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:
We had a good showing on Saturday at the September Mass Pikemen Gaming Club session. We played an “Attack of the Warbots” scenario using the Combat Patrol™ system.
The biological Alliance (Star Ducks, Space Dwarves, Frinx, and Aphids) have captured a Warbot Mark 1 Sphere tank and are attempting to repair and convert it to their use. The Warbots have landed a large force and aim to deny their enemy this loss of technology. Can the Warbots be stopped?
This one, like all of the games that I run, was modified for playability based on experience and the number of available players. This time I also got to add some new terrain and my new Wastelands gaming mat (which I described here and here). I did not take as many pictures as I had wanted to – but what I have is below.
The Aphids held up the Warbot attack and were almost wiped out by the Warbots. However, they did delay them enough to achieve a victory, however, the tide of battle was about to turn so it could have ended differently. Time just ran out on the Warbots.
The photos below are the set up and a bit of initial play.
Set up from the attackers side. Reinforcements await deployment on the table’s edge.
This fun scenario, with some minor tweaks, will be coming to BARRAGE on 9/28/2018!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
For those interested, here is the list of the paints, etc. that I used in this project.
PAINTS, INKS, GLAZES, WASHES, AND FLOCKING USED:
Citadel “Imperium Primer”
Vallejo “Surface Primer – White”
Vallejo “Flow Improver”
Vallejo “”Airbrush Thinner”
Testors “Universal Acrylic Thinner”
Vallejo Game Air “Beastly Brown”
Vallejo Game Air “Dead White”
Vallejo Game Air “Moon Yellow”
Vallejo “Black Grey”
Citadel “Agrax Earthshade” (wash)
Reaper MSP “Grey Liner” (wash)
Vallejo Game Air “Black”
Vallejo Model Air “Black (metallic)”
Vallejo Mecha Color “Yellow Ochre”
Vallejo Mecha Color “Brown”
Vallejo Model Air “Rust 080”
Citadel “Ceramite White”
Tamiya “Chrome Silver X-11”
Tamiya “X-20A Thinner”
Vallejo Mecha Color “Turquoise”
Vallejo Model Air “Medium Gunship Gray”
Tamiya “Copper XF-6”
Tamiya “Gun Metal X-10”
Vallejo Game Air “Wolf Grey”
Citadel “Hexwraith Flame”
P3 “Green” (ink)
Secret Weapons Washes “Just Red” (ink)
Citadel “Soulstone Blue”
Vallejo Game Air “Fluorescent Red”
Citadel “Nuln Oil Gloss” (wash)
Secret Weapons Washes “Purple” (ink)
Vallejo Mecha Color “Yellow Fluorescent”
Vallejo Mecha Color “Sand Yellow”
Citadel “Seraphim Sepia” (wash)
Polly Scale “WWII British Aircraft Gull Gray Light”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
The only Star Duck survivor in this area was Staff Sergeant Bufflehead.
And then this happened…and the other RV86 was immobilized as well by bazooka fire from the other flank.
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.
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.
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!
I have long been searching for the Archive Miniatures Frinx on Glyptodon (#2042) from the Star Rovers line. This three-figure kit was made in 1978, and was composed of two power-armored Frinx riding a glyptodon. So what is a glyptodon? A glyptodon is basically a prehistoric armadillo – and the size of a small car. Its a quirky kit, reminiscent of a Tusken Raider riding a Bantha in Star Wars.
At long last, my good friend Buck Surdu acquired one kit at exorbitant price on eBay. The plan was to create some Frinx recon sections for use in retro-sci-fi games using the Combat Patrol™ gaming system by recasting.
The kit itself held two glyptodon halves, two rear feet, two bridle bits, one metal reins set, one forward facing Frinx, and one Frinx facing right. Clearly, I needed to consolidate in order to effectively cast this set via gravity casting. My first decision was to abandon any idea of casting the metal reins. I wanted to use the bridle bits, and use some string or similar material for reins when I paint the kit.
The bridle bits were very small as you see below. I used a small pin vise and drilled out a place for the bits on the glyptodon. I secured the bits with super glue, then filled in around them with green stuff. I also opened the bridle bits up, for if I left them closed they would not been locked in by the Quick-Sil and would not have cast well.
The other challenge was that the original glyptodon figure was not well formed or cast. There were large seam lines and gaps on each side. My concern was that this gap would wreak havoc with molding as the Quick-Sil RTV that I use would easily expand into every crevice. It also would look lousy.
As you can see, because the glyptodon was in two pieces with a hollowed out middle, I needed to address this and the seam issue. Therefore, I decided to fill the middle and the gaps with green stuff. I then affixed the rear feet with super glue, followed by adding green stuff around the gaps there as well.
While I smoothed out the seam lines, I still had unsightly lines that would show up on every cast. I decided to use more green stuff to add a band of tiny armor plates around the base to smooth out the seams – and it worked. I thought that I should keep the figure as original as possible, so the additional plates were left as a lower band, and not over the whole figure.
I then moved on to the riders, and was surprised to see the beginnings of lead rot under their saddles. This discovery made me very happy that I was going to preserve this kit through cleaning and ultimately recasting. I did my best to clean off the oxidation with soap, water, a toothbrush, and an aqueous pewter cleaner.
I made two new mold designs – one for the glyptodon and one basic type for the two riders as shown below. The major concerns that I had with the glyptodon mold were easy flow of alloy, adequate venting, and adequate cooling with so much molten metal. With the smaller molds, I had the same, but I really just wanted great details.
All three molds worked well, with small modifications to ensure good casting. I was able to successfully cast 14 sets (42 total figures).
You can see below a comparison of the recasts and the master figure.
They are officially now in my painting queue (which has grown a bit long so I will wait to cast more figures until I have painted some). Overall, I am pleased with how they came out – please let me know your thoughts in the comments section!
It’s been a bit busier on the gaming front. Jared Burns (USAFA ’04) and I (USMA ’84) got together last Sunday afternoon in preparation for the launch of the Mass Pikemen Gaming Club . We play-tested Combat Patrol™ with Star Rovers figures that I have previously posted about in this blog, as well as an X-Wing game.
The scenario was one where the Frinx and some Aphids were protecting RT22 in a bunker behind an old factory. The Star Ducks, led by Duck Vader, were attacking to seize RT22, using their jet packs to quickly assault through the open ground which the Frinx had covered with anti-tank weapons. I gave the Star Ducks 3 chances in the game to use their jet packs at 3 movement cards per try – and that worked well rules-wise.
Highlights of the battle! There was a grenade-throwing fest in the center (one of my grenades scattered back into me adding to my losses) between one Star Duck team and a green Aphid team. This resulted in multiple casualties, especially when one of my Aphid’s grenade attacks rebounded from a rock, but the Star Ducks had the better of that fight.
I gave Duck Vader the ability to deflect incoming direct fire, but I got lucky. Duck Vader was in the open at short range and got lit up by two Frinx bazookas and the Frinx platoon sergeant with an automatic grenade launcher. End even though I gave him a 5 endurance, his goose (or rather duck) was cooked with about 7 wounds. His demise then caused the entire Star Duck force to lose heart, effectively ending the game.
We then played X-Wing, and it was time for the USAF guy to beat (really thrash) the Army guy…ironic…he was the Empire so the day evened out. It was a good playtest for our first game night on July 27th. Jared did a nice job in teaching me the game – and then avenging the previous game. He was the Empire, and I was the Rebels with two ships each.
I really liked the game and the ease at which I learned the basics. Thanks to Jared for a great day!