Aliens APC in 28mm scale (3D printed)

For an ‘Aliens obsessed’ friend I recently completed printing, assembling and painting the iconic Colonial Marines Armoured Personnel Carrier.

Aliens APC - movie still

There were no shortage of models available to browse and download on Thingiverse.  The once I settled on, based on being both pre-scaled and available to print almost in one piece (a big advantage of the large print bed the CR-10S gives me) was this by Iava808.

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APC in 28mm by Iava808 – one piece chassis.  Wheels and turrets printed separately.

Overall print time was long!  The chassis alone took nearly a day, however the resulting model was well worth it.

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Printed components ready for assembly and painting.  SunTop Silk PLA filament.

Using a base of PSC German Field Grey from a can and a bit of drybrush highlighting followed by a wash of Citadel Athonian Camoshade did the job nicely.

APC painted
Painted with Prodos ‘Unicast’ marine for scale reference.  Top turret and door are movable.

As the nice gentleman said: “Game over man, game over…”.

Scratch Built Oil Rig – Part 2 – Refinery and Crane

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

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

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

Refinery

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

chemical_plant_box

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

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

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Refinery sat on modular platform (Zulu for scale!)

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

 

Crane and loading area

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

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

 

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

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

Platform tiles

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

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

 

Hobby 2.0 – 3D printing for tabletop gaming

I’ve been sitting on the fence when it comes to 3D printing for a couple of years now.  This has partly been down to funds, but also in no small part to the time investment required and ease of use of both hardware and software.

However this last Christmas I took the opportunity to pick up a 3D printer for the first time.  After a couple of months of sitting in a box I finally got this up and running over the last couple of weeks and have started my journey into what I am calling ‘Hobby 2.0’.

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The printer I chose is a Creality CR-10S – a good budget printer with a large print bed

Let’s get things straight from the off, 3D printing at home is by no means a ‘plug and play’ experience yet.  Yes, the affordability has put this technology within the reach of most now (in the same way as other new technology over the years has gradually got both more affordable and more powerful over time).  The key thing to accept though is that 3D printing at the moment is a hobby in its own right.  It requires time and patience and a willingness to fail in order to get better.

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My very first 3D print – a cobblestone base.  Start small in order to test and tweak settings.

There are plenty of great articles and resources out there on the internet for those wanting to get involved for the first time, so the purpose of this article is not to present a detailed guide to getting started, but to offer some advice and share my experiences so far as a tabletop gaming hobbyist trying to get into this new and exciting technology.

My main takeaways from about a month of 3D printing for tabletop gaming so far are as follows:

  • Don’t expect miracles (be patient and take stock) – prints will fail and in some cases may not turn out exactly as you planned, but bear in mind just what we are now able to achieve in our own homes!
  • Expect to do more work after the print is finished – you are not going to get a tabletop ready model straight off the printer.  Some clean-up will be required (but then that’s half the fun of being a hobbyist isn’t it?)
  • It takes a long time – prints can take hours or even days – again, however just consider what we are now able to do in our own front rooms!
  • Little things can make a big difference, be that ‘bed leveling’, temperature settings or the type and make of filament you are using.
  • Get a buddy or a guru if you can – I’ve been very lucky to get some great support off a fellow 3D printing gamer via Facebook.  Ask questions on forums and social media, watch YouTube videos, read articles, but accept that everyone’s’ experiences and setup can very.
  • Get on Thingiverse and have a browse!  Can’t recommend this site enough for free model files.
  • In order to process 3D print files (STL) for you printer you will need some ‘slicing’ software.  Find some software you like and can get on with.  For me Cura has proven ideal, is widely used in the community, is relatively easy to use and has some good features.

So as I say this isn’t a detailed ‘how to’ guide, but I hope it offers some perspective on what to me is a fascinating new aspect to the tabletop hobby.

I’ll be doing plenty of articles moving forward on taking my 3D prints to the tabletop, so stay tuned.  You can see some of my efforts so far below:

 

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.

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Lid affixed with super glue to the bottom of each platform section
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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.