Monday, 25 March 2013

Full Thrust FSE and NAC kitbashes

A long time ago I bought some of GZG's excellent Full Thrust miniatures to use as Sathar and UPF forces in a game of Star Frontiers inspired Starmada (and, if Star Frontiers is something you are familiar with, check out Star Frontiersman, an irregular e-zine that covers all things Frontier - I also did some artwork for them).

There are official Star Frontiers miniatures out there, but the line is OOP, small and they are notorious for lead rot. Finding suitable proxies from GZG seemed much easier.

For the Sathar ships I used the old style NAC, as the rounded prow sections looked like the images of Sathar ships on the old Knight Hawks counters, sort of. The Sathar only had 5 classes of ship, frigate, destroyer, light cruiser, heavy cruiser and carrier, so I only bought 5 types of ship.

With the recent purchase of a new style FSE battle group I decided my old Sathar needed a bit of a spruce up and to be reclaimed as the NAC again. With the old moulds out of production, and the new range of NAC ships quite stylistically different I was left with one choice - kitbashing!

Four of the five ship classes got a modification, plus a new class was created from some left over bits. I had been using battle cruisers as escort carriers, but have since picked up a  fleet carrier, so I now have:

Heavy Frigate
Heavy Destroyer
Light Cruiser
Escort Cruiser
Heavy Cruiser
Fleet Carrier

I also have some Strikeboats and Lancers that are yet to be painted.

The frigates were a simple modification. A short section of square styrene was added to each side . Styrene strip and rod were added for detail to create a heavy frigate.

Original frigate on the right

For the destroyer mod I removed the engines from one destroyer, and filed the surface flat. A second destroyer had the bridge and gun turret removed and the edge filed flat. The two sections were glued together to create a "stretched" destroyer. The gun turret was glued back on at the rear, and a section of styrene rod with a small aluminum tube was added to the side. This created my heavy destroyer or beam destroyer.

Original destroyer on the right

The light cruiser had a couple of bitz box additions in the form of a spare ammo clip from a VOTOMS model with a couple of sections of styrene rod and a 6mm gun turret. This can serve double duty as either a strike cruiser or escort cruiser.

Original light cruiser at top
 I didn't do anything to the heavy cruisers, as I only had a couple of them. One of the battle cruisers that I had been using as assault carriers had an additional superstructure added from a bitz-box turret off the 6x6 VAB , a Tau shield generator and some small sections of styrene rod to add detail. I also added another two 6mm weapon turrets as beam generators. Short sections of styrene tube were also added next to the existing engines to create a battleship.

Original battle cruiser on the right
 The corvette was created by taking the spare section of forward destroyer hull left over from the heavy destroyer mod and adding a few small pieces of styrene rod to the rear section to create engines. The same 6mm turret as used on the escort cruiser was added to the top.

With the addition of the fleet carrier, strike boats and lancers, I should have a sizeable and flexible force of ships.They are all going to get a fresh coat of paint, and I'm in two minds of what colours I should go for. Part of me is thinking a nice sea grey, but I have some NSL ships that are base coated in dark grey, and I'd like to keep the fleets with distinct colours. My UNSC are in light blue, the FSE in Blue/white (see below), pirate/raiders in red and a few New Israeli ships in tan. I might go for a NATO Green and black stripe pattern similar to modern British armour.

In addition to the NAC ships, I also recently picked up a starter fleet of FSE ships just before Christmas. With any of his Christmas orders, Jon at GZG often adds in a few extra surprise models, and this was no exception. I got a flotilla of strike boats, an escort cruiser and a pair of corvettes as my Christmas freebie. Thanks Jon!

The ships were assembled with Filla Glue medium - by far the best superglue I have used. It's not too thick and binds very strongly and can be used vary sparingly. The only criticism I have is that every bottle I have used has had the end of the cap snap off, meaning I have to jury rig some cind of stopper for the bottle and inevitably end up with a gummed up mess. I get mine from the ever usefull Antenociti's Workshop, and have purchased some spare bottles this time for the donor caps!

The ships were then under coated with GW Skull White as a basecoat. A very, very thin wash of an old pot of ghost grey was then applied to bring down the stark white. Individual panels were then picked out again in  skull white and the new (ish) GW Ceramite white (a very white white - if you know what I mean). The outer panels were then painted with Mordian Blue and the edges highlighted with a mix of Mordian blue and Lightning Bolt blue (a dreadful mix - original paints and foundation paints do not play well together). The engines got a coat of 50/50 Codex Grey and black with Dwarf Bronze details added here and there. Sensors and weapons were then picked out in Leadbelcher with a Chainmail highlight and finally stripes of chaos black with sunburst yellow dots were added here and there for windows.

All of the ships were then glued to Litko flight stand peg toppers (available in the UK from Figures in Comfort) and given two coats of GW Purity Seal followed by a coat of Testors Dullcoat.

Top row: Corvettes. Bottom row: Strike boats
Light cruisers
L to R: Heavy destroyer, destroyer, heavy frigate, frigate
Heavy Cruiser
 I have since picked up a couple of escort carriers, which are very nice models, plus suitable well.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Androidz re-purposed.

A while ago I showed you the bargain bin Androidz toys I picked up with a view to re-purposing as 15mm mechas. When last we saw them they had been modified slightly and I advised I had painted them. They've now been completed and weathered as well.

The first of the two is a Security mech. He got a GW Mordian Blue and Astronomicon grey (I think) two-tone paint job, with bits and pieces of black here and there. Decals are from GZG (The UNSC flag) and Fighting Piranha.

The second is the Ash Wastes mecha, which got an Adeptus Battlegrey and Charadon Granite colour scheme, blended with Caltharn Brown and Dheneb stone. Metallic parts are Leadbelcher with old chainmail highlights (my old chainmail - from the original Citadel Paint Set is now a very, very shiny silver and great as a highlight colour)

They are OK, I guess, but their origins as toys are worn very close to the skin. I like the clunky aesthetic of them, and they remind me a bit of the very first Fury and Eddy Dreadnought armour that Games Workshop brought out years ago - better than the boxes on legs that they have now. I could have spent a lot more time cleaning up the mould lines and filling in gaps, but they were meant as a quick experiment to see what I could make of them, not meant to be compared to my other mid-scale mecha from Rebel, CMG and so on. Viewed in that light, I'm quite happy with them.

To continue with a theme, I've also statted them up for Gruntz:

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Kitbash Part 6 - Ka-299 "Hexen" Assault Transport

Back in August last year I started work on a kitbash of a Revell 1/72 Ka-29 "Helix" helicopter kit, to turn it into a squad-lifter/dropship for my NKDF 15mm forces. I've now finished and am pretty pleased with the results.

Lots and lots of MicroSol and MicroSet were used to get the transfers to conform over the rivets - especially on the  rudders.

The actual finish is a good deal duller than the photos suggest - I'm still not getting the best from my lightbox.

Decals are a mixture of the ones from the kit, Fighting Piranha and 1/100 Gundam Detailing sets 

The donor kit, the Ka-29, is an assault transport with capacity for 13, which makes it ideal for a medium sized 15mm ship.

The nozzle on the rear of the tail boom is on gimbals and rotates to provide directional control whilst hovering. 

Side mounted lift engines 

Underside view showing lift engines and bombardment turret

Weathering on the nose and intakes works particularly well, I think.

The original kit was a Revell 1/72 Ka-29 "Marine". The side mounted lift engines were from Micropanzer/Combat Wombat and, I think, are now OOP - which is a shame. The large podded engines are from a Revell Easykit A-10 and the Radome that covers the rotor hole is from an Easykit AH-64D Apache Longbow. The bombardment cannon is an Old Crow twin autocannon turret.

Edit: A couple of people over at TMP asked for pictures with some 15mm minis for scale:

I've also statted it our for Gruntz:

Monday, 11 March 2013

GZG Paladin and Phalanx

I have recently picked up some new 15mm scifi rides from GZG in the form of the Paladin high mobility MBT and Phalanx high mobility APC. I have liked these since I first saw them in the rulebook for  Stargrunt II years ago (page 24, to be exact), and I still have one of the old 25mm Resin ones from long ago still un-built. These were purchased with the intention of using them for my NKDF troops instead of the Old Crow vehicles, which are just too big compared to everything else. With this in mind, I decided on a 3-tone pseudo Russian camo scheme. green tan and black. Something like this:

I primed the models with Tamiya fine undercoat a few days ago, then over sprayed with Tamiya Desert Sand, for the buff colour. I then decided to try using some masking fluid to make the camouflage stripes. If you aren't familiar with it, masking fluid is a thin rubber that you paint onto a model to shield it - just like masking tape, but paintable. The stuff I used was Maskol by Humbrol. An attractive pink colour with the very un-attractive fishy/ammonia smell of latex. I've never used this before, so I was keen to see how it went.

I painted it on quite liberally in swirly camo-style patterns and waited for it to dry - it turns from pink to purple once dry. I then over-sprayed black on some parts of the model, only the parts where I wanted the black stripes to be. Once dried I also masked this off, again with some nice organic, random swirlyness.

The final coat was NATO green - this and Army Painter Army Green are my two go-to colours for most military stuff these days. I let the final coat dry and once it was I set about peeling off the Maskol. The actual peeling off of the masks is very satisfying, and reminded me of my school days and amateur attempts at horror make-up for Halloween using Copydex and poster paints.

The paint job was awful, however. The transition between paint layers and the edge of the Maksol was so fine that the paint was cracking off in plates as I pulled up the Maskol. Big flakes and tiny chips were coming off, and the edges of the layers remained brittle and continued to flake as I handled the model. Consigning that technique to the junkpile (where it chatted with Salt and Hairspray), I dumped the whole lot in a pot of nail varnish remover to start over again.

48 hours later and I tried again. After scrubbing the models, picking off the now gummy superglue (it reacts to the nail varnish remover and goes all gooey) I then washed and re-assembling everything. Everything got a base coat of GW chaos black, which I was a little nervous about as the spraying conditions weren't ideal - very cold. I let it dry in the warm (and earned AGG's wrath - she's asthmatic and stinky rattlecans set her off)  then  added worms of Blu-tack in camouflage patterns. I've used Blu-tac before and had good results, but it can leave oily residue behind if the temperature is a bit off. I then airbrushed a first coat of Tamiya Desert Sand, allowed it to dry and then added more blu-tac worms and then my top coat of NATO green.

After letting everything dry in the warm for a couple of hours I started to unpick the Blu-Tac worms. Like removing the  Maskol, this is a very satisfying process, and the results were most satisfactory. I painted the detail parts, added some NATO green to the wheel hubs - I had left the detached after the black base coat and not gone any further with them - and glued them on.

I then added decals to the models, including a number from a 1/100 Gundam detailing set by Bandai. These are really useful and have all sorts of "no step" "Access Panel" "Warning" and so on. I also added some hazard and warning stripes from Fighting Piranha Graphics, along with their numbers too. I did this in my usual way, gloss varnish, decal, MicroSol and MicroSet and then gloss over the top again to seal it in. The MicroSol really helps small decals to adhere to the contours of the model, and once they have done so the MicroSet "sticks" them down.

A quick spray of GW Purity seal to dull down and unify everything and I started weathering. I used a combination of Mig and Tamiya pigments to create what I thought was a muddy, well used look. The Mig pigments were in powder form, so I mixed them with water or a little gloss varnish to give dry looking and wet looking mud respectively. I used some of the Tamiya weathering powders to add spot effects like scorch marks, rust and dust.

I'd love to show you how awesome they looked, but I learned a hard lesson next. I sealed the weathering in with more GW Purity spray and it all disappeared. Everywhere the varnish touched the pigment, it dissolved it and it disappeared. Not amused. Apparently you can get special pigment fixative that will seal it without destroying it. Something I have to look into.

Anyway, here's the eyecandy.

A phalanx of Phalanxes

Tiny Gundam and Fighting Piranha Decals. 

You can just about make out some of the weathering under the slope of the hull.
Remains of the weathering on the rear of a Phalanx.

Paladins on patrol.

Remains of the weathering.

Good advice from a Gundam decal.

As an extra bonus, here are my ideas of the stats for use in Gruntz (cards created using the Barracks unit builder):