Monday 25 September 2023

Action Force - Muton

 The Muton was one of the original range of Action Force "The Enemy" figures.  A repaint of the original "deep sea diver", this sees the characteristic heavy diving helmet and weighted boots repurposed as an almost indestructible deadly killer robot.  A special head insert provided the action figure with attachment points for a communications antenna, head-mounted guns and a translucent orange visor.  The Mutons didn't make many appearances in the Action Force comic, presumably because they were so powerful.  As a result, whenever they did appear, they were always defeated by cunning rather than brute force.

Mutons on the march.

I've seen some great Mutons converted from large cargo handler robots made by GZG and I might have tried the same except for my discovery of Random Miniatures and his excellent range of "European GI Bros".

The "lost accessories" pose.

 Random Miniature's Mutons come in 3 poses, visor down, visor up and "lost the accessories down the back of the sofa" unarmed pose.  I do still have all the parts for both of my Mutons.

Armed and ready for action.

I tried out my new Army Painter Speedpaint for the red of the uniforms.  Plain Vallejo black for the boots, helmet and armour.  Green antenna and weapons, Vallejo orange visor with an orange ink wash to intensify the colour.  The last few details were added in with white.

Firing mode.
 I was so eager to get these painted that I finished them before I had bases ready.  For the bases, I used some steel washers.  I cut out some small circles of paper and superglued them over the holes, then added more superglue on top.  The figures were glued on, then I textured the base with PVA and a sprinkle of sieved sharp sand and tile grout.

Is this the end for Z-Force?

After painting the bases, I gave another coat of red speedpaint and repainted the boots black to conceal any stray patches of the terrain colours.

Size comparison.
 Although reduced from their 28/32mm starting size, my Mutons were printed slightly larger than required, to give them a bigger presence on the battlefield - as befits their intimidating nature.

Saturday 16 September 2023

The most fantastic book shop I've ever been inside...

I've been coming to Pete's Bookshop in Sheringham for probably 40 years.  Coming here was an objective of many of our holidays in Norfolk, and it was a regular weekend stop when I was living in the town.

Peter thoughtfully provides a ladder to reach that shelf over the cupboard.

Many of my bookshelves have been filled with goodies from this shop, especially the sci-fi/fantasy and militaria sections.  I've rarely seen a book here for more than £5, most are in the region of £1-1.50 and as you can see from the photographs, the range is truly staggering.

Yes, I did walk through that doorway without flinching.

Most of my Robert E Howard Conan books came from this shop, EE Doc Smith's Lensman series, Asimovs Foundation trilogy.  Some more modern books too, such as Timothy Zahn's Cobra and Blackcollar novels - 1980's was modern when I got them in the early 1990's!

Bookb, books, more books...

I discovered many new authors here, often old pulp novelists I read about in other places.  I always knew that Pete's Bookshop would usually had one or two of their books tucked away somewhere.

He has a LOT of books.

As you squeeze round corners, past the leaning shelves and vast drifts of books, the bookshop seems to go on and on, seemingly much farther than the row of houses onto which it backs.  It seems entierly plausible that it is an entry-point into L-Space, as described by Terry Pratchett.

I can see daylight over there!

We took the kids in here today, the first time either of them will have been old enough to remember it.  We lost one of them in the 5 or so paces between the till (hidden behind mounds of books near the front window) and the front door.  He was located between floor to ceiling shelves in a nearby room, having somehow eluded all 3 of the rest of us by weaving through the maze of literature,

Finding what you want can take a little while.

I haven't been in here for a few years, since moving away.  The piles of books are a bit larger, the shelves a little more crooked, but it's still a wonderful shop.  We came away with a collection of books for the youngsters - an Enid Blyton mystery adventure, Robert Louis Stevenson's Kidnapped, 2 or 3 others.

Gently subsiding shelves...

 I hope that our children develop the same love of books that we both have, and treasure visits to shops like this when they have the opportunity...

Friday 15 September 2023

Repainting farm set figures for the kids

 We got a bag of farm animals for the kids a year or so ago, I think it was probably in one of the local charity shops for a few pence.  Amongst the various mis-matched sizes of animals, it contained a set of farm people - you know the sort, standard poses of "woman scattering chicken feed or maybe seeds", "woman carrying bucket", "farmer standing holding gun and walking stick".  I have a very nice set of similarly posed Britains figures at my Mum's house, moulded to a far higher standard, with far superior painting.  These ones were rubbish.  So I decided to improve them.

Original colours - front view.

Original colours - rear view.

I asked number 2 son for his opinion on suitable colours.  Snapping a picture on my phone and shading over it in the indicated colour seemed the best idea, and gave a reasonable result to work from.

The somewhat garish colour scheme chosen...

I washed the figures in warm soapy water, dried thoroughly, then slapped a quick coat of Vallejo white primer over them.  Colours are mainly a mixture of Army Painter speedpaints, GW contrast and Vallejo Xpress paints.  It was nice to have a chance to try them all out, especially the new Xpress paints.

Completed figures - front.

Completed figures - rear.

I'm reasonably pleased how these came out.  For easier comparison, here are my painted figures next to examples of the daubed mutants from which they originated.  Actually, the originals weren't too bad I suppose, the painting was fairly neat apart from the eyes.  The farmer has a ridiculously huge cigar in his mouth, quite unlike the more dignified and refined pipes my Britains farmers used to smoke.  I added some extra washes and colours to pick out details like the pockets and buttons on his waistcoat.


The woman spreading grain or chicken food has quiete a lot of extra detail visible when better painted.

Seed/feed scattering woman.

The woman with a bucket appears to have a rather nice moustache.  Bit of a slip up with the flesh wash there, I think!  Although the hair colour is wrong, it reminds me of Freddie Mercury in the video of "I Want to Break Free".

Moustachioed bucket carrying woman.

Not bad for an evening's painting, and a bit of a change from the usual 15mm or 6mm military stuff.  Time will tell how well the painting survives being played with.  Now he wants me to repaint the other 3 figures too.  I'll have to find out what colour scheme he'd like on those...

Wednesday 13 September 2023

Action Force - Red Shadow Hyena

 I never had the Hyena tank as a child, but a couple of my friends did.  It looked a much more sci-fi tank than the Z-Force battle tank.  Now, thanks to 3D printing, I can have my very own miniature version!

The Hyena was a recoloured Cobra HISS tank from the GI Joe toy line, helpfully reproduced as STLs by Jabberwocky.  I printed these 18% original size model in 4 parts: main hull, left & right tracks, turret.  The hull was hollowed to save resin, with holes punched top & bottom to allow drainage while it printed.

The prints were washed thoroughly in isopropanol to ensure all the resin was rinsed out from inside.  The drainage holes will be concealed by the tracks on the sides, and the hole in the top is within the turret ring, so won't be visible with the guns in place.

After assembly with gel superglue, the vehicles were spray primed and then base coated with Humbrol 60 matt scarlet.  The underside and around the tracks was painted with Humbrol 29 matt dark earth.

Black detailing was added with Vallejo game colour black for the canopies (which comes out glossy) and Vallejo model colour black for the other parts (which is a proper matt black).  Some dark grey drybrushing picked out the details.

Additional painting will be required, including a shading wash plus some of the vehicle markings, headlights etc.

I also need some gunners.  I have some Peter Pig half track crew who might work if trimmed at the waist.  Alternatively, I might be able to 3D print someone suitable.  Having the gunner so exposed always seemed an odd idea, but I suppose Baron Ironblood sees his Red Shadows as completely expendable,

Being toys, the original vehicles were smaller than a real tank might be, as you can see in this comparison with a 1:100 T-55.  Compared to my 15mm figures they might be a teensy bit on the small side too, though not by much.  I think I will probably print some more, scaling them to 120% or 130% of the previous size should give them a better presence on the battlefield.

These original models will be handy for paint testing anyway.  I'll need to work on getting a Z-Force battle tank ready for printing!

Tuesday 12 September 2023

Action Force - Q-Force trooper paint test

 Q-Force was the naval operations section of Action Force.  I never had many Q-Force figures, but I've been able to use the comprehensive pictures on the Blood for the Baron web site for details.

I've used some Peter Pig Israeli Defence Force troopers for my Q-Force marines.  The action figure I've based them on comes armed with an AK-47 style assault rifle, so the IDF pack 75 with Galil rifles were a good match.  The headgear doesn't really match, but I don't fancy trying to 3D print or scratch build something this size so it will have to do.

Q-Force operatives generally wore yellow immersion suits with red and/or blue webbing, boots and other accoutrements.  I could have gone for a red or blue helmet, but decided the red worked best.  Though I might still change my mind.  Maybe I'll do both, and the blue can denote a fireteam leader, or just identify different fireteams.

I think the yellow I've ended up with is maybe a little too dark due to the sepia shading wash I used.  I might experiment with my new Vallejo Xpress colour yellow to see if I can get a better, brighter result.  I'm more than happy with the blue and red, so that's a good step forwards.  The blue is GW ultramarine blue with my very old 1980's GW enchanted blue for highlighting.  The red is Army Painter Speedpaint red with some Humbrol matt 60 scarlett highlights.

Sunday 10 September 2023

Z-Force Rapid Fire Motorcycle

 The Z Force Rapid Fire Motorcycle was one of the first Action Force vehicles that I received as a present.  It came with Quarrel, a Z-Force covert operations agent.  The motorcycle was a repaint of the GI Joe RAM cycle and Quarrel was a repaint of Scarlett, adopting the standard black/green with red accents Z-Force scheme.  Sadly, Quarrel, the bike and the gun all mysteriously vanished decades ago, all that remains is the 2 saddlepacks and a slightly out-of-proportion drawing I made at the time...

A 40-year old drawing of the motorcycle.

I found the GI Joe RAM cycle by Jabberwock on Thingiverse.  Reduced to 18% original toy size, this works out at 1:100 scale.

I printed it vertically on end to try and get the best result, though looking back on it now, slightly angled would have been better.  I think I was probably trying to squeeze them onto a build plate with several other items and didn't think it through as well as I should have done.

Some of the supports were slightly awkward to remove and left scars on the fuel tank and rear of the body.  These were prepared using the Anycubic slicing software.  I have Chitubox now, which gives much better results and allows greater modification of supports to get the best and cleanest fit.  I also soften the supports in hot water before removing, which makes them far easier to detach.

After cleaning up the models, I gave them a grey spray primer undercoat.  This shows up the detail much better.

You can see that they are only about the size of a 1 pence piece.  Although the detail is fairly low, at tabletop viewing distances they look fine.

I painted them in Vallejo olive green with black and red accents, as per the original toy.  I'm not sure whether to put them on bases.  Having the sidecar type gun pod helps stabilise them, so I'll probably leave them as is.

Finished bikes.

Finding a rider has been the awkward part.

Note scars from printing supports.

The detail on these bikes is OK, but could be better in some areas, especially the wheels and the gun barrel (here shown as a single barrel, not the rotary gun of the actual toy).  Still, at 15mm you can't see it much.

Side views.

They scale very nicely with my Peter Pig US troops who are standing in for Z-Force infantry.

Rear view.

As it happens, the Random Miniatures Patreon I subscribe to recently included the STAB "Super Tactical Attack Bike", which is a far more detailed version of the RAM cycle.  I might lose some of the details when I reduce to 56% to convert from 28mm to 15mm, but it should still be better than the original version I've printed.

"Super Tactical Attack Bike"

Once my printer is back up and running, I will try printing some of those, especially as they come with female (Quarrel/Scarlett) and male rider options - perfect!

Female rider option.

Saturday 9 September 2023

Buses and a shuttle - car boot sale finds

I always enjoy browsing a car boot sale, partly to see if there are any good books or toys for the kids, but also to see if there is anything I might be able to convert for wargaming.  The following were all bought for 50p or £1 each, which is a bit more than I usually like to pay, but was worth it on this occasion.

This Siku bus will be ideal for 15mm games, either as scenery, an objective marker, or as a potential liability unit for my Action Force army in AK-47 Republic.

I also found a Majorette "Neoplan" bus.  This is marked 1/87 underneath, but looks closer to 1:100 to me.  Again, this will be useful for all sorts of 15mm gaming situations from the 1980's onwards.

Thunderbird 4 from the poorly received 2004 film was a good find.  I already have a couple of these which are being converted into shuttles, so a third will be handy.

The underside and rear incorporates a pull-back motor, but this is easily removed by unscrewing the bottom hull. I'll scratch build or 3D print a hatch cover for the rear of the hull.  Plasticard easily covers the screw holes underneath.  I'm also thinking about sawing a hole in the back so I can have one with the rear hatch/ramp open and seating visible in the passenger compartment.

I have some 3D stl files saved for various types of sci-fi undercarriage (X-Wing etc), I'll be printing a few at various different scales to find a set that work with this model.  I've got a variety of spaceship and helicopter seat files too, some of which should work for the interior.

Possibly another car boot sale tomorrow - I'll make sure I keep my eyes peeled and have a pocket full of loose change!