Archive Miniatures Star Rovers game and miniature range had a lot of very fun figures, many of which I have painted and discussed in past entries in this blog. A couple of the line that caught my eye were “Long Gone Jones” (Archive #2211), a space dwarf, and “Agribot S1L1” (Archive #2204). Both were sculpted and put into production around 1977. I’m not exactly sure of the name derivations, but methinks there was some degree of Archive humor there based on the late 70’s – and I leave it to you readers to make your own guess!
I had previously acquired one Long Gone Jones (let’s call him LGJ) miniature on eBay, but had not found any others. However, Michael Thomas at classicminiatures.net (who produced the Robot Peacekeepers I previously described here) also had the molds for these figures. So I placed the order from him, and got ten LGJ’s to add to my original one in addition to three Agribots. I thought I would now have enough to build a squad for sci-fi games using Combat Patrol™ .
Each LGJ is in power armor, has a jet pack, and is armed with an automatic weapon coming out of his right arm. The Agribots look like they have a hovering mechanism, and are armed with what looks like a machine gun.
For the unit’s organization, I decided to have a LGJ squad leader with a dedicated Agribot as the squad headquarters. He would lead the squad’s two Space Dwarf Assault teams (A and B). Each team would have its own LGJ team leader, 4 LGJ troopers, and an Agribot. I’ll probably treat the LGJ weapons as analogues to sub-machine guns, and the Agribots as mobile medium machine guns. This made a total of 14 figures for the squad. I was thinking about the organization of Soviet Machine Pistol squads in WWII as inspiration. My numbers aren’t exactly the same, but we are talking about Space Dwarves here! To round out the end of June, I finished off the Space Dwarf Assault Squad.
First, I cleaned and washed the group. Then I filed off the mold lines and flash on the figures. After this, I mounted them on ¾” steel washers with Gorilla glue, and affixed the washers to poster tack on top of specimen bottles. I primed the squad white with Vallejo “White Surface Primer” with my Iwata Eclipse airbrush, and let that harden.
I wanted to give these figures a totally retro sci-fi look – so I again used the Createx paints to airbrush even more colors (added Pearl Blue, Pearl Lime Green, and Pearl Green) onto the squad than I had done with the Robot Peacekeepers. I figured the dwarves would want more individuality! For ease of play on the tabletop, I did plan to similarly color coordinate the lenses on the LGJ’s and the Agribots with Vallejo Mecha Color fluorescent paints. On the optics/lenses, the squad leader and his Agribot would get Vallejo Game Air “Fluorescent Red”, Team A got Vallejo Mecha Color “Green Fluorescent”, and Team B got Vallejo Mecha Color “Green Fluorescent”. These would take multiple light thin coats to get the desired effects. And of course with so much metallics, I needed to use a lot of Citadel “Nuln Oil Gloss”. I list the paints and materials I used at the end of the blog for those interested.
My plan for varnishing the group and the bases was to initially apply an airbrush coat of Vallejo “Gloss Varnish” before working on the bases. The bases would then get a treatment of Citadel “Astrogranite Debris”. I like it better than “Astrogranite” – it sets up better for dry brushing later. Once that was dry, I washed it with “Nuln Oil”, let that dry, and then dry brushed the bases with Vallejo Game Air “Wolf Grey”. To give the bases a nice lunar look, I added Citadel “Gulliman Blue” glaze and let that dry. Lastly, I gave the entire squad a second coat of Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish” for protection and to dull the shines down to an acceptable level.
I think you’ll see below on the finished figures the difference that the matte varnish adds, while preserving the metallic look of the power armor that I was attempting to capture.
I am pleased with the final product – and I can see them being on one side or the other of many future tabletop conflicts. Whoever is paying them the most of course! That’s the nice part of not needing a Codex! I do think that they are colorful enough, but power armor covers them nicely.
I hope that you enjoyed looking at this – and this was my most productive month ever in terms of painting – 57 figures in total (3 units) for “Junit”, a community painting challenge run so very well by our Aussie friend Azazel. If you’re reading this and are not familiar with his blog, it’s well worth the look.
I always read your comments and feedback – and as the goal of this blog to entertain and bemuse you – let me know if I did (or did not). So let me know your thoughts – and as always, thanks for looking!
Space Cowboys! More properly Archive Miniatures Texican Space Rangers (circa 1978), are the subject of this blog, plus some Steve Miller Band stuff from the 1970’s. Most people are familiar with the Steve Miller Band song The Joker:
Some people call me the space cowboy yeah Some call me the gangster of love Some people call me Maurice ‘Cause I speak of the pompitous of love…
Lyrics from The Joker, Steve Miller Band, 1973
Some also know that the opening line of The Joker refers to the band’s 1969 hit Space Cowboy – a rousing song with psychedelic undertones.
I told you ’bout living in the U.S. of A. Don’t you know that I’m a gangster of love Let me tell you people that I found a new way And I’m tired of all this talk about love And the same old story with a new set of words About the good and the bad and the poor And the times keep on changin’ So I’m keepin’ on top Of every fat cat who walks through my door
I’m a space cowboy Bet you weren’t ready for that I’m a space cowboy I’m sure you know where it’s at Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah…
Lyrics from Space Cowboy, Steve Miller Band, 1969
If you have not heard it before, and/or if you want a theme song for this blog post, here it is:
I’m sure that in some way, shape, or form, these songs influenced the sculpting of these figures.
Back to the miniatures!
In the early stages of my chasing down Archive Star Rovers a couple of years ago, I discovered two figures that were called Texican Space Rangers. One figure was Travis B. Crockett who was armed with a couple of laser pistols. The other was Armando Garcia, who had an assault rifle, a laser pistol, and a very imposing sombrero. Both had very cool jet packs as well. I did think that they would make an awesome unit for Combat Patrol™ games. Archive packaged them in two ways. One was as a set (along with a dog I have not found) as #2045 Texican Space Ranger Group. The other was individually as #2225 (Travis) and #2226 (Armando).
There are a few images in the Star Rovers game that showcase the Texican Space Rangers. I think the artwork is very cool and worth sharing as well.
I searched, and the only source that I initially found for the figures was on eBay which made the prospect of building a platoon-sized unit very expensive. Because of this, back in June 2016 I made a mold of Armando Garcia and cast several for personal use and for some friends which I wrote about here. I had a plan to cast Travis B. Crockett, but did not get around to it, which was lucky for me as I found a better option.
Michael Thomas is a hobbyist who bought a spin caster and has been collecting OOP miniature molds and making them available for a very reasonable price. I discovered that Michael has both Texican Space Rangers (among many other lost and OOP miniatures) available at http://classicminiatures.net/. The product codes are RKV-0122 for Travis and RKV-0021 for Armando, with their prices being $3.50 and $3.75 respectively, which is very reasonable. I had a sufficient number of Armando’s, so I ordered enough Travis figures to round out a small platoon sized unit of 32.
My concept for the Texican Space Rangers was to have them as a small constabulary-type unit (like the Texas Rangers). I made a command group (1 of each type), and 5 infantry teams. Each team would have one Travis and five Armando’s. Filing and cleaning the originals ones I got from eBay and from Michael was a breeze, while my castings needed much more work to make them presentable. They are moderate in terms of crispness, but not like today’s figures. But hey, this is what it was like in the 1970’s! Once that was done, I used my airbrush to prime them, and moved on to painting them.
I also had a pretty important secondary goal on this project, which was to use as many of my old Polly S, Polly Scale, Deka Lack, and Armory acrylic paints as possible. My Polly S paints were ones I bought in the early-to-mid 1980’s (really). My Deka Lack paints are ones that I purchased in West Germany (remember that?) around 1987. The Polly Scale paints were made after Testors bought them out, and my guess is that they date from the 1990’s (they were gifts Buck Surdu got for me slightly used from a gaming convention flea market). My Armory paints were all bought by me in 1996. All of these paints are viable, but they have lumps and clumps and do not always thin easily. I thought as a challenge, I would use as many as possible as theme colors, and add washes, inks, and glazes to enhance the models. Besides, they won’t be useful indefinitely. If you are interested in the history of Polly S , I did find this blog post that was interesting.
Additionally, I follow a couple of blogs that were inspirational for this project. One was imperial rebel ork’s post about his Western/sci-fi mashup. He has three chapters there. Also, our good inspirational friend Azazel from down under made a painting challenge for units for June, so this works and this is my entry (or at least one of them)! On to the theme colors…
The platoon leader’s main color was Polly S “Venetian Dull Red”, while the platoon sergeant’s was Deka Lack “Blaü” (blue). for the teams’ main colors, the A team got Polly S “Desert Pink”, the B team got Polly Scale “German Armor Light Tan”; the C team got Polly S “Interior Green”, the D team got Polly Scale “WWII British Aircraft Gull Gray Light”; and the E team got Polly Scale “German Mauve”. The Travis figures also have US red, white, and blue on their collars, and the Armando’s have the colors of the Mexican flag (red white, and green). I list all of the paints, glazes, inks, washes etc. that I used for this project at the end of this post (only 55 this time!).
This was a fun project, though the older paints are much harder to use than modern ones. Still, I am glad that those oldies got a chance to be useful.
Thanks for reading, and I always appreciate comments and feedback in the comments section!
PAINTS, INKS, GLAZES, WASHES, AND FLOCKING USED:
Vallejo “Surface Primer – White”
Vallejo “Dark Flesh”
Vallejo “Medium Flesh Tone”
Citadel “Reikland Fleshshade”
Vallejo Game Air “Black”
Vallejo “Brown Rose”
Polly S “Venetian Dull Red”
Vallejo “Dark Blue”
Polly S “Desert Pink”
Polly S “Venetian Dull Red”
Polly Scale “WWII German Armor Light Tan”
Polly S “Interior Green”
Polly Scale “WWII British Aircraft Gull Gray Light”
Polly Scale “German Mauve”
Vallejo Game Air “Moon Yellow”
Deka Lack “Blaü”
Polly S “Slime Green”
Vallejo Model Air “Signal Red”
Citadel “Auric Armour Gold”
Vallejo Model Air “Gun Metal”
Vallejo “Dark Blue”
Vallejo “Glossy White”
Polly Scale “WWII German Armor Dark Brown”
Armory “Leather Brown”
Armory “Prussian Blue”
Vallejo Model Air “Aluminum”
Vallejo Game Air “Dead White”
Vallejo Game Air “Beastly Brown”
Secret Weapons Washes “Just Red” (ink)
Citadel “Gulliman Blue” (glaze)
Citadel “Waywatcher Green” (glaze)
Secret Weapons Washes “Blue” (ink)
Secret Weapons Washes “Armor Wash” (wash)
Citadel “Agrax Earthshade” (wash)
Secret Weapons Washes “Parchment” (wash)
Citadel “Nuln Oil” (wash)
Citadel “Nuln Oil Gloss” (wash)
Citadel “Soulstone Blue”
Citadel “Waystone Green”
Citadel “Agrellan Earth”
Citadel “Agrellan Badlands”
P3 “Bootstrap Leather”
Secret Weapons Washes “Sunshine” (wash)
Vallejo “Glaze Medium”
Vallejo Game Air “Wolf Grey”
Secret Weapons Washes “Stone” (wash)
Secret Weapons Washes “Purple” (ink)
Testors “Universal Acrylic Thinner”
Vallejo Mecha Color “Purple”
Vallejo “Flow Improver”
Vallejo “”Airbrush Thinner”
Vallejo “Matt Varnish”
Thanks again and feel free to let me know your thoughts!
I was fortunate enough to get a couple of Archive Miniatures robots from the Star Rovers line that I could add to my Mark III Warbot Platoon for use in Combat Patrol™ retro sci-fi games. The first was “Roberker”, a Giant Robot (Archive #2010), which I had only seen before on Lost Minis Wiki and on David Wood’s blog. It is nearly 3½”/85mm tall, and was supposedly one of the largest robots on the market in 1978. It is armed with nozzles on its arms, so I think it is more or less a giant flame-throwing robot. Nevile Stocken commented on FaceBook that it was his creation, and inspired by Fred Saberhagen’s Berserker novels. The second was another late 1970’s Stocken creation, “Juggerbot” (Archive #2009 or Archive #2331), which I had a version of already, but only one, which I use as the platoon leader. I decided to make this one the assistant platoon commander/platoon sergeant.
This same good friend, David Wood (UK version), knew that I was on the hunt for these and graciously provided them so that I could augment my Warbots. Additionally, Azazel’s blog had put out an “April Assembly” challenge, that these two could certainly be participants.
The models are both challenges for assembly – so I needed to make sure that they were structurally sound for the tabletop. First, I will review Roberker, then Juggerbot. I list the paints I used at the end of this post for those interested.
I trimmed and sanded the mold lines as best as I could. Roberker was described by David and Nevile as “a swine to pin”. I now know the truth of that very British expression. I spent most of a day drilling and pinning the arms, legs, and head. Using Gorilla glue, I made initial connections of the parts. Then, I used kneadatite (green stuff) in several places. Specifically, I needed to have strength for the spindly arms and legs. I augmented the pinning by adding a superficial kneadatite belt around the chest and shoulder areas, and by making sure that the legs and hips were married. Lastly, I made a strong base connection with the green stuff.
I then based the figure on a 2″ steel washer, which is relatively heavy and will protect the model from being prone to tipping over. I then primed, painted, and varnished the model similar to the way that I did the Mark III Warbots. I did however want the figure to look like it had flames coming out of its head, and that it had a sooty appearance having torched many of its victims over the years. Also, for the hand nozzles, I went with a copper and verdigris look.
I am very happy with how Roberker came out – and he will be a terror on the tabletop I am sure.
As I said, this is my second Juggerbot. My first is the platoon leader and he is basically golden. This one was to be similar to the Mark III Warbots in color scheme and treatment. Here as well, I trimmed and sanded the mold lines as best as I could. I did also need to do a bit more work with the pinning and the green stuff here as well. That is because I wanted to have a slightly different positioning of the arms, which necessitated making a “vest” of green stuff that covered the shoulders and the top conic section of the robot.
This model met my expectations – now the command and control of the Warbot platoon will be more robust.
Thanks for looking – please let me know what you think in the comments section at the bottom.
Finding a gaming convention that is close by to my home has been somewhat frustrating for me over the last few years. Since I returned to the hobby, I have attended a few BARRAGE events in Maryland , but that’s it.
Imagine then that there was a con 15 miles from my home AND that they have been having it for 34 years (and I never knew!). The event was the three-day (Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday) HAVOC convention, run annually by Battlegroup Boston. This year was HAVOC XXXIV, and I learned of it through the New England Wargame Groups List page on FaceBook. It ran from April 6-8, and I am really glad that I could attend, but it was a last-minute decision. I was also hoping to let folks know about our group, The Mass Pikemen’s Gaming Club in Central Massachusetts.
In this blog, first I’ll discuss the two games I ran, then share some photos and eye candy of some of the convention.
I managed to get 7 players for the game, which was great. I did not get as many pictures as I would have liked as I was running the game. The players really had a great time and there was a lot of action. No one had ever seen these figures before, and the mass of the Mark 1’s surprised them all! I used a number of Armorcast sci-fi structures as well on the board, and they worked great.
While all this was going on, the Warbots on the right closed with the Robo-Sentry guns and the Star Ducks defending the wall. In this game, I have the Warbots use the Japanese Combat Patrol™ deck, which has different morale results. A morale card result caused one Warbot team to make a Banzai charge at the last surviving Robo Sentry gun, which was jammed. This enabled the Star Ducks to hit the team with direct fire. When the Banzai charge was over, another morale check caused this same team to flee the game, stifling this assault. The Frinx just got their captured tank fixed as the game was out of time. Due to the casualties inflicted by the Warbots, I called the game a draw. The players all were highly excited by the game and loved the ease of use of the Combat Patrol™ decks for all aspects of the game.
Unbeknownst to me at the time, my game was nominated for the “Al Award”. From the HAVOC website, this is “presented for the game with the most stunning visual appeal. Our crack team of experts (expert team of cracks) will vote on the game that made us say “Wow!”.” I was honored to be nominated, but even more so to win! Thanks so much for this to Battlegroup Boston! A great con it was to be sure – and I felt very welcome here by all the club members.
The second game I ran was on Sunday, which was “GO FROGS RIBBIT – STOP THE BUGS”. It was a battle between the F.R.O.G. Commandos (with Star Duck reinforcements) and two Archive Star Rovers foes – the aforementioned Aphids and the Hurraku Space Phraints. So, basically, it was insectivores versus insects, albeit big bugs. The Frogs were defending a wooded area between two rivers and specifically their sacred pond. The insects’ objective was to seize the pond, and to dispatch as many amphibians as possible along the way with extreme prejudice.
I ended up with four players for this game – one for each attacking bug side on opposite sides of the board. Star Ducks would reinforce the Frogs as a special event card was pulled during the game. The Frogs would use the regular decks, while the bugs would use the Japanese decks. The Space Phraints also had a Sith. Here again, the players quickly adapted to the Combat Patrol™ deck. All were new to the game.
The Aphids got into the fray first with their Grav Cycles, while the Aphid infantry and the Space Phraints advanced.
The Aphids however did effectively draw the Frogs to their attack, weakening the side facing the Hurraku Space Phraints. This would have consequences.
At this point, the Hurraku gambled and turned the tide of battle. Linda (the Hurraku player) decided to take advantage of her Sith’s power of “Rage”. This ability causes a Banzai attack. This also removes all stun markers from her troops while they charge at the enemy and engage solely in hand-to-hand combat (or just melee as we are talking about bugs and Frogs). The Hurraku also all have the same activation number until the banzai charge ends, resulting in a true mass attack. Here (in melee) the Hurraku have an advantage as they are very tough fighters. They also move fast normally, and the “Rage” improves that movement by a factor of two.
At this point, a Star Duck squad jet packed in as reinforcements, but it was not enough. They jet-packed in to defend the pond.
The players here had a good time and were good sports. The tide swung from one side to the other. In the end, the “Rage” Banzai charge was decisive.
I will now share some photos of the two games I played on Saturday morning and afternoon (I did not play Saturday night). I played a Bolt Action scenario run by Friedrich Helisch. The scenario was a 1941 German attack on a Russian-held village. David Shuster was on the Russian side, while Friedrich and I played the Germans. This was my first try at Bolt Action.
This was a points-based game, and our taking of the second building allowed us to win by 1 point, so it was very close. As for the rules, I am on the fence, but more than willing to try them again at some point in the future.
The second game I played was a Gaslands scenario. I had heard this was an interesting game and thought I’d try it out. In this game you get so many points to choose and arm 2-3 vehicles (performance car, regular car, and pickup truck). The goal is to run over (3 points) or shoot (1 point) pedestrians (in homage to Death Race 2000) instead of the usual zombies on the game board. You can attack your opponents, but their destruction does not get you points (you do eliminate the competition). The movement is very much like X-Wing.
I played with two other players, who chose to max out two vehicles, while I did three lesser-armed vehicles. I chose to go after the competition and eventually had one of two vehicles to be the last on the tabletop. However, at this point the game masters deploy invulnerable Monster trucks to hunt you down and end the game. I just missed my last pedestrian which would have tied me for first. The game masters (Michael Eichner and Erich Eichner) did a nice job, and this was a fun game. The table looked great too.
I thought that I should share some photos of the rest of the con. I did not get to see as much as I would have liked, but there were a lot of very cool games. Kudos to all the folks at Battlegroup Boston, as well as the GM’s and players! Please share your thoughts in the comments section – thanks for reading this blog!
Back in early 2016, I found an interesting miniature on eBay that I had never seen before. It was from the Archive Star Rovers line. It was a large bug-like creature with a large blaster and a huge sword on its back. It reminded me of a deadly grasshopper. Doing a little research, I learned that the figure was made around 1979-1981, and was designated as Archive #2318, “Hurraku Space Phraint”.
I immediately thought that a group of these figures would make a great platoon for a retro-sci-fi game of Combat Patrol™. However, like many Star Rovers figures they proved to be very scarce. Eventually I decided that I would need to cast my own to make such a unit (you can read about that effort here).
I made a mold, and recast a bunch of these, and shared some with my good friend Buck Surdu. Buck called them “Space Bugs” (which of course they are), and painted up a unit himself – you can see his work on these here. I really liked what Buck had done with his and his use of glitter paint. His work inspired me to seek a way to get a shine on mine without being, well, overly shiny. Meanwhile, my Space Phraints waited as other projects and personal stuff got in the way (as it always does!).
Over time I researched and dug deeper. I found that there is quite an interesting back story to these bugs. I discovered that Phraints were originally in the Arduin Grimoire RPG system, which was a contemporary competitor to TSR’s Dungeons and Dragons system in the mid-to-late 1970’s. It was written and marketed by David Hargrave and his company, Grimoire Games. Phraints played a major role in Arduin, and were prominently shown on their rules systems covers (see below). One of the main differences from D&D was that Arduin went from fantasy to futuristic sci-fi all in the same universe.
Apparently (and unsurprisingly) there were a series of lawsuits by TSR against Hargrave, and his company, alleging trademark infringement, etc. It’s history at this point, but truly a fascinating (and drama-filled) chapter in the early era of fantasy and sci-fi gaming. If you would like to learn more about that kerfuffle, here is a good link.
So where did Archive come in? Archive Miniatures had the license for the Arduin line. According to Archive founder Nevile Stocken, the original Phraint figure was a Steve Lortz sculpt in their Arduin figure line (#783). Nevile adapted the original Phraint figure and created the Hurraku Space Phraint. He did this by removing the hive the front foot was resting on, as well as the quiver on the back. This leaned the figure forward. The large sword on the front was removed and replaced the quiver on the back. The Hurraku was then given what Nevile described as a BFG (“big f’ing gun”). The Phraints are truly interesting, and this is another great link on their characteristics. I like that they are emotionless – and incapable of lying.
OK, enough Phraint back story (hope it was interesting anyways). Back to the platoon making!
Originally, I had 39 Space Phraints. It was time to clean and file the metal miniatures, which are large for the ranges 25mm scale (the Space Phraints are about 1¾” or 44 cm tall). Overall, I found it difficult at most times during the project to discern the difference between my recasts and the originals, except during this phase. However, upon better inspection, I found 3 figures out of 39 that were not of acceptable quality, so I went to 36 figures for the unit, with the unfortunate three going to the remelt pile.
I ended up with 36 Space Phraints (1 original, and 35 recasts), for the platoon. It would consist of 3 squads composed of 2 teams of 5, each led by a squad leader, making each squad having 11 figures. Additionally, there would be a Platoon Leader, a Platoon Sergeant, and a Sith Knight. The Sith Phraint would be great fun to game with when I use Greg Priebe’s Star Wars supplement for Combat Patrol™. I decided to make the figures look the same so as to reinforce the “hive” effect. In other words, they would look to unfortunate opponents as a swarm of huge humanoid insects. To us they all look alike, while to the Space Phraints, they do not.
Cleaning and filing of the figures took some time. I use a high tin content when I cast, so this was not quickly accomplished. I also needed to repair some swords that were too short, some blaster stocks that did not cast well, and some foot talons with green stuff (kneadatite). I’m not the greatest (or worst I imagine) with green stuff, but I think that it worked out well (you be the judge dear reader!). I also used a small pin vise bit to round out the blaster ends. The figures are very much in line with those of the era of the late 1970’s. This is not to say that they are not good, but they are much less crisp than today’s plastic and resin models. Plus, 35/36 were obviously my recasts, and some details are lost in that process. For me, all this meant was that I needed to really work with my painting to realize my vision for them.
I mounted the figures with gorilla glue to 1¼” steel washers, and the washers to specimen bottles with poster tack. Simultaneously, I also began to search for a suitable base color, and I wanted to have something green that was not too glossy – I wanted subtle iridescence. This would mimic the sheen you see on some grasshoppers as their chitin reflects the sunlight. As I have an airbrush and compressor now, I decided upon a novel approach (for me anyway). I would use a pearlized airbrush paint with Createx Airbrush Colors “Pearl Green”.
This airbrush paint is designed for model hot rods and muscle cars. I thought that this would work and that I could shade and highlight later as needed. So, I airbrush-primed all of the figures with Vallejo Gray Surface Primer, and let that harden for 24 -48 hours. Then I broke out the “Pearl Green”. I needed a higher pressure to use this paint (40 vs 20-25 psi for the primer). I also did thin it a bit, and I was able to get good coverage of the figures with my airbrush. The Createx line is made for airbrushing, which is a plus.
After that, I grabbed my regular brushes as I wanted to shade the figures for ease of painting, which I accomplished with Citadel “Nuln Oil GLOSS”. The pearlized paints are very smooth, especially after airbrushing, and I found that the gloss version of Nuln Oil worked better on this base coat of green than the plain one. It really got into the nooks and crannies and stayed there.
For the antennae, I wanted something that would be closer to what a bug would have and not be like a bunny’s ear. For this I used Vallejo “Dark Blue” and washed it with Secret Weapons Washes “Purple”. The eyes, to me, needed to be special. I built up the eyes with serial light coats of Vallejo “Gloss Black”, followed by a 50/50 mix of Vallejo Mecha Color “Yellow Fluorescent” and “Green Fluorescent”. Lastly, I topped the eyes off with a small drop of “Yellow Fluorescent”. This approach really gave the eyes character, and gave the impression of a compound eye structure.
On the bandoleer, I went with Vallejo “Game Air Black”. I decided not to try to highlight them at all as I had too much variability among casts with regards to their details. I also thought that the contrast from the black would be greater with the green chitin which was what I wanted. For the blaster, I went with the last of my 1987 West German Deka Lack “Weiss”, followed by highlighting with Vallejo “Gloss White”.
Moving to the rear of the figures, I painted the swords’ pommels and hilts with Vallejo “Steel” and the grip with a mix of Vallejo “Gunmetal” and “Game Air Black”. Each sword’s scabbard had an inlay and a jewel. The inlay and jewel got Vallejo “Chrome”. After the “Chrome” had dried, I lightly applied Citadel “Waystone Green” on the jewel to achieve a crystalline appearance. For the scabbard and the straps, I stayed with “Game Air Black” to continue the contrasting effect with the chitinous green.
I then went to the front of the figure and dealt with the blaster. For a further contrast, I painted the bulb at the end gold with Citadel “Retributor Armor” . The blaster rings got a covering of “Chrome” followed by an application of Citadel “Soulstone Blue”. To highlight the lobster-like claw structures on the arms and calves and the mandibles, I used Vallejo “Yellow-Green”.
Painted front, before shading
Painted back, before shading
As I earlier said, the upside of the “Pearl Green” is its effect – and the downside is that for subsequent paint applications adhesion is less than other paints. To address the need for both shading and for paint protection on the tabletop, I brushed Army Painter “Quickshade-Soft Tone” over all of the models. I tried my best to sop up any extra pooling shade. I then let these dry and harden for 48 hours. A couple of figures picked up some paper towel fibers at some point, but that was remedied easily with a wet brush once everything was dry.
During this drying period, I sculpted placards for the bases out of Apoxie Sculpt. I wanted the Space Phraints to look the same, but for gaming purposes, there needs to be some differentiation for the players (especially those of a certain age). Apoxie Sculpt is much better than green stuff for this purpose. I mixed this two-piece material, and spread it thinly over my cutting board. Using rubber stamps, I made placards for each figure, and some more for future projects. These I allowed to dry and harden for 24 hours. At that point, I removed and trimmed them, and applied them to the bases with gorilla glue. I primed them with Citadel “Imperium Primer”. For a placard painting scheme, I brush painted:
Vallejo “Signal Red” and “Retributor Armor” for the platoon leader (PL)
Createx “Pearl Blue” and “Retributor Armor” for the platoon sergeant (PSG)
Vallejo’s “Metallic Black” and “Red” for the Sith (SITH)
Createx “Pearl Green” and “Retributor Armor” for the 1st squad leader (1)
Createx “Pearl Green” and Vallejo “Silver” for the 1st squad team leaders (A and B)
Createx “Pearl Green” and Vallejo “Game Air Black” for the 1st squad troopers (A and B)
Martha Stewart Crafts “Duckling” and “Retributor Armor” for the 2nd squad leader (2)
Martha Stewart Crafts “Duckling” and Vallejo “Silver” for the 2nd squad team leaders (A and B)
Martha Stewart Crafts “Duckling” and Vallejo “Game Air Black” for the 2nd squad troopers (A and B)
Createx “Pearl Plum” and “Retributor Armor” for the 3rd squad leader (3)
Createx “Pearl Plum” and Vallejo “Silver” for the 3rd squad team leaders (A and B)
Createx “Pearl Plum” and Vallejo “Game Air Black” for the 3rd squad troopers (A and B)
Once my shade had dried, I highlighted chitinous areas with the “Pearl Green” that may have been overly darkened. I also used Vallejo “Game Air Dead White” and “Retributor Armor” to highlight on the blasters as the Quickshade needed some adjustments here.
I then moved on to the bases, and used a combination of Citadel “Martian Ironcrust” and Army Painter “Black Battlefield” flocking to cover the bases. I learned at this point that I should have trimmed the poster tack from the edge of the bases at an earlier stage in the project. This would have made addressing the edges easier. As it was, I removed the edges, and used Citadel “Martian Ironearth” on the edges to cover any unpainted parts of the bases. I also dry brushed the Space Phraints’ feet with “Martian Ironearth” to replicate their walking on the red planet and catching its dust.
When using either “Martian Ironcrust” or “Martian Ironearth”, I always use a hand-held blow dryer after to dry and crack the paint for a better effect. Now it was time to apply a matte varnish and remove the shine from the models.
I applied two coats of Vallejo “Matte Varnish” with my airbrush, allowing for 4 hours between coats. I was really happy with the results – the iridescent effect that I wanted was achieved!
I detached the Space Phraints from the bottles, and retouched their bases, but finally they were done. I decided to take some formation shots and some action shots below. For Combat Patrol™ games, I plan to have them be able to climb walls without penalty, and to be able to use two cards for movement. Additionally, to replicate their emotional state, I will have them use the Japanese deck for morale results.
I am very proud of these – it was a very large and long project.
As always will appreciate any feedback in the comments section.
Thanks for looking and as promised, here are some more photos below – enjoy!
I have been accused of having a Boston accent, but this is not really true – I have a Worcester accent, or properly a Worcester County accent. Throughout my military and civilian career, my pronunciation of my name, Mark, sounds to others like Ma’k. My good buddy Buck Surdu has often shortened it to “Ma’k” on his blog posts. Last weekend (right before Thanksgiving) he and my other good buddy, Dave Wood, made the drive up from Maryland on a traffic-filled Friday afternoon for a Saturday full of gaming – and it was called “Ma’k Con”. My wife Lynn really helped out as well with her keeping us well fed. This blog post is about the gaming we crammed into that Saturday.
Buck and Dave got me into tabletop wargaming when we were back at West Point. Since then, Buck has published a myriad of rules for gaming, and Dave has contributed to many of those rule sets. The most recent rules that Buck published is a fantastically easy to play and streamlined card-based system for skirmish-level combat in WWII called Combat Patrol™. It is truly flexible, and has had optional rules and supplements written to cover different possible scenarios, to include the South Pacific theater, the Winter War, the Falklands War, the Napoleonic era, and even the Star Wars universe. These can be downloaded for free from his website, and the cards are available in the US from Drive Thru Cards and in the EU from Sally Forth. The rules are also available in book form from both On Military Matters and Sally Forth.
Buck recently added a new set of cards for the South Pacific, which have different morale results for Japanese troops. Readers of this blog know that I have been collecting and assembling units from the old Archive Miniatures Star Rovers line of figures, specifically Star Ducks, Power-Armored Frinx, Aphids, and Mark III Warbots. Additionally, I have been supplementing these forces with Khang Robots, weapons, Robo-Sentry Guns from War Games Supply Dump, and my own sculpt of a sphere tank. I also used some weapons from Bombshell Miniatures.
I decided that I would combine aspects from different Combat Patrol™ rules for a fun retro sci-fi game. Specifically, I would use the new South Pacific deck for morale results for robots, the new vehicle-mounted flame thrower template for my sphere tanks’ death rays, and the Sith rules from the Star Wars supplement. Also, I added in several rules from the optional rules. Lastly, I added my own special rules for the Mark III Warbots and their leader, Juggerbot, to account for possible effects that weapons fire could cause on their behaviors and capabilities.
Upon arrival in Massachusetts, Buck surprised Dave and I with uniform t-shirts from West Point that we would have worn to gym or when we played sports. It was called Gym-A (Gym-Alpha) and we wore it for Saturday’s game marathon. Admittedly, both Buck and Dave wore it better than I did. We were also joined by my daughter Ellen Morin and her fiancé Chris Smedile.
The scenario was one where the Star Ducks, Aphids, and Frinx were allied against the cybernetic horde of attacking robots. The non-metallic forces had captured a robot Mark 1 Sphere tank. The Frinx were attempting to repair it so it could be used against the robots, who were to have two Mark I Sphere tanks of their own in the assault. The tanks have two side mounted laser cannons, and a Death Ray (think 1953 War of the Worlds movie). Dave and Ellen had the robots, while Buck, Chris and I defended.
The Robo-Sentry guns slowed the attacking robots slightly, but allowed Aphid and Star Duck mortar fire to hit the Warbots near Juggerbot, damaging the robot leader, and causing some of his robots to go rogue, or blow up. When they went rogue, they would attack the nearest figure. Juggerbot ended up dealing with such a problem.
Normally, in Combat Patrol™ games, figures can take a certain number of hits, usually three wounds, before they die or are incapacitated. In this game Frinx had 4 wounds (because of their power-armor), most line Star Ducks had 3, and Warbots had 6. However, I allowed for critical hits as outlined below. This had a nice balancing effect on the game.
The Warbots also had some devastating energy weapons. The opposing forces had two “Sith Lords” (Duck Wader from the Star Ducks and Lt. Ma’k from the Frinx) with special powers from the Star Wars supplement. Early in the game, Buck moved Duck Wader up to engage the Warbots, only to get vaporized along with some Aphids by an arc weapon blast.
The other Sith, Lt. Ma’k, used his Force powers to fly into the middle of a group of 8 immobilized Warbots (they had drawn a “Hold until Death” morale result due to Frinx fire, but the robots could still fire).
Lt. Ma’k (a Frinx) then tried a Sith power – Force Blast – which damaged some robots’ weapons and caused them to explode. Additionally, friendly mortar rounds landed there (Lt. Ma’k did not care) and eventually he succumbed, as did several Warbots. Simultaneously, Juggerbot finally was destroyed by Aphids on Grav-Cycles. As he was the platoon leader, his destruction led to his unit becoming pinned – and only activating on black cards. This really had the effect of reducing the entire robot platoon’s combat effectiveness.
At this point, the carbon-based living got very lucky and fixed their captured Sphere tank earlier than would have been expected due to Chris pulling some great cards. However, the robots got reinforcements in the form of two of their own Sphere tanks, a squad of Warbots, plus 2 self-propelled robot guns. Chris and Buck were able to immobilize one tank with some very lucky shots. The other annihilated a squad of Buck’s Star Ducks with a Death Ray Blast.
By now it was dinnertime and pizza called, plus we wanted to move to the next game. It looked like a slight victory for the living forces, but casualties were high! The game turned out well and I may redo this scenario at Barrage in Maryland in January. Buck’s account of the battle is the next entry in this blog.
Then we moved onto a play test of Dave’s micro-armor game of “The Battle of Nikolayevka (Nikitowka)” using the Look Sarge No Charts rules. This was a breakout of Italian forces on the Eastern Front in 1943 as part of the Battle of Stalingrad. So we had Italians and some Germans attacking a small town held by the Russians. The link above describes the historical battle well.
Buck attacked with a combined German/Italian force on the right half of the battlefield and I attacked along the left half. Dave defended. It was a tough slog, with the Russian artillery (they had no armor) making progress difficult. Later in the game Dave had us command reinforcements in the form of the Italian stragglers from an earlier phase in the battle. It was a good scenario, and interesting to see a primarily Italian versus Russian scenario.
I think Dave will have a very good scenario for an upcoming convention!
The day flew by, and I am so appreciative that we West Point Old Grads had the chance to game together. Thanks to Buck and Dave, and Chris and Ellen! And of course, Lynn for her logistical support!!
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!
To round out September, the Mass Pikemen Gaming Club ran a game during which the Star Ducks attacked the positions held by the Power-Armored Frinx. Both of these forces are from Archive Miniatures circa 1979-1981. You can learn more about their origins here. Click on Star Ducks or Power-Armored Frinx to learn more about their platoons. We used the Combat Patrol™ system, with modifications to approximate the abilities of the Star Ducks to use their jet packs, and the durability of the Frinx as a result of their power armor. The Frinx also had the support of two Archive RVS86 “Robot Cooks” which were analogous to small self-propelled guns.
The scenario was one where the Frinx, led by Lieutenant Ma’k were defending some old ruined buildings that held some lost technology – and the Star Ducks, led by Duck Vader, were hell-bent on getting into the building and killing Frinx in general. The Frinx, on their part, desired to dispatch the Star Ducks with extreme prejudice.
The Star Ducks used their jet packs to quickly advance towards the buildings on the Frinx’s left flank. You can see the small purple rubber bands on the Star Ducks, which indicate the number of “jumps” that they have taken. Due to limited fuel, the Star Ducks have only three jumps per game, but they do help!
The initiative switched to the Frinx, who then bracketed them with bazooka fire. The white rubber bands indicate wounds, while the glass beads indicate a team must take a morale check for each one the next time they are activated. We use red rubber bands to denote a weapon that has jammed or is out of ammunition. We also use black rubber bands to denote figures who are stunned.
In the middle of the table, a pitched ray gun/blaster battle left several dead and wounded Frinx. The Star Duck team making this assault was however, annihilated, as Frinx Staff Sergeant A’Haze led his Frinx ably and directed their fire.
The only Star Duck survivor in this area was Staff Sergeant Bufflehead.
And then this happened…and the other RV86 was immobilized as well by bazooka fire from the other flank.
Meanwhile, back at the buildings, the Star Ducks jumped again, going over the ruined buildings, and assaulting the Frinx from the rear. This move was met effectively by the Frinx with Platoon Sergeant First Class Grengelu’s automatic grenade launcher, wounding and killing several Star Ducks.
However, there were enough Star Ducks to close with the Frinx in hand-to-hand melee (or is it claw-to-wing?) and begin to clear the buildings. SFC Grengelu was overcome and killed in the scrum.
At this point, the game was called due to time and was determined to be a draw. While the Star Ducks had cleared one building completely, and another one partially, they still had a couple more to go. Casualties were high on both sides!
The game was a lot of fun and the battle was touch and go all night. Once again, Buck Surdu’s Combat Patrol™ system demonstrated its great versatility and ease of play!
I hope you enjoyed this battle report – please share your feedback in the comments section!
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.