Combat Patrol with Star Rovers and an X-Wing game

It’s been a bit busier on the gaming front.  Jared Burns (USAFA ’04) and I (USMA ’84) got together last Sunday afternoon in preparation for the launch of the Mass Pikemen Gaming Club .  We play-tested Combat Patrol™ with Star Rovers figures that I have previously posted about in this blog, as well as an X-Wing game.
The scenario was one where the Frinx and some Aphids were protecting RT22 in a bunker behind an old factory.  The Star Ducks, led by Duck Vader, were attacking to seize RT22, using their jet packs to quickly assault through the open ground which the Frinx had covered with anti-tank weapons.  I gave the Star Ducks 3 chances in the game to use their jet packs at 3 movement cards per try – and that worked well rules-wise.
Highlights of the battle!  There was a grenade-throwing fest in the center (one of my grenades scattered back into me adding to my losses) between one Star Duck team and a green Aphid team.  This resulted in multiple casualties, especially when one of my Aphid’s grenade attacks rebounded from a rock, but the Star Ducks had the better of that fight.
I gave Duck Vader the ability to deflect incoming direct fire, but I got lucky.  Duck Vader was in the open at short range and got lit up by two Frinx bazookas and the Frinx platoon sergeant with an automatic grenade launcher.  End even though I gave him a 5 endurance, his goose (or rather duck) was cooked with about 7 wounds.  His demise  then caused the entire Star Duck force to lose heart, effectively ending the game.
1 Ducks hit right flank
The Star Ducks effectively advance on the escarpment.  The purple bands indicate jet pack uses.

 

2 Frinx defend with AT
The Frinx guard the factory ruins with anti-tank weapons and an automatic grenade launcher.

 

3 hapless Aphids defending
A green (in terms of morale and literally!) Aphid Squad awaits its doom from a storm of grenades.

 

4 Ducks prepare to move out
Star Ducks deploy.

 

5 Hey, who shaot at us with Bazookas
The Star Ducks take multiple incoming rockets, wounding a team leader.

 

6 every body throw grenades
The Star Ducks put the hurt on the Aphids with a storm of grenades.

 

7 top of the hill while behind grenade hell
In the foreground, the Star Duck AT team prepares to rain doom on the Frinx.  In the upper left, the Aphids attempt to return grenade for grenade, only to bounce them back at themselves.

 

8 Duck Vader dies
In the upper center, the Star Ducks jet pack and prepare to flank the Frinx.  However, in the foreground, Duck Vader is mortally wounded. 

 

9 end game
The viewpoint of the Frinx who killed Duck Vader.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We then played X-Wing, and it was time for the USAF guy to beat (really thrash) the Army guy…ironic…he was the Empire so the day evened out.  It was a good playtest for our first game night on July 27th.  Jared did a nice job in teaching me the game – and then avenging the previous game.  He was the Empire, and I was the Rebels with two ships each.
10 xwing
I successfully pilot my X-Wing into an asteroid…and fail to hit the Empire’s ships.

 

11 xwing
With my X-Wing dispatched, the Empire finishes off my hapless B-Wing.

 

I really liked the game and the ease at which I learned the basics.  Thanks to Jared for a great day!

Meet RT22, (no – not R2D2), Star Rovers Servodroid (2205) circa 1977-1981

I found a small robot miniature on eBay, listed as “Hardy Toot Toot” from the Archive Miniatures Star Rovers line of miniatures and game.  Using The Lost Mini’s Wiki , I was able to see it listed as “Hardy Toot Toot/RV86”.  This did not make sense to me as When I looked at the Archive Miniatures catalog from 1981, there was no such listing.  I reached out to my fellow miniature collectors on Facebook, notably David Wood (the British version) and Nevile Stocken (who was Archive and probably sculpted this figure) but still I had no luck at identifying it.  All I knew was it was between 36 and 40 years old.

 

1 RV86 front
Frontal view of figure as I got it from eBay

 

2 RV86 back
Side/rear view of the figure as received

 

3 RV86 bottom
Bottom of the figure with “77” (year sculpted) and “Archive”

While I continued to research which figure this actually was, I filed down any unneeded edges, cleaned it in soap and water and let it dry.  I then glued it to a 1″ steel washer with wood glue.  Then I lightly glued the washer base to a popsicle sick for ease of painting.  Next, I brush primed it twice with Citadel “Imperium Primer” thinned with Testors “Universal Acrylic Thinner”.  I then gave it a heavy dry-brush application of Tamiya “Chrome Silver”.  The figure then waited for a few weeks…

 

1 unnamed brush primed and drybrushed
After priming and initial dry brushing with Chrome Silver

 

Luckily and surprisingly, I heard back from Nevile Stocken that he thought the figure was on the  box cover of the Star Rovers game – which I have!  By the way, RV86 is the Robot Cook (2203).

 

 

 

 

00 box cover
Star Rovers box cover – the robot in question is in the lower right hand corner

I took a picture of it with my iPhone, cut and pasted it into a PowerPoint file, and printed it.  When blown up to 8½” x 11″, I could clearly see on the robot “RT22”!  Mystery solved!  I verified this by cross-referencing with the catalog as shown below.  It was listed as 2205, “Servodroid, RT22, Short Robot”, and retailed for $1.25 back in the day.  Many of the old Archive Star Rovers figures were named with a clever nod to Star Wars characters, and this RT22 certainly can claim to be one as a somewhat satirical R2D2.

 

 

0 RT22
It has a name – RT22!

 

0a catalog
The catalog page with 2205 listed
0b catalog
Zooming into the listing

I decided that it would be a neat idea to honor the colors on the robot’s depiction on game box and try to replicate them on the RT22.  To achieve the metallic light blue shown on the box, I used a 50/50 blend of Tamiya “Chrome Silver” and Craftsmart Ultra-Bright Metallic “Sapphire”.  That seemed to do the trick, and I gave the entire figure a heavy dry brushing with the combination.

5 RT22 drybrushed
After the second dry brushing

I then looked at the drawing of RT22, and there were some subtle differences between it and the figure.  To give depth to the figure, I used a couple washes with Citadel “Nuln Oil”.  Then, I wanted to replicate the drawing as much as possible, so I used Americana “Kelly Green” and Vallejo “Vermilion” on the body’s lower parts in squares thinly outlined with Vallejo Model Air “Black”.  On what looks like an anchor (with Mickey Mouse ears) on the front, I used Vallejo Model Air “Gold” on the background, and Citadel “Yriel Yellow” on the raised portion.  The robot had two traffic signals on it – yes really – forward and aft.  I used “Kelly Green”, “Yriel Yellow”, and Vallejo Model Air “Signal Red” on the stoplight signals.  I then used the Vallejo Model Air “Black” metallic to outline the gold and on the brackets under its arms.   I outlined the arch-like structure in front and various wires on the top, back, and sides with Vallejo Model Air “Aluminum”.  On the top, I painted the raised structure ridges and its springs with Vallejo “Arctic Blue” – with “Yriel Yellow” highlights as an eye and on the top of the robot.  On the top “ring” part of the robot (which was more akin to a hex nut), I used first a light coat of Vallejo Model Air “Fluorescent Red” (which was more orange than red).  I then outlined on the angled edges with a thin line of “Aluminum”.  I then used two more layers of “Fluorescent Red” on the ring.  The rear battery packs got an application of Vallejo Model Air “Copper” and “Arctic Blue”.  I then selectively used “Nuln Oil” where I needed more depth on the figure.

For highlights, I used Craftsmart “Bright Yellow” on all the “Yriel Yellow” surfaces.  On the arms and chassis, I employed a lighter mix (more “Chrome Silver”, less “Sapphire”) of the original combination with which I started the light blue dry brushing.  I also used a little of both yellows on the tips of the robot’s feet to match the box.

Perhaps the most difficult part of the project was writing the “RT22” on the miniature as shown on the drawing.  That was indeed a delicate task that took a steady hand!

I then moved on to the base – and used Citadel “Lustrian Undergrowth” to conceal the washer and make the ground on which figure stood to be more realistic.  I really like this paint as it has a rough consistency and takes both dry brushing and application of washes really well.

Once that had dried, I applied Citadel “Agrax Earthshade” to the base, and let it dry.  I then dry brushed the base sequentially with Armory “Musket Brown” and Citadel “Niblet Green”.

6a painted wet base
After the application of Lustrian Undergrowth on the base (still wet)
7 painted prevarnish
After the Lustrian Undergrowth on the base has dried and been dry brushed, frontal view
8 painted prevarnish
Left side view – note the “RT22”
9a painted prevarnish
Right side view

I then moved on to the varnishing of the figure.  As it was a robot, with a very metallic surface, I thought best to use a coat of Krylon clear “Glossy”, followed by two coats of Testors “Dullcoat”, allowing for adequate drying between applications.  This worked well, but the base was still too shiny.  To fix that, I used a combination of Citadel “Athonian Camoshade” and Army Painter “Anti-shine” brush varnish.  It seemed to do the trick.

10 drying in sun
Drying in the sun – but my base is still too shiny!
11 finished with drawing
RT22, completed, in front of the enlarged box photo I used as a guide 
12 with ruler
Close up of figure with ruler for scale – about 1.25″ or 25mm or so

 

13 done
Frontal view of RT22 – note duller base
14 done back
Rear view of completed RT22
15 done side
Side view of completed RT22

The research for this project took a lot longer than the actual painting did.  I have submitted corrections to The Lost Minis Wiki, so future collectors may be helped.  As for this figure, I plan to use it as part of an objective in a sci-fi version of Combat Patrol™.

Just like R2D2 perhaps?

In any case, I am pretty happy with the miniature, and I am especially glad I used the color scheme from the box.  I think it is quirky, and still fun!  Feel free to let me know your thoughts!

 

 

 

 

Slag Mounds, Bunkers, Barriers and more!

This month, in between other projects and recovery, I worked on several terrain pieces for use with my Star Rovers figures and the Combat Patrol™ gaming system.  Some I got earlier in the year from WorldWorks Games on Amazon, others I got on eBay that were from Armorcast Battlefield Scenery, others I made – and some I just don’t know who made them.  I’m hoping to use these at The Battle Standard in Auburn soon after coordinating with the owner, Jared Brodeur.

Normally I have more detail (how-to), but I lost most of the details of these terrain projects, as I had a few that I had to rework.  I think the pictures below are hopefully sufficient.  I was really happy to try new techniques with rust applications using a “pointillism” technique with a combination of Polly-S (“Rust”) and Vallejo (“Rust” 71.069 and 71.080) paints.  I mounted all of the terrain pieces on flat steel basing pieces.

The mostly Armorcast “set” I got on eBay were various refinery or industrial pieces that were airbrushed silver and gold, and that did not work for me.  I wanted the industrial ones to be more dirty and rusty.  I ended up painting some of them with various colors, and then using Army Painter Quickshade “Soft Tone” to shade.  I was not happy with most of these results, especially the Quickshade effects.  I repainted them, some with bright colors for the newer pieces of terrain, and with rust for the grittier ones, and then used spray varnish to seal.  Luckily, the Testors “Dullcoat” actually had a “crackling” chemical effect on one of the industrial tanks which worked well – (note – this was not an Armorcast piece and was likely homemade with some type of Styrofoam).  I was surprised as there was already a lot of paint and varnish on it at that point – but it was minimal and I liked it anyways.

1 terrain group start
The initial set of mostly Armorcast terrain I got on eBay, plus the slag mounds I made.  This is how I got them.  The triple tank is the homemade one that the varnish affected.

10 refinery stuff final
The pipeline/industrial terrain after repainting (and repainting).  Duck Vader and his Star Ducks confront Power-Armored Frinx led by their platoon leader.

9 refinery stuff final
Frontal view of the skirmish – light saber versus light cutlass!

12 wrecked pipeline final
Aphids on Grav-Cycles swing around a ruined overhead pipeline to swarm attack a Frinx Mark 1 Sphere tank

13 cryo unit and condensors and apu
Star Duck Bazookaducks ambush a Mark 1 in front of a large moisture condenser, a cryo unit, and a small power unit
The WorldWorks Games set consisted of a bunker, and three barricades.  They are for 28mm for sure.  The bunker was used, and difficult to assemble well with super glue.  I ended up using steel base material, popsicle sticks, wood glue, and cardboard to assist in the construction.  Here, I really liked my use of the rust pattern that I discussed earlier.

2 barrier unpainted
Assembled barrier before priming

3 defensive pit unpainted
Assembled bunker, front view, before priming

4 defensive pit unpainted, back
Assembled bunker, back view, with cardboard mounted on popsicle sticks mounted on steel bases

5 defensive pit unpainted, bottom
Bottom of the bunker – I needed to trim the steel bases and file off sharp edges

6 defensive pit and barriers primed
After priming with gray

7 defensive pit final
A Star Duck Mortarduck crew operates from the finished bunker

8 defensive walls final
Three Mark 1 Sphere tanks set up in defensive positions behind the barriers
Lastly, I had three slag mounds that I mounted on two old CD’s.  The slag was a byproduct of my casting projects.  For these, I had a “Red Planet” plan, and used Citadel “Martian Ironcrust” and “Martian Ironearth” to good effect, as well as different washes.

11 aphids in slag mounds final
An Aphid squad and their robot assault gun patrol the slag mounds
It’s a good start and I’m sure I could use some buildings and other things, but that I will get to in due time!

 

Duck Vader and the Star Duck Platoon!

This was a very large project that ended up with producing a 45-figure platoon.  I hope that you find this story interesting, if only to see the determination I had to have to see this through!  I am going to give some background, and then show the photos for the finished unit.  After that, I will give a detailed description for my fellow hobbyists as to how I completed the various aspects of this unit – this will allow you to see the final product earlier in the blog – and those who want more details can go past the completed photos to see more detail.

 

0 Star Ducks originally
The beginning -my original 4 Star Ducks from an eBay estate sale.  Note the broken ray guns.  The broken ones made good candidates for conversions.

 

 

0 Duck Vader box
My Duck Vader box from eBay – this was a reproduction by Dark Ages miniatures, which like Archive, is no more.  Note Nevile Stocken’s name is misspelled.

 

Background

I first saw the Archive Star Ducks (#2002) and Duck Vader (#2326) on the Lost Minis Wiki as I was researching some other Archive Star Rovers figures.  These were made by Archive between 1977 and 1981 or so.  They are made of lead and tin alloy.  These were sculpted by Nevile Stocken.  He sent me the drawing below via Facebook Messenger.

00 Nevile Stocken drawing

The rights to some of Archive’s figures have been sold off a few times.  Several have been reproduced, but they are not currently in production.  I searched through eBay, and these are very hard to find.  I did manage to find only 4 Star Ducks and one Duck Vader, but that paltry number does not make a unit.  My stretch goal was to create a platoon for use with Buck Surdu’s Combat Patrol™ system for tabletop skirmish gaming.  I thought that I would need about 40 or more figures to make the unit, and I ended up with 45, which is a good size for a traditional platoon.  In this process, I ended up making a mold and casting 40 for myself and some for Buck as previously described in this blog and Buck’s.  I converted 4 Squad Leaders with War Games Supply Dump retro sci-fi weapons – which I was lucky to get as WSD closed on March 31st, 2017.  I converted 6 figures to make up the mortar crew, to include making the mortars, ammo boxes, and mortar rounds.  I also converted three figures to make up an Anti-Tank section (now known as the Bazookaducks) by arming them with Reaper Chronoscope bazookas.

 Platoon Organization

The platoon is composed of 45 figures as described below.  Five of the figures, including the platoon sergeant and the platoon leader are original castings.  The remaining 40 are all Star Ducks that I cast over the last year.

Star Duck Platoon

  • Platoon leader – Duck Vader (1)
    • Platoon Sergeant (1)
      • Duckfoot Mortar Section (6 figures)
        • Mortar Crew 1 (3 converted Star Duck figures as crewducks)
          • 1 loader
          • 2 crewducks
        • Mortar Crew 2 (3 converted Star Duck figures as crewducks)
          • 1 loader
          • 2 crewducks
    • First Squad (11 figures with tan gloves)
      • Squad Leader (1 converted figure with WSD weapon)
        • Team A (5 figures)
          • Team Leader (1) and 4 Star Ducks
        • Team B (5 figures)
          • Team Leader (1) and 4 Star Ducks
    • Second Squad (11 figures with light blue gloves)
      • Squad Leader (1 converted figure with WSD weapon)
        • Team A (5 figures)
          • Team Leader (1) and 4 Star Ducks
        • Team B (5 figures)
          • Team Leader (1) and 4 Star Ducks
    • Third Squad (11 figures with light green gloves)
      • Squad Leader (1 converted figure with WSD weapon)
        • Team A (5 figures)
          • Team Leader (1) and 4 Star Ducks
        • Team B (5 figures)
          • Team Leader (1) and 4 Star Ducks
    • Bazookaduck Section (4 figures with dark red gloves)
      • Squad Leader (1 converted figure with WSD weapon)
      • Bazookaducks (3 Star Ducks with Reaper Anti-Tank weapons)

The Completed Duck Platoon

 

37 PL and PSG complete
Platoon Sergeant and Duck Vader, Platoon Leader, frontal view.  The Platoon Sergeant is an E-7 (Sergeant First Class).  Duck Vader is a First Lieutenant.

 

38 PL and PSG complete back side
Platoon Sergeant and Duck Vader, Platoon Leader, reverse view.  Both are original.

 

44 Squad Leaders
The 4 Squad Leaders, converted with WSD weapons.  Each is an E-6 (Staff Sergeant).  From right to left, 1st, 2nd, 3rd Squad and AT Section leader.  I used different colors on the gloves, lapels, and helmet buttons to differentiate them for tabletop play.

 

 

45 TeamLeaders
The team leaders for each line infantry squad, with the same coloration of the Squad Leaders but with original Star Duck weapons.  The B teams for each squad have a unique tuft.  These are E-5’s (Sergeants).

 

 

39 1st squad moves out
First Squad moves out.

 

 

40 2nd squad in the rocks
Second Squad defends the lava mounds.

 

 

41 3rd squad in the rocks
Third Squad assembles.

 

 

42 AT section attacked
The Bazooka Ducks face off against Frinx Sphere tanks.  For scale, the sphere tanks are golf ball sized.

 

 

43 AT section
The Bazookaduck Section Leader (an E-5), and the three Bazookaducks with Reaper Chronoscope bazookas.

 

 

33 Mortar Section 1 complete
Mortarduck crew A with Duckfoot mortar.  The two outer crewmen have ammo boxes and rounds to prepare for the loader.  The loader is converted and holds a scratch-built round.  The mortar is scratch-built from a washer, a bolt extender, paper clips, servo parts, and green stuff.  Brown tufts designate this as crew A.

 

 

34 Mortar Section 1 complete view from left
Reverse view of crew A.

 

 

35 Mortar Section 2 complete view from front
Mortarduck crew B.  Made similarly to crew A, except this crew has green tufts.

 

 

36 Mortar Section 2 complete view from left
Reverse view of crew B.

 

 

31 Complete long view from right
The Star Duck Platoon in formation, view from the right.

 

 

32 Complete long view from left
Star Duck Platoon, reverse view.

 

Overall, I am very happy with the unit.  I did use Army Painter Quickshade  (Soft Tone) which darkened them much more than I expected.  The effect was acceptable, but some of my identifying colors were muted.

I will now go into the how-to’s of the making of the unit.

How to Section

  1. Conversions

All of the figures that I converted were missing the ray gun ends.  These were either original casts or my own.  I used a jewelry saw, wood carving knives, files, an awl, and an Exacto knife to remove the ray guns and make room for the weapons.  Some of the figures lost limbs in this process, but I was able to use green stuff to recreate arms and hands for these figures.  I drilled any “amputees” with a pin vise, and used 24 gauge wire as an armature for these.

a. Mortars and Mortarducks

The mortars and mortarducks were the first conversions I attempted for this unit.  I envisioned two teams of three – made up of a loader, and two crewducks with ammunition boxes.  I made the ammo boxes from Plastruct styrene plastic and special styrene adhesive.  I had acquired some Army Painter green stuff, and decided to give it a go for the mortars and rounds.  I ended up using my steel sculpting tools, but quickly learned that I needed something different for green stuff, so I got some silicone- tipped tools that worked much better (less stickiness problems).  I used paperclip wire with the green stuff for the mortar legs and the rounds.  I tried to make a form for the mortar round bases out of 1/8″ plywood, with mixed success.  Eventually, I found that correction with an Exacto knife was a good way to go.  I made the bases with Apoxie Sculpt and steel washers.  In the case of the mortar base, this made sense as I was able to make a strong base with room for the loader using two slightly different washers.  The mortars themselves were made with screw extenders, washers, and servo parts for a model airplane.  Testors super glue was the means by which I glued the rounds to the loaders and the ammo boxes.  Additionally, I found that having some small hobby mirrors from Michaels made the sculpting and assembly process much easier.  I decided to leave the two crewducks with their original weapons as the loader conversion had proved to be a lot of work and I did not think it made a difference as I already had the ammo boxes.

 

3 Mortar design notes
My mortar plan and notes

 

 

1 Mortar round example
Idea for mortar round sculpts

 

 

4 mortars start
Initial work on the mortar and the rounds

 

5 mortars start front
Early stage in sculpt

 

6 mortars start side
Early stage in sculpt, side view

 

7 mortars fixed feet initial front
Middle stage of sculpt, before Duckfoot alteration

 

8 mortars duck feet front
Duckfoot mortars!

 

 

 

 

 

 

13 Rounds
Mortar Rounds completed and painted

 

18 Mortarduck, 1st try
Mortarduck loader conversion in progress

 

 

 b. Bazookaducks

I wanted the unit to have an anti-tank capability beyond the mortars.  I had previously converted some Frinx for this purpose, and decided to do the same for the Star Ducks.  The bazookas are from Reaper and came with several other weapons.  I basically carved away the ray gun and made the bazookas “fit”.  There were amputees in this group, but I think the conversions worked well.

c. Squad Leaders

The squad leaders were simply converted with the same tools.  I gave them the War Games Supply Dump blasters from the Dirk Garrison line.

3. Painting and Basing

The biggest challenge with painting was the color orange – I had not used it much before – and it took several iterations of trying different combinations until I found what I liked.

a. Duck Vader

The sequence was as follows:

  1. Citadel “Imperium Primer” as a brush primer
  2. Armory “Gloss Black” on helmet
  3. Craftsmart “Orange” on feet and bill
  4. Tamiya “Orange” on feet
  5. Citadel “Ceramite White” on face and tail
  6. Reaper MSP “Blue Liner” around eyes and pupils
  7. Vallejo “Aluminum” on light saber beam
  8. Vallejo “Chrome” on light saber handle
  9. Vallejo “Steel” on chest details
  10. Vallejo “Medium Gunship Gray” on gloves
  11. P3 “Cygnar Blue Highlight” on eyes
  12. Citadel “The Fang” on eyebrows
  13. Citadel “Castellan Green” on base
  14. Citadel “Nuln Oil Gloss” on cape and fingers
  15. Citadel “Spiritstone Red” on light saber
  16. P3 “Flesh Wash” on tail
  17. Highlight cape with Vallejo “Black Grey”
  18. Vallejo “Black” and “Glazing Medium” on cape and mouth slit
  19. Deka Lack “Weiss” highlight on tail and face
  20. Vallejo “Gloss Varnish” on helm
  21. Army Painter “Anti-shine Varnish” on figure

 

11 Duck Vader base coated
Base coated

 

 

17 Duck Vader completed
Finished Duck Vader

b. Mortar and mortar rounds

 

  1. The sequence was as follows:

    1. Citadel “Imperium Primer” as a brush primer
    2. Armory “Gloss Black” on mortar base
    3. Vallejo “US Dark Green” on mortar rounds
    4. Tamiya “Titanium Silver” on mortar round tips and base
    5. Craftsmart “Orange” on Duckfoot mortar feet
    6. Tamiya “Orange” on feet
    7. Citadel “Athonian Camoshade” wash on mortars
    8. P3 “Sulfuric Yellow” on toes of mortar feet
    9. Highlight with Tamiya “Orange” on feet
    10. Citadel “Soulstone Blue” on mortar tip/fuse
    11. Vallejo “Olive Drab” on mortar and rounds
    12. Vallejo “Steel” and “Black Metallic” on mortar fins
    13. Citadel “Fire Dragon Bright” on mortar rounds
    14. Mounted the mortars and boxes and rounds on bases
    15. Bases painted with Citadel “Lustrian Undergrowth”
    16. Bases shaded with Citadel “Seraphim Sepia”
    17. Bases highlighted with Armory “Musket Brown”
    18. Bases highlighted with Citadel “Niblet Green”
    19. Mortar dipped in Army Painter “Quickshade (Soft Tone)”
    20. Mounted mortar and rounds got coat of Testors “Dullcoat”

c. Star Ducks

  1. Citadel “Imperium Primer” as a brush primer
  2. Citadel “Nuln Oil” on figures
  3. Citadel “Ceramite White” on face and tail
  4. Citadel “Fire Dragon Bright” on feet and bills
  5. Reaper MSP “Blue Liner” around eyes and pupils
  6. Citadel “Soulstone Blue” on eyes
  7. Citadel “The Fang” on the jacket
  8. Vallejo “Metallic Black” on helmets and infantry ray guns
  9. Vallejo “Copper” on fuel tanks
  10. Americana “Ebony” on trousers
  11. Vallejo “Black” on mouth slit
  12. Vallejo “Aluminum” on jet venturi on back
  13. Vallejo “Gold” and “Chrome” on ray guns
  14. Polly-S “Goblin Flesh” and Vallejo “Glaze Medium” on holsters
  15. Vallejo “German Grey” on ammo pouches
  16. Vallejo “Signal Red” on ray gun scopes
  17. Vallejo “Gold”, “Chrome”, “Copper”, and “Signal Red” on WSD blasters
  18. Different glove colors on lapels, helmet buttons, and gloves: Platoon Sergeant – Vallejo Metallic “Arctic Blue”; 1st Squad – Citadel “Ushabti Bone”; 2nd Squad – Americana “Bahama Blue”; 3rd Squad – Americana “Apple Green”; Bazookaducks – Polly-S “Demon Deep Red”; Mortarducks – Americana “Dioxazine Purple”
  19. Armory “Musket Brown” and Vallejo “Neutral Grey” on cigars
  20. Vallejo “Black” on bill vents
  21. Vallejo “Light Orange” and “Glaze Medium” as glaze on bills and feet
  22. Vallejo “US Dark Green” on bazookas
  23. Citadel “Athonian Camoshade” wash on bazookas
  24. Milliput (yellow) on bases
  25. Bases painted with Citadel “Lustrian Undergrowth”
  26. Bases shaded with Citadel “Seraphim Sepia”
  27. Bases highlighted with Armory “Musket Brown”
  28. Bases highlighted with Citadel “Niblet Green”
  29. Figures dipped in Army Painter “Quickshade (Soft Tone)”
  30. Figures coated with an application of Testors “Dullcoat”
  31. Used various Army Painter tufts and meadow flowers on bases to designate teams

 

21 Completed base coat
Base coated and ready for varnish
22 Completed base coat closeup bazooka
Close-up of unit pre-varnish
23 Completed base coat closeup mortarduck loader
Mortarduck loader, pre-varnish
28 Completed platoon sgt
Platoon Sergeant, post-dip
30 After milliput basing
Platoon post dip, with Milliput added to bases

 

To wrap up, I am very happy that the unit is done.  I am on the fence as to the use of the Army Painter “Quickshade” – the figures are darker and well-shaded, and should be well protected, but some details are obscured.  I enjoyed my new Vallejo products and found that they really worked well.  I also learned that orange as a color requires multiple applications and glazing to work well.

I learned much that I can use for future projects, and I hope that you enjoyed this blog entry.

Please leave comments and feedback!  Thanks!

Power-Armored Frinx Platoon is Ready for Action!

As described earlier in this blog (here), I had acquired and cast some Archive Star Rovers figures – “Power-Armored Frinx” (#2040 or #2305) last year.  As these were made between 1977 and 1981, it became difficult to acquire enough of them for a unit, and Archive no longer exists to purchase them.  I cast several of them for myself and friends.

My goal was to create a platoon-sized unit of these Frinx for a retro-sci-fi battle using Combat Patrol™.   My concept of these figures is that they are reptilian, and that they wear suits of “power-armor” that protect them, while negatively affecting their movement.  They are armed with a blaster-type weapon.  My castings did not pick up the details of the helmets which had a light-like feature similar to that of a miners helmet.  What they did pick up yielded a look similar to a beret (if a helmet could become a beret), and I incorporated that feature into my painting scheme.

For fun, below is a catalog shot that came with my Star Rovers game.  Note that it lists “Frinx” and “Nude Frinx”.  I do have one of the latter, and its a Frinx out of armor!

 

11 Archive 1981 catalogue SR 2
Catalog scan from Archive Star Rovers game

 

 

4 Archive Armored Frinx 1st mold half
Mold with Power-Armored Frinx

 

After I had 32 figures, I organized them for the platoon.  I needed to convert several troopers to make a platoon leader, a platoon sergeant, and an anti-tank section.  I also plan on attaching the Mark 1 Sphere tanks I previously created into the platoon.  The organization of the platoon is below.

Power-Armored Frinx platoon structure (32 fighting figures plus 3 vehicles):

  • Frinx Platoon Leader (1 Frinx with blaster pistol and light cutlass)
    • Frinx Platoon Sergeant (1 Frinx with automatic grenade launcher)
      •  AT section (3 Frinx with bazookas)
    • Jade Squad (9 Frinx)
      • Squad Leader (1 Frinx with blaster rifle, also leads Jade A team)
      • A Team – 4 Frinx Infantry with blaster rifles
      • B Team Leader (1 Frinx with blaster rifle, also leads Jade B team)
        • 3 Frinx Infantry with blaster rifles in Jade B team
    • Pearl Squad (9 Frinx)
      • Squad Leader (1 Frinx with blaster rifle, also leads Pearl A team)
      • A Team – 4 Frinx Infantry with blaster rifles
      • B Team Leader (1 Frinx with blaster rifle, also leads Pearl B team)
        • 3 Frinx Infantry with blaster rifles in Pearl B team
    • Amethyst Squad (9 Frinx)
      • Squad Leader (1 Frinx with blaster rifle, also leads Amethyst A team)
      • A Team – 4 Frinx Infantry with blaster rifles
      • B Team Leader (1 Frinx with blaster rifle, also leads Amethyst B team)
        • 3 Frinx Infantry with blaster rifles in Amethyst B team
    • Sphere Tank Section (3 Mark 1 Sphere Tanks with heat rays and ray guns)

I used a jewelry saw and some blades to remove the blaster on two figures, as well as the left arm on the platoon leader.  I had some sci-fi weapons that I had gotten on eBay and from Buck Surdu (perhaps from War Games Supply Dump).  I gave the platoon leader a light cutlass (instead of a light saber) and a blaster pistol.

 

8-pl-converted
Platoon Leader after conversion

 

I then moved on to the AT section, which reports to the platoon sergeant.  After removing the blaster and shaving some space, I used a pin vise drill to make space for the bazookas on 3 Frinx.  I used 3 bazookas from 3 Reaper Chronoscope Weapons Pack III’s (#5o234).  I split the bazookas in half and sized them to the figures.  For the platoon sergeant, I removed the blaster, and gave him a cool automatic grenade launcher.

 

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AT Frinx after conversion.

 

 

 

11-frinx-bazooka-conversion-with-reaper-weapons-pod-package
Source of bazookas

 

 

 

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A trooper, the converted platoon leader, and the converted platoon sergeant

 

I mounted all the figures on ¾” steel washers with wood glue, and let them dry.  Subsequently, I used white glue to lightly mount the figures to numbered popsicle sticks.  I covered the numbers with scotch tape, and primed the lot with Krylon “Ultra Flat Gray”.  I then removed the tape so as to know what stick I was working on and have a reference point for the beginning and the end as painting units can cause one to forget. Using Citadel “Nuln Oil”, I gave the unit a wash to better identify their features.  This gave me a surprise for the platoon sergeant!

 

16-primed-frinx-troopers
All primed

 

The automatic grenade launcher already had a couple of hands on it!  The Frinx hands are gloved – similar to say 1920’s Mickey Mouse for lack of a better comparison.  I had to create a left arm with Milliput for the figure that would cover up the left glove and extend to the left hand under his weapon.  For the right extra hand, I filled in the fingers with Milliput and made it look like part of the grenade launcher.

 

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Platoon Sergeant – before conversion on left side

 

 

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New arm for him!

 

 

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Platoon Sergeant with extra hand?

 

 

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Turned extra hand into stock

 

 

As far as my painting scheme, I wanted to try something new – and use a lot of metallic paint for a few purposes.  First, to create the image of the “power armor” I used a series of DecoArt metallic paints.  These had a side benefit of also allowing me to easier differentiate my squads into three (Jade, Pearl, and Amethyst).  I used other Citadel Technical Paints to denote leaders, and parts of weapons.  Additionally, I used a few Tamiya metallic paints as I will describe.  The net effect of the metallic was to make this a difficult project due to the thicknesses of the metallic paints – but I think the results worked (but the reader can be the judge).  These photos are ok, but I found it difficult to get the lighting right for them.

Basically, I had to abandon the typical assembly line approach I normally take to when painting units due to the properties of the metallic paints (especially the viscosity and the clotting).  Thinning helped, but to get the desired effects I went slow and methodically.  Each figure was base coated with a DecoArt Dazzling Metallic or Craftsmart metallic main color (DecoArt “Festive Red” for the platoon leader, Craftsmart “Sapphire” for the platoon sergeant, DecoArt “Festive Green” for the AT section, DecoArt “Crystal Green” for the Jade squad, DecoArt “Peacock Pearl” for the Pearl squad, and Craftsmart “Amethyst” for the Amethyst squad.  Tamiya “Chrome Silver” was my choice for the breathing regulators, straps, part of the blaster sights, and the center of the helmets.  Tamiya “Gun Metal” was what I used for the blasters and the  remainder of the helmets.  For the Frinx faceplates, gloves, and boots, I used another metallic, Craftsmart “Onyx”.  The main part of the breathing tanks was coated with another metallic, DecoArt “White Pearl”, while the tanks themselves got Tamiya “Copper”.  Inside the faceplates, I painted the eye wells with Citadel “Ceramite White”, then dotted the eyes with “Onyx”.  Using Citadel Technical “Waystone Green”, I filled in the rest of the eye well, creating an eye.  I ten used Citadel “‘Ardcoat” to create a lens-like effect on the faceplate – this took a while as I had to do one side at a time, and let each dry.  I also used the “Chrome Silver” as a base for “Waystone Green” on parts of the blasters, the platoon leader’s light cutlass, and on the team leaders’ helmets.  For the squad leader’s and platoon sergeant’s helmets, I used the same approach but with another Citadel Technical paint, “Soulstone Blue”.  The platoon leader’s helmet got Citadel “Spiritstone Red” (yet another “Technical” paint).

I then used “Nuln Oil” for shade, and highlighted all the areas overly darkened by it with the original colors to add depth.  For the black gloves, I used highlights of “Chrome Silver” intermixed and slightly covered by “Onyx”.  For the bazookas, I used my first Vallejo paint, “US Dark Green” – and I loved the paint.  It was so easy to use after all the metallics!  I shaded the bazookas with Citadel “Athonian Camoshade”.

For the bases, I tried a new approach to hide the raised bases.  Using Citadel “Lustrian Undergrowth” (a thick “Texture” product), I carefully filled in around each base.  This was better than I thought as far as effects.  After the bases were dry, I washed them with Citadel “Seraphim Sepia” and let them dry.  I was able to dry brush the bases successively with Armory “Musket Brown” and Citadel “Niblet Green”.     Due to the cold weather, I was not able to varnish at home.  Luckily, my friend Jeff Smith has a nice heated workshop that he was kind enough to let me use.  There I gave the platoon a couple of coats of Testors “Dullcoat”.

Lastly, I used tufts to better differentiate for play between A and B teams on the squads.  Jade team A got one Army Painter “Swamp Tuft”.  Pearl Team A got Army Painter “Wilderness Tuft”.  Amethyst  Team A got Army Painter yellow “Meadow Flowers”.  The platoon leader and platoon sergeant got white “Meadow Flowers”.

 

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Midway progress

 

 

 

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Lots of Frinx!

 

 

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Close up of Jade team Frinx after base coat

 

 

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After painting and off to the varnishing

 

 

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Assembled platoon less sphere tanks

 

 

 

 

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Amethyst Squad, side view

 

 

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Platoon Leader with light cutlass

 

 

 

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Blaster side

 

 

 

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Rear view of PL

 

 

 

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Platoon Sergeant, weapon view

 

 

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Platoon sergeant, rear view

 

 

 

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AT Section

 

 

 

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Supported by Mark 1 Sphere Tanks

 

 

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On the move

 

 

48-supported-by-sphere-tanks-3-group-shot
The Power-Armored Frinx Platoon deployed

 

I tried a number of new things for this project and learned some things:

  • Multiple metallic paints
    • Tamiya – use their thinner, it works better than water and can rejuvenate old Tamiya paints
    • Craftsmart and DecoArt – thick stuff, but will work
  • Citadel products
    • “‘Ardcoat” – great for lenses over Citadel Technicals
    • “Lustrian Undergrowth” (Texture) – works well on bases and drybrushes well
    • Technicals (“Soulstone Blue”, “Spiritstone Red”, “Waystone Green” – all good, but need to consider what you use as base and drying time
    • “Seraphim Sepia” and “Athonian Camoshade” are nice washes
  • Conversions – sometimes the details are not immediately visible on additions!  Use a wash on gray or white primer to see details
  • Vallejo paint – gotta get more of these!

 

Retro Sci-Fi Sphere Tanks – from a Callaway Golf Ball!

I am happy to begin the 2017 blogging season with a very complicated project.  While I began work on this project in December, I had been thinking about it since last May.

So what happened in May 2016?  I was traveling for work, and sat down in a Cracker Barrel in Connecticut for breakfast (Uncle Herschel’s with a sweet tea of course).  For those of you who have never been to a Cracker Barrel, there are always old photos and curios all over the walls.  I looked to my left, and saw this on the wall:

1-popular-science-cover-july-1936-by-edgar-franklin
What started this journey

I was amazed at this and wanted to dig in more and learn the date of this issue of Popular Science magazine and see what the article said.  The article was just a paragraph with another picture – here is the link and a shot of the July 1936 article on page 37.

1a-popular-science-article-july-1936
The page 37 article

The concept of the “tumbleweed tank” tank was one of two outer shell halves rotating independently on rollers over a solid stationary sphere.  More or less, the outer halves acted as the vehicle’s treads.  I do not believe that anyone ever tried to build this as a combat vehicle, but I still found the concept fascinating and worthy of a project.

During the intervening months, I conceived of an idea that I could make a model of the tank, build a mold,  and cast it for tabletop wargaming.  As I have been building units of Star Rovers figures for sci-fi Combat Patrol™, my first thought was to make a retro-sci-fi tank, probably for the Frinx.  I was not enthusiastic about the weapons design as shown in the magazine – machine guns alone would make this a very boring retro sci-fi tank.  I also considered making it modular – so that I could adapt different weapons for it.

While thinking about it, I wanted to have a great sphere – and my sculpting experience is at best weak to nonexistent.  I have seen a few blogs that I follow where folks are sculpting their own figures, and that helped to inspire me.  As I also cast – this was a chance to go from beginning to end with the project.  But what to use?

The answer came easily to me as a golfer – a golf ball!  That would be an easy thing to work with and would afford me a chance to see what works.  I had an idea that I wanted it to be armed with ray guns in the side sponsons.  I had not decided on the main weapon, when I had a brainstorm – 1953’s War of the Worlds Martian Heat Rays!

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1953 movie poster
4-war-of-the-worlds-1953-martians-attack-humans
The Martian ship

So with this plan, I went forward to try to create my new Mark 1’s (what else to call them!).  I thought that I could learn from the project (and I have).  I used a “Line ’em Up” golf accessory to create lines on a used Callaway golf ball, and drilled a ½” hole in the side of the ball on two sides.  I like the Callaway for this as it has hexagonal dimples.

 

 

5-first-cut-on-ball
First drill hole into the Callaway

 

After this, I used a Plastruct 2mm x 4.8mm styrene strip to size up the gap between the ball halves.  I used my Dremel to cut the outer surface of the ball – it ended up being messy and needed a lot of Exacto knife work.  The Dremel cutting blade tends to melt the outer ball cover – another lesson learned

 

6-ball-ring
After cutting the chassis ridge with my Dremel

 

I then needed to create the tread ridges.  I used an Exacto knife to carve small channels along the lines for the treads.  This took a lot of cutting!  Using some old plastic membership cards, I cut out each tread, sized them to the holes, and glued them in with super glue.

 

7-ball-ring-treads
Tread ridges cut from plastic membership cards

 

I then drilled a ¼” hole for the attachment of a main weapon –  which I would cast separately with the sponsons in a single mold.  To build a base for the model, I used three 1¼” washers, and glued them together with wood glue.  I then covered them with Apoxie Sculpt, leaving a hole to mount the ball to the base with a wood screw through the washer.  This ended up being a base that I feel in the end was a little too tall, but usable, and castable.

 

8-ball-ring-treads-installed
A Callaway golf ball converted into the tank chassis 

 

I originally was going to use Milliput or Apoxie Sculpt for the sponsons – when I discovered these ½” Button Plugs from Lara’s Crafts – which were the right shape and fit perfectly into the holes on the sides (got lucky here).  I bought a set of Niji woodcarving knives (which I wish I had when I was carving the treads and the middle gap!) and used them to make the sponson shells.  After trial and error (where I learned the hard way that I needed to wear a cutting glove with these very sharp knives), I carved two sponsons and sanded down the middle slots.

 

10-sponson-start
Making the button plugs into sponsons

 

I initially thought that I needed to smooth out the golf ball dimples and the tread cuts, so I first tried with Apoxie Sculpt, with poor results.  My next attempt was with Citadel “Liquid Green Stuff”, which was better, but I think was an unneeded step.

 

11-sponson-fitting
The master figure and sponsons mid-project

 

I drilled a 1/8″ hole in the sponson shell, and mounted a short piece of Evergreen Scale Models strip styrene 1/8″ tube.  For the ray guns, I turned to the use of model airplane parts.  I used two Dubro products – a 2mm socket head cap screw with three 2 mm flat washers superglued to it.  To line up the washers evenly, I found that using toothpicks on both sides and underneath to define the gaps and make the washers relatively parallel worked well.   I inserted the guns into the ends of the styrene, after coring out the ends of the styrene rods for a better fit.  Eventually, I primed the sponsons black with Citadel “Imperium Primer”, as I wanted there to be less tackiness to the Quick-Sil from the wood.

 

12-sponson-with-ray-gun
Nice view of the ray guns in the sponsons

 

 

13-sponsons-with-ray-gun
Another view of the ray gun sponson

 

I then moved onto the main weapon, the heat ray.  In the 1953 movie, the heat ray was rectangular, leading to the distinctive head.  I eyeballed the length, and designed the head.  I sculpted it in two stages, with the “eye” section being attached to the neck, which itself was on the Plastruct strip styrene.

 

15-main-gun-sketches
Designing the heat ray – this worked!

 

 

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Initial heat ray sculpt on styrene strip

 

I cut the styrene strip to size, and used more Apoxie Sculpt to make a mount that would fit into the main weapon recess.  After it hardened, I saw that I would have to bend it in my mold, or otherwise I would have a very turtle-like appearance.  As the styrene is flexible, this was not a problem.  I made two two-piece molds with Castaldo Quick-Sil – one for the chassis and one for the weapons.  I also tried some new innovations with venting with the use of some more model airplane parts – in this case flexible fuel lines that I cut for venting.  As you can see below, I bent the heat ray in the mold to my desired shape.

 

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Weapons mold before Quick-Sil

 

 

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After first half molded

 

 

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Chassis mold before Quick-Sil

 

 

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Chassis mold after first half molded

 

In the end, the mold for the weapons worked very well, needing little work on the finished weapons.  However, the chassis mold had a few issues.  First, I knew as a golfer that golf balls compress when struck.  What I did not realize was that there would be a strong interaction of the flattish sponson holes and the pressure exerted by the curing Quick-Sil on them at 90° angles.  As a result, the cast ball would be visibly compressed somewhat.  Additionally, the flow was not perfect – leading to my needing to add Apoxie Sculpt to the finished models’ chassis.  Lastly, because the mold for the chassis was thick, and the casting was large, it took a long time to cool, and used a lot of metal (see phots for weight below in the blog).  Unfortunately I discovered this when I opened the mold once and the metal flowed out!  I will incorporate these lessons learned into the Mark 2’s.

 

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The master and the molds

 

 

23-mark-1-chassis-cast-and-master
Shrinkage!  Was he in the pool? (Apologies to George Costanza and Jerry Seinfeld)

I managed to successfully cast two chassis, and decided to use the master as well as I already had the mold.  So I cast three sets of weapons, and assembled three tanks in total.  I used some Apoxie Sculpt to fill in the gaps in the back where flow was less than ideal -and this worked fine.  Next, I mounted the assembled tanks to a 1 5/8″ steel washer for magnetic storage in my gaming boxes.

 

 

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Assembled tanks

I then primed the tanks with  Citadel “Imperium Primer” – I must say I like this as a brush primer – it’s a nice product.

 

 

26-mark-1-tanks-after-priming-front
Primed tanks

 

After priming, I moved on to painting them.  Painting these proved to be challenging, especially the fully-cast models, due to the weight of the models.  The metal ones weighed about 14 ounces, while the master weighed in at 4 ounces!

I used Citadel “XV-88” on the base and the chassis gaps.  For the chassis and the heat ray, I based with Tamiya “Gun Metal”.  I used several light coats and had a shiny finish to deal with – but a smooth one.  The trick with Tamiya is a wet brush and a lot of shaking and shaking again.  I then used another Tamiya metallic, “Chrome Silver” to paint the sponsons, the tread ridges, and the business end of the heat rays.  I painted the tips pf the ray guns and the “eye” of the heat ray with “XV-88” and Citadel “Gehenna’s Gold” in anticipation of future colors.  The base I gave an application of Americana “Ebony”.

 

27-mark-1-tanks-after-base-coating
After base coat

 

I then used my new Citadel Technical paints.  Remember that the Martian craft had orbs that were glowing green.  To recreate that feel, I applied two coats of Citadel “Waystone Green”  to the sponson tops and bottoms, the tread ridges, the chassis gaps, and the main portion of the heat ray.  I also painted the first and last rings of the ray guns with this technical paint.   I wanted the slot of the sponson to be a bit darker – and Secret Weapons Washes “Armor Wash” helped me to achieve that look.  For the tips of the ray guns and the “eye” of the heat ray, Citadel “Spiritstone Red” gave a nice focal character to the weapons.

 

28-mark-1-tanks-after-base-coating-and-mid-highlighting
After highlights

 

To accent the green, I shaded areas around the “Waystone Green” with Citadel “Nuln Oil GLOSSY”.  As I was going to dull down the overall shiny paint job, I thought this would work better – and I think it did.  I drybrushed the bases with Citadel “Mechanicus Standard Gray”, and then applied a light flocking with Army Painter “Ash Grey” on the washer alone.

 

29-mark-1-tanks-before-varnish
Ready for varnish!

 

I was now ready to varnish, and for the first time I used Army Painter’s “Anti-Shine” matte varnish.  This is an aqueous varnish.  I liked it, and am excited as varnishing in New England in the winter is always a logistical challenge.  I uses 2 parts varnish to 1 part water, and applied with a fan brush lightly.  It came out nice and smooth.  After it dried, I sprayed the models with Testors “Dullcoat” is my cellar bulkhead after I got it warm enough.  This enabled venting of the fumes outside after I was done and kept my wife from killing me when she got home!

To finish the models, I needed to deal with the elevated bases.  Using a lot of Army Painter “Wasteland Tuft” applied with white glue, I was able to create an image of the tanks plowing through grass.  They are heavy though, but sturdy.

 

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This is a heavy model!!!  In English and metric units!

 

 

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The master weighs a lot less!

 

Here are some close up photos of the final product.

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Run!

 

 

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Convoy!

 

 

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Nice group shot

 

I am very happy with how these came out.  If I get enough interest, I may offer some for sale as kits.  Certainly, these are my first real creations from conception to creating to molding to casting to painting.  I learned a lot, and I am sure that my next iterations will be better.

They will be an  excellent part of my Frinx forces for Combat Patrol™!

 

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A bad day for these Aphids!!!