Art Imitating Life Imitating Art

This will be a very short blog post – but for those of you who love the old Archive Star Rovers figures, this will touch your heart!  As many of you know, I have been collecting and painting Duck Wader, Star Ducks, Power-Armored Frinx, and a number of other Archive gems.  I use them in Combat Patrol™ retro-sci-fi games – many of which my daughter Ellen Morin and her fiance Chris Smedile have played in and enjoyed.

Ellen’s birthday is in September, as is mine, but we did not get around to celebrating until the first Saturday in October.  She got me a couple of very cool gifts.  One was an awesome Boston Bruins sweater (cannot have too much Bruins gear by the way).  The other was a painting of Duck Wader and some Frinx breaching a wall, with Star Ducks jet-packing through the air above!   She used photos from my blog to sketch and ultimately paint the scene.  I think it was an awesome gift!  Here is the painting below:

2 painting

I’m a lucky Dad!  Thanks Ellen, love ya!

Power-Armored Frinx on Glyptodons – Archive #2042, circa 1978 – Completed!

The Power-Armored Frinx are back, and this time as cavalry riding glyptodons into battle!  The Frinx were a creation of Archive Miniatures back around 1977 or 1978.  They are a smallish lizard-like race, often wearing power armor.

Glyptodons on the other hand were very real and existed from the Ice Age until about 11,650 years ago (give or take).  They were prehistoric cousins of the modern armadillo, only they were mega fauna – and were as big as a Volkswagen bug.  Plus, there is that massive spiked tail to consider.  Why Archive put these two together is anyone’s guess, but the combination is indeed quirky and fun.

7 Glyptodon
Artist conception of a glyptodon – as big as a car

 

6 Armadillo
For you non-US folks, this is an armadillo. It’s about the size of a cat or small dog.  None are around me in New England, but I saw plenty as road kill when I lived down South.
0 Star Rover rules pic
Sketch of Power-Armored Frinx on Glyptodon from page 3.10 of the Star Rovers Module 1 rules

As a Frinx backgrounder for those interested, I have previously written several posts on the venerable Frinx, going back to my casting of their infantry in February 2016 (here), my painting and figure conversions of my Power-Armored Frinx infantry platoon in February 2017 (here), my May 2017 discovery and acquisition of an original Star Rovers RPG (here), and my casting of the Power-Armored Frinx on Glyptodon (Archive #2042) in July of 2017 (here).  So this journey has already been 2½ years in the making.  Phew!

Interestingly, the 1981 Archive catalog that came with my Star Rovers game does not have the #2042 listed, despite the drawing shown above being in the rule book.  My guess would be that the kit was uneconomical to produce and/or difficult to produce well.  I document several these issues in my casting post – but originally the kit contained no less than 11 pieces as shown below.  As reference, the scale of the set is 25mm to 28mm.

3 close up contents
Original Power-Armored Frinx on Glyptodon kit

I made my own modifications to this particular set and made molds to recreate the kit.  It is indeed rare and given that it was already OOP by 1981, there cannot be many of these around.  I thought they would serve well in a traditional cavalry role for my Frinx platoon.  I cast several and shared with Buck Surdu (who graciously provided me the original you see above so that we both could have some).  Buck did a great job painting seven of my recasts of these back in 2017 which you can see here.

This month to add to my Frinx forces I managed to finish 5 Power-Armored Frinx on Glyptodons (let’s call them PAFOG for short!) models.  As shown above, each set has two Frinx riders on a glyptodon.  I chose 5 because I felt that 10 Frinx riders would be a good number for a cavalry squad in either the recon or screening role in my Combat Patrol™ games.  It also would give the unit enough punch if deployed as a mobile counterattack force.  I sorted out what figures that I had, and chose the ones I would use for the cavalry squad.  Some of the riders’ weapons were not very well cast, so I converted these weapons.  I used Bombshell Miniatures sprues of Arc Weapons (#36013) to replace six of the blasters.  My initial plan is currently  to give these weapons better capabilities versus robot foes, which should prove interesting given that I have a lot of robots now.

1 Frinx on Glyptodon - collection
My initial assortment of PAFOG before I cleaned the chosen 5 – you can see that I still had modeling clay on the original on the bottom right.
2 Frinx on Glyptodon - collection ready for cleaning
Boot camp time – must select the best for the cavalry!
3 Frinx on Glyptodon - final 5 and weapons
The final five plus the Bombshell Miniatures Arc Weapons.  I decided to use the largest arc weapons that you see here as their sizes worked well.
4 example casting front
Washed and ready for priming.  As you can see, the details are much less crisp than I would like.  His weapon was replaced with an arc weapon.   This is the front rider (recast).
5 example casting back
This is the back rider (recast).

In order to make these Frinx “pop”, I needed a plan.  Clearly, my painting was going to do a lot to overcome the plainness of the riders.  I also needed to figure out how I was going to base them for painting and handling – unlike other Archive Miniatures these had no bases.  These are also very heavy (solid lead/tin).  The feet of the glyptodons were not level, so choosing the right basing was a big quandary for me for several reasons.  I tried several approaches in my mind, but eventually chose to emulate Buck’s choice and use washers.  I did choose smaller ones than Buck did – using #8 steel washers and E6000 epoxy under each foot, allowing for hardening overnight.

8 basing on #8 washers
On their washers for an overnight set.

Once they had set, I began by priming the bottoms, letting that cure, and then doing the tops.  My goal was to make the bottoms reddish brown, leading to a more brownish top as the drawing of the glyptodon above shows.  It was not easy!  I had to do a lot of handling of the paint jobs and eventually I moved them to popsicle stick frames with poster tack, which was good for a temporary, if imperfect, solution.

10 glyp base coating
Early stages of priming and base coating of the glyptodons.
12 glyps on frames
Eventually I mounted the glyptodons on these temporary frames for painting – still not ideal.

After carving away 6 defective metal weapons, I mounted the riders on poster tack mounds on specimen jars.  The saddles really did not present me with many other options for mounting them for painting.

As for a color scheme, I decided to go with the branch color of the US Army Cavalry (now Armor), that being yellow.  Besides, yellow is a difficult color to pull off, so I thought it would pose a nice additional challenge.  I primed them, and subsequently airbrushed the riders with Vallejo Game Air “Moon Yellow” as a base coat.  I then used Reaper MSP “Grey Liner” over the riders to help show me what parts I could paint to bring out the best details.  This step really was useful.

11 riders airbrushed
Frinx riders after airbrush the primer and base coat.
13 mid stage on riders
Early stages of painting the riders
14 mid stage on riders
Adding some metallics to the riders and inks to the arc weapons
15 riders painted need wash
Painting completed for riders – awaiting a wash application
16 washed awaiting affixing of weapons
The 10 riders washed and waiting for their weapon conversions.  I converted 6, and yes, I painted an extra arc weapon just in case!  I primarily used inks on the arc weapons over a chrome base coat for a retro sci-fi look.  After this, I applied a gloss varnish to them.

It was time now to return to the sturdy mounts – and I had gotten to the point that I was happy with my painting on them.  However, what was missing was a set of reins for each glyptodon.  When I cast them, I did use the original bits in their mouths, but the original reins were totally inadequate in my view.

I decided to make reins from the smallest jewelry chain I could find.  Figuring out how to affix the chains was a lot of trial and error on one of the extra unpainted glyptodons that I had.  I tried using wire, thread, as well as just hooking the chain to the mounts – all for naught.  Then, a light bulb went off – toothpicks!

I determined that I needed 27 links for the main chain loop for the reins.  I threaded the last chain link through a wooden toothpick.  I then inserted the toothpick into the bits by the mouths.  I used a push pin to slide the link into position on the toothpick, and applied a very small amount of Gorilla Glue on the wood/chain/bit connection.  After the glue dried (often with the assistance of a hand held hair dryer), I snipped the toothpick with a sprue cutter as close as I could to the bit.  The net effect was like a tent peg and a rope, securing the chain to the glyptodons’ bridle bits.  I repeated the process on both sides, then tack glued the chain at the top and above the ears to make a loop.  Then I dry brushed the chain with Tamiya “Gun Metal X-10” and let it dry.  Lastly, I applied Citadel “Nuln Oil” to the chain.

17 glypts on frame mid stage
Painted glyptodons before final wash application and addition of reins.
18 glypts after gloss wash
I applied Citadel “Agrax Earthshade Gloss” on the back, expecting the later matte varnish to dull it down.  Still need reins!
18a old reins
These are the original reins – not acceptable!
19 chain
Time for some jewelry making, I mean rein making (sounds weird huh!).
20 27 links
27 links, no more no less!
21 toothpick design
He looks a bit like he needs an orthodontist.  This is how I mounted the chains into the bits.
22 after snipping toothpick and gluing chains
Main chain loop mounted, before painting it and the bits.

After this, I removed the glyptodons from the frames in order to give the mounts a matte varnish airbrush treatment.  Then I mounted the riders to the mounts with E6000 epoxy, and let it harden.  I wanted to connect the chains to the front riders hands.  For this I needed a massive 4 links of jewelry chain per model, push pins, and patience.  I used Gorilla Glue, push pins, and the blow dryer to get the additional chain segments in place.  I then applied the same painting and wash techniques to the 4 links.

23 4 links
4 links, no more, no less!  I used push pins to help as I cut the links.

 

24 with extra chain and waiting final matte
The glossy riders on the matte glyptodon with the new chain attachment which has not yet been painted.  Subsequently, the whole PAFOG got a couple of matte varnish coats.
25 dinner anyone
After final varnish of an airbrush matte coat.
26 metric
For you metric system users, an idea of the weight and size of the model as completed.
27 english pounds 4.64 ounces
For us in the USA, its a mere 4.64 ounces of heavy metal goodness…not a quarter pounder I’d eat by the way…

The PAFOG squad project was now complete – except that I needed to make corrals for them as they are so heavy as to slide in my other Frinx box.  No worries, as I want them to survive for many future games, and I’ve done that for other outsized figures

This project also counts for me in a community painting challenge that my Australian friend Azazel has sent out for July 2018.  It is for a “Jewel” project – and given all the work that went into these from acquisition to casting to conversion to final painting – I’m confident that these will meet the requirement!

The eye candy follows, and hopefully you will find these as cool as I did.  I always appreciate your feedback dear readers – let me know your thoughts and suggestions.  Thanks for looking!

29 group shot 2
Frinx, form up!
30 moving out
Move out!
32 square trooper for casualty cards
This is the section leader’s mount.  The section leader has blue markings.  These figures are the originals and have the original weapons.  In a Combat Patrol game, they will draw two cards for movement.  Between the power armor and the glyptodon’s armor, they should have some ability to take damage.
33 rear shot
A good view of the back ends where the bony spiked tails are found.  Here, on the right is the section leaders mount, and on the left is a mount with one Frinx armed with an arc weapon and the other with a blaster.
34 group front
Nice group shot – note the conversions with the arc weapons.
35 trooper side
Close up of the right side.
37 conferring with Texicans
A conference with Lt. Ma’k (the Frinx platoon leader in red), some Frinx Amethyst Squad infantry, and the Texican Space Rangers.
38 surrounding space dwarves
Surrounding the Space Dwarves in a final charge!

For those interested, here is the list of the paints, etc. that I used in this project.

PAINTS, INKS, GLAZES, WASHES, AND FLOCKING USED:

  1. Citadel “Imperium Primer”
  2. Vallejo “Surface Primer – White”
  3. Vallejo “Flow Improver”
  4. Vallejo “”Airbrush Thinner”
  5. Testors “Universal Acrylic Thinner”
  6. Vallejo Game Air “Beastly Brown”
  7. Vallejo Game Air “Dead White”
  8. Vallejo “Red”
  9. Vallejo Game Air “Moon Yellow”
  10. Vallejo “Black Grey”
  11. Citadel “Agrax Earthshade” (wash)
  12. Reaper MSP “Grey Liner” (wash)
  13. Vallejo Game Air “Black”
  14. Vallejo Model Air “Black (metallic)”
  15. Vallejo Mecha Color “Yellow Ochre”
  16. Vallejo Mecha Color “Brown”
  17. Vallejo Model Air “Rust 080”
  18. Citadel “Ceramite White”
  19. Tamiya “Chrome Silver X-11”
  20. Tamiya “X-20A Thinner”
  21. Vallejo Mecha Color “Turquoise”
  22. Vallejo Model Air “Medium Gunship Gray”
  23. Tamiya “Copper XF-6”
  24. Tamiya “Gun Metal X-10”
  25. Vallejo Game Air “Wolf Grey”
  26. Citadel “Hexwraith Flame”
  27. P3 “Green” (ink)
  28. Citadel “‘Ardcoat”
  29. Secret Weapons Washes “Just Red” (ink)
  30. Citadel “Soulstone Blue”
  31. Vallejo Game Air “Fluorescent Red”
  32. Citadel “Nuln Oil Gloss” (wash)
  33. Secret Weapons Washes “Purple” (ink)
  34. Vallejo Mecha Color “Yellow Fluorescent”
  35. Vallejo Mecha Color “Sand Yellow”
  36. Citadel “Seraphim Sepia” (wash)
  37. Polly Scale “WWII British Aircraft Gull Gray Light”
  38. Citadel “Agrax Earthshade Gloss” (wash)
  39. Citadel “Carroburg Crimson” (wash)
  40. Citadel “Castellan Green”
  41. Citadel “Nuln Oil” (wash)
  42. Vallejo “Thinner Medium”
  43. Vallejo “Gloss Varnish”
  44. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish”

Thanks again!

 

Space Dwarf Assault Squad

Archive Miniatures Star Rovers game and miniature range had a lot of very fun figures, many of which I have painted and discussed in past entries in this blog.  A couple of the line that caught my eye were “Long Gone Jones” (Archive #2211), a space dwarf, and “Agribot S1L1” (Archive #2204).  Both were sculpted and put into production around 1977.  I’m not exactly sure of the name derivations, but methinks there was some degree of Archive humor there based on the late 70’s – and I leave it to you readers to make your own guess!

I had previously acquired one Long Gone Jones (let’s call him LGJ) miniature on eBay, but had not found any others.  However, Michael Thomas at classicminiatures.net (who produced the Robot Peacekeepers I previously described here) also had the molds for these figures.  So I placed the order from him, and got ten LGJ’s to add to my original one in addition to three Agribots.  I thought I would now have enough to build a squad for sci-fi games using Combat Patrol™ .

Each LGJ is in power armor, has a jet pack, and is armed with an automatic weapon coming out of his right arm.  The Agribots look like they have a hovering mechanism, and are armed with what looks like a machine gun.

For the unit’s organization, I decided to have a LGJ squad leader with a dedicated Agribot as the squad headquarters.  He would lead the squad’s two Space Dwarf Assault teams (A and B).  Each team would have its own LGJ team leader, 4 LGJ troopers, and an Agribot.  I’ll probably treat the LGJ weapons as analogues to sub-machine guns, and the Agribots as mobile medium machine guns.  This made a total of 14 figures for the squad.  I was thinking about the organization of Soviet Machine Pistol squads in WWII as inspiration.  My numbers aren’t exactly the same, but we are talking about Space Dwarves here!  To round out the end of June, I finished off the Space Dwarf Assault Squad.

0 Long Gone Jones Archive
The Space Dwarves I got from Michael Thomas
0 Archive Agribots
The three Agribots I got from Michael Thomas
1 Long Gone Jones Archive 2204 as received
Frontal view of my original Long Gone Jones (darker one on the left) and the one I got from Michael Thomas (right).  The mold he uses has held up well.
2 back Long Gone Jones Archive as received
Rear view of LGJ’s before any work on my part
3 bottom Long Gone Jones Archive as received
The bottom of the original LGJ – “© 77 ARCHIVE”

 

4 Agribot S1L1 (2211)Archive as received facing left
One of the Agribots I got from Michael Thomas.  It has the typical crispness one would expect from a 1970’s mold – clearly I needed to be creative to make this one look good.  The other side cast better as you see below.
5 Agribot S1L1 (2211)Archive as received facing right
Agribots better side

First, I cleaned and washed the group.  Then I filed off the mold lines and flash on the figures.  After this, I mounted them on ¾” steel washers with Gorilla glue, and affixed the washers to poster tack on top of specimen bottles.  I primed the squad white with Vallejo “White Surface Primer” with my Iwata Eclipse airbrush, and let that harden.

I wanted to give these figures a totally retro sci-fi look – so I again used the Createx paints to airbrush even more colors (added Pearl Blue, Pearl Lime Green, and Pearl Green) onto the squad than I had done with the Robot Peacekeepers.  I figured the dwarves would want more individuality!  For ease of play on the tabletop, I did plan to similarly color coordinate the lenses on the LGJ’s and the Agribots with Vallejo Mecha Color fluorescent paints.  On the optics/lenses, the squad leader and his Agribot would get Vallejo Game Air “Fluorescent Red”, Team A got Vallejo Mecha Color “Green Fluorescent”, and Team B got Vallejo Mecha Color “Green Fluorescent”.  These would take multiple light thin coats to get the desired effects.  And of course with so much metallics, I needed to use a lot of Citadel “Nuln Oil Gloss”.  I list the paints and materials I used at the end of the blog for those interested.

6 squad on bases filter
The squad awaits mounting and priming
7 squad on bases primed
And here they are primed and mounted!  I labeled the specimen jars to keep track of which one was in which squad, and what the color plan was for each figure.
8 squad on bases base coated
After airbrushing the base colors.
9 paints
Pearlized Createx colors used (bottle backs)
10 paints
Createx bottles fronts – I love that many of them are designated “Wicked Colors”.  “Wicked” is a common term here in Massachusetts to designate much more than “very”.
11 close up after wash and optics
After a painting the small details and using multiple washes, I detailed the optics/lenses with white to help with the adhesion and look of the fluorescent paints.
12 close up after wash and optics painted
Awaiting the first coat of gloss varnish

My plan for varnishing the group and the bases was to initially apply an airbrush coat of Vallejo “Gloss Varnish” before working on the bases.  The bases would then get a treatment of Citadel “Astrogranite Debris”.  I like it better than “Astrogranite” – it sets up better for dry brushing later.  Once that was dry, I washed it with “Nuln Oil”, let that dry, and then dry brushed the bases with Vallejo Game Air “Wolf Grey”.  To give the bases a nice lunar look, I added Citadel “Gulliman Blue” glaze and let that dry.  Lastly, I gave the entire squad a second coat of Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish” for protection and to dull the shines down to an acceptable level.

13 real close up after wash and optics painted
After application of gloss varnish – shiny new space dwarves…
14 shiny leader
Squad leader close up after gloss varnish
15 shiny Agribot
Squad leader’s Agribot after gloss varnish

I think you’ll see below on the finished figures the difference that the matte varnish adds, while preserving the metallic look of the power armor that I was attempting to capture.

16 Leadership of Space Dwarf Assault Squad
Finished Long Gone Jones squad leader and Agribot.  Their base color was “Pearl Red”.
17 Team A of Space Dwarf Assault Squad
Team A
18 Team B of Space Dwarf Assault Squad
Team B
19 Space Dwarf Assault Squad Leadership
Space Dwarf Assault Squad leadership – the team leaders are in “Pearlized Copper”.
20 Space Dwarf Assault Squad Agribots
The three Agribots, arranged to see the side and back details.
21 Space Dwarf Assault Squad Team Leaders
Front and back details of the team leaders.
22 Space Dwarf Assault Squad Tangerine Troopers
Front and back details of the Space Dwarf troopers in “Pearl Tangerine”
23 Space Dwarf Assault Squad Plum Troopers
Front and back details of the LGJ troopers in “Pearl Plum”
24 Space Dwarf Assault Squad Green Troopers
Front and back details of the LGJ troopers in “Pearlized Green”
25 Space Dwarf Assault Squad Blue Troopers
Front and back details of the LGJ troopers in “Pearlized Blue”
26 Squad moves out
Space Dwarf Assault Squad moves out for action!

27 Squad moves out

I am pleased with the final product – and I can see them being on one side or the other of many future tabletop conflicts.  Whoever is paying them the most of course!  That’s the nice part of not needing a Codex!  I do think that they are colorful enough, but power armor covers them nicely.

I hope that you enjoyed looking at this – and this was my most productive month ever in terms of painting – 57 figures in total (3 units) for “Junit”, a community painting challenge run so very well by our Aussie friend Azazel.  If you’re reading this and are not familiar with his blog, it’s well worth the look.

28 June 2018 production
June’s production – 32 Archive Texican Space Rangers, 11 Mega Miniatures Robot Peacekeepers, and 14 in the Space Dwarf Assault Squad.

I always read your comments and feedback – and as the goal of this blog to entertain and bemuse you – let me know if I did (or did not).  So let me know your thoughts – and as always, thanks for looking!

PAINTS, INKS, GLAZES, WASHES, AND FLOCKING USED:

  1. Vallejo “Surface Primer – White”
  2. Createx “Pearl Red”
  3. Createx “Pearl Copper”
  4. Createx “Pearl Tangerine”
  5. Createx “Pearl Plum”
  6. Createx “Pearl Lime Green”
  7. Createx “Pearl Green”
  8. Vallejo “Flow Improver”
  9. Vallejo “”Airbrush Thinner”
  10. Createx “4012 High Performance Reducer”
  11. Citadel “Nuln Oil Gloss” (wash)
  12. Citadel “Ceramite White”
  13. Vallejo “Black Grey”
  14. Vallejo Model Air “Chrome”
  15. Vallejo Model Air “Copper”
  16. Vallejo Game Air “Wolf Grey”
  17. Vallejo Model Air “Black (metallic)”
  18. Vallejo Model Air “Steel”
  19. Vallejo Game Air “Fluorescent Red”
  20. Vallejo Mecha Color “Green Fluorescent”
  21. Vallejo Mecha Color “Magenta Fluorescent”
  22. Vallejo Model Air “Gun Metal”
  23. Vallejo “Gloss Varnish”
  24. Citadel “Astrogranite Debris” (texture)
  25. Citadel “Gulliman Blue” (glaze)
  26. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish”

Thanks again!

 

Space Cowboys – Bet You Weren’t Ready for That!

Space Cowboys!  More properly Archive Miniatures Texican Space Rangers (circa 1978), are the subject of this blog, plus some Steve Miller Band stuff from the 1970’s.  Most people are familiar with the Steve Miller Band song The Joker:

Some people call me the space cowboy yeah
Some call me the gangster of love
Some people call me Maurice
‘Cause I speak of the pompitous of love…

Lyrics from The Joker, Steve Miller Band, 1973

Some also know that the opening line of The Joker refers to the band’s 1969 hit Space Cowboy – a rousing song with psychedelic undertones.

I told you ’bout living in the U.S. of A.
Don’t you know that I’m a gangster of love
Let me tell you people that I found a new way
And I’m tired of all this talk about love
And the same old story with a new set of words
About the good and the bad and the poor
And the times keep on changin’
So I’m keepin’ on top
Of every fat cat who walks through my door

I’m a space cowboy
Bet you weren’t ready for that
I’m a space cowboy
I’m sure you know where it’s at
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah…

Lyrics from Space Cowboy, Steve Miller Band, 1969

If you have not heard it before, and/or if you want a theme song for this blog post, here it is:

I’m sure that in some way, shape, or form, these songs influenced the sculpting of these figures.

Back to the miniatures!

In the early stages of my chasing down Archive Star Rovers a couple of years ago, I discovered two figures that were called Texican Space Rangers. One figure was Travis B. Crockett who was armed with a couple of laser pistols.  The other was Armando Garcia, who had an assault rifle, a laser pistol, and a very imposing sombrero.  Both had very cool jet packs as well.  I did think that they would make an awesome unit for Combat Patrol™  games.  Archive packaged them in two ways.  One was as a set (along with a dog I have not found) as #2045 Texican Space Ranger Group.  The other was individually as #2225 (Travis) and #2226 (Armando).

19 catalogue
From the Archive Miniatures Catalog
23 Archive-starrover-2045
From the excellent Lost Minis Wiki website.  The photo above includes the elusive dog, and was posted by David Wood whose excellent blog http://deartonyblair.blogspot.co.uk/ is worth a look if you like old school minis!

There are a few images in the Star Rovers game that showcase the Texican Space Rangers.  I think the artwork is very cool and worth sharing as well.

20 image of rangers
Here the Texican Space Rangers are being attacked by Eyegars and Flygars.  Note the dog disappearing here as well on the lower left (maybe why I cannot find it?).
21 bar image of rangers
Travis hanging out with a Hurraku Space Phraint at a bar!  I made a platoon of these Arduin types earlier this year which you can read about here.
22 bar image of rangers
Quite the bar fight mash-up here.  I see Armando on the left, some Space Centaurs, Felynxi, Clint Eastwood (?) and a Chewbacca look alike under the table?  Also a Nevile Stocken logo behind the bar near Armando.

I searched, and the only source that I initially found for the figures was on eBay which made the prospect of building a platoon-sized unit very expensive.  Because of this, back in June 2016 I made a mold of Armando Garcia and cast several for personal use and for some friends which I wrote about here.  I had a plan to cast Travis B. Crockett, but did not get around to it, which was lucky for me as I found a better option.

Michael Thomas is a hobbyist who bought a spin caster and has been collecting OOP miniature molds and making them available for a very reasonable price.  I discovered that Michael has both Texican Space Rangers (among many other lost and OOP miniatures) available at  http://classicminiatures.net/.   The product codes are RKV-0122 for Travis and RKV-0021 for Armando, with their prices being $3.50 and $3.75 respectively, which is very reasonable.  I had a sufficient number of Armando’s, so I ordered enough Travis figures to round out a small platoon sized unit of 32.

My concept for the Texican Space Rangers was to have them as a small constabulary-type unit (like the Texas Rangers).  I made a command group (1 of each type), and 5 infantry teams.  Each team would have one Travis and five Armando’s.  Filing and cleaning the originals ones I got from eBay and from Michael was a breeze, while my castings needed much more work to make them presentable.  They are moderate in terms of crispness, but not like today’s figures.  But hey, this is what it was like in the 1970’s!  Once that was done, I used my airbrush to prime them, and moved on to painting them.

I also had a pretty important secondary goal on this project, which was to use as many of my old Polly S, Polly Scale, Deka Lack, and Armory acrylic paints as possible.  My Polly S paints were ones I bought in the early-to-mid 1980’s (really).  My Deka Lack paints are ones that I purchased in West Germany (remember that?) around 1987.  The Polly Scale paints were made after Testors bought them out, and my guess is that they date from the 1990’s (they were gifts Buck Surdu got for me slightly used from a gaming convention flea market).  My Armory paints were all bought by me in 1996.  All of these paints are viable, but they have lumps and clumps and do not always thin easily.  I thought as a challenge, I would use as many as possible as theme colors, and add washes, inks, and glazes to enhance the models.  Besides, they won’t be useful indefinitely.  If you are interested in the history of Polly S , I did find this blog post that was interesting.

Additionally, I follow a couple of blogs that were inspirational for this project.  One was imperial rebel ork’s post about his Western/sci-fi mashup.  He has three chapters there.  Also, our good inspirational friend Azazel from down under made a painting challenge for units for June, so this works and this is my entry (or at least one of them)!  On to the theme colors…

The platoon leader’s main color was Polly S “Venetian Dull Red”, while the platoon sergeant’s was Deka Lack “Blaü” (blue).  for the teams’ main colors, the A team got Polly S “Desert Pink”, the B team got Polly Scale “German Armor Light Tan”; the C team got Polly S “Interior Green”, the D team got Polly Scale “WWII British Aircraft Gull Gray Light”; and the E team got Polly Scale “German Mauve”.  The Travis figures also have US red, white, and blue on their collars, and the Armando’s have the colors of the Mexican flag (red white, and green).  I list all of the paints, glazes, inks, washes etc. that I used for this project at the end of this post (only 55 this time!).

0 Travis B. Crockitt Texican Space Rangers
The Travis B. Crockett’s I got from Michael Thomas, unpainted.
1 platoon primed
The Texican Space Rangers, primed for painting.  I ended up with some reductions so I actually painted 32 for this unit.
2 platoon start
Here I started working on the heads and the theme colors.  Some (not all) of the old paints I used are in front for fun.
3 mid platoon start
In the middle of the project.  I did heads first, then legs, with torsos last.
4 Armando mid stage
The platoon sergeant before washes and inks.  This is an original, not a recast.
5 Travis mid stage
The platoon leader early on – I cleaned him up substantially as the project continued.
6 Teams A and B await varnish
The command group, and Team’s A and B painted and awaiting varnish.
7 all painted
The whole platoon finally painted and awaiting varnish.
8 All varnished
All varnished and ready to leave their specimen bottles!
9 in storage box
In the storage box
10 Command group front
Command Group frontal view
11 Command group back
Command Group, rear view
12 Team A desert pink
Team A
13 Team B german armor light tan
Team B
14 Team C interior green
Team C
15 Team D gull grey light wwii british aircraft
Team D
16 Team E German Mauve
Team E
17 leadership travises
All of the leaders (being the Travis figures).  You can see the differentiating colors on the hats and uniforms, which I hope will aid on the tabletop for play.
18 Armandos
Examples of the different Armando figures 

This was a fun project, though the older paints are much harder to use than modern ones.  Still, I am glad that those oldies got a chance to be useful.

Thanks for reading, and I always appreciate comments and feedback in the comments section!

PAINTS, INKS, GLAZES, WASHES, AND FLOCKING USED:

  1. Vallejo “Surface Primer – White”
  2. Vallejo “Dark Flesh”
  3. Vallejo “Medium Flesh Tone”
  4. Citadel “Reikland Fleshshade”
  5. Vallejo “White”
  6. Vallejo Game Air “Black”
  7. Vallejo “Brown Rose”
  8. Polly S “Venetian Dull Red”
  9. Vallejo “Dark Blue”
  10. Polly S “Desert Pink”
  11. Polly S “Venetian Dull Red”
  12. Polly Scale “WWII German Armor Light Tan”
  13. Polly S “Interior Green”
  14. Polly Scale “WWII British Aircraft Gull Gray Light”
  15. Polly Scale “German Mauve”
  16. Vallejo Game Air “Moon Yellow”
  17. Deka Lack “Blaü”
  18. Polly S “Slime Green”
  19. Vallejo Model Air “Signal Red”
  20. Vallejo “Red”
  21. Citadel “Auric Armour Gold”
  22. Vallejo Model Air “Gun Metal”
  23. Vallejo “Dark Blue”
  24. Vallejo “Glossy White”
  25. Polly Scale “WWII German Armor Dark Brown”
  26. Armory “Leather Brown”
  27. Armory “Prussian Blue”
  28. Vallejo Model Air “Aluminum”
  29. Vallejo Game Air “Dead White”
  30. Vallejo Game Air “Beastly Brown”
  31. Secret Weapons Washes “Just Red” (ink)
  32. Citadel “Gulliman Blue” (glaze)
  33. Citadel “Waywatcher Green” (glaze)
  34. Secret Weapons Washes “Blue” (ink)
  35. Secret Weapons Washes “Armor Wash” (wash)
  36. Citadel “Agrax Earthshade” (wash)
  37. Secret Weapons Washes “Parchment” (wash)
  38. Citadel “Nuln Oil” (wash)
  39. Citadel “Nuln Oil Gloss” (wash)
  40. Citadel “Soulstone Blue”
  41. Citadel “Waystone Green”
  42. Citadel “‘Ardcoat”
  43. Citadel “Agrellan Earth”
  44. Citadel “Agrellan Badlands”
  45. P3 “Bootstrap Leather”
  46. Secret Weapons Washes “Sunshine” (wash)
  47. Vallejo “Glaze Medium”
  48. Vallejo Game Air “Wolf Grey”
  49. Secret Weapons Washes “Stone” (wash)
  50. Secret Weapons Washes “Purple” (ink)
  51. Testors “Universal Acrylic Thinner”
  52. Vallejo Mecha Color “Purple”
  53. Vallejo “Flow Improver”
  54. Vallejo “”Airbrush Thinner”
  55. Vallejo “Matt Varnish”

Thanks again and feel free to let me know your thoughts!

Roberker and Juggerbot – 1970’s Archive Star Rovers Robots for my Warbot Platoon

I was fortunate enough to get a couple of Archive Miniatures robots from the Star Rovers line that I could add to my Mark III Warbot Platoon for use in Combat Patrol™ retro sci-fi games.  The first was “Roberker”, a Giant Robot (Archive #2010), which I had only seen before on Lost Minis Wiki and on David Wood’s blog.  It is nearly 3½”/85mm tall, and was supposedly one of the largest robots on the market in 1978.  It is armed with nozzles on its arms, so I think it is more or less a giant flame-throwing robot.  Nevile Stocken commented on FaceBook that it was his creation, and inspired by Fred Saberhagen’s Berserker novels.  The second was another late 1970’s Stocken creation,  “Juggerbot” (Archive #2009 or Archive #2331), which I had a version of already, but only one, which I use as the platoon leader.  I decided to make this one the assistant platoon commander/platoon sergeant.

This same good friend, David Wood (UK version), knew that I was on the hunt for these and graciously provided them so that I could augment my Warbots.  Additionally, Azazel’s blog had put out an “April Assembly” challenge, that these two could certainly be participants.

The models are both challenges for assembly – so I needed to make sure that they were structurally sound for the tabletop.  First, I will review Roberker, then Juggerbot.  I list the paints I used at the end of this post for those interested.

Roberker

I trimmed and sanded the mold lines as best as I could.  Roberker was described by David and Nevile as “a swine to pin”.  I now know the truth of that very British expression.  I spent most of a day drilling and pinning the arms, legs, and head.  Using Gorilla glue, I made initial connections of the parts.  Then, I used kneadatite (green stuff) in several places.  Specifically, I needed to have strength for the spindly arms and legs.  I augmented the pinning by adding a superficial kneadatite belt around the chest and shoulder areas, and by making sure that the legs and hips were married.  Lastly, I made a strong base connection with the green stuff.

0 as received
Roberker pieces after cleaning
0a as received
Roberker original base
2 Initial gluing
First gluing of legs, torso, and head
3 assembled after Initial gluing
I then glued the arms, but saw that reinforcement was needed
4 after green stuff
Here, you can see the kneadatite reinforcements that I made.  This really made the model very strong.
5 after green stuff size
Roberker is no small robot!

I then based the figure on a 2″ steel washer, which is relatively heavy and will protect the model from being prone to tipping over.  I then primed, painted, and varnished the model similar to the way that I did the Mark III Warbots.  I did however want the figure to look like it had flames coming out of its head, and that it had a sooty appearance having torched many of its victims over the years.  Also, for the hand nozzles, I went with a copper and verdigris look.

6 primed front
Roberker after airbrush priming
9 painted pre varnish front
Roberker painted and ready for varnish
15 Roberker front
Roberker completed, front view
20 fourway Roberker
Four-way view of the model

I am very happy with how Roberker came out – and he will be a terror on the tabletop I am sure.

Juggerbot

As I said, this is my second Juggerbot.  My first is the platoon leader and he is basically golden.  This one was to be similar to the Mark III Warbots in color scheme and treatment.  Here as well, I trimmed and sanded the mold lines as best as I could.  I did also need to do a bit more work with the pinning and the green stuff here as well.  That is because I wanted to have a slightly different positioning of the arms, which necessitated making a “vest” of green stuff that covered the shoulders and the top conic section of the robot.

0 as received
Juggerbot as received
1 Assembled and comparison with original
My original Juggerbot (the Platoon Leader on left) and his new assistant commander on the right in progress.  Note that I was able to give the arms different positioning with the kneadatite “vest”
2 Assembled and comparison with original
Side view of the two Juggerbots
3 Juggerbot primed
Juggerbot after airbrush priming
6 Juggerbot painted
Painted and awaiting varnishing
12 Juggerbot right side
The completed new Platoon Sergeant Juggerbot, right side view
14 Juggerbot front side
Coming at you!
15 three panel juggerbot
Three way view of the new Juggerbot model

This model met my expectations – now the command and control of the Warbot platoon will be more robust.

19 group shot
This shows the size of my different retro sci-fi figures.  From left to right, the Warbot Juggerbot Platoon Sergeant, the Warbot Juggerbot Platoon Leader, SFC Mallard, Roberker, Duck Wader, a Mark III Warbot, and a Khang Robot Squad Leader.  It looks dire for the two Star Ducks!

Thanks for looking – please let me know what you think in the comments section at the bottom.

PAINTS AND FLOCKING USED:

  1. Citadel “Imperium Primer”
  2. Vallejo “Surface Primer – White” (airbrushed)
  3. Createx “Wicked Aluminum – Metallic Pearl” (airbrushed)
  4. Citadel “Imperium Primer”
  5. Citadel “Nuln Oil Gloss”
  6. Armory “Red Brown”
  7. Vallejo “Black Grey”
  8. Vallejo  Model Air “Copper”
  9. Vallejo “Red”
  10. Citadel “Retributor Armour Gold”
  11. Citadel “Fire Dragon Bright”
  12. Citadel “Yriel Yellow”
  13. Special Weapons Washes “Red Black”
  14. Special Weapons Washes “Red” ink
  15. Vallejo “Black”
  16. Citadel “Nihilakh Oxide”
  17. Craftsmart “Sapphire”
  18. Craftsmart “Festive Red”
  19. Citadel “Martian Ironcrust”
  20. Citadel “Martian Ironearth”
  21. Army Painter “Black Battlefields” flocking
  22. Citadel “Nuln Oil”
  23. Army Painter “Anti-Shine” varnish (airbrushed)
  24. Vallejo “Matt Acrylic Varnish” (airbrushed)

Thanks again  – please share your thoughts in the comments section!

Hurraku Space Phraints – the Bad Bugs you never knew, but wish you did

Back in early 2016, I found an interesting miniature on eBay that I had never seen before.  It was from the Archive Star Rovers line.  It was a large bug-like creature with a large blaster and a huge sword on its back.  It reminded me of a deadly grasshopper.  Doing a little research, I learned that the figure was made around 1979-1981, and was designated as Archive #2318, “Hurraku Space Phraint”.

0000 Catalog (2)_LI
From the Archive Catalog in my Star Rovers game from 1981

I immediately thought that a group of these figures would make a great platoon for a retro-sci-fi game of Combat Patrol™.  However, like many Star Rovers figures they proved to be very scarce.  Eventually I decided that I would need to cast my own to make such a unit (you can read about that effort here).

I made a mold, and recast a bunch of these, and shared some with my good friend Buck Surdu.  Buck called them “Space Bugs” (which of course they are), and painted up a unit himself – you can see his work on these here.   I really liked what Buck had done with his and his use of glitter paint.  His work inspired me to seek a way to get a shine on mine without being, well, overly shiny.  Meanwhile, my Space Phraints waited as other projects and personal stuff got in the way (as it always does!).

Over time I researched and dug deeper.  I found that there is quite an interesting back story to these bugs.  I discovered that Phraints were originally in the Arduin Grimoire RPG system, which was a contemporary competitor to TSR’s Dungeons and Dragons system in the mid-to-late 1970’s.  It was written and marketed by David Hargrave and his company, Grimoire Games.  Phraints played a major role in Arduin, and were prominently shown on their rules systems covers (see below).  One of the main differences from D&D was that Arduin went from fantasy to futuristic sci-fi all in the same universe.

Arduin Grimoire (2)
Cover of Arduin Grimoire Volume 1, circa 1976, from http://www.jonathantweet.com/jotgamearduin.html.  Note the Phraint on the cover.

Apparently (and unsurprisingly) there were a series of lawsuits by TSR against Hargrave, and his company, alleging trademark infringement, etc.  It’s history at this point, but truly a fascinating (and drama-filled) chapter in the early era of fantasy and sci-fi gaming.  If you would like to learn more about that kerfuffle, here is a good link.

So where did Archive come in?  Archive Miniatures had the license for the Arduin line.  According to Archive founder Nevile Stocken, the original Phraint figure was a Steve Lortz sculpt in their Arduin figure line (#783).  Nevile adapted the original Phraint figure and created the Hurraku Space Phraint.  He did this by removing the hive the front foot was resting on, as well as the quiver on the back.  This leaned the figure forward.  The large sword on the front was removed and replaced the quiver on the back.  The Hurraku was then given what Nevile described as a BFG (“big f’ing gun”).  The Phraints are truly interesting, and this is another great link on their characteristics.  I like that they are emotionless – and incapable of lying.

Ad_Phraint
Archive advertisement with original Phraint from http://greybeardgamer.blogspot.com/2008/08/what-better-way-to-start-than-with_25.html

OK, enough Phraint back story (hope it was interesting anyways).  Back to the platoon making!

Originally, I had 39 Space Phraints.  It was time to clean and file the metal miniatures, which are large for the ranges 25mm scale (the Space Phraints are about 1¾”  or 44 cm tall). Overall, I found it difficult at most times during the project to discern the difference between my recasts and the originals, except during this phase.  However, upon better inspection, I found 3 figures out of 39 that were not of acceptable quality, so I went to 36 figures for the unit, with the unfortunate three going to the remelt pile.

I ended up with 36 Space Phraints (1 original, and 35 recasts), for the platoon.  It would consist of 3 squads composed of 2 teams of 5, each led by a squad leader, making each squad having 11 figures.  Additionally, there would be a Platoon Leader, a Platoon Sergeant, and a Sith Knight.  The Sith Phraint would be great fun to game with when I use Greg Priebe’s Star Wars supplement for Combat Patrol™.  I decided to make the figures look the same so as to reinforce the “hive” effect.  In other words, they would look to unfortunate opponents as a swarm of huge humanoid insects.  To us they all look alike, while to the Space Phraints, they do not.

Cleaning and filing of the figures took some time.  I use a high tin content when I cast, so this was not quickly accomplished.  I also needed to repair some swords that were too short, some blaster stocks that did not cast well, and some foot talons with green stuff (kneadatite).  I’m not the greatest (or worst I imagine) with green stuff, but I think that it worked out well (you be the judge dear reader!).  I also used a small pin vise bit to round out the blaster ends.  The figures are very much in line with those of the era of the late 1970’s.  This is not to say that they are not good, but they are much less crisp than today’s plastic and resin models.  Plus, 35/36 were obviously my recasts, and some details are lost in that process.  For me, all this meant was that I needed to really work with my painting to realize my vision for them.

0 Phraints start
After cleaning and filing – the one darker figure is the original Space Phraint.   Three of these 39 were not good enough and are in my future remelt pile.

I mounted the figures with gorilla glue to 1¼” steel washers, and the washers to specimen bottles with poster tack.  Simultaneously, I also began to search for a suitable base color, and I wanted to have something green that was not too glossy – I wanted subtle iridescence.  This would mimic the sheen you see on some grasshoppers as their chitin reflects the sunlight.  As I have an airbrush and compressor now, I decided upon a novel approach (for me anyway).  I would use a pearlized airbrush paint with Createx Airbrush Colors “Pearl Green”.

This airbrush paint is designed for model hot rods and muscle cars.  I thought that this would work and that I could shade and highlight later as needed.  So, I airbrush-primed all of the figures with Vallejo Gray Surface Primer, and let that harden for 24 -48 hours.  Then I broke out the “Pearl Green”.  I needed a higher pressure to use this paint (40 vs 20-25 psi for the primer).  I also did thin it a bit, and I was able to get good coverage of the figures with my airbrush.  The Createx line is made for airbrushing, which is a plus.

2 Phraint base coated close up
After base coat of “Pearl Green”
1 Phraints base coated
Unit after “Pearl Green” application

After that, I grabbed my regular brushes as I wanted to shade the figures for ease of painting, which I accomplished with Citadel “Nuln Oil GLOSS”.  The pearlized paints are very smooth, especially after airbrushing, and I found that the gloss version of Nuln Oil worked better on this base coat of green than the plain one.  It really got into the nooks and crannies and stayed there.

2a Phraint base coated close up
After initial shading

For the antennae, I wanted something that would be closer to what a bug would have and not be like a bunny’s ear.  For this I used Vallejo “Dark Blue” and washed it with Secret Weapons Washes “Purple”.  The eyes, to me, needed to be special.  I built up the eyes with serial light coats of Vallejo “Gloss Black”, followed by a 50/50 mix of Vallejo Mecha Color “Yellow Fluorescent” and “Green Fluorescent”.  Lastly, I topped the eyes off with a small drop of “Yellow Fluorescent”.  This approach really gave the eyes character, and gave the impression of a compound eye structure.

5 phraint eyes
Close up of the eyes (sorry for the blurry image but this head is only 1/2″ long including antennae)

 

On the bandoleer, I went with Vallejo “Game Air Black”.  I decided not to try to highlight them at all as I had too much variability among casts with regards to their details.  I also thought that the contrast from the black would be greater with the green chitin which was what I wanted.  For the blaster, I went with the last of my 1987 West German Deka Lack “Weiss”, followed by highlighting with Vallejo “Gloss White”.

Moving to the rear of the figures, I painted the swords’ pommels and hilts with Vallejo “Steel” and the grip with a mix of Vallejo “Gunmetal” and “Game Air Black”.  Each sword’s scabbard had an inlay and a jewel.  The inlay and jewel got Vallejo “Chrome”.  After the “Chrome” had dried, I lightly applied Citadel “Waystone Green” on the jewel to achieve a crystalline appearance.  For the scabbard and the straps, I stayed with “Game Air Black” to continue the contrasting effect with the chitinous green.

I then went to the front of the figure and dealt with the blaster.  For a further contrast, I painted the bulb at the end gold with Citadel “Retributor Armor” .  The blaster rings got a covering of “Chrome” followed by an application of Citadel “Soulstone Blue”.  To highlight the lobster-like claw structures on the arms and calves and the mandibles, I used Vallejo “Yellow-Green”.

As I earlier said, the upside of the “Pearl Green” is its effect – and the downside is that for subsequent paint applications adhesion is less than other paints.   To address the need for both shading and for paint protection on the tabletop, I brushed Army Painter “Quickshade-Soft Tone” over all of the models.  I tried my best to sop up any extra pooling shade.  I then let these dry and harden for 48 hours.  A couple of figures picked up some paper towel fibers at some point, but that was remedied easily with a wet brush once everything was dry.

During this drying period, I sculpted placards for the bases out of Apoxie Sculpt.  I wanted the Space Phraints to look the same, but for gaming purposes, there needs to be  some differentiation for the players (especially those of a certain age).  Apoxie Sculpt is much better than green stuff for this purpose.  I mixed this two-piece material, and spread it thinly over my cutting board.  Using rubber stamps, I made placards for each figure, and some more for future projects.  These I allowed to dry and harden for 24 hours.  At that point, I removed and trimmed them, and applied them to the bases with gorilla glue.  I primed them with Citadel “Imperium Primer”.  For a placard painting scheme, I brush painted:

  • Vallejo “Signal Red” and “Retributor Armor” for the platoon leader (PL)
  • Createx “Pearl Blue” and “Retributor Armor” for the platoon sergeant (PSG)
  • Vallejo’s “Metallic Black” and “Red” for the Sith (SITH)
  • Createx “Pearl Green” and “Retributor Armor” for the 1st squad leader (1)
  • Createx “Pearl Green” and Vallejo “Silver” for the 1st squad team leaders (A and B)
  • Createx “Pearl Green” and Vallejo “Game Air Black” for the 1st squad troopers (A and B)
  • Martha Stewart Crafts “Duckling” and “Retributor Armor” for the 2nd squad leader (2)
  • Martha Stewart Crafts “Duckling” and Vallejo “Silver” for the 2nd squad team leaders (A and B)
  • Martha Stewart Crafts “Duckling” and Vallejo “Game Air Black” for the 2nd squad troopers (A and B)
  • Createx “Pearl Plum” and “Retributor Armor” for the 3rd squad leader (3)
  • Createx “Pearl Plum” and Vallejo “Silver” for the 3rd squad team leaders (A and B)
  • Createx “Pearl Plum” and Vallejo “Game Air Black” for the 3rd squad troopers (A and B)
8 placards
Placards
9 placards on phraints
Placards mounted awaiting paint

Once my shade had dried, I highlighted chitinous areas with the “Pearl Green” that may have been overly darkened.  I also used Vallejo “Game Air Dead White” and “Retributor Armor” to highlight on the blasters as the Quickshade needed some adjustments here.

I then moved on to the bases, and used a combination of Citadel “Martian Ironcrust” and Army Painter “Black Battlefield” flocking to cover the bases.  I learned at this point that I should have trimmed the poster tack from the edge of the bases at an earlier stage in the project.  This would have made addressing the edges easier.  As it was, I removed the edges, and used Citadel “Martian Ironearth” on the edges to cover any unpainted parts of the bases.  I also dry brushed the Space Phraints’ feet with “Martian Ironearth” to replicate their walking on the red planet and catching its dust.

When using either “Martian Ironcrust” or “Martian Ironearth”, I always use a hand-held blow dryer after to dry and crack the paint for a better effect.  Now it was time to apply a matte varnish and remove the shine from the models.

17 Phraint after highlights prevarnish, back
After the Army Painter Quickshade and highlighting…I need varnish!

I applied two coats of Vallejo “Matte Varnish” with my airbrush, allowing for 4 hours between coats.  I was really happy with the results – the iridescent effect that I wanted was achieved!

cover photo collage
After the matte varnish, achieved green iridescence!!

I detached the Space Phraints from the bottles, and retouched their bases, but finally they were done.  I decided to take some formation shots and some action shots below.  For Combat Patrol™ games, I plan to have them be able to climb walls without penalty, and to be able to use two cards for movement.  Additionally, to replicate their emotional state, I will have them use the Japanese deck for morale results.

I am very proud of these – it was a very large and long project.

As always will appreciate any feedback in the comments section.

Thanks for looking and as promised, here are some more photos below – enjoy!

27 Command group in front of formation
Command Group out front
28 1st squad
1st Squad
29 2nd squad
2nd Squad
30 3rd squad
3rd Squad
31a rear of formation
Platoon formation
33 top of command group
Top view of command group
34 rear of 2nd squad
2nd squad view from the rear
35 moving through refinery
2nd squad moves through a refinery of Armorcast terrain
36 defending bunkers
3rd squad defends a bunker
37 building
1st squad in the ruins

 

 

Mark Con 2017 (aka Ma’k Con 2017)

I have been accused of having a Boston accent, but this is not really true – I have a Worcester accent, or properly a Worcester County accent.  Throughout my military and civilian career, my pronunciation of my name, Mark, sounds to others like Ma’k.  My good buddy Buck Surdu has often shortened it to “Ma’k” on his blog posts.  Last weekend (right before Thanksgiving) he and my other good buddy, Dave Wood, made the drive up from Maryland on a traffic-filled Friday afternoon for a Saturday full of gaming – and it was called “Ma’k Con”.  My wife Lynn really helped out as well with her keeping us well fed.  This blog post is about the gaming we crammed into that Saturday.

Buck and Dave got me into tabletop wargaming when we were back at West Point.  Since then, Buck has published a myriad of rules for gaming, and Dave has contributed to many of those rule sets.  The most recent rules that Buck published is a fantastically easy to play and streamlined card-based system for skirmish-level combat in WWII called Combat Patrol™.  It is truly flexible, and has had optional rules and supplements written to cover different possible scenarios, to include the South Pacific theater, the Winter War, the Falklands War, the Napoleonic era, and even the Star Wars universe.  These can be downloaded for free from his website, and the cards are available in the US from Drive Thru Cards and in the EU from Sally Forth. The rules are also available in book form from both On Military Matters and Sally Forth.

Buck recently added a new set of cards for the South Pacific, which have different morale results for Japanese troops.  Readers of this blog know that I have been collecting and assembling units from the old Archive Miniatures Star Rovers line of figures, specifically Star Ducks, Power-Armored Frinx, Aphids, and Mark III Warbots.  Additionally, I have been supplementing these forces with Khang Robots, weapons, Robo-Sentry Guns from War Games Supply Dump, and my own sculpt of a sphere tank.  I also used some weapons from Bombshell Miniatures.

I decided that I would combine aspects from different Combat Patrol™ rules for a fun retro sci-fi game.  Specifically, I would use the new South Pacific deck for morale results for robots, the new vehicle-mounted flame thrower template for my sphere tanks’ death rays, and the Sith rules from the Star Wars supplement.  Also, I added in several rules from the optional rules.  Lastly, I added my own special rules for the Mark III Warbots and their leader, Juggerbot, to account for possible effects that weapons fire could cause on their behaviors and capabilities.

Upon arrival in Massachusetts, Buck surprised Dave and I with uniform t-shirts from West Point that we would have worn to gym or when we played sports.  It was called Gym-A (Gym-Alpha) and we wore it for Saturday’s game marathon.  Admittedly, both Buck and Dave wore it better than I did.  We were also joined by my daughter Ellen Morin and her fiancé Chris Smedile.

0 Ma'kcon
Buck Surdu, me, and Dave Wood (US version for you UK followers) in our Gym-A shirts

The scenario was one where the Star Ducks, Aphids, and Frinx were allied against the cybernetic horde of attacking robots.  The non-metallic forces had captured a robot Mark 1 Sphere tank.  The Frinx were attempting to repair it so it could be used against the robots, who were to have two Mark I Sphere tanks of their own in the assault.  The tanks have two side mounted laser cannons, and a Death Ray (think 1953 War of the Worlds movie).  Dave and Ellen had the robots, while Buck, Chris and I defended.

1 Ma'kcon
Dave and Ellen prepare to attack.  The Aphids are in the ruined building to the front, and there are the Robo-Sentry Guns acting as speed bumps to their front.

The Robo-Sentry guns slowed the attacking robots slightly, but allowed Aphid and Star Duck mortar fire to hit the Warbots near Juggerbot, damaging the robot leader, and causing some of his robots to go rogue, or blow up.  When they went rogue, they would attack the nearest figure.  Juggerbot ended up dealing with such a problem.

2 Ma'kcon
The battle begins with the Warbots clearing the Robo-Sentry gun defenses.

Normally, in Combat Patrol™ games, figures can take a certain number of hits, usually three wounds, before they die or are incapacitated.  In this game Frinx had 4 wounds (because of their power-armor), most line Star Ducks had 3, and Warbots had 6.  However, I allowed for critical hits as outlined below.  This had a nice balancing effect on the game.

Warbot critical hit
Warbot Critical Hit Chart – lots of 4’s and 5’s happened!

The Warbots also had some devastating energy weapons.  The opposing forces had two “Sith Lords” (Duck Wader from the Star Ducks and Lt. Ma’k from the Frinx) with special powers from the Star Wars supplement.  Early in the game, Buck moved Duck Wader up to engage the Warbots, only to get vaporized along with some Aphids by an arc weapon blast.

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Duck Wader (center) near the corner where he was shortly vaporized thereafter
4 Ma'kcon
The Frinx AT section moves up – only to never make an impact

The other Sith, Lt. Ma’k, used his Force powers to fly into the middle of a group of 8 immobilized Warbots (they had drawn a “Hold until Death” morale result due to Frinx fire, but the robots could still fire).

Lt. Ma’k (a Frinx) then tried a Sith power – Force Blast – which damaged some robots’ weapons and caused them to explode.  Additionally, friendly mortar rounds landed there (Lt. Ma’k did not care) and eventually he succumbed, as did several Warbots. Simultaneously, Juggerbot finally was destroyed by Aphids on Grav-Cycles.  As he was the platoon leader, his destruction led to his unit becoming pinned – and only activating on black cards.  This really had the effect of reducing the entire robot platoon’s combat effectiveness.

5 Ma'kcon
Lt. Ma’k (by the purple die) makes his last stand.  Note the black die for the Warbot Green Team 2 due to a “Hold until Death” morale role.  Later the entire Warbot platoon would get black dice (“pinned”) when Juggerbot was destroyed.
6 Ma'kcon
The death (destruction) of Juggerbot
7 Ma'kcon
Aphids an Grav-Cycles make a desperate charge before dying to the last bug – but they sealed Juggerbot’s fate
8 Ma'kcon
Frinx on Glyptodon cavalry move up before being taking heavy fire and being routed

At this point, the carbon-based living got very lucky and fixed their captured Sphere tank earlier than would have been expected due to Chris pulling some great cards.  However, the robots got reinforcements in the form of two of their own Sphere tanks, a squad of Warbots, plus 2 self-propelled robot guns.   Chris and Buck were able to immobilize one tank with some very lucky shots.  The other annihilated a squad of Buck’s Star Ducks with a Death Ray Blast.

9 Ma'kcon
Buck’s Star Ducks are hit by Death Ray fire
10 Ma'kcon
Some of Buck’s Star Ducks jet pack onto the immobilized Mark I Sphere tank.  Their satchel charges (6) attacks all failed to destroy the tank.

By now it was dinnertime and pizza called, plus we wanted to move to the next game.  It looked like a slight victory for the living forces, but casualties were high!  The game turned out well and I may redo this scenario at Barrage in Maryland in January.  Buck’s account of the battle is the next entry in this blog.

11 Ma'kcon
Surveying the carnage
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Great Game!

Then we moved onto a play test of Dave’s micro-armor game of “The Battle of Nikolayevka (Nikitowka)” using the Look Sarge No Charts rules.  This was a breakout of Italian forces on the Eastern Front in 1943 as part of the Battle of Stalingrad.  So we had Italians and some Germans attacking a small town held by the Russians.  The link above describes the historical battle well.

Buck attacked with a combined German/Italian force on the right half of the battlefield and I attacked along the left half.  Dave defended.  It was a tough slog, with the Russian artillery (they had no armor) making progress difficult.  Later in the game Dave had us command reinforcements in the form of the Italian stragglers from an earlier phase in the battle.  It was a good scenario, and interesting to see a primarily Italian versus Russian scenario.

13 Ma'kcon
Initial set up – Italians and Germans (on left) fight into the town to the right of the railway crossing (in light orange)
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Another view showing the town in the upper right.  The attackers needed to get into the town so as not to freeze to death.
15 Ma'kcon
Assaulting the rail line defenses
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Buck tries to get into the town

I think Dave will have a very good scenario for an upcoming convention!

The day flew by, and I am so appreciative that we West Point Old Grads had the chance to game together.  Thanks to Buck and Dave, and Chris and Ellen!  And of course, Lynn for her logistical support!!