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.

3 Ma'kcon
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
12 Ma'kcon
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)
14 Ma'kcon
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
16 Ma'kcon
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!!

Mark III Warbot Platoon & Juggerbot for Combat Patrol

Followers of this blog may have wondered where I have been, why have I not been posting?  Well, I have been working on building a platoon of Archive Miniatures “Mark III Robots” (#2323).  The platoon will be led by Archive Miniatures “Juggerbot” (#2331).  Both of these sculpts are from the vibrant imagination of Nevile Stocken, who was way ahead of his time with his work.  Given that these figures were from the late 70’s and early 80’s, I have to think that they were inspired (especially the visors) by the original Cylons from the 1978 TV series Battlestar Galactica.  I loved that show when I was a kid!  So, I had to make them shiny!

 

Cylons-rock
Mark III Warbot inspiration?

 

These will be used in upcoming games using the Combat Patrol™ set of card-based rules.  The figures are effectively 25-28mm, being large robots (larger than humans).

This long project started with making a mold and casting 38 out of the 40 Mark III Robots as described previously here.  I wish that I could have just bought them, but my time machine is broken…and that made purchasing them an impossibility.  The platoon will have 4 squads of 10 (5 per team), plus 4 squad leaders, and Juggerbot – so the platoon is composed of a total of 45 figures.

The original Mark III’s (there were no Mark I’s or II’s!) were from the Star Rovers line of figures made by Archive in the 1979-1981 timeframe.  They are very tough to find on eBay or anywhere else.  I managed to acquire two originals, but only one was fully intact, and it became the master for my recasting efforts.  The other original I converted with another weapon.

I found the Juggerbot kit on eBay, and decided that it would make an excellent platoon leader.  For squad leaders, I have four War Games Supply Dump Khang Robots that were previously described in this blog here.   Each Khang is color-coded (red, green, blue, and purple), and each squad in my platoon follows that scheme.  Each Mark III Warbot Squad consists of the Khang Squad Leader, and two teams of five Warbots.

I converted one Warbot per team with a special weapon.  Each squads’ Team 1 had a conversion with Bombshell Miniature’s “particle beam weapon” (BOM36016).  I gave the Team 2’s two different weapons each.  Two teams got Bombshell Miniatures large “arc weapon” as their conversion, while the other two got a large War Games Supply Dump retro sci-fi weapon from the WP01 “Weapons Pack 1”.  All of the conversions I did were with these weapons, which are no longer available from either Bombshell or the now-shuttered War Games Supply Dump.

Conversion of these figures, as well as cleanup in terms of cutting and filing were major efforts in this project.  I use mostly tin (about 67%) in my casting, and this made sawing away and filing pieces from them tedious as they are not as soft as a higher-lead alloy would be.  Still, I was able to convert 7 of my castings plus the extra original for a total of 8 conversions.  In most cases, I needed to bend the arms to accommodate the new weapons.  My concept was for Team 1 to have one Warbot with a higher rate of fire weapon, while the Team 2’s would have specialized breaching or anti-armor capabilities.

 

1 Archive Mark III Warbot - Copy
My original Mark III Warbot with weapon intact.  I had one other with a broken weapon, which I converted to another weapon.

 

1 Juggerbot
Juggerbot as received from eBay – obviously cast from a mold in the post-Archive era
2 Juggerbot
Juggerbot contents – needed some TLC…glue, and pressure while the glue set
3 Juggerbot
Assembled and straightened Juggerbot

 

0000 Arc Weapon sprue 36013
Bombshell Miniatures arc weapon sprue -I used two of the ones on the far left
0000 Particle-Beam-Weapon-Sprue
I used the far left particle beam weapon for each Team 1 conversion
0000a Catalog Closeup
From the 1981 catalog
000 Archive Star Rovers juggerbot
Juggerbot drawing from the 1981 Star Rovers game rule book
000 Archive Star Rovers Mark III Warbot a
Mark III Warbot drawing from the 1981 Star Rovers game rule book

After cleaning up the figures, I made a plan to complete the conversions.  I also wanted to try a few new things in making this platoon.  I wanted to use my new airbrushes and spray booth, and I wanted to use poster tack on specimen bottles and grocery store coins to have greater ease of painting with both the airbrushes and traditional brushes.

01 Warbot Platoon with Juggerbot
After cleanup but before conversion – I ended up using 2 arc weapons (far left), 2 of the WSD weapons (2nd from left), and 4 of the particle beam weapons (far right) in my conversions
02 Warbot first conversions
After conversion – arc weapon on left, particle beam on right
03 Warbot second conversion
War Games Supply Dump weapon conversion
04 Assembled platoon on washers
Mounted on steel washers and ready for the poster tack and the specimen jars

After all of my conversions were complete, I mounted the figures on steel washers for eventual magnetized storage.  I had to use a bigger washer for Juggerbot.  The platoon was then affixed to outdated grocery store bonus coins and specimen bottles or just to the bottles themselves with poster tack.  In the future, I will not use the coins, as it was just easier to use the bottles minus the coins.  I used an Aztec airbrush to prime the figures with gray Vallejo “Surface Primer”, giving the figures 24 hours to dry.  I had read that doing that is desirable so that this primer paint can harden.

06a primedAssembled platoon on coins and bottles
Primed on the specimen jars

I then used Createx “Wicked Aluminum” airbrush paint (very sparkly) to base coat the Warbots using an Iwata Eclipse air brush – and I found this brush to be a much easier tool than the Aztec.  I used Vallejo Model Air “Gold” to base coat Juggerbot with the airbrush.

08 Juggerbot primed
Juggerbot base coated
09 Close up primed
Close up of Warbots base coated

I saw that the Createx paint had given the Warbots the appropriate shiny starting point for further development of the paint scheme I wanted, which was to be very retro sci-fi metallic, and reminiscent of the Cylons.  Then I went back to the regular brush!

For my color schemes of red, blue, green, and purple on the Warbots, I went with DecoArt “Festive Red”, “Peacock Pearl”, “Crystal Green”, and Craftsmart “Amethyst” respectively.  These metallic paints are great, but thick, and not easily thinned.  Still, they worked well and I put these colors on the ankle, knee, and wrist joints for ease of tabletop play.  I chose to use them as well for the visor interior colors, with Vallejo Model Air metallic “Black” for the outer parts of the visors.  I then used “Gold” for the Warbot voice boxes and weapons tips on the unconverted troopers.  “Black” was my choice for the rest of the weapons, offset with Vallejo Model Air “Steel” and Martha Stewart Crafts “Duckling” (this was a nod to my friend Buck Surdu, whose love of all things ducky and his take on the Mark III Warbots helped me plan out my approaches here).

For the common weapon barrels, I employed Vallejo Model Air “Copper”, and complemented them with Vallejo Model Air “Medium Gunship Gray”.  Juggerbot had several lights on him, so Vallejo Model Air “Arctic Blue” and “Signal Red”, and “Aluminum” helped me with these details.  I used these as well on the conversion weapons.

I then used several applications of Citadel “Nuln Oil Gloss” and “Black” on Juggerbot to shade the recesses of the figure.  Moving back to the Warbots, I used “Aluminum” on the bodies, then similar to what I did with Juggerbot, I shaded with “Black” and “Nuln Oil Gloss”.  Interestingly, I found that the inks really rolled off the figures, and the “Black” paint really helped with the shading.

I then added a healthy coat of Citadel “Ardcoat” to all visor and lighted surfaces.  As a final highlight for Juggerbot and the Warbot weapon tips, I used Citadel “Retributor Armour”.

 

10 Juggerbot basecoated
Juggerbot mid-stage
11 Red original Mark III base coated mid stage
Early stage painting of Red Squad Warbot
12 Purple cast Mark III base coated mid stage
Early stage painting of Purple Squad Warbot
14 Green cast Mark III base coated mid stage
Early stage painting of Green Squad Warbot

I decided that I wanted to be able to differentiate between the two teams within each squad.  To do this, I experimented with kneadatite (green stuff) and Apoxie Sculpt and some numbered stamps.  I found that the Apoxie Sculpt was easier to form, stamp, and once dry, cut.  I applied these numbers to the figures’ bases with Gorilla Glue.

16 numbers applied
Figures with the numbers applied

I used Citadel “Imperium Primer” on the Apoxie Sculpt numbers, then added Citadel “Martian Ironearth” to them.  Then, I built up the bases with Citadel “Martian Ironcrust” with a light sprinkle of Army Painter “Black Battleground” for more texture.  After using both “Ironearth” and “Ironcrust”, I dried them to a crackly surface with a hand-held hair blow dryer.  I highly recommend this technique.

After a day of drying, I dry brushed the bases with Armory’s “Red Brown” and  “Brick Red”.  I filled the numbers in with “Imperium Primer” for all troopers, with the team leaders getting “Retributor Armour” on theirs.  Then it was back to the paint booth for two coats of varnish, this time with an Iwata Neo airbrush, allowing for adequate drying between applications.

17 varnishing in the paint booth
Juggerbot ready for varnish
18 varnished group shot
The platoon all varnished

I now needed to remove the figures from the bottles and coins.  The poster tack was easier to remove when I did not use the coins.  I lightly painted the underside of the bases with Craftsmart “White” so I could use a black fine-tipped Sharpie to write information on the figures’ bottoms.

25 Red Team Mark III Warbot conversion with Bombshell Mini particle beam
Red Team 1 conversion with particle beam weapon – this is the other original Warbot that had a broken weapon
26 Green Squad Mark III Warbots with SL
Green Warbot Squad with Khang Robot Squad Leader
27 Green Mark III Warbots with conversions
Left to right, regular trooper, particle beam weapon conversion, and arc weapon conversion of Green Squad
28 Purple squad Mark III Warbots with SL
Purple Warbot Squad with Khang Robot Squad Leader
29 Purple Mark III Warbots with conversions
Left to right, regular trooper, particle beam weapon conversion, and War Games Supply Dump weapon conversion of Purple Squad 
30 Blue Squad Mark III Warbots with SL
Blue Warbot Squad with Khang Robot Squad Leader
31 Blue Mark III Warbots with conversions
Left to right, regular trooper, particle beam weapon conversion, and War Games Supply Dump weapon conversion of Blue Squad
32 Juggerbot right side
Fear the Juggerbot!
33 Juggerbot front side
Coming at you
34 Juggerbot left side
Mr. Universe pose
34 Juggerbot rear view
The back view
40 Assembled Mark III Warbot Platoon, front view
Assembled Mark III Warbot Platoon, front view
41 Assembled Mark III Warbot Platoon, side view
Assembled Mark III Warbot Platoon, side view

I cannot express enough how much I like this platoon!  The figures started off pretty rough, but in the end, I was able to make a nice unit for tabletop gaming.  It did take me a couple of months, but it was worth it.  They will be in action this upcoming weekend, as they make their tabletop debut – stay tuned, and let me know your thoughts below!

 

 

 

 

September 2017 Gaming Night – Star Ducks Attack The Frinx!

To round out September, the Mass Pikemen Gaming Club ran a game during which the Star Ducks attacked the positions held by the Power-Armored Frinx.  Both of these forces are from Archive Miniatures circa 1979-1981.  You can learn more about their origins here.  Click on Star Ducks or Power-Armored Frinx to learn more about their platoons.  We used the Combat Patrol™ system, with modifications to approximate the abilities of the Star Ducks to use their jet packs, and the durability of the Frinx as a result of their power armor.  The Frinx also had the support of two Archive RVS86 “Robot Cooks” which were analogous to small self-propelled guns.

 

3-archive-robot-group-2-2011-completed
Two RV86 supported the Frinx

The scenario was one where the Frinx, led by Lieutenant Ma’k were defending some old ruined buildings that held some lost technology – and the Star Ducks, led by Duck Vader, were hell-bent on getting into the building and killing Frinx in general.  The Frinx, on their part, desired to dispatch the Star Ducks with extreme prejudice.

 

 

01 Sep 28 MP Gaming night
The Star Ducks advance in the foreground, the Frinx defend the buildings and barriers.

The Star Ducks used their jet packs to quickly advance towards the buildings on the Frinx’s left flank.  You can see the small purple rubber bands on the Star Ducks, which indicate the number of “jumps” that they have taken.  Due to limited fuel, the Star Ducks have only three jumps per game, but they do help!

 

 

02 Sep 28 MP Gaming night
Approaching the Frinx positions, the Star Ducks move quickly using their jet packs.

The initiative switched to the Frinx, who then bracketed them with bazooka fire.  The white rubber bands indicate wounds, while the glass beads indicate a team must take a morale check for each one the next time they are activated.  We use red rubber bands to denote a weapon that has jammed or is out of ammunition.  We also use black rubber bands to denote figures who are stunned.

 

 

03 Sep 28 MP Gaming night
The smoke from the Frinx anti-tank rockets surrounds the Star Ducks, as they take wounds from the explosions

In the middle of the table, a pitched ray gun/blaster battle left several dead and wounded Frinx.  The Star Duck team making this assault was however, annihilated, as Frinx Staff Sergeant A’Haze led his Frinx ably and directed their fire.

 

 

04 Sep 28 MP Gaming night
The Star Ducks do significant damage to the Frinx defending the barriers and slag mounds – note the dead Frinx, the multiple wounds, and the multiple morale pips.  The Star Duck A team was wiped out here.

The only Star Duck survivor in this area was Staff Sergeant Bufflehead.

 

 

05 Sep 28 MP Gaming night
SSG Bufflehead watches his A team die valiantly.

And then this happened…and the other RV86 was immobilized as well by bazooka fire from the other flank.

 

06 Sep 28 MP Gaming night

Meanwhile, back at the buildings, the Star Ducks jumped again, going over the ruined buildings, and assaulting the Frinx from the rear.  This move was met effectively by the Frinx with Platoon Sergeant First Class Grengelu’s automatic grenade launcher, wounding and killing several Star Ducks.

 

07 Sep 28 MP Gaming night
After the vertical envelopment, the Frinx make the Star Ducks pay.  Note Frinx LT Ma’k in the upper floor on the left – his blaster also hit several Star Ducks.

However, there were enough Star Ducks to close with the Frinx in hand-to-hand melee (or is it claw-to-wing?) and begin to clear the buildings.  SFC Grengelu was overcome and killed in the scrum.

 

 

08 Sep 28 MP Gaming night
Everybody gets in the fight!

 

 

09 Sep 28 MP Gaming night
SSG Bufflehead is surrounded by Frinx in melee

At this point, the game was called due to time and was determined to be a draw.  While the Star Ducks had cleared one building completely, and another one partially, they still had a couple more to go.  Casualties were high on both sides!

The game was a lot of fun and the battle was touch and go all night.  Once again, Buck Surdu’s Combat Patrol™ system demonstrated its great versatility and ease of play!

 

I hope you enjoyed this battle report – please share your feedback in the comments section!

Duck Vader and the Star Duck Platoon!

This was a very large project that ended up with producing a 45-figure platoon.  I hope that you find this story interesting, if only to see the determination I had to have to see this through!  I am going to give some background, and then show the photos for the finished unit.  After that, I will give a detailed description for my fellow hobbyists as to how I completed the various aspects of this unit – this will allow you to see the final product earlier in the blog – and those who want more details can go past the completed photos to see more detail.

 

0 Star Ducks originally
The beginning -my original 4 Star Ducks from an eBay estate sale.  Note the broken ray guns.  The broken ones made good candidates for conversions.

 

 

0 Duck Vader box
My Duck Vader box from eBay – this was a reproduction by Dark Ages miniatures, which like Archive, is no more.  Note Nevile Stocken’s name is misspelled.

 

Background

I first saw the Archive Star Ducks (#2002) and Duck Vader (#2326) on the Lost Minis Wiki as I was researching some other Archive Star Rovers figures.  These were made by Archive between 1977 and 1981 or so.  They are made of lead and tin alloy.  These were sculpted by Nevile Stocken.  He sent me the drawing below via Facebook Messenger.

00 Nevile Stocken drawing

The rights to some of Archive’s figures have been sold off a few times.  Several have been reproduced, but they are not currently in production.  I searched through eBay, and these are very hard to find.  I did manage to find only 4 Star Ducks and one Duck Vader, but that paltry number does not make a unit.  My stretch goal was to create a platoon for use with Buck Surdu’s Combat Patrol™ system for tabletop skirmish gaming.  I thought that I would need about 40 or more figures to make the unit, and I ended up with 45, which is a good size for a traditional platoon.  In this process, I ended up making a mold and casting 40 for myself and some for Buck as previously described in this blog and Buck’s.  I converted 4 Squad Leaders with War Games Supply Dump retro sci-fi weapons – which I was lucky to get as WSD closed on March 31st, 2017.  I converted 6 figures to make up the mortar crew, to include making the mortars, ammo boxes, and mortar rounds.  I also converted three figures to make up an Anti-Tank section (now known as the Bazookaducks) by arming them with Reaper Chronoscope bazookas.

 Platoon Organization

The platoon is composed of 45 figures as described below.  Five of the figures, including the platoon sergeant and the platoon leader are original castings.  The remaining 40 are all Star Ducks that I cast over the last year.

Star Duck Platoon

  • Platoon leader – Duck Vader (1)
    • Platoon Sergeant (1)
      • Duckfoot Mortar Section (6 figures)
        • Mortar Crew 1 (3 converted Star Duck figures as crewducks)
          • 1 loader
          • 2 crewducks
        • Mortar Crew 2 (3 converted Star Duck figures as crewducks)
          • 1 loader
          • 2 crewducks
    • First Squad (11 figures with tan gloves)
      • Squad Leader (1 converted figure with WSD weapon)
        • Team A (5 figures)
          • Team Leader (1) and 4 Star Ducks
        • Team B (5 figures)
          • Team Leader (1) and 4 Star Ducks
    • Second Squad (11 figures with light blue gloves)
      • Squad Leader (1 converted figure with WSD weapon)
        • Team A (5 figures)
          • Team Leader (1) and 4 Star Ducks
        • Team B (5 figures)
          • Team Leader (1) and 4 Star Ducks
    • Third Squad (11 figures with light green gloves)
      • Squad Leader (1 converted figure with WSD weapon)
        • Team A (5 figures)
          • Team Leader (1) and 4 Star Ducks
        • Team B (5 figures)
          • Team Leader (1) and 4 Star Ducks
    • Bazookaduck Section (4 figures with dark red gloves)
      • Squad Leader (1 converted figure with WSD weapon)
      • Bazookaducks (3 Star Ducks with Reaper Anti-Tank weapons)

The Completed Duck Platoon

 

37 PL and PSG complete
Platoon Sergeant and Duck Vader, Platoon Leader, frontal view.  The Platoon Sergeant is an E-7 (Sergeant First Class).  Duck Vader is a First Lieutenant.

 

38 PL and PSG complete back side
Platoon Sergeant and Duck Vader, Platoon Leader, reverse view.  Both are original.

 

44 Squad Leaders
The 4 Squad Leaders, converted with WSD weapons.  Each is an E-6 (Staff Sergeant).  From right to left, 1st, 2nd, 3rd Squad and AT Section leader.  I used different colors on the gloves, lapels, and helmet buttons to differentiate them for tabletop play.

 

 

45 TeamLeaders
The team leaders for each line infantry squad, with the same coloration of the Squad Leaders but with original Star Duck weapons.  The B teams for each squad have a unique tuft.  These are E-5’s (Sergeants).

 

 

39 1st squad moves out
First Squad moves out.

 

 

40 2nd squad in the rocks
Second Squad defends the lava mounds.

 

 

41 3rd squad in the rocks
Third Squad assembles.

 

 

42 AT section attacked
The Bazooka Ducks face off against Frinx Sphere tanks.  For scale, the sphere tanks are golf ball sized.

 

 

43 AT section
The Bazookaduck Section Leader (an E-5), and the three Bazookaducks with Reaper Chronoscope bazookas.

 

 

33 Mortar Section 1 complete
Mortarduck crew A with Duckfoot mortar.  The two outer crewmen have ammo boxes and rounds to prepare for the loader.  The loader is converted and holds a scratch-built round.  The mortar is scratch-built from a washer, a bolt extender, paper clips, servo parts, and green stuff.  Brown tufts designate this as crew A.

 

 

34 Mortar Section 1 complete view from left
Reverse view of crew A.

 

 

35 Mortar Section 2 complete view from front
Mortarduck crew B.  Made similarly to crew A, except this crew has green tufts.

 

 

36 Mortar Section 2 complete view from left
Reverse view of crew B.

 

 

31 Complete long view from right
The Star Duck Platoon in formation, view from the right.

 

 

32 Complete long view from left
Star Duck Platoon, reverse view.

 

Overall, I am very happy with the unit.  I did use Army Painter Quickshade  (Soft Tone) which darkened them much more than I expected.  The effect was acceptable, but some of my identifying colors were muted.

I will now go into the how-to’s of the making of the unit.

How to Section

  1. Conversions

All of the figures that I converted were missing the ray gun ends.  These were either original casts or my own.  I used a jewelry saw, wood carving knives, files, an awl, and an Exacto knife to remove the ray guns and make room for the weapons.  Some of the figures lost limbs in this process, but I was able to use green stuff to recreate arms and hands for these figures.  I drilled any “amputees” with a pin vise, and used 24 gauge wire as an armature for these.

a. Mortars and Mortarducks

The mortars and mortarducks were the first conversions I attempted for this unit.  I envisioned two teams of three – made up of a loader, and two crewducks with ammunition boxes.  I made the ammo boxes from Plastruct styrene plastic and special styrene adhesive.  I had acquired some Army Painter green stuff, and decided to give it a go for the mortars and rounds.  I ended up using my steel sculpting tools, but quickly learned that I needed something different for green stuff, so I got some silicone- tipped tools that worked much better (less stickiness problems).  I used paperclip wire with the green stuff for the mortar legs and the rounds.  I tried to make a form for the mortar round bases out of 1/8″ plywood, with mixed success.  Eventually, I found that correction with an Exacto knife was a good way to go.  I made the bases with Apoxie Sculpt and steel washers.  In the case of the mortar base, this made sense as I was able to make a strong base with room for the loader using two slightly different washers.  The mortars themselves were made with screw extenders, washers, and servo parts for a model airplane.  Testors super glue was the means by which I glued the rounds to the loaders and the ammo boxes.  Additionally, I found that having some small hobby mirrors from Michaels made the sculpting and assembly process much easier.  I decided to leave the two crewducks with their original weapons as the loader conversion had proved to be a lot of work and I did not think it made a difference as I already had the ammo boxes.

 

3 Mortar design notes
My mortar plan and notes

 

 

1 Mortar round example
Idea for mortar round sculpts

 

 

4 mortars start
Initial work on the mortar and the rounds

 

5 mortars start front
Early stage in sculpt

 

6 mortars start side
Early stage in sculpt, side view

 

7 mortars fixed feet initial front
Middle stage of sculpt, before Duckfoot alteration

 

8 mortars duck feet front
Duckfoot mortars!

 

 

 

 

 

 

13 Rounds
Mortar Rounds completed and painted

 

18 Mortarduck, 1st try
Mortarduck loader conversion in progress

 

 

 b. Bazookaducks

I wanted the unit to have an anti-tank capability beyond the mortars.  I had previously converted some Frinx for this purpose, and decided to do the same for the Star Ducks.  The bazookas are from Reaper and came with several other weapons.  I basically carved away the ray gun and made the bazookas “fit”.  There were amputees in this group, but I think the conversions worked well.

c. Squad Leaders

The squad leaders were simply converted with the same tools.  I gave them the War Games Supply Dump blasters from the Dirk Garrison line.

3. Painting and Basing

The biggest challenge with painting was the color orange – I had not used it much before – and it took several iterations of trying different combinations until I found what I liked.

a. Duck Vader

The sequence was as follows:

  1. Citadel “Imperium Primer” as a brush primer
  2. Armory “Gloss Black” on helmet
  3. Craftsmart “Orange” on feet and bill
  4. Tamiya “Orange” on feet
  5. Citadel “Ceramite White” on face and tail
  6. Reaper MSP “Blue Liner” around eyes and pupils
  7. Vallejo “Aluminum” on light saber beam
  8. Vallejo “Chrome” on light saber handle
  9. Vallejo “Steel” on chest details
  10. Vallejo “Medium Gunship Gray” on gloves
  11. P3 “Cygnar Blue Highlight” on eyes
  12. Citadel “The Fang” on eyebrows
  13. Citadel “Castellan Green” on base
  14. Citadel “Nuln Oil Gloss” on cape and fingers
  15. Citadel “Spiritstone Red” on light saber
  16. P3 “Flesh Wash” on tail
  17. Highlight cape with Vallejo “Black Grey”
  18. Vallejo “Black” and “Glazing Medium” on cape and mouth slit
  19. Deka Lack “Weiss” highlight on tail and face
  20. Vallejo “Gloss Varnish” on helm
  21. Army Painter “Anti-shine Varnish” on figure

 

11 Duck Vader base coated
Base coated

 

 

17 Duck Vader completed
Finished Duck Vader

b. Mortar and mortar rounds

 

  1. The sequence was as follows:

    1. Citadel “Imperium Primer” as a brush primer
    2. Armory “Gloss Black” on mortar base
    3. Vallejo “US Dark Green” on mortar rounds
    4. Tamiya “Titanium Silver” on mortar round tips and base
    5. Craftsmart “Orange” on Duckfoot mortar feet
    6. Tamiya “Orange” on feet
    7. Citadel “Athonian Camoshade” wash on mortars
    8. P3 “Sulfuric Yellow” on toes of mortar feet
    9. Highlight with Tamiya “Orange” on feet
    10. Citadel “Soulstone Blue” on mortar tip/fuse
    11. Vallejo “Olive Drab” on mortar and rounds
    12. Vallejo “Steel” and “Black Metallic” on mortar fins
    13. Citadel “Fire Dragon Bright” on mortar rounds
    14. Mounted the mortars and boxes and rounds on bases
    15. Bases painted with Citadel “Lustrian Undergrowth”
    16. Bases shaded with Citadel “Seraphim Sepia”
    17. Bases highlighted with Armory “Musket Brown”
    18. Bases highlighted with Citadel “Niblet Green”
    19. Mortar dipped in Army Painter “Quickshade (Soft Tone)”
    20. Mounted mortar and rounds got coat of Testors “Dullcoat”

c. Star Ducks

  1. Citadel “Imperium Primer” as a brush primer
  2. Citadel “Nuln Oil” on figures
  3. Citadel “Ceramite White” on face and tail
  4. Citadel “Fire Dragon Bright” on feet and bills
  5. Reaper MSP “Blue Liner” around eyes and pupils
  6. Citadel “Soulstone Blue” on eyes
  7. Citadel “The Fang” on the jacket
  8. Vallejo “Metallic Black” on helmets and infantry ray guns
  9. Vallejo “Copper” on fuel tanks
  10. Americana “Ebony” on trousers
  11. Vallejo “Black” on mouth slit
  12. Vallejo “Aluminum” on jet venturi on back
  13. Vallejo “Gold” and “Chrome” on ray guns
  14. Polly-S “Goblin Flesh” and Vallejo “Glaze Medium” on holsters
  15. Vallejo “German Grey” on ammo pouches
  16. Vallejo “Signal Red” on ray gun scopes
  17. Vallejo “Gold”, “Chrome”, “Copper”, and “Signal Red” on WSD blasters
  18. Different glove colors on lapels, helmet buttons, and gloves: Platoon Sergeant – Vallejo Metallic “Arctic Blue”; 1st Squad – Citadel “Ushabti Bone”; 2nd Squad – Americana “Bahama Blue”; 3rd Squad – Americana “Apple Green”; Bazookaducks – Polly-S “Demon Deep Red”; Mortarducks – Americana “Dioxazine Purple”
  19. Armory “Musket Brown” and Vallejo “Neutral Grey” on cigars
  20. Vallejo “Black” on bill vents
  21. Vallejo “Light Orange” and “Glaze Medium” as glaze on bills and feet
  22. Vallejo “US Dark Green” on bazookas
  23. Citadel “Athonian Camoshade” wash on bazookas
  24. Milliput (yellow) on bases
  25. Bases painted with Citadel “Lustrian Undergrowth”
  26. Bases shaded with Citadel “Seraphim Sepia”
  27. Bases highlighted with Armory “Musket Brown”
  28. Bases highlighted with Citadel “Niblet Green”
  29. Figures dipped in Army Painter “Quickshade (Soft Tone)”
  30. Figures coated with an application of Testors “Dullcoat”
  31. Used various Army Painter tufts and meadow flowers on bases to designate teams

 

21 Completed base coat
Base coated and ready for varnish
22 Completed base coat closeup bazooka
Close-up of unit pre-varnish
23 Completed base coat closeup mortarduck loader
Mortarduck loader, pre-varnish
28 Completed platoon sgt
Platoon Sergeant, post-dip
30 After milliput basing
Platoon post dip, with Milliput added to bases

 

To wrap up, I am very happy that the unit is done.  I am on the fence as to the use of the Army Painter “Quickshade” – the figures are darker and well-shaded, and should be well protected, but some details are obscured.  I enjoyed my new Vallejo products and found that they really worked well.  I also learned that orange as a color requires multiple applications and glazing to work well.

I learned much that I can use for future projects, and I hope that you enjoyed this blog entry.

Please leave comments and feedback!  Thanks!