Back in March of 2017, I read that WSD (Wargames Supply Dump) in the U.K. was shutting down its website and its figures from the Dirk Garrison line would no longer be available. Very bad news! I had not yet had the chance to buy any of these, and their retro sci-fi look lured me in to try to get a few before it was too late.
I was able to get a few different sets, which I will be painting up and using in my retro sci-fi games using the card-based Combat Patrol™ system.
The first ones I started were MIS06 “Robo Sentry Guns“. These came in a two-pieces per kit. As you can see below, the models were not greatly detailed, but very nice for what I wanted – unmanned and immovable guns for attacking infantry (or vehicles) to deal with during a skirmish. They were sculpted by Jason Miller. I wanted to buy 10, but only 5 were left by the time I tried to buy them. I grabbed them as they were heavily discounted!
I affixed the bases to a 1¼” steel washer using Loctite glue. This tactic allows me to use magnetic sheets to easily store them in plastic boxes. I then primed them with Krylon “Ultra Flat” matte spray paint. I also made sure that I painted the bottoms white as well, as I find that leaves me the option to place information on the bottom that I’d like to have once the models are done, such as the model’s name, the date it was finished, and any unit identification, etc. I just use a fine-tipped Sharpie.
I decided to paint the two parts separately, base coat both, and then assemble the kit after that. I also made a change in my process in that I used 3M white poster tack from Michael’s to affix the bases to popsicle sticks for painting instead of white glue. This worked MUCH better – and the tack is reusable – so I was happy to discover this would work and so well. The models stayed affixed very well.
I started brushwork with a wash of Citadel “Nuln Oil” over both pieces. I followed this with a heavy dry brushing with Citadel “Mechanicus Standard Gray”. Then, I switched to Vallejo Model Air “Medium Gunship Gray” for the tripod legs (with a brush – no airbrushing was done on these models). For the tripod feet, and the center mount, I used Vallejo Model Air “Steel”. The gun itself was mounted on a rock-like structure on a washer disk. I thought the rock made little sense for a robo sentry gun, so I decided to obscure it with Armory “Gloss Black” (still good from 1996!). I then shaded the tripod base with “Nuln Oil”. I subsequently used Secret Weapons Washes “Heavy Body Black” on the base, followed by lightly dry brushing and stippling it with “Mechanicus Standard Gray”.
At this point, I glued the two pieces together with wood glue, and let the assembly dry overnight. To further obscure the rock, I used Vallejo Model Air “Gold” on the washer – with an eye towards mimicking the coloration of the lunar modules from the Apollo missions. I thought it worked well, though it took three coats to get it properly covered.
On the gun, I used Vallejo Model Air “Gun Metal”, with Vallejo “Aluminum” on the optics. On the optics I then painted the ends with “Gold” and Citadel “Spiritstone Red”. I finished the gun with Secret Weapons Washes “Armor Wash”, with some light highlighting with “Gun Metal”. Once dry, I applied two coats of Testors “Dullcoat”, allowing for adequate drying between coats.
I think these will be a nice addition to my Combat Patrol™ games, as I can use these in multiple situations as a GM. I like the retro sci-fi look, and as I move into building a Robot army, these will fit in nicely (more to come on those in future blog posts). I also added a photo to the Lost Minis Wiki on the model, as there was none there. Still, sad to see that WSD will no longer produce these cool minis.
I found a small robot miniature on eBay, listed as “Hardy Toot Toot” from the Archive Miniatures Star Rovers line of miniatures and game. Using The Lost Mini’s Wiki , I was able to see it listed as “Hardy Toot Toot/RV86”. This did not make sense to me as When I looked at the Archive Miniatures catalog from 1981, there was no such listing. I reached out to my fellow miniature collectors on Facebook, notably David Wood (the British version) and Nevile Stocken (who was Archive and probably sculpted this figure) but still I had no luck at identifying it. All I knew was it was between 36 and 40 years old.
While I continued to research which figure this actually was, I filed down any unneeded edges, cleaned it in soap and water and let it dry. I then glued it to a 1″ steel washer with wood glue. Then I lightly glued the washer base to a popsicle sick for ease of painting. Next, I brush primed it twice with Citadel “Imperium Primer” thinned with Testors “Universal Acrylic Thinner”. I then gave it a heavy dry-brush application of Tamiya “Chrome Silver”. The figure then waited for a few weeks…
Luckily and surprisingly, I heard back from Nevile Stocken that he thought the figure was on the box cover of the Star Rovers game – which I have! By the way, RV86 is the Robot Cook (2203).
I took a picture of it with my iPhone, cut and pasted it into a PowerPoint file, and printed it. When blown up to 8½” x 11″, I could clearly see on the robot “RT22”! Mystery solved! I verified this by cross-referencing with the catalog as shown below. It was listed as 2205, “Servodroid, RT22, Short Robot”, and retailed for $1.25 back in the day. Many of the old Archive Star Rovers figures were named with a clever nod to Star Wars characters, and this RT22 certainly can claim to be one as a somewhat satirical R2D2.
I decided that it would be a neat idea to honor the colors on the robot’s depiction on game box and try to replicate them on the RT22. To achieve the metallic light blue shown on the box, I used a 50/50 blend of Tamiya “Chrome Silver” and Craftsmart Ultra-Bright Metallic “Sapphire”. That seemed to do the trick, and I gave the entire figure a heavy dry brushing with the combination.
I then looked at the drawing of RT22, and there were some subtle differences between it and the figure. To give depth to the figure, I used a couple washes with Citadel “Nuln Oil”. Then, I wanted to replicate the drawing as much as possible, so I used Americana “Kelly Green” and Vallejo “Vermilion” on the body’s lower parts in squares thinly outlined with Vallejo Model Air “Black”. On what looks like an anchor (with Mickey Mouse ears) on the front, I used Vallejo Model Air “Gold” on the background, and Citadel “Yriel Yellow” on the raised portion. The robot had two traffic signals on it – yes really – forward and aft. I used “Kelly Green”, “Yriel Yellow”, and Vallejo Model Air “Signal Red” on the stoplight signals. I then used the Vallejo Model Air “Black” metallic to outline the gold and on the brackets under its arms. I outlined the arch-like structure in front and various wires on the top, back, and sides with Vallejo Model Air “Aluminum”. On the top, I painted the raised structure ridges and its springs with Vallejo “Arctic Blue” – with “Yriel Yellow” highlights as an eye and on the top of the robot. On the top “ring” part of the robot (which was more akin to a hex nut), I used first a light coat of Vallejo Model Air “Fluorescent Red” (which was more orange than red). I then outlined on the angled edges with a thin line of “Aluminum”. I then used two more layers of “Fluorescent Red” on the ring. The rear battery packs got an application of Vallejo Model Air “Copper” and “Arctic Blue”. I then selectively used “Nuln Oil” where I needed more depth on the figure.
For highlights, I used Craftsmart “Bright Yellow” on all the “Yriel Yellow” surfaces. On the arms and chassis, I employed a lighter mix (more “Chrome Silver”, less “Sapphire”) of the original combination with which I started the light blue dry brushing. I also used a little of both yellows on the tips of the robot’s feet to match the box.
Perhaps the most difficult part of the project was writing the “RT22” on the miniature as shown on the drawing. That was indeed a delicate task that took a steady hand!
I then moved on to the base – and used Citadel “Lustrian Undergrowth” to conceal the washer and make the ground on which figure stood to be more realistic. I really like this paint as it has a rough consistency and takes both dry brushing and application of washes really well.
Once that had dried, I applied Citadel “Agrax Earthshade” to the base, and let it dry. I then dry brushed the base sequentially with Armory “Musket Brown” and Citadel “Niblet Green”.
I then moved on to the varnishing of the figure. As it was a robot, with a very metallic surface, I thought best to use a coat of Krylon clear “Glossy”, followed by two coats of Testors “Dullcoat”, allowing for adequate drying between applications. This worked well, but the base was still too shiny. To fix that, I used a combination of Citadel “Athonian Camoshade” and Army Painter “Anti-shine” brush varnish. It seemed to do the trick.
The research for this project took a lot longer than the actual painting did. I have submitted corrections to The Lost Minis Wiki, so future collectors may be helped. As for this figure, I plan to use it as part of an objective in a sci-fi version of Combat Patrol™.
Just like R2D2 perhaps?
In any case, I am pretty happy with the miniature, and I am especially glad I used the color scheme from the box. I think it is quirky, and still fun! Feel free to let me know your thoughts!
As readers of this blog know, I have been collecting figures from the now-defunct Archive Miniatures Star Rovers line. The figures from this line were made in the late 1970’s, and my goal is to get them collected and adapt them for use with Buck Surdu’s Combat Patrol™ card-based rules.
There was a lot of work on this project – so please enjoy the photos!
They show up from time to time on eBay, and my experience showed that the ones I found were more or less 25mm in scale. However, the Aphids I am going to describe here were a surprise as far as size goes as you will see. You have to be careful in acquiring these – there are a number of really bad recasters of these figures (and others) out there – selling them at exorbitant prices. I have been sure to be diligent before deciding to buy them.
One listing is below. I had seen it several times from the Noble Knight Games store on eBay, but I was initially unimpressed. It looked like a hodge-podge of painted and unpainted figures and bases, and I could not tell what was there at first glance.
On a phone call to catch up, I had a discussion with Buck about the Star Rovers line, and he pointed this listing out to me, so I gave it another look. I compared this with Lost Minis Wiki Star Rovers page and saw that there were several figures that I did not have. They appeared to be different Aphids types, including Aphid Scouts on Grav-Cycles, Aphid Infantry, Aphid Officers, Aphid Mortar Crews, and a couple of robots. Archive had two different numbers for the same miniatures, and Lost Minis Wiki does not explain why – perhaps Archive changed the numbers with later production? In any case, they looked to be original, and I bought them. This set included the following miniatures (I list both catalog numbers here for completeness but I am sure that they are from the older group due to the robots being included):
11 examples of Archive #2060/2314 Aphid Scout on Grav-Cycle (11 riders and 11 grav-cycles plus bases).
18 examples of Archive #2061/2315 Aphid Infantry.
4 examples of Archive #2061/2316 Aphid Officer. The 2061 listing included 5 Aphid Infantry and 1 Officer while the 2316 was just the officer.
3 examples of Archive #2062/2317 Aphid Mortar Team (two figures per crew for 6 figures).
2 examples of Archive #2011A (no later listing) Robot Group. There were 3 robots originally in the set of different types.
I will refer to the older numbers for the most part in this article as I think mine are older.
The figures were in good shape except for one scout rider who was missing a right leg and foot. Surprisingly, they were small – really small – maybe 12mm. The detail on them was appropriate for the time period – but as you can see from the eBay photo they were not greatly detailed. To me, this was a challenge to let the brush bring out the potential of the figures. Also, I thought that this acquisition presented me with an opportunity to field an entire platoon of Aphids for Combat Patrol™ games!
My first step was to strip all of them down of any residual paint – which I accomplished with a long (2 week) soak in Simple Green®. I prefer the blue type as it seems to work better (and smells nicer). This time I used some rifle cleaning tools (bore brushes) with plastic bristles in addition to tooth brushes to remove the old paint which was pretty thick.
I decided that I should first work on the Aphids on Grav-Cycles as they would be the most difficult due to the needed assembly. There were 11 Aphids and 11 Grav-Cycles with bases. More research showed me that these originally came with piano wire to mount them – similar to the image below from Lost Minis Wiki:
I did not have the piano wire and this did not seem to me to be a sturdy way of mounting the grav-cycles. I wanted a more permanent solution, but one that was cool as well. The cycles themselves seemed to had the wire in them at some point in the past, but nothing remained. The bases still had the holes. While shopping at Michael’s it hit me – I could use clear plastic push pins as mounting platforms.
To make this work, I needed a plan as I did not want to varnish the clear plastic and take away from the visual effect of flight that I was going to try to achieve. I mounted the bases on two stacked and centered ¾” steel washers using wood glue and let the combination dry overnight. I cleaned off the flash from the bases, filed them, and primed them with Krylon “Ultra-Flat” matte spray paint. After that I flocked them with 4Ground “Brown Leaves” using white glue. Once that glue was dry, I applied two coats of Testors “Dull Coat” to the bases. Using wire cutters, I trimmed off the pointed tips of the pins to be recessed in the washers when inserted into the bases. I then flattened and narrowed the rounded push pin tops with an Exacto knife, and sized them up with the base of the grav-cycles. This was to make a small flat mounting platform. However, I wanted more stability than super glue alone would give me. My pin vise was the needed tool to make this happen. Using my smallest drill bit, I made a hole in the top center of each push pin. Using E6000 epoxy, I affixed and mounted the push pins onto the bases. Once that had set, I mixed some Aves® Apoxie® Sculpt, and filled the bottom of the washer wells where the push pin tip was. This had the advantage of giving the structure more strength as well as some weight for stability on the gaming table. I cut some pieces of wire from a thin paper clip and glued them at a nearly vertical angle in the hole in the top of the push pin. This worked well as the wire was deep enough to secure the grav-cycle to the platform.
I then moved on to painting the riders and their grav-cycles. This was more difficult as I could not mount these onto a suitable painting structure and paint them successfully – which took much longer. I basically had to paint the Aphid Scouts and Grav-Cycles in my hand.
First I’ll discuss the cycles. I painted the deep recesses of the bottom of the grav-cycles successively with Americana “Deep Burgundy”, followed by Citadel “Spiritstone Red”. I wanted an “aviation” look to the cycles (which had flywheels and a big ray gun as part of the details!). I gave them a heavy dry brush of Tamiya “Flat Aluminum”.
For the details, I used Americana “Ebony” on the seat base and the center of the exhaust port. FolkArt “Gunmetal Gray” was my choice for the front ray gun support and the flywheel bracket, while the flywheel got Tamiya “Chrome Silver”. For the ray gun cowling, Martha Stewart Crafts “Pale Bronze” was my choice. For the tip of the ray gun, I used Craftsmart “Festive Red” metallic. For the exhaust port. I used a combination of Craftsmart “Bright Yellow”, Tamiya “Orange”, and “Festive Red” in a concentric circling pattern. Once this dried, I gave the cycles a wash with Secret Weapons Washes “Armor Wash”, and let that dry. Using “Flat Aluminum”, I highlighted the cycles’ edges and reflective surfaces. Lastly, I used two applications of the “Spiritstone Red” to bring out the ray gun tip even more.
Let’s discuss the riders and the other Aphids painting in general. As I wanted them to look similar (all in the same platoon and the same insect species), I wrote down each step of painting and washing and highlighting. That helps with reproducing the same effects. There are a few differences among each type but I’ll note those as I go along. The only special steps for the riders involved basically repairing the one missing leg on one figure. I used my pin vise, and drilled out a hole in the figure’s leg stump. I cut a piece of paper clip, and bent it at 90°, and superglued it in place. I sculpted a suitable leg with Aves® Apoxie® Sculpt, and let it harden overnight. It came out acceptably!
The painting of the Aphids followed the same basic pattern. I wanted to smooth over any rough areas, so I gave the figures a wash with Secret Weapons Washes “Green”. I then base coated the bunch with my old 1984 Polly-S “Slime Green” using a dry brushing technique.
Each of the Aphids (all types) was equipped with a couple of tanks on their backs, which I interpreted as being a breathing apparatus. For these, I used “Chrome Silver” on the tank bodies and Tamiya “Copper” on the valve sections. After this dried, I gave each Aphid a wash with Citadel “Nuln Oil Glossy”. I wanted glossy so as to bring out the small details that were recessed. Then I highlighted the flat chitinous surfaces of the head and thorax (these are insects) with Craftsmart “Apple Green” satin. To smooth out the colors, I applied yet another wash of “Green” to the Aphids’ shells and “Nuln Oil Glossy” to the ribs on the breathing tanks. For varnishing, I wanted to dull down the glossy a bit so the Aphids got two coats of Testors “Dullcoat”.
Let me get specific about the Aphid Scouts on Grav-Cycles, which were then ready for assembly. I glued the riders to the cycles. Then, I drilled a hole on the bottom of each cycle with my pin vise to fit the paper clip in the push pin with my smallest bit. I needed to also use an Exacto knife to clear the hole of filings and another push pin to start the pin vise (pilot hole). I had some of the riders come off during this process but was able to reglue them easily.
These were then finally assembled. I used differently-colored flocking tufts from Army Painter to show their command and control relationships. They are organized as one squad in the platoon – with one squad leader, and two team leaders each leading teams of 4 grav-cycles. My thoughts initially are to treat the ray gun weapon as an automated analogue of a 37mm anti-tank gun and the vehicle as terrain-defying flying motorcycles.
The process of painting was the same for all of the Aphid Infantry, Aphid Officers, and Aphid Mortar Crews with some differences. First, they are all mounted on two #8 steel washers that have been glued together with wood glue. Second, the infantry is armed with tommy guns (I am assuming that Thompson submachine guns must have a thriving export market in the future!). I used my 1987 Deka Lack “Braun” for the wooden parts of the guns, and “Gunmetal Gray” for the metal ones.
For the officers, three would be squad leaders and one would be the overall platoon leader. The officers’ laser pistols got painted with “Chrome Silver” and the tips got the “Spiritstone Red” treatment on top of Citadel “Gehenna’s Gold”. I chose “Flat Aluminum” for the squad leaders’ helmets, and “Gehenna’s Gold/Spiritstone Red” for the platoon leader’s. Once again, I used Army Painter tufts of different colors and locations to indicate command and control relationships. The platoon leader has three mortar crews and the two robots reporting to him as well. The only difference for the mortar crews was the mortar round and mortar tubes. For the small mortar rounds, I used “Chrome Silver” on the body and “Spiritstone Red” for the fins. The tubes got “Gunmetal Gray”.
To round out the platoon, there are the two Robot self-propelled guns. These look almost steam-punk-like in design. I went with a very metallic scheme for them. First, I gave the figures a wash with Secret Weapons Washes “Armor Wash”. The top part/gun turret was painted with “Flat Aluminum”, while the bottom of the chassis was painted with “Copper” . I painted the wheels and lower chassis with “Gunmetal Gray”. I added Citadel ” Auric Armor Gold” to some of the chassis attachments. For the radiator in the back (!) I used “Copper” framed with “Gunmetal Gray”. The whole assembly got a wash again, and then I painted the robotic insect eyes with Craftsmart “Festive Red” metallic. I highlighted the figure with the same paints again after the wash, and I was pretty happy with it.
The platoon structure (41 fighting figures) is as follows in summary:
Aphid Platoon Leader (1)
Scout Squad Leader for Aphid Scouts on Grav-Cycle (1)
Team A Leader, Grav-Cycle (1)
4 Aphids on Grav-Cycles
Team B Leader, Grav-Cycle (1)
4 Aphids on Grav-Cycles
1st Squad Leader for Aphid Infantry (1)
6 Aphid Infantry with Thompson SMG
2nd Squad Leader for Aphid Infantry (1)
6 Aphid Infantry with Thompson SMG
3rd Squad Leader for Aphid Infantry (1)
6 Aphid Infantry with Thompson SMG
Mortar Section A (2)
Mortar Section B (2)
Mortar Section C (2)
Robot Assault Gun Section (2)
I have to say that this was a very challenging project – the figures were smaller than I am used to painting, and they were much less detailed. However, I am pretty proud of what I was able to do with it and look forward to seeing them in action in a game. It’s fun to bring nearly 40-year old figures back to life – especially with many old paints as well. I’m glad I got these, and am very happy with how they turned out. I’m planning on chatting with Buck about assigning combat values to them soon.