Action Force Hovercraft (3D Printed)

The Action Force project continues.  I’ve recently arranged to run a participation game of 7TV at an upcoming show in 2020, and am going to run an Action Force scenario.  This is likely to be an assault on the Baron’s secret base by our brave heroes.

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Footage from a previous episode. Z Force troops led by SAS Force’s Eagle face off against the Black Major (7TV).

I’ve already got ideas around the setup and my recently completed submarine will be making an appearence.  Therefore an amphibious assault on a port seems like a great idea.  As such I need a way to deliver my forces to the combat zone.

Enter the Action Force hovercraft.

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AF Hovercraft data file from the pages of IPC’s Battle Action Force comic

More commonly known as the G.I.Joe Killer W.H.A.L.E this was a toy that was released originally in the third wave of releases by Palitoy in the mid-1980s.  By this stage the range was almost exclusively repackaged G.I.Joe figures and vehicles.  The background (supported by the weekly Battle Action Force comic) had shifted to a combined Action Force team facing off against the forces of Cobra.

Now at the time I loved this change, but in retrospect my heart always lay with the original Baron Ironblood and the Red Shadows setup.  Subsequently this is where the focus of my 28mm scale Action Force wargaming has been.

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Cover art from the amazing Palitoy Collector’s Guide available from BloodfortheBaron.com

However, never one to let ‘canon’ get in the way of a good gaming project I’ve decided to model my hovercraft, rather than as a combined Action Force vehicle, as if it were part of the Q Force armoury.  As a reminder the original Action Force organisation was split into four arms; Z Force (the infantry backbone), SAS Force (special ops), Space Force (does what it says on the tin) and Q Force (the naval team).

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Q Force (like Space Force), never got quite as much love as their land based cousins, so the toy range wasn’t quite as wide in terms of figures or indeed vehicles.  What there was though was great.  The vehicle sets were original and designed by Palitoy (i.e. they were not G.I.Joe repaints).

 

 

Wanting the hovercraft to feel like part of Q Force means looking at an alternative to the quite dull green original scheme.  So we are looking primarily at greys and blues with red and yellow accents.

 

All this talk of colour schemes is very good, but first of course I needed a model.  Enter Thingiverse and the world of 3D printing.  Having located an amazing model I set this going on my 3D printer and a mere 45 hours later I had the following:

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Underneath all that stringing is a rather nice print.  Stringling easily removed with clippers and a heat gun (and since eliminated by some mucking about with settings)

Interestingly this model was originally scaled as per the original toy, which was huge (and always coveted by me as a boy).  In order to scale this for 28mm gaming I reduced the print size by 45%.

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A cleaned up model (sanded and supports removed) prior to undercoat

Clean up was a challenge particularly removing the generated supports on the propellors.  I basically had to break these and manually rebuild them (with the addition of some plasticard and plastic filler).  The plan is to print two more in the future, and I think I will try printing without supports next time and see what happens.

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Patching up the props!  I’ve since worked out some less destructive support settings.

The model was undercoated using a light grey Halfords car primer. I went quite close and thick with this in order to compensate for some of the layer lines that are an artefact of this type of 3D printing.  In combination with a pre-undercoat sanding the finish turned out quite smooth.

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Post clean up and priming

 

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Halfords grey primer is my current ‘go to’ spray can undercoat

So back to the colour scheme and working out a Q Force style livery.  I wanted to keep the main body of the craft a traditional naval style grey so went at this with the airbrush using three successively light coats.  Once this was dry it was time to block out some colours.  It was all brush work from this point on.

The skirt was done using the black Citadel contrast paint, which I think over the grey gives a good ‘rubberised’ look.  In fact I’d go as far as saying the slightly visible layer lines actually helped in achieving this effect.

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Post airbrushing (various Vallejo Colour Air greys) and the still wet Citadel black contrast paint applied to the skirt

Following this I chose various points of interest to block out in a limted colour palette of yellow, blue and red (all Citadel base paints).  To be true to the toys I probably should have continued the block colouring on the weapons and props, but I went for a more ‘realistic’ dark metallic colour for these (Foundry Blackened Barrel C).  The windows were done using the Space Wolves grey Citadel contrast paint.

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Block colours applied

Next up, markings.  Luckily the original stickers for many of the original toys are still available.  A quick visit to Vintage Star Wars Collectibles set me up with a reproduction sticker sheet for the Q Force Swordfish.  I applied these stickers direct to the model and sealed them using a gloss varnish.

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Reproduction Action Force toy stickers.

Finally the model was finished off with a few basic highlights and a matt top coat.  I had considered a final weathering step, however something about the finish with the primary colours and the similarity to the toy range stayed my hand.

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The finished model with stickers applied.

All in all I am pretty pleased with the outcome.  Since I completed this project I have further refined some of my 3D printer settings, which should reduce damage when removing supports and ease the clean up prior to printing should I attempt a similar model in future.

Final touches will be to add some Q Force personel.  I have some Crooked Dice frogmen that will fit the bill well.  In the meantime I have to stick with ferrying the SAS boys around…

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SAS force troopers (Crooked Dice 7TV X-Commandos with head swaps).

The 7TV Open University – a report

On Sunday 17th November 2019 I had the pleasure alongside the rest of the Dales Wargames Club of hosting our latest 7TV event.

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Titled the 7TV Open University, this event was a follow up to the games day we held earlier in the year and was again held at the Whitworth Centre in Darley Dale near Matlock in Derbyshire.  The focus was once more on narrative play rather than competition, with an additional aim of getting new players into the game.

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I wanted to make the event beginner friendly in order to spread the joy of 7TV as far and wide as possible.  For the first event earlier in the year we really didn’t have any overarching theme and I was keen to address this for our second outing.  Therefore I came up with a theme of the ‘7TV Open University’ which would encompass both the scenarios we’d play through on the day in addition to the focus on new players.

To get new players into the action as quickly and easily as possible I created a number of pre-built casts for new players to pick from.  Cast size was set at 40 ratings for the event and for what I referred to as the ‘pick and play’ casts on the day I stuck to profiles from the core 7TV 2nd Edition ‘Inch High Spy Fi’ set.  These also happen to be the same profiles that can be obtained from Crooked Dice as a free download and are also available within the casting agency application.  This was a concious decision to demonstrate to new players how much fun can be had ‘out of the box’ with 7TV.

Eight ‘pick and play’ casts were created and I’ll be writing about each of these in future articles.  Basically it was a case of matching what painted miniatures I had in my collection against the core profiles and using a bit of imagination.  And it was a lot of fun.  Heres the list of casts:

  • Department XS (‘Excess’)
  • The Guru and the Spacemen
  • Knight Industries 3000
  • The Tuetonic Order of Luna
  • United Nations Alien Countermeasures Force
  • The Revengers
  • Cobra
  • The Cult of Fu Manchu

After a sudden surge of interest in the few days leading up to the event, I had my fingers crossed that I had casts for budding new players.  That also meant we had to get at least seven tables setup on the day.  I was able to dip into the clubs scenery collection as well as my own and we ended up with an eclectic mix of setups including a V2 launch site, a woodland area with mysterious stone circle, a dockside loading area, a cobbled townscape and a couple of post apocalypse wastelands.

A couple of attendees also brought along tables, including Simon Quinton and his excellent PA diner and highway.  Thankfully as well, there were enough sets of cards and templates and tokens to go around.

So, what about the scenarios (or more correctly in 7TV parlance, the episodes)?  To tie in with the university theme I came up with a narrative that had the studio obtaining a government grant for educational programming.  This was then immediately diverted into their adventure series and as bonuses for their top stars with the producers then having to work the system to avoid getting closed down by the government regulators.

Using the basic scenarios from the 7TV Spy-fi set I added some extra narrative tweaks.  This introduced events that included shoehorning famous scientists into the episode (guest starring as themselves) or potentially having to deliver public services messages at the expense of action sequences.

In future articles I’ll go into a bit more detail around how the episodes were setup and how they worked, as well as making them available for others who might want to try them out.

While not a tournament in any way, the kind offer of prizes from Karl at Crooked Dice and Wayne at Wargames Illustrated meant that we did need to find a couple of ways of measuring some degree of success on the day.  In addition to the usual ‘most sporting player’ (aka ‘best director’), we also had on offer a prize for most victory points accumalted and a wooden spoon for biggest margin of defeat.

I was busy moving between tables and didn’t get to see much of the action over and above helping out with rules and scenario queries (and taking lots of photos).  However a few of the attendees have kindly written up reports of the action on the day and you can find these here:

The day itself went really well.  It was extremely tiring but very satisfying experience and I’d like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who turned up and especially the veterans who helped guide the new players through their first games.  All in all there were a lot laughs had, which is really what it is all about isn’t it?

We are going to do it all again in 2020 with a 7TV Apocalypse day scheduled for Sunday 5th April with the working title of ‘White Line Nightmares!”.  In the meantime the club have agreed to run a couple of participation games at upcoming shows (more on that soon), but I’m also really looking forward to actually getting a game or two in myself.  First up in January is another event at Board in Brum in Walsall which promises to be great, with the now annual Wargames Illustrated event scheduled for the summer.

In amongst all this good stuff Crooked Dice are also (at the time of writing) running another Kickstarter campaign to fund a new set of ‘flashy’ retro sci-fi figures.  It’s a good time to be a 7TV fan!

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Blotz 28mm scale submarine

Purchased as an integral part of the ‘secret base’ I have been planning as a 7TV table for some time now, I purchased the excellent Blotz modular 28mm scale MDF kit of a generic submarine back in the summer.

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Having spent my holiday hobby time back in the summer building the kit (which can be broken down into various sections and therefore configured in a number of ways), I recently went back and finished the painting.  It’s worth noting that the model could double as many different sorts of sub on the table top from World War 2 U boats to more modern types.  One of the sections contains a set of missle tubes (which you would probably drop if using this for WW2), likewise the section which mounts a deck gun is probably specific to an earlier era boat.

I wanted to maintain the generic nature and usability of the model across different time periods and games in the way I painted it too.  A black undercoat was applied using matt black primer from a spray can, followed by a dark grey spray and this was then sealed using a top coat spray (the currently incredibly hard to find in the UK Testors Dullcote).

Next up were decals.  Again I wanted to keep it generic, but the more I looked at the painted model the more I felt it deserved some extra treatment with the decals in order to break up the monotony of black.  I’ve got lots of decal sheets left over from my long since departed Dust Tactics collection, many of which were generic warning signs and symbols, which would do nicely to a certain degree.  However I then came across a set of Soviet decals for Dust with some nice big red stars that would really stand out.  These were applied over a gloss varnish and then sealed again with the same before another dullcote layer.

The final step was to apply some airbrush highlighting using some lighter grey from the Vallejo Air range.  (I’ve purposely left the deck gun off at the moment as I wasn’t happy with the build, I’m planning on maybe looking to 3D printing for a replacement.)

At some point in the future I will go back and add some weathering, but at present I’m happy to get this to the table.

The 7TV Open University – coming soon…

I’m delighted to announce after the success of our first event, Dales Wargames are holding a follow up 7TV games day on Sunday 17th November.  We still have plenty of spaces left, so if anyone is reading this and is interested please see the full details here.

7TV University

Three full games at 40 ratings, any casts from across any 7TV sets (although for balance, no Apocalypse vehicles), custom casts welcome.

We are keen to spread the 7TV love, so if you’ve never played before or are just curious there will be pre-built casts available to borrow on the day and support available to learn the game. It is 7TV University after all. (Kipper ties are mandatory!)

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7TV ready to ‘start shooting’ at a recent Dales meeting

Cost is £7.50, paid either in advance or on the day (just let us know you are coming).  It’s also a normal meeting date for the Dales Wargames club, so if for some (crazy) reason you don’t want to play 7TV ago come along anyway, there’s bound to be something of interest (including cake).

The venue is the beautiful Whitworth Centre in Darley Dale, near Matlock on the edge of the Peak District with easy access from the M1.

Apocalypse update – Garden centre gore

So in amongst all the other stuff I have going on (including a new resin 3D printer, more on which another time), I am still working my way through the big pile of lead from the 7TV Apocalypse Kickstarter.

This time up its the turn of the Creepers!  These miniatures were multi-part so required a bit of superglue magic (i.e. activator) to get built.  They are very much an ode to those killer plants from an early eighties BBC TV adaption of a classic sci fi novel.  They are ‘triffic’ sculpts.

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Having had a break from the airbrush for a few months (I tend to do all my spraying with rattle cans, especially basecoating outside while the weather is good), I decided to crack it out again for these guys.  Over a white undercoat, building up a couple of successively lighter layers of green worked really well.  I supplemented this with the use of yellow washes/glazes and a purple contrast paint to make it all look suitably organic and plant-like.

I went to town on the basing with these, swapping out to some of the (now standard for Space Marines anyway) 32mm round bases from Games Workshop.  I added in various tufts, flock and static grass to tie in with the theme.

I also found the time to complete another of the cultists from the set, a rather lost looking survivor and am continuing to work on the motorbike gang.

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Iron Cross and 15mm World War II

A month or so back I went along to my regular club meeting without any real plans for a game.  Last minute I arranged to play a game with one of my mates who had some World War II micro-armour and a few different rulesets he wanted to try out.  Having had a flick through the different books we settled on Iron Cross by Great Escape Games.

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Iron Cross – available direct from Great Escape Games or from other friendly local or online sellers

What appealed about this was both it’s simplicity but also its approach to getting a lot of toys on the table at once.  Add to this a (welcome) lack of weapon ranges and things seemed to add up to this being the one to try.

 

The rules themselves only span about ten pages and what immediately appealed was the use of ‘command tokens’ to activate, react and plan your actions.  This put me in mind of the use of plot points in 7TV, so of course this immediately drew me in.  It’s fair to say that I have not played that many historical wargames in my admitedly long gaming career, but I have done extensive painting and modelling of particularly WW2 in primarily 28mm.

 

Playing in 6mm scale (and adjusting inches to centrimetres for movement) on a 2 foot square board resulted in some really fun and fast paced games.  Although the placement of tokens on the board to represent activated units provded a unique problem with this scale as the glass beads we were using were in some cases as big as the models.  What became apparent to me as we played through (and was backed up by reviews I have read of the game) was that this would be ideally suited to a larger scale on a larger battlefield.  15mm seemed an ideal way to go.  So emboldened with yet another new project I started plotting.

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Tiny dice look huge next to 6mm scale armour!

I wanted to put together two forces (rather than just build up a single army) and knowing that Flames of War 4th edition is currently hot I sought out the new (and really good value) Hit the Beach starter set.  This provided me with a good basis for two starting forces and I supplemented this with some eBay purchases and also managed to track down a reduced price full German army box by Plastic Soldier Company.

 

15mm had never really appealed before, but with the enthusiasm gained from my first outing with Iron Cross in 6mm I really begun to see the attraction of getting a lot of figures and armour on the table at once.

Having agreed to give the game another go game at this larger scale at the next meeting which was only a few weeks away I got to work assembling and painting.

 

 

Most of the armour was a pleasure to put together.  I’d probably say that the Battlefront Miniatures Flames of War stuff is slightly easier to assemble with the Plastic Soldier kits being slightly more fiddly.  I also picked up a couple of Zvezda 1:100 scale snap fit kits to add a few of the big cats to the German forces (including a King Tiger).  While cheap and ‘snap-fit’ I found that these do need a lot more after-assembly love and care (gap filling in particular).

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Zvezda King Tiger – not visible here, but needs some gap filling

In addition I’ve also done a bit of 3D printing to expand some forces.  You can see a comparison between the Zvezda King Tiger and a 3D printed version below.  While not a bad model, the obvious issue with 3D printing at this scale for a large game is simply the length of time it takes.  We are not yet in the position I don’t think where the availability of 3D printing files for WW2 armour is going to have much of an impact on traditional kit sales for this very reason.

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King Tigers – Zvezda (left), 3D printed – file from Thingiverse (right)

Painting the tanks and vehicles was case of keeping it quick and easy.  Basecoat, dry brush highlight, wash, silver drybrush and spong chipping.  For the allied armour I used a Halford Camo Green spray for the basecoat, which I would highly recommend.

 

The German armour was basecoated using Plastic Soldier’s Dunkelgelb yellow from a spray can.  Trying to keep things at least a bit historically accurate I did various camo patterns on some of the German tanks.  I am not hugely happy with these as I think they were a bit rushed.  I hand painted these, whereas really I ought to have broken out the airbrush to get a better result.

 

Both allied and German decals have been purchased, but I haven’t yet got round to applying these.

So, the elephant in the room for me with respect to painting were the infantry.  I’ve never painted anything smaller than 25mm so this was going to be interesting.  In the end as the majority of the miniatures I was working with were one-piece I decided to try painting them on the sprue.  In general this has worked quite well so far.

 

Anyhow after a productive couple of weeks assembling models and painting, this last weekend at the club we got a couple more games of Iron Cross this time on a 6′ by 4′ table in 15mm scale.  Taking a very relaxed approach to matching up our forces, in the first game I got the upper hand as the Germans.  In the second game we adjusted the forces to be slightly more realistic in terms of numbers (with the allies outnumbering the superior German tanks) and it went as you would expect with a victory for the British/Americans.

 

The rules worked really well again, we spotted some mistakes we had made last time and both games played through relatively quickly.  I think we have found our go to club game for 15mm.  I didn’t have enough infantry done to include them, so I think this will add an interesting new dynamic next time and that’s what I’ll be concentrating on painting wise.

 

So the moral of this story is don’t be afraid to try something new; however accept that it will add to your plastic/lead pile and project to-do list.

 

Cold war gone hot is starting to look appealing!

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.

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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!

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A portent of things to come