Tuesday 28 February 2023

Star Wars Mini-Rigs 2: Ground vehicles

More Star Wars Mini-Rigs... a couple of types of ground vehicle this time.

The MTV-7 Multi-Terrain Vehicle towers over 15mm figures.  With the seat area closed in to form a cabin, this could make a great transport vehicle.  As with the flying Mini-Rigs, there is lots of great panel detail which should paint up well.

The spring-loaded wheels move when you push the hull down.  I'm tempted to glue it with the legs at about 45 degrees.  The laser cannon is missing from the front, but it might make a nice civilian transport/exploration vehicle anyway.

The MLC-3 Mobile Laser Cannon is missing a clear dome from the top, but it might look even better with a turret there as some sort of heavy tank.

The top opens up, so I could put in some internal detail. Or more likely just use it to transport a few figures, then forget about them until the game has finished.

I have 4 of these (all missing their domes) plus at AT-AT hull.  Another option would be to combine all of them into a Sandcrawler type vehicle with 4 big track units underneath.

Whatever option I choose, I'm not likely to get a chance to do much with them until our building work has finished in the summer.  Most of my modelling supplies are packed away at present, these vehicles are only out because I thought they might help distract the kids one weekend.  I'm not sure whether I'll be able to get them all back into my gaming stock now though!

Friday 24 February 2023

Star Wars Mini-Rigs 1: Aerospace vehicles

 I have a few Star Wars Mini-Rigs which I will be converting into 15mm vehicles and starships.  These can be found for as little as £3-4 each if you get a job lot for spares and repair.  The batch I got back in 2020 (which included the Rebel Transport that I'm turning into a crashed starship) include 3 AST-5 Armoured Sentinel Transports.

These have 2 different modes, the first being a flying craft which will be a very fine shuttle for a small group of 15mm figures.

They have excellent panel detail which will paint up well.

The engines are just stickers but I can add in some extra features here before I paint them.

The second mode is an alternative landing pose.  The guns swivel to allow it to engage ground targets.

The cockpit is substantial enough to fit a  3.75" Star Wars action figure, so loads of space for a 15mm crew.

Some 3d printed starship bridge stations will fit into the front of the space and maybe some seats along the sides.

The detail under the rear wing section is even better than the detail on the top - it's a shame it's all hidden away underneath where you can't see it most of the time!

The Imperial Shuttle-inspired ISP-6 Imperial Shuttle Pod is the second type of airborne mini-rig I have.  Mine are all missing their canopies, so will need a fair bit of extra work to prepare them for 15mm use.  The wing guns are also missing, but it will be easy to trim off the mounting points.

The wings fold up and down thanks to a little switch underneath.  I'll try to preserve this function in the rebuilt model.

The cockpit on this one isn't quite so easy to fit anything inside, so I'll need to have a think about whether to try and fit anything in it.

Next time I'll look at some of the ground vehicles I have.

Wednesday 22 February 2023

Zurg Fighter

The Hyperspeed ships from theLightyear film have appeared across a number of FaceBook groups recently for use with 15mm and 28mm figures for games like 5 Parsecs From Home.

Because the film did so badly at the box office, these have been gradually falling in price.  This one is on sale in Argos for only £5 - so I got two!

They come with neat flip-down tripod landing gear and very detailed engines which should look great shaded and drybrushed.

I was surprised how large this ship is, about 10" or 26cm long, twice the size I expected.  It's a beast of a ship.  Instead of the small shuttle I was thinking, this would do as a light freighter, or an assault lander carrying 15-20 troops.  These are Alternative Armies Beotan Werewolves for scale, which stand head and shoulders above standard 15mm figures.

There is space in the cockpit for a pilot.  I recently purchased the starship bridge terminals set from the talented Evan Carothers which includes a couple of good pilot seats which should fit.

 I could add a few weapons if I want to go for the military lander option.  There is space for a dorsal mount cannon.

There are also some excellent potential hardpoints on the underside of the hull.

These are weapons from the VIPER mecha I recently purchased and fit in very neatly.

As a bonus, Mattel have thoughtfully placed metal fixings in these locations.

A quick test shows that these are ferrous, so I will be able to magnetise a range of alternative weapon options which can be tailored for mission-specific purposes.  I'll have to try and find some missile pods and bomb racks too.

 I don't think this will need much work before I paint it, so I'll just need to decide on a suitable colour scheme.  I can't decide whether to go for camouflage (possibly grey/grey above and pale grey/blue underneath) or just a functional grey with some sort of coloured stripes.

The Zurg Mothership weighs in at a hefty 20" long and is very tempting, though the cheapest I've seen it so far is about £20.

Saturday 18 February 2023

Red Shadow motorcyclist

One of my Peter Pig orders included a pack of WWII German motorcyclists (pack no 193).  I am converting these into Red Shadow outriders for my Action Force project.

Minor alterations were made to the helmet with Milliput, adding the front visor and a small box on the back.

The motorcyclists are equipped with normal rifles instead of StG-44 assault rifles, but a tiny blob of Milliput added the distinctive curving magazine which makes it look close enough from 6 inches away.

The Red Shadow has been painted GW red gore with a sepia ink wash. The remaining areas are black with a dark grey drybrush.  The various markings were carefully hand-painted.  It probably needs a skull-and-crossbones emblem on the fuel tank but I didn't feel my brush skills were up to it at the time!

Wednesday 15 February 2023

Sherman Tanks

A few years back I spotted some Flames of War vehicles in the second hand part of the local toy and model shop.  I bought 4 resin M4 Shermans and a resin/metal Sherman Firefly with its upgraded 17 pounder gun.


The tanks had all been painted in a basic but effective green drab colour scheme, though this was partly obscured by a layer of dust.  The easiest way to clean them seemed to be a quick wash with some hot water and an old toothbrush (a baby toothbrush, so very soft).  Once in the water, a strange pale residue started to appear all over them, gradually giving the models a cloudy grey-white tint.  I can only assume that they had been covered with some sort of strange varnish, possible even a layer of PVA or Mod-Podge.  I had to give them a fairly hard scrub in the hot water, soapy water to get it off but eventually they all came out undamaged.

Stowage detail

I also ended up with an M10 tank destroyer.  I want to remove the cast-on base because I prefer my vehicles unbased.  It's pretty tough resin so I'm not sure how easy this will be!

M10 tank destroyer

I added a few extra details, painting in the tool handles and some other bits of stowage.  A dab of gold on the shell cases in the M10 turret also helps.

Some internal detail painted

These will be used for both AK-47 Republic and also for my Action Force "Desert Strike" project.  Z-Force liberated several former Dunan army tanks from the Gibli fanatics and used them for their counter-attack.  There was obviously a bit of mis-translation or confusion somewhere, because they are referred to as "Centurions" in the text, but are clearly Shermans in the illustrations!  Ignore the lead Z-Force tank - that's a modified version of the GI Joe MOBAT tank.

Desert Strike!
 These will probably get a full repaint at some point but for now they'll do fine to provide the main punch of an AK-47 Republic army.

Monday 13 February 2023

Morris CS8 for AK-47 Republic

I like the little Morris CS8 15cwt truck.  Manufactured by Morris, it was based on their civilian range (C), had a 6 cylinder engine (S) and an 8 foot wheelbase (8) in keeping with the War Office requirement for a short wheelbase for good mobility.  The 15cwt refers to the 15 hundred weight (approximately 3/4 of a tonne) that it could transport.

As usual, these are 3D prints from M_Bergman.  They had a couple of issues where I missed supports and some of the detail was lost (eg under steering wheels) but other than that they've printed with excellent detail.  M_Bergman's models are on the chunky side in some ways, with rivets, steering wheels etc thickened, presumably to ensure they print well in FDM.

As with most of my vehicle models, after a Wilko grey spray primer undercoat, I paint the underside of the vehicle and the wheels with a brown colour, in this instance Humbrol desert brown.  I also painted the cargo bed and driver/passenger footwells in brown.  Vallejo desert sand is used as the base coat for the rest of the model, but more lightly on the wheel hubs and footwells etc so that the brown remains visible in all the recesses where dirt will have accumulated.  The whole model gets a wash of Vallejo sepia ink, with equal parts matt varnish and water added to thin it down and reduce the opacity.  Army Painter Camo Cloak speedpaint is used for the camo stripes and the wheels are plain black.  Headlights are silver.  Windscreens are light blue at the top, graduated to almost black-blue in the bottom corner.  A dusty brown drybrush over the model finishes it off.

I experimented with adding some stowage to one of the vehicles prior to printing it - a couple of crates, 2 ammo boxes, a petrol/water can and a small oil can were all placed on the cargo area.  This means less fiddly painting and gluing in separate items afterwards and it worked well.

I painted the crates (as well as the seats in all vehicles) in GW Gore-grunta brown contrast paint.  Ammo boxes and the oil can are the same Army Painter Speedpaint "camo cloak" as the vehicle camo stripes.

The two empty vehicles will probably be used as technicals. I can fit a ZU-23-2 (as designed by Bob_Mack) in the back, "portee" style.

The gun could be mounted forward facing instead, but I don't know how the driver's hearing would fare next to those 23mm autocannon.  Those little windscreens might not last either!

Another option is the Russian SPG-9 recoilless rifle (by Bob_Mack), which can also easily fits in the back facing either way.

A mortar carrier would be another option for more indirect supporting fire.

An even bigger anti-tank punch would come from this M-40 recoilless rifle (by Bob_Mack).  The wheelbarrow mount will only let it fit sideways, but I can easily print another one with the weapon separated from the mount to get whatever angle I want.

I'll find these useful in games, either as technicals, as troop carriers, or even just as part of an objective marker if loaded with crates etc.  They'll be part of my army involving old WWII vehicles either looted/salvaged from the war in N Africa, or possibly supplied as surplus to a former British Colony on independence.

Friday 10 February 2023

Jeeps for AK-47 Republic

Some sources (such as my Battle Action Force comic in the early 1980's) say that the Jeep gets its name from the initials GP for "General Purpose" vehicle.  This was apparently something of a ret-con by people who were embarrased that it actually got its name from Eugene the Jeep, a Popeye cartoon character who could "go anywhere"!

I was also confused by the packaging of the Matchbox LRDG model kit (with diorama base!) which included a Chevrolet truck and Willys Jeep.  I misread it as "Willy's Jeep", and assumed that Willy must have been some famous WWII desert hero in Monty's army.  In my defence, I was probably only 9 or 10 at the time, and as WWII wasn't taught in my school, all I knew about it had been absorbed by osmosis from my Dad's interest and from my Battle and War picture library books!  Incidentally, the Matchbox kit was absolutely fantastic, one of the most fun I ever made, partly due to the insane amount of stowage included.  There's a great review of it on The Sprue Lagoon.

My jeeps are 1:100 for AK-47 Republic and as usual come from m-bergman's WWII vehicles on Thingiverse.

I've used the "SAS Jeep" just because they're cool.  They're crammed with very detailed stowage, coming in 8 or 9 different versions with different combinations of bits, so all mine are different.

Weapon options include the drum-magazine Vickers K gun in twin -mounts.  These had a phenomenal rate of fire (greater even then the German MG-34) and were originally intended for aircraft use.  The Vickers K was more reliable than the .303 Browning, but the belt-fed nature of the latter made them easier to fit into aircraft wings.  The Vickers K gun was apparently also less prone to jamming due to sand etc. than the Browning or the Bren gun, therefore a more useful weapon to be using in the desert war.

Some of my jeeps also carry a .50 cal Browning.  Rather than use the version that came in the jeeps, I used one with some extra details such as the handle under the barrel and the holes in the sleeve round the base of the barrel.  Unfortunately I can't remember where this one came from.  I also added a wooden crate to the front of one.

The jeeps were printed flat on the build plate.  The guns were printed separately and glued on with gel superglue.

Undercoat was Wilko grep spray primer.  The wheels and underside of the vehicles were painted with Humbrol sand brown.  Base coat was Vallejo desert sand, then a 50/50 sepia ink/matt varnish wash, thinned with another 50% water (yes, I know that makes a total of 150% but you get my meaning).

Camo patches were added with Army Painter camo cloak speedpaint.

Seats were painted with GW gore-grunta fur contrast paint.  Guns are GW chainmail with a thinned black ink/matt varnish wash.  Headlights are GW chainmail with some extra shine from a silver marker, then a blob of acrylic gloss medium.

These will be great as technicals for one of my AK-47 Republic armies, fast moving and well-armed.  I expect they could also feature in an Action Force game sometime too.

One thing I might try and improve in due course it the lack of "soft" stowage, ie. bags, tarps and bits of webbing.  This will need to be sculpted in Milliput and added on.  I'm thinking of adding a few drops of coloured ink to the Milliput to pre-colour it and avoid trying to paint it in-situ.  A simple ink wash might do the trick if it's more-or-less the right colour already.

 The most important next task is to try and find some suitable crew figures for them all!

*EDIT: Bearing in mind what I said near the start of this blog post, it should have occurred to me far earlier that the leader of my Jeep squadron will, of course, need to be named Willy.