Cold War Gone Hot – a question of scale

I have been looking for a while to do some ‘what if’ World War III (or cold war gone hot gaming). Growing up in the 80’s I have a morbid fascination with how close we came to the end of all things at the time, with 1983 being in retrospect a key year. A lot of things nearly went very badly wrong (for more background I’d highly recommend the book 1983 The World at the Brink by Taylor Downing).

Well recommended (and in retrospect, terrifying!)

Rules wise I have been looking at a number of options, including Battlegroup NORTHAG by Plastic Soldier Company, Seven Days to the River Rhine by Great Escape Games and The Zone by my good friend Wayne Bollands and published by Caliver Books.

With gaming pretty much on hold at the moment due to the pandemic my momentum for starting a new project stalled for a couple of months, but I have recently been inspired to revisit this after listening to the audiobook version of Harold Coyle’s Team Yankee. It would be remiss at this point to not mention the game by the same name based on the Flames of War system by Battlefront Miniatures as another potential gaming option.

I’m also very much aware of the issue of scale when it comes to gaming a theoretical World War III in the 1980s. Of course, assuming things didn’t immediately start and then end in nuclear destruction (a big assumption) we are basically talking about masses of tanks moving across the planes of northern Europe. From a gaming perspective this lends itself well to scales at 15mm and less (i.e. getting as much armour as possible on the table). The aforementioned Team Yankee and it’s supporting model range means there is no lack of availability when it comes to models and miniatures. However, while I have dipped my toe in 15mm scale in the past for World War 2 gaming, I fancied trying something a bit different.

I’m really into narrative gaming and so want the flexibility to flick between those bigger games concentrating on tank-on-tank battles to maybe some sort of special forces missions behind enemy lines (perhaps a Soviet raid on hidden Harrier launch sites or NATO forces seeking out some mobile nuke launchers). To this end infantry are important to me and the ability to work on a one figure to one man ratio is equally as key. I also haven’t really enjoyed painting really tiny fighting men in the past (and painting is my primary source of joy when it comes to the hobby).

Some WW2 Germans in 15mm I painted a while ago – while pleased with the results I found painting at this much smaller scale not quite as rewarding as usual.

So the ideal compromise seems to be 20mm (or more specifically 1/72 and 1/76 kits and miniatures). This would allow me to explore something else I have wanted to do for quite some time – using traditional soft plastic figures for wargaming. This is an oft overlooked source of good value miniatures for wargaming and I was first turned on to this by the excellent Wargaming Compendium written by the Henry Hyde a few years ago.

While Henry’s focus in the book was on Napoleonics, the principle is the same- there are a lot of them out there, they are cheap and readily available and a really good way to build up large armies quickly.

From a manufacturer perspective we are looking at the big scale model kit manufacturers here, the likes of Airfix, Italeri, Revell and so on. My initial plan is to concentrate on British and Soviets as my opposing forces. Finding figures for 80s style British infantry was slightly harder than I imagined.

My first two purchases – another advantage of going the soft plastics 1/72 route is cost. Each of these cost only about a tenner for a significant number of figures.

I picked up a box of Italeri NATO troops which included a handful of Brits, however some of these were armed with the SA-80 rather than the SLR, which put them slightly later than my desired early 80’s timeframe. Therefore I also picked up a box of Revell Falklands British Paratroopers and House of Campaign British Infantry of the 1970s (which I am yet to start) which were closer to what I needed in terms of small arms.

The former were interesting in that they were actually sold as 1/76 rather than 1/72 scale. However a scale comparison using the excellent resource that is the Plastic Soldier Review website showed that these wouldn’t look too small if mixed in with other figures. The latter were interesting in a different way in that they were very familiar – it turns our that these are scaled down versions of the Brittains toy soldiers I had as a kid (ironically probably about the time I am looking to represent!).

Example of the Italeri NATO troops figures on sprues. THe detail on tese is excellent.
Some of the Italeri figures based and ready for undercoating.

Once I had gathered all the necessary figures (I also added in an Italeri Warsaw Pact box of figures from Italeri) I set about preparing to paint. I have never really painted soft plastics before, but was aware of their reputation for not necessarily holding paint well. Therefore I made doubly sure that any figures I was working on were thoroughly washed in hot soapy water before giving them an undercoat. A lot of advice I have read also advises an initial coat of watered down PVA glue before painting, but I decided to skip this step and went straight to an undercoat (in white).

Note that isn’t a red cap badge on the chap on the ledt but a piece of rogue red glitter from my daughter’s crafting! (From teh Revell Falklands Paratroppers set.)

My biggest challenge with painting these guys (over and above the slightly smaller scale than I am used to) was to effectively represent the DPM camo of the time. I ended up referencing a number of Osprey books and online sources and went for a very basic representation using a Vallejo Uniform Green as a base coat with camo gently stippled and painted using Army Painter Basilisk Brown, Vallejo Flat Earth and Citadel Abaddon Black. The whole thing was then tied together with a Athonian Camo shade (green) wash from Citadel. I mixed things up with the uniforms a bit, leaving some with plain trousers (as per some of the reference materials I looked into). For these I used a Citadel Death Guard Green again with the camo shade.

Revell 1/76 miniature – showing the mix of green trousers and DPM camp top. Note that I used black Citadel contrast paint for the weapons.
Revell figures. While most of the sculpts were good the fella on the left has quite a nasty mould line on his face, but at gaming distance (rather than close up like this) I am more than happy with the quality of the figures and the paint job I have achieved.

A key part of choosing the 20mm equivalent scale was the desire to single base the miniatures. Some of these have been based on 1p peices, but I eventually invested in some 20mm round plastic bases from Renedra.

The majority of these figures are from the Revel 1/76 Falklands Paratroops box. I chose to paint these all up as regular infantry rather than paras, hence the beret colour.
From the Italeri NATO troops box – at 1/72 there is very little difference in size between this infantry man armed with a GPMG and the figures from the Revell set.
Another figure from the Italeri set – armed with an SA-80 this dates him slightly later than I am aiming for, but again pleased with the way he had turned out.
A mix of the Revell (left, right) and Italeri figures (middle) – showing the very slight difference in 1/76 (Revell) and 1/72 (Italeri)

In addition to the British infantry I have also started painting up some of the Warsaw Pact Italeri figures. Not much done so far, other than this Czech tanker (who fits in quite nicely with the 1/72 scale Plastic Soldier Company T55 I’ve also painted). Once completed and dry all finished models were given a good going over with Testors Dullcote.

Czechslovak tank crew.

With 1/72 scale being so ubuquitous in the scale modelling world I have no shortage of potential models to add in for various games and scenarios. Referring back to my ideas about narrative scenarios earlier, here are a selection of kits that might fit in nicely. (The Matchbox kits I purchased from eBay over the last few months have a particular nostalgia for me, as long prior to my gaming hobby I used to buy and build kits like this from the local newsagent or model shop.)

Next up will be some armour for the British. I’ll be looking at firing up the 3D printer and getting some Chieftain tanks on the table.

Cobra Patrol and Transport

Although most of my Action Force in 28mm scale project is based around the Red Shadows as the primary protagonists, I do occasionally dip into the world of their successors, Cobra.

I’ve recently been kitbashing some Cobra infantry using various bits and pieces from my sprue mountain. The bodies and legs for these guys have all come from Warlord Games World War II US Infantry. The arms are are mixture of the same US infantry and the old Wargames Factory apocalypse survivors and biker sprues. These are also where most of the weapons were sourced from.

Cobra Troopers

The heads are all I have left from a set of specially produced GI Joe bits – two in the style of Cobra Troopers, the remaining two representing Cobra Vipers. The backpacks are from the same source.

Vipers

These are very much ‘inspired by’ conversions rather than an attempt to accurately model the old toys or cartoon and comics characters.

Vipers

Transport for these foot troopers is a 1:48 scale Tamiya model of a modern Japanese Defence Force Light Armoured Vehicle.

I built this a couple of years ago and it has been waiting on the painting table for quite some time. The transfers are in fact stickers from a small GI Joe toy.

The paint job on this was a basic blue block colour (applied by spray can) with detail added using an Army Painter wash. The kit as built was unmodified (although I didn’t bother with the interior detail – there is an upainted driver in there though!)

On patrol – watch out Action Force!

A Steampunk Pinky Ponk

Or “Adventures with airships and 3D printing”.

The 3D printing aspect of my hobby is both a source of great joy and great frustration.  I started off last year with no experience at all and ended the year with two 3D printers, an even bigger pile of unpainted models and a new level of zen-like patience I would never have though possible.

For all the great stuff that I’ve been able to do there are times when I just want to throw the damn things out of the window.  I made the decision last summer to invest in a resin printer (Anycubic Photon S).  This has been utterly fantastic (so far) – the quality that I have been able to get at home printing out miniatures is in my opinion a game changer for the industry moving forward.

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Anycubic Photon S – my new favourite

As an aside it has been interesting to note how the industry is starting to adapt to this new technology.  Patreon seems to be a very popular route for digital sculptors for tabletop games.  I have gone down the rabbit hole a bit with this recently and backed some amazing creators, many of which are pumping out quality designs for print at a heck of a rate.  In fact some of the ‘traditional’ miniatures companies are also seeing the value in this – I’ve recently subscribed to both Titan Forge Miniatures and Bombshell Miniatures patreon campaigns.

titan forge patreon

So the older (larger) FDM printer (Creality CR-10S) has now been put purely on scenery and vehicle printing duty and is still doing a good job.  However (and back on the subject of frustration) I have had a lot of breakdowns recently, much of which I am putting down to the hammer I have been putting it through.  I have noticed an unspoken law that seems to dictate that only one of my printers can be working at any one time!

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I’ve been getting some beautiful results from the Photon.  These retro sci fi bits will be added to my ‘Flash Gordon’ project

Moaning aside I have recently been working on some airship models I have printed.  These are nominally for use in games of 7TV Pulp (I fancy doing an inter-war sky pirates type thing), but these would also be useful for steampunk or even fantasy type games.  In fact the two models I have picked up were really designed for the latter (think Age of Sigmar’s ‘air dwarves’ or Dungeons and Dragons Eberron setting).

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‘Warhammer Steampunk Air Dwarves’ (probably not their actual name)

The first vessel was obtained from Dark Realms via their Patreon campaign and was made available to patrons during October last year.  This was printed almost exclusively on the FDM printer with some of the smaller parts being done in resin.

The print time on this was long, probably 80 plus hours in total.  The model went together OK once printed.  I was a bit over aggressive on some of my support settings and there was a bit of warping on some bottom layers leading to some slight deformities in detail (note the top of the doors).  That said, as a gaming model I am pretty pleased with how this came out.

I didn’t spend too much time cleaning the model up (I’d probably invest some more time on sanding and smoothing out the layer lines if I did this again).  However I did use a heat gun to remove some of the wispier bits of plastic filament that are often left over after a print.

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In addition to the blimp connector, the rudder and wheel (not shown) were also resin printed.

The blimp and ship parts of the model were assembled seperately and undercoated in black primer.

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For the blimp a simple block colour paint job was applied.  The body of the ship was painted primarily with diffferent brown shades from the Citadel contrast range.  This worked really well on the wood grain panels that make up most of this part of the model.

It was a case of painting on some Army Painter Quickshade Dark Tone.  I went very heavy with this, partly to give it a really dirty ‘steampunk’ luck and partly to smooth out some of the surfaces.

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When using Quickshade this bit is always messy, you have to wait until the subsequent stages to see the benefits.

Once dry (after 24 hours) this was tidied up, specifically successivly lighter shades of grey were applied to the canvas parts of the blimp and the metal work was rehighlighted and some rust effects applied.

I applied a mix of decals (I have gone for an Imperial German / Great War style), and then painted up the port holes using a white base over which I applied a blue contrast paint.

The base was supplied as a file with the rest of the model, so this was printed and then painted and adorned in such a way as to try and hide it as much as possible to give the illusion of flight.

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Blimp, ship body and base were all then put together.  Despite a desire to try and magnetise the blimp connector to the deck this wasn’t possible due to the weight of the components.  Therefore a bit of drilling and pinning was done to hold the whole thing in place.

I’m really pleased with the finished result, despite the fact that it has been pointed out to me that the design shares some similarities with the ‘Pinky Ponk’ of In the Night Garden fame.

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Possible inspiration?

I mentioned at the begining of this article that I was working on a second airship model.  This one is from Titan Forge Miniatures and I will cover this in a separate blog.

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The Titan Forge airship, work in progress.

I’ve also been alerted to the fact that there is a Kickstarter launching soon for 3D print designs for fantasy airships called Skies of Sordane and this is certainly something I may just get involved in….

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Action Force Hovercraft (3D Printed)

The Action Force project continues.  I’ve recently arranged to run a participation game of 7TV at an upcoming show in 2020, and am going to run an Action Force scenario.  This is likely to be an assault on the Baron’s secret base by our brave heroes.

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Footage from a previous episode. Z Force troops led by SAS Force’s Eagle face off against the Black Major (7TV).

I’ve already got ideas around the setup and my recently completed submarine will be making an appearence.  Therefore an amphibious assault on a port seems like a great idea.  As such I need a way to deliver my forces to the combat zone.

Enter the Action Force hovercraft.

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AF Hovercraft data file from the pages of IPC’s Battle Action Force comic

More commonly known as the G.I.Joe Killer W.H.A.L.E this was a toy that was released originally in the third wave of releases by Palitoy in the mid-1980s.  By this stage the range was almost exclusively repackaged G.I.Joe figures and vehicles.  The background (supported by the weekly Battle Action Force comic) had shifted to a combined Action Force team facing off against the forces of Cobra.

Now at the time I loved this change, but in retrospect my heart always lay with the original Baron Ironblood and the Red Shadows setup.  Subsequently this is where the focus of my 28mm scale Action Force wargaming has been.

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Cover art from the amazing Palitoy Collector’s Guide available from BloodfortheBaron.com

However, never one to let ‘canon’ get in the way of a good gaming project I’ve decided to model my hovercraft, rather than as a combined Action Force vehicle, as if it were part of the Q Force armoury.  As a reminder the original Action Force organisation was split into four arms; Z Force (the infantry backbone), SAS Force (special ops), Space Force (does what it says on the tin) and Q Force (the naval team).

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Q Force (like Space Force), never got quite as much love as their land based cousins, so the toy range wasn’t quite as wide in terms of figures or indeed vehicles.  What there was though was great.  The vehicle sets were original and designed by Palitoy (i.e. they were not G.I.Joe repaints).

 

 

Wanting the hovercraft to feel like part of Q Force means looking at an alternative to the quite dull green original scheme.  So we are looking primarily at greys and blues with red and yellow accents.

 

All this talk of colour schemes is very good, but first of course I needed a model.  Enter Thingiverse and the world of 3D printing.  Having located an amazing model I set this going on my 3D printer and a mere 45 hours later I had the following:

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Underneath all that stringing is a rather nice print.  Stringling easily removed with clippers and a heat gun (and since eliminated by some mucking about with settings)

Interestingly this model was originally scaled as per the original toy, which was huge (and always coveted by me as a boy).  In order to scale this for 28mm gaming I reduced the print size by 45%.

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A cleaned up model (sanded and supports removed) prior to undercoat

Clean up was a challenge particularly removing the generated supports on the propellors.  I basically had to break these and manually rebuild them (with the addition of some plasticard and plastic filler).  The plan is to print two more in the future, and I think I will try printing without supports next time and see what happens.

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Patching up the props!  I’ve since worked out some less destructive support settings.

The model was undercoated using a light grey Halfords car primer. I went quite close and thick with this in order to compensate for some of the layer lines that are an artefact of this type of 3D printing.  In combination with a pre-undercoat sanding the finish turned out quite smooth.

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Post clean up and priming

 

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Halfords grey primer is my current ‘go to’ spray can undercoat

So back to the colour scheme and working out a Q Force style livery.  I wanted to keep the main body of the craft a traditional naval style grey so went at this with the airbrush using three successively light coats.  Once this was dry it was time to block out some colours.  It was all brush work from this point on.

The skirt was done using the black Citadel contrast paint, which I think over the grey gives a good ‘rubberised’ look.  In fact I’d go as far as saying the slightly visible layer lines actually helped in achieving this effect.

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Post airbrushing (various Vallejo Colour Air greys) and the still wet Citadel black contrast paint applied to the skirt

Following this I chose various points of interest to block out in a limted colour palette of yellow, blue and red (all Citadel base paints).  To be true to the toys I probably should have continued the block colouring on the weapons and props, but I went for a more ‘realistic’ dark metallic colour for these (Foundry Blackened Barrel C).  The windows were done using the Space Wolves grey Citadel contrast paint.

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Block colours applied

Next up, markings.  Luckily the original stickers for many of the original toys are still available.  A quick visit to Vintage Star Wars Collectibles set me up with a reproduction sticker sheet for the Q Force Swordfish.  I applied these stickers direct to the model and sealed them using a gloss varnish.

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Reproduction Action Force toy stickers.

Finally the model was finished off with a few basic highlights and a matt top coat.  I had considered a final weathering step, however something about the finish with the primary colours and the similarity to the toy range stayed my hand.

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The finished model with stickers applied.

All in all I am pretty pleased with the outcome.  Since I completed this project I have further refined some of my 3D printer settings, which should reduce damage when removing supports and ease the clean up prior to printing should I attempt a similar model in future.

Final touches will be to add some Q Force personel.  I have some Crooked Dice frogmen that will fit the bill well.  In the meantime I have to stick with ferrying the SAS boys around…

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SAS force troopers (Crooked Dice 7TV X-Commandos with head swaps).

World Enemy Number One

My long running Action Force in 28mm scale project has suddenly got a bit more focus.  I am attending the next 7TV campaign day at Board in Brum in Walsall in September.  This requires a 40 ratings cast and having fielded Space Force last time, I figure it’s time for the Enemy this time round.

Baron 3
Action Force will never succeed in eliminating the Baron! (A classic illustration from the pages of Battle Action Force Issue 508 January 1985)

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.

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They will come like a red horde from the shadows!

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.

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Bits of base – all 3D printed – all work in progress

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.

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The original toy

Luckily a fellow fan and wargamer has produced an excellent 3D model and made it freely available on Thingiverse.  I’ve printed this at 160% and made some ‘after print modifications’ to get the wheels positioned correctly.  A few more of these will be rolling off the Baron’s production line shortly.

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).

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Classic take on the Baron I am keen to emulate in miniature form

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.

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What lies within?

Blood for the Baron!

Baron 2
A portent of things to come

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…”.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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Blocking in the base colours

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

Toys for Tabletop – Corps Elite Battle Cruiser

I’ve blogged extensively about my project to realise my favorite action figure toys from back in the day, Action Force.  I have a young daughter, but despite not pushing her in any real direction toys, she has gravitated towards traditional girls toys.  Therefore I am not really up-to-speed with boys stuff, and in particular action figures.  So other than knowing that Star Wars is obviously still a thing I’ve no ideal if there is a modern and up-to-date range of military action figures similar to those I used to play with.  However a few weeks back while stocking up on instant noodles during my lunch break in the local discount shop I happened into the toy aisles.  And there I spotted it!

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It also has sound!

So this is the Corps Elite Battle Cruiser.  Corps Elite appear to a modern day (but budget version) of Action Force / G.I.Joe, and boy does this one look like it would be perfect for 28mm scale.  As per usual 7TV is never far from my mind when considering these things.

Having succumbed and picked one up, upon initial inspection the vast majority of the components looked like they could easily stay and represent the ‘down-scaled’ versions of themselves.

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Straight out of the box

Having opened the box and inspected the ship, the scale looks pretty spot on for 28mm scale minis.  The flat bottom / ‘water line’ means this will look great on the tabletop.

 

There are a few things that will have to be removed and replaced to really hide the larger scale aspects of the thing, namely:

  • The turret and ‘machine gun’ on top of the bridge will be removed and replaced with something more realistic (aerials, radar etc. maybe)
  • The clear plastic ‘fin’ and aerials will need some work
  • The large hatch/doorway molded on the side of the bridge will need hiding

 

Painting wise, it looks like a relatively easy job and will be down to a combination of spray cans and airbrush.  The existing decals were easy to peel off and the entire ‘model’ was given an undercoat of black (using a couple of layers in order to effectively mask the painted on pattern on the hull).

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It’s also worth mentioning that I’ve had a bit of a look at the wider Corps Elite range.  While most of the accessories and vehicles are way out of scale for the tabletop, I’ve got to say with a bit of work the ‘Beast Bomber’ could make for an excellent centre piece!

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Action Force Motor Pool – work in progress

I’ve been doing this Action Force in 28mm thing for a few years now.  I keep getting distracted, but always get pulled back in.  I blogged recently about the ultimate goal of getting a Roboskull to the table, but this reminded me I have a number of part finished other vehicles to add to the motor pool.  So with a concerted effort I have gone back and revisited these.

Most of the vehicles I have previously started have been for the ‘Enemy’.  I’ve kind of handled this in a couple of different ways – both accurate replicas of the toys/comics and an ‘inspired by’  approach.

The latter has basically involved me finding models and toys (in the right scale) that kind of fit the setting.  For Action Force themselves this could be standard military type kit such as land rovers or tanks (concentrating on the eighties period), but for the Red Shadows I’ve thought a bit wider.  So this has led to some interesting choices and conversions.  Presented below are a couple of the more wild ideas I have completed, including a flying saucer and a ‘Dust 1947’ plane.

I’ve also recently gone down the ‘walker’/’mech’ route as well, utilising a Konflikt 47 resin/metal model kit from Warlord Games.  A head swap for the pilot and voila – the Red Spider!

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Going further back to the German World War II inspiration for the Enemy, many years ago I picked up a Tamiya 1:48 scale Sdkfz.69. I’ve recently gone back and finished this, with the idea that this could represent the ubiquitous Shadowtrak.

And this brings me back to the other of the two top level options – accurate replicas of the toys in 28mm scale.  The obvious route to go down here is 3D printing – more about this later.  However there is at least one off the shelf option that is (relatively) widely available.

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This is a novelty gift pack / toy by Running Press – the sort of thing you normally see for sale in stands next to checkouts in bookshops alongside Harry Potter wands or small TARDIS or Dalek models.  This particular item represents a Cobra HISS tank, better known to Action Force aficionados as the Enemy (and later Cobra) Hyena.  The scale is pretty much spot on for 28mm scale.

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3D printed Hyena from Shapeways in the foreground, unpainted gift toy version at the back.  28mm scale Red Shadow for scale.

This is also sometimes available from third party sellers on Amazon, and that is where a few years ago I picked up half a dozen of these bad boys.  Out of the box it is coloured black and comes with a set of Cobra stickers to apply as well as an information booklet.  It also has sound!  Press a button on the turret and you get a slightly cartoony laser gun sound – totally unnecessary, but totally amazing.

I’ve painted these in a slightly different way than usually.  As the base model is black, I wanted the main body to be red, but also wanted to leave a lot of the detail untouched (including the clear canopy in case I ever wanted to add a driver); I’ve gone down the Gundam marker route…..

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Gundam markers are named for and used almost exclusively in the Gunpla (Gundam kit building) community.  They come in various types ranging from large nibbed pens that apply enamel paint on application of pressure to fine tipped markers which are used for panel lining.  I’ve found these to be an interesting addition to my hobby toolkit.

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For the Hyena I used a thick nibbed paint pen to apply a base coat of red (leaving some of the recesses black where appropriate).  Once dry (which takes a while longer for enamels) I drybrushed a light red acrylic over this to apply both a highlight and to dull down the shininess of the enamel base coat.  The markings were applied with a thinner nibbed marker.

hyena

So, the elephant in the room then?  Yes 3D printing.  I still covet a printer of my own, but in the meantime and for those like me bereft of the hardware there are still plenty of options.  There are a surprising number of 3D models of GI Joe vehicles out there (just search on Shapeways or Thingiverse).  I have in the past both ordered a printed model from the former, but more recently have been able to get some files printed out by a friend.

Currently on my workbench are these two beauties – a Red Shadows Laser Exterminator (aka a GI Joe HAL) and an SAS Panther jeep (aka a Cobra Stinger).  I’m going to do a detailed prep, build and painting guide on these in a future blog.

Where things are a little lacking in availability of 3D models on line is in those Action Force vehicles that weren’t based on existing GI Joe toys back in the day.  What that does mean is that there is in particular a big Shadowtrak and Roboskull shaped hole in the Baron’s armoury.

Talking of the Roboskull…..

Empire of Men – To catch a Stahlratte!

I recently blogged about building the epic Stahlratte, a sci-fi style heavy tank in the style of the legendary Maus produced by Archon Studio as part of their Empire of Men Kickstarter.

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.

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).

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.

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).