“What a Piece of Junk!”

Due to my current shift pattern, I work one Saturday in every three, meaning I get a day off in the week in lieu. Usually, this ‘day off’ gets eaten up by a list (lovingly prepared by my wife) of jobs for me to do.

However, yesterday’s list was quite short, so was completed in good time leaving me with some free time…so, out came the paints.

First up, my APC;

Black gloss enamel was used on the skirt and windscreen, GW Chainmail on the front nozzles and turret gun and Docrafts Noir on the side panels and turret.

I noted that every picture I took of this vehicle didn’t really highlight the sloped nature of its shape, so took so lower down photos to show this.

Looks a bit like Maximillian from The Black Hole movie – which although it was a bit naff, did have some cool robots.

Speaking of cool robots, I next went to work on my drone cargo sled, but I won’t bore you with the exact colours I used, just show you some pictures;

Just a little bit more detailing and I think it’ll be done. I’m pretty happy with how it’s turned out.

Just goes to show that a little bit of creativity with stuff you’d normally throw out can produce a pretty cool model.

This Is The Way…To Save Money

Regular visitors to this humble blog will know that whilst I enjoy my gaming, I tend to balk at some of the prices charged by certain companies for the “necessary” components for <insert game of the month here>.

So, when inspired to try a new genre or game, I will tend to look for inexpensive options, rather than go for the official figure lines.

Such is the case with my Distant Stars project, which is my alternate reality Star Wars-inspired project, the last piece of kit I built for this being my scratch-built drone operated cargo sled, in this post.

Well, since last time, I have managed to slap some paint on it and it now looks like this:

The model was undercoated with Wilko Taupe spray paint on the top and Wilko Gunmetal spray underneath, which gave it a nice two-tone look. The drone ‘pilot’, terminal, thrusters and cargo bed were given a coat of GW Chainmal, with the cargo bed getting a wash of GW Brown Ink, to make it look oily.

The main body got a couple of coats of GW Orc Brown, which is a nice dark yellow, as you can see from the picture above.

Now that it’s got some paint on, it’s starting to look a bit more like an actual vehicle, rather than a conglomeration of bits.

Of course, whilst it’s nice to have some background vehicles, as the Dominion is a military force, it would be good if they had some war machines, right?

I knew roughly what sort of look I wanted and ideally would have gone for the latest iteration of the GW Land Raider – but wasn’t prepared to drop £60.00 on a single plastic kit. (NB: It was the Land Raider Crusader I craved…)

As with most things I do, I spend a fair bit of time trawling the Internet trying to find some thing suitable at a price I’m prepared to pay, before realising my time and money would be better spent just MAKING what I want myself.

So, after finally managing to secure an empty margarine tub (as I kept putting them next to the sink to wash up and my wife KEPT throwing them away), we were ready to begin.

I’s settled on this particular receptacle as a base for a tank/APC for two reasons; firstly, as far as I’m concerned, there’s no such thing as single use plastics and, secondly, when you turn it upside down, it looks like an armoured hovercraft:-

The next stage was to dress it up, with suitable “armoured panelling” and weapon mounts.

Two oblong panels of transparent plastic, scored and with portions cut out, were glued to the front and rear of my vehicle, to represent the cockpit and rear access door.

Two of the remains of the plastic ‘bulbs’ I used to make my Sontaran soldiers helmets were glued as forward-mounted weapons on the front, two GW cavalry bases were glued to either side to act as armoured panels and a turret was constructed from various plastic bits I had.

And to give a better sense of scale;

Unfortunately, as with my previous model, the use of transparent plastic means that some of the detail is not evident, so rather than leave it at that, I gave it an undercoat of Wilko Taupe spray, as this is the main vehicle colour of the Dominion.

And the rear;

A fairly substantial and imposing looking model, for very little outlay. And it actually looks like it could fit a squad of troops in, unlike some of the sci-fi vehicles out there.

Now, to fully justify my use of the above title, we have to mention The Mandalorian at least once.

Should you wish to add the title character of the above show to your tabletop games, a search of the internet gives you a few options, ranging in price from £10.00 to £15.00. However, all of these figures are 3D printed and whilst some are resin printed, the majority are not, meaning the quality of the figures are variable.

So, how about a METAL figure to represent Din Djarin for £6.00?

This is Brando from Diehard Miniatures. It comes with a resin base and alternate head, should you wish to have a bare-headed version.

And if you want to add some of Clan Wren to your games, but don’t want the full compliment from Legion’s £28 boxed set, then Diehard has you covered there to.

I mean, who wouldn’t like to get their hands on Katee Sackoff?

You’d Better Watch Out…

As regular visitors to the Buffet will know, I am rather fond of the macabre and this tends to reflected in my gaming, with supernatural aspects creeping in to most projects I get myself involved in.

In the lead-up to Christmas, I found my mind turning towards the darker legends associated with this feative period and a craving for… the Krampus.

For those of you unfamiliar with this seasonal figure, the Krampus is a counterpoint to the jolly gift-bringer that is Saint Nicholas, being a hairy horned being, with fangs and cloven hooves, who carries a birch switch with which to punish naughty children and a basket to carry off those who have been especially bad.

And this being has it’s own day, namely the 5th December – Krampusnacht – where the Krampus visits those who’ve been bad and gives them coal.

An ideal holiday horror for a Christmas-themed game, so where to find such a figure?

There are actually a few options, but I’m disregarding the one from Titan Forge, as it looks more like some kind of demonic jester and the one from ParagonStar, as it looks too demonic in my opinion, so I’ve only included those I think accurately represent this folkloric being.

My first option is that produced by Reaper Miniatures as part of their Chronoscope range;

This is available from their webstore for $7.49, which works out at about £6.81. They do another version, which is nicer, but that clocks in at $17.99, so is a little expensive as far as I’m concerned.

Next is that produced by Shortwars as part of their Twisted Christmas range;

Now, this one is a touch more expensive at £13.00, but does come with a choice of right arms, so you can choose between the traditional birch switch or a staff and does stand 55mm tall, so is a pretty substantial beast.

The final option and one I’ll be going for myself is from the new Blitzkringle range from Killer B Games;

Standing at approximately 45mm tall and coming with a separate basket to be mounted on his back, this figure is a very reasonable £6.00.

And if you want to swell the ranks of your mythical Christmas entities, you can also purchase the Ghost of Saint Nicholas at £3.50 and a pack of three figures representing Pere Fouettard, Knecht Ruprecht and Belsnickel for £10.00.

Having contacted Craig at Killer B Games directly, I do know he is planning on adding some additional folkloric figures from other Mythologies to the Blitzkringle range, although the Russian Ded Moroz or Granfather Frost probably won’t be quite as impising as Jakub Rozalski’s version;

A Merry Christmas to all – and to all a good night!

Games Without Frontiers

Usually, in the blogging circle I frequent, we blame Roger. He’ll make a comment on either on his own blog or on yours, which will set your mind ticking, like a bomb, which usually results in some kind of unusual side project that you really had no intention of getting involved in.

However, no malice in intended, as usually these flights of fancy are things that we’d probably have done anyway – Roger is just the catalyst.

However, not this time… this time I blame Greg.

Greg has been contributing to the excellent and long-running blog The Game Cupboard, with a run-through of The Dragon Heist from TSR, but realised through solo play and illustrated with photos of his games.

Now, what struck me personally about these games is that Greg has a LOT of nice scenery and I was especially jealous of his dungeon walls, which I believe are from the now discontinued MageKnight Dungeons range.

As regular readers will know, I like modular gaming accessories and whilst I have enough HeroScape tiles to fill my table with a variety of outdoors terrain, I don’t have much in the way of interior terrain, so cannot create either labyrinthine dungeons or starship corridors.

I thought this had been solved when Archon Studios launched their Dungeons & Lasers kickstarter, as the sample I got sent and reviewed seemed to meet my needs.

The problem with Archon Studios is that whilst they seem to like running Kickstarters and sending out product to their backers (or if you host a YouTube channel, large amounts of FREE terrain), if you are a normal gamer who maybe just wants to buy things in instalments, you can’t.

The Dungeons & Lasers first edition product has been manufactured and released, but can you actually buy it from either Archon Studios website or elsewhere? Nope. Which is a shame, as it’s a good product.

If you like the idea of a modular plastic dungeon wall system and you live in the United States, there is another alternative – Dirt Cheap Dungeons. I only came across this product and website recently and was quite impressed by the versatility, range and price-point. My problem is that whilst the actual cost of the product is within my price bracket, shipping takes it OUT of my price bracket. Furthermore, I actually need Sci-fi walls, rather than dungeon walls.

So, looking at the UK based options, it seems the only real options I have are to buy a 3D printer and buy one of the available STL file packages or go with one of the various MDF corridor options.

Now, me being me, I rejected these options and went on to YouTube, to see if any of the hobby crafting channels had ideas I could steal.

What struck me about the majority of these tutorials was that whilst the end product looked good, most of them were 2D tiles AND not only took a lot of work and effort, but also required tools I don’t have.

As far as I’m concerned, anything I make should be simple, easy and require no specialist tools or materials. In other words, anybody could make it.

So, because I’m good to you all and also a fucking genius, I’m going to show you how to make simple, cheap modular tiles, which can be skinned to whatever genre you want.

Let us begin…

So, the majority of modular tiles are square, but as the walls run parallel to the edge of the tile, you need the various permutations of where the walls go – a wall on one edge, two edges to form a corner, two opposite each other to form a corridor or three adjacent to form an alcove. Then you have the same options as above, but with doors in. And a blank tile to create larger rooms.

However, if you rotate the tile 45°, you only need THREE different types of tile – a floor tile, a wall tile and a door tile.

So, first task was to decide how big each tile should be. I went with 2″ squares, which means the diagonal distance is 2 3/4″.

I then cut 9 of these squares from corrugated cardboard I had lying around, as Amazon do seem to deliver here every day at the moment…

I had decided that 4 of these initial 9 would be floor tiles, so 4 squares of cereal packet cardboard were cut out…

And these were glued on top,using a gluestick.

Next were the walls. The walls needed to be 2 3/4″ wide, 2″ tall and have triangular bases, to match half of each base tile they were being attached to.

These had their creases scored and were bent into shape and the interior of each wall glued together.

These were then attached to their bases.

The walls with doors were created next in exactly the same way, but with a doorway of an inch wide by 11/2 inches tall cut out.

And they were then glued into place.

Now, bearing in mind that these are rough and ready prototypes and I only created 9 tiles to test out whether this would work, these are the various permutations I could make with them, with the REAL 13th Doctor wandering these strange white corridors.

The idea is that you can ‘skin’ these blank walls however you wish. Add some textured wallpaper to represent brickwork and you have yourself a dungeon or sewer. Glue sand to the base and green scouring pads to the walls and it’s a hedge maze. Baking foil and conduits made from drinking straws and you have starship or industrial corridors.

These cheap and simple modular tiles are a blank canvas, only limited your imagination and what you actually need.

I will probably adapt the materials for the next batch, but the design is sound and took me a very short period of time to make.

Genius? I’d like to think so…

Jez

“This is the Way.”

If, like me, you are regularly clean-shaven then you will need some kind of device to remove your facial hair. And if, like me, you are somewhat wary of electric razors, you will wet shave with a manual razor.

Now, as the particular brand of razor I use has disposable heads, these come in a transparent plastic tray, which I squirrelled away for potential future use. And this is what the tray looks like;

Now, whilst I haven’t had much hobby time, I did manage to squeeze in episodes of the first season of The Mandalorian during the last couple of months…

Two things struck me from watching this – firstly, it is PROPER Star Wars, so if you’re a fan and you’ve got access to Disney+, watch it. Actually, if you like sci-fi Westerns, watch it. Even if you only sign up for the free period, it’s certainly worth a watch.

Secondly, there are a couple of episodes where vehicles with built-in droids – one a taxi, the other a cargo sled – which do look a little bit like my plastic tray above…

So, based on this (and the fact that during the period of non-lockdown, I finally relented and bought myself a cheap hot glue gun), I’ve decided to see if I can replicate this type of vehicle for my Distant Stars project. I’ve been collecting various bits for this, so it will (hopefully) be just a case of assembling the bits and then giving it a lick of paint. Let us begin!

So, having raided my bits box, I ended up with, for want of a better term, a pile of crap…

So, the tray itself, a couple of ink cartridges, some textured wallpaper, block of foam, cut down pen lid (that looks remarkably like a R2 unit), expired plastic gift card, empty shampoo bottle and some random plastic greeblies.

The cheapass hot glue gun I’d bought proved to be more of a hindrance than a help, so the DIY grab adhesive was duly…erm…grabbed and after much measuring, cutting, dry-fitting, trimming, filing, gluing and generally making a mess – we end up with something like this;

In the realms of Star Wars, this would be a droid-operated cargo skiff. In Distant Stars, this is a cargo drone. Same principal, different Universe.

Emptied ink cartridges as thrusters, textured wallpaper as the metal treadplate in the cargo area. Plastic greebly as operating screen, pen lid as drone ‘driver’ and the rest of the bits to make up the fuselage. A GW cavalry base was glued upside down to the base, to give the impression it’s floating.

And to give an idea of scale, here’s a Dominion Outrider cadging a ride.

Once the rain has stopped lashing down, I’ll be taking this outside to give it an spray paint undercoat. But what should the overall colour scheme be? Similar to Luke’s Landspeeder or, as it’s a cargo drone, more yellowish, like a taxicab? I wil have to give it some thought.

A Perfect Ten?

A recent poll of Doctor Who “fans” (and you’ll see why I’ve referred to them as such shortly) organised by the Radio Times was run to find the most popular incarnation of our favourite Time Lord. When the 50,000 votes were counted it was discovered that said “fans” had voted David Tennant as the most popular Doctor with 21% of the votes.

However, Jodie Whittaker came in a very close second, having only been beaten by Tennant by about 100 votes.  Which, based on who organised the poll (i.e. the Radio Times, traditionally a mouthpiece for the BBC) and that the REAL fans, such as myself, didn’t know about the poll until AFTER the results had been announced strongly suggests that these results should be taken with a bag of salt…

Anyway, this announcement and the fact that I’d not been motivated hobby-wise for a couple of weeks encouraged me to order some stuff online from eM4 Miniatures. Further incentive was that browsing their site showed that they have more ‘Sold Out’ items than ‘in stock’ items, so this might be my last chance to get my hands on certain figures.

First up, this chap;



This figure is 0057 Suit Shades SMG Hand Gun at £1.75, part of their Future Skirmish range, which were sculpted by Mark Copplestone for Grenadier way back in the murky past. In fact, this particular figure does have the stylised G on its tab, showing it came from the original molds.

My intention with this figure is to do something similar to how I created my version of the 8th Doctor, but this will be MY version of the 10th Doctor, based on his outfit from the Battle of Canary Wharf – including 3D glasses!

All I need to do is alter the pistol into his sonic screwdriver and redo the hair. The rest will just be painting.

After this is complete, that will just leave me two Doctors short – the Ninth and the War Doctors.

Next we have this;


This is one of the five multi-part (and by multi-part I mean three pieces) plastic Space Rangers sold by eM4 at £2.99. That works out at about 60p a figure – Bargain!

As I said above it comes in three pieces – main body, hands holding a weapon and the backpack. You get four of this pose, one squad leader/sergeant armed with a pistol and sword and a sprue of three heavy weapons. So you could have four rangers with the standard gun, or three with standard and one heavy weapon of your choice, or any combination of the above. Very similar to the Space Marines that came with the Space Crusade boxed game from GW – which they were probably based on.

Now, the idea with these was to add to ranks of the Dominion from my Distant Stars project, by making these the ‘heavy’ troops of the Dominion, with the Outriders being the light troops and the Legionnaires being the medium troops.

However, whilst the backpack doesn’t look too obtrusive from the front, it is a big hunk of plastic, as you can see below;


TOO big, in my opinion, so off it came, which gives us a more streamlined, but still imposing figure.


For comparison, here it is compared to the figures I’m using for my Outriders and Legionnaires.


As the ‘ribbing’ on the armour joints matches of the Legionnaire figure in the centre, I think that with an appropriate matching colour scheme, I can tie all three troops together as part of the same organisation, so the Outriders and Legionnaires will be joined by the newest Dominion troop type – the Siegebreaker.

Now there is one slight problem with not using the backpacks, which is this…


A big freakin’ hole in the back of the figure, which the backpack clips in to.
However, this is ME, so no doubt I’ll come up with a cunning plan to get around this.

I hope everyone is keeping safe and well in these uncertain times, but rest assured, I’M still here and will continue to do what I do, for both my and your entertainment.

Until next time…

 

A Good Man Goes to War

Regular visitors to the Buffet will have noted that it’s been rather quiet of late. And whilst I have been keeping up with what others have been doing hobby-wise, a certain ennui regarding my own hobby had set in.

Given some “spare” time, I found myself picking up the latest Rivers of London novel, watching documentaries about My Little Pony on Netflix or, having my arm twisted by my daughter, sitting down to watch Frozen, which up to this point, I had successfully managed to avoid. (NB: I did trade the last one off – she has to watch a film of my choice with me, so she will be venturing Into the Spider-Verse in the near future….)

I finally bit the bullet, set up my painting station on the dining table, retrieved the Tray of Shame and made some inroads into the contents.

Unsurprisingly, it’s all Doctor Who related stuff…

First up, some modern Daleks. Weirdly, because of the way I paint, four of the five Daleks in the tray actually represent the stages in which I’ve painted these malevolent pepper pots, as you can see from the picture below:

So, from left to right; Stage 1- assemble Warlord plastic Dalek and glue to textured 2 pence piece, to give the figure some heft and stop it blowing around in a strong breeze. Paint the base and bumper Docrafts Dark Grey.

Stage 2 – Paint entire body in Docrafts Bronze, the bumper in a home-mixed dark grey, the plunger arm, blaster, eye-stalk and head lights in GW Chainmail and the end of the eye-stalk and plunger arm with Docrafts Noir.

Stage 3 – Give the neck rings a wash of Docrafts Noir to add some shading.

Stage 4 – Paint the slats and sensor globes with Docrafts Shining Gold. Give the neck rings another thicker wash of Docrafts Noir, then realise that you’re going to have to repaint the horizontal rings again, as it’s too bloody dark.

Stage 5 – sulk for a bit, then go and paint something else instead.

I did mention that four of the five modern Daleks were painted in the current livery. The remaining assembled Dalek has been given an alternative paint scheme, as I was quite taken with the idea of attempting to replicate the colour scheme of the Eternity Circle Daleks, which are from Engines of War by George Mann, the first Doctor Who novel to feature the War Doctor.

I’ve not actually read the book, but having seen images of the Eternity Circle Daleks, as below, I thought they looked rather cool;

Time War Eternity Circle Dalek by Librarian-bot on DeviantArt

So, I thought I’d give it a go;

Yeah, it’s a bit messy at the moment, but the silver paint was a little runnier than I’d anticipated, hence the splodginess of the silver trim. It will be tidied up, but the general idea is there.

My Rutan model is sharing this shot, as I finally managed to get out to Hobbycraft to try and find some varnish or the equivalent, to provide some needed ‘wetness’ to this model.

I ended up with some Tamiya Semi Gloss Clear, which is apparently an acrylic clear ‘paint’, which I liberally coated my Rutan with. It does kind of work,although you can’t really see this in the picture. I’m now wondering if I would have been better off just using some thinned PVA instead, but the 10ml pot was only £2.00, so not a major expense.

Finally, we have my (almost) completed Sontarans. All five of these chaps were given the same treatment. First, all weaponry was given a wash of Docrafts Noir. Not happy with the coverage, they got a second thicker wash until I was happy. The belts, which I’d failed to paint last time, were painted in with GW Enchanted Blue, to match the helmets and shoulder pads. Then the whole of the figure, except for the weaponry was given a wash of GW Marine Dark Blue.

This was a bit of a mistake, as it made them too blue, meaning that the body-suits almost matched their helmets, shoulder pads and belts. Much gnashing of teeth was heard. Out came the Docrafts Dark Grey and all the exposed parts of the body-suits were given a light drybrush, to tone down the blueness.

Belt buckles were painted GW Orc Brown (which is a dark yellow), followed by GW Sunburst Yellow. Vents on guns got filled with my own mix of ‘Pumpkin Orange’, whilst gunsights were dotted in with GW Bogey Green. The end of each barrel got a spot of Docrafts Noir to simulate the hole in the end, as did each helmet eyehole.

As the creation of the eye-holes for the helmets had left a little scurfing on the surface, I decided to lightly dry-brush these with GW Mithril Silver, as I felt it made it look like these were battle-damaged, with the blue paint having been scratched off where the helmets had been tossed aside in the heat of battle.

The final touch was to paint the bases with thinned down PVA glue, then dip into my jar of sand, to texture the base. The bases still need painting, as the grey still shows through, but I may try and replicate the colour of the sand  I’ve used, as the contrast works quite well.

However, whilst I did texture the bases last, having been convinced this was the way to do it by watching Sorastro’s Star Wars Legion painting tutorials on YouTube, I won’t be doing this going forward. PVA and sand is not the same as basing medium and does not act in the same way, so I’ll be texturing bases for plastic figures BEFORE I start painting next time. You live and learn.

However, I am pretty pleased with how my proxy Sontarans have come out. They LOOK like Sontarans, but unlike the ones appearing in NuWho, these ones actually look like they have been involved in a long-running war, rather than having just stepped out of the changing room. Sontarans you can believe in…

Now, I just need some Christmas baubles so I can build some scout ships.

Sontar-HA!

 

The Sontaran Solution

First came The Sontaran Stratagem – wherein I came up with the idea of creating alternative 28mm Sontarans using commercially available figures…

Then came The Sontaran Experiment – whereby I bought some of these commercially available figures, assembled them and then ‘Jezzed’ them up a bit…

Now comes The Sontaran Solution – where I finish off the necessary tweaks to make them look like Sontarans and slap a bit of paint on them to see what the best colour scheme is.

But first, it’s the Eighth Doctor…

As mentioned in the last Forgotten Heroes post of this year, I wasn’t entirely happy with either the Eighth Doctor’s hair or waistcoat colour, so whilst I had the paints out, I decided to rectify this. Much better now, in my opinion.

Now, on to the Sontarans…

So, having decided that I was going to attempt to make recessed eye-holes in the Sontaran helmets, I dug out my soldering iron… which is, in fact, a wood-burning iron from a pyrography kit, which means that it’s slightly smaller and has a finer tip.

Using the left over bits I’d saved from my cutting of the domes, I tested the iron out on the plastic, to see if this would work before applying it to the models themselves. I also managed to apply the iron to my finger whilst doing this, which resulted in a nasty burn and the offending tool being called a Motherfucker…

Satisfied that it would work and that the holes created were of the right size, I went to work on each model. However, as the bare plastic was white, it was quite difficult to judge whether the rim of each eye-hole was flush with the dome surface or not.

Once I’d finished burning things, each model was given a base coat of Docrafts Dark Grey, which is more of a light grey, followed by a cost of GW Chainmail on all weaponry. And this was the result;

This highlighted (literally) a problem with using a soldering iron, in that each eye-hole had a pronounced rim, where the melted plastic had pulled out when the iron was removed, leaving them looking like the had bags under their eyes.

Out came a sharp craft knife and my needle files, to smooth down the ridges and bore out the holes a bit more. Once this was done to my satisfaction (and the helmet ridges superglued back into place, as each one came off when tidying up the fronts), I went online to look at the general colour schemes used by the Sontarans in their televised appearances.

I decided to go for grey and blue, echoing the more recent iteration of this race, so main body of each model was given a coat of GW Corax White, which I have mentioned before is actually a pale grey. The helmets and pauldrons were then painted GW Enchanted Blue.

Whilst the images I’d Googled initially showed that this was the only variance in colour on the newest version of the Sontarans, I felt this looked a little…bland, so the hip armour was painted in as well. And this is where we have gotten to so far;

This is the leader, as he is armed with a laser pistol and swagger stick.

Two of the rank-and-file Sontaran troopers, armed with laser rifles;

And the five man Sontaran squad; leader, three troopers and a heavy weapons guy, with shoulder-mounted BFG.

Whilst I’ve been mostly successful with tidying up the eye-holes, there is still a little roughness to the front of each helmet, which I am going to attribute to “battle damage”, so I’m not overly bothered by it, but if you’re trying this for yourself, a pin vice and suitably sized drill bit would probably be a better way to do this.

And to provide a sense of scale, here’s a Sontaran trooper threatening the Eight Doctor… who seems entirely unconcerned – possibly due to the half-consumed bottle of red wine he’s holding.

Pretty happy with how these have come out and it will just be a case of finishing them off. Weaponry will receive a wash of Docrafts Noir, with the remainder of the figure getting a wash of GW Marine Dark Blue. I think I will probably add some detailing to each gun and will paint in the belts, as I have now double-checked the uniforms and the belts ARE actually blue. The belt buckles will be painted in yellow, mimicking the colour of the symbol on the interior of Styre’s scout ship from The Sontaran Experiment;

BBC One - Doctor Who, Season 12, The Sontaran Experiment - The ...

However, I won’t attempt the cross, as it might just end up making them look like they’re members of the X-Men…

Until next time.

For the Glory of the Sontaran Empire

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;

Miros' Games: Doctor Who Project - Sontarans

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;

Wargames Illustrated | 35mm 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;

Skorr | Tardis | Fandom

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;

Sontarans

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.

Forge Fathers Steel Warriors - Mantic Games

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…

Three, Eight, Thirteen

Whilst there are a few scant hours before Forgotten Heroes 2020, the fifth such event since its inception, ends – allowing a few participants to slip a last entry into June – this will be MY last post for this year’s challenge.

Now, Forgotten Heroes offers quite a few different sorts of challenge. There is the challenge of choosing a suitable character to replicate, finding the base figure you’re going to use, converting it into as close a representation as possible and THEN painting it, so it matches the source material.

Obviously, if you’re using a figure designed, either officially or unofficially, to represent the character, all you have to do is paint the figure.

For example, you can use this image;

The Wertzone: Doctor Who at 50: The Third Doctor (1970-74)

To paint your representation of the Third Doctor like so;

“Reverse the polarity… you know you want to…”

Yeah, I decided to finish off my Third Doctor whilst I was waiting for the Eighth Doctor to dry between coats.

Speaking of my version of the Eighth Doctor, the idea was to replicate this look;

Doctor Who Official on Twitter: "Happy birthday to Paul McGann ...

And this is my final rendition of the Eighth Doctor, converted from an Artizan Designs ‘Captain Withnail’ figure;

Comparing the source material and the finished figure, I think I possibly need to repaint his ‘waistcoat’ in GW Shining Gold, my pot of which is now an antique-y gold, so not particularly ‘Shining’ anymore. This will bring the figure closer to the source picture. I did try to replicate the laces on his boots by painting crosses up the front of each boot, but I’m not sure how successful this was. And I think that I might need to darken his hair a touch too, as it looks too yellow.

So, other than a few minor painting tweaks, I’m pretty happy with how he’s turned out. As he was originally holding a revolver, I think this minor conversion has worked really well, showing that nearly any pistol can be turned into a sonic screwdriver, which gives me a greater range of figures to look at when I get around to doing the Ninth, Tenth and War Doctors.

And to explain the post title, here are the Third, Eighth and Thirteenth Doctor, in a crossover that you would never have expected…

Hmm, this does of course mean I can do multi-Doctor episodes now…

A big thank you to all those who took part this year; Roger, Dave, Harry, Keith, Alan, and Wampley  – follow the links to see what this creative bunch have been up to.

And remember, this is an annual event, every June, so if you feel like taking part next year, you are more than welcome. Put on those thinking caps and start planning what you’re going to do next year.

I might finally get around to doing Big Wheel… although I do have a spare action figure head that might be the right size to do a 28mm M.O.D.O.K. It will certainly be cheaper than coughing up for the Crisis Protocol one…

Right, that’s all for this post. Next up, more Doctor Who, as I offer a counterpoint to the ‘Evil Sprout’ from the previous post, by offering their arch-enemies, whom the Doctor has described as ‘psychotic potato dwarfs’, so expect “automated laser monkeys, scalpel mines and acid.”