Back in March of 2017, I read that WSD (Wargames Supply Dump) in the U.K. was shutting down its website and its figures from the Dirk Garrison line would no longer be available. Very bad news! I had not yet had the chance to buy any of these, and their retro sci-fi look lured me in to try to get a few before it was too late.
I was able to get a few different sets, which I will be painting up and using in my retro sci-fi games using the card-based Combat Patrol™ system.
The first ones I started were MIS06 “Robo Sentry Guns“. These came in a two-pieces per kit. As you can see below, the models were not greatly detailed, but very nice for what I wanted – unmanned and immovable guns for attacking infantry (or vehicles) to deal with during a skirmish. They were sculpted by Jason Miller. I wanted to buy 10, but only 5 were left by the time I tried to buy them. I grabbed them as they were heavily discounted!
I affixed the bases to a 1¼” steel washer using Loctite glue. This tactic allows me to use magnetic sheets to easily store them in plastic boxes. I then primed them with Krylon “Ultra Flat” matte spray paint. I also made sure that I painted the bottoms white as well, as I find that leaves me the option to place information on the bottom that I’d like to have once the models are done, such as the model’s name, the date it was finished, and any unit identification, etc. I just use a fine-tipped Sharpie.
I decided to paint the two parts separately, base coat both, and then assemble the kit after that. I also made a change in my process in that I used 3M white poster tack from Michael’s to affix the bases to popsicle sticks for painting instead of white glue. This worked MUCH better – and the tack is reusable – so I was happy to discover this would work and so well. The models stayed affixed very well.
I started brushwork with a wash of Citadel “Nuln Oil” over both pieces. I followed this with a heavy dry brushing with Citadel “Mechanicus Standard Gray”. Then, I switched to Vallejo Model Air “Medium Gunship Gray” for the tripod legs (with a brush – no airbrushing was done on these models). For the tripod feet, and the center mount, I used Vallejo Model Air “Steel”. The gun itself was mounted on a rock-like structure on a washer disk. I thought the rock made little sense for a robo sentry gun, so I decided to obscure it with Armory “Gloss Black” (still good from 1996!). I then shaded the tripod base with “Nuln Oil”. I subsequently used Secret Weapons Washes “Heavy Body Black” on the base, followed by lightly dry brushing and stippling it with “Mechanicus Standard Gray”.
At this point, I glued the two pieces together with wood glue, and let the assembly dry overnight. To further obscure the rock, I used Vallejo Model Air “Gold” on the washer – with an eye towards mimicking the coloration of the lunar modules from the Apollo missions. I thought it worked well, though it took three coats to get it properly covered.
On the gun, I used Vallejo Model Air “Gun Metal”, with Vallejo “Aluminum” on the optics. On the optics I then painted the ends with “Gold” and Citadel “Spiritstone Red”. I finished the gun with Secret Weapons Washes “Armor Wash”, with some light highlighting with “Gun Metal”. Once dry, I applied two coats of Testors “Dullcoat”, allowing for adequate drying between coats.
I think these will be a nice addition to my Combat Patrol™ games, as I can use these in multiple situations as a GM. I like the retro sci-fi look, and as I move into building a Robot army, these will fit in nicely (more to come on those in future blog posts). I also added a photo to the Lost Minis Wiki on the model, as there was none there. Still, sad to see that WSD will no longer produce these cool minis.
I have been collecting various examples of the long-defunct Archive Miniatures Star Rovers line of figures from 1977. This month, I have had some health issues that precluded being able to sit down (long story and a pain if you know what I mean). Therefore, I chose to work on making molds and casting, focusing on Star Rovers, which is something I do standing up.
My overall goal is to create squad-sized units of these “lost” but very cool minis. I want these to set up and play games of Buck Surdu’s Combat Patrol™, as well as to see if I can create a scenario using the Star Rovers figures that I have collected. Combat Patrol™ was created as a WWII skirmish card-based miniatures rules set, but it has been successfully adapted to other historical periods as well as Star Wars™ scenarios. To learn more about Combat Patrol™, click here.
Before I get to the figures and the making of the molds, I wanted to share information about my casting set up. I basically use pewter and I use a Hot Pot 2 crucible with a Lyman pyrometer to measure the alloy’s temperature.
I also use appropriate safety equipment!
The Hot Pot 2 holds about 4 pounds of molten metal, and is used for making bullets, fishing sinkers, and miniatures. Unfortunately, it comes with a tripod stand which teeters and is prone to tipping. Why the manufacturer did not use four legs on the stand for stability is beyond me. After a couple of spills (where I dodged the 650° F contents and had a lovely clean up) I was determined to have a new set up. Currently I have 1′ x 1′ steel sheets clamped to my old Sears Craftsman® work bench that I have had for close to 30 years. My friend Jeff Smith came up with an idea that proved to be a great fix. He had an old cast iron (heavy) Christmas tree stand he was not using. I filled the large holder with play sand to raise the bottom up and put the tripod into the sand in the tree well. This provided great stability and rendered the set up virtually spill-proof. I clamped the tree stand to my work bench (after extending my bench depth about an inch). This worked great and I am very happy with my new casting set up.
To learn more about the Archive Miniatures Star Rovers line click here.
I cannot find any reliable sources to buy these figures – I only find them sporadically on eBay. This is why I recast them for personal use and for gifts.
My first mold in October was for the Space Phraints. These are 9 foot tall emotionless insect men that were in the old Arduin game. These are armed with huge swords and a ray gun.
I found a nice synopsis on Phraints from Saundby.com that you can see here. The photos below show the original I got on eBay (the blue clay you see came from the mold-making process and is easily removed).
Below is the first mold half set up for the Space Phraint. I used an old metal mold plug to create my flow aperture along with some golf tees my wife gave me a while back for Christmas. I also used toothpicks to create air flow vents and release points for better casting. I also wrote a mirror image of the word “PHRAINT” on the clay. The QuickSil is measured and mixed and put into the mold press for curing. I generally wait 28 minutes for it to cure – and I use a hand-held hair dryer to warm the outside of the press to assist in curing the RTV (room temperature vulcanizing) compound.
I then put the first half back into the mold press, applied a releasing cream to any wooden surfaces of the press that QuickSil would touch as well as the green set up rubber RTV. I then measured and mixed more QuickSil and repeated the process. After I made the mold, I cut out wooden backings for the mold from 1/8″ plywood using my scroll saw.
The Space Phraint mold was very successful and needed little modification during the casting process. I was able to cast 42 figures from this mold.
The next mold is a Mark III Warbot. As far as I can tell, there are no Mark I or II’s in Star Rovers! He is clunky and retro looking, with a very cool ray gun/blaster. He reminded me of Bender from Futurama, though he was created in 1977!
I followed a similar process in making this mold as described above.
This also was a successful mold. I cast 42 figures using it.
I then moved onto the Space Centaur, who has rocket packs on his back, but is only armed with a laser pistol! This was my first try at making a mold of a four-legged creature. The mold itself needed more tweaking during the casting process than I like in terms of cutting vents and opening up spaces. I believe that I should have used more of a cone-shaped pour aperture for the mold. Here I used a small hotel soap and golf tees to shape the pouring well – and I think that works less effectively than a cone. I also had leaking issues with the mold initially. I solved these with adding more C-clamps when casting.
I was able to cast 36 figures with this mold.
The last two figures that I worked on were Dragonspawn Infantry. There were actually three made by Archive, but I do not have the prone figure, only the crouching and kneeling ones. My guess from these pictures is that they were originally painted but then stripped.
I tried a new mold design – two figures in one mold. I wanted to see if this would be more efficient. It was not, primarily I believe that the cone aperture design works better, especially a tall one. Here I used another hotel soap and golf tees – and I had a lot of casting failures with this mold. With some adaptations during the casting process (making the pouring aperture and tees wider), my success rate improved, but the overall mold leaked a lot and was a pain to work with. At one point, some of the RTV came off in a figure, but this did not seem to be a major issue with subsequent castings.
I was able to cast 24 good figures of each type, but I probably had a 50% failure rate overall.
I cast 168 miniatures in total with the four molds. Some I am giving to friends, while the rest I an putting into the painting queue.
I learned some new things about the process, and got a new casting set up that is much safer. My next casting will be in a few months – I really want to start painting now that the weather is turning colder, and get them into a Combat Patrol™ game!