Denizens of the spaceport or crocodiles in space!

I’ve been 3D printing a lot of spaceship models recently and have also started pulling together a few ideas for a spaceport table setup to use them on.

The aim here is to pull together a 4′ by 4′ table for playing science fiction based games on (obviously) using primarily the 7TV rule set, but also with half an eye on the upcoming release of Stargrave by Osprey Games.

Thematically I am trying to keep the terrain generic enough to be used across multiple sci-fi settings including games inspired by or directly set in specific fictional universes. Star Wars is the obvious choice here (certainly based on my recent hobby activity), but I also aspire at some point to do something with the Gale Force 9 Aliens miniatures I recently bought and additionally the Future Freedom Fighters 7TV Programme Guide from Crooked Dice . I certainly have a work in progress ship for this one!

I’ll be doing an article on my Scorpio build soon.

However initially I wanted to be a bit more freeform in the way I populate my (as yet unamed) spaceport. I particularly like the idea of a far future setting with no particular overarching story, more a freely adaptable ‘make it up as you go along’ approach if you like.

I used to read a comic called Starblazer in my youth (and have recently started collecting old issues again). These were self-contained 63 page stories (from DC Thomson, the same publishers of the more famous Commando comic). While there were the odd recurring characters and settings, it was pretty much something different each time (albeit with a heavy recurring vein of spaceships, aliens and lasers running throughout).

Some of my Starblazer collection

In fact some years ago Cubicle Seven released a role-playing game based on these comics which I am lucky to have in my collection. Called Starblazer Adventures – The Rock and Roll Space Opera Adventure Game, this effectively provided a sandbox for creating your own settings and adventures in a ‘generic’ science fiction setting. One of the suggested settings within the book is referred to as ‘The Cosmopolitan Era’ and is described as…

The Cosmopolitan Era or ‘Who Elected the Guy with Two Heads’ is set around the rise and fall of galactic civilisation – thousands of strange alien races share every corner of the galaxy with mankind who is now just part of the melting pot.

Chris Birch and Stuart Newman, Starblazer Adventures, 2008, Cubicle Seven

It is this feel exactly I want to go for in terms of miniatures with which to populate the spaceport initially. Luckily there has been an explosion in the availability of science fiction miniatures (that are not Warhammer 40k) recently, particularly in the field of 3D printing.

A mightly tome that is not only a RPG rulebook but a useful and interesting reference guide to the comics

My initial spaceport denizen comes from Titan Forge Miniatures and was originally released as part of their monthly CyberForge Patreon, but is also available via MyMiniFactory. Crocko Bo is a cape wearing, big gun wielding space crocodile man, and that is really all you need to know about him.

Crocko Bo by Titan Forge Miniatures (Cyber Forge)

I printed him in resin alongside a base that was also released as part of that month’s release and started off with a white undercoat. From that it was mainly a Citadel contrast based paint job for the skin tone, with additional detail picked out using coloured metallics from the Scale75 range. Rather than go with a metallic look base I stuck with the method I have been using on my Star Wars stuff recently and went for an ‘industrial grey’ colour scheme, primarily via drybrushing.

Keeping on the ‘aninals in space’ them, next up is a ‘Tortle’ by Manuel Boria (also available for download from MyMiniFactory ). I took a similar approach with this chap, again sticking with contrast paints for the skin tones and webbing with used metallics elsewhere.

Back with Cyber Forge and next up is a rather squat gentleman. This is Harry Stone – in my setting he is a space marshall travelling onbaord frieghters and passenger ships providing extra security (for a price). Another fairly simple paint job which I over complicated for myself by trying to do a desert camo pattern on his combats. In the end I think this worked OK, and although he probably as designed was intended for a more Cyberpunk setting I think he will fit in OK.

Finally we have a few models from the recent Novus Landing Kickstarter by EC3D Design.

First up a group of human soldiers called ‘The Alliance Patrol’ which I am using as my port authority security detail. These printed really nicely and I went for a white undercoat here followed by contrast. The difference here is that I tried an all over shade of dark tone wash before applying the contrast layer. This work particularly well with the yellows and whites I concentrated on for their colour scheme.

Finally also from the Novus Landing range we have an alien arms dealer. Again I went with a dark wash over a white undercoat to start with and this really helped particaulrly with the orange of his spacesuit in terms of getting a suitably quick and effective shading. One thing I will say about contrast paints is that they have made me more likely to consider painting colours I would have previously avoided, in particular white.

One thing you may have noticed with the miniatures above is that they are all 3D printed. I am not restricting myself to just 3D prints, it just seems to be the way things have gone so far on this project. It is perhaps at this point worth pointing at that Wayne at Tangent Miniatures has recently aquired a license with EC3D studio to supply physical copies of the miniatures from Novus Landing. These will be cast in metal and the first few packs should be available soon from the Tangent website. (Coincidentally I will be producing the resin masters for these for the mold making process, part of the reason I chose these miniatures to test print for this project.)

In terms of next steps I have more miniatures to print, have various ships in various stages of completion and have also started on the actual terrain pieces. This includes the part 3D printed, part scratch built port authority control tower. More of which soon…

Port Authority control tower under construction.

Scratch Built Oil Rig – Part 1 – superstructure

I’ve always been kind of fascinated by North Sea Oil Rigs.  There is something brutal, impossible and imposing about these behemoths.  They just kind of look impossible (and a bit frightening).

oil rig ref
© Brian Jobson / Alamy

From a gaming perspective I’ve never really been into sea based or naval wargaming, but having an oil rig/platform to play on brings to mind such inspiration as Bond (Diamonds are Forever) and the classic (in my eyes) North Sea Hijack!  Of course the ideal game for such a setting is my go to favourite, 7TV.

North Sea Hijack
In which Roger hates women but loves cats

So a few months ago I made up my mind that I was going to build an oil rig as a gaming table.  The objective of this project would be to produce something that looked kind of realistic, was easy to game on and was modular and therefore easy to transport.  I also felt that I wanted to have a go at scratch building much of this from household bits and pieces wherever possible.  So just after Christmas I put the call out to friends and colleagues for any spare coffee and sweet tins.  Because of the season I managed to get a huge variety of Roses, Miniatures Heroes, Celebrations and Roses tins in various shapes and sizes.  At the time I wasn’t quite sure of my design but felt these would provide a good basis for legs or supports.

Rig 27
The design takes shape

Likewise for coffee tins, but I found these a bit harder to come by.  I will admit at this point that I resorted to eBay and actually bought a job lot of empty Illy coffee tins (who know there was such a market for such a thing online?).  Once these arrived my design began to take shape and these seemed like an obvious choice for my legs.

The actual playing surface itself was a bit of a cheat (and not at all based on recycling household items).  Many years ago when running the shop I had stocked some modular plastic gaming tiles from Secret Weapon Miniatures.  I still have four of these that were originally designed for Mantic’s Deadzone.  As these were 1 foot square they would allow me to build the rig in four parts, each supported by a coffee tin leg with a chocolate tin as the concrete ‘boot’ or foundations.

Extending the modular idea, each quarter tile would be built in such a way that they could be put together in any order.  I decided that each tile would also have a different purpose and I divided them as follows:

  • crew quarters / offices / command deck (I’m not entirely sure if on an Oil Rig you refer to a ‘bridge’
  • refinery (an industrial looking bit)
  • crane / cargo area
  • helicopter landing pad

I’d also aim to have some form of removable central structure that would be higher than the other parts of the rig and maybe culminate in some form of radar mast or communications array.

I’m going to cover the individual area builds in some future blog entries, but for the time being, with the weather being good and some free time on my hands this weekend I’ve cracked on with the super-structure!

First off, the coffee tins proved to be really spot on for the purpose I had in mind.  Each was the same size and came with a screw on lid.  By affixing one lid to the bottom of each platform tile I have been able to easily implement a system for taking the rig apart for transport and storage.  I decided on a ‘two tin’ height for each leg.  By gluing the top of one tin to the bottom of another I could further disassemble each leg into two parts, again meeting the modular objective.

rig 36
Lid affixed with super glue to the bottom of each platform section

rig 30
Next lid glued to the base of the ‘previous’ tin

 

Rig 5
All four sections – showing assembly method

Rig 3
And the right way up

Four matching plastic chocolate ‘tins’ (Cadbury’s Miniature Heroes for those of you who are interested) were chosen as the ‘concrete’ foundations for each leg.  These were inverted so the lid was at the bottom and a coffee tin sized hole was cut in each for the main leg to slot into and provide stability.  I decided not to glue the lids of chocolate tins together as they had a good seal and I want the ability to add ballast to these if necessary in future.

The tiles themselves come with a system of clips which link them together, so these would provide some extra stability and stop the sections moving independently.

Rig 2
Top view

Paint was applied to ‘legs’ and ‘boot’s next.  Black car primer for the undercoat followed by a cheap Nato green spray for the legs and my old favourite textured stone paint for the ‘boots’.

 

Rig 17
Paint Factory Nato Green (Matt) was only £2 a can (from Boyes)

I’ve covered the use of textured stone paint in a previous blog entry, but needless to say the same principles applied – lots of coats and considerable drying time between each.  I started off using a mid-tone stone, but soon ran out so ended up with subsequent coats of a lighter ‘bleached stone’.  Once this is weathered down I don’t think it will look too bad, and certainly from the off it gives a great representation of concrete.

Once I’d taken advantage of the decent weather to dry these components outdoors, it was time for a test build.

Et voila, so far, so good.

Rig 26

Rig 25

Size wise on it’s own this gives a 2′ by 2′ playing surface which is ideal for a small skirmish game, but plonk this on a bigger layout (maybe on a blue ‘sea’ cloth) with a few strategically placed boats and you could have for some quite interesting scenarios.

Rig 24

Rig 23

Next up will be to work on some the individual tiles.  For the refinery I will be using a Pegasus/Conflix/Tehnolog ‘Chemical Plant’ kit with some Games Workshop and Mantic additions.  The crane and containers will be an MDF kit, as will the living quarters, while for the helicopter pad I will be sticking with the coffee tin / confectionery container approach.

Quite a bit still to do, but I am aiming to get this ready for the 7TV campaign day at Dales Wargames Club in May.

Further updates soon…

 

Post-Apocalypse Terrain Build (with biscuit tins)

I recently had the pleasure of attending the Wargames Illustrated 7TV Apocalypse Day held in the wonderful surroundings of Wargames Foundry on the outskirts of Newark.
The day was all about having fun testing out the new 7TV variant rules for gaming in a wide variety of post-apocalypse settings.  Although aimed at a wide variety of sub-genres within the PA setting, one of the key additions to the core game was expanded vehicle and vehicle combat rules.

Therefore preparation for the day included building a suitable vehicle to carry your cast and fight it out with.

Some excellent terrain and scenery was provided on the day, but coming back I had the real desire to knock together something of my own.

I’d been hoarding some bits and pieces recently and what better to fight over in the ‘white line nightmare’ of the future than the precious gasoline.

So behold the start of the ‘biscuit tin oil refinery’…

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The fundamentals of this build are biscuit tins.  First thing before anything else could be started then was to eat all the biscuits. An arduous task, but one I achieved with bravery and resolve.

Many years ago I backed the first Mantic Deadzone Kickstarter, I never really got into the game and off loaded most of it, apart from the excellent Battlezones scenery bits and pieces.  To dress up the basic tins which would act as the silo/tank I used some of the Battlezones ladders and a few other bits and pieces.

To provide the upright struts around the tank (and to make it look less biscuit tin like) I used off cut pieces of plastic sprues.

To provide a base I used some ‘magazine dividers’ which are effectively quite thick plasticard.

The plasticard base was trimmed to make it look less like a piece of stationary, and then marked out with areas where paths and pools of ‘toxic waste’ would be placed.

A mix of modelling sand and PVA was whipped up and slopped on (technical term), leaving space for the marked out areas.

Taking advantage of the very un-British summer this was left out in the blazing heat for a while to set.

I wanted to go with a downbeat weathered look and knew I wanted it to look rusty and abandoned.  First base colour then was Army Painter Chaotic Red to provide that underlying feel.


Light sprays of Russian Green were then used to add the primary hues, leaving the dark red showing underneath.

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After having left it to dry for a while I then scuffed up key areas using a kitchen scouring pad to scratch off layers of paint to try and reveal the underlying red (and in some cases original biscuit tin colours).


I used (the now sadly out of production) Modelmates paint on rust effects to properly weather it up, concentrating on scuffed areas,  the areas where the two original tins met (rather than hiding the join I thought I’d make use of it.  I also concentrated on the areas where the ‘pipes’ joined the base of the silo.  In addition the ladders were rusted up in key areas.


A covering of Plastic Soldier Company Dirt Brown weathering spray was then used all over and after a few minutes was smeared and sponged using some old blister pack foam.

The foam was then broken out again to use the ‘sponging chipping’ technique using a dark brown paint.

Having completed the bulk of the paint work on the silo itself, I set about the base.  A generous coat of brown artists acrylic paint was applied followed by an initial dry brush.  This was then followed up by painting on some Army Painter Strong Tone dip.

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Following (the faster than usual due to the summer heat) drying time of the Quickshade I then did a  lighter brown drybrushe followed by a light dusting of Army Painter Skeleton Bone.

Wasteland tufts from Army Painter were used to add detail (especially around the edges of the structure).

I’d previously left some gaps in the original sand-PVA mix on the base board with the intention of using these as pools of some sort.  In fitting with the wasteland setting these became toxic waste deposits, so I finally found a use for that pot of Citadel Nurgle’s Rot technical paint I’ve had lying around for years.

The space I had left for pathways was painted dark grey and then roughly stipled with a lighter grey to give the impreseion of gravel or worn tarmac.

Pipe work and barrels were picked out with Foundry Blackened Barrel (my absolute favourite metallic paint – ideal for guns – as it says on the tin!).  A bit more ‘toxic sludge’ was added to the top of one of the barrels.

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Finally I dived into the bits box of decals and applied some warning signs in key locations and chose the deliberately ominous ’13’ for the silo’s primary identification!

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And that about does it, all that remains is to seal down the decals and apply a bit of weathering to them.

I’ll be trying something similar again (this time with laundry pod containers) in preparation for a table on which to play 7TV Apocalypse!

I originally published this article as a Project Blog using the new functionality on Beasts of War.  I’d highly recommend folk check this community and feature out.  It’s a great way to share ideas and get feedback on any hobby related activities.  (To access the projects functionality you will need to sign up as a ‘backstage member’, there is a free 7 day trial if you want to try it out).