More minions for the evil Baron Ironblood! The Red Shadows were an iconic bad guy for me, almost up there with Star Wars Imperial Stormtroopers (and about as accurate in their shooting).
One thing they didn’t have however was much variation. While Action Force has specialist teams for undersea (Q Force) and off planet (Space Force), the Baron could not really match this in terms of his rank and file troops, at least as the toys were concerned. As an aside, the Battle Action Force comic occasionally showed some interesting variations on the standard enemy troops such as frogmen and astronauts, but actual action figures were sadly lacking.
So while I continue my quest to model and game Action Force and the Red Shadows in 28mm scale I’ve set about trying to redress this balance.
First up we have some ‘hostile environment’ or maybe special forces troopers. These are the rather excellent Wargames Atlantic Raumjager miniatures given a suitably red uniform. I imagine these guys would maybe be Ironblood’s special shock troops for fighting in hazardous or even alien environments.
To lead this squad I did a bit of kitbashing using a plastic body of a Bauhaus officer from the original Mutant Chronicles Warzone boxed game from the late 90s. I swapped the head out for one from my bits box that originated in the old Wargames Factory Greatcoat Troopers set.
Next up we have a Red Shadows space engineer. This miniature is from Gripping Beast and is itself inspired by the original Space Force Engineer figure. In my mind the Enemy wouldn’t be shy about stealing and repurposing Action Force technology and kit, and this guy represents that albeit with a suitably updated paint scheme.
Last but not least we have another variation on the Muton – the death robots of the Baron! These miniatures are ‘Harvesters’ and are a multi-part plastic kit found in one of the expansion from the Shadows of Brimstone board game. They have that ‘deep sea diver gone wrong’ look that really chimes with the aesthetic of the original action figure.
Now if I could only find a suitable miniature for this guy…
Painted primarily in contrast paints, I’m still trying to think of a suitable moniker for her. Red Fury perhaps?
Next we have a miniature I have painted quite recently in the past, but which once I’d completed I knew I would have to re-do as one of the Baron’s fanatics. This guy is from the Prince August Future Shocks line of vintage post-apocalyptic models. Getting on for 40 years old, these sculpts are lovely and benefit from being 32mm scale (which of course dating from the 80s means they match up well with modern 28s).
Again I used contrast paints for the block colours, but then highlighted up using more traditional methods. I’ve gone for an Asian skin tone here using Citadel Darkoath Flesh contrast over a white undercoat. I’m quite pleased with how it has turned out.
Finally we are onto a 3D print. This is the ‘Enemy Escape Armour’ (more familiar to GI Joe fans as the Cobra Snake Armour). A 3D print design by ‘Jabberwock’ on Thingiverse (based on the original toy), this was scaled to 45% and printed in resin on my Anycubic Photon.
I’ve recently been on a roll with the 3D printing and have got a setup I am really happy with now for both FDM and resin.
On the FDM side (using my Creality CR-10S) I have been concentrating on vehicles and scenery. This has given me the opportunity to go back and visit models I previously tried to print with limited success.
One such example is the excellent SHADO mobile by AlPokemon that is available free to download on Thingiverse. I had previously tried to print this before I had got my settings ‘fully dialed in’. Armed with a new found (if not slightly tentative) confidence I loaded up the printer bed and set to work on not one, but three of these iconic vehicles.
At the same time I have been going back to my ‘Action Force and the Red Shadows in 28mm scale‘ project. Having done something similar before (albeit with a commercial model kit) I decided it was time for the Action Force teams to buy up some of that surplus SHADO inventory and kit themselves out with some mobile support.
I printed two variants this time, one the standard SHADO mobile, but the other with a ‘turret’ option. The STL files contained options for a gun turret and a couple of different communiations arrays. In order to provide some flexibility for gaming I decided to magnetise these turrets and their attachments.
In the end I went with a tiny magnet and a 5p piece, which just perfectly fit the recess in the model.
It’s probably important to note at this point that I made no scaling changes to the file prior to printing, and the models I would say at a rough guess are approximately 1:48 scale (more than good enough for 29mm gaming).
Top tip if using coinage with magnets – check them first. Apparently not all 5p coins are magnetic (who knew?).
For the Z Force Mobile (which I envision as a HQ vehicle or forward observer) I went with the traditional green and black camo. The airbrush was used for this with Vallejo Russian Green as the base over a black undercoat.
Camo was black with grey highlights and details were picked out in red and yellow as a nod to the original toy line.
Decals and stickers were primarily reproduction Action Force toy stickers from Vintage Star Wars Collectibles. However I also added some waterslide decals from my stash. In both cases I applied a coat of Humbrol gloss varnish to the area prior to application.
For sticker application I did not wait for the varnish to dry; this enabled me to reposition these with relative ease. Once dry I then re-applied gloss varnish as a top coat to seal both the stickers and decals.
Finally some highlights were picked out in yellow and red and some weathering was applied (more on which later).
The end result, ready to take on the Baron!
On to the Q Force variant. Unlike the Z Force mobile I went for one of the turreted versions. Many of the Q Force toys had a strong yellow, blue and red livery and I decided to try and, if not replicate, at least give a nod to this.
Unlike the previous version, the majority of this model was painted from spray cans, rather than using the airbrush. Undercoat for this one was Citadel Wraith Bone (which is a kind of off white) applied from a can.
Basecoat was a dark yellow using again a spray can, this time Averland Sunset.
Highlights were achieved with a lighter yellow Humbrol spray.
Interestingly this is a gloss paint, but I was trusting to the final coat of Dullcote to sort this out.
Highlights were picked out in blue, with an orange tint for the windscreens. Next up was weathering, which as per usual I went unintentionally a little overboard with. Chipping on both this and the previous model was achieved using a sponging technique. A weathering spray (from Plastic Soldier) was further added for a really grimy look.
On the assumption that the Q Force vehicle would spent a lot of time by the sea I also added in some streaking using a Modelmates rust effect.
For both models, tracks were simply painted dark grey, dry brushed with a ‘plate mail’ silver and then weathered down with Army Painter Dark Tone wash.
So you may have noticed from the photos that I printed three models and have only mentioned the two so far. Well the final one isn’t going to the Action Force motor pool, it’s destined for another fighting force, a Megaforce if you will….
Since my last visit the store had expanded into the full building it previously only occupied a part of. In fact the day of the event was the last full day at that location as they are moving to new expanded premises. As someone who struggled in the retail side of the industry it is heartening to see a local games store doing well and able to expand in this way.
While hosted by Simon of Board in Brum, the event was organised by the talented Mike Strong, who has a track record of adding some great additional narrative to these events. In true 7TV style this involved the ‘production studio’ having to cut back on costs, so across the three games in the day there were various additional objectives added in to try and keep the accountants at ‘Baron Studios’ happy. At the end of each game, based on your success at meeting these objectives (for example moving your cast the least amount of space across the board to save on cost) additional bonuses or abilities were made available for the next game. There was even a ‘scoreboard’ so the accountants could keep track of which producers were in the black and which were in the red.
The event followed a standard pattern of three games at 40 ratings each. This allowed for compact games run on either 3 by 3 or 4 by 4 tables with some flexibility on the number of stars and co-stars. This allowed me to take a reasonably sized cast, for which this time I chose Baron Ironblood and his Red Shadows using the ‘official’ profile cards for these characters published in the 7TV 1967 Annual.
There were a number of excellent tables available on the day, some provided by the venue, others brought by attendees. I brought along my secret Nazi rocket base complete with V2 launch site and Haunbau flying saucer (neatly parked in a stone circle).
Also worthy of mention was Mike’s Venetian layout (complete with what I can only assume was a lost submarine), David’s sinister funfair and Paul’s hex based ‘Children of the Fields’ themed setup. In fact there was a surplus of boards available on the day and we ended up sharing these with a Marvel Crisis Protocol event that was also taking place at the same time. (Which reminds me I need to finish of painting up my set for a game at the next Dales Meeting in February).
My first game was against my old adversary Kieron, who had somehow made his 40 ratings stretch to a 30 plus figure cast. There was a reason for this and that reason was…..zombies. Now I usually have epic bad luck with dice when playing against Kieron and this was no different.
Playing on my V2 rocket site board things started off bad and continued from there as two of my extras were immediately infected and replaced with zombies and the rest of the horde started their relentless stumble across the board towards the Baron and his fanatical followers. I’m terrible at remembering the specific details of games so I’d point you towards Kieron’s blog for an excellent narrative overview of the ‘episode’.
Unlike previous games between us, we did at least get through the first act and in fact managed to play through to the end of the countdown deck. The upshot was a win in terms of victory points for my opponent and ‘a slip into the red’ for me as a producer.
The second game of the day followed on from lunch and I found myself up against Simon and his gang of wasteland marauders.
This cast took a similar approach to the zombies with a single star and lots of lots of expendable extras. While not quite the size of the previous cast I’d faced, it did give me plenty of opportunity for some target practice for my fanatical Red Shadows.
Somehow all the bad dice luck I had had in the previous game was immediately passed over to my opponent who had some truly horrendous bad luck with his rolls. Again we managed to play through the full episode (the cost saving aspect for the studio here was that a bonus was conferred to the player who burnt through the most countdown cards). Despite losing a larger proportion of my cast I just about sqweaked a win in terms of victory points, although we both ended up with the same number of countdown cards, which at least meant I’d moved out of the red into the ‘grey’ prior to the final game of the day.
My final game of the day was against David and his biker gang. We played this on Kieron’s city table. It was a standard ‘steal’ scenario in which the defender had to keep and defend the Macguffin from the attacker.
I ended up with the Macguffin to start with and to my delight and my opponents dismay the random gadget I ended up drawing for this was the jet pack. Queue a game of cat and mouse, where the mouse was airbourne for much of the time, in what can only be described as a valiant rearguard action (i.e. I spent much of the game, running away).
The added cost saving objective for this game was to end the episode with the most left over plot points. Running entirely against type I managed to achieve this as David my opponent valiantly tried but ultimately failed to retrieve the Macguffin, burning through many of his remaining plot points to do so on the final turn.
All in all three cracking games, a well organised event at a friendly venue against a great bunch of opponents with lots of laughs. Just what a 7TV event should be.
I was also delighted to come away from the day with the prize for best table layout (goodies already ordered from Crooked Dice).
The next day at Board in Brum (at their new venue) is tentatively scheduled for September or October this year. I’d heartily recommend checking out the 7TV Productions Facebook group for all the latest news.
As is often the case this little hobby activity was in no way planned. Having bought a few cheap Heroclix figures from eBay in order to try out a new set of rules, I found the following in the booster packs I was opening….
Now I am not a massive Marvel or superhero comics chap, but I do know that this is Magneto, nemesis of the X-Men. However my immediate thought was, with a bit of work that could easily be Cobra Commander seated in his throne room.
So, first up basing. This looked to be a flying model so rather than being directly attached to the usual Heroclix chunky base, all I had to remove and replace was the clear plastic around the bottom of the model.
In my bits box I knew I had a hooded Cobra Commander head (sourced from a limited run of private commission GI Joe miniatures). So one quick snip and a touch of superglue later and the king snake himself was pretty much done (at least in terms of modelling).
Now the only problem I had with making this a convincing conversation was the facts that the original bare headed figure has his hand placed on a helmet. As it happens the choice of going with the ‘hooded’ version of Cobra Commander proved fortuitous. With a bit of filler I could convert the helmet in hand into his alternate head wear. In fact even better I could go with the ‘Action Force’ version of the Commander and model the helmet as his previous ‘Baron Ironblood’ persona.
(For those readers not familiar with the British Action Force mythology, Cobra was born out of the ashes of the Red Shadows organisation, with Cobra Commander previously being the head of that organisation, the fearsome Baron Ironblood. You can read more about my Action Force project and Baron Ironblood in my past blog posts.)
Next step, painting. I gave the pre-painted figure a covering with a white primer applied with the airbrush. Then it was down to a combination of Citadel Contrast and ‘traditional paints’ to finish things off. All in all a quick but effective conversion, which will probably see some action on the tabletop in games of 7TV at some point in the future.
What this has reminded me is that while some of the pre-paints on Heroclix models can be a bit ropey, there are often some good sculpts hiding underneath. Heroclix can be incredibly cheap to pick up and the vast array of characters means that these can be a really good source for conversions (whether you choose to re-paint them or not).
Thing is this all started off with a desire to do some super hero hobby and gaming. I still plan on pursuing this (especially in light of the theme of this years Wargames Illustrated 7TV Day). Well these turned up recently (I ordered them, but has kind of forgotten about them)….new unpainted X-Men Heroclix, including of course a certain Magneto….
As I continue to prepare my 7TV secret base board I’ve been thinking about the sort of rooms and components that make up a good lair.
One thing that evil geniuses such as Baron Ironblood are always keen on is some form of twisted scientific research. Part of the lore of the Red Shadows organisation both in the toy line and the accompanying comic strips in Battle Action Force was the idea of the Kraken.
The Kraken in toy form was originally only available via a special offer leaflet in some Action Force vehicle boxes. In the story line this was a bit more of a science fiction diversion for what primarily up to this point was a more hard military tale. Discovered in stasis beneath the artic ice the Kraken was then engineered by the Baron and his servants into servant of the Enemy, armed with ‘trident gun’ and net (and then cloned many times over).
I’m yet to model a Kraken for inclusion in my cast (an official stat card exists for the creature in the 7TV 1969 Annual), but undoubtedly this will happen at some point. However in the meantime and considering my focus on pulling a secret base layout together I’ve gone back to the early stages of the Baron’s experiments.
I’ve been waiting for a while to do anything with them so have decided to paint them up as features for a laboratory in the base.
The kit is all metal apart from the clear plastic tubing. A quick paint job on the metallic parts using some washes and Citadel Ryza Rust gave me the kind of murky grimy evil lab setting I was after. For the ‘specimens’ it was another excuse to use some Citadel Constrast paints. Guilleman Flesh over a white undercoat is one of the best results I have come across yet for this new range and it works particularly well for these gribbly creatures. I also used some ‘Nurgle’s Rot’ to add a bit of slime to the bases.
One mistake I made was the overuse of super glue to fix the clear plastic tubes to the metal ends resulting in a bit of frosting. In the end though I think this kind of adds to the effect.
The accompanying white coated scientist becomes a red coated scientest and voila I have some set dressing for the lab. I can also use the scientist in my 7TV cast as an extra, so bonus.
I’ll be adding a few more bits and pieces to the lab (including of course some walls and doors) and a thinking about a command centre.
One idea is to add some of the plant based post-apocalyptic miniatures from 7TV to the mix. Can’t help but think that the Baron would certainly be in the market for a few Triffids.
In addition to the cast I am also putting together a table layout for the day, which is going to be themed around said cast – so Red Shadow secret base it is then.
I’ll be documenting my progress over the next few weeks. The casting is mostly complete, so most of the focus will be on the table. What this is allowing me to do is also stress the 3D printer with terrain and vehicles for the Baron! I’m not planning on including any vehicles in my cast, but I figure any secret base worth its weight is going to have a pretty well stocked motor pool. So a great excuse to go wild and finish off a number of things I have had part completed for quite a while.
First up is a 1:43 scale die cast World War 2 German Puma. Following a black undercoat I airbrushed on some successively lighter layers of red and a picked out the basic highlights on the tools, metalwork and other features. Decals wise I was lucky to chance upon some custom ‘Enemy’ decals from eBay a while back. I applied these on top of a gloss varnish and subsequently weathered up using a sponge chipping technique.
All in all I’m pretty pleased with the outcome. The WW2 German aesthetic fits the Red Shadows well (the original figure being based on the German Stormtrooper).
Next up are the Hyena tanks (known more commonly by GI Joe fans as the Cobra HISS tank). I’ve got a stash of gift style toys released a few years ago that are perfect for 28mm scale and have previously painted one up, but I want a whole squadron for the motor pool. This also gave me the chance to experiment with the new Citadel Contrast paints on a vehicle rather than a miniature.
Decals were from the same source as the ones used on the Puma. The contrast paint went down well, but I have to say (as many others have commented) I feel it works much better on ‘organic’ models with plenty of folds and creases. The paint tends to pool on flat surfaces and although it does run into panel lines it is not as effective as a wash. I used Flesh Tearers Red over a white undercoat and ended up doing some dry brush highlighting afterwards in order to bring it up to a better and more consistent finish. Interesting note, wary of some reports of the adherence of contrast paints not being as good as standard acrylics, I did seal the model with Dullcote between these steps.
Finally on the vehicles I needed Shadowtraks. The eponymous Red Shadows vehicle, from both the toy line and the pages of Battle Action Force.
Featured in one of the photos above is a new Baron Ironblood miniature I am working on. I’ve previously modelled a Baron using a 7TV ‘not Blakes 7 Travis’ figure, but all in all wasn’t that pleased with the outcome (mainly on account of the rough job I did on the helmet using some very basic greenstuff skills).
While purusing my bits box a few weeks ago I happened across a figure I’m still struggling to identify. Helmet wise I’ve gone with a ‘welders mask’ head from the Crooked Dice 7TV henchmen set. Revel ‘Plasto’ putty has been used to make the mask into a full helmet. I snipped off the right hand which was holding a hypodermic needle and replaced this with a fist from a random plastic sprue and added some electrical wire as a whip. In honour of the original action figure I’m arming the Baron with an UZI which I sourced from an old Dreamforge Games Eisenkern Troopers frame.
Painting is yet to be completed but I’ll be using it as an opportunity to try both the black and white constrast paints.
More soon, including the plans for the rest of the base.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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!
Next up for the Shad motor pool is an armoured car based on a 1/43rd die cast Puma….
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!
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.
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.
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…..
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.
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.
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.
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.)