Robot Peacekeepers

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

This unit is also one I can use for the June Community Painting Challenge from Azazel as my second unit for the month.

00 unknown pic
The photo that I got from Michael Thomas

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.

23 Mega Minis catalog (2)
There it is!  Bottom row, second from the right.

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.

0 Advancing Robots Mega Minis DEAL 0372
As delivered

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”.

2 Advancing Robots Mega Minis DEAL 0372
The squad assembled and primed for painting

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.

4 Advancing Robots Mega Minis DEAL 0372 after base coat
All base coated
5 Advancing Robots Mega Minis DEAL 0372 paints
The base coat paints

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.

6 Advancing Robots Mega Minis DEAL 0372 in progress whites and fluorescents
Mid stage, showing the optics in progress
7 Advancing Robots Mega Minis DEAL 0372 in progress painted less bases
Completely painted and shiny (too shiny)
8 Advancing Robots Mega Minis DEAL 0372 in progress painted less bases close up
Yes, too shiny…but it was all part of a plan…

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.

9 SL close up before matte
After bases painted before applying the matte varnish

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.

10 Advancing Robots Mega Minis DEAL 0372 in progress complete drying
Drying on the deck in the sun
11 Advancing Robots Mega Minis DEAL 0372 in progress complete drying side
Catching some rays, not ray guns…

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.

12 Advancing Robots Mega Minis DEAL 0372 in progress complete squad
The squad assembled.  The red Robot Peacekeeper is the squad leader.  The yellowish ones are the team leaders.  Orange is the color for Team A (with green optics) and purple (or plum) is the color for Team B (with yellow optics)

13 Advancing Robots Mega Minis DEAL 0372 in progress complete squad better

14 Advancing Robots Mega Minis DEAL 0372 leadership
The leadership
15 Advancing Robots Mega Minis DEAL 0372 Team A
Team A
16 Advancing Robots Mega Minis DEAL 0372 Team B
Team B
17 SL Square for casualty card
Robot Peacekeeper Squad Leader close up, frontal view.  Contrast this one with the shinier version I showed before.
18 SL Square for casualty card rear
Robot Peacekeeper Squad Leader, from the back
19 Tm A ldr Square
Team A leader
21 Tm A trooper Square
Team A Robot Peacekeeper
21 Tm B Trooper Square
Team B Robot Peacekeeper
22 Assembled Squad
The squad moves out!

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.

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

  1. Vallejo “Surface Primer – White”
  2. Createx “Pearl Red”
  3. Createx “Pearl Copper”
  4. Createx “Pearl Tangerine”
  5. Createx “Pearl Plum”
  6. Vallejo “Flow Improver”
  7. Vallejo “”Airbrush Thinner”
  8. Createx “4012 High Performance Reducer”
  9. Citadel “Nuln Oil Gloss” (wash)
  10. Citadel “Ceramite White”
  11. Vallejo Mecha Color “Metallic Blue”
  12. Vallejo Mecha Color “Green Fluorescent”
  13. Vallejo Mecha Color “Magenta Fluorescent”
  14. Vallejo Mecha Color “Yellow Fluorescent”
  15. Vallejo Model Air “Gun Metal”
  16. Vallejo Model Air “Black (metallic)”
  17. Vallejo Model Air “Chrome”
  18. Vallejo “Black Grey”
  19. Vallejo “Gloss Varnish”
  20. Citadel “Astrogranite” (texture)
  21. Vallejo Game Air “Wolf Grey”
  22. Citadel “Gulliman Blue” (glaze)
  23. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish”

Thanks again for looking!

F.R.O.G. Commandos Platoon

In the spirit of bringing more miniatures back from the commercial grave, I happily share with you my latest project – a F.R.O.G. Commandos platoon.  This unit consists of 40 figures.  All of them except 1 figure were made of metal.  In the Critter Commandos universe, F.R.O.G. stands for “Federated Republics of GreenEarth”, one of several cartoon nations created by the Team Frog founder, Paul Arden Lidberg.  None of these are currently available commercially.

The unit also includes a Frogbot (Crittertek).  This project also enabled me to participate in a painting challenge “Squad March” put out by Azazel on his blog.  This contest required a unit of at least 3 figures, and I am sure that this one qualifies!  It did take up the month of March for sure.

I was able to do this because I managed to get another box of F.R.O.G. Commandos from Chris Palmer at BARRAGE in January.  Originally, each box (a re-purposed VHS tape box no less) came with 8 figures and a d10.  I had been slowly collecting many different figures from the line, but Chris’ addition of 8 frogs allowed me to create a platoon for Combat Patrol™.

I managed to successfully finish my project just in time for the end of March.  I had come across figures from the Critter Commandos line, which was initially put out sometime between the late 1980’s and early 1990’s by the Team Frog Studios company.  Later, the figures were also marketed by Nightshift Games.  The figures are all creations of the late Steve Lortz, who also made the Star Ducks and other figures for Archive.  I just love his stuff, they are a lot of fun.  Also, when I was at West Point, I was in company F-4, whose mascot was a Frog (GO FROGS RIBBIT! was our cry).  So I had another motivator here as well.

The photo below is what I had assembled for the project.  On the top you see the Frogbot, but he was definitely not together as I will discuss later.  The miniatures are around 28mm in scale.

So I needed a plan – I decided that I did not want more than 1 figure per fire team to be the same figure, but as you see above, I had a hodgepodge collection.  I worked it out as follows – this unit consists of 40 figures:

  • Command section (2 each – platoon leader and platoon sergeant)
  • Three full squads (11 each) led by a squad leader each consisting of:
    • Two teams of 5 (Team Leader and 4 F.R.O.G. Troopers)
  • 1 Heavy Weapons/Recon section consisting of a Section Leader, 3 F.R.O.G. troopers, and a Frogbot.
0 PLAN.jpg
My plan

It took a bit to clean and file all of these figures.  They had some casting issues (mainly cracks) that I repaired with kneadatite (green stuff).  I then moved on to the Frogbot, which was not a Lortz creation.  I had bought it on eBay with a number of other Critter Commandos, and it deserves a few notes.

4a Frogbot pieces
All I had for the Frogbot

The kit was incomplete.  There was no main gun, but there was a small hole in the front of the main body.  Pinning was not possible because the legs were made of some kind of tubing., and the plastic  “googly eyes” you see above would not meet my standards.  Clearly, there needed to be some changes.  First, I filed the main chassis down to remove as many casting crevices as possible.  I then got a short bolt extender, and patiently reamed out the small hole to affix the extender as a main gun for the model.

5 mounting gun
The reamed out hole and bolt extender
6 mounting gun 2
Main gun  – check!

Then I needed to make it look, well, froggy.  The eyes were an issue, so I bought some cheap beads at Michael’s.  Using some dollhouse hinge screws that I drilled into the Frogbot chassis as mounts, I affixed the beads as sensors/eyes after reaming them out slightly.  Then I carefully glued the rest of the model together.

7 resurrected Frogbot
Assembled Frogbot

7a resurrected Frogbot7b resurrected Frogbot

While I really was happy with the figure, the engineer in me thought that it was too structurally weak.  So I used green stuff to reinforce the legs and chain guns, as well as to fill in around the eyes and create a mantlet for the gun.

8 resurrected Frogbot after green stuff
Structurally reinforced Frogbot

I was now ready to prime the lot.  I used my airbrush to prime the figures.  Without going into painting detail here, I will show the figures and the progression of the project.  I list the paints I used at the end of this post for those interested.

First, the lot before mounting on 1¼” washers and priming

I decided to give each sub unit its own different amphibian skin color and color for accouterments, while keeping the majority of the uniforms the same.  This was to help with tabletop identification.

  • Command group got greenish skin and red for accouterments
  • First squad got greenish blue skin and dark blue for accouterments
  • Second got yellowish green skin and yellow for accouterments
  • Third squad got bright green skin and purple for accouterments
  • Heavy Weapons/Recon Section got grayish green skin and orange for accouterments
10 mid stage first squad
1st Squad base coated
14 2nd squad painted
Second Squad base coated
15 3rd squad painted
Third Squad base coated

Once the painting was complete, I used Army Painter “Quickshade” (strong tone) to shade the models, followed by a coat of Vallejo “Matte Varnish”.  I then highlighted the models, and then added another coat of varnish with my airbrush.  I used Army Painter tufts (Jungle, Swamp, Woodland, and Meadow Flowers) to further assist in tabletop differentiation.

17 heavy~recon section painted
Heavy Weapons/Recon Section before shading and warnishing
18 Platoon in a box
The entire platoon in the box awaiting transport
19 leaders together
The 4 leaders showing their different skin tones and accouterment colors
20 1st squad deployed
First Squad
21 2nd squad deployed
Second Squad
22 3rd squad deployed
Third Squad
23 hvy wpns~recon section deployed
Heavy Weapons Section

There were 8 different poses plus the Frogbot, so here are some front and back poses.  You can see some of the differentiating features here as well.

24 figure 1 Captain Frog
Figure 1 ” Captain Frog” with revolver and sword
25 figure 2 Staff Sergeant Splash
Figure 2 – “Staff Sergeant Splash” with flame thrower
26 figure 3 Corporal Dripp
Figure 3 – “Corporal Dripp” with flame thrower looking like a hair dryer
27 figure 4 Trooper Ribbet
Figure 4 – “Trooper Ribbet” with assault rifle
28 figure 5 Trooper Hopper
Figure 5 – “Trooper Hopper” with assault rifle and pineapple grenade
29 figure 6 Trooper Budd
Figure 6 – “Trooper Bud” with assault rifle
30 figure 7 Trooper Wyze
Figure 7 – “Trooper Wyze” with assault rifle and an antitank mine
31 figure 8 Trooper Wyze
Figure 8 – “Trooper Urr” with assault rifle
15 3 way Frogbot deployed
The Frogbot.  Note the middle photo with the shout out to “F-4” on the back.  The camouflage pattern is inspired by Japanese WWII tank patterns.

I am very happy with this project, and hope that you enjoyed it as well.

Thanks to:

  • My wife (for putting up with me during this project – again)
  • Chris Palmer – for the box and inspiration!
  • Buck Surdu – for the inspiration and some old paints from Polly S
  • Dave Wood – for starting me on this hobby back when we were roomies
  • All my readers – for inspiring me and sharing their feedback!!

PAINTS AND FLOCKING USED:

  1. Vallejo “Surface Primer – White”
  2. Vallejo “Camouflage Olive Green”
  3. Vallejo Model Air “Aluminum”
  4. Vallejo Mecha Color “Light Green”
  5. Vallejo Mecha Color “Deep Green”
  6. Vallejo Mecha Color “Yellow Fluorescent”
  7. Vallejo Game Air “Sick Green”
  8. Vallejo Game Air “Beastly Brown”
  9. Vallejo Game Air “Black”
  10. Vallejo “Dark Blue”
  11. Vallejo “Neutral Gray”
  12. Vallejo Model Air “Steel”
  13. Polly S “Interior Green”
  14. Vallejo Model Air “Black”
  15. Citadel “Retributor Armour”
  16. Vallejo Game Air “Sun Yellow”
  17. Vallejo “US Dark Green”
  18. Citadel “Yriel Yellow”
  19. Vallejo “Red”
  20. Citadel “Imperium Primer”
  21. Vallejo “Glaze Medium”
  22. Vallejo “Thinner medium”
  23. Testors “Universal Acrylic Thinner”
  24. Citadel “Waywatcher Green”
  25. Citadel “Coelia Greenshade”
  26. Citadel “Athonian Camoshade”
  27. Citadel “‘Ardcoat”
  28. Citadel “Fire Dragon Bright”
  29. P3 “Sulfuric Yellow”
  30. P3 “Red Ink”
  31. Vallejo “Yellow Green”
  32. Vallejo “Sunny Skin Tone”
  33. Vallejo Game Air “Moon Yellow”
  34. Vallejo Mecha Color “Purple”
  35. Vallejo Game Air “Escorpena Green”
  36. Vallejo Mecha Color “Green”
  37. Vallejo Mecha Color “Purple”
  38. Vallejo Mecha Color “Green”
  39. Vallejo Mecha Color “Green Blue”
  40. Vallejo Model Air “Copper”
  41. Vallejo Model Air “Gun Metal”
  42. Vallejo Model Air “Medium Gunship Gray”
  43. Polly S “WWII German Armor Dark Brown”
  44. Vallejo “Japanese Uniform WWII”
  45. Citadel “Nuln Oil”
  46. Polly S “Venetian Dull Red”
  47. Vallejo Model Air “Wood”
  48. Army Painter “Quickshade – Strong Shade”
  49. Vallejo “Matt Varnish”
  50. Citadel “Stirland Mud”
  51. Citadel “Lustrian Undergrowth”
  52. Polly S “British Brown Drab”
  53. Army Painter “Woodland Tufts”
  54. Army Painter “Swamp Tufts”
  55. Army Painter “Jungle Tufts”
  56. Army Painter “Meadow Flowers”

Thanks again  – please share your thoughts in the comments section!

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!

Armorcast Grenade Blasts for Combat Patrol

When I have wanted to demonstrate the effects of a grenade or a small explosion on a tabletop war game, I have been using cotton balls or other similar things, and this has not been a satisfactory practice for me.  I wanted to have some better effects for grenade use in Combat Patrol™ games.

I saw some nice resin ones (ACFX034 Grenade Blasts) from Armorcast in their cinematic effects line.  These were reasonably priced and looked good.  I picked up 4 packs of two from their website.

1 package
As delivered

I washed them and let them dry, and then mounted them to 1″ steel washers that I had previously primed with Gorilla glue.  I left the pyramid-like under-sprues attached as I thought that this would help with painting the blasts near the bases.

This approach did help, but I wish that I had cut them prior to painting them as this would have made removal easier later.   I also tried my best to catch any areas that needed to be cleaned up in the way of excess resin.  I mounted the washers with poster tack to the tops of specimen and old aspirin bottles for painting.

Using my airbrush, I primed them with Vallejo “Gray Surface Primer”.  Once this was dry, I gave the blasts an airbrush coat of Vallejo “Game Air Black”.

2 primed
After priming and first base coat of black paint

After this, I switched to the brush and gave the blasts a generous application of Citadel “Nuln Oil”.  Then it was just a process of using series of dry brushings on the blasts working from bottom to top in varying degrees of color:

  • Polly -S “Demon Deep Red” (a survivor paint from 1984)
  • Americana “Primary Red”
  • Citadel “Fire Dragon Bright”
  • P3 “Sulfuric Yellow”

I then gave the entire surface a wash with Secret Weapons Washes “Sunshine Wash”.  Lastly, I painted the blast rocks/ejecta with Vallejo “Gray Black”.  At this point, I needed to remove the sprues and remount on  the washers.  I did this with a sprue cutter to minimize paint damage, but if I had done this earlier by sawing almost through the sprue I would have been better off and had less to fix!

Using gorilla glue, I reattached the blasts to the washers, and pushed the washers into the poster tack on the bottles.

4 before adding shade
Fully base-coated

I used Citadel “Imperial Primer” to cover up the unpainted parts of the metal bases, and then applied Army Painter “Quickshade” (Strong Tone) with an old brush.  I let this sit for a couple of days to harden and to dry.  I then followed up on this with an airbrush application of Army Painter “Anti-Shine” varnish (just one coat).  This suitably dulled the shine from the Quickshade.

I plan to use these blasts to both designate where grenades or small explosions occur, but and to leave on the board as temporary impediments to line of sight.  They are close enough to the Combat Patrol™ small explosion template in my view for that use (see below).

5 finished vignette
Star Ducks throw a couple of grenades at the Red Mark III Warbots and their Khang Robot leader
6 finished vignette
The attacking Purple Warbot Squad and Juggerbot are bracketed by a flurry of small explosions
7 with template
The small explosion template and the Grenade Blast
8 close up
BOOM!  First painting project of 2018 done! 

I have to say that I like these, and am looking forward to using them in a game soon!

Thanks for looking – please share your thoughts in the comments section!

Mark III Warbot Platoon & Juggerbot for Combat Patrol

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!

 

Cylons-rock
Mark III Warbot inspiration?

 

These will be used in upcoming games using the Combat Patrol™ set of card-based rules.  The figures are effectively 25-28mm, being large robots (larger than humans).

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.

 

1 Archive Mark III Warbot - Copy
My original Mark III Warbot with weapon intact.  I had one other with a broken weapon, which I converted to another weapon.

 

1 Juggerbot
Juggerbot as received from eBay – obviously cast from a mold in the post-Archive era
2 Juggerbot
Juggerbot contents – needed some TLC…glue, and pressure while the glue set
3 Juggerbot
Assembled and straightened Juggerbot

 

0000 Arc Weapon sprue 36013
Bombshell Miniatures arc weapon sprue -I used two of the ones on the far left
0000 Particle-Beam-Weapon-Sprue
I used the far left particle beam weapon for each Team 1 conversion
0000a Catalog Closeup
From the 1981 catalog
000 Archive Star Rovers juggerbot
Juggerbot drawing from the 1981 Star Rovers game rule book
000 Archive Star Rovers Mark III Warbot a
Mark III Warbot drawing from the 1981 Star Rovers game rule book

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.

01 Warbot Platoon with Juggerbot
After cleanup but before conversion – I ended up using 2 arc weapons (far left), 2 of the WSD weapons (2nd from left), and 4 of the particle beam weapons (far right) in my conversions
02 Warbot first conversions
After conversion – arc weapon on left, particle beam on right
03 Warbot second conversion
War Games Supply Dump weapon conversion
04 Assembled platoon on washers
Mounted on steel washers and ready for the poster tack and the specimen jars

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.

06a primedAssembled platoon on coins and bottles
Primed on the specimen jars

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.

08 Juggerbot primed
Juggerbot base coated
09 Close up primed
Close up of Warbots base coated

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”.

 

10 Juggerbot basecoated
Juggerbot mid-stage
11 Red original Mark III base coated mid stage
Early stage painting of Red Squad Warbot
12 Purple cast Mark III base coated mid stage
Early stage painting of Purple Squad Warbot
14 Green cast Mark III base coated mid stage
Early stage painting of Green Squad Warbot

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.

16 numbers applied
Figures with the numbers applied

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.

17 varnishing in the paint booth
Juggerbot ready for varnish
18 varnished group shot
The platoon all varnished

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.

25 Red Team Mark III Warbot conversion with Bombshell Mini particle beam
Red Team 1 conversion with particle beam weapon – this is the other original Warbot that had a broken weapon
26 Green Squad Mark III Warbots with SL
Green Warbot Squad with Khang Robot Squad Leader
27 Green Mark III Warbots with conversions
Left to right, regular trooper, particle beam weapon conversion, and arc weapon conversion of Green Squad
28 Purple squad Mark III Warbots with SL
Purple Warbot Squad with Khang Robot Squad Leader
29 Purple Mark III Warbots with conversions
Left to right, regular trooper, particle beam weapon conversion, and War Games Supply Dump weapon conversion of Purple Squad 
30 Blue Squad Mark III Warbots with SL
Blue Warbot Squad with Khang Robot Squad Leader
31 Blue Mark III Warbots with conversions
Left to right, regular trooper, particle beam weapon conversion, and War Games Supply Dump weapon conversion of Blue Squad
32 Juggerbot right side
Fear the Juggerbot!
33 Juggerbot front side
Coming at you
34 Juggerbot left side
Mr. Universe pose
34 Juggerbot rear view
The back view
40 Assembled Mark III Warbot Platoon, front view
Assembled Mark III Warbot Platoon, front view
41 Assembled Mark III Warbot Platoon, side view
Assembled Mark III Warbot Platoon, side view

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!

 

 

 

 

September 2017 Gaming Night – Star Ducks Attack The Frinx!

To round out September, the Mass Pikemen Gaming Club ran a game during which the Star Ducks attacked the positions held by the Power-Armored Frinx.  Both of these forces are from Archive Miniatures circa 1979-1981.  You can learn more about their origins here.  Click on Star Ducks or Power-Armored Frinx to learn more about their platoons.  We used the Combat Patrol™ system, with modifications to approximate the abilities of the Star Ducks to use their jet packs, and the durability of the Frinx as a result of their power armor.  The Frinx also had the support of two Archive RVS86 “Robot Cooks” which were analogous to small self-propelled guns.

 

3-archive-robot-group-2-2011-completed
Two RV86 supported the Frinx

The scenario was one where the Frinx, led by Lieutenant Ma’k were defending some old ruined buildings that held some lost technology – and the Star Ducks, led by Duck Vader, were hell-bent on getting into the building and killing Frinx in general.  The Frinx, on their part, desired to dispatch the Star Ducks with extreme prejudice.

 

 

01 Sep 28 MP Gaming night
The Star Ducks advance in the foreground, the Frinx defend the buildings and barriers.

The Star Ducks used their jet packs to quickly advance towards the buildings on the Frinx’s left flank.  You can see the small purple rubber bands on the Star Ducks, which indicate the number of “jumps” that they have taken.  Due to limited fuel, the Star Ducks have only three jumps per game, but they do help!

 

 

02 Sep 28 MP Gaming night
Approaching the Frinx positions, the Star Ducks move quickly using their jet packs.

The initiative switched to the Frinx, who then bracketed them with bazooka fire.  The white rubber bands indicate wounds, while the glass beads indicate a team must take a morale check for each one the next time they are activated.  We use red rubber bands to denote a weapon that has jammed or is out of ammunition.  We also use black rubber bands to denote figures who are stunned.

 

 

03 Sep 28 MP Gaming night
The smoke from the Frinx anti-tank rockets surrounds the Star Ducks, as they take wounds from the explosions

In the middle of the table, a pitched ray gun/blaster battle left several dead and wounded Frinx.  The Star Duck team making this assault was however, annihilated, as Frinx Staff Sergeant A’Haze led his Frinx ably and directed their fire.

 

 

04 Sep 28 MP Gaming night
The Star Ducks do significant damage to the Frinx defending the barriers and slag mounds – note the dead Frinx, the multiple wounds, and the multiple morale pips.  The Star Duck A team was wiped out here.

The only Star Duck survivor in this area was Staff Sergeant Bufflehead.

 

 

05 Sep 28 MP Gaming night
SSG Bufflehead watches his A team die valiantly.

And then this happened…and the other RV86 was immobilized as well by bazooka fire from the other flank.

 

06 Sep 28 MP Gaming night

Meanwhile, back at the buildings, the Star Ducks jumped again, going over the ruined buildings, and assaulting the Frinx from the rear.  This move was met effectively by the Frinx with Platoon Sergeant First Class Grengelu’s automatic grenade launcher, wounding and killing several Star Ducks.

 

07 Sep 28 MP Gaming night
After the vertical envelopment, the Frinx make the Star Ducks pay.  Note Frinx LT Ma’k in the upper floor on the left – his blaster also hit several Star Ducks.

However, there were enough Star Ducks to close with the Frinx in hand-to-hand melee (or is it claw-to-wing?) and begin to clear the buildings.  SFC Grengelu was overcome and killed in the scrum.

 

 

08 Sep 28 MP Gaming night
Everybody gets in the fight!

 

 

09 Sep 28 MP Gaming night
SSG Bufflehead is surrounded by Frinx in melee

At this point, the game was called due to time and was determined to be a draw.  While the Star Ducks had cleared one building completely, and another one partially, they still had a couple more to go.  Casualties were high on both sides!

The game was a lot of fun and the battle was touch and go all night.  Once again, Buck Surdu’s Combat Patrol™ system demonstrated its great versatility and ease of play!

 

I hope you enjoyed this battle report – please share your feedback in the comments section!

8/31/2017 Mass Pikemen Gaming Night

Last Thursday Night we had our monthly gaming night for the Mass Pikemen Gaming Club.  Turnout was light but we were able to have a couple of games.  We had a brief card game from 1983 – Flying Buffalo’s “Nuclear War” in honor of our nights game master Jared Burns.  Why?  Well the game has a B-70 Bomber card which was a semi-prototype of the B-1, which Jared served on in the US Air Force.

The second game was an X-Wing demo game run by Jared.

Our next gaming night is September 28th at the East Brookfield Senior Center hall.  We should have a sci-fi skirmish game (retro sci-fi) and more.  The pics below tell the tale of the night – overall my daughter Ellen Morin was the night’s big winner!

 

1 Nuclear War
While Jared set up X-Wing, we broke out this old cold war card game – and all were annihilated – no winners of course!

 

2 x wing me
The rebels side – me -with a 60 point team consisting of Ibtisam in a B-Wing and Blue Ace in a T-70 X-Wing

 

3 x wing me
My B-Wing and my X-Wing

 

4 x wing Ellen
The Imperial side – Ellen Morin – with Tomax Bren in a TIE Bomber and Countess Ryad in a TIE Defender

 

5 x wing Ellen
Ellen Morin’s ships

 

6 Ellen and Jared talk
Early maneuvering

 

7 Ellen plans the destruction of her Dad
Ellen prepares to destroy her Dad’s (my) X-Wing

 

8 Mark rolls BLANKS
My defensive rolls for my X-wing – yes – ALL BLANKS!  Blue Ace, we hardly knew ye…

 

9 Ellen rolls BLANKS
Later Ellen returns the favor by rolling 5 blanks – ensuring the destruction of her TIE defender.  I was still out gunned though…

 

10 Jared GMs with glee
Jared the able GM

 

10 Mark rolls HITS
The Empire gets on a roll, and I am getting hammered…

 

11 Close encounters
Too close!

 

12 I am undone
And my B-Wing dies…Ellen is the winner!

It was a fun night!