Painting the Apocalypse – Part 1

I’ve been making some in roads into the huge lead pile that arrived as part of the 7TV Apocalypse Kickstarter.  In true ‘hobby butterfly’ style I’ve just been picking stuff up to paint that I fancy the look of, rather than having any particular plan.

mean machine
Mean Machine

It goes without saying that the figures are as always with Crooked Dice lovely sculpts, with next to no clean up required.  For the majority of these I’ve chosen a grey or white undercoat as a base.

Science division 1
Science division character

In addition to the figures I’ve also been adding in some vehicles to the mix.  I got an extra Interceptor in my pledge and have gone for a basic, but what I think is quite effective black colour scheme for this.  It was also my first time using the Citadel technical/dry paint rust effect (I forget it’s actual name).  Although this looks VERY orange in the pot once dry brushed on it gives a really subtle effect that could pass for both rust and dust.

Finally I’ve completed the conversion of the 1/43rd Teamsterz toy car I have been working on.  Post apocalypse Penny has finally got her Compact Pussycat – although I feel to be properly PA we should refer to this as the Kompakt Puzzycat!

Next on the apocalypse painting production line – Science Division Hazmat troopers.

Hazmat wip

But I might be about to get distracted by dinosaurs!

T Rex WIP

7TV Pulp Miniatures Kickstarter

Crooked Dice Game Design Studio are launching a very short Kickstarter on Friday 29th March at 7pm GMT.  This is to fund a small range of 28mm scale miniatures to support the 7TV Pulp boxed set which is launching for retail at the UK Games Expo this year.

It’s a short campaign running until Monday 1st April at 7pm GMT, with three main simple pledges – six heroes (£22), six villains (£22) or all 12 (£40).  More details on the Crooked Dice Facebook page.

7TV Pulp Kickstarter

For more information on 7TV Pulp which is a joint venture between Crooked Dice and Edge Hill University you can check out their development blog here.

7TV-Pulp-2

Dales Invasion Earth 2019 AD – A 7TV Campaign Day

Following the successful introduction to the game at the last meeting, Dales Wargames Club have got 7TV fever.

So much so that we are looking to hold a campaign day on Sunday 26th May at our Whitworth Centre venue in Darley Dale near Matlock, Derbyshire.

The cost is a mere £7.50 and will include refreshments (and quite possibly cake).  More details can be found on the event Facebook page. We’ve taken inspiration from the amazing Board in Brum days and indeed have the backing of some of the big minds behind those great events.

In the true spirit of 7TV this won’t be a competitive event, but a chance for like minded ‘directors’ and ‘producers’ to get together to enjoy some fun narrative gaming and have a jolly good time.  There will however be spot prizes for best painted cast, most sporting player and best terrain/table build (we are encouraging people to bring along a layout if they can).

The format for the day will be three games based around the theme of ‘Invasion Earth’.  Casts can be based on any of the archetypes from the Spy-Fi or Apocalypse lists and be around 30 ratings.  In order to accommodate the widest possible variety of casts, the games will not however include vehicle combat from the Apocalypse rules.

We are really keen to encourage new players and share this wonderful game with them, so even if you have never played before and/or don’t have any figures please do sign up and we can sort you out with a cast and some guidance on the day.

In addition to the standard games I’ve also volunteered to run a drop-in game of 7TV Apocalypse using the vehicle rules and destruction derby scenario, so players can jump into a buggy or war rig for a bit of distraction if games finish early.

I’ve not yet decided what cast to field myself yet, but I did find myself digging these guys out to finish the other day (after all they fit the theme)!

Robomen
Classic Doctor Who Robomen by Harlequin Miniatures / Black Tree Design

For more information and to book your place visit the event page or drop me a line via the blog.

By the way did I mention there may be cake?

No, not the Goremaw! Revisiting Reaper Miniatures Bones

When Kickstarter first emerged as a ‘thing’ for tabletop games a few years ago Reaper Miniatures launched their Bones range of miniatures on the crowdfunding platform.  It’s fair to say that their campaign was a success raising nearly three and a half million dollars in 2012!  Three additional Kickstarter campaigns have followed all raising huge amounts and following each the majority of the miniatures have found their way into retail.

Bones Kickstarter
A small example of some of the miniatures funded by the first Reaper Bones Kickstarter

 

In fact when I ran Twisted Pinnacle Games as a online retailer Reaper Bones was one of my core ranges.  It was difficult to get hold of in the UK (Reaper have only within the last year opened a distribution centre over here) and offered a huge range of mainly fantasy miniatures.  This appealed not only to the wargaming crowd who were my core customers but also role-players and collectors.

Reaper-Bones

For those who don’t know, Reaper are a US miniatures company that started back in the 90s and are proudly based in Texas.  Although they have dabbled in rules in the past they are primarily a miniatures company.  The core of their range were 28mm scale metal fantasy miniatures in the classic high fantasy vein.  Rather than rank and file troops the concentration is mainly on characterful individual figures which very much have that Dungeons and Dragons vibe.  That said one of the fantastic things about Reaper is the sheer range of different sculpts, races and figure types in their catalogue and not just restricted to fantasy.  Need a cat person, a brain in a jar, some Victorian civilians or even just some different looking Orcs then their are bound to have what you need.

Brain in a jar
You didn’t know you wanted a brain in a jar until you realised you could have a brain in a jar (with legs)!

So what about Bones? The Bones range which launched in 2012 were initially versions of their existing metal models recast in a white PVC style plastic.  The selling point and marketing for these concentrated on their value and the ability to paint them straight out of the box without primer (more of which later).  While the detail was slightly less crisp than their metal versions, you could not argue with the value.

Reaper Bones - selection
A selection of Reaper Bones Miniatures – (l to r) Werewolf, Gnoll, Ogre

In addition to standard sized figures Reaper were also able to tool and release a number of larger figures including a rather splendid Cthulhu and plenty of Dragons.

Khanjira
Huge dragon miniatures are a hallmark of the range

So needless to say I bought into the first couple of Kickstarters in quite a significant way (this we before I had children and before I dabbled in wargames retailing for a while – i.e. I had the disposable income).  I never did that much with them (I hadn’t got a game in mind for using them with, but was really taken with just paining them up).  I ended selling most of my collection alongside my bought in stock during my retailing years and when post trading and company wind up I was able to get back into the hobby more I often thought about revisiting the range for myself.

Roll on a few years and I happened across this guy on the new UK Reaper Miniatures web store.  The Goremaw!

77579_w_1
Goremaw – Giant Worm

Now, I think this big worm-like fellow is based on some of the classic D&D style fantasy monsters, but I immediately thought – Tremors!  And then of course I thought – 7TV Apocalypse.  There just happens to be a ‘Death Worm’ profile in the game that this chap would be excellent for.

After a quick order to Reaper (it did feel strange not doing this in bulk as a trader), I received the Goremaw and set about putting him together.  The Bones plastic has a tendency to be a bit soft on smaller models, bendy swords and legs can be a problem.  This wasn’t however a problem with my work who was cast in a handful of mostly really chunky pieces of plastic which following a thorough wash in soapy water, I assembled using super glue (polystyrene cement / plastic glue does not work on this material).

Undercoating was achieved using an Army Painter primer spray can.  As I mentioned earlier Bones have been pushed in the past as not needing a primer.  In fact some primers have been noted to not work at all well with the material.  Reaper provide guidance on their website on which primers are most effective and how to use them.  I have never had any problem with Army Painter primer on Bones miniatures.  Wanting to go with a subdued ‘desert type’ palette I put down a layer of ‘British Army Uniform’ brown from the old Bolt Action range which was produced under license by Army Painter.

Goremaw 5

I then applied a top down yellow highlight using a can of Games Workshop Averland Sunset.

Goremaw 6

The idea with this project was to keep things simple, so I used the highlighted brown undercoat as the base coat and blocked out using a limited palette the other base colours on the model.  This really only amounted to a deep pink flesh colour within the maw, a light flesh up the exposed frontage of the model and an ochre/bone for the teeth and horns.

Goremaw 9
Blocking in the base colours
Goremaw 8
Rear view

Then to the dip.  I’ve never been much of a fan of dip in the conventional sense.  I have tried in the past the full Army Painter method, actually submersing figures in Quickshade and shaking them off and always found that I ended up with just a dirty looking miniature.  However I have had a lot of success (particularly when wanting to paint up large batches of figures) in brushing on the shade.  I have found that you can control the flow and thickness of the dip much more effectively using a brush, and used sparingly it can produce an effective result.  I have been using this method to paint up the Space Marines I have been collecting as part of the Warhammer 40k Conquest part work, and have also in the past done a relatively decent job on Star Wars Imperial Assault figures (including the Rancor who was a similar colour palette to my worm).

Long and the short of it was that the old tin of Quickshade Strong tone was dug out and following an argument with a screw driver was open, only to find a mess of thick gloop!  I’d not put the top on properly last time and a thick skin had developed, which although was easy to remove meant the the small amount of shade I had left was thicker than I would have liked.

Goremaw 11
Shading is effective but looks very messy at this point

When using this method the next bit is always the worse bit.  You go from a neatly painted model, albeit only in a limited set of colours with no shading, to a very shiny, dirty looking object.  The key is to hold your nerve, it will get better.

Goremaw 12
It’s shiny!

As the dip dried I soaked up any excess pooling with a brush and then gave it a good day or so to drive thoroughly.  Following this a combination of dry brushing and highlighting was used particularly on the belly and the teeth/horns.  By this stage it is starting to look neater, but is still really shiny (Quickshade is both a shade and a protective varnish after all).  Decent weather meant I was able to get outside and spray some Testers Dullcote and voila a nearly complete Goremaw.  The base was finished off with some dry brushing followed by a green wash to give it a mossy look and the ‘Death Worm’ is ready for the wastelands of the post-apocalypse.

Goremaw 2

I’ve got some ideas about maybe using this as an AI or referee controlled model in a vehicle only multi-player destruction derby scenario.  Having a giant worm burst out of the ground could really bend some fenders out of shape!

Goremaw 4

All in all I really enjoyed building and painting this model, and it reminded me of why I fell in love with the Bones range in the first place – lots of choice, inexpensive and fun to paint.

7TV Apocalypse Vehicles – Tamiya conversion

Having recently taken delivery of both the rules and a huge set of miniatures from the 7TV Apocalypse Kickstarter I decided I should probably finish off some of my incomplete PA projects before diving into any new stuff.

Back at the Wargames Illustrated 7TV day last summer I came away with a 1/48 scale Tamiya kit from the prize pool.  This was a World War II SS-100 aircraft tractor, but I immediately saw the opportunity for some conversion work to make this suitable for the wastelands.

Tamiya SS-100

The build of the basic kit was fairly straightforward and I cut some corners in terms of the detail (for example leaving out the interior and some of the smaller body work bits) to make it both more suitable for conversion and more sturdy as a gaming piece.

Tamiya-conversion-1

Using some of the conversion parts made available by Crooked Dice and a few bits and pieces from the spares box (including some 1:1 scale car body mesh) I gave it a suitably shabby and cobbled together PA look.

I completed the build last year and it has sat on my hobby work bench ever since.  Inspired by the arrival of lots of lovely figures from the Kickstarter I was spurred on to finish painting and weathering it.

Basecoat was a from a spray can (Plastic Soldier Company Olive Drab) with a few suitably muted block colours used for stowage.  The exception being the fuel tanks on both the original kit and the conversion parts which I picked out in red.

Tamiya-conversion-7

Weathering was completed using a thinned down wash of Army Painter Strong Tone wash and chipping was done using a dark brown using the sponge technique (a cross between dry brushing and stippling using a piece of foam).  The gunner was picked out in blacks and greys – the gas mask giving him an almost SAS look.

All in all I’m pretty please with the overall result.  It was quite a quick, but I think effective paint job.  I’m also thinking that this vehicle would go really well with the ‘Mutant Hill Mob’ cast, so I think they are going to move close to the top of my 7TV Apocalypse to-do list.

7TV Mutant Hill Mob

7TV Day II at Board in Brum

This last weekend I made the journey down from Chesterfield to participate in a 7TV campaign day at Board in Brum in Walsall.  This is the second such event held at this venue and my first time visiting.

Pitched as a campaign day rather than a tournament (which nicely fits in with the ethos of 7TV), this saw eighteen players come together to play three games each.  Participants were encouraged to bring their own boards and this resulted in some suitably epic backdrops for the action that was to unfold.

modbase
MOD Base

Board in Brum is a new venue to me.  Based in the upstairs of an office block on an industrial site in Walsall, it looks quite unassuming from the outside.  However inside is a gem of a venue, including a well stocked shop (including not only Games Workshop and Warlord Games products but other interesting lines such as Gangs of Rome, Batllesystems Terrain and a range of board games and accessories), as well as a large gaming area.  The gaming area consisted of nine 6′ by 4′ tables and looking at their events calendar looks well utilised, and as indicated by the footfall on the day a great local hub for hobbyists and gamers.

Upon arrival I met some of the participants, many of whom I knew from the 7TV Productions Facebook group.  As always it is great to put names to faces.  I had at the last minute decided to bring a board myself.  This was quite quickly knocked together and consisted of some high rise MDF office blocks (an eBay purchase last year), a recently acquired 4′ by 4′ city map from Antenocitis Workshop (originally designed for Infinity) and (of course) a flying saucer.

saucercity
Downtown UFO Landing Zone

As more folk started arriving I got a view of some fantastic tables and layouts.  These included a Nazi Moonbase, an abandoned MOD site, a desert compound, a post-apocalyptic wasteland, a concealed secret base and downtown New York (complete with mutant turtles).

The amazing effort and eclectic nature of the boards was matched by the casts that were brought along on the day.  Again another thing I love about 7TV is the ability to field pretty much whatever you like without worrying about balance or theme – after all we are making a television programme.

timewarveterans
Wayne Bollands’ excellent Time War Veterans
jet
A repainted Avengers toy formed the centrepiece of this impressive sci-fi board

Talking of the TV background, Mike Strong who was running the event on the day had written a detailed and amusing back story for the day’s ‘filming’.  Against a back drop of industrial action and union unrest at Barron Studios we were to shoot 3 episodes (games) with some specific scenario stipulations to match the problems the ‘studio’ was experiencing.  So for example due to budgetary restrictions (in actuality the fact that Mr.Barron had never bothered upgrading the studio electricity meter to metric in the early 70s and was now down to his last few half crowns), episode 1 saw the ability for us players to choose to turn off the studio lights in certain situations.  The in game effect being to reduce ranges and visibility at random.  This added a real fun flavour to proceedings!

biohazard
What horrors lurk in wait?

In addition to these scenario specific rules we were also tasked as players to get as much product placement into our shows as possible to aid the ailing fortunes of the production studio.  Each player was given a product and catch phrase to try and shoehorn into the narrative in as appropriate a way as possible (with the benefit of gaining extra plot points to spend as a result).  Now I must admit I kept forgetting about this throughout the day (I like to think that I was very much in the mindset of a BBC rather than ITV director), but I was myself the victim of some excellently placed advertising, including a well timed ‘I bet he drinks Carling Black Label’ as a sniper (with a Jezzail) took out once of my armed astronauts!

So to the actual games.  I had chosen to rock up with my Action Force Space Force cast, including my re-purposed SHADO Mobile (acting in game terms as a humble Land Rover).

untitled
When is a Land Rover not a Land Rover? When it is a re-purposed SHADO Mobile.

Game 1 saw the Space Force team go up against Alistair’s SHIVA cast on my city board.  I made the mistake of not piling everyone into the transport first off and very quickly my chaps were picked off by the aforementioned sniper and some nifty sword work by the daughters of SHIVA.  The highlight of this game for me was the ‘set dressing’ event card which saw a continuity error/set problem move one of the office blocks mid-episode.  Well those are the breaks I guess when you’ve not paid your stage hands properly for months and you’ve got the union on your backs!

game1-1
Chuck Connors about to get a beating
game1-2
Look how close that objective token is…..he didn’t make it
game1-3
Moondancer and Skyraider survey the scene

Special mention here also to my product placement which I failed to pull off.  I was just waiting for that moment to express the slightly amended catchphrase ‘M&Ms, melts in your FACE not in your hand’ as I blasted a member of the opposing cast away with lasers.  That moment never came to be.

Game 2 followed a chippy lunch and saw a switch to the excellent secret base (which was nominated for and won best setup on the day).  I setup in the base and faced off against a cast comprising a tough detective, a ghost, a tomorrow person and some Victorian police officers.  For this episode budget cuts meant that certain abilities for stars and co-stars were reduced in effectiveness, although due to the choices myself and my opponent Steve made this didn’t have too much effect.

game2-2
Look out its the rozzers
game2-3
Space Force hide in the trees
game2-4
Truncheons versus lasers
games2-1
The hidden base

This time I decided to load up the transport and try and nip around collecting objectives as fast as I could.  This worked to a certain degree, but upon disembarking and dealing with the ghost and blocking off the progress of my opponents stars and co-stars I only really had the police to deal with.  The moral of this story is never underestimate police brutality.  Overly confident my spacesuit clad specialists could easily ‘zap’ their way to victory, I underestimated the power of the good old British police truncheon. And it hurt.  It hurt a lot.  So another great game played in excellent spirit, and no real chance to get off my advertising slogan (‘all because the lady loves milk tray’)!

pagasstation
Simon Quinton’s excellent PA board

The final game of the day saw a move to a sci-fi cityscape board and opposition in the shape of Shaun Pike’s ‘The Laundry’ cast (based on the The Nightmare Stacks, a novel by Charles Stross).  Now this was a fun episode!  Staff shortages in the studio kitchens and an under cooked chicken curry had led to a number of cases of ‘the trots’ and cast members having to very quickly exit to the nearest facilities.  In game this was represented by a ‘line of doom’ gradually moving across the board, with both casts having to keep ahead of this, deal with each other and collect objectives and exit off the board at the other side.  Any cast member caught by the line would have to be removed from ‘the set’ as the dodgy chicken curry caught hold.

game3-1
Race for the exit (not for the loo)!

Ha! Thinks I (being all cock of the walk).  I have a transport that I can load up and drive fast across the board.  No problems.  I even sort of apologise to my opponent up from.  Oh dear, as someone once said a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away ‘your overconfidence is your weakness’.  I had not factored on the luck of the draw when it comes to the countdown cards in 7TV.  For those who don’t know in 7TV at the beginning of each turn you draw a countdown card.  This is an event that may of may not be of advantage to either yourself, your opponent or some combination of the two.  These might include things like wobbly sets (scenery disappearing or moving), continuity errors (cast miniatures from each side suddenly swapping places on the board) or special effects malfunctions (often resulting in unexpected explosions in the vicinity of your cast).

Now unfortunately I was the victim of a couple of these, which resulted in my transport driver swapping places with an enemy minion, who promptly drove me in the wrong direction to the line of doom (at least once).  Couple this with an enemy cast member driving a tracked motorbike around and dropping explosive devices to block my exit and let’s just say that the Space Force crew yet again didn’t cover themselves in glory.

game3-2
Transport hijacked!

Again another splendid game and like all the games played no real notice was taken of winners and losers.  I think combined with the freedom of choice when it comes to settings, figures and genres, the creativity that this enables with board design, the quirky meta-game of creating a TV programme/film, the easy to understand and flexible rules and most importantly a community of players that embraces narrative and a good time over competitive play really reinforces my love for all things 7TV.

radarstation

So a massive thanks to Mike for organising the day, to Simon and Jez at Board in Brum for a great venue and everyone who attended.  A special shout out to Wayne Bollands who brought along a lucky dip bag of out of production miniatures that everyone got to delve into.

Finally of course thanks to Karl at Crooked Dice for 7TV itself.

If you’re interested in finding out more about 7TV, check out the Crooked Dice Games Design website or the ultra friendly 7TV Productions community on Facebook.  The next events which are both in my diary are:

  • Wargames Illustrated 7TV Pulp day at Wargames Foundry (Newark) on 6th July, and;
  • 7TV Day III at Board in Brum (which should by this time have expanded into the rest of their building) is happening on Saturday 21st September 2018 (I’m already starting to think about a board for this, let’s just say it involves a lot of biscuit tins and coffee jars!)

Princes of the Universe by Cold War Miniatures

Or how Betamax changed my life.

Back in the heady days of the mid-eighties my Dad made a decision.  A decision that would resonate for the rest of my childhood.  A decision that would fundamentally change my outlook on life.  A decision that would be looked back on as one of the most important of the late 20th Century. He decided to buy a video recorder.

Not just any video recorder, but a Betamax video recorder.

sanyobetacordvcr4010_5
At least it was a front loader (‘stock footage’ – not a photo of the actual VCR, which was finally skipped a few years ago)

Those of you that know your history will recall that back in these times of big hair and constant fear of nuclear Armageddon there were a number of competing formats for home video.  Betamax (arguably technically superior) backed by Sony and VHS by JVC appeared as the top runners and therein entered into a brief period of competition from which one only would emerge triumphant (spoiler – it was VHS).  (Older readers may also remember other formats, including the curious Video 2000 with it’s curious two sided cassettes – something that remained in use in my school anyway well into the nineties, often wheeled into classrooms on giant wheeled trolleys also holding very flammable looking wooden framed TVs).

betatapecase
The classic L-750

So the fateful decision having being made we were then the proud owner of a technically great machine, but within a few months without the ability to rent or buy any tapes.  What this did mean was that as a youngster I was limited to those films we taped off the telly and the increasingly rare (and often ex-rental) tapes we could still buy.  Accordingly I had a relatively small pool of things to watch, and watch them I did, repeatedly.  Some of my all-time favorite films were discovered during this period, including the 1978 animated version of the Lord of the Rings, the second 60’s Peter Cushing Doctor Who movie (Daleks Invasion Earth 2150AD) and of course the camp, cult classic Flash Gordon.

 

I must have watched the 1980 Flash Gordon film hundreds of times over the past few decades, and I’ve often thought about how I might bring Flash to the tabletop.  A successful Kickstarter was recently run to publish a Flash Gordon setting for the Savage Worlds roleplaying system.  I’m more of a miniatures person though, and although the Kickstarter produced a limited set of miniatures they weren’t quick what I was looking for.

 

Fast forward to last year and a random Facebook post pointed me in the direction of Cold War Miniatures.  This is a small Scottish based miniatures produced (who interestingly despite their name do not have any Cold War ranges), but do have a number of interesting lines, including a wonderful range called Princes of the Universe (retro sci fi minis with a Flash Gordon flavour in 28mm scale miniatures in both resin and metal).  I ordered a couple late last year to check them out and they are very well sculpted, clean and crisp with no flash at all.

gallery-rocket2_orig
Princes of the Universe by Cold War Miniatures

The style is very much based on the classic Flash Gordon comic strips of Alex Raymond from the 30’s and 40’s, with a significant nod to the Larry ‘Buster’ Crabbe movie serials of the same time.  (The black and white serials were often shown daily during school summer holidays on TV in the UK and I remember watching  and loving these way before I got a view of the Technicolor delights of the 1980 Mike Hodges film.)

 

As regular readers of my blog may know, my go-to miniatures game is 7TV as it allows me to game pretty much what I want and allows me to field all those random cool toys that catch my eye.  So it is that my ‘Flash Gordon’ cast is beginning to take shape.  I’ve decided to concentrate on the good guys to start with, so an additional order to Cold War Miniatures has resulted in the fleshing out of the team to include not only the dashing hero, his muse and their mad scientist companion, but also a couple of alien princes (one at home in the forest kingdoms, the other a winged behemoth with a passion for shouting!)

flash

These guys are currently work in progress.  I am due to attend a couple of 7TV gaming days this year.  The one at Board in Brum in January might be a bit too soon to get these guys finished, however I’ve also recently signed up for the Wargames Illustrated 7TV day at Wargames Foundry in the summer (at which conveniently the new Pulp version of the rules will be being used).  (You can read about last year’s event elsewhere on the site).

 

I’d highly recommend checking Princes of the Universe and Cold War Miniatures in general.  Not only lovely miniatures but great service and very quick postage within the UK.  In addition to the miniatures I also bought from them a couple of the 3D print files for a rocket ship and some giant trees to go have a go at with my newly acquired toy (but that is a story for another time….)

48418282_10157024104785555_6945859340595101696_o
New toy