One of the most unique and recognisable toys from the second wave ‘Baron Ironblood’ era of Action Force was the Roboskull. One of the last vehicles to be released prior to the switch over to repackaged GI Joe figures, this was an amazing piece of kit (and something as a kid I never had, but coveted intensely).
Back in the world of 28mm scale wargaming, I have recently blogged about the expansion of my Space Force ‘cast’ for 7TV. These guys really need something to go up against in games, something outer space based…., something robotic….., something skeletal.
When looking at vehicles for the project so far I have tended to concentrate on converting existing model kits or die-casts, and have dipped my toe a bit into 3D printing as well (more on that in a later post). However getting hold of something to represent what is a very strikingly unique vehicle as the Roboskull was proving challenging. I had thought that this might have to wait until I was able to invest some money and time into getting into the 3D printing hobby myself, or trawling through Thingiverse for someone who might have had a similar idea. Then I thought back to a Heroclix model I remember stocking when I ran a games shop. A quick ‘popular auction site’ search and behold a few days later in the post….
This is a Heroclix ‘Brainiac Skull Ship’ and it’s going to need a fair bit of work to get it into shape. The basis for a Roboskull is there though and it’s going to be an interesting ride. Plasticard, hobby saw and bits box at the ready!
(For more info on the Roboskull check out the excellent Blood for the Baron website, and also the video below which is a great documentary by Analog Toys on the production of the memorable original.)
Many years before Space Force was a real actual thing (maybe), they were the eyes and ears of Action Force monitoring the skies and protecting the Earth from afar from the evil machinations of Ironblood.
Along with Q Force (the underwater team), I think it is fair to say that they were not quite as popular as their ground based infantry comrades in Z Force and the SAS. Part of it was down to the more limited range of toys available and the fact that they didn’t feature as much as other teams in the comic strips.
In fact the overt sci-fi stylings of Space Force did seem to clash a bit with the modern militaristic feel of the rest of the range. It was not actually towards the end of this era of Action Force toys that the Red Shadows had anything ‘space-related’ to field against them, with the awesome Roboskull.
A couple of years ago I picked up the excellent ‘not Space Force’ miniatures from the Woodbine Design Company (part of Gripping Beast) and as part of this very long running project have just started to think about vehicles and transport for them.
Rather than go down the ‘spaceship’ route I’ve tried to mix the militaristic with near future sci-fi and have started to paint up a vintage IMAI model kit of the Shado Mobile from Gerry Anderson’s UFO.
Initially undercoated using an Army Painter Wolf Grey spray can. I have so far gone through and added some additional darker blue to match the general livery of Space Force vehicles from the toy range; as well as blocking out colour on the tracks and wheels.
The ‘Action Force’ logo sticker is from a reproduction set scaled for the toys. Next step will be adding some Space Force logos (which I will freehand) and some weathering. My target game system for this is of course 7TV!
Earlier in the year I got really invested in Legion, the tabletop miniatures game in the Star Wars universe, published by Fantasy Flight Games. Having spent some time assembling and painting minis, I immediately got distracted (as all good hobby butterflys do) by terrain and re-utilising old toys for the tabletop. A couple of vintage Kenner / Palitory AT-ATs were purchased from eBay (and then resold as I say sense), as were some Rebel Transports, a U-Wing and various other bits and pieces.
Then as often happens I just didn’t get to play the game. I had a learning game with my good friend and gaming compadre, Mr.Hawkins, back in the Spring and then nothing. This was partly due to the distraction of other shiny things, and partly because my best chance of getting a game was at my local club. Due to other commitments I wasn’t able to get down and I missed most of the monthly meetings over the summer.
However this last Sunday I was finally able to Legion to the tabletop for a couple of games at Matlock and Dales WRG (at the request of another member who similarly had sat on the game for quite a while without actually playing).
MDF Shield generators by TTCombat
Game was played on a 6 by 4 table
My heroes – The Rebel Fleet Troopers
Spot the recycled old toy
Snowtroopers in entirely the wrong choice of coats
Captain Antilles about to be ambushed
I’m no good at reviews, but will say this (and have said so before); it’s a good game. A very good game. Bearing striking similarities to other Star Wars games in the Fantasy Flight catalogue (lots of tokens and cards, custom dice, the ‘surge’ mechanic), it seems to have ironed out some of the inconsistencies and clunkiness of games like Armada and Imperial Assault. Adding to the mix an alternative unit activation mechanic and innovative and intuitive command and control element, this puts it above many similar games I have had experience of in the past. My opponent and I did get quite a few things wrong in the early rounds, but this wasn’t really noticed and didn’t interupt the cinematic flow of the game (I was making a lot of ‘pew pew’ sound effects in my head).
The second game of the day was played on a smaller mat with no vehicles (due to time)
Paper mat courtesy of the Doctor Who Exterminate Miniatures Game
In getting ready for the game I wanted to just share a couple of hints and tips, both on the painting and army construction side of things.
While I had got at least a basecoat down on most of my miniatures (the contents of two core boxes and a handful of expansions), there were a few I had not yet touched. It wouldn’t be realistic to get everthing done in time for the game (real life is quite hectic at the moment), but I at least wanted to be avoid playing with any completely unpainted models.
Therefore I concentrated on detailing up all the Imperial Stormtroopers I had previously undercoated white, adding in some basic detail and making them tabletop ready (with the intention of going back and finishing them off to a higher standard later). Here, the humble toothpick was my friend. Rather than rely on a brush and a steady hand to pick out the black details on helmets and armour and to minimise the chances of despoling that trademark white with any overbrushing I found toothpicks gave me the control and steadyness I needed (but maybe not the patience!). This was particularly useful when doing helmet eye lenses and something I will try out for painting eyes in general moving forward.
My next job was to paint up the only fully unpainted squad I had not yet tackled, the Rebel Fleet Troopers. These are the guys who valiantly get slaughtered by Darth Vader at the begining of the very first Star Wars film (and of course we now know this fight continued on from the end of Rogue One). As figures go, I think these are some of the nicest that have been released so far. Very characterful sculpts and true to the films. I’d picked these guys up at UK Games Expo back in June, assembled them and then, well, got distracted…
Taking a very methodical approach I blocked out each colour (having applied a grey undercoat). Following a production line approach of doing all of one colour across the squad before returning to the first and adding the next hue I was able to get these guys done in only a couple of hours. I left the dark grey undercoat showing through for the mainly black coloured vests and let Army Painter washes do the rest.
Building up basic block colours over a dark grey undercoat
Guest appearence from Princess Leia (she didn’t get finished for the game)
The squad leader is based on Captain Antilles from the film and follows a different scheme. The intention with these is that I will go back and do some proper basing and highlighting at a later date.
I have to say I’m not a huge fan of painting armies or even squads (I much prefer to do more individual character models): however the fact I was actually going to able to field these in a game was a real motivator.
Pre-wash and tidy up
Wash and basic base colouring done. Highlighting and basing to be completed at a later date
The Rebel Fleet Troopers proved to be a really solid choice in play (and are my new favourites), having almost taken down Vader in the first game. Some form of sweet revenge for their on screen performance perhaps?
I also just wanted to give a quick mention to the Tabletop Admiral online army building application for Legion. I used this to quickly knock up the forces the night before the game allowing me to sort out cards, tokens and minis quickly beforehand and enabling us to setup quickly on the day. If you are a player of Imperial Assault or Runewars this also might be of interest to you.