Tuesday 29 January 2013

Fleet Scale Sci-Fi: Weekend Project Part 2

I completed the Fleet Scale Sci-Fi project, so thought I'd share the photos - although it didn't quite turn out in the way I had expected, it was a good learning experience and I think I ended up with a couple of decent-looking flotillas.

As you'll see above, the Imperials I had described in the previous Blogpost were joined by a pair of Brigade Model's EuroFed SFS-431 Insidioso Destroyers - I think they have a certain Republic Venator Class Cruiser vibe, if on a smaller scale!

I started by adding control bridges to the three Irregular Miniature's Destroyers and the GZG Cruiser with some offcuts of oblong sprue topped off with some small Aeronef turrets that had the guns removed and were placed upside down - not exactly feet and inches accurate in appearance, but good enough at this scale.

The Irregular Destroyers are rather plain in terms of detail, so once I'd started off with a dry-brush of grey after the black undercoat, they were looking rather bland; furthermore, the grey I did use dried a lot darker than I had expected, so I was looking to add both some detail and 'highlight' the colour, if you like, to make them more resemble the originals from the movies.
This is where things got interesting, in that I started off adding small lines and spots of silver grey,  and probably went overboard in adding more and more until the overall effect was rather busy.

I should have stopped there, but decided in order to gain a matching appearance across the flotilla, I should do the same on the other models, even though they had plenty of incised detail, especially the GZG example - Ho-Hum! A case of gilding the Lily....
That said, at tabletop distances they don't look that bad, but if you enlarge the photos, then the spots/lines combo does rather jump out....

Trying to reproduce the iconic Dykstra/ Industrial Light and Magic 'greeblie' surface on the Irregular Destroyers was always going to be a hiding to nowhere, and it took a lot longer than I had wanted to spend on these ships - of course I had to try to make sure that the lines roughly matched from vessel to vessel - so much more time consuming.
The final stroke was some more white dry-brushing to try and counter the overly dark underlayer, but this was getting into the realms of white 'ghosting', and therefore I gave up before they became any more muddied....on balance, though, I'm not too disappointed, as it is just cool to see some Star Wars ships on the table top - I've got some of Studio Bergstrom's T.I.E fighters to do at a later date, which should finish things off - I'm thinking this is a flotilla of the Late Republic just before the Empire really gets going, hence the mix of types....

Turning to the Minbari ships , you might remember that the Tigaran Cruisers were already painted, although they had acquired quite a few bumps and scrapes during their journey to my Lead Mountain via EBay.
The previous owner had done a nice job of shading into the blue on them, and that was something I was hoping to replicate on my additional vessels (including the Squadron scale fighters, which I managed to find), but as with the Imperials, things didn't quite go to plan...

I started off with layerings of successively lighter blues in a sort of patchy/ tiger stripe way, and then thought a nice ink wash would serve to shade their organic and sinuous designs as with the Tigarans, but for some reason the wash was not behaving, and just seemed to disappear - I was wary  of making them too dark, and so left it at that.

I thought of trying to add some dark blue to the wash, but thought this would just serve to blank out what contrast I had managed to add - so again, in order to get compatibility across the various ships I had to be satisfied with how they were.

In re-touching the Tigarans, I necessarily lost some of the nice original shading - I guess the blues being used were different to begin with, and my wash was not just cutting the mustard, but not too bad, overall. Some white dots here and there serve as running lights - I didn't want to add in any more colours as I've always liked the homogenous marine/organic colourings of the originals in the TV show - I have seen some minis done with nice purple stripes for effect - perhaps something I might try in the future - if I'm brave enough!

Friday 25 January 2013

Fleet Scale Sci-Fi: Weekend Project

Inspired by some excellent recent postings on a couple of my favourite Blogs, namely the series by Jim at Wargames Workbench and Rich at Broken Stars Burning Ships, I've decided to dust off some spaceships of my own to work on over the weekend.



I doubt if my work will be up to their always excellent standards, but it should be fun to have a go at some fleet scale just as a short 'weekend' project.

I've dug around in the Lead Mountain and come up with some of Irregular Miniature's SH3 Destroyer, and a single GZG FSE FT606 Suffren Class Light Cruiser.
These will form the basis of a small Star Wars type Imperial flotilla, and I'll be roughing up some bridge sections that will bring them up to looking more like the originals:

These will be accompanied by some Babylon Five Minbari ships that came as part of an Ebay lot some time ago, with three Tigaran Cruisers, and two Neshatan Gunships; obviously I'm cheating a bit with the Tigarans, as they'll probably only need a bit of touching up rather than an actual repaint.
I've also got some large Squadron-scale Minbari fighters that could stand in as some sort of frigate class alongside these, have to see if I can dig these out as well and come up with  a more well-rounded little fleet:

So then, two TV/Film-inspired flotillas to get my teeth into over the coming couple of days, Real Life permitting, stay tuned for updates soon!

Friday 18 January 2013

Plastic Fantastic: Rockets and Spaceships Update

A rush update now, on the latest batch of 'Plastic Fantastic' pieces, mainly due to the great fun I had in painting these up; I say painting these up - actually much more of a splash and dash, as I was so keen to see how they would turn out - with hindsight some corners were definitely cut!

As you can see from the photos, I went with a vaguely Mongo-inspired scarlet and gold scheme for a trio of War-Rocket look-alikes, and thought I'd follow through with a 6mm Shuttle vibe on the other piece:

The Shuttle is actually the fuselage section of the blue rocket seen in the earlier post, with the front opening faired over with plasti-card, and some plastic scrap inserted into the rear as a propulsion unit/retro-rockets....talking of Retro, maybe this could stand in as a sort of 'Ruck Bodgers' Gemini-style 'Ranger 1' space capsule; hence the: "I've been frozen in space for three centuries" dry-brush applications of frosty white.... (For which, read: "I went a bit too heavy there.....oh and forgot to fill in the small hole above the nose....").

The War Rockets are the green and yellow versions, although in separating all the various components for the previous Blogposting's photos, I mixed the wings up somewhat, so actually the Shuttle has the winglets that should be on one of the yellow rockets, and vice versa - I won't tell the Emperor Ming if you don't......

More dry-brushing was in evidence here over a single layer of matt black undercoat - the plastic minis take paint very well, so no more than one was needed, after having washed them in soapy water first.

The eagle-eyed amongst you will notice further misses - in that did I not paint the inside of the rocket bodies visible through the cockpit spaces - nor did I bother to fill these in or fair them over - just too darn keen to press on without any high-falutin' attention to detail and such like.....

Moving on, here's a view of the original Lego Bionicle feet, here in two versions paired back to back to produce a Romulan Dreadnought, and also a Cylon Cruiser - the blunt end of the former had a sort of D'deridex look, and the latter is a Cylon Marauder fighter writ-large, at least to my eyes:

More over-excited puppy renderings of slap-dash painting, so the squeamish should look away now, particularly in these comparison pics when they are matched with more sedate and considered paint-schemes; here some of Irregular Miniatures' DYO13 Blackstar Liner as pre-TNG Romulan ships, and a FASA Citadel original Bird of Prey from the TOS era:

Again, to show the scale, the Bionicle feet ship tops out at around 70mm:

Finally, the Cylon feet alongside one of Drew Bergstrom's excellent Cylon Baseships:

So, it's probably 'hang my head in shame' time for the slapdash approach to these, but definitely Warp-factor Fun in terms of actually putting them together - hopefully future plastic shenanigans will reward a more considered approach - so watch this space.....

Friday 11 January 2013

Plastic Fantastic: Potential War Rockets

Thought I'd give a closer look at the latest recruits to the 'Plastic Fantastic' project, namely the Kinder Egg spaceships that I think have the potential to become something along the lines of Hydra Miniatures' 'War Rocket', or at the very least some pleasingly rayguns and rockets era vessels that will be fun to paint up....

As far as I can ascertain, these plastic space rockets come in three types, here represented by the green, blue and yellow, and I was lucky enough to score an additional yellow ship from the EBay job lot that I purchased. They have interchangeable fin and tail parts, although further mixing and matching is limited by some of the narrower fuselage designs - the rocket booster at the rear, of course, is common to all three.
There was also a further plastic part that fitted to the bases of the ships to enable them to be fixed 'back to back', as it were, although that is outside of my interpretation, so has been eliminated here.

As you can see, in their constituent parts, at the very least, there are some good candidates for further scratch-building, even if you did not want to follow up on the designs as seen:

The ships obviously come with some of those peel-off adhesive stickers for decoration, although I'll be removing them before painting, I think, as the colours are rather garish.

Apparently, there are keen collectors of the Kinder Toys out there that often mean the prices for these realised on EBay and elsewhere are quite high, so in the true spirit of getting something as cheap as possible, I had to be quite creative in defining the search criteria when finding the lot to bid on - and as ever, where something is mis-labelled or identified, it often gives a better chance of a competition-free auction - 'Kinder Toys Collection, number......' is going to be tougher than, say, 'Plastic Spaceships'...

Scale-wise, these ships are on the large side, I think, if compared to the metal miniatures in the 'War Rocket' line, with either the Galacteer or Imperial factions being perhaps the closest fit in terms of styling:


In any event, they should at least result in some interesting looking ships, and if not, there are potentially plenty of bits for the bits-box!

A final thought would be that on a slight tangent, the cockpit sections in themselves might make pretty nifty shuttles or similar alongside 6mm miniatures.....Hmmm.....

Sunday 6 January 2013

1/2400th ACW Naval: Some recent additions....

Thought I'd share some photos of a few recent acquisitions from the nicely re-vamped online shop over at Tumbling Dice; in particular from their 1/2400th naval ranges:


The new interface makes it much easier to shop with them, and more importantly, the online catalogue now lists some miniatures that although available for purchase for some time, were not previously shown in the online listings - the ACW ironclads in this post come under that category.
There are also some new models available in the already excellent Victorian Naval Range, so worth a look if you haven't visited recently.

To kick things off then, from their pack ASV60, the Confederate CSS Albermarle and the CSS Manassas:

As with the majority of the range, the models in and of themselves are nicely proportioned and fit well into their separate bases, however, there are I believe problems with historical accuracy that similarly affect other ships as depicted in the ACW range.
Whilst the Manassas has a great domed shape, characteristic of the original, it appears with only a single funnel; I have certainly seen depictions that have her with two - I don't know enough about the period to really be a good judge of which is correct; but obviously if you were expecting two, then a bit of conversion would be necessary:



The Albermarle is pretty decent, although I suspect that the rear of the casemate was sloped at a similar angle to the front face in the original, whilst this model has it flat.

Next up the pair of vessels from ASV50, the USS Roanoke and USS Keokuk:

The larger of the pair looks to me a pretty decent facsimile of the original at this scale:


whilst the Keokuk, I think has some problems with the turrets - I think in the original these had a noticeable slope to the armoured sides, giving almost a conical aspect that differs from the straight ones in this miniature:


That is not to say, however, that these are necessarily bad models, they are good value reproductions in the spirit of the originals, and given that I would tend to also want to use them as part of wider, VSF- style campaigns, don't particularly bother me, but might offend the purist or dedicated ACW fan...

As to their sizes, they both sit up well against other craft from the range; here a sternwheel tinclad:

and also the Roanoke against a slightly converted Monadnock class monitor in the colours of the Peruvian Navy:

Finally we have the rather smaller craft that populate the pack ASV90, that contains six assorted Spar Torpedo Boats and 'Davids', two of each type; from the right the submersible, the spar torpedo boat and then a picket boat:

These are nicely modelled, and give enough variety to use them in a number of differing guises; I think both a CSS David and a CSS Hunley would be possible at this scale, whilst the picket boat type trailing a dinghy is generic enough to be of use as a number of different craft - one very small criticism is that the spar torpedo apparatus is not actually visible out front in the sculpts themselves.

Overall, then, I'm happy enough with these few additions to my VSF fleets, a project that I am hoping to firm up somewhat in the course of this year, and give me the option for the odd ACW battle if I am not too fussy about the exact historical types....

Certainly, as I would like to field a few 'what if' vessels like the CSS Scorpion from ASV57, here menaced by lots of pesky craft, I'm not going to be too much of a stickler for historical accuracy!

Thursday 3 January 2013

6mm Sci-Fi: Some progress on Real Estate....

Happy New Year to All - and just to prove that I haven't completely disappeared from the Blogosphere, a short photo update on various buildings and scenic items that I managed to work on over the Christmas break.

These were in the main the excellent new 'Junkers' buildings and OKI walls from Angel Barracks, interspersed with some containers and bits an bobs from the Old Crow ranges, here illustrated with some characters from an Irregular Miniatures' Posh Pack:

Real Estate Agent 'Old Ben' shows local first-time buyer Luke around some entry-level properties.....

"What's that smell.....?"

"Ermm - these huts are in your price range, but were last inhabited by some Nerf Herders....."

"If you can qualify for finance from Imperial Mortgages, how about this new luxury large MHU from the OKI Corporation..... check out those solar panels...."

"Maybe this one is more your size.... it would make a good starter home....."

Meanwhile, some unusual activity is detected at the OKI Industrial Complex across town.... everything looks quiet, just the usual range of containers, gas and storage tanks protected by walled compounds:

Local Defence Force troops fan out and scope out some newly delivered hexagonal cargo pods:

Whilst another unit checks out the Radioactive Contaminants Storage Silos near a medium MHU:

Back on the other side of town, Old Ben has finally given up on Luke, who is now being shown some rickety old R2 units by the local Jawa salesman..... "These are the Droids you're looking for...."

An Imperial Speeder unit though, has just noticed the archaic weapon being wielded by Old Ben....."Excuse me Sir, do you have a permit for that thing.....?"

I really enjoyed fooling around with these items - the Junkers buildings in particular were an absolute pleasure to paint, whilst good dry-brush thrashings were liberally handed out to all and sundry to give a suitably gritty and grubby Sci-Futuristic look....

The Nuclear Silos I think are actually Missile Silos from the 15mm ranges once available from Old Crow; since Jez has gone on a work-realted sabbatical, the website shop is sort of defunct, but things can still be bought via a contact shown here:



Some really great things to be found in terms of scenics and related items might still be available from the back catalogue if you ask nicely....

I rather lagged behind in what I wanted to achieve over the last twelve months, but hopefully 'Real Life' will be a little more indulgent in 2013 - here's to a Hobby-filled year for All!