes we had made last time and both games played through relatively quickly. I think we have found our go to club game for 15mm. I didn’t have enough infantry done to include them, so I think this will add an interesting new dynamic next time and that’s what I’ll be concentrating on painting wise.
So the moral of this story is don’t be afraid to try something new; however accept that it will add to your plastic/lead pile and project to-do list.
The journey through the post-apocalyptic landscape that is my pile of unpainted models continues.
Next up some of the cultists that were released by Crooked Dice originally as part of the 7TV Apocalypse Kickstarter campaign and now available via their webstore.
These are nice chunky models and were a pleasure to paint. Resisting the temptation to go down the contrast paints route on these like I did on my ‘protect and survive’ miniature, I concentrated on a more traditional approach.
I wanted to tie these guys together as a warband / cast while still reflecting their indivduality. As such I chose a ‘german field grey’ as this base.
Feeling the call of the ‘fury road’, I also had a go at a test colour scheme for one of the ‘war boys’. Trying to match the washed out white skin of the characters from the most recent Mad Max film was a bit of a challenge, and in the end I went for a combination of white drybrushing over a grey undercoat with some restained use of flesh wash. Oh and don’t forget the chrome!
I also wanted to expand my generic cast of ‘survivors’, with the intention of using these not only in games of Apocalypse, but also in other settings. A while ago I bought the Walking Dead miniatures game from Mantic, purely for the figures.
These are plastic and one-piece (and also by far the best miniatures I think Mantic have ever produced – at least from a quality control perspective). I’m thinking that these would also make an ideal ‘resistance’ for modern day 7TV (perhaps facing down an invasion of visiting alien invaders)?
Next up (and in the same vein as the ‘Mantic survivors’), a female member biker, built from the Warlord Games Project Z Motorcycle Gang set. These are former Wargames Factory models and are somewhat more spindly than their Mantic counterparts. That said I found this a really enjoyable kit to put together and paint. The majority of the figures on the sprue were bike mounted, but there was the opportunity to build a few ‘foot troops’.
Finally (and from way way way back), we have a Prince August Future Shock ‘police scientist’. This is a one piece metal miniature – I decided again to paint him in a way that he could be used across multiple settings (he has a touch of Spy-fi evil genius about him. Black Templar contrast paint was used for the primary colouring here, with some fluroescent green and yellow on the flask / syringe.
I’m finding Black Templar a really useful colour for doing black leathers and fatigues on modern setting miniatures. It works particularly well for me over a grey undercoat, giving a nice coverage of black while retaining the highlights that both the undercoat and constrast paint emphasise
Next up for this project is a biker gang (and police opponents) which I am pulling together from Crooked Dice, Project Z and Future Shock ranges with a bit of kit-bashing on the way…..
In addition to the cast I am also putting together a table layout for the day, which is going to be themed around said cast – so Red Shadow secret base it is then.
I’ll be documenting my progress over the next few weeks. The casting is mostly complete, so most of the focus will be on the table. What this is allowing me to do is also stress the 3D printer with terrain and vehicles for the Baron! I’m not planning on including any vehicles in my cast, but I figure any secret base worth its weight is going to have a pretty well stocked motor pool. So a great excuse to go wild and finish off a number of things I have had part completed for quite a while.
First up is a 1:43 scale die cast World War 2 German Puma. Following a black undercoat I airbrushed on some successively lighter layers of red and a picked out the basic highlights on the tools, metalwork and other features. Decals wise I was lucky to chance upon some custom ‘Enemy’ decals from eBay a while back. I applied these on top of a gloss varnish and subsequently weathered up using a sponge chipping technique.
All in all I’m pretty pleased with the outcome. The WW2 German aesthetic fits the Red Shadows well (the original figure being based on the German Stormtrooper).
Next up are the Hyena tanks (known more commonly by GI Joe fans as the Cobra HISS tank). I’ve got a stash of gift style toys released a few years ago that are perfect for 28mm scale and have previously painted one up, but I want a whole squadron for the motor pool. This also gave me the chance to experiment with the new Citadel Contrast paints on a vehicle rather than a miniature.
Decals were from the same source as the ones used on the Puma. The contrast paint went down well, but I have to say (as many others have commented) I feel it works much better on ‘organic’ models with plenty of folds and creases. The paint tends to pool on flat surfaces and although it does run into panel lines it is not as effective as a wash. I used Flesh Tearers Red over a white undercoat and ended up doing some dry brush highlighting afterwards in order to bring it up to a better and more consistent finish. Interesting note, wary of some reports of the adherence of contrast paints not being as good as standard acrylics, I did seal the model with Dullcote between these steps.
Finally on the vehicles I needed Shadowtraks. The eponymous Red Shadows vehicle, from both the toy line and the pages of Battle Action Force.
Featured in one of the photos above is a new Baron Ironblood miniature I am working on. I’ve previously modelled a Baron using a 7TV ‘not Blakes 7 Travis’ figure, but all in all wasn’t that pleased with the outcome (mainly on account of the rough job I did on the helmet using some very basic greenstuff skills).
While purusing my bits box a few weeks ago I happened across a figure I’m still struggling to identify. Helmet wise I’ve gone with a ‘welders mask’ head from the Crooked Dice 7TV henchmen set. Revel ‘Plasto’ putty has been used to make the mask into a full helmet. I snipped off the right hand which was holding a hypodermic needle and replaced this with a fist from a random plastic sprue and added some electrical wire as a whip. In honour of the original action figure I’m arming the Baron with an UZI which I sourced from an old Dreamforge Games Eisenkern Troopers frame.
Painting is yet to be completed but I’ll be using it as an opportunity to try both the black and white constrast paints.
More soon, including the plans for the rest of the base.