Back when I was acquiring the Texican Space Rangers from Michael Thomas’ site, classicminiatures.net, Michael let me know that he had some other cool figures that were not listed on his miniatures list. One of these was a cool robot that he called “Advancing Robot”. Supposedly, it was from the now-shuttered Mega Miniatures company as part of its Salvage Crew Robots & Vehicles line, with a product number of DEAL-0372. Michael sent me a picture, and I bought 11 for a squad for Combat Patrol™ games, along with some others that I will hopefully be able to share with you all when they are painted. The figures are 28mm in size. Certainly, Michael is great to work with if you have any interest in buying from him
However, when I looked at the Lost Minis Wiki, I was perplexed – it was not there! I reached out to the Old School Miniatures group on FaceBook as I thought these might be old, but no luck was to be found there. Then I tried The Miniatures Page (TMP), and got a bit luckier with this information. So, my newly acquired robots were indeed from Mega Miniatures but circa 2008, which ironically makes them relatively young in my collection. Still, I had no luck with any catalog or descriptor info, until Neil at Lost Minis Wiki helped me out with a 2012 Mega Miniatures catalog and there on page 60 was my robot.
I now knew the figure was DEAL-0372, Robot Peacekeeper from Mega Miniatures! It was armed with an automatic weapon left hand and a claw on its right hand. As I had 11 of these, I decided that it would be a squad of two teams of five robots (four each plus its own team leader) and led by a squad leader.
I cleaned the figures, and filed and cut away any flash (of which there was very little). I mounted them on ¾” steel washers with Gorilla Glue. Then I affixed them to poster tack on top of specimen jars for painting. I used my airbrush to prime them white with Vallejo “Surface Primer-White”.
As for a painting scheme, I decided that I wanted them to pop color-wise, so I again used paints that are more likely to be used models of muscle cars. Createx makes some really cool pearlized colors that I like for metallics – they really work well as long as you use the proper pressure in your airbrush and you thin them appropriately. What I really like is that they put the appropriate pressure setting on the bottle.
For the squad leader, I used “Pearlized Red”. Each of the two team leaders got “Pearl Copper”. Team A got “Pearl Tangerine”, and Team B got “Pearl Plum”. Each of these had different pressure requirements, but switching between paints was extremely easy and cleanup afterwards was a breeze.
At this point, my daughter Ellen, who was visiting with her daughter (our granddaughter) Tabitha, saw them and said, “cool, they look like Skittles”. As a result, I kept thinking about candy as I worked on them! Of course, a song crept into my mind, and so from 1982, here’s the theme for this blog post, from Bow Wow Wow for no other reason that it stuck in my head.
Try getting that out of your head now!
Back to the project! I then used a series of washes and paints on them to bring out details better and to make them easier to use on the tabletop. I decided that the optics (can’t really say that the robots have eyes) would be the key differentiating feature between Team A and Team B. I painted the optics white, then lined them with “Nuln Oil Gloss” (the gloss version works much better on metallics). Then, using fluorescent colors (yellow, magenta, and green) from Vallejo Mecha Colors, I painted each robots peepers (I needed another word for optics) multiple times until I got a nice radiant glow from them. I highlighted the group with brushing on more of the aforementioned pearlized paints. All the paints that I used are listed at the end of this post for those interested.
I then used an airbrushed gloss varnish to protect the paint jobs. But wait you say, gloss? On already shiny minis? Yes – and after that dried it allowed me then to work on my bases.
For this group, I wanted to use a less Martian-like red on the bases – and go with a more lunar look. For this, I used Citadel’s “Astrogranite”, a texture paint on the bases. With all of Citadel’s texture paints, I find it useful to use a hand-held hair dryer to get better effects from them in terms of cracking or making crevices. I did not see that effect with the “Astrogranite”, but it did dry enough for easy dry brushing later. After it dried I was able to effectively apply a wash of Citadel “Nuln Oil Gloss” to darken the low spots. For dry brushing, I applied Vallejo “Wolf Grey” to the bases. That turned out to be a bit too plain for my tastes, so I added a glaze of Citadel “Gulliman Blue” which made a nice tint on the bases. Now I had a good lunar look.
Lastly, I finished the models with a second coat of varnish, this time Vallejo “Mecha Varnish Matt Varnish” with my airbrush. This did a nice job on the models and the bases.
I am pretty satisfied with how the unit came out. The sculpts are retro-looking enough to work with my other Archive stuff – I think they look “Robocop-ish”, and I’m sure I can use them to augment any force, maybe even the Texican Space Rangers. The Lost Minis Wiki is now updated with the Salvage Crew Robots & Vehicles range.
I hope you enjoyed these Robot Peacekeepers! Please leave your feedback in the comments section – I enjoy your thoughts and suggestions. Thanks and hopefully I get another group done soon.
Followers of this blog may have wondered where I have been, why have I not been posting? Well, I have been working on building a platoon of Archive Miniatures “Mark III Robots” (#2323). The platoon will be led by Archive Miniatures “Juggerbot” (#2331). Both of these sculpts are from the vibrant imagination of Nevile Stocken, who was way ahead of his time with his work. Given that these figures were from the late 70’s and early 80’s, I have to think that they were inspired (especially the visors) by the original Cylons from the 1978 TV series Battlestar Galactica. I loved that show when I was a kid! So, I had to make them shiny!
This long project started with making a mold and casting 38 out of the 40 Mark III Robots as described previously here. I wish that I could have just bought them, but my time machine is broken…and that made purchasing them an impossibility. The platoon will have 4 squads of 10 (5 per team), plus 4 squad leaders, and Juggerbot – so the platoon is composed of a total of 45 figures.
The original Mark III’s (there were no Mark I’s or II’s!) were from the Star Rovers line of figures made by Archive in the 1979-1981 timeframe. They are very tough to find on eBay or anywhere else. I managed to acquire two originals, but only one was fully intact, and it became the master for my recasting efforts. The other original I converted with another weapon.
I found the Juggerbot kit on eBay, and decided that it would make an excellent platoon leader. For squad leaders, I have four War Games Supply Dump Khang Robots that were previously described in this blog here. Each Khang is color-coded (red, green, blue, and purple), and each squad in my platoon follows that scheme. Each Mark III Warbot Squad consists of the Khang Squad Leader, and two teams of five Warbots.
I converted one Warbot per team with a special weapon. Each squads’ Team 1 had a conversion with Bombshell Miniature’s “particle beam weapon” (BOM36016). I gave the Team 2’s two different weapons each. Two teams got Bombshell Miniatures large “arc weapon” as their conversion, while the other two got a large War Games Supply Dump retro sci-fi weapon from the WP01 “Weapons Pack 1”. All of the conversions I did were with these weapons, which are no longer available from either Bombshell or the now-shuttered War Games Supply Dump.
Conversion of these figures, as well as cleanup in terms of cutting and filing were major efforts in this project. I use mostly tin (about 67%) in my casting, and this made sawing away and filing pieces from them tedious as they are not as soft as a higher-lead alloy would be. Still, I was able to convert 7 of my castings plus the extra original for a total of 8 conversions. In most cases, I needed to bend the arms to accommodate the new weapons. My concept was for Team 1 to have one Warbot with a higher rate of fire weapon, while the Team 2’s would have specialized breaching or anti-armor capabilities.
After cleaning up the figures, I made a plan to complete the conversions. I also wanted to try a few new things in making this platoon. I wanted to use my new airbrushes and spray booth, and I wanted to use poster tack on specimen bottles and grocery store coins to have greater ease of painting with both the airbrushes and traditional brushes.
After all of my conversions were complete, I mounted the figures on steel washers for eventual magnetized storage. I had to use a bigger washer for Juggerbot. The platoon was then affixed to outdated grocery store bonus coins and specimen bottles or just to the bottles themselves with poster tack. In the future, I will not use the coins, as it was just easier to use the bottles minus the coins. I used an Aztec airbrush to prime the figures with gray Vallejo “Surface Primer”, giving the figures 24 hours to dry. I had read that doing that is desirable so that this primer paint can harden.
I then used Createx “Wicked Aluminum” airbrush paint (very sparkly) to base coat the Warbots using an Iwata Eclipse air brush – and I found this brush to be a much easier tool than the Aztec. I used Vallejo Model Air “Gold” to base coat Juggerbot with the airbrush.
I saw that the Createx paint had given the Warbots the appropriate shiny starting point for further development of the paint scheme I wanted, which was to be very retro sci-fi metallic, and reminiscent of the Cylons. Then I went back to the regular brush!
For my color schemes of red, blue, green, and purple on the Warbots, I went with DecoArt “Festive Red”, “Peacock Pearl”, “Crystal Green”, and Craftsmart “Amethyst” respectively. These metallic paints are great, but thick, and not easily thinned. Still, they worked well and I put these colors on the ankle, knee, and wrist joints for ease of tabletop play. I chose to use them as well for the visor interior colors, with Vallejo Model Air metallic “Black” for the outer parts of the visors. I then used “Gold” for the Warbot voice boxes and weapons tips on the unconverted troopers. “Black” was my choice for the rest of the weapons, offset with Vallejo Model Air “Steel” and Martha Stewart Crafts “Duckling” (this was a nod to my friend Buck Surdu, whose love of all things ducky and his take on the Mark III Warbots helped me plan out my approaches here).
For the common weapon barrels, I employed Vallejo Model Air “Copper”, and complemented them with Vallejo Model Air “Medium Gunship Gray”. Juggerbot had several lights on him, so Vallejo Model Air “Arctic Blue” and “Signal Red”, and “Aluminum” helped me with these details. I used these as well on the conversion weapons.
I then used several applications of Citadel “Nuln Oil Gloss” and “Black” on Juggerbot to shade the recesses of the figure. Moving back to the Warbots, I used “Aluminum” on the bodies, then similar to what I did with Juggerbot, I shaded with “Black” and “Nuln Oil Gloss”. Interestingly, I found that the inks really rolled off the figures, and the “Black” paint really helped with the shading.
I then added a healthy coat of Citadel “Ardcoat” to all visor and lighted surfaces. As a final highlight for Juggerbot and the Warbot weapon tips, I used Citadel “Retributor Armour”.
I decided that I wanted to be able to differentiate between the two teams within each squad. To do this, I experimented with kneadatite (green stuff) and Apoxie Sculpt and some numbered stamps. I found that the Apoxie Sculpt was easier to form, stamp, and once dry, cut. I applied these numbers to the figures’ bases with Gorilla Glue.
I used Citadel “Imperium Primer” on the Apoxie Sculpt numbers, then added Citadel “Martian Ironearth” to them. Then, I built up the bases with Citadel “Martian Ironcrust” with a light sprinkle of Army Painter “Black Battleground” for more texture. After using both “Ironearth” and “Ironcrust”, I dried them to a crackly surface with a hand-held hair blow dryer. I highly recommend this technique.
After a day of drying, I dry brushed the bases with Armory’s “Red Brown” and “Brick Red”. I filled the numbers in with “Imperium Primer” for all troopers, with the team leaders getting “Retributor Armour” on theirs. Then it was back to the paint booth for two coats of varnish, this time with an Iwata Neo airbrush, allowing for adequate drying between applications.
I now needed to remove the figures from the bottles and coins. The poster tack was easier to remove when I did not use the coins. I lightly painted the underside of the bases with Craftsmart “White” so I could use a black fine-tipped Sharpie to write information on the figures’ bottoms.
I cannot express enough how much I like this platoon! The figures started off pretty rough, but in the end, I was able to make a nice unit for tabletop gaming. It did take me a couple of months, but it was worth it. They will be in action this upcoming weekend, as they make their tabletop debut – stay tuned, and let me know your thoughts below!
This post is about another group of miniatures that I acquired in March from the recently closed Wargames Supply Dump (thanks so much Roger!).
These are DG-08 and DG-09, Khang Robots. One model is tracked, the other has legs. I purchased 2 kits of each type of robot.
I’m currently planning on building out a series of different squads and platoons for use in retro-sci-fi skirmish games using the Combat Patrol™ system of rules. I have described previously here in this blog my casting work on making a platoon of Archive Miniatures Mark III Warbots. I thought these Khang Robots would be great as leaders for that platoon. They look so very retro! The tracked version really evokes the old “B9” from the 1960’s TV series Lost in Space.
Additionally, I eventually will be painting up a unit of WSD Khang troopers, and I can use these four robots to augment those forces as well.
The kits arrived, and I washed them with a light scrub with soap and water, and let them dry. Once dry, I assembled them with super glue. I tried to glue each robots’ arms so that they would each have a different position for better aesthetics. After they were together, I affixed them to 1¼” steel washers using Loctite glue for ease of eventual magnetic box storage. Then, I used poster tack to affix the models to popsicle sticks for ease of painting. This is now my new favorite tactic as it is very easy to remove after painting.
I then primed them (top and bottom) with Krylon “Ultra Flat” white matte spray paint. This allows me the option to write (with a fine-tipped Sharpie) on the washer bottoms with info that I’d like to have on them, such as the model’s name, the date of completion, my name, and any unit identification.
After the primer dried, I gave the models an aggressive wash with Citadel “Nuln Oil”.
I used Vallejo Model Air Metallics “Steel” as the primary base coat for the models’ helmets, shoulders, belt, and claws. I painted the waist/ribbed chest area with Citadel “Mechanicus Standard Gray”. Then, for a shiny rubber-like look on the ribs, boots, and legs, I applied a coat of Armory “Gloss Black”. For the front of the tracked bases and the chest-mounted cannons, I used Vallejo Model Air Metallics “Gun Metal”. Then I highlighted the shiny parts on the shoulders and helmets with Vallejo Model Air Metallics “Aluminum”. For the voice box (cannot really call it a mouth!) I added a light coat of Citadel “Spiritstone Red”.
Moving on to some of the details on the helmet, arm sockets, “ears”, and back components, I found a great solution with Vallejo Model Air Metallics “Copper”. There were several lights on the front and back of the robots, and for these I used a spotter brush with Citadel “Yriel Yellow”, Vallejo Model Air Metallics “Signal Red”, Craftsmart “Sapphire”, and DecoArt “Crystal Green” – varying the lights a bit in the front.
For the vents in the front of the tracked figures, I used “Gloss Black”, with “Steel” on the vents. I then extensively used Vallejo Model Air Metallics “Gold” and Craftsmart “Onyx” on bolt straps and bolts respectively throughout all the models. I also used “Onyx” to highlight the “Gloss Black” painted parts.
I then chose some bright-colored metallics to theme the robots and make them easier to identify on the gaming table. My four choices were: DecoArt “Crystal Green”, “Festive Red”, “Peacock Blue”, and Craftsmart “Amethyst”. I painted with these as you see below – as highlights on the robots’ helmet crests, “ears”, belts, boots, and backs of the lower chassis (all depending on the models). I did a lot of highlighting!
This completed my initial base coating and highlighting. For the bases, I thought I’d use Citadel “Martian Ironcrust”. This texture paint has a nice crackling effect if you use a blow dryer between applications (as I did) to dry the paint. I also added some Army Painter “Black Battlefield” into it when it was still moist – and this worked well to give a realistic texture. For the tracked models, I tried to make a track and chassis impression with the “Martian Ironcrust”. I also tried to show the accumulation of dust on the tracks and boots with this texture paint. I think it worked well enough.
I then moved on to serial washes with Citadel “Agrax Earthshade” on some lighter parts and “Nuln Oil” on others such as the ribs. For the robots’ claws, I found that Citadel “Seraphim Sepia” gave a unique metallic tone to the claws. On the bases, “Agrax Earthshade” really enhanced the cracks and gave a lot of depth to them. I used a lot of washes to give depth to the figures.
I then waited a day or so for the humidity to go down and for the temperature to be adequate for varnishing. I sprayed the models with one coat of Krylon “Clear Matte”, followed by two coats of Testors “Dullcoat”, allowing for adequate drying time between applications.
These are pretty cool figures – and the downside is that pretty cool figures have a lot of details! The upside is they give the painter a tremendous opportunity to create a nice visual product. These are really fun retro sci-fi figures – and I hope that I did achieve success with these four. I really like them, and am motivated to get going on the Mark III Warbots to complete the platoon – and to use my new airbrush to prime, base coat, and varnish this my next project. Stay tuned, and let me know your thoughts in the comments section! Thanks!
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.