You could say I’m easily distracted, but I prefer to think of it as heavily susceptible to flashes of inspiration. For the most part, I believe that my side projects do enhance my gaming and hobby life and, on occasion, have been a little bit genius…
However, as my current focus is Doctor Who in 28mm, I have been somewhat successful in ensuring that all flights of fancy have been at least tangentially related to this project – my Rutan build (here and here) being a good example of this.
As I now had a Rutan, I thought I should really have some Sontarans to go up against it – and as they are a militaristic race, they are an ideal force for wargaming and could be pitted against any other race in the Whoniverse.
Official options are limited to either Classic era Sontarans from Black Tree Design;
Painted examples above are from the Miros’ Games blog, and whilst they look pretty cool, Black Tree only has four poses, two of which have that weird pistol thing.
The other alternative is Warlord Games’ official NuWho Sontarans;
There are two problems with these:- firstly, like Caucasians according to the SONY tagline in the 1990 film Crazy People, “They’re too damn tall…” designed as they are for the official 32mm Warlord Doctor Who line. Secondly, they’re a bit…naff.
Whilst I like the idea of Sontarans, the redesign for NuWho, if you study it for an length of time, is effectively a blue rubber suit. No problem with the iconic domed helmets and shoulder pads, but the suit it a bit pants;
Ahhhh, look at the ickle Sontaran in his baby-blue romper suit…
Andy Foster, over at Heresy Miniatures, got Sontarans right with his Sharclon troopers;
But, being unofficial, when the Cease and Desist letters were sent out by Warlord, these were taken of the shelves and are now quite difficult to get hold of.
The other stumbling block is cost. A set of five old school Sontarans from Black Tree will set you back £12.50 (£2.50 a figure), whereas a box of NuWho Sontarans will cost you £22.00 (£4.40 a figure). And that’s without shipping…
Of course, regular followers of this blog will probably have a good idea of what’s coming next…
That’s right, I’m going to show you how I made my OWN squad of five completely modular Sontarans, from readily available components for the grand total of approximately £8.00, including shipping costs – so that works out about £1.60 a figure.
I’m good to you, aren’t I?
Right, you will first need some Mantic Games Forge Father Steel Warriors, which are effectively ‘space dwarves.’ I picked these out of all the ‘space dwarves’ available, as I felt that the armour, weaponry and look of the figures (if you ignore the heads) said not only Sontaran, but cool Sontaran.
A box of these will set you back £14.99 for enough components to build ten Steel Warriors. However, as I didn’t want to fork out for a full box if my cunning plan did not work out, to eBay I went and found someone selling the sprues individually – enough parts to make five Steel Warriors for £6.99 including shipping.
The idea percolating in my head was to assemble the bodies, then sculpt the helmets separately, as they were effectively a ridged dome with two eye-holes – not exactly Michelangelo levels of sculpting skills needed there…
The sprues duly arrived and I went to work assembling my squad. Given the complexity of some modern multi-part plastic kits, I was pleasantly surprised at the relative simplicity of these. Each basic Steel Warrior comes in nine parts – two part torso, two shoulder pads, two arms, legs and groin, head and weapon with hands attached. You can also add a backpack, should you so wish. However, the sheer number of parts you get means that you can not only vary each warrior, you could effectively have five heavy weapons troops or five normal normal troops or a leader and whatever mix you want. There are enough variant heads that each warrior could have a different head and two alternative chest pieces, so you can have a fancier cuirass for your leader. Plus a whole bunch of cool looking sci-fi greeblies to stick on wherever you want. LOTS of spare parts for my Distant Stars project.
Anyway, I decided to go for a ‘uniform’ (heh) outfit, so all the same armour, and constructed three normal troopers, one leader with pistol and ‘swagger stick’ (by cutting off the head of the hammer) and a heavy weapons trooper with shoulder mounted BFG.
Each figure is also supplied with Mantic’s standard circular plastic base, which is smooth on one side and had a circle in the centre of the other, as a fair few of their figures come with integral circular base that fit into both these bases and their Kings of War square bases. And this was the result;
Close up of the front of the figure, showing the detail on the armour;
And a shot of the rear;
And a shot to give an idea of scale, in relation to a standard 28mm figure, in this case, the Eighth Doctor.
Right, so pretty much the right size for how Sontarans are depicted in the more recent series, but the armour and stockiness of the body does say “I’m a rock-hard, ass-kicking Sontaran warrior – call me a psychotic potato dwarf and you’ll be spitting teeth…”
Having assembled them, I had decided to call it a night and look to doing the helmets on another evening…
Of course, you may be thinking “Hang on a second… he said the squad cost around £8.00. He’s only spent £7, so where the other quid’s worth of stuff?”
As I am a hobby gamer AND modeller, I do have a tendency to accumulate crap. In other words, all those useful bits and bobs that might come in useful for some project in the future. I mean, I have a box filled with empty sprues, just in case I need a length of plastic rod of a certain diameter or cross section.
One of the things lurking in my bits box was a small jiffy bag containing half a dozen of these;
Injection molded plastic ‘bulbs’ that covered some £1 battery-operated garden lights. The lights were consigned to the bin when they stopped working, but I kept a handful of the tops, to potentially turn into streetlights.
I took one from the packet and offered it up to the neck hole of the bodies I had built, realising that the diameter of the ‘bulb’ was the same as the internal neck of the suit. So, taking one of my six, I cut the top off and offered it up.
It fit and looked right – so another four were cut, giving me five domes.
As there was a slight gap between the bottom of the domes and the hollow in the neck, out came the instant grab adhesive (No More Nails or equivalent), as this sticks anything and can also fill reasonably small gaps. And the domes were stuck to the bodies, like so;
To ensure that these were easily recognisable as Sontarans, five small strips of thin plastic were cut, bent, dropped on the floor and lost (much swearing – I really should have chosen opaque plastic), another set cut, then glued into place.
And this is the almost final result;
I now have to decide whether I risk taking a small soldering iron to each of my proxy Sontarans to make the eye-holes in each helmet or just paint them on.
I will probably do a test of the former, using the other halves of my bulbs (NEVER throw anything away – it might come in useful later) to see how the plastic reacts and whether I can get a uniform shape. If not, I’ll just paint them on.
I showed them to my eldest son, and his response, before I said ANYTHING, was “Ah, Sontarans… cool.” That’s a result in my book.
And he’s not wrong – they are frickin’ cool.
Until next time…