This month, in between other projects and recovery, I worked on several terrain pieces for use with my Star Rovers figures and the Combat Patrol™ gaming system. Some I got earlier in the year from WorldWorks Games on Amazon, others I got on eBay that were from Armorcast Battlefield Scenery, others I made – and some I just don’t know who made them. I’m hoping to use these at The Battle Standard in Auburn soon after coordinating with the owner, Jared Brodeur.
Normally I have more detail (how-to), but I lost most of the details of these terrain projects, as I had a few that I had to rework. I think the pictures below are hopefully sufficient. I was really happy to try new techniques with rust applications using a “pointillism” technique with a combination of Polly-S (“Rust”) and Vallejo (“Rust” 71.069 and 71.080) paints. I mounted all of the terrain pieces on flat steel basing pieces.
The mostly Armorcast “set” I got on eBay were various refinery or industrial pieces that were airbrushed silver and gold, and that did not work for me. I wanted the industrial ones to be more dirty and rusty. I ended up painting some of them with various colors, and then using Army Painter Quickshade “Soft Tone” to shade. I was not happy with most of these results, especially the Quickshade effects. I repainted them, some with bright colors for the newer pieces of terrain, and with rust for the grittier ones, and then used spray varnish to seal. Luckily, the Testors “Dullcoat” actually had a “crackling” chemical effect on one of the industrial tanks which worked well – (note – this was not an Armorcast piece and was likely homemade with some type of Styrofoam). I was surprised as there was already a lot of paint and varnish on it at that point – but it was minimal and I liked it anyways.
The WorldWorks Games set consisted of a bunker, and three barricades. They are for 28mm for sure. The bunker was used, and difficult to assemble well with super glue. I ended up using steel base material, popsicle sticks, wood glue, and cardboard to assist in the construction. Here, I really liked my use of the rust pattern that I discussed earlier.
Lastly, I had three slag mounds that I mounted on two old CD’s. The slag was a byproduct of my casting projects. For these, I had a “Red Planet” plan, and used Citadel “Martian Ironcrust” and “Martian Ironearth” to good effect, as well as different washes.
It’s a good start and I’m sure I could use some buildings and other things, but that I will get to in due time!
As described earlier in this blog (here), I had acquired and cast some Archive Star Rovers figures – “Power-Armored Frinx” (#2040 or #2305) last year. As these were made between 1977 and 1981, it became difficult to acquire enough of them for a unit, and Archive no longer exists to purchase them. I cast several of them for myself and friends.
My goal was to create a platoon-sized unit of these Frinx for a retro-sci-fi battle using Combat Patrol™. My concept of these figures is that they are reptilian, and that they wear suits of “power-armor” that protect them, while negatively affecting their movement. They are armed with a blaster-type weapon. My castings did not pick up the details of the helmets which had a light-like feature similar to that of a miners helmet. What they did pick up yielded a look similar to a beret (if a helmet could become a beret), and I incorporated that feature into my painting scheme.
For fun, below is a catalog shot that came with my Star Rovers game. Note that it lists “Frinx” and “Nude Frinx”. I do have one of the latter, and its a Frinx out of armor!
After I had 32 figures, I organized them for the platoon. I needed to convert several troopers to make a platoon leader, a platoon sergeant, and an anti-tank section. I also plan on attaching the Mark 1 Sphere tanks I previously created into the platoon. The organization of the platoon is below.
Power-Armored Frinx platoon structure (32 fighting figures plus 3 vehicles):
I used a jewelry saw and some blades to remove the blaster on two figures, as well as the left arm on the platoon leader. I had some sci-fi weapons that I had gotten on eBay and from Buck Surdu (perhaps from War Games Supply Dump). I gave the platoon leader a light cutlass (instead of a light saber) and a blaster pistol.
I then moved on to the AT section, which reports to the platoon sergeant. After removing the blaster and shaving some space, I used a pin vise drill to make space for the bazookas on 3 Frinx. I used 3 bazookas from 3 Reaper Chronoscope Weapons Pack III’s (#5o234). I split the bazookas in half and sized them to the figures. For the platoon sergeant, I removed the blaster, and gave him a cool automatic grenade launcher.
I mounted all the figures on ¾” steel washers with wood glue, and let them dry. Subsequently, I used white glue to lightly mount the figures to numbered popsicle sticks. I covered the numbers with scotch tape, and primed the lot with Krylon “Ultra Flat Gray”. I then removed the tape so as to know what stick I was working on and have a reference point for the beginning and the end as painting units can cause one to forget. Using Citadel “Nuln Oil”, I gave the unit a wash to better identify their features. This gave me a surprise for the platoon sergeant!
The automatic grenade launcher already had a couple of hands on it! The Frinx hands are gloved – similar to say 1920’s Mickey Mouse for lack of a better comparison. I had to create a left arm with Milliput for the figure that would cover up the left glove and extend to the left hand under his weapon. For the right extra hand, I filled in the fingers with Milliput and made it look like part of the grenade launcher.
As far as my painting scheme, I wanted to try something new – and use a lot of metallic paint for a few purposes. First, to create the image of the “power armor” I used a series of DecoArt metallic paints. These had a side benefit of also allowing me to easier differentiate my squads into three (Jade, Pearl, and Amethyst). I used other Citadel Technical Paints to denote leaders, and parts of weapons. Additionally, I used a few Tamiya metallic paints as I will describe. The net effect of the metallic was to make this a difficult project due to the thicknesses of the metallic paints – but I think the results worked (but the reader can be the judge). These photos are ok, but I found it difficult to get the lighting right for them.
Basically, I had to abandon the typical assembly line approach I normally take to when painting units due to the properties of the metallic paints (especially the viscosity and the clotting). Thinning helped, but to get the desired effects I went slow and methodically. Each figure was base coated with a DecoArt Dazzling Metallic or Craftsmart metallic main color (DecoArt “Festive Red” for the platoon leader, Craftsmart “Sapphire” for the platoon sergeant, DecoArt “Festive Green” for the AT section, DecoArt “Crystal Green” for the Jade squad, DecoArt “Peacock Pearl” for the Pearl squad, and Craftsmart “Amethyst” for the Amethyst squad. Tamiya “Chrome Silver” was my choice for the breathing regulators, straps, part of the blaster sights, and the center of the helmets. Tamiya “Gun Metal” was what I used for the blasters and the remainder of the helmets. For the Frinx faceplates, gloves, and boots, I used another metallic, Craftsmart “Onyx”. The main part of the breathing tanks was coated with another metallic, DecoArt “White Pearl”, while the tanks themselves got Tamiya “Copper”. Inside the faceplates, I painted the eye wells with Citadel “Ceramite White”, then dotted the eyes with “Onyx”. Using Citadel Technical “Waystone Green”, I filled in the rest of the eye well, creating an eye. I ten used Citadel “‘Ardcoat” to create a lens-like effect on the faceplate – this took a while as I had to do one side at a time, and let each dry. I also used the “Chrome Silver” as a base for “Waystone Green” on parts of the blasters, the platoon leader’s light cutlass, and on the team leaders’ helmets. For the squad leader’s and platoon sergeant’s helmets, I used the same approach but with another Citadel Technical paint, “Soulstone Blue”. The platoon leader’s helmet got Citadel “Spiritstone Red” (yet another “Technical” paint).
I then used “Nuln Oil” for shade, and highlighted all the areas overly darkened by it with the original colors to add depth. For the black gloves, I used highlights of “Chrome Silver” intermixed and slightly covered by “Onyx”. For the bazookas, I used my first Vallejo paint, “US Dark Green” – and I loved the paint. It was so easy to use after all the metallics! I shaded the bazookas with Citadel “Athonian Camoshade”.
For the bases, I tried a new approach to hide the raised bases. Using Citadel “Lustrian Undergrowth” (a thick “Texture” product), I carefully filled in around each base. This was better than I thought as far as effects. After the bases were dry, I washed them with Citadel “Seraphim Sepia” and let them dry. I was able to dry brush the bases successively with Armory “Musket Brown” and Citadel “Niblet Green”. Due to the cold weather, I was not able to varnish at home. Luckily, my friend Jeff Smith has a nice heated workshop that he was kind enough to let me use. There I gave the platoon a couple of coats of Testors “Dullcoat”.
Lastly, I used tufts to better differentiate for play between A and B teams on the squads. Jade team A got one Army Painter “Swamp Tuft”. Pearl Team A got Army Painter “Wilderness Tuft”. Amethyst Team A got Army Painter yellow “Meadow Flowers”. The platoon leader and platoon sergeant got white “Meadow Flowers”.
I tried a number of new things for this project and learned some things:
I am happy to begin the 2017 blogging season with a very complicated project. While I began work on this project in December, I had been thinking about it since last May.
So what happened in May 2016? I was traveling for work, and sat down in a Cracker Barrel in Connecticut for breakfast (Uncle Herschel’s with a sweet tea of course). For those of you who have never been to a Cracker Barrel, there are always old photos and curios all over the walls. I looked to my left, and saw this on the wall:
I was amazed at this and wanted to dig in more and learn the date of this issue of Popular Science magazine and see what the article said. The article was just a paragraph with another picture – here is the link and a shot of the July 1936 article on page 37.
The concept of the “tumbleweed tank” tank was one of two outer shell halves rotating independently on rollers over a solid stationary sphere. More or less, the outer halves acted as the vehicle’s treads. I do not believe that anyone ever tried to build this as a combat vehicle, but I still found the concept fascinating and worthy of a project.
During the intervening months, I conceived of an idea that I could make a model of the tank, build a mold, and cast it for tabletop wargaming. As I have been building units of Star Rovers figures for sci-fi Combat Patrol™, my first thought was to make a retro-sci-fi tank, probably for the Frinx. I was not enthusiastic about the weapons design as shown in the magazine – machine guns alone would make this a very boring retro sci-fi tank. I also considered making it modular – so that I could adapt different weapons for it.
While thinking about it, I wanted to have a great sphere – and my sculpting experience is at best weak to nonexistent. I have seen a few blogs that I follow where folks are sculpting their own figures, and that helped to inspire me. As I also cast – this was a chance to go from beginning to end with the project. But what to use?
The answer came easily to me as a golfer – a golf ball! That would be an easy thing to work with and would afford me a chance to see what works. I had an idea that I wanted it to be armed with ray guns in the side sponsons. I had not decided on the main weapon, when I had a brainstorm – 1953’s War of the Worlds Martian Heat Rays!
So with this plan, I went forward to try to create my new Mark 1’s (what else to call them!). I thought that I could learn from the project (and I have). I used a “Line ’em Up” golf accessory to create lines on a used Callaway golf ball, and drilled a ½” hole in the side of the ball on two sides. I like the Callaway for this as it has hexagonal dimples.
After this, I used a Plastruct 2mm x 4.8mm styrene strip to size up the gap between the ball halves. I used my Dremel to cut the outer surface of the ball – it ended up being messy and needed a lot of Exacto knife work. The Dremel cutting blade tends to melt the outer ball cover – another lesson learned
I then needed to create the tread ridges. I used an Exacto knife to carve small channels along the lines for the treads. This took a lot of cutting! Using some old plastic membership cards, I cut out each tread, sized them to the holes, and glued them in with super glue.
I then drilled a ¼” hole for the attachment of a main weapon – which I would cast separately with the sponsons in a single mold. To build a base for the model, I used three 1¼” washers, and glued them together with wood glue. I then covered them with Apoxie Sculpt, leaving a hole to mount the ball to the base with a wood screw through the washer. This ended up being a base that I feel in the end was a little too tall, but usable, and castable.
I originally was going to use Milliput or Apoxie Sculpt for the sponsons – when I discovered these ½” Button Plugs from Lara’s Crafts – which were the right shape and fit perfectly into the holes on the sides (got lucky here). I bought a set of Niji woodcarving knives (which I wish I had when I was carving the treads and the middle gap!) and used them to make the sponson shells. After trial and error (where I learned the hard way that I needed to wear a cutting glove with these very sharp knives), I carved two sponsons and sanded down the middle slots.
I initially thought that I needed to smooth out the golf ball dimples and the tread cuts, so I first tried with Apoxie Sculpt, with poor results. My next attempt was with Citadel “Liquid Green Stuff”, which was better, but I think was an unneeded step.
I drilled a 1/8″ hole in the sponson shell, and mounted a short piece of Evergreen Scale Models strip styrene 1/8″ tube. For the ray guns, I turned to the use of model airplane parts. I used two Dubro products – a 2mm socket head cap screw with three 2 mm flat washers superglued to it. To line up the washers evenly, I found that using toothpicks on both sides and underneath to define the gaps and make the washers relatively parallel worked well. I inserted the guns into the ends of the styrene, after coring out the ends of the styrene rods for a better fit. Eventually, I primed the sponsons black with Citadel “Imperium Primer”, as I wanted there to be less tackiness to the Quick-Sil from the wood.
I then moved onto the main weapon, the heat ray. In the 1953 movie, the heat ray was rectangular, leading to the distinctive head. I eyeballed the length, and designed the head. I sculpted it in two stages, with the “eye” section being attached to the neck, which itself was on the Plastruct strip styrene.
I cut the styrene strip to size, and used more Apoxie Sculpt to make a mount that would fit into the main weapon recess. After it hardened, I saw that I would have to bend it in my mold, or otherwise I would have a very turtle-like appearance. As the styrene is flexible, this was not a problem. I made two two-piece molds with Castaldo Quick-Sil – one for the chassis and one for the weapons. I also tried some new innovations with venting with the use of some more model airplane parts – in this case flexible fuel lines that I cut for venting. As you can see below, I bent the heat ray in the mold to my desired shape.
In the end, the mold for the weapons worked very well, needing little work on the finished weapons. However, the chassis mold had a few issues. First, I knew as a golfer that golf balls compress when struck. What I did not realize was that there would be a strong interaction of the flattish sponson holes and the pressure exerted by the curing Quick-Sil on them at 90° angles. As a result, the cast ball would be visibly compressed somewhat. Additionally, the flow was not perfect – leading to my needing to add Apoxie Sculpt to the finished models’ chassis. Lastly, because the mold for the chassis was thick, and the casting was large, it took a long time to cool, and used a lot of metal (see phots for weight below in the blog). Unfortunately I discovered this when I opened the mold once and the metal flowed out! I will incorporate these lessons learned into the Mark 2’s.
I managed to successfully cast two chassis, and decided to use the master as well as I already had the mold. So I cast three sets of weapons, and assembled three tanks in total. I used some Apoxie Sculpt to fill in the gaps in the back where flow was less than ideal -and this worked fine. Next, I mounted the assembled tanks to a 1 5/8″ steel washer for magnetic storage in my gaming boxes.
I then primed the tanks with Citadel “Imperium Primer” – I must say I like this as a brush primer – it’s a nice product.
After priming, I moved on to painting them. Painting these proved to be challenging, especially the fully-cast models, due to the weight of the models. The metal ones weighed about 14 ounces, while the master weighed in at 4 ounces!
I used Citadel “XV-88” on the base and the chassis gaps. For the chassis and the heat ray, I based with Tamiya “Gun Metal”. I used several light coats and had a shiny finish to deal with – but a smooth one. The trick with Tamiya is a wet brush and a lot of shaking and shaking again. I then used another Tamiya metallic, “Chrome Silver” to paint the sponsons, the tread ridges, and the business end of the heat rays. I painted the tips pf the ray guns and the “eye” of the heat ray with “XV-88” and Citadel “Gehenna’s Gold” in anticipation of future colors. The base I gave an application of Americana “Ebony”.
I then used my new Citadel Technical paints. Remember that the Martian craft had orbs that were glowing green. To recreate that feel, I applied two coats of Citadel “Waystone Green” to the sponson tops and bottoms, the tread ridges, the chassis gaps, and the main portion of the heat ray. I also painted the first and last rings of the ray guns with this technical paint. I wanted the slot of the sponson to be a bit darker – and Secret Weapons Washes “Armor Wash” helped me to achieve that look. For the tips of the ray guns and the “eye” of the heat ray, Citadel “Spiritstone Red” gave a nice focal character to the weapons.
To accent the green, I shaded areas around the “Waystone Green” with Citadel “Nuln Oil GLOSSY”. As I was going to dull down the overall shiny paint job, I thought this would work better – and I think it did. I drybrushed the bases with Citadel “Mechanicus Standard Gray”, and then applied a light flocking with Army Painter “Ash Grey” on the washer alone.
I was now ready to varnish, and for the first time I used Army Painter’s “Anti-Shine” matte varnish. This is an aqueous varnish. I liked it, and am excited as varnishing in New England in the winter is always a logistical challenge. I uses 2 parts varnish to 1 part water, and applied with a fan brush lightly. It came out nice and smooth. After it dried, I sprayed the models with Testors “Dullcoat” is my cellar bulkhead after I got it warm enough. This enabled venting of the fumes outside after I was done and kept my wife from killing me when she got home!
To finish the models, I needed to deal with the elevated bases. Using a lot of Army Painter “Wasteland Tuft” applied with white glue, I was able to create an image of the tanks plowing through grass. They are heavy though, but sturdy.
Here are some close up photos of the final product.
I am very happy with how these came out. If I get enough interest, I may offer some for sale as kits. Certainly, these are my first real creations from conception to creating to molding to casting to painting. I learned a lot, and I am sure that my next iterations will be better.
They will be an excellent part of my Frinx forces for Combat Patrol™!