Project Kraken – Red Shadows Laboratory

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.

Kraken Action Figure

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).

Battle Action Force Kraken datafile.jpg

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.

Suppose rather than happen across a conveniently frozen lizardman in the snow, the Baron had to work for it and develop his own super soldier mutant.  Many years ago I picked up this excellent set of miniatures from West Wind Productions Secrets of the Third Reich range.

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West Wind Productions Cloning Tanks

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.

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If not the Kraken then what?

 

 

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.

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One of the Baron’s science team

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.

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Some already completed components for the control room

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.

Day of the Triffids BBC

 

World Enemy Number One

My long running Action Force in 28mm scale project has suddenly got a bit more focus.  I am attending the next 7TV campaign day at Board in Brum in Walsall in September.  This requires a 40 ratings cast and having fielded Space Force last time, I figure it’s time for the Enemy this time round.

Baron 3
Action Force will never succeed in eliminating the Baron! (A classic illustration from the pages of Battle Action Force Issue 508 January 1985)

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.

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They will come like a red horde from the shadows!

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.

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Bits of base – all 3D printed – all work in progress

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.

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The original toy

Luckily a fellow fan and wargamer has produced an excellent 3D model and made it freely available on Thingiverse.  I’ve printed this at 160% and made some ‘after print modifications’ to get the wheels positioned correctly.  A few more of these will be rolling off the Baron’s production line shortly.

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).

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Classic take on the Baron I am keen to emulate in miniature form

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.

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What lies within?

Blood for the Baron!

Baron 2
A portent of things to come

Scratch Built Oil Rig – Part 2 – Refinery and Crane

I’ve managed to get a bit more work on the 28mm scale scratch built Oil Rig.  Having finished off the bulk of the superstructure I’ve now moved on to looking at the main body of the rig.

As previously discussed I have approached this in a module manner.  Each of the 2 foot square tiles now has a removable leg support and ‘concrete boot’, the idea being that the four of them can be arranged in any combination to vary the gaming service as required.  Each of these component parts of the platform will be themed to a specific ‘function’ of the oil rig and in summary these will be bridge/ops centre/crew quarters, helicopter landing pad, loading crane/storage area and refinery.

It’s the latter two that I have been initially concentrating on.

Refinery

For the refinery I have used a modular plastic model kit of a ‘Chemical Plant’.  Manufactured by Tehnolog in Russia, but sold under licence around the world (in the US by Pegasus Hobbies and the UK by Pocketbond) this kit is out of production but you can still find the odd boxed and version on eBay.

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I picked up a complete set a few months ago with the original intention of this being used for a post apocalypse tabletop for 7TV.  In the end this fits the bill for ‘the business end’ of the oil rig quite nicely.  Fully hard plastic and stuffed full of components, this is really like a lego kit for wargames scenery builders.  It does have some instructions and suggestions on how to build, but I really just free formed it with all the pipes, valves and tanks available.  This did end up being a bit fiddly, but was a gentle distraction for a couple of hours.  In addition to the core bits and pieces from the kit I added in some extra touches from my bits box, including some 40k scenery bits (in red plastic in the photos) and some platform pieces from the Robogear Starter Set (also produced by Tehnolog).

Rather than build this directly onto the platform I found a separate base for this (an old Warhammer movement tray), with addition of some magnets I’ll be able to use this as part of the rig table or just as a standalone piece elsewhere (meaning it may see the apocalypse after all).

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Refinery sat on modular platform (Zulu for scale!)

For the time being I have kept painting simple, a black undercoat and all over gun metal drybrush.  Various ‘tanks’ have been picked out in red, with ‘valves’ painted gold.  At some point moving forward I will look to weather this up suitably.

 

Crane and loading area

For this part of the board I wanted a big structure and rather than try and build something completely from scratch I’ve gone down the MDF kit route.  TTCombat do some really good value kits and I’ve gone with their ‘dockside crane’.  Again I’m approaching this from a modular view point with the idea being this can be removed from the rig and used as a separate piece on a different board as required.

The build on this was fairly straightforward, with minimal fuss, although the tolerances were very tight and I have had to do some creative trimming to make all the parts fit.  This was more down to my lack of care and precision rather than any inherent issue with the kit.

 

I painted this in quite a basic manner blocking out colours roughly and allowing the subsequent weathering to do a lot of the work for me (masking mistakes and dulling down some of the primary colours). Warning stripes were added using an MDF stencil, again from TTCombat.  The stenciled lettering and logos on were ‘painted’ using Gundam paint marker pens.

I wanted to give the crane a look that, although operational, it was no longer cared for or maintained properly.  This involved extensive use of rust effects, including dry brushing of Citadel Ryza Rust, a liberal application of some Modelmates Rust Effects and the use of weathering sprays from Plastic Soldier Company.  The whole model was then sealed using a liberal all over spray of Testors Dullcote.

Platform tiles

I’ve also started to add some colour to the platform tiles themselves.  Again I am keeping this quite basic for the time being.  A base coat of silver was applied using a cheap (and very smelly) can of paint sourced from Poundland and an brush on of Army Painter Quickshade Dark Tone was then applied.  This was again dulled and sealed using Dullcote.  There is some further tidy up and weathering to do here, but that is for another time.

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It’s all starting to come together and although time is rapidly running out,  I’m still on track to debut this at the 7TV campaign day at Dales Wargames on May 26th.

 

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.

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

 

Adventures with Amera Plastic Mouldings and Stone Textured Paint

One of the great pleasures I get from the hobby is the chance to view everything through the hobbyists eyes.  So when I am out shopping (ostensibly for real word stuff) I’ve always got half an eye on what I could use for the latest project on the tabletop.  I’ve written before about my ongoing love of re-purposing toys for gaming and toy shops are a great place to start.  However I never overlook what might be lurking in the local discount store, Poundland or craft supplies shop.

Although I have an airbrush I also make extensive use of spray cans to undercoat and basecoat miniatures and models.  There is a lot to be said for the convenience, particularly of the Army Painter coloured sprays of quickly and effectively getting minis to the table.  That said one of the areas that people often overlook are the basic colours used for undercoating (black, white and grey).  Yes you could shell out a tenner (or more) on some Games Workshop or Army Painter sprays for this, but the basic car primers you can get from places like Halfords or even the pound shop are in most cases just as good or even better (just be careful to avoid the gloss versions).  I’d highly recommend the matt black Halfords own brand cans, they give a really nice flat finish on most surfaces and are good value for the  amount you get).

Anyway, I digress.  On a recent lunchtime wander round my local Boyes store (one of the few places in the UK outside of specialist gaming shops that stock a good supply of Vallejo paints), I happened across these…

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Rust-oleum Stone Textured Finished Paint

Stone effect aerosol sprays in a variety of colours.  I had a few years ago used one of the these in a dark grey to provide a tarmac like surface to a game board I was building, but like many projects a few years back didn’t see it through to the end.  However having recently bought a Bastion Stronghold (Z2014) from Amera Plastic Mouldings for use as a ‘wasteland’ fortification for post-apocalypse gaming (and potentially a bit of Kill Team / 40k on the side) I had an idea…..

Amera have been on my radar for a while.  They produce a range of vac formed plastic terrain and scenery aimed at both the wargames and scale modelling (dioramas) markets. Their products are good value and in many cases substantial in terms of size.  One of the downsides of using vac-formed plastic however is that the surface details of larger pieces tend to be very flat and lack texture.  If only there was a quick and easy way to apply a textured finish, maybe to emulate concrete or pebble dash to my recently acquired ‘post-apocalypse’ stronghold?

So having  put two and two together I started work.  After the recommended wash in warm soapy water I gave the whole piece a black undercoat.  After leaving this to dry I applied the first coat of stone effect.  I had chosen ‘bleached stone’ as my preferred colour of sprays as I though it would match an arid PA wasteland type setting.

First thing to note on the stone effects aerosol is that it is under quite high pressure and comes out very forcefully.  It became quite apparent early on that this meant I was going to have to be very patient, do a number of thin coats and wait for each to dry properly.  Repeated application of layers on a surface that was not yet dry just ended up moving the stone effect paint already laid down around.

What also became clear was that the black undercoat was not working.  The light ‘desert yellow’ / ‘skeleton bone’ like colour of the spray was being overpowered by the dark base.  To rectify this, once the first thin layer was applied and was dry (after about 15 minutes) I gave the whole model a full all over spray of Citadel Averland Sunset (a darkish yellow).  Building subsequent layers over this was much more effective.

Once I’d completed about 4 or 5 coats using the stone effect I had a good covering and a good scale approximation of either pebble dashed concrete or sandstone.

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A couple of coats in and the effect was starting to look better

Where to take it from here?  I knew I definitely wanted to weather this down, especially as it was intended to be a wastelands style outpost, but simply dry brushing a highlight over the stone effect would perhaps make it too light.  I could of course have left it there, the effect was good enough for ‘basic tabletop standard’, but I was keen to take it further.

I also wanted to ensure that the stone effect paint was protected, so rolled the weathering and protection into one by painting on Army Painter Quickshade Strong Tone.  I’m a big fan of Quickshade; not the dipping method, rather painting in the same way as a shade or wash.  Normally with miniatures following an initial drying period the shade ‘pulls back’ into the recesses of the model and you can ‘dab’ up any excess with a brush.  With this scenery piece there weren’t really any recesses into which to recede so I had to work hard not to show brush strokes in the finished effect.  I achieved this using swirling motions with a cheap large brush.

At this stage, to be honest, I wasn’t very happy, it looked like I had dulled down the stone effect too much and the natural gloss of the Quickshade kind of made things worse (albeit I knew I was going to have to dull this down with a top coat).  A quick dry brush back up of Army Painter Skeleton Bone seemed to retrieve the situation, but I was now left with a much darker piece than I was originally intending.

I was on the verge of going back to the drawing board, when I thought about maybe rather than weathering this up as an arid desert stronghold, I could shift my post-apocalyptic mindset more towards a ‘nature reclaiming the landscape’ scenario.  To that end I liberally applied some green washes and made use of an old bottle of Modelmates mould effect I had.

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Midway into the weathering process

With the addition of some flock, tufts and overgrowth I was much happier with the final result.  The metal supports and door were painted silver and then (probably overly) weathered up using again a Modelmates rust effect.  Finally the whole thing was sealed with a couple of thin coats of Testors Dullcote.

All in all I’m pretty pleased with the outcome.  I’d highly recommend Amera Plastic Mouldings as a cost effective and striking alternative to other options for tabletop scenery.  Using the textured spray paint added that extra level of detail, but required some patience.  As they say, you learn from your mistakes.

This finished piece will hopefully be finding it’s way into a game of 7TV Apocalypse soon.

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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).