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.

By your command – Galactic Centurions and Imperious Leader

Spiralling out of painting up some of the ‘not-Cylon’ models from the recent 7TV Argonauts Kickstarter I found myself (as often happens) searching the internet for other similar models.

Over on Thingiverse I found a free 3D file for a ‘Galactic Centurion’ designed by ‘BigMrTongue’ (aka Mike Tongue). I liked the look of this and it got me thinking about building a Cylon army/cast for 7TV.

Over on Patreon I discovered that Mike has a page and offers a whole load of variations on this design with lots of poses and variations in weaponry. A quick click later I was signed up and downloading.

I printed these all on my AnyCubic Photon resin printer and was really pleased with the results (despite the odd misprint due to my missing some supports). In general I was able to get a lot printed in one go and in the end finished with around 30 models in various poses.

My intention was to speed paint these and so I settled on spray cans and contrast paints as the chosen method. Undercoating in grey, I then basecoated using a ‘Poundland’ silver car spray. This resulted in a very bright finish – a good match for the highly shiny Cylons from the original Battlestar Galactica.

Black details were picked out in, well…. black! However using Citadel contrast black allowed me to quickly get these done and had the added bonus of letting the underlying metallic basecoat shine through giving a nice robotic look.

The models included a short ‘skirt’ at the back. While in the original TV series I believe these were also black, I fancied added a bit of colour so these were done using a Contrast Blood Angels red. Again with the very bright silver underneath this ended up looking quite metallic, which was quite pleasing.

I went ‘off-piste’ again in terms of screen accuracy with the weapons, choosing a copper from Vallejo to add additional contrast to the rest of the scheme. This was then dulled down with a Contrast paint wash using Astronomicon Grey (which I have found to be hugely effective as a finish for metallics on many different colours).

The most fiddly bit was left until last – the addition of the famous eye scanner. Just a drop of red in this case.

For some variation (and to indicate an officer class perhaps), I decided to paint a handful of the ‘Centurions’ in a gold livery. I cannot honestly remember if gold Cylons appeared in the original series (I have a feeling they may have been in the re-imagined series later on in the run). These were basecoated using a combination of Humbrol acrylic sprays (these can be easily picked up from model shops and shops such as Boyes and Hobbycraft in the UK and I think are oft overlooked as an option for tabletop gaming hobbyists).

My approach here was to lay down a solid ‘Brass’ base and then to a light top down dusting with ‘Gold’. The remaining steps were as per the standard silver troops.

So what about a leader for these robotic menaces? Well it just so happens that over the past few months I have been providing 3D printing services for a new company called Tangent Miniatures. Tangent produce a lovely range of figures in 28mm scale inspired by popular TV series and films that wonderfully slot into 7TV and complement the range from Crooked Dice. So far Wayne at Tangent has produced galactic hitchikers, space fighter heroes and some dimension hopping adventurers and cops. I have had the pleasure of 3D printing the resin masters for all of these and some ranges that are awaiting release in the new year (January). These include some ‘space heroes’ that would fit in really well as enemies for my Galactic Centurions, and also excitingly a ‘supreme imperious leader’ for the shiny robot men.

I’ve painted up one of the masters for the imperious leader, however I felt like he could use an imposing throne from which to order his legions.

So a couple of coke cans and a dip into the bits box later I have this. While in no way exactly the same of the screen version I think this works really nicely. The base I put on the leader fits exactly into the top of the can and I have not glued this so I can use the figure away from this scenery piece in games.

The paint job on the ‘throne column’ was again kept very simple and achieved entirely through the use of spray cans (the weather being kind to me on enough days to get this completed relatively quickly).

So there we are, a legion of Galactic Centurions and their leader, ready to pursue and hunt down the remaining human fleet.