Folder Bot 3000

I decided that I needed a short break from building and painting Aztecs – for at least long enough to paint one miniature anyways. This one is called “Folder Bot 3000” from Armorcast Terraform Terrain Ltd.’sRobot Townies” collection. There are a number of unusual robots and Futurama-inspired lookalikes there. I bought this Folder Bot 3000 on a lark when I got some other terrain stuff from Armorcast a few years back. I do like robots and I do like Futurama and Bender, so I got this one.

(Oh hell, its really supposed to be Bender Bending Rodriguez – aka Bender – so let’s call him that !).

The figure stayed on my painting desk in its baggie as I worked on many other projects. This is definitely not my usual practice as I really had no place to properly categorize and put him away for a future game. It was finally Bender’s time…

The figure differs from Bender a bit – his chest “door” hinges are on the right, while the cartoon version’s are on the left, but otherwise it’s similar enough.

The Folder Bot 3000 figure as received. The casting quality was a bit off of what I had expected. For example the figure’s legs and arms did not line up perfectly during the casting process – leading to misalignments of the limbs’ rings. There was some flash and some pitting on the head, necessitating some filing and filling on top of the needed drilling and pinning of the arms, legs, and head.
The figure as assembled. I used E6000 epoxy as I wanted a strong bond on the components, but this proved to be a bit of a mess. I have a love/hate relationship with E6000 as it needs a day to cure properly and sometimes it goes where you don’t want it to go. Here, it needed to be removed from other robot surfaces that needed to be smooth. It does clean up with an Exacto blade and tweezers, but its a pain, and because its clear, you don’t always see it all.

I used a 1″ steel washer to mount the figure in lieu of the plastic base. After I assembled the figure, I saw that there were gaps under the arms and they were not fully affixed. There were also some pitting on the figure’s head and back, necessitating my using green stuff as a remedy. In retrospect, I should have just used green stuff to assemble him.

I also saw that the figure just had an empty slit for the “eyes”, and a tiny flat space for the “mouth”. Anyone familiar with Bender knows that he has very expressive “eyes” and a wavy three-lined electronic “mouth”. One of my goals in painting him was to make him as “cartoony” and 2-D as possible. There was no way that I was going to be able to paint the eyes in the slit effectively or to freehand paint the wavy mouth as the figure was then.

I decided to try to sculpt the eyes and the mouth with green stuff. I admire people like Roger at Rantings From Under the Wargame Table who are much better at sculpting with green stuff than I am (as shown by his efforts here). Undaunted, and inspired by Roger (but a little worried), I used green stuff to fill the slit, make eye holes, and to try to sculpt the “waves” on the mouth. The result I achieved is shown below.

Here is Bender after I had filled in the gaps on the limbs and head, smoothed/filled pits, and sculpted the eye holes and the mouth “waves”.

I was not happy with the “eye holes” and did not think that I could paint them as “expressive” like in the cartoon. I also did not think that the handle on his chest was big enough – so I used a pin vise to drill out all three. I then carefully cut and filed pieces of paper clip and glued them into the eye holes. This seemed better to me visually – and would be far easier to paint.

Bender after drilling out his chest and fixing his eyes.

As I mentioned, I wanted a cartoon-like miniature. This meant that I would by necessity be limiting any highlighting or excessive shading. Therefore, I also decided that this would be a good opportunity to try to use the Vallejo “Metal Medium” that I had bought to try over two years ago to mix with paints to create a metallic finish that would be in line with the cartoon. This would hopefully prevent me from needing to use any actual metal paints. he would have some shiny aspects, but hopefully not excessive.

I was now ready to prime and paint old Bender.

Bender after priming.

In line with my painting approach, I decided to wash the primed figure with “Nuln Oil” to give myself a better idea of where to apply the paint/metal medium mixtures. The wash really showed the casting misalignments on the legs and arms, and where some of the errant E6000 had gone. No worries, as I knew that I could both remove the more egregious excess epoxy and hide the casting errors as I painted. I used three different shades of gray, adding the Vallejo “Metal Medium” in a 50/50 mix (all the paints used are listed at the end of the post for those interested).

Bender after the wash – you can see the misalignments and excess epoxy issues that I described.

The painting was fairly straightforward. I used the darker colors on the limbs to hide the misalignments. The mouth was just OK, given how I had to sculpt it. I used some “Nuln Oil GLOSS” on the limbs to accentuate their ring-like construction.

Bender painted but before final base work and varnish. At this point I found a bristle or hair embedded in the paint on the back of his head that required fixing (ugh).
Bender with the image I took from the internet as a general guide.

To finish him up, I used a Citadel texture paint (“Astrogranite debris”) on the base and the added a a few colors by dry brushing similar to what I did with my Retrovian platoon. Lastly, I added a satin varnish as I wanted his paint job protected but not too matte.

Bender completed.
If there were no colors but grey, he’d look like this in an old movie serial!

This guy is not my best work, but not my worst. At tabletop distance he looks fine, and hopefully will put a smile on some gamer’s face. I just needed a change for a bit and the work on this little guy provided that for sure. I’ll probably use him in a retro sci-fi game of Combat PatrolTM at some point. I could have sculpted a cigar or a beer battle or two for old Bender, but I decided that was a bit too much for me.

And if Bender does not like that…

Thanks for looking – I am entering this small project into Azazel’s extended July/August community painting challenge in the “hero” category – cartoon robot division (I just made that last part up). Please feel free to comment below – always appreciated.

PAINTS, INKS, GLAZES, SHADES, WASHES, PIGMENTS, FLOCKING, GLUES AND MORE THAT I USED ON THE “FOLDER BOT 3000”:

  1. Gorilla Glue
  2. 1″ Everbilt Steel Fender Washers
  3. Paper clips
  4. E6000 Epoxy
  5. Poster tack
  6. Kneadatite (“green stuff”)
  7. Vallejo “Surface Primer – White Primer”
  8. Vallejo “Flow Improver”
  9. Vallejo “Airbrush Thinner”
  10. Testors “Universal Acrylic Thinner”
  11. Citadel “Nuln Oil” (wash)
  12. Vallejo Game Air “Wolf Grey”
  13. Vallejo “Metal Medium”
  14. Citadel “The Fang”
  15. Vallejo Model Color “Neutral Grey”
  16. Vallejo Model Color “Glossy White”
  17. Vallejo Model Color “Glossy Black”
  18. Citadel “Nuln Oil Gloss” (wash)
  19. Vallejo Model Color “Mahogany”
  20. Vallejo Model Air “Weiss” (off-white)
  21. Vallejo Game Air “Black”
  22. Citadel “Astrogranite Debris”
  23. Citadel “Druchi Violet” (wash)
  24. Citadel “Steel Legion Drab”
  25. Citadel “Warpfiend Grey”
  26. Citadel “Slaneesh Grey”
  27. Vallejo Model Color Varnish “Satin Varnish”

Combat Patrol and What a Tanker games – My TotalCon 34 Recap

It’s been about a month since the last gaming convention I attended, and my how the world has changed.  I cannot see how a large convention could be held right now (though Cold Wars indeed happened in Pennsylvania this weekend).  There are a few upcoming gaming cons in obvious risk – and for now I think it useful to blog and paint and reflect back until this COVID-19 crisis passes (and that it will).  Best wishes for health and happiness to all my readers all over the world, from the US to Australia to the UK, All across Europe, and Africa and Asia. Now with everything at a lock down or a standstill due to the coronavirus crisis, I thought it was a good time to write a post about the games at my last convention as a distraction.

I had promised you great readers a few battle reports from TotalCon 34.  It was a very large convention with around 600 attendees.  Miniature games were a smaller offering there compared to RPG, LARP, board games – and a number of other offerings with which I was unfamiliar!

The convention was held from February 20-23, 2020 at the Best Western Conference Center in Marlborough, MA.  I had signed up to run four games – two on Friday and two on Saturday.  Two were Combat Patrol™ retro sci-fi games – “Space Cowboys versus Giant Zombie Cosmonauts” and “Attack of the Warbots” with my mostly OOP collections from Archive Miniatures, Mega Miniatures, War Games Supply Dump (and my own creations).  The other two were scenarios for What a Tanker© that I have created and discussed previously in this blog: “Battle of France May-June 1940” and “Normandy Breakout!“.

Running four different games in two days was a challenge (my vehicle was full of mats, terrain, and miniatures) but I pulled it off well enough I believe.  I’ll share some photos and some descriptions of the action.  I think the players had a good time.  This post will be pretty photo-heavy.

The first game I ran was on Friday was “Space Cowboys versus Giant Zombie Cosmonauts“.  I had four players (though I could have accommodated 9).  It turned out that I had two seasoned gamers on the defending Space Cowboys side and two younger players on the attacking Giant Zombie Cosmonaut/Martian/Retrovian side.

02212020 TOTALCON Space Cowboys versus Giant Zombie Cosmonauts
My flyer for this game – the space on the right is for business cards to share information about my gaming club –  the Mass Pikemen Gaming Club.

1 set up from defenders side
View from the defenders’ side.  They must save the chemical plant from destruction or kill The Mind.

2 set up from attackers side
View from the attackers’ side.  They must destroy the chemical plant in 10 turns or less.

1 SC vs GZC setup
The game set up at TotalCon 34.

2 SC vs GZC setup
Retrovians prepare to attack.

3 SC vs GZC setup
Close up of the chemical plant before the defenders deployed.  I allow the defenders to deploy by any barrier or the chemical plant.

4 Retrovians attack
The attackers ponder their next move.  The defenders moved and took up good defensive positions in and overlooking the wadi.

5 SC take casualties
On the attackers’ left flank, Retrovian fire begins to take its toll on the defending Space Cowboys (aka Texican Space Rangers).

6 Martians take casualties in wadi
On the other side of the table, Martian infantry attempt to charge across the wadi.  Effective rifle fire decimates the Martians in the open.  The stack of cards on the right indicates a pile of Martian KIA that ran into a hail of cowboy lead.

7 GCZ take casualties and move towards wadi
The Mind and its Giant Zombie Cosmonauts get close to the wadi, while Retrovians provide supporting fire.

8 SC squad runs away
The Retrovian fire is too much for one squad of Space Cowboys, which fails a morale check and skedaddles for cover.

9 Robo servo gun and Brasheer knocked out
Carnage ensues.  A Robo-Servo gun is destroyed (black smoke), while another gun destroys a Retrovian three-legged assault pod.  The fleeing Space Cowboy squad from the previous shot is in the upper left.  The Mind is breaking through in the top center, but many of its zombies have taken hits to legs and are falling away from the advance.

10 Brain is killed
As the protecting zombies fall away, the platoon sergeant, Armando Garcia, jet packs next to The Mind in a desperate attack.  The Mind had a 60% chance to react to the move and preemptively fry the Space Cowboy, but failed in the attempt.  SFC Garcia fired his assault rifle and killed The Mind, ending the game.

The game was a blast.  The defenders took up good positions but the attackers’ pressure was building to a decisive point.  Unfortunately, The Mind became vulnerable and the defenders’ gambit worked this time.  The players quickly got used to the Combat Patrol™ system.

The next game was later that night, when I ran “Attack of the Warbots”.  I have run this game several times, and it always is a crowd pleaser.

02212020 TOTALCON Attack of the Warbots
My flyer for the game.

I had about 8 players for the game.  The attacking Warbots made good progress initially in breaching the wall.  However, the defenders jet-packed their bazooka-armed Star Ducks onto unprotected rooftops – and got pretty shot up.

1 Attack of the Warbots set up
The Biological Alliance is in an “Alamo” type of a defense, with a massive force of Warbots attacking from this side, and an allied Martian force (yup they showed up in this game too) from the opposite side.

2 wall is pierced
The Warbot on the far right uses a plasma beam breacher (basically a long disintegrator ray) to piece the defenders rusty wall.  This kicks up a lot of smoke from the vaporized material.  The Warbot that did this uses a lot of energy in the effort and is stunned for three turns while recharging (hence the multiple “stun” placards).

3 targets on the roof
More Warbot destruction ensues as they fire another plasma beam breacher through the Aphid position in the center.

4 Mark 1 Sphere tank stunned by attacking Frinx
Frinx cavalry (on glyptodons) armed with anti-robot arc weapons and blasters charge!  They manage to stop a Mark 1 Sphere tank with a non-penetrating hit that stuns it at the walls edge.

5 The other Mark 1 Sphere tank attempts to flank
On the left Warbot flank, a defending Space Roo player checks to see if his RPG-armed Space Roo can engage the other Warbot Mark 1 Sphere tank.  It could, and at extreme range knocked out the other Warbot tank.

5a end of game
The end of the game found the captured Warbot tank repaired and capable of driving off of the board.  Therefore, a Biological Alliance victory!

6 After Battle
Happy gamers (and me) after the game are all smiles!

After this game, (which was around 11:00 PM+), I and some of the players cleaned this all up.  As my next game was in the morning at 8 AM, I set up my Normandy Breakout! scenario for What a Tanker©!  I have a lot of  bocage (hedgerows) for this game as you will see.  I got set up, and ambled off to my hotel room for a few hours of shut-eye.

02222020 TOTALCON Normandy Breakout!
My flyer for the game.

This scenario is as described on the flyer above, but to be clear, the Germans are in hidden positions across the board known only to them and the GM (me).  Additionally, the exact force composition selections on both sides are done secretly, as each side buys vehicles and Bonus Attack cards with points.  Each side starts with 200 points.

Points are earned by the Allies (US and UK) for successfully reconnoitering hidden positions (which could have either possible or actual Germans there), for knocking out Germans, and for crossing the board and breaking out.  Germans earn points for unreconnoitered positions, knocking out Allied vehicles, and can get a game bonus for limiting Allied crossings to zero or no more than 1 vehicle.  The Germans vehicles are more expensive, so their defensive benefits need to be offset by successful ambushes and an overall defense against any Allied breakout.  I announce only who is winning at the beginning of each turn, but not the exact score – so as to keep the game feeling crew-focused.

I had between 4 and 6 players (some joined mid-game).  The Germans went initially with two 8-wheeled scout cars (an Sd.Kfz. 231 and an Sd.Kfz. 233, a Panther D, and a Tiger I, all of which deployed secretly.  They loaded up on Bonus Attack cards as well.

The US deployed on the left half of the board, and the UK/commonwealth on the right half.  The US chose an M5 Stuart light tank (with recon abilities) and an M10 Wolverine tank destroyer to start, while the Brits took a Daimler Dingo scout car and an M4 Sherman.  The Allies also maxed out their Bonus Attack cards possibilities.

1 Dingo and Achilles move out
The Americans move up their M10 Wolverine “Demon”, while behind a British Daimler Dingo recons a field.

On turn 1, the Allies spent 71 points on vehicles and cards.  They successfully reconned 5 positions at 2 points each for 10 points, leaving them with 139 points at the end of the turn.  The Germans spent 88 points on vehicles and cards.  The German Tiger I ambushed and knocked out the British M4 Sherman for 14 points.  At the end of turn 1, it was close – 139 to 126 in favor of the Allies.

On turn 2, the Allies respawned another British M4 Sherman for the destroyed one, and bought 1 more Bonus Attack card.  This new vehicle was at no cost as the replacement cost as much as the previous loss (the Germans did get more points for killing that previous Sherman on turn 1).  The M10 Wolverine rolled a great movement, and was able to breakout successfully, gaining the Allies 16 points and taking away half of any potential German end-of-game bonus for preventing Allied vehicle crossings.  On turn 1, the US M5 Stuart had been able to move into a field and successfully recon a position where an Sd.Kfz. 231 was hiding.  On turn 2, the Stuart activated first, and destroyed the German scout car, gaining 11 more points for the kill. The Germans for their part bought two more Bonus Attack cards for 10 points.  Overall, the Germans had a weak turn, and only recovered 2 points by activating their Sd.Kfz. 233 before the US could find it.  The successful M10 “Demon” crossing widened the score at the end of turn 2 to 161-118 in favor of the Allies.

2 Sd.Kfz. 231 is pursued by M5 Stuart with Brit M4 Sherman burning
At the end of turn 1, the M5 Stuart chased down a German Sd.Kfz. 231 in a field.  The M5 activated first in turn 2, and destroyed the German scout car.

On turn 3, the Germans knew that they were losing, but not by how much.  They made a bold move and chose an expensive new tank for a respawn of their lost Sd.Kfz. 231 – a Tiger II.  The net cost was 18 points after “credit” for the “trade-in” in lieu of a free respawn of another Sd.Kfz. 231.  Adding another Bonus Attack card brought the German spend for turn 3 to 23 points.  The US player got a free respawning replacement M10 for the one that crossed on turn 2, so the Allies spent no points at all on turn 3.  They did earn 6 points for reconning German positions.  The Germans got a bit of revenge as a Panther activated and took out the M5 that killed the Stuart for 12 points, and the Tiger I moved to a crossroads and took out a second British Sherman for 14 points.  The score at the end of turn 3 was 167-123 in favor of the Allies.

3 early game action with Tiger etc.

Turn 3 action – the destroyed the German scout car is the left.  The Tiger I has moved to an excellent position at the crossroads and has knocked out the second Brit Sherman.  The Panther (not seen ) was hiding at position “F”, and activated.

4 Panther avenges Sd.Kfz.231 by taking out Stuart
The M5 Stuart was no match for the activated Panther.

On turn 4, the Allies decided to get three more vehicles.  Two were respawning ones for turn 3 losses – the US got a “free” M5 to replace the one killed in turn 3, and the Brits “upgraded” its second lost M4 Sherman to an M10 Achilles tank destroyer “Tabitha”.  They also bought another M4 Sherman for a new very young player that joined the game, and a couple of Bonus Attack cards.  The Allied spend was 24 points.  The Germans only bought 1 card, for 5 points.

During turn 4, the Daimler Dingo had a fun time.  It successfully reconned the hidden position of the Tiger II!  Then, scared for its survival, it and its crew sped off down the road to cross the other side  – gaining 7 points for crossing and thereby nullifying any potential German end-of-game bonus.

The Brit side then flanked the Tiger I at the crossroads with the M10 Achilles “Tabitha”.  It took a quick flank shot on the German, and did some damage.  It then called in the RAF (with a Bonus Attack card) which destroyed the Tiger I for a big 25 points.  The Allies successes widened the score at the end of turn 3 to 177-118 in their favor.

5 Dingo finds Tiger II
Surprise!  Daimler Dingo finds a Tiger II and takes off before it can be destroyed.

6 Young player and his Dad use a SHerman
A young player takes command of a Sherman for the US.

7 lots of action and Tiger I hit by USAAF
The Tiger I is destroyed in the crossroads by the RAF.

Turn 5 would be the last turn of the game.  The Allies respawned another Daimler Dingo for the one that crossed in turn 4, and bought a couple more Bonus attack cards, spending only 10 points.  The Germans were despondent, and decided to buy a Jagdpanther and a Bonus Attack card for 29 points.

The M10 Achilles “Tabitha” fresh off the combined arms kill of the Tiger I maneuvered for a rear shot on the Panther – and killed it for 22 points.  The Germans tried to hunt down a fleeing M5 Stuart.  It lined up a deadly point-blank rear shot on the Stuart – only to miss the shot.  It was emblematic of the German sides day.  After another position was reconned, the day belonged to the Allies.  The final score was a lopsided 191-89 in favor of the Allies.

This was the biggest disparity in this game ever (and I have run it many times).  In my opinion, the Germans did not keep their eyes on the objectives.  They also did not effectively take advantage of their ambush positions, and left too many openings for the Allies, who maneuvered their lesser vehicles much better than their foes.  With that said, all had a fun game.

8 Jagdpanther hunts M5 Stuart
Turn 5 – the M5 Stuart is missed by the Jadgpanther.

With some help from players, the tabletop was cleaned and it was time to take a break.  I could have played a game but I decided to spend the next game slot relaxing as I felt a but tired.

My next game was on Saturday night – “The Battle of France, May-June 1940” for What a Tanker©.  The scenario reverses the previous game a bit, with the Germans attempting to break through the French defenses and head to the channel and cut off the Allied forces in Belgium.  There are also two different Bonus Attack card decks that I made for this scenario.  I described this scenario in my blog previously here.

02222020 TOTALCON Battle of France 1940
My flyer for the game.

I had originally 10 players signed up for this game, with 2 on a waiting list.  I was disappointed that I only had 5 players show up – but it was fine.  I had two German players and three French players.

Each side had 200 points at the start.  Here again, the exact force composition selections on both sides are done secretly, as each side buys vehicles and Bonus Attack cards with points.  Points here are earned by the Germans for successfully reconnoitering hidden positions (which could have either possible or actual French located there), for knocking out French vehicles, and for crossing the board and breaking out.  The French earn points for unreconnoitered positions, knocking out German vehicles, and can get a point bonus for limiting German crossings to zero or no more than 1 vehicle.  Similar to the Normandy Breakout! game, I announce only who is winning at the beginning of each turn, but not the exact score.  This definitely keeps the game feeling crew-focused.

There are a couple more key additional nuances to this scenario.  There are two bridges, and the French player can spend points to wire one, both or neither bridge for demolition.  Any French attempts at demolition may be tried at any time, but are not guaranteed.  They also get a “free” small minefield (that is not very effective) that is also secretly set at the beginning of the game.  The French decided to wire the bridge on their right flank for demolition prior to the game, leaving the one on their left with the small minefield next to it.  During the game (which I will discuss), the French did blow the bridge on the right, and were able to fool the Germans into believing that the other was wired as well.  This rendered the minefield a non-factor in the game, but made the Germans attempt to ford the river.

The Germans decided to buy 2 6-wheeled Sd.Kfz. 231’s and a Panzer 38(t) on turn 1.  They also maxed out on Bonus Attack cards for a total of 50 points spent.  The French deployed in hidden positions (half the tabletop is designated as under the control of French cavalry tanks, and the other half (mainly the town area) is under the control of French infantry tanks.  The French bought a Panhard 178 armored car, a Char B1 bis, and a SOMUA S35.  Their initial purchases all had radios (some French tanks do not), so they were able to max out their Bonus Attack cards.  The total initial French spend was 71 points, including the wiring of the right flank bridge.

During turn 1, the Germans drove one of their scout cars onto the right flank bridge, and the French successfully destroyed the bridge with the German on it, gaining 11 points.  This also spooked the Germans to avoid the bridge as they feared it was also wired (and it was not!).  After this the Germans were forced to use fords to attempt crossing the river.  The Germans did successfully recon one possible hidden position for 2 points.  The score at the end of turn 1 was 152-140 in favor of the Germans.

On turn 2, the Germans respawned a Panzer IVD for the lost Sd.Kfz. 231 at no net point cost.  They also reconned a couple of French potential positions for 4 more points.  The French bought an additional SOMUA S35 for the cavalry for 10 points, and uncovered three of their own positions in order to meet a table-crossing threat from the surviving Sd.Kfz. 231 and a Panzer 38(t).  This gained them 6 points.  The Panzer 38(t) is a fast light tank, and was able to ford the river, along with the other scout car.  The French recognized this threat, and attempted to deal with it by activating its vehicles in the town.   The Germans used a Bonus Attack card to bring down smoke and obscure their movements.  The score at the end of turn 2 was 156-136 in favor of the Germans.

1 Sd.Kfz. 231 and Panzer 38(t) skirt the town
The Panzer 38(t) on the left and the Sd.Kfz. 231 (6-rad) on the right successfully ford the river, fearing that the bridge was wired for demolition (it wasn’t).  They get ready to dash off the table into the vulnerable French rear.

2 Germans plan their assaults and roll dice
The Germans get some excellent movement rolls.

3 Char B1bis moves out in town
The French react and send tanks such as their Char B1 bis to stop the penetration by the Germans.

4 German smoke screen blocks Char B1
The Germans foil the Char B1 with a smoke screen.

On turn 3, the French hurriedly bought a Renault R40 for 8 points and tried to use it to stop the crossings.  The French also bought more Bonus Attack cards for 15 points.  The Germans bought nothing.  During the turn, the Germans successfully crossed the Panzer 38(t).  This despite the fact that at first the Char B1 crossed the smoke and missed it, and then the R40 shot at and missed it.  This crossing earned the Germans 8 points, and limited the French end-of-game bonus chances.

On the cavalry side of the table, the Germans tried another smoke screen to protect a Panzer IVD as it crossed a ford.  one of the smoke rounds hit the river mud and did not ignite – leaving a hole in the smoke screen.  The French cavalry S35 did manage to shoot and damage the Panzer IVD on the other side, just after it forded the river.  This pushed it back into the river.  The French SOMUA then called in and then destroyed it with an artillery barrage using a Bonus Attack card, earning 8 points as well (and blocking that ford).  The Germans also reconned another of the hidden positions for 2 points.  However, the Sd.Kfz. 231 made it to within 1″ of the other side of the table – and the R40 had a rear shot aimed at it at turn’s end.  The score at the end of turn 3 was 166-124 in favor of the Germans.

5 Sd.Kfz. 231 escapes R40 and Panzer 38(t) sees Char B1
The Char B1 crosses the smoke and takes aim at the Panzer 38(t) – and misses.  An R40 activated and missed the Panzer 38(t) as well.  The Panzer 38(t) then rolled well and was able to cross the table.  The German Sd.Kfz. 231 almost made it off of the table and was in the R40’s sights as turn 3 ended.

6 On other flank, bridge blows and fords attempted
The German smoke screen imperfectly covers the Panzer IVD after it fords the river…

7 Panzer IV knocked into ford and knocked out
The Panzer IVD is pushed back into the ford and destroyed by artillery and SOMUA fire.  This blocks the ford (to the consternation of the following Panzer 38(t)!).

On turn 4, the Germans respawned the crossing Panzer 38(t) and the destroyed Panzer IVD for identical models, and added a Bonus Attack card for a total spend of only 5 points.  The French bought 3 Bonus Attack cards in the hope of stopping the German scout car from crossing.  The R40 activated first, and then missed the Sd.Kfz. 231.  The German scout then crossed, ending any chance of a game bonus for the French and earning 11 points for the Germans.  The score at the end of turn 4 was 172-109 in favor of the Germans.

I failed to get any more photos after turn 4 (I think I was getting tired!)

On turns 5 and 6, the French were getting desperate as they knew they had lost the game bonus.  They bought an Hotchkiss H35, and a SOMUA S35 took out another Panzer IVD.  The Germans bought a StuG III ausf. A.  Both bought more Bonus Attack cards.  The Luftwaffe was called in on the Char B1 bis and successfully destroyed it.  That loss ended the game.  The score at the end of the game was 159-89 in favor of the Germans.

Both sides played well, bu I have to say the dice abandoned the French at critical times.  The Germans crossings sealed the fate of the game.  It’s nice to see that both games results have differed each time and that no side has an advantage.

After this, I packed up with help (especially from Leif Magnuson – who was a BIG HELP THANK YOU!), and went home to sleep.

I hope you enjoyed these battle reports.  Now that the COVID-19 is endangering lives, we’ll have to see if and when I get to run these games again soon.  Let’s all hope for the best, and prepare accordingly.

Wishing all of you and your families safety and health!

 

 

 

RETROVIANS!

Back in March of 2017, I learned that the UK-based War Games Supply Dump Miniatures was closing after thirteen years of business.  My problem at that time was that I had wanted to get more of their fun-looking retro-sci-fi figures.  I had already very much enjoyed painting the Khang Robots I got from WSD for my Warbot platoon that serve as squad leaders in that unit.  I had also seen many of WSD’s Dirk Garrison sci-fi line figures on Buck Surdu’s blog.  I needed to get some while it was still possible to add to my forces for Combat Patrol™ retro-sci-fi games.

As time was limited (as was Roger’s remaining inventory) I placed a sizable order with Roger for several groups of 28mm scale figures that would be suitable for building platoons – including Khanopians, Valkyrie Space Pirates, and miscellaneous items such as Space Munchkins and my Robo-servo Guns that I posted about here previously.  After finishing my Macron unit, I decided that it was time to get some of these languishing WSD projects painted, starting with the Retrovians.

By the way, many of you who follow this blog may recognize Roger as the author of the blog “Rantings from Under the Wargames Table” – a fun blog that unfortunately Roger ended in April of this year (you are indeed missed Roger!).

I was not able to order all of the Retrovian models, but a decent assortment of ones of different poses.  I got the following 34 from Roger to build a Retrovian platoon:

  • 3 DG-07 “The Bra’sheer” figures/three-legged vehicles
  • 1 DG-11 “Garkkon” figure (Retrovian Monster)
  • 2 DG-50 “Retrovian Captain w. Sword & Pistol” figures
  • 3 DG-54 “Retrovian Trooper Aiming Blaster” figures
  • 15 DG-55 “Retrovian Trooper Advancing w. Blaster” figures
  • 4 DG-56 “Retrovian Sniper w. Vision Enhancer & Needle Blaster” figures
  • 6 DG-56 “Retrovian Two Man Sonic Cannon Team” crew figures (one had a sonic cannon, one had a pair of sci-fi binoculars – 3 of each)

In deciding how to construct the platoon, I needed to consider how to build something that would be useful as a unit – and that would have some sense as to its build.  I also have been watching a number of early 2000’s Star Trek “Enterprise” episodes (that I never saw when the series ran).  I have become very fond of the Andorians – and Jeffrey Comb’s portrayal of Commander Shran.  The Andorians had not been much seen in the Trek universe since the original 1960’s Star Trek.  I decided that in homage the Retrovian platoon would be completed as blue skins and with some Andorian names.

Andorrians (2)
I had these dudes – less antennae – as color inspiration.

As far as structure, I had enough to create three line squads of two teams.  There would be 10 figures in a squad: a squad leader, an A team of a team leader and four troopers, a B team of a team leader (the binocular half of the Sonic Cannon team), a Sonic Cannon gunner, a marksman/sniper, and a Bra’sheer Assault Pod.  The Bra’sheer I envisioned as having an automatic weapon and mechanical claws that could tear apart obstacles, walls, or enemies’ heads and limbs.

That left me with enough figures to make two other sections.  The first is an HQ section (composed of a platoon leader and a platoon sergeant).  The second is a Garkkon section (reporting to the platoon sergeant or platoon leader) with a marksman in control of a giant Garkkon monster suitable for melee.  The Garkkon is a hybrid of a fish, a lizard, and a giant chicken – it’s quite amusing to look at.

Retrovian Unit Organization
The Retrovian Platoon organization.  Each die represents an element that can be activated in a Combat Patrol game.  The platoon therefore has 9 possible elements that could be activated.

I will share how I assembled and painted the Bra’sheer pods and the Garkkon, then go into the infantry.  Then I’ll share some eye candy that I hope you will like, as well as a glimpse into some of the play aids I made (with help from Buck Surdu) for these in club or convention game play.  Lastly, I will share a list of the paints and materials used in the making of this platoon for those interested.

The Bra’sheer

I believe the Bra’sheer were sculpted by Brad Shier – given their names.  The three Bra’sheer figures were, like all of these, great sculpts.  As I had three, it made sense to assign one per each squad on the B teams.  Assembly-wise, I did have a good amount of filing and filling with green stuff to do on these.  Also, the process of assembly was a bit difficult as I wanted to get the legs in position such that the chassis were level.  I ended up needing to affix one leg at a time and check if they were level.

1 Assembled Bra'sheer
The Bra’sheers in front of the 2″ steel fender washer bases – that also had 1.25″ steel fender washers, .5″ stainless steel fender washers, and polystyrene card as part of the base.  The Garkkon is on the right (more on it later).

2 Assembled Bra'sheer with green stuff
Close up of the assembled Bra’sheer

3 Assembled Bra'sheer with basing
I took the multi-washer bases and scribed the leg positions on them in pencil.  Then I added Apoxie Sculpt, and some Army Painter flocking (see materials list at end of this post).  Once this had hardened overnight, I affixed the Bra’sheer with E6000 to the bases.  Here, these look like bad cookies…

4 Bra'sheer with poster tack
Here you see a primed Bra’sheer with green stuff additions to the chassis and some poster tack on the crewman.  I needed to add green stuff to fill in gaps and make the legs structurally strong.  There were mold lines on the legs that short of obliterating the detail I could not get rid of – so I dealt with these later with painting.  The poster tack was to protect the crewman from being painted with the pearlized blue paint I used on the chassis.

5 Bra'sheer after base coat
After painting the legs and the chassis.  The legs were heavily shaded after the pearlized paint was applied to mitigate the mold lines.

5 Bra'sheer after washes and painting bases
The model is in the final stages here – I used multiple paints and products on the bases alone.  The Bra’sheer were the only Retrovians with “veiny” heads

The Garkkon

1 Garkkon unassembled
The Garkkon as received.  I do not know why it came with an anchor, but I decided not to use it on the model.  It, like the Bra’sheer, had similar assembly challenges.

2 Garkkon unassembled with washer
Here’s a better view of the base I used – it’s pretty heavy!

3 Garkkon unassembled with pins
Multiple drill holes and pinning were needed, plus green stuff to stiffen the structure.

4 Garkkon assembly set up
As the E6000 hardened overnight, I had this Rube Goldberg way of stabilizing the model.

5 Garkkon assembled
Garkkon assembled.

6 Garkkon with base
I used green stuff here on the limbs and on the base.  I chose to do the other bases with Apoxie Sculpt.

7 Garkkon base coated
This is early and fairly gaudy in the painting process – on purpose.  My hope was to use contrast paints and let the light blue here to be the same color as the infantry flesh.  As you will see, I needed to adjust my plans.  I also wanted to adjust the yellows here.

7a Garkkon base coated
Side view of the previous stage picture.

8 Garkkon applying Aethermatic Blue
I added Aethermatic Blue Contrast Paint to the blue – and ended up with a look that was more green than blue.  This is mid-painting to show the difference (the head has the contrast paint at this point).  I ended up finishing the Garkkon blue with the contrast paint, and finding another path for the Retrovian infantry’s flesh color.

8a Garkkon applying Aethermatic Blue
This is after I finished the Garkkon’s initial flesh color.

9 Garkkon after painting base
After some more shading, some highlighting, and some glazes, I moved on to the Garkkon base.

Retrovian Infantry

1 Retrovian Platoon start
Getting organized…

2 Retrovian Platoon ready for painting
Initial mounting on fender washers after filing and cleaning.  I used slightly larger bases for the Sonic Cannon Gunners and the Marksmen out of necessity.

3 Retrovian Platoon after basing with Apoxie Sculpt
After I added Apoxie Sculpt on the bases and let it harden for a day.

4 Retrovian Platoon aftermounting for painting
Here you see the platoon ready for priming and painted as mounted on the specimen jars with poster tack.

5 Retrovian Platoon after Talassar Blue
I used Talassar Blue on the boots and the tunics.

6 Retrovian Platoon after Akhelian Green
Then I used Akhelian green on the pants – and each squad got a different contrast paint color on the shoulder pads.  Here, first squad had Nazdreg Yellow  – which ended up looking leather-like.

7 Retrovian Platoon further progress
Similarly, 2nd squad and third squad got Gryph-Charger Grey and Volupus Pink respectively.  The platoon leader (Commander Schran) got Blood Angels Red, while the platoon sergeant and the Garkkon controller got Ultramarines Blue.  I found that these contrast paints needed a few thin coats to be useful.

8 Retrovian Captain progress
Commander Schran mid-stage.

9 Retrovian Sonic Cannon Gunner progress
The Sonic Gunner from 3rd Squad’s B team mid-stage.

10 Retrovian Platoon before washes
For ease of play on the tabletop, in addition to the different shoulder pad colors, the leaders had different colors on their helmets.  Red indicates the platoon leader, blue indicates the platoon sergeant and squad leaders, and green indicated the team leaders.  Others just got a metallic black helmet.

11 Retrovian Captain progress
As discussed above, the flesh color on the Garkkon was not what I wanted on these guys.  The faces are very cool, and I ended up using Army Painter Quickshade Blue Tone over the light blue – and I was very pleased with the result.  This is Commander Schran again, and I also wanted to make these swords special – so I brush painted them with the same metallic blue as the Bra’sheer chassis – and called them “Frostblades” – giving them a minor anti-armor capability.

12 Retrovian Platoon further progress
Close to the finish with the bases remaining to be done.

13 Retrovian Platoon before base drybrushing
Ready to dry brush the bases!

15 Retrovian Platoon Team Leader after layer 1 base drybrushing
A 3rd Squad trooper with base complete and ready for varnish .

16 Retrovian Platoon complete in box
Completed platoon in the transport box!

Eye Candy of painted Retrovian Platoon and Combat Patrol™ Game Aids

Platoon HQ:

1 Commander Shran
Commander Shran, front view

1a Commander Shran
Commander Shran, rear view

2 SFC Thelev

Platoon Sergeant, SFC Thelev

Garkkon Section:

4 SSG Ushaan-Tor
SSG Ushaan-Tor, Garkkon Controller

5 Garkkon
Garkkon front

4a Garkkon Back
Garkkon back view

3 SSG Ushaan-Tor and Garkkon
Garkkon Section

Retrovian Unit data Cards (2)
Unit Data Card for the Garkkon Section

1st Squad:

6 1st squad leader SSG Kumari
1st Squad Leader, SSG Kumari

11 1st squad A team trooper #4
1st Squad Trooper (A Team)

13 1st Squad B Team Sonic Cannon Gunner
1st Squad Sonic Cannon Gunner (B Team)

14 1st Squad B Team Marksman
1st Squad Marksman/Sniper (B Team)

15 1st Squad B Team Bra'sheer
1st Squad Bra’sheer

Bra'sheer vehicle data cards (2)
Bra’sheer Vehicle Data Card.  The numbers in red circles refer to armor factors.  These would be the same for each pod.

7 1st Squad
1st Squad

2nd Squad:

16 2nd squad leader SSG Talas
2nd Squad Leader, SSG Talas

19 2nd squad A team trooper #2

2nd Squad Trooper (A Team)

23 2nd Squad B Team Sonic Cannon Gunner
2nd Squad Sonic Gunner (B Team)

24 2nd Squad B Team Marksman
2nd Squad Marksman/Sniper (B Team)

25 2nd Squad B Team Bra'sheer
2nd Squad Bra’sheer (B Team)

8 2nd Squad
2nd Squad

3rd Squad:

26 3rd squad leader SSG Aenar
3rd Squad Leader, SSG Aenar

28 3rd squad A team trooper #1
3rd Squad Trooper (Team A)

33 3rd Squad B Team Sonic Cannon Gunner
3rd Squad Sonic Gunner (Team B)

34 3rd Squad B Team Marksman
3rd Squad Marksman/Sniper (Team B)

Retrovian Unit data Cards (4)
Unit data card example – 3rd Squad

35 3rd Squad B Team Bra'sheer
3rd Squad Bra’sheer (Team B)

9 3rd Squad
3rd Squad

Retrovian Platoon (group shots):

5 Command Group
Command and Garkkon Section

6 Bra'sheer group
All three Bra’sheers

10 Retrovian Pano 1
Retrovian Platoon!

11 Retrovian Pano 2
Retrovian Platoon (top view)

This project took a bit longer than I expected it to – about 3-4 weeks – but it was rewarding.  I do hope that you found it interesting and fun to look at – so let me know in the comments section – good or bad.  Did you pick up on any Andorian references here? 

On to the next challenge!

As an FYI, I have updated the Lost Minis Wiki with shots of these figures.  And, to boot, I am entering this platoon in Azazel’s Destino December ’19 Community Painting Challenge – it meets the criteria!

Thanks again for looking – and until next time, all the best to you and yours!

PAINTS, INKS, GLAZES, SHADES, WASHES, PIGMENTS, FLOCKING, GLUES AND MORE USED ON THESE FIGURES:

  1. Gorilla Glue
  2. E6000 epoxy
  3. Small paper clip wire
  4. 2″ Everbilt steel fender washers ( bases for Garkkon and Bra’sheers)
  5. 1¼” Everbilt steel fender washers (added to Garkkon and Bra’sheers on 2″ steel fender washers; used as bases for Retrovian Marksmen/Snipers and Sonic Cannon Gunners)
  6. ½” stainless steel fender washers as fillers in bottom of 2″ steel fender washer holes (Garkkon and Bra’sheers)
  7. Evergreen polystyrene #9020 card (0.020″ thick) on top of 2″ steel washer holes (Garkkon and Bra’sheers)
  8. Green stuff (kneadatite)
  9. 1″ steel fender washers (used as bases for remaining Retrovian infantry figures)
  10. Apoxie Sculpt
  11. Army Painter “Battlefield Rocks” flocking (put into Apoxie Sculpt on Bra’sheer bases)
  12. Army Painter “Black Battlefields” flocking (put into Apoxie Sculpt on Bra’sheer bases)
  13. Poster tack to mount figures to specimen jars for painting
  14. Vallejo “Surface Primer – Black” (on exposed steel and polystyrene on bases)
  15. Vallejo “Surface Primer – White”
  16. Vallejo “Flow Improver”
  17. Vallejo “Airbrush Thinner”
  18. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Talassar Blue”
  19. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Akhelian Green” (except for Bra’sheers)
  20. Vallejo Game Air “White Grey”
  21. Vallejo Mecha Color “Fluorescent Yellow” (Garkkon eyes)
  22. Vallejo Game Air “Moon Yellow” (Garkkon claws and teeth)
  23. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Blood Angels Red” (Platoon Commander)
  24. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Ultramarines Blue” (Platoon Sergeant and Garkkon Controller)
  25. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Iyanden Yellow” (1st Squad)
  26. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Gryph-Charger Grey” (2nd Squad)
  27. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Volupus Pink” (3rd Squad)
  28. Citadel “Lamenters Yellow” (glaze)
  29. Vallejo Mecha Color “Sky Blue”
  30. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Aethermatic Blue” (Garkkon only)
  31. DecoArt “Festive Red” (Platoon Leader’s helmet)
  32. Vallejo Mecha Color “Metallic Blue” (Squad Leaders’ helmets)
  33. Vallejo Mecha Color “Metallic Green” (Team Leaders’ helmets)
  34. Vallejo Model Air “Black (metallic)” (all others’ helmets and weapons)
  35. Createx Airbrush Colors “Pearl Blue (0304)” (Bra’sheers’ chassis, legs, and Frostblades)
  36. Citadel “Drakenhof Nightshade” (shade on Bra’sheers’ legs)
  37. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Iyanden Yellow”
  38. Polly Scale “WWII German Armor Green” (2nd Squad)
  39. P3 “Cygnar Blue Highlight” (Bra’sheer crewmen)
  40. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Magos Purple” (infantry weapons)
  41. Army Painter “ Quickshade Blue Tone” (wash on all Retrovian flesh)
  42. Army Painter “Quickshade Purple Tone” (wash on infantry weapons)
  43. Tamiya “Flat Aluminum XF-16” (dry brush on Bra’sheer claws)
  44. Citadel “Nuln Oil” (shade)
  45. Citadel “Astrogranite” (on bases)
  46. Citadel “Astrogranite Debris” (on bases)
  47. Citadel “Druchi Violet” (wash on bases)
  48. Citadel “Daemonette Hide” (dry brush on bases)
  49. Citadel “Warpfiend Grey” (dry brush on bases)
  50. Citadel “Slaneesh Grey” (dry brush on bases)
  51. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish”

Experimental Sci-Fi Chemical Plant Scratch-build Project

Sometimes you need to try new materials, new techniques, and change up your hobby projects to keep fresh.  My tabletop battlefield for my Attack of the Warbots game scenario (using the Combat Patrol™ rules system) needed some more ruined industrial terrain.  I also wanted to try some new painting techniques with chipping medium, as well as using some crackle paint.  The goal was to make something ruined, rusty, with some degree of verticality that would complement my tabletop.

As far as building materials, I had been saving different bits and pieces of this and that for a few years in anticipation of scratch-building something to meet that need.  I say saving, my wife says hoarding – (it’s not hoarding if the stuff is organized, labelled, and put away out of sight in drawers dear😁).  A previous employer had supplied us with kits that contained dummy vials (empty) that we could use to teach the process of reconstitution of the real thing.  At one point years ago, because the FDA drug labeling had changed, and the packaging that the kits had on them was no longer valid, we were ordered to throw them away.  I did, but threw the vials into a drawer.  I also had some oddly-shaped caps from body sprays, and a purloined cover from my wife’s blow dryer.  To be fair, the cover no longer stayed attached, so that was fair game.  I also had bits of polystyrene sheets and tubes, and leftover foam rubber pads (packing material) from something I no longer remember.  So basically, I had a lot of trash to work with.

As the community painting challenge (run by Azazel) that I participate in for July was “The Jewel of July ’19 Community Painting Challenge”, I thought I’d switch up from doing tanks and make a scenery piece.  The scenery qualifications were:

“It’s for the more impressive scenery pieces. A desert oasis or a (ruined?) temple or a bunker complex or a single bunker or a skyscraper or a Ferratonic Incinerator or a Kwik-E-Mart. A forest worth of trees or a jungle worth of plants.”

So, dear reader, you can be the judge of this project as a “jewel”, or not.  It will have some good points and some not – I hope that if you have some feedback (good, bad, or otherwise) that you share it so that I and others can learn.

Construction and Planning

I assembled the assorted junk, and made a plan.  The glass vials I decided would work well glued together top-to-top as chemical tanks.  I had two vials that were plastic that I scuffed up, and I removed any paper labeling from all of them.  The blow dryer screen would be the centerpiece.  Using a leftover piece of polystyrene sheet (Evergreen #9060 – .06″ thick), I plotted out a chemical plant symmetrically.  I made two elevated concrete pads for the shorter vials with thinner polystyrene (Evergreen #9020 – 0.02″ thick) and the foam pads, and Plastruct Bondene.  For the vials, my epoxy of choice was E6000, though that did leave a lot of glue strings to clean up later.  The tubing was Evergreen 3/16″ #226, complemented by cut plastic straws.  Applying E6000 to the strws made them relatively solid.  I used green stuff as the piping joints.  The plan for the vials was to sequentially prime, apply rust paints, apply chipping medium, apply metallic paints, chip, and rust.  The bases were to be done using AK crackle paints, with washing and dry brushing.

0 hair dryer
The missing cover came from here.

1 Sci Fi plant scratch build unpainted
The assembled terrain piece, unpainted.

2 Sci Fi plant scratch build unpainted
A side view of the unpainted piece.  The smaller vials were plastic and held old normal saline.  All were ordered to be discarded.  This is how I did that.

Painting

I airbrush primed the piece with Vallejo Black primer, allowing 24 hours to dry.  Then I airbrushed it with Vallejo Model Air “Rust” (#71.080).

3 Sci Fi plant scratch build primed and base coated with rust
Airbrushed with a rust base.

I then applied a liberal coat of Citadel “Ryza Rust” and a different Vallejo “Rust” (#71.069) that I hoped would show a nice rust effect under the final color coats.  Then, I applied Vallejo “Chipping Medium” over the rust.  I was very unsure of the amount to use here, or the pressure with which apply it with the air brush.  Add to that the dry time, which I gave 24 hours – too much?  I don’t know.  Due to the terrain piece’s layout, it was also hard to get into all the areas with the chipping medium.

I then chose the final metallic colors for the vials, the pipes, the caps, and the screen. Those, and the other materials, you can see listed at the end of this post.  I applied a caot of gloss black to the base to assist later “crackling”.

6 Sci Fi plant scratch build after painting base gloss black and vials with colors
After applying the colors onto the vials.

At this point, I applied water with a stiff toothbrush to the vials, and that was supposed to cause the chipping.  It did some places, but not everywhere.  I had to resort to a toothpick in a lot of places, and that pulled ALL of the paint off.  As repair, I used Citadel “Typhus Corrosion” trying to simulate rusted leaking tanks.  I washed the vials with a light rust wash, and that turned the purple tanks pink/orange!  I went back to the Typhus corrosion and tried to compensate.

7 Sci Fi plant scratch build after chipping
After the chipping work.

8 Sci Fi plant scratch build after chipping inside after dried
After the chipping work – I tried to make it look pretty contaminated and old.

Then, I needed to add the two different crackle paints, along with washes and highlights.  Before that, I applied a gloss varnish to help the crackling effect and to help protect the chipping effects.  I knew I could use a matte varnish later to dull it up.

9 Sci Fi plant scratch build after crackle paint, drying in sun
Crackle paints drying in sun on the base.  Glossy vials…for now anyways.

10 Sci Fi plant scratch build after crackle paint dried with glossy varnish
After the crackle paint got a glossy wash.

11 Sci Fi plant scratch build after crackle paint washed with Nuln Oil Gloss
Close up – definitely need to remove the gloss.  But first, some dry brushing of the crackle paint was in order.

12 Sci Fi plant scratch build after crackle paint dry brushed
I sequentially dry brushed, washed, dry brushed, and washed the piece.

Finally, I airbrushed the piece with Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish”.  As I had foam rubber part of the piece, I needed to avoid any use of rattle cans to prevent a real chemical meltdown!

14 Sci Fi plant scratch build after matt varnish drying, top view
Using the heat of my driveway to dry the piece.

15 Sci Fi plant scratch build after matt varnish drying, side view
Complete and drying in the 90 degree sun.

15 Sci Fi plant scratch build complete on mat
On the gaming mat.

16 Sci Fi plant scratch build complete on mat, center close up
Close up of the crackling effect and the screen.

17 Sci Fi plant scratch build complete on mat, side close up
Corroded tanks.

18 Sci Fi plant scratch build complete on mat, side close up
Corroded tanks, opposite side.

19 Sci Fi plant scratch build complete on mat, end close up
The smaller tank and its pad.

20 Sci Fi plant scratch build complete on mat close up

21 Sci Fi plant scratch build complete on mat, Space Roos moving through
Space Roos reconnoiter in the plant.

21 Sci Fi plant scratch build complete on mat, Space Roos see Martians
Space Roos are surprised by Martians in the plant.

22 Sci Fi plant scratch build complete
Well, at least it is done.

So, do I have a “Jewel of July” here.  Maybe at least a garnet anyways.  I think this is OK for the tabletop, given that it was basically made of trash.  It hits the game tabletop today!

If you want to see a real “Jewel” – check out Alex’s piece here.  THAT is impressive!

Back to my project, I was somewhat disappointed at the Vallejo “Chipping Medium”.  I could not find much information on its use, and a lot of that was negative.  The AK crackle paints are very good in my opinion, and I will look to see if they have a chipping product.

Any feedback – especially any thoughts on my process and the product – is always appreciated.  As always, hope you enjoyed this post.

PAINTS, INKS, GLAZES, SHADES, WASHES, PIGMENTS, FLOCKING, GLUES AND MORE USED ON THIS PROJECT:

  1. Discarded dummy vials
  2. Hair dryer screen
  3. Body wash bottle cap
  4. Fragrance bottle cap
  5. Foam rubber packing pads
  6. Evergreen #9060 polystyrene sheet
  7. Evergreen #9020 polystyrene sheet
  8. Evergreen 3/16″ polystyrene tubes
  9. E6000 epoxy
  10. Plastruct Bondene
  11. Green stuff
  12. Vallejo “Flow Improver”
  13. Vallejo “Airbrush Thinner”
  14. Vallejo “Surface Primer – Black”
  15. Vallejo Model Air “Rust” (71.080)
  16. Vallejo Model Air “Rust” (71.069)
  17. Vallejo Model Air “Signal Red”
  18. Vallejo Mecha Color “Metallic Blue”
  19. Vallejo Mecha Color “Metallic Green”
  20. Vallejo Mecha Color “Purple”
  21. Vallejo Model Air “Med. Gunship Grey”
  22. Armory “Gloss Black” (used this 1996 paint up!)
  23. Citadel “Ryza Rust”
  24. Citadel “Typhus Corrosion”
  25. Vallejo “Chipping Medium”
  26. Vallejo Mecha Weathering “Light Rust Wash”
  27. Vallejo Mecha Weathering “Rust Texture”
  28. Americana “Black Tie” (satin)
  29. AK “Light and Dry Crackle Paint”
  30. AK “Dark and Dry Crackle Paint”
  31. Citadel “Nuln Oil Gloss” (wash)
  32. Citadel “Skrag Brown”
  33. Testors “Universal Acrylic Thinner”
  34. Vallejo “Gloss Varnish”
  35. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roos from Spaaaaaace!

Back in 2016, I had finally completed an original Ral Partha “Rooman War Party” (#01-044) from 1977.  This effort culminated in my building a 21-figure phalanx of pike-armed anthropomorphic kangaroos, replete with Australian 7-pointed stars on their shields.

At that time, I also began to see that others, like the wonderfully named Imperial Rebel Ork (IRO for short) were doing amazing “kit-bashes” and conversions with different models.  Of course, IRO uses plastic, and I’m more of an old school metal guy.  I also was getting more into retro sci-fi figures and using them for skirmish games.  I was inspired by IRO and Azazel (both Aussies) to push myself to do my own conversion.  So, I combined two figures – a Ral Partha Rooman (25 mm scale) and a Reaper #80010, “Nova Corp Sergeant” (28 mm scale), made a mold, and cast a bunch of “Space Roomans” (in metal of course).  You can read about that somewhat massive project here.  Getting around to painting these took a bit longer, and even my good friend Buck Surdu painted some that I gave him much quicker than I did.

15 Rooman after star
Ral Partha Rooman

1 Space Roomans pickup from ebay
The Reaper figure (circled) that I used was in a bunch of  figures I got on eBay

Azazel is kind enough to run a monthly community painting challenge  – and October’s was “Unit-ed October”, and focused on units.  So, I took this opportunity to get these done.   Of course, this effort was slightly affected by some gaming and the Red Sox winning the 2018 World Series (YES!), but I got them (the Space Roos that is) done by October 31st, 2018.  I will use them in Combat Patrol™ games.

I decided to paint the Roos similar to the way I did the Roomans, except that I wanted a more dusty and dirty look to them, as they are intrepid infantrymen (infantryroos?).  I also wanted to convert a couple of figures per squad (yes, a conversion of a conversion) to carry different weapons.  In this case, I used a grenade launcher sprue from RBJ miniatures to make two Roos into grenadiers, and a different RPG sprue from RBJ to make two other Roos into anti-tank troopers.  So my 28-figure platoon would consist of:

  • Platoon Leader
  • Platoon Sergeant
  • 2 Space Roo Squads consisting of:
    • 1 Squad Leader in each squad
    • 2 teams of:
      • 1 TL per team
      • 4 Space Roos with assault rifles/blasters per team
      • 1 Space Roo per team with either a grenade launcher or anti-tank weapon

Two squads make a light platoon, but I think that they will be a potent elite fighting force on the tabletop.  Also, these Roos are equipped with body armor on their torsos, and importantly, jet packs!  I will also give them a higher rate of movement similar to what I did for the Space Phraints (1½ cards of movement).  I cleaned and filed the models, and prepared them for conversion and priming by mounting them on 1″ steel washers.

1 Cleaned and mounted
The two squads behind their platoon leader and platoon sergeant.  The weapons for conversion are on the left.

I had a tough time reorienting the arms of the RPG-armed Roos, and I needed to break them and use green stuff to create a proper pose.  Pinning was not feasible unfortunately.  I also used green stuff to mount the grenadiers’ launchers and to give them bandoleers of grenades.  The grenadiers looked fine enough for the tabletop, but I was unhappy with the RPG Roos, as they looked “Popeye” like in their arms.  As the Space Roos body armor gives them an angular body look, I decided to use a series of very small 2 mm polystyrene chips to create an “armored look” over the arms by affixing them with Gorilla glue.

2 conversions
The green stuff conversions – note the bulbous arms that needed attention on the AT Roos.

3 up armor
My fix for the arms.  You can see that my casts varied in terms of “crispness”.  Clearly, I was going to need the brushwork to make these work.

I ended up double priming these figures, as I knew that I would need to fix much with brushwork and painting.  For example, there was a large indentation on the Roos’ left feet (paws?) that I needed to paint over. I thought that a thinned brush priming followed by a thinned airbrush priming would help.  I think it did.

4a double prime
The platoon primed

For their base colors, I went with a yellowy/sandy look for their armor, which I thought would reflect a desert or dusty deployment.

5 base coat sand yellow
I airbrushed the armor with a yellowish/sand color.  The idea was to use washes to bring out details (and allow me to obscure casting abnormalities).  This would give me a nice camouflaged look at the end.

6 eyes, hands feet
Outlining the eyes, ears, feet, and gloves in black.  I went with a red kangaroo coloring for the Roo parts .

7 mid stage
Moving on to fur painting.  Inks and washes gave more depth to this later on.

8 jet packs
Jet packs!

9 painted not washed
The bottom torso on the left has been painted with additional inks for depth.

10 drybrush guns
Comparison of the weapons – before (left) and after (right) dry brushing.  The blue is indicative of the 1st Squad.

One of the issues I really want to focus on when I build a platoon is to make it easy for the players (some of us with “experienced” eyes) to see and identify a figure’s squad and team.  I got some steel punches, and some jewelry stamps to make 1/4″ and 5/16″ placards that I could mount on the figures’ bases.

11 punches and stamps
My 1/4″ punch and the two jewelry stamps next to the polystyrene placards.  I did use 5/16″ placards for the platoon leader and platoon sergeant.

12 painted placards
The placards, stamped and painted.  I used a wash to fill out the letters and numbers.

13 placard close up
Placard close up shot

Next, I washed the figures twice with Citadel “Agrax Earthshade”.  I then mounted the RPG’s with Gorilla glue.

14a two AT after wash
RPG Roos!

Lastly, I used a whole bottle of Citadel “Armageddon Dunes” to fill and shape around the bases and let them dry and harden.  The placards were mounted into this paint.  Then I gave the bases a wash with “Agrax Earthshade” and two different dry brush applications (Polly Scale “WWII German Armor Light Tan” and Vallejo “Light Brown”).  Then I gave everything two coats of matte varnish.

15 platoon initial bases
After filling the bases 

16 pl and psg need bases washed
The platoon leader and platoon sergeant almost ready!

17 bases done!
Nice close up of the bases.  The shading gave the body armor the dirty effect that I wanted.

18 AT and ldrs done
The four conversions of conversions, front…

18a AT and ldrs done back
…and back

After adding some tufts from Shadows Edge Miniatures for even better identification, the platoon was finally done (I LOVE their tufts).  I am happy with it, given the work and effort it took to bring it to life.  So, now, appropriately, I will share with you some eye candy!

19 Platoon HQ
The platoon HQ, frontal view…

19a Platoon HQ Back
and rear view, with a good view of the jet packs, red placards, and tufts. 

20 First Squad
1st Squad with blue placards

21 Second Squad
2nd Squad with green placards and green tufts on the leaders.

22 conversions
The AT and grenadier Roos

23 meet ancestors
The Space Roos meet their ancestors, the Roomans!

24 box o Roomans
My box of Roos and Roomen

25 holding off warbots
The Space Roos’ 1st Squad holds off the Warbots

26 holding off warbots 2nd squad
The 2nd Squad close Assaults Juggerbot

I am looking forward to seeing these guys in action soon.  I appreciate your looking and hope that you enjoyed this post.  I always read your feedback, so please let me know what you think in the comments section at the bottom of this post.

I dedicate this post to all my Aussie friends!

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

  1. Citadel “Imperium Primer”
  2. Vallejo “Surface Primer – White”
  3. Vallejo “Flow Improver”
  4. Vallejo “Airbrush Thinner”
  5. Testors “Universal Acrylic Thinner”
  6. Vallejo Mecha Color “Sand Yellow”
  7. Vallejo Game Air “Red Terracotta”
  8. Citadel “Flayed One Flesh”
  9. Americana “Bleached Sand”
  10. Americana “Black Tie – Satin”
  11. Vallejo “Black”
  12. Vallejo “US Dark Green”
  13. Tamiya “Copper XF-6”
  14. Tamiya “X-20A Thinner”
  15. Tamiya “XF-49 Khaki”
  16. Vallejo Game Air “Weiss”
  17. Tamiya “Gun Metal X-10”
  18. Vallejo Game Air “Steel”
  19. Vallejo Game Air “Beasty Brown”
  20. Vallejo Mecha Color “Light Steel”
  21. Vallejo Mecha Color “Dark Steel”
  22. Vallejo Mecha Color “Metallic Blue”
  23. Vallejo Game Air “Electric Blue”
  24. Vallejo Mecha Color “Metallic Green”
  25. Citadel “Hexwraith Flame”
  26. Vallejo Mecha Color “SZ Red”
  27. Secret Weapons Washes “Just Red” (ink)
  28. P3 “Brown” (ink)
  29. Secret Weapons Washes “Armor Wash” (wash)
  30. Citadel “Nuln Oil Gloss” (wash)
  31. Citadel “Agrax Earthshade” (wash)
  32. Gorilla Glue
  33. Citadel “Armageddon Dunes”
  34. Polly Scale WWII “German Armor Light Tan”
  35. Vallejo “Light Brown”
  36. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish”
  37. Shadows Edge Miniatures 6 mm “Dark Forest Red” (tufts)
  38. Shadows Edge Miniatures 6 mm “Dark Blue” (tufts)
  39. Shadows Edge Miniatures 12 mm “Wild Tufts” (tufts)

Thanks again for looking and for your feedback!  ESPECIALLY AUSSIES!

“Mars Aliens” from Mega Miniatures, circa 2001, for Combat Patrol (TM)

I am always searching for cool old school figures that are out of production that I could use in my Combat Patrol™ retro sci-fi games.  This is firstly because I like to find neat stuff that time has passed by – and expose the figures to a brand new audience.  Secondly, it allows me to run really fun games – as the rules are so easy to play and learn even for true newbies – while older gamers are simultaneously having a good time.

Fortunately, I came across Michael Thomas’ site, classicminiatures.net.   There I found many Archive Star Rovers figures that he could cast (as he has a spin caster and now owns many original molds).  I acquired my Space Dwarves (Archive’s Long Gone Jones) from him, and he suggested two others that I might like.

One was also previously described in this blog – that being Mega Miniatures Robot Peacekeepers.  These were my first figures from that now-defunct company.  Michael piqued my interest with a second figure, which was Mega Miniatures “Mars Alien”  (#71501 seen here in the Lost Minis wiki) from their Sci Fi Future range Aliens subset.  It looks like the figure is the only one in that group, and was OOP in 2003.  It was sculpted by Hermann Grassnick, and the rights were sold by Mega Miniatures in 2011 (I am assuming to Michael Thomas).   I got 19 of the figures for a two-squad Martian platoon.

So when looking at these, one immediately sees their resemblance to the Martians in Tim Burton’s 1996 film, Mars Attacks.  You remember, the Martians speak “ack-ack” (which was the sound of a duck quacking played backwards).

Interestingly, I wonder if there was a copyright issue that caused a cessation of production?  I was also completely unaware that a UK company called Mantic Games put out a Mars Attacks game complete with figures and terrain.  I looked through the Mantic website, but it looks like the game is not really available or at least not supported much, or that Mantic is just selling whatever inventory it has of its components.  (Side note – I did also see the Kings of War game there which I have seen referred to often in the blogosphere. If I ever get back to fantasy armies, perhaps this will be a resource!).

Back to my Martians…

I did see that the figures from Mantic were colored like the movie, so I adopted that scheme for my Mega Miniature figures, which is a turquoise and lime green combination.  Of course, I thought I could finish these in time for a painting challenge by Azazel called “Jewel of July”  – after all turquoise is a jewel right?  But it was not to be, so these Martians got completed in early August.  There were no helmet bubbles or air tanks, but otherwise the figures were comparable.

I cleaned off any unwanted sprue residue, filed, and washed the figures.  They cleaned up easily, and the casting quality was good.  They are probably 25mm in scale (Star Duck size).  I mounted the figures to ¾” steel washers with Gorilla Glue, and then used poster tack to affix them to my painting jars.

0 Mega Mini DEAL 71501 Mars Attacks
The Martians as received

I wanted there to be an easy way for the platoon to be used on the tabletop.  I decided that I needed a painting plan.  So I made one, using different colors for the weapons, armored vests, belts, and accouterments – it was 11 PowerPoint pages – and you can see one such example below.  This helped me to keep it all straight.  I list all the paints that I used at the end of this blog post for those interested – there were a number used!

Mars attacks ppt painting plan
I usually use some details to denote who is who.  Usually red for officers, blue for higher NCO’s, and green for lower NCO’s.  I used two different colors on the trim to denote each squad.

As for the figures’ details, I did have an issue with the teeth and the brain folds (who doesn’t), as they tended to fill up quickly even with light airbrushing.  Eventually, I figured out how to present them in a game-worthy way.

1 Base coated
After priming and base coating with turquoise

1a Base coated
The B squad after priming

I ended up using multiple very thinned applications of Citadel “Ceramite White” on the Vallejo Mecha Color “Turquoise” so that I could get the other colors to be more vivid.

2 after white on heads
White heads – trim and belts next!

I tried to match the colors from the movie on the skulls and brains.  It was tough, but I found that using multiple inks, dry brushing, and washing here was a winning approach.  My initial tries were too dark or too light as shown below.

3 working on the brains
Need a middle ground!

4 brain solution and belts
Eventually, using patience, dry brushing, inks, and washes, I got my Martians’ brains to be close to the desired result.

5 close up mid point
I worked on the heads first, then inside to out on the torsos and legs.

After the painting was at a stage that I was happy with and what I wanted, I gave the torsos downward a good wash with Citadel “Nuln Oil Gloss”.  I like the results it gives with metallics. Still, the damn teeth were bedeviling me,  Washes were not working, and dry brushing them was not either.  They were fairly snaggle-toothed dudes.

6 after painting and wash
The platoon leader after an application of wash on his torso.  But the teeth were unacceptable!

My dental solution was to use a very thin and slightly jagged line of Vallejo Game Air “Black” just under the upper teeth – and I settled on that.

7 wash and no wash comparisons
A member of A squad (fluorescent magenta highlights) on the left and a B squad member (fluorescent yellow highlights) on the right.  The B Martian has not yet gotten a wash with the Nuln Oil Gloss.  Here, the teeth are improved.

8 b team after wash
B squad after the Nuln Oil Gloss wash on their torsos and legs.

I then used Vallejo “Gloss Varnish” for my first varnishing application.  I planned on adding a matte coat after I finished the bases.

9 B team after gloss varnish
Shiny happy people…err Martians…after the gloss varnish (apologies to REM)

I then worked on the bases.  I decided to use Citadel “Martian Ironearth” on them.  I really like to get the crackling effect from that paint when you use a hand-held hair dryer on it as it dries.  So yes, I used a blow dryer on dudes that not only had no hair, but no scalps…in any case the bases came out fine.  Instead of using a wash on them, I dry brushed the bases sequentially with Armory “Brick Red” (from 1996) and P3 “Ryn Flesh”.  I liked the effect better than my previous uses.

10 after base prep
B squad figure after base completion but before the matte varnish

11 matte applied group shot
The platoon all done and waiting for the matte varnish to dry

12 closeup of PL complete on jar
Closeup of the platoon leader

13 closeup of trooper complete on jar
An A squad trooper from Team 1 (denoted by the copper colored weapon)

Overall, I am happy to have some more “bad guys” to add to my retro sci-fi forces.  I do not think that they are my best work, but they are good enough, and should be fine for gaming.  And now, some action shots!

14 group shot in formation
The Martian platoon

15 leadership
Martian Platoon leadership – platoon leader is in the center, with the A squad leader and his two team leaders on the left of the photo, and the B squad leader and his two team leaders on the right.

15a belts and leadership
An example of how I painted the belts differentially.  From left to right, the platoon leader (red), the A squad leader (blue), a B squad team leader (green), an A squad trooper (magenta), and a B squad trooper (yellow)

16 A Squad moves out
The A squad moves out around some Armorcast terrain.

17 B Squad moves out
The B squad checks out the cooling units and power generator

18 A1 team with ball tank
The A squad’s Team 1 moves up alongside a Mark 1 Sphere tank

19 A2 team surrounds Texicans
The A squad’s Team 2 surrounds some Texican Space Rangers

20 PL and B1 take on Hurraku
Size does not matter as the platoon leader and the B squad’s Team 1 move in to kill the Hurraku Space Phraints…or at least try to do so!

21 B2 charging into Space Dwarves
The Space Dwarves throw grenades at the advancing Martians – the Team 2 from B squad

22 second group shot
ACK ACK ACK!

I hope you enjoyed this post – please let me know your thoughts and suggestions in the comments section.  And no, I will not have a Slim Whitman weapon that will kill these guys!

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

  1. Vallejo “Surface Primer – White”
  2. Vallejo Mecha Color “Turquoise”
  3. Vallejo Game Air “Dead White”
  4. Tamiya “Gold Leaf X-12”
  5. Vallejo Model Air “Gold”
  6. Citadel “Retributor Armour”
  7. Citadel “Ceramite White”
  8. Tamiya “Gun Metal X-10”
  9. Tamiya “Chrome Silver X-11”
  10. Tamiya “Copper XF-6”
  11. Vallejo Mecha Color “Purple”
  12. Vallejo “Metal Medium”
  13. Vallejo “Gloss White”
  14. Tamiya “X-20A Thinner”
  15. Vallejo “Thinner Medium”
  16. DecoArt “Dazzling Metallic – Berry”
  17. Vallejo Game Air “Black”
  18. Secret Weapons Washes “Parchment” (ink)
  19. Citadel “Biel-Tan Green” (wash/shade)
  20. Craftsmart “Ultra Bright Metallic – Amethyst”
  21. DecoArt “Dazzling Metallic – White Pearl”
  22. Vallejo “Light Orange”
  23. Vallejo Mecha Color “Light Green”
  24. Vallejo “Vermilion”
  25. Citadel “Lamenters Yellow” (glaze)
  26. Citadel “Drakenhof Nightshade” (wash/shade)
  27. Vallejo Game Color “Livery Green”
  28. Vallejo Game Air “Sick Green”
  29. Polly S “Venetian Dull Red”
  30. Secret Weapons Washes “Just Red” (ink)
  31. Citadel “Nuln Oil Gloss” (wash)
  32. Vallejo Mecha Color “Green”
  33. Secret Weapons Washes “Blue” (ink)
  34. Vallejo Mecha Color “Green Fluorescent”
  35. Vallejo Mecha Color “Magenta Fluorescent”
  36. Vallejo Mecha Color “Yellow Fluorescent”
  37. Citadel “Martian Ironearth”
  38. Vallejo “Flow Improver”
  39. Vallejo “”Airbrush Thinner”
  40. Testors “Universal Acrylic Thinner”
  41. Vallejo “Gloss Varnish”
  42. Armory “Brick Red”
  43. P3 “Ryn Flesh”
  44. Citadel “Carroburg Crimson” (wash)
  45. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish”

Thanks again – hope this was fun to see!!

Game Markers, Decals, & Weapons Templates for Retro Sci-Fi games using Combat Patrol (TM)

Back in November, I was happy to have an extended game of Combat Patrol™ using resurrected Archive Miniatures Star Rovers figures (specifically, Star Ducks, Frinx, Aphids, and Mark III Warbots).  My old West Point buddies Dave Wood and Buck Surdu made the trek up from Maryland, and my daughter Ellen and her fiance Chris Smedile joined us for a fun game which was described here.

The game was a blast – and afterwards I thought that I could make some improvements that would make play easier and improve the tabletop aesthetics.  The retro sci-fi aspect brought in some new elements.  In a WWII game, I would normally use small rubber bands to designate the status of a figure with regards to wounds, being stunned, or being out of ammunition.  This is to eliminate a lot of bookkeeping which can bog down a game.  I also use glass beads to represent morale checks.  In a WWII game, this works fine as most figures can only take 3 wounds before they are incapacitated.  However, in the retro sci-fi game, I added other elements.  One of these was allowing the Star Ducks to use their jet packs three times per game.  Another was the Mark III Warbots, which can take up to 6 or 7 wounds, and who may take critical hits (see chart below) that adversely impact their capabilities.

Warbot critical hit

One issue with their high endurance this is that the Warbots can end up looking like they just arrived on Maui after getting several garlands of leis once the action gets going (see photo below).

9 Ma'kcon (2)
Who just arrived in Maui?

I also introduced two breaching arc weapons and a plasma ball breacher that would be key elements of the Mark III Warbots capabilities.  As a Army Engineer officer veteran, I thought that this would be fun, and I wanted some cool templates to represent these game elements.  Lastly,  I wanted to be able to have the casualties remain on the tabletop as a depiction of what happened during the game.  This does not always work, so now I make casualty cards for my units that are sized to the figures size (I discussed this previously here).

So my list of improvements became:

  1.  Create casualty cards for each unit/figure (done)
  2.  Create templates for the plasma weapons (discussed in this post)
  3.  Create specialized markers (placards with decals) for use with retro sci-fi Combat Patrol™ games (discussed in this post)

With any new project, I like to try new techniques and learn from trying them out.  Here, I decided to try to use my airbrush to do more than prime, base coat, and varnish.  I also wanted to use my computer and make decals for the placards.  I had not really done any of these things in this way before, so I was going into uncharted waters.  I will first discuss the plasma weapons, and then the placards.

For the arc weapons and the plasma ball, I wanted something easy to sue that was durable and vibrant.  The Warbots arc weapons can either shoot a 2″ cone (door-sized) for a distance of 5″, or fire a 1″ cone (window-sized) for a distance of 10″.  This is to allow them to breach obstacles.  The other weapon fires a plasma ball that can make holes (or dissolve stuff/enemies) – think of a really effective M203 grenade launcher.  I found a some hardwood (oak or maple) dowels at Home Depot that would work well size-wise.  As a golfer, I sacrificed one old Pinnacle for the plasma ball, and mounted it on a 1¼” washer (I don’t play Pinnacles anyways!).

I used my circular saw and cut the dowels to size, and sanded them up a bit.  Originally, I had thought I could use decals on them, but decided that I could not sand and varnish them enough for proper alignment and adhesion.  Besides, this gave me the chance to play with my airbrushes.  I gave them all a prime coat of Vallejo “Surface Prime Gray”, followed by Vallejo “Game Air Black”.  I had some challenges with painting the longer templates due to their sizes and being too wobbly to reliably stand up for airbrushing.  I made a cradle of sorts out of popsicle sticks that worked adequately – notwithstanding that I needed to be sure each coat was dry before I rotated them.

1 - 2 inch dowel unpainted
The dowel sanded and ready for priming

2 - 2 inch dowel painted
5″ template after base coat application

3 - 1 inch dowel and ball painted
Working through base coat application on 10″ template and ball

4 - 1 inch dowel and ball painted

I used some Tamiya airbrush masking tape to make the center beam, and a crossing pattern where the beam would come out of the arc weapon.  I started off with Createx “Brite Yellow”.  I should have noticed that the label said “TRANSPARENT”!  This took a few applications (that was a learning point).  I then airbrushed Vallejo “Light Orange” closer to the masking and around the ends.  I then removed the masking, and used Vallejo “Vermilion” on the beam centers and the cross on the ends.  Lastly, I painted “Brite Yellow” on the ends and as edging on the beams (worked better).  I did the same with the ball , but in a mottled pattern.  They are not my best work, but they will serve the purpose.

5 painted
Warbot Arc and Plasma Weapon templates completed

6 ball and bots
FORE – Warbot on the left fires plasma ball at a Frinx and a Star Duck (he missed!)

7 short beam
Warbot Arc Weapon (5″) in action, rear view

8 short beam front
Warbot Arc Weapon in action, showing the end you don’t want to be on

9 longbeam
Warbot 10″ Arc Weapon

The greater portion of the work came with the making of the placards.  I decided that I would make the following 185 placards made for use in Combat Patrol™ retro sci-fi.  Why that many – well that was basically an educated guess based on most games that I have played.

  • 50 wound markers
    • 15 1-wound markers
    • 15 2-wound markers
    • 6 3-wound markers
    • 6 3-wound markers
    • 6 4-wound markers
    • 4 5-wound markers
    • 4 6-wound markers
  • 25 stun markers
  • 10 critical hit – optics/sensors markers damage for Mark III Warbots
  • 10 critical hit – mobility damage (“STOP”) markers for Mark III Warbots
  • 10 critical hit – CPU damage (“ROGUE”) markers for Mark III Warbots
  • 20 out of ammunition markers
  • 60 jet-pack use markers
    • 20 for one use of jet pack in the game
    • 20 for two uses of jet pack in the game
    • 20 for three uses of jet pack in the game

My first effort was to try to sculpt with Apoxie Sculpt and to use stamps.  I was very unhappy with the product, as I thought they would be difficult to read and not reliably reproducible.

1 First try at markers
My first effort at placards  – not good enough

I then changed plans and decided to try to use polystyrene to see if that would work in conjunction with decals that I could print off on my HP Printer.  I found a couple of decal products that I could print with – one was clear and from Testors and one white and was from Bare-Metal Foil Company.   The Testors product has (6) 5.5″ x 8.5″ sheets, while the Bare-Metal Foil product was 8.5″ x 11″.  I went with the Bare-Foil product for this as I thought it would be easier to print with and it had more space.  I did notice that it had a white backing, which I thought would help with visibility once the decals were on the placards.  Obviously, some uses would be better with a clear backing, so consider that.

I drew up some mock-ups out of paper to size my placards.  I wanted them to have distinct colors (matching their rubber bands) and distinct shapes.  Once I had the shapes, I designed the decals .  I used Microsoft PowerPoint and Google to select images and shapes.  This allowed me make a full landscape page image of the proposed decal.  I would then save that PowerPoint slide as a JPEG, and insert that JPEG into a Microsoft Word document.  I would then change the size of the JPEG (keeping the aspect ratio locked) and print off different sizes until they matched the mock-up placards.  Once that was complete, I copied the requisite number of decals into the Word document, leaving adequate space for later removal by Exacto knife on the actual decal paper.  I thought that one decal was adequate instead of double-siding the placards.

Before I could print off the decals, I needed the placards.  I got .080″ thick Evergreen polystyrene sheets and 1/8″ tubes.  These bond well by using Plastruct Bondene plastic solvent cement.  I cut the shapes out with a template, and cut the tubes into 1″ sections.  I then evenly split the sections lengthwise.  Lastly, I cut the tubes into ¼” lengths.  I took  differently colored rubber bands, and slid them into the lengthwise cuts on the tubes.  Then with the Plastruct Bondene, I attached the placards and the tubes.  You do not need much of this stuff – and its good to hold the pieces together for a count of 10.  I waited a few minutes, and reapplied the solvent over the attachment and the lengthwise cuts, sealing in the rubber bands as the cuts welded.    The small rubber bands are the same as what we used before – they come from Michael’s and are used for some sort of young girls’ weaving crafts.  I made 185 of these placards!

1c Plastruct Bondene
The solvent – be careful and read the label!

1d styrene sheets
Polystyrene Sheets

1e styrene tubes
Polystyrene tubes

Then came the painting of the placards.  I should have used my airbrush to prime them, but I wanted to use up some Citadel “Imperium Primer” I has.  Plus, they were a little awkward to paint due to their configuration.  After priming both sides, I laboriously (again I should have airbrushed) hand painted the placards as follows:

  • Wound, Stun, Optics, and Rogue markers with FolkArt “Champagne” (metallic)
  •  Mobility Damage markers with Createx “Pearl Copper”
  • Out of ammunition markers with Vallejo “Bright Brass” (metallic)
  • Jet-pack use markers with Americana “Apple Green”

Once painted, and having painfully learned my lesson in terms of not using airbrush paints, I used my airbrush to coat the placards with Vallejo “Mecha Varnish Gloss”.  This helps the decals to slide on properly.

Printing off the decals was new for me.  Apparently, there are several steps in addition to printing the decals!  First, once you print the decals, you need to apply a couple of coats of a Microscale Liquid Film product (better done with an airbrush, but you can brush it by hand, allowing each coat to dry of course).  This application protects the colors.  Then the decals can be removed with an Exacto knife from the printed sheet and put into water, but wait, more stuff needed!  You also need Microscale Micro Set applied to the surface prior to applying the waterslide decals.  This product improves adhesion.  then put on the decal, adjusting its location with a toothpick.  Let this fully dry, and then another product, Micro Sol, is used to soften the decal and tack it down.  Lastly, get the Microscale Liquid Decal Film back out, and put another coat on of that, and let it dry.  This will log up any brush you use, so use an old one.  Now the decal is protected!  Again, repeat 184 more times…for this project.

0 decal blanks
My decal sheet

1 Decal sheet sprayed
My printed decals after airbrushing with Liquid Decal Film

1b Microscale vials
The three magic decal solutions

1a placards ready for decals
Painted placards drying awaiting decals

1f completed piles of placards
Completed placards

1g completed wound placards
Wound markers – these are 1/2″ x 3/8 “

1g duck with 3 flight placard
Star Duck with a placard indicating he has used his jet pack three times, which is the maximum per game that I allow.  This one placard takes the place of three rubber bands.

1h duck with stun placard
A stunned Star Duck

1i warbot with rogue placard and Frinx with out of ammo
A CPU-damaged (“Rogue”) Warbot faces off with a Frinx whose weapon is unfortunately out of ammunition or jammed

1j warbot with optics placard and Frinx with stun, Duck with 1 wound
The Warbot on the left received a critical hit to its optics/sensors, and cannot engage as well with its weapon.  The Frinx in the back is stunned, and the Star Duck on the right has one wound.

1k warbot with movement hit placard
This Warbot with an Arc breaching weapon has taken a critical hit and cannot move, limiting its ability to penetrate an obstacle.

I have organized all of these into really useful boxes with extra rubber bands (in case I don’t have enough placards for some reason).  Hopefully I get to play test their use soon.

Thanks for reading – and I hope you find this helpful!  Please let me know in the comments section dear reader!

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

 

 

Casualty cards for Combat Patrol

I have been getting ready for Christmas, but I wanted to get at least a few things done hobby-wise before 2018 rings in.  Last month, we had a rousing sci-fi game using Buck Surdu’s Combat Patrol™ card-based rules (you can read about that game here).

We were able to use the new Japanese South Pacific decks for robot morale checks, and incorporated many of the rules from Greg Priebe’s superb Star Wars supplement.  We also used some of my rule additions for Mark III Warbot casualties, special weapons, and a few other nuances.

One of the issues came in the way of finding an easier way of denoting casualties on the table and making play a little easier.  As you can see below, we just tipped over the figures, and that became crowded!  I do like to see the casualties on the table as it gives a nice account of what occurred in the game, but perhaps there is a better way?  Also, given that the Warbots take many wounds, I also am making some play aids specifically for them and their weapons (and I will cover this work in a future blog entry).

8 Ma'kcon
Casualties litter the field/table last month

As for the casualties, Buck suggested that I could create some cards for the casualties that would take the place of the “dead” miniature on the table.  This would allow for showing the results of the battle, and enable an easier playing experience.

For this project, I bought a Fiskars® paper cutter from Michael’s.  I had a 40% off coupon so I got it pretty cheaply.  I used white 65-lb. card stock from Staples for the cards.

8 Star ducks card
Fiskars paper cutter

6 Star ducks card

I started out last week with the Aphid platoon.  My goal was to make the card sizes as close to the actual miniature sizes as possible.  The Aphids are really small, so their cards were small.  I experimented with Microsoft PowerPoint, using the grid lines tool, and comparing what I printed with the actual miniatures.  I ended up making the Aphids cards about ¾” – 3/8″ high by  ¾” wide.  I had a lot of variability as I got used to using the paper cutter.  The pictures that I inserted into PowerPoint had different aspect ratios, and I remedied this when I moved on to the Star Ducks.

I do recommend using the aspect ratio tool when cropping pictures for this type of work.  Additionally, the grid line tool in PowerPoint allowed me to make exact front and back cards by making sure that the sizes were the same and aligned.   The easiest way to do this is to import your photos first, and then copy that slide.  Then, you replace the photos on the second slide with the written cards.  By printing these on both sides of the paper (use regular paper first, not card stock to check), they will line up perfectly.  The only caveat I need to add is that you need to pay attention to the cards as you will need to reverse the text in the blocks so as to match the pictures – see below.

Aphid Dead Cards 1
My PowerPoint page of 39 Aphid photos – note the reversing of texts below on the text portion 

Aphid Dead Cards 2
The text section – I numbered these text box blocks and put up to the light to see which text went where – each is an individual text box

I printed these on card stock with a “thick paper” setting on my printer, and used two-side printing.  I then cut them out using the Fiskars tool.  There is a learning curve to the tool, and it worked out fine.  The Aphids on Grav-Cycles were not sized to the miniatures, but I wanted all of the Aphids cards in their deck to be the same size, so I can live with that discrepancy.  I did however want to improve for the next group of cards – which was for the Star Ducks.

Here, I needed to make bigger cards, and went with 1½” by 1½”.  I made a few important changes in my processes.  First, I used the “aspect ratio” function when I cropped the photos – in this case using the “square” aspect.  I also added a 2-point thick line on the pictures and the text boxes, which really made cutting easier.  Lastly, I colored the cards text-printed side with light orange hue, to match their bills!  I plan on having future unit casualty cards with different colors on the printed sides.

1 Star ducks card 1
Page 1 of my cards (photo side).  These when printed on a standard sheet of paper approximated the true sizes of the miniatures.

2 Star ducks card 2
The text block side of the PowerPoint, with adjustments so that the two-sided printing would line up properly.  These were then colored orange as below.

5 Star ducks card
The photo sides of the cards after cutting – they are 1.5″ square

 

3 Star ducks card 2
The printed sides of the cards with the orange backgrounds

4 Star ducks card 2
Close up of the cards

These were much better – and I feel confident that I can finish off cards for the Frinx and Mark III Warbots soon.  My goal is that when I next run a game that these aids will make play even easier than Combat Patrol already is!  These are not perfect, but are close enough and stiff enough to avoid becoming paper canoes!

7 Star ducks card
Casualty cards, Death cards, whats the difference!

Please let me know what you think in the comments section – thanks for looking!

 

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!!