29 February 2012

February Wrap-Up and Looking Ahead

Another successful month at the Bunker!  My stated goal for the year has been "one combat unit painted every week."  I exceeded the goal in January, and had no problem meeting it in February.  And I managed to finish a few new terrain projects, just to help move things along.

The completed list for February 2012:

  • Two more of my resin modular buildings painted to match my Rebel Minis Droptroopers.  

  • A junk-built communications transceiver for those buildings.
  • 72" of 3" wide hardboard road sections (6" and 12" lengths)
  • Two more Rebel Minis Titan HAMR suits.
  • Another unit of four Rebel Minis Droptroopers and a Wild CAT 'bot for my Christmas War campaign.
  • Three GZG Cyclops Battlesuits - repainted to match my Eureka Ventaurans.
  • Two Rebel VIPER Walkers.  A third was stripped and needs to be repainted.
  • A paint test figure of RAFM Planetary Militia.  
  • Six Critical Mass Games Kaamados Dominion Vivipara infantry.
  • One Critical Mass Games Kaamados Dominion Draco Aganath Imperator battlesuit.
  • And finally, three more Rebel Minis Earthforce HAMR suits.  My first mecha army is ready for some test games!

Here's my tentative painting agenda for March:
  • Proxie Models buildings.  I have about a dozen ready to be assembled, based, and drybrushed.  That will give me the ruined urban battlefield desired for my mecha games.
  • Paint two light walkers and one heavy walker for my GZG Crusties.
  • Paint another Ravenstar Silverback mech.
  • Start work on my next mecha-based army:
    • A unit of Micropanzer Russian Walkers
    • RAFM "Buckethead" Infantry with Micropanzer Remote Gun Drones
    • Brigade Models South African Wheeled MBT
    • Matchbox Armored Transports as APCs
  • Repaint my other three GZG Cyclops Battlesuits to match my Eureka Ventaurans.
And the high priority items on my shopping and wish list:
  • GZG Colonial Militia to support Blue Moon Orion Republic troopers for my Dominion Invasion game setting.
  • More Critical Mass Kaamados Vivipara and Draco Agonath suits (for the same setting)
  • ArtCrime Productions Assault Valkyries and Nationalist Infantry.  The Assault Valkyries will be for the Dominion Invasion setting, and the Nationalist Infantry are going to be multi-based to support the above Rebel HAMRs and Ravenstar Thunderfoot.
  • More Rebel Minis VIPER walkers and Drop Trooper Heavy Weapons (when released).

27 February 2012

The Cautionary Tale of the Heavy Black Wash

I painted my first three Rebel Minis VIPER Mecha this past week.  Well, almost.  Sometimes I'm quite successful when I try new paint techniques.  Other times the results are disastrous.  This was one of those times.

The VIPERS were purchased to support my existing Rebel Drop Troopers and CAT 'Bots.  Those were painted with the famous green-wash-over-bare-metal technique, producing a metallic green finish:

The plan for the VIPERs was to use the same technique.  But Rebel Mike did something I wasn't anticipating - he released them in resin!  On the plus side, the VIPERs are the least expensive 1/100 mecha available, and come with a huge variety of really nice weapons.  On the down side - I needed to find a way to match these resin mecha to my existing figures.

I've had some luck using wash over metallic silver paint (like these GZG Cyclops Suits).  It produces roughly the same effect as bare metal - maybe a little cleaner in appearance.  But the VIPERs are larger minis.  Would that same technique work?  I've had zero luck using that same technique on larger models like terrain pieces.  So, a trip to the friendly local hobby store was in order.

My four-year-old actually found it before I did - Model Master Dark Green Pearl.  It looked just fine in the bottle, but that's never a good indication.  So I tried a little bit on one corner of a VIPER suit.  It was pretty transparent.  I ended up putting two coats over the whole thing, then started picking out the other details with the same Vallejo Heavy Bluegray and Gold paints as the infantry.  It still didn't look right to me.  So, instead of the nice and thin Wonder Wash that I used on the infantry, I tried to use Secret Weapon Heavy Black Wash.

Big mistake.  

The Secret Weapon wash was far too heavy for this application.  The green finish was bad, and it pretty much blacked out the bluegray on the weapons.  I also noticed that the gold on the canopy was too thick - it had actually created "chunks" of paint on the panels.  Then I took a closer look at the Model Master Green bottle, and noticed one of the problems.  All the metal flake had settled to the bottom.  No wonder it had seemed so translucent!  I scraped the bottom of the bottle with a popsicle stick, shook the hell out of it, and then applied a single coat to a second VIPER. 

It worked much better that time.  I finished that second VIPER using the same techniques as the infantry and 'Bots - bluegray weapons, gold (thinned this time) on the canopy, and Wonder Wash black over the whole model.

Here's the comparison:

The difference isn't an effect of shadow or camera placement.  This is pretty close to how they each look in person.  Suffice it to say - the left VIPER is currently sitting in a bath of Simple Green cleaner and waiting to be stripped.  The second one, on the other hand, is a very good fit with the existing figures:

Not perfect, but good enough for my game table. And the best news?  Painting that second VIPER only took about 30 minutes.  I'll easily get the third one finished, and then order another set or two from Rebel Minis.  They are very nice mecha, and the price is just unbeatable!


20 February 2012

You've been reassigned!

I'm revisiting some of the first 15mm minis I ever painted this week: three packs of GZG Cyclops Battlesuits to go with my Rebel Minis Titan Marines.

They fit well in my original vision for that army (Conquest Development Center corporate research/security forces).  But that army has evolved in different directions now - the role of the Cyclops battlesuits has now been divided among Kremlin Red Banner MANITOU power armor and Rebel Minis Earthforce HAMR suits as heavy support mecha.  Next thing I know... the Cyclops suits, which I really think are great minis, haven't been touched in well over a year.

Time to find them a new home.

I've been slowly building up forces to play 15mm mecha games.  The rules I've been knocking together for those games (more on this later) center around multi-based infantry supporting formations of mecha.  My Eureka Ventaurans are already based for just that type of game:

But don't yet have any mecha units.  I ordered a Micropanzer Valkyur mecha last week as a trial, and later realized that the GZG Cyclops Suits would be a great match.  So I popped one off its old base, mounted it to a 1.25" fendeer washer, painted over the entire thing with Vallejo Boltgun, and gave it the same purple wash/blue-gray and gold details as my Ventaurans.

I like it.  It won't take much time to do the other five suits.  Have I mentioned that the lazy painter in me really, REALLY likes wash-over-metal paint schemes?  And despite its simplicity, I still think it looks as game-worthy as the original paint job.


09 February 2012

Tutorial: Battlefield Wrecks from Die-Cast Toys

Here's a fun little terrain piece that I worked on between some actual painting projects.  I made a Cobra Hiss-inspired assault vehicle out of a few Hot Wheels late last year.  One of the toys I used was the Assault Crawler:

Specifically, I used the tracks and never touched the body.  I found that hollow body recently while working on another project, and inspiration hit me.  The body wouldn't look out of place on a hover or grav platform.  But instead of converting or sculpting something onto it, why not turn it into a wreck?

I sliced up the body with a Dremel tool and cutting wheel.  The die-cast steel is too thick to do any real damage, but a few quick slices around the driver's seat worked fine.  Then I mounted the wreck to a scrap of MDF hardboard, built up the edges with sand, and hit it with a black undercoat.  

I decided to use a pretty basic palette on this one.  I painted the base with medium gray craft paint and drybrushed Vallejo Heavy Grey (actually a green-grey) onto the body.  Then I drybrushed Vallejo gunmetal in a few "damaged" areas.

This looked like it belonged in a ruined city, or somewhere in a dark ash waste.  So I added my usual "gray gravel" blend to the base and hit the joints and Gunmetal areas with rust-colored weathering powder.

Project finished!  A fine bit of cover for infantry or a light walker, or possibly an objective to search for unclaimed ammunition or other parts that will be desperately needed in post-apocalyptic settings.  I'll have to keep my eyes open next time I'm looking at $1 die-casts... even if I can't use the complete vehicle, I could always use more of these wrecks for my ruined battlefields.


03 February 2012

January wrap-up & projects for February

My goal for the year was to paint at least one combat unit (infantry squad or vehicle) per week.  If I can keep January's pace going, I should exceed my goal.  

Completed in January:

I plan to focus most of my February painting (and gaming, hopefully) on mecha-centric battles.  I have four more mecha basecoated now - two each Rebel Minis Earthforce and Titan HAMR suits.  Those should be finished early next week.  I have an order of Rebel Minis VIPR suits on the way, and I plan to take advantage of the Ravenstar Studios 25% Off Sale and pick up a couple more Land Core Silverbacks.

The urban battlefield I mentioned before is also on the February project list.  I ordered an assortment of nine buildings from Proxie Models last night, and I cut 6' worth of hardboard road sections to set up the battlefield.  I just need to come up with some urban terrain pieces that aren't buildings (maybe a power plant?) to complete my mecha battlefield.