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…”.

Hello Mr.Dinosaur – Wizkids Unpainted Miniatures T-Rex

I’ve previously spoken about my adventures with the Reaper Miniatures Bones range.  This eclectic range of good value plastic miniatures has something for everyone, except of course when I wanted a big dinosaur for my latest project.

So I am wanting to do something with dinosaurs and probably Nazis.  A Jurassic Reich if you like, for pulp gaming.  Possibly, just possibly this might replace my ‘Flash Gordon’ cast for the 7TV Pulp day, though I am still procrastinating on this.  (Always good to have choices though.)

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Eureka Miniatures Jurassic Reich – inspiration for this project (and on the shopping list)

Now there are now shortage of options available out there (including a rather wonderful range of dinosaur riding Nazis from Eureka Miniatures).  Furthermore there is even more choice if you look beyond the world of miniatures into the realm of toys (something I enjoy doing often).  However I wanted something quite specific – a big brutal looking T-Rex.  Many of the toys out there have problems with scale and not unreasonably tend to look a bit toy like.

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My first Wizkids unpainted miniatures – the Orc is for another project

A few years ago Wizkids the chaps behind the incredibly popular pre-painted Heroclix collectable miniatures game decided to dip their toes in the ‘proper’ miniatures market with the release of a range of licensed Dungeons and Dragons and Pathfinder figures.  This in of itself was not new, they had been releasing ‘blind booster’ style collectable pre-painted figures in a similar vein to Heroclix for many years.  What was different this time was that they would be unpainted.  In effect they were tapping into that wider hobbyist market of role-players and wargamers who wanted to paint their minis and saw this as a key part of their hobby.  As far as I can tell these ranges have proved very popular, like Reaper Bones are priced well, unlike Reaper Bones come pre-primed and most importantly for me the range includes a great big T-Rex.

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“Dinosaur, dinosaur, hello Mr.Dinosaur” (copyright George Pig!)

This guy is from the Nolzur’s Marvellous Miniatures range of Dungeons and Dragons figures (personally I can never remember dinosaurs being a big part of D&D in my day, but hey ho).

First impressions were good.  Wizkids have gained some notoriety in the past for the quality of some of their Heroclix sculpts, but this really didn’t compare at all.  Detail was crisp and clean, there was no sign of any flash or mould lines and the grey Vallejo undercoat was applied well (consistently, not too thick and a nice light grey shade).  The tail was supplied separately and pushed to fit (although I did use super glue to fix it in place).  I probably should have used a little green stuff to fill the gap between body and tail, but to be honest, for me, it was acceptable without.

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Upon opening the blister the first thing that surprised me was that unlike Reaper Bones the plastic material is quite hard.  Now whether this was a result of the bulk of this particular model I can’t really say.  However it certainly felt a bit more like the harder plastics you would associated with wargames miniatures rather than the PVC like Bones.

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Airbrush applied dark green over the ‘out of the box’ undercoat

I set about painting using an airbrush to apply a dark green base coat and then highlighted this (again using an airbrush) with a lighter green.  I added shade by brushing on Army Painter Green Tone wash and picked out the mouth and tongue with flesh colours followed by a wash of flesh tone from Games Workshop.  The model was finished off by applying ochre to the teeth and claws and painting the integral scenic base in various greys.  I was impressed that the model came with both an integral base and a round plastic base to glue this to.

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Finished model – flock and tufts added to the edge of the base
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Roar!

All in all I am pretty pleased with the result and will certainly check out more of the unpainted Wizkids line in future.  (I couldn’t resist a rather nice looking Orc on Dire Wolf to paint up – having half an eye on Saga Age of Magic which is released later this month).

So this is the first addition to my ‘Deutsche Dinosaurier Korps’.  In terms of addition dinos I will be playing around with some other toy and model kit purchases over the next few weeks and adding some Teutonic wranglers into the mix also.

Painting the Apocalypse – Part 1

I’ve been making some in roads into the huge lead pile that arrived as part of the 7TV Apocalypse Kickstarter.  In true ‘hobby butterfly’ style I’ve just been picking stuff up to paint that I fancy the look of, rather than having any particular plan.

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Mean Machine

It goes without saying that the figures are as always with Crooked Dice lovely sculpts, with next to no clean up required.  For the majority of these I’ve chosen a grey or white undercoat as a base.

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Science division character

In addition to the figures I’ve also been adding in some vehicles to the mix.  I got an extra Interceptor in my pledge and have gone for a basic, but what I think is quite effective black colour scheme for this.  It was also my first time using the Citadel technical/dry paint rust effect (I forget it’s actual name).  Although this looks VERY orange in the pot once dry brushed on it gives a really subtle effect that could pass for both rust and dust.

Finally I’ve completed the conversion of the 1/43rd Teamsterz toy car I have been working on.  Post apocalypse Penny has finally got her Compact Pussycat – although I feel to be properly PA we should refer to this as the Kompakt Puzzycat!

Next on the apocalypse painting production line – Science Division Hazmat troopers.

Hazmat wip

But I might be about to get distracted by dinosaurs!

T Rex WIP

No, not the Goremaw! Revisiting Reaper Miniatures Bones

When Kickstarter first emerged as a ‘thing’ for tabletop games a few years ago Reaper Miniatures launched their Bones range of miniatures on the crowdfunding platform.  It’s fair to say that their campaign was a success raising nearly three and a half million dollars in 2012!  Three additional Kickstarter campaigns have followed all raising huge amounts and following each the majority of the miniatures have found their way into retail.

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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.

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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.

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I then applied a top down yellow highlight using a can of Games Workshop Averland Sunset.

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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.

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.

Red Shadows Helicopter

I recently picked up an inexpensive die cast toy helicopter and have set about quickly adding it to the ranks of Baron Ironblood’s forces.  This was a relatively quick and easy conversion using as it’s basis a Teamsterz Rescue Helicopter, which cost me about £4.

Taking advantage of the unseasonably good weather I was able to spray this up quickly outside using Halfords Black as a primer followed by an all over of Humbrol Crimson and then a zenith highlight (well a top down spray) of Humbrol Red.

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Halfords Black primer provides a wonderfully Matt finish when dry

The Humbrol sprays while being acrylics were gloss.  I’d didn’t think this would look too out of place for a chopper, however it ended up being a little too shiny, so this was solved with a once over of Testors Dullcote (which also provided a good base for the details and highlights).

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Humbrol gloss crimson applied – shiny!
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Red highlight – even shinier!

The toy had some decent panel lined detail, so I highlighted this using a black marker pen (designed for lining Gundam models).  Windows were painted with Citadel Magragge Blue and tints were applied using a white Gundam marker this time.  Other bits and pieces were painted black or silver and really that was it.

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Post Dullcote, windows done, awaiting panel lining

It wasn’t until after I had nearly finished that I noticed the screw holes holding the model together on one side.  Had I realised from the start these would have been filled, however as a gaming piece I can live with this.

Final touch was the addition of some decals which I had picked up a few months back on eBay.

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Decals – originating from a Tattoo studio in the US
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Survivalist for scale!

There we have it – air transport for the Baron.  Scale is just about OK for 28mm scale miniatures, if anything it is slightly large, but hey, more room for Mutons!

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Battle Action Force – Operation Bloodhound – helicopter getaway

Next up for the Shad motor pool is an armoured car based on a 1/43rd die cast Puma….

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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!

red spider

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…..