Two minutes to midnight – 7TV Apocalypse update

In between everything else I have getting on with (to varying levels of success) over the last few weeks I’ve been gradually grinding through the 7TV Apocalpse lead pile.

One of the sets I picked up were the cultists.  My favourite figure from this selection is definately ‘billboard man’.  What could he be advertising though?  Probably not insurance, but maybe something more sinister?

cultists

Having grown up in the eighties I have a certain morbid fascination with nuclear armageddon and in particular the whole area of civil defence and in the termonuclear age, the utter pointlessness of it.  No better is this encapsulated than in the infamous ‘Protect and Survive’ booklet and films of the period.

Protect and Survive

These are widely available to view on YouTube and the booklet itself has recently been republished by the Imperial War Museum.  The iconic branding of the ‘nuclear family’ on the cover of the booklet and as a bumper to the films seems perfectly ironic and fitting for ‘billboard man’.

Now my freehand painting leaves a lot to be desired, but I gave it a go anyway.  I decided to try and paint the majority of the miniature using Citadel contrast paints.  I’m still playing around with finding the best use for these, but am finding them particularly effective on ‘organics’ and ‘clothing’, especially over a white undercoat.

The board itself was painted with a grey contrast paint over white as a base.  I then freehanded on to the best of my ability a rough approximation of the Protect and Survive logo (including the mushroom cload) on the front and the phrase itself on the back.

 

I’ve still got plenty of more stuff to do on the post-apocalypse lead pile, and am still not really approaching this with any real plan over ‘what looks cool next’.  Next up then (probably) will be a biker gang.  I picked up a couple of sets of these from the Kickstarter, but have also recently built a couple of the now out of production Warlord/WGF Project Z biker gang.  Really impressed the quality and options on this kit and wish I had picked up more while they were still widely available.

 

Also recently completed (and again another majority ‘contrast job’) is this guy from Mantic’s Walking Dead, who will be added to my pool of generic PA survivors.

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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.

 

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.

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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.

Goremaw 9
Blocking in the base colours
Goremaw 8
Rear view

Then to the dip.  I’ve never been much of a fan of dip in the conventional sense.  I have tried in the past the full Army Painter method, actually submersing figures in Quickshade and shaking them off and always found that I ended up with just a dirty looking miniature.  However I have had a lot of success (particularly when wanting to paint up large batches of figures) in brushing on the shade.  I have found that you can control the flow and thickness of the dip much more effectively using a brush, and used sparingly it can produce an effective result.  I have been using this method to paint up the Space Marines I have been collecting as part of the Warhammer 40k Conquest part work, and have also in the past done a relatively decent job on Star Wars Imperial Assault figures (including the Rancor who was a similar colour palette to my worm).

Long and the short of it was that the old tin of Quickshade Strong tone was dug out and following an argument with a screw driver was open, only to find a mess of thick gloop!  I’d not put the top on properly last time and a thick skin had developed, which although was easy to remove meant the the small amount of shade I had left was thicker than I would have liked.

Goremaw 11
Shading is effective but looks very messy at this point

When using this method the next bit is always the worse bit.  You go from a neatly painted model, albeit only in a limited set of colours with no shading, to a very shiny, dirty looking object.  The key is to hold your nerve, it will get better.

Goremaw 12
It’s shiny!

As the dip dried I soaked up any excess pooling with a brush and then gave it a good day or so to drive thoroughly.  Following this a combination of dry brushing and highlighting was used particularly on the belly and the teeth/horns.  By this stage it is starting to look neater, but is still really shiny (Quickshade is both a shade and a protective varnish after all).  Decent weather meant I was able to get outside and spray some Testers Dullcote and voila a nearly complete Goremaw.  The base was finished off with some dry brushing followed by a green wash to give it a mossy look and the ‘Death Worm’ is ready for the wastelands of the post-apocalypse.

Goremaw 2

I’ve got some ideas about maybe using this as an AI or referee controlled model in a vehicle only multi-player destruction derby scenario.  Having a giant worm burst out of the ground could really bend some fenders out of shape!

Goremaw 4

All in all I really enjoyed building and painting this model, and it reminded me of why I fell in love with the Bones range in the first place – lots of choice, inexpensive and fun to paint.

7TV Apocalypse Vehicles – Tamiya conversion

Having recently taken delivery of both the rules and a huge set of miniatures from the 7TV Apocalypse Kickstarter I decided I should probably finish off some of my incomplete PA projects before diving into any new stuff.

Back at the Wargames Illustrated 7TV day last summer I came away with a 1/48 scale Tamiya kit from the prize pool.  This was a World War II SS-100 aircraft tractor, but I immediately saw the opportunity for some conversion work to make this suitable for the wastelands.

Tamiya SS-100

The build of the basic kit was fairly straightforward and I cut some corners in terms of the detail (for example leaving out the interior and some of the smaller body work bits) to make it both more suitable for conversion and more sturdy as a gaming piece.

Tamiya-conversion-1

Using some of the conversion parts made available by Crooked Dice and a few bits and pieces from the spares box (including some 1:1 scale car body mesh) I gave it a suitably shabby and cobbled together PA look.

I completed the build last year and it has sat on my hobby work bench ever since.  Inspired by the arrival of lots of lovely figures from the Kickstarter I was spurred on to finish painting and weathering it.

Basecoat was a from a spray can (Plastic Soldier Company Olive Drab) with a few suitably muted block colours used for stowage.  The exception being the fuel tanks on both the original kit and the conversion parts which I picked out in red.

Tamiya-conversion-7

Weathering was completed using a thinned down wash of Army Painter Strong Tone wash and chipping was done using a dark brown using the sponge technique (a cross between dry brushing and stippling using a piece of foam).  The gunner was picked out in blacks and greys – the gas mask giving him an almost SAS look.

All in all I’m pretty please with the overall result.  It was quite a quick, but I think effective paint job.  I’m also thinking that this vehicle would go really well with the ‘Mutant Hill Mob’ cast, so I think they are going to move close to the top of my 7TV Apocalypse to-do list.

7TV Mutant Hill Mob

Robogear – the ultimate bits box

A few years ago while hoovering up random bits and pieces on eBay to resell via my old online store I happened across a starter box for a tabletop miniatures game called Robogear.

This was a science fiction game with plastic miniatures and vehicles,  released in the UK by Airfix in the noughties.  As an aside, I’ve since found out that the background to the game is slightly more complicated than simply an attempt by an (at the time) ailing scale model company to grab a piece of Games Workshop’s 40k market.  More on that in a bit.

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Airfix version of the Starter Set

The starter set I got hold of contained a lot of half built models and in the end I sold it off for not much more than I bought it for.  Not a hugely interesting story so far I’m sure you’ll agree.

However over the past few years as my gaming and hobby has become (slightly) more focused I got to thinking about how much potential there was in the Robogear starter box for a couple of the projects I have on the go.  In particular the set contained some interesting plastic terrain (in the form of platforms and gantries), that would not only do for Kill Team, but also would slot quite nicely into some of the post-apocalypse scenery I have been building for 7TV.  Similarly the vehicles could be cannibalised for bits for wasteland vehicles, but more specifically many had a 40k Imperial Guard feel to them.

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Stat card for one of the Starter Set models

So back to ‘the online auction site’ it was.  After a bit of searching around I managed to pick up two nearly completed starter boxes for only a tenner (albeit with the terrain bits missing), as well as complete unopened box for not that much more.

5KDNWOxk
Two for a tenner – bargain!

First thing to say is that the infantry figures are really not very good.  They are pretty large (maybe 1/48 to 1/35 scale) and very basic.  They are multi-part but are built with articulation that really puts them in the category I feel of a mini action figure rather than a wargames miniature.  Some of the hand weapons may get reused, but I suspect these will find themselves either in the back of a drawer or re-sold at some point soon.

Robogear figures
The not great figures

The vehicles on the other hand have a lot of potential.  Stylistically they are a bit ‘confused’.  There are elements of hard science fiction here, but also a touch of the grim dark too, as well as a bit of Battletech.  Various vehicles are included and these can be built in a number of ways – either with tank tracks, mech-style legs (think Astra Millitarum Sentinel) or insectoid (think Zoids!).

Robogear vehicles
Example of some of the part built vehicles (28mm figure for scale)

The weapons are of variable styling and quality and it has to say, again, that some of these look quite toy like.  There is a reason for this however, in the rules for the Robogear game you can either play with ‘virtual combat’ (i.e. rolling dice), or physical combat (yes the weapons actually fire mini missiles in some cases)!  All of this however could be worked out by swapping out bits and pieces from other spare parts in the bits box.  There are also a couple of ‘flyers’ in the box, again these have potential, but maybe not as much as the ground vehicles.

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Example of a complete frame

As I mentioned, only one of the three boxes I acquired contained the scenery components.  Now these do look useful.  Designed to be reconfigurable, they are provided with a ‘clip’ system to hold everything together (but not necessarily permanently).  Looking into the current availability of these terrain kits I discovered more about the background of Robogear itself.  It turns out that Airfix bought the rights in for the system from a Russian company called Tehnolog (similarly in the US the same game and kits were released and marketed by both IMEX and Pegasus Hobbies).

Robogear terrain
Hexagon / Platformer Terrain from the Starter Set

 

A further search on eBay and I found a trader in Russia selling brand new Robogear kits for a bargain price of about $8 a kit.  I’ve ordered a few of this, with my eyes on the flyers as Imperial Guard air support and the buggy to be added to the wastelands of my post-apocalypse gaming.

 

Furthermore I also happened at the same time across this beauty of a kit from the same stable.  A modular chemical plant kit that snaps together and will be another fine addition to my stock of terrain pieces for multiple games.  Like a lot of the Tehnolog kits this appears to have been released by another firm for the Western market (in this case Pocketbond).

All in all I can see a huge amount of potential with all these purchases for conversions and kit bashing and can see them working across loads of my existing projects (and maybe spawning a few new ones).

First on the list, a proxy for an Imperial Guard Sentinel and we’ll then see where things go from there….

 

 

 

7TV Pulp Blog (and a whole load of apocalypse)

Today I visited the Robin Wargames Trade show in Nottingham, primarily to pick up my 7TV Apocalypse Kickstarter from Karl at Crooked Dice, but also to have a general ‘mouch’ about while trying not to spend any money.

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A big box of goodies collected today

I’ll be doing a quick write up of Robin and an overview of the Apocalypse Kickstarter items in another post shortly, but in the meantime I just wanted to point you the reader in the direction of the 7TV Pulp blog.

7TV Pulp is due for release at UK Games Expo later in the year, and is a unique collaboration between Crooked Dice Design Studio and Edge Hill University.  You can find out more about the game on their new blog, which includes a game design and development diary.

The Pulp version of 7TV is an ode to the cinema serials, crime novels and ‘pulp’ magazines of the 30’s and 40’s; with a serious nod also to the cosmic horror of HP Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos, as well as the cinematic outings of Nazi bashing archaeologists everywhere.

Time-Lost-Heroes
Some of the existing Crooked Dice Pulp-style miniatures – soon to be joined by a whole lot more

I was lucky enough to have Karl show me some of the figure previews for the Pulp range and there are some corkers in there.  With such a wide genre definition, there’s sure to be something for everyone.  I for one am working on a ‘Flash Gordon’ cast that should slot in nicely, that said I have a lot of post-apocalypse to get through in the meantime…..

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Lots of post-apocalypse miniatures now in the lead pile

The Survivalist Returns (in 28mm scale)!

A few months ago I waxed lyrical about some inspiration for post-apocalypse gaming and in particular the Survivalist novels of the 1980s by Jerry Ahern.  As fulfilment of the Crooked Dice 7TV Apocalypse Kickstarter gets closer I’ve decided to revisit this irradiated world where men were men, women were women, guns were cool (and overly described repeatedly in the prose) and the red menace was real.

 

As a reminder this pulpy post-apocalyptic novel series racked up over 20 titles telling tales of the titular Survivalist, John Rourke and his adventures following the nuclear devastation of World War III and a subsequent Russian occupation.  In case you had forgot our hero had the following traits:

  • Ex-CIA operative
  • Weapons expert
  • Survival and wilderness expert
  • Medical doctor
  • Super-sensitive eyesight (so has to wear mirrored shades ALL the time)
  • Motorbike rider (almost exclusively always a Harley Davidson)
  • Smoker (because it was respectable in the 80s)
  • Fluent in multiple languages
  • Irresistible to women
  • His middle name is Thomas (yes really)

This guy is crying out for the tabletop!

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So two things to do.  Find a figure to represent this alpha male in 28mm scale, and stat him up for 7TV.

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Wargames Factory Male Apocalypse Survivors were repackaged by Warlord Games as part of their Project Z range

Miniature choice first!  Rourke has many weapons of choice, but the most iconic are his ‘twin Detonics Combat Master .45, shoulder holstered pistols’.  The novels are very focused on the exact name, model, calibre and so on of the various weapons being used, in fact arguably more effort is put into the description  of military hardware and material than is expended on characters.  But I digress, the key thing is I had a couple of sprues of the old Wargames Factory Male Apocalypse survivors laying around and a quick snip round with the clippers and plastic glue and I had the vested, shade wearing, pistol wielding post-nuclear survivalist I need.

minijohnrourke

In terms of the stats, I used the excellent fan built Agency Casting Tool for 7TV to produce a suitably matching profile for 7TV.  I based the core profile on the generic Action Hero, but made a few changes to the attacks and special abilities to match the unique range of skill our hero has.  With a star quality of Burst of Action coupled with Blown Clear, Hard, Fight Back and Lucky as base special effects for this profile I felt we were nearly there, I swapped out Lucky for Medic (as previously mentioned Rourke is of course also a fully trained MD, and he’s so damned good he’s no need of luck).

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I used the rules in the 7TV Producer’s Guide to craft myself a hero

The only problem I really came across was how to represent the ‘twin Detonics’.  7TV doesn’t have any rules for dual wielding; the 2 shot ability most pistols have doesn’t really cut it as it simply allows more than one shoot action to be taken a turn.  What I wanted was double the fire power in just one attack.  After some head scratching I decided to swap out the standard pistol from the Action Hero profile with a high powered pistol from the military weapons list.  This gave me a boost to the strike value and still gave me the 2 shots option, but I didn’t really think that it still represented that balletic gun play action I was after.  Rather than invent any rules I think I solved the problem but adding the ‘Deadly’ effect to the attack profile.  This would allow me to chuck in an extra attack dice, so to me gave a nice approximation of the extra punch you might get from firing two pistols at once.

7TV_cast-John-Rourke-The-Survivalist (1)

Of course non of this came cheap.  Following the rules in the 7TV Producers Guide for customising profiles has led to John costing a chunky 15 ratings (points).  The vast majority of stars in 7TV only cost 10.  However as I’m sure you can appreciate our Survivalist has a very unique set of skills and is in effect a one man army, so I’m not too worried about this.

With 7TV Apocalypse due out in March John will be getting some action soon I’m sure.  Might even build him his ride if I can find that Project Z bikers sprue anywhere…..

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John Thomas Rourke – he always rolls a six