Hexon Trench Terrain – finishing a really (really) old project

About ten, maybe eleven years ago I attended the (now defunct) Triples wargames show in Sheffield. This was years before I was there as a trader and so I was purely there to have a nosey and spend some hobby coin.

One of the things I picked up at the time was some plastic vac-formed hex terrain from Kallistra . This is part of their Hexon terrain system and I fancied using it at the time for…. Well to be honest it is so long ago now I have no idea why I picked it up, other than I liked the look of it and its was (and remains) good value.

I then spent some time painting this up. As far as I remember I went with a black primer and then used some brown acrylicto basecoat (the sort of stuff you get in tubes from the cheapo shops). This was followed by a drybrush of ochre. I then liberally brushed on some Army Painter Quickshade Strong Tone dip. Once dry I matt coated it and then there it sat for about a decade unfinished in my pile of shame.

Untouched for over ten years!

Re-invigorated however by amongst other things the imminent release of the new version of Kill Team (and the trench loving Death Korps of Krieg contained therein) I decided now was the time to finally get this done. While I had done a the majority of the graft, I still needed to paint the insides of the trenches and add some flock and other terrain ‘dressing’ to spruce it up a bit.

I have about nine trench sections of various sizes.

In deciding on the general scheme I have left it open so these trenches could be used in historical, fantasy or sci-fi games. I went with a grey green for the trench inards and avoided painting any details like sandbags to keep it generic.

Trench interior planking given a green grey coat.

I went with Quickshade again for the shading on the trench interiors (although this time using the Dark tone).

I went with liberal use of flock and clump foliage / lichen to give some interest to the expanses of brown concentrating in particular in placing this to hide the ‘hex lines’. For extra effect I also used Citadel Nurgle’s Rot to add slime/toxic waste/stagnant water to the small craters and holes molded into the parts.

Once complete and dry everything was given a very liberal matt varnish spray.

I’ve not had chance to use these in a game yet, but have set them up on a table for some photos and to test out some layouts. In general they look pretty good but they don’t fit together very flush so I may have to play around with a knife removing some of the plastic ‘lip’ from the edges of the pieces which I think will help a little.

I managed to get this finished in a couple of evenings, which brings to the end a story that started many many hobby years ago. A small dent in the backlog, but very satisfying all the same.

Reich Busters Vril Panzer

I recently got a rather large box in the post all the way from France.  Inside, my Reichbusters Kickstarter pledge rewards.  I am a bit of a sucker for Weird War settings and games and from what I saw when the campaign was running, the game looked right up my street too.

However it was really the miniatures I was after.  I fully intend to play the game, but like many things in my collection the thought ‘I could always use this for 7TV‘ is never far from my mind.

Now, there are a LOT of figures here.  The scale is somewhat larger than standard 28mm and probably sits somewhere between 35 and 40mm.  Fine on there own in any game, but might look a little odd alongside other parts of my collection.  Where this isn’t really a problem is with the ones that immediately caught my attention when opening the boxes for the first time.  The ‘Vrill Panzers’ – basically big stompy (piloted) robots.

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Vrill Panzer top right (more on the big chap in a bit…..)

There are two of these in the set of boxes I received, they are (like all the miniatures) one piece casts in a very hard PVC style material.  Absolutely no sign of warping or bending weapon syndrome from what I have seen so far.  The Vrill Panzers are chunky, really nicely detailed and heavy; however they are by no means the biggest models in the set (more on that later).

So in terms of getting the Vrill Panzers painted up I thought I would go for a ‘late war’ dunkelgelb, by really weather it up.  With there being two in the set I could afford to experiment a bit on this first one.

First step was a wash in warm soapy water.  This is something I never used to do on any models, but now religiously do whether I am painting PVC, hard plastic, resin or metal.

Once dry I undercoated with a can of black primer and followed this with a base coat of dunkelgelb (from Plastic Soldier Company – again in a can).

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Once dry I applied decals.  There were none provided with the game, but I have a huge stash of World War II and Dust Tactics decal sheets that I have amassed over time, so I had plenty of choice.  My usual approach, which I used here, is to paint the area I am going to apply the waterslide decal to with gloss varnish first.  Once dry I applied the decal itself and again let it dry before another coat of gloss.  I placed a few markings strategically then moved on to the weathering.

The first stage was to stipple using an old bit of sponge both dark brown and then silver across the most worn areas of the model.  Next it was time to dirty it all up. My plan here was to paint on Army Painter Quickshade Dark Tone.  I have had some success in the past with a fairly light coat of this brushed on to models.  It leaves them very shiny, but protected and I always apply matt varnish as the final step in these cases.

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Ready for Quickshade

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It’s all about to go wrong

The problem I hit here was my can of Quickshade was quite old and hadn’t been sealed properly the last time I used it.  As such I had to remove a thick skin from the surface of the shade within the tin before application to the model.  This is where the alarm bells should have run, however I proceeded to ‘slap in on’.  It was at this stage I noticed how thick and gloopy it was.  I stirred it up as usual but once applied it became obvius that something was wrong.  Rather than apply the subtle shading I was after, and rather than immediately receeding into the contours and crevises of the model it just sat there like some vile dark slime.

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Bit much?

Through excessive mopping up with a brush I was able to dave things to some degree, but the weathering has ended up being much, much heavier than I intended.  Once the matt varnish (Testors Dullcote) was applied things looked a lot better, although I had made some of the decals rather difficult to make out.

The final weathering stage was to add some rust (it seemed apt with how heavy beat up the mech now looked).  I drybrushed on some Citadel Dry Ryza Rust and in the end I think this turned out OK.

The base was in part basecoated in silver and then painted over with Citadel Basilicanum Grey (a contrast paint, this is my new favourite way of painting a gun metal effect).  All the bases in the game have a metal gantry / walkway look to them, so this fitted quite well especially when finished up with some more drybrushed rust.  The areas that looked more stone like were done in greys.

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The finished article

All in all I think I managed to rescue it.  Apart from the Quickshade incident it was an enjoyable model to paint.  As I have another one in reserve I might go with a different, cleaner, more fresh of the production line look.

In addition to the Vrill Panzer I also painted a couple of the ‘troop’ models from the game to test out some colours and techniques.

I’ve also started on the monstrous Projekt X mech.  Remember when I said the Vrill Panzers weren’t the biggest model, well this fella is truly gigantic (and actually quite difficult to lift).  He is still work in progress and I’ll cover this in another article.

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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