I’ve been spending some time recently painting up more of the figures I got as part of the recent Crooked Dice 7TV Argonauts Kickstarter. In addition to the miniatures that I received as part of my pledge I have also been expanding the force with other suitable models from my collection.
For those not in the know, the Kickstarter was to fund a programme guide for 7TV with associated miniatures and profiles to represent the evil Doctor Ulysses Argo and his monstrous robotic creations. As a ode to fantastic and cult TV and cinema of the 1960s and 1970s, the original ‘spy-fi’ version of 7TV has always had a place in my heart. In painting up and modelling this cast for the game I very much wanted to reflect that style of the times, so have gone with a suitably ’70’s beige’ palette.
The majority of my robotic characters would have heavy gold and bronze accents, with my more human types wherever possible sticking to the mustards, yellows and browns from the decade that fashion forgot.
Nowhere is this more pronounced that in my representation of Argo himself. This was mainly painted with thin layers of various contrast paints and tied together with washes.
Following on we have ‘the Nightmare’, a tribute to frankly one of the most terrifying characters and scenes from an 80s movie of my youth – yup computer cyblorg lady from the end of Superman III. I had originally painted her with blue metallic hair but switched this over to a gold to tie it more in with the rest of the cast.
The Argonauts themselves are robots bearing a not disimilar look to a certain race of metallic beings from a 70s (and susequent noughties) space opera TV show. I have painted these up in a more traditional manner befitting the original source material as I am planning on a separate Battlestar Galactica set of casts in future.
Next up are a diversion from the 7TV models to my old favourites the Tehnolog plastic cyborgs (of which these four represent the last I have in my stash). While I had previously experiemented with a purple colour scheme for one, I have done the rest in the ‘team Argo’ colours of gold and silver. My gold technique is achieved using Humbrol spray paints using Brass as a base and then a light top down highlight of Gold. I intend to use these as proxies for the ‘titans’ in the programme guide.
While I am doing the robot thing, I’ve also added a couple of 3D prints from the Titan Forge Miniatures Cyber Forge Patreon, of which I am a member. While nominally for a more ‘cyberpunk’ setting I have again gone for an Argonauts colour scheme here to tie them in with the rest of the team.
One thing I have additionally done here and in other paint jobs for this team is to pull out some spot colours. In particular I like the idea that not all of Argo’s tech is necessarily homegrown and maybe he has had some outside (even alien help) in constructing his robotic hordes. As such I have used some of the Citadel technical gemstone paints to pick out across various models some glowing red, green and blue lights. This is really an ode to the martians from the War of the Worlds and is particularly apt when it comes to the following two centrepieces for the force.
I’ll be going in to more detail about both the Crooked Dice and Bombshell Miniatures tripod models in more detail in an upcoming blog.
Enter the Spartoi – deadly regenerating robots created by evil genius Ulysses Argo!
These metal miniatures are lovely sculpts and required next to no clean up. After a quick wash in warm soapy water these were dried off and given a black undercoat from a can.
I decided on a dark metallic look so used a basecoat of Humbrol Bronze, followed by a light zenith of the Gold from the same range (both in spray cans). To add some depth I highlighted with a silver drybrush and an all over wash of Army Painter soft tone wash. Certain highlights were then re-picked out in silver.
My original plan was to use a set of old tank number decals on the shields to emphasise their autonomous robotic nature, however having completed the painting and with the shields having the same metallic look as the bodies I thought I’d try something different.
Constrast paints applied quite thinly over the metallic base gave a glass/gem like appearence to the shields. The addition of Humbrol gloss cote as a finishing touch further emphasises this. I like the idea that these are some form of energy absorbing device.
The skulls were painted in a yellow sand and then given a soft tone wash.
Printed in parts, I assembled with super glue and gave them a once over of a metallic grey car spray paint I picked up in a sale at Halfords. As an aside I would highly recommend Halfords for good quality, relatively inexpensive rattle cans. I’d particularly recommend their grey primer as a really effective undercoat.
Any how, these ‘drones’ were then detailed with some hightlights of gold and a dot of colour here and there. The tracks were done using my usual approach of a silver dry brush over a very dark brown base coat, followed by a ‘strong tone’ wash.
Finally how about a wasteland survivor to face down the machines? Another 3D print, again from Bombshell Miniatures, but this time from one of their monthly Pateon releases from earlier in the year.
Primarily painted with contrast paints, I’m not sure how much use those revolvers are going to be against the machines though.
So first up we have a Hawkman prince from Cold War. This was a resin miniature that was a bit fiddly to glue together but was relatively straight forward to paint. The scale of this range is slightly bigger than the Crooked Dice figures at about 32mm scale, but they don’t look too out of place together. Anyhow the character on which this miniature takes it’s inspiration is somewhat larger than life!
Back to the Crooked Dice figures, I had not yet given the ‘spider queen’ a lick of paint. Looking somewhat like a good girl gone bad (perhaps Dale succumbed to Ming’s charms), I decided to go for a white colour scheme to contrast with the darker tones of some of my other villains.
I’d added some additional Otherworldly Guards miniatures to my base Kickstarter rewards in order to have a plentiful supply of expendable minions. I’ve been trying various colour schemes on these with intention of being able to use them as either good guys or the hordes of the Emperor Ming.
While recently tidying up my hobby area I came across a set of Scale 75 coloured metallic paints that I had previously stocked when trading but never really used. Many of these were the usual golds, silvers, bronzes and coppers you get across similar ranges, but there were a few primary and secondary colours in here too. One in particular, Ruby Alchemy, caught my eye as being ideal for a slightly camp set of space soldiers.
With some additional details picked out with Emerald Alchemy from the same range, I am quite pleased with how these came out. Depth was added using Army Painter washes and the metallics were picked out with a standard Citadel gold. Unlike most of my recent painting there was very little in the way of Citadel Contrast paints used here, with only skin tones applied in this way.
The final addition to this little troupe is a 3D print from Bombshell Miniatures. Printed on my AnyCubic Photon resin printer this was a free sample model that was made available to promote their recent Bikes and Bots Kickstarter.
All in all I’ve really enjoyed the variety and freedom of palette painting these style of miniatures.
While I only have a few of the 7TV Crooked Dice Miniatures left to paint, this months’ set of printable files from Bombshell Miniatures have recently landed via their monthly Patreon and the theme is similar.
On Sunday 17th November 2019 I had the pleasure alongside the rest of the Dales Wargames Club of hosting our latest 7TV event.
Titled the 7TV Open University, this event was a follow up to the games day we held earlier in the year and was again held at the Whitworth Centre in Darley Dale near Matlock in Derbyshire. The focus was once more on narrative play rather than competition, with an additional aim of getting new players into the game.
I wanted to make the event beginner friendly in order to spread the joy of 7TV as far and wide as possible. For the first event earlier in the year we really didn’t have any overarching theme and I was keen to address this for our second outing. Therefore I came up with a theme of the ‘7TV Open University’ which would encompass both the scenarios we’d play through on the day in addition to the focus on new players.
To get new players into the action as quickly and easily as possible I created a number of pre-built casts for new players to pick from. Cast size was set at 40 ratings for the event and for what I referred to as the ‘pick and play’ casts on the day I stuck to profiles from the core 7TV 2nd Edition ‘Inch High Spy Fi’ set. These also happen to be the same profiles that can be obtained from Crooked Dice as a free download and are also available within the casting agency application. This was a concious decision to demonstrate to new players how much fun can be had ‘out of the box’ with 7TV.
Eight ‘pick and play’ casts were created and I’ll be writing about each of these in future articles. Basically it was a case of matching what painted miniatures I had in my collection against the core profiles and using a bit of imagination. And it was a lot of fun. Heres the list of casts:
Department XS (‘Excess’)
The Guru and the Spacemen
Knight Industries 3000
The Tuetonic Order of Luna
United Nations Alien Countermeasures Force
The Cult of Fu Manchu
After a sudden surge of interest in the few days leading up to the event, I had my fingers crossed that I had casts for budding new players. That also meant we had to get at least seven tables setup on the day. I was able to dip into the clubs scenery collection as well as my own and we ended up with an eclectic mix of setups including a V2 launch site, a woodland area with mysterious stone circle, a dockside loading area, a cobbled townscape and a couple of post apocalypse wastelands.
A couple of attendees also brought along tables, including Simon Quinton and his excellent PA diner and highway. Thankfully as well, there were enough sets of cards and templates and tokens to go around.
So, what about the scenarios (or more correctly in 7TV parlance, the episodes)? To tie in with the university theme I came up with a narrative that had the studio obtaining a government grant for educational programming. This was then immediately diverted into their adventure series and as bonuses for their top stars with the producers then having to work the system to avoid getting closed down by the government regulators.
Using the basic scenarios from the 7TV Spy-fi set I added some extra narrative tweaks. This introduced events that included shoehorning famous scientists into the episode (guest starring as themselves) or potentially having to deliver public services messages at the expense of action sequences.
In future articles I’ll go into a bit more detail around how the episodes were setup and how they worked, as well as making them available for others who might want to try them out.
While not a tournament in any way, the kind offer of prizes from Karl at Crooked Dice and Wayne at Wargames Illustrated meant that we did need to find a couple of ways of measuring some degree of success on the day. In addition to the usual ‘most sporting player’ (aka ‘best director’), we also had on offer a prize for most victory points accumalted and a wooden spoon for biggest margin of defeat.
I was busy moving between tables and didn’t get to see much of the action over and above helping out with rules and scenario queries (and taking lots of photos). However a few of the attendees have kindly written up reports of the action on the day and you can find these here:
The day itself went really well. It was extremely tiring but very satisfying experience and I’d like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who turned up and especially the veterans who helped guide the new players through their first games. All in all there were a lot laughs had, which is really what it is all about isn’t it?
We are going to do it all again in 2020 with a 7TV Apocalypse day scheduled for Sunday 5th April with the working title of ‘White Line Nightmares!”. In the meantime the club have agreed to run a couple of participation games at upcoming shows (more on that soon), but I’m also really looking forward to actually getting a game or two in myself. First up in January is another event at Board in Brum in Walsall which promises to be great, with the now annual Wargames Illustrated event scheduled for the summer.
I’ve said it before, but it is worth reiterating – patience is a virtue, especially when it comes to 3D printing. Over the last few months I’ve made some great inroads into ‘dialling my settings in’ and getting some great results for scenery pieces and larger models. I’ve done something I’ve never done before – stripping electrics and re-wiring when a key component broke and I’ve also discovered some fantastic digital sculptors pushing their wares on Patreon.
So a reminder, I am running a Creality CR-10S which is a larger bed (meaning larger print sizes) FDM printer. FDM stands for Fused Deposition Modeling, this is the most traditional style of 3D printer on the market and basically works by layering down melted plastic filament to build up a model. The material I am using is PLA – this is an odourless plastic based on corn starch (so biodegrable). Having played around with different brands (which does make a difference) I have settled on eSun PLA+ (in a rather splendid yellow). PLA+ seems to be a slightly more dense version of PLA (possible with extra additives) and I have found it produces stronger models that are easier to work with both in terms of modelling and painting post-printing.
One of the key challenges with printing miniatures in particular is getting the ‘supports’ right. Supports are the removable parts of the print, which you’ve guessed it, support parts of the model which overhang and would otherwise have to print in mid-air (as a famous guide book once said – this is of course impossible). There are plenty of miniature designs out there in the 3D printing universe which have been specially designed to print without supports (more on these in a bit). The real issue when you are using them is to get them so they provide enough ‘support’ for the model while also being relatively easy to remove without snapping off those important bits that should remain in place.
Supports can be tricky to remove
Supports visible from the rear of this model
It can be a messy job
When taking this into account there are all sorts of different variables and pieces of advice out there. Most of these relate to how you process the STL file prior to printing in your ‘slicing software’, but many also relate to the physical setup of your machine, brand and even colour of filament used and so on. Lots of trial and error, lots of visiting Facebook groups, checking YouTube and reading forums – so again patience is a virtue. For information I am using a piece of software called Cura to process (slice) the files before printing. Learning and tweaking the settings in here is all part of the fun!
In the end I have got this about right I think and some of the results I am getting for larger miniatures both with and without supports are really pleasing.
But where I am getting the files from to print? Thingiverse is a great resource – a community of designers and printers and a place to find stuff that is free. There are specific groups and collections of files on there which are aimed at tabletop gamers. However there is also a growing trend for digital sculptors and designers to use the Patreon funding platform to market and distribute work.
I currently support two Patreon campaigns, where for a monthly charge I get access to a number of STL files each month. Duncan ‘shadow’ Louca is well worth checking out. I first came across his work as part of a Kickstarter campaign which was creating tanks and armoured vehicle files for a ‘grimdark’ setting. However he has since branched out into miniatures which are primarily aimed at the fantasy roleplaying game market. Duncan is extremely prolific and the level of funding he is achieving each month is quite staggering. It is worth saying that the quality of the prints I have been getting from his files have been excellent as well. So both quantity and quality – winner!
Model by Duncan Louca
Model by Duncan Louca
Model by Duncan Louca
Model by Duncan Louca
Model by Duncan Louca
Model by Duncan Louca
Another Patreon I have also recently started supported is run by Rocket Pig Games. They again focus on fantasy monsters and creatures primarily for role playing (but for me ideal for planning out a Saga Age of Magic army). The big selling point of their models is the aforementioned lack of supports. Well worth checking out. They also run a seperate Patreon campaign which focuses more on Lovecraftian ‘cosmic horror’ style miniatures.
Astral Lurker (Rocket Pig Games)
Filbolg (Rocket Pig Games)
The thing that connects everything I have covered so far is that I am printing big models. In addition thanks to some recent Kickstarer campaigns and the wealth of treasures on Thingiverse I have been printing lots of scenery. Again, although often detailed, this is big chunky stuff. For the most part the models produced are sturdy and where supports are necessary they are relatively easy to remove.
What about normal sized 28mm scale miniatures though? I recently volunteered to print our some models that a friend had designed and purchased on HeroForge. This is a great site where you can design character miniatures for your games and then either get them printed and shipped out to you or receive the STL files for printing out yourself. It is here that I’ve noticed that you are really stretching the capabilities of a FDM printer. As you are effectively layering up a model by depositing thin layers of plastic you do get some lines on flat surfaces. For larger models these can be easily filed or treated post-printing (with plastic putty for example). Settings can again be tweaked in slicing software to increase the resolution of a print (by reducing the layer height, but thus increasing print times); combined with the ability to swap out nozzles of different diameters this can lead to some stunning results. Of course on smaller models even with a high resolution setting and a smaller nozzle size these lines do become more visible. Combine this with the issue of removing supports and you do start to get some problems with bits snapping off that shouldn’t or obsfucation of detail.
This very much became apparent when I was trying to print off these models – many came out well, but there were a few where the detail was just too fine and the oft mentioned patience became somewhat stretched.
There is some light on the horizon though. SLA (Stereolithography) printers are becoming much more affordable. These work in a slightly different way and although they tend to have a smaller print size and are somewhat messier (they use light to harden liquid resin that is contained in a reservoir to create the desired 3D shape), they are ideal for printing smaller more detailed minaitures.
Crooked Dice Game Design Studio are launching a very short Kickstarter on Friday 29th March at 7pm GMT. This is to fund a small range of 28mm scale miniatures to support the 7TV Pulp boxed set which is launching for retail at the UK Games Expo this year.
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.
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…
Much of my recent hobby activity has been around the modelling and painting of 28mm scale post apocalypse figures and vehicles. This was inspired by my involvement in the beta testing of 7TV Apocalypse which is now coming towards it’s conclusion on Kickstarter.
Currently over three times funded, but with plenty of good stuff still to be unlocked I’d heartily recommend backing this (if not so we can please unlock the Alien Invaders (‘Visitors’).
The campaign is running until 9pm (GMT) on Tuesday 6th November.
I’d got to the point of having assembled the resin beast and through copies use of greenstuff and a bit of boiling water got the build to the point at which I was ready to get some paint down.
Initial undercoat using Modelmates White Primer
Basecoated using Plastic Soldier Panzer Grey
First off, I’d made a decision to go ‘German Weird World War’ rather than ‘Grimdark Future’ in terms of theme. However rather than go with the classic late war yellow / camo look of the immediate post war timelines of things like Dust and Konflikt 47, I decided to go with a more science fiction / modern camo look. Originally I was planning on using some splinter style camo templates from Anarchy Models, but upon inspection these looked a bit too small. In the end I decided on a light grey/dark grey angular camo pattern using masking tape to mark the pattern out. Using a Panzer Grey spray from Plastic Soldier Company over a white undercoat, the masking was applied and a light grey then applied (Humbrol).
Masking in progress
All over spray of Humbrol Grey
Once dry I tackled the tracks, using a Reaper Miniatures Charred Brown mixed with a few drops of Valejo Glaze Medium to help thin. This was then followed with a silver drybrush using Army Painter Plate Mail.
A dark brown (mixed with a couple of drops of glaze medium) was brushed onto the tracks, prior to a silver drybrush
I decided to tackle decals next (prior to weathering). Decals were sourced from my decals spares box. Most of these were Dust Tactics Axis decals.
Weathering was achieved by applying an all over brush on of Army Painter Quickshade Dark. Once dry chipping was applied using a bit of old sponge, first using a dark brown and then a silver, concentrating on the edges and areas that would be subject to the most wear. Finally (and as an experiment) I applied a bit of Modelmates engine oil around some of the grills and as vertical streaks on the side panels. Final steps were to dull down the Quickshade using an all over spray of Testors Dullcote.
All in all I pretty pleased with the outcome. I haven’t really got a game lined up for this, but I imagine this might be appearing in a ‘moon Nazis’ scenario in 7TV as a centrepiece or objective.
I’ve still got a couple more vehicles to finish off from the Kickstarter and the troops I’ve got are ear marked for Imperial Guard proxies for Kill Team (not a game I have tried yet, but something my gaming group is starting to get into).