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.

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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.

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!

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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.

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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).

Action Force in 28mm – Roboskull!

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.

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The Roboskull even transitioned over to Cobra, where once again it went up against Action Force

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….

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DC Heroclix Brainiac Skull Ship

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.)

Action Force in 28mm – Space Force Mobile Command

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!