Friday, October 13, 2017

Building A Better 28mm HISS Tank

When I was a kid, the COBRA High Speed Sentry Tank or H.I.S.S. Tank was one of my favourite G.I. JOE vehicles. Maybe because it was black or that it held 4 figures (two on the step on the back) or maybe because it just looked cool. I don't know. I loved it.

Actually, in retrospect, the fact that it was also one of the first COBRA vehicles I owned probably helped. It got played with constantly to face off against the armour of my Joe forces but it definitely went beyond that though because it was a mainstay of my COBRA forces. The fact that the HISS tank was used as the premier COBRA vehicle in countless issues of the comics probably helped too.

Regardless, I knew that if I was going to make a COBRA themed force in 28mm, I knew I would need a HISS Tank... or two... I always wanted a second one as a kid so I could recreate the night fight from issue #16 of the original comic. Anyway, after several good Google searches, I discovered that there was an alternative to the Shapeways 3D printed HISS that was not only significantly cheaper than the printed one but was also made from smooth plastic (no graininess). This kit is also an almost perfect match size wise to the 3D printed one. You can find it on Amazon HERE.

 Seeing the price I may have gone a little off the deep end and ordered a few... OK... I ordered 8 of them. I may have a HISS tank problem! lol

This is what comes in the box:

I love that it not only comes with miniature versions of the stickers that went on the original kit but it also comes with a miniature of the vehicle blueprints that the original JOE vehicles came with. These little touches made the kid in me very happy.

Now, this "mini HISS" does have a few problems that the original kit also had that would look funny on a 28mm tabletop. First of all, the tank has no clearance whatsoever. Its hull basically rubs on the ground. I fixed that by cutting the front hull plate considerably back and covering the giant vents and gap between hull pieces with a piece of white plasticard. I wanted the hull to stick out slightly from the tracks to help differentiate the different front parts of the tank.

I also filled in the large gap in its nose with green stuff.

Next up, I cut the hull on the back on the vehicle to match the front. In the process I lost the cool trailer hitch but I think it looks way better. I also used a hobby knife to smooth the old lines and gaps between pieces.

I also placed a thin piece of plasticard along the hull above the passenger step to cover up one of the worst gaps on the kit. You can see this below.

I then glued down the canopy for easier painting and increased durability. I also used the flat of my hobby blade to trim the excess flash off the nose and the side of the guns. Seen below.

Some of you will notice that there is one key difference between the "mini HISS" and the full sized original. Its guns. The cannons on the mini are almost as thick as the full sized HISS's gun barrels. They are huge because the mini has LED lights and speakers build in so that when you press the red button on the top, the guns light up and the tank makes a gun noise. I was going to cut these off but, in the end, I just liked the idea of having those features would just be too cool to trim off.

The last thing that I did was to add a gunner to the cupola. I used the bodies from Warlord Games Japanese Infantry and arms from various Warlord plastic kits.

Next up I definitely need to add stowage to a few HISS's to differentiate them and perhaps make a command tank or two using spare heads. I am thinking a HISS with Cobra Commander and possibly another with Destro in the gunner's nest could be cool.

'Til next time!

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Stitched Up! (Adding Models To My Lynch Crew For Malifaux)

Nothing like animated, cheerful sacks of skin filled with jagged bones and rotting body parts creeping around the place, blowing up and murdering folks! Definitely something that comes from the twisted world of Malifaux!

I recently painted up a couple of these guys to round out my Jacob Lynch crew. I will be adding to this crew slowly while I work on my JOE project. Next up... a beckoner and maybe a wastrel or two. 


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Patience Is A Virtue

I have always hated waiting for things. As a kid, I still remember saving up my proof of purchases from G.I.Joe action figures to send away for a limited release “Duke” (the only one that existed at the time). I checked the mailbox everyday for months (literally) hoping that my “Duke” would arrive and just when I had given up hope… He showed up in a nondescript plain brown cardboard box.

In the end, he was a fairly ugly figure in retrospect but, man, was I excited when I ripped open that box! I played with him daily for weeks afterwards like no other figure. I am sure that the waiting added value in my mind.

I am sure that I hated waiting for things before that event in my life but that is as far back as the old memory goes and well, I have hated waiting ever since.

Why do I bring this up? Well, Shapeways was having sale that gave free shipping recently and since shipping to Australia is usually ridiculous, I jumped on it! The downside is that I chose the slowest processing speed (which made things really cheap, by comparison). Things should arrive by Halloween... I hope. This should line up nicely with the end of my Masters course. Will make for a great graduation present.

I picked up 5 SNAKE battle armour suits. 

A couple of more VAMPS/Stinger jeeps

And a FANG helicopter 
(though I have no idea what I am going to use it as outside of terrain)

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Starting Point (Cobra Army To Date)

As I am stuck in class this week finishing my last course for my Masters this week, I am sadly not using my school holidays to their hobby potential, which is always sad! That said, this has given me a lot of time during breaks to consider the army and how I am going to put it together.

In my last post I showed pictures of 18 Cobra troopers that I had built out of Warlord Games' Blitzkrieg Germans. Since then I have acquired another pile of these models second hand that I can convert up when the time allows. I have also found another baggie of 10 metal assault rifles from the Assault Group to convert these guys over. Sooooo progress is slowly being made.

What I really wanted to show today though was the vehicles. Infantry aside, this is what my force looks like at the moment:

The white VAMP jeep and the cycle above are from the Arctic Skunk Shapeways store. I also have a HISS tank from that shop. 

Here are a few side by side comparison to Warlord Games Bolt Action models to show the scale of these vehicles. The VAMP or the COBRA version in this case, the Stinger, is almost a perfect match size wise as a Horch field car which is convenient because that is what I had originally considered using it as. But converting it to look like it hold more than two people is the subject of another blog post. 

This also give you an idea of my painting style and the level of painting I plan of using on this army. I tend to use a very cartoony style that I think "pops" on the tabletop.

The VAMP/Stinger has always been one of my favourite GI JOE vehicles and I cannot wait to paint this bad boy up!

I got a RAM motorcycle at the same time as the VAMP and I am not sure if I am going to paint it up in COBRA colours or if I will hold onto it until I start my opposition GI JOE forces.

The details on these models are great but they do require a little sanding to smooth out the finish. You can see the graininess on the RAM below.

The "Arctic Skunk," 3D printed HISS tank is a better kit with more detail than the mini-toys (that I have 4 of in the picture at the top of this post) but I can get 4 of the HISS toys (which are almost the perfect scale) for the same price as one white 3D print. Plus to be honest the toys are more durable too. I have been playing around with plasticard and green stuff to make the toys more "realistic" looking and I will post how I am modifying them soon.

If you look carefully at the picture of my 4 toys, one has a smashed turret. I broke one in storage and that has me thinking about turning one of my HISS tanks into a 28mm version of one of these:

Well, it looks like my lecture is about to start. More soon! Thank you for checking out my progress!

Friday, September 22, 2017

28mm COBRA From GI JOE (Planning My Next Army)

Much to my Mother's chagrin, from the very earliest of ages, I was obsessed with GI JOE as a kid. Over the many years of my childhood, I accumulated a massive collection of the action figures and vehicles but these were not the root of my interest on the subject.

I loved the comic books. The often gritty and witty writing of Larry Hama captivated me. I bought and played with the toys that fell in love turning those brightly coloured dog eared pages. It drove my parents crazy!

In hindsight, it is easy to see that this behaviour laid the groundwork for my later love of toy soldiers and wargaming in general. I guess I just never grew up!

A few years ago I had an interesting epiphany when looking at Arctic Skunk's Shapeways store. What if I could merge my love of table top war-games AND my childhood love of GI JOE? To that end I started slowly acquiring the bits and pieces I might need to create a COBRA themed army. I figured it would be an easier place to start than a GI JOE force comprised of one off individual uniforms and colour schemes. Besides COBRA often had the cooler looking gear and vehicles! (In my opinion anyway)

I should probably say that it is the end goal of this project to create a playable army that I can use on the tabletop. I am planning to use it in games of Bolt Action or Konflikt '47 using the Germans rules (they have assault rifles).

I thought that the easiest place to start this project would be with the basic COBRA trooper, which happened to be the first GI JOE action figure that I ever owned. I thought I would go for a slightly more modern look than the classic 80's uniform and chose this more "tactical" uniform style to base my soldiers on.

I spent a fairly ridiculous amount of time trying to find a 28mm "perfect match." Frankly, I was being too pedantic and the project hung around in limbo for years. I found quite a few reasonable matches using various "modern"miniature ranges but I always came back to needing to replace the heads with the elongated helmets/facemasks to give the troopers their signature look. This lead me again and again to back to German WW2 plastic miniatures. This eventually got me thinking and after a friend gifted me a pile of mostly assembled Blitzkrieg Germans from Warlord Games. I thought I would try something different. Using the Germans as the basic trooper and change the weapons. I did this for a variety of reasons, the biggest being that working with plastics makes converting and repositioning models much easier. This prevents the army from becoming a million repetitions of the same four dudes (something that I have hated in the past).

To make a long story short, I shaved the helmets down (to resemble the COBRA ones) on these existing Germans and I trimmed the excess pouches and bags off the back of the models. Before I paint these I need to add more modern looking pouches but that is a hurdle that I have not had to cross yet.

I also switched their arms and weapons around using metal assault rifles and RPG's from The Assault Group to give the models more dynamic poses and modern weapons... After all COBRA doesn't issue bolt action rifles to their goons!

The end result ended up looking like this:

At the moment I only have three squads of six troopers but as I get my paws on more assault rifles and modern submachine guns, that number will grow.

I am also experimenting with adding liquid green stuff face-masks. My bottle of LGS was dried out so I added water to get it going again but I am afraid that it is too thin now to obscure the mouths on these guys so I will have to buy a new bottle on the weekend before adding a second layer.

You might also notice the light machine gunner in each squad carries a SAW. This is a nod to a figure from much later in the GI JOE range than I plan of covering in this force... The SAW Viper. Plus, the ammo boxes look cool!

I was also luck enough to get in on someone else's private commission when they had a tiny run of COBRA personalities sculpted up, and even more luckily, these scale perfectly with my troopers. 

I gotta say. This project has me more excited about an army than I have been for years. Stay tuned for more progress soon!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Dark Debts... My Jacob Lynch Crew For Malifaux

I guess when I said that I had been playing a LOT of Bolt Action over the last couple of years, I was neglecting to mention another game that I have been spending a fair amount of time on. Malifaux.

Though I am not normally one to play skirmish style games, the rich background, tongue and cheek humour and insanity of the Malifaux world really resonated with me as a hobbyist. Besides, it was fantastic to paint something that wasn't khaki or drab greens (too much WW2 hobby makes Brad a boring boy).

As a former bald, bouncer on Bourbon St (a million years ago it seems) the character of Mr. Graves calls to me on a very basic level. He is the guy lurking on the right in the picture above. He is linked thematically with the crooked casino owner Jacob Lynch which made his crew my first port of call.

You might be wondering about the bright translucent purple parts of models. Wyrd Miniatures makes alternative versions of their models that sometimes include translucent plastics. I really wanted to paint up one of these crews and so I hunted down the "Nightmare" version of the Dark Debts box.

After assembling these models I carefully masked off the parts I wanted to stay purple using Blu-Tac before priming the models normally using black GW primer. In the case of the Hungering Darkness (the giant teeth monster above), I used a brush-on primer before painting his few bits and pieces.

I used drab greys, blacks and browns to paint these models as I wanted the purples to "pop" and I am really pleased with the end results!

In order for me to hit the 50 Soul Stone limit to play most tournament games I need to paint a few more models. I have two primed Wastrels, two base coated Stitched Together and a 70% finished Beckoner in the wings to get this crew across the line. I want to try and get these done in the next few weeks around my World Eater project. I just need school holidays to hit so I have time. I cannot wait!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Gathering Pieces - Acquiring A Variety Of Armour Types For My World Eaters

After finally getting my grubby paws on the Chaos Legions book and after carefully reading and rereading how army building works in 40K, I have bought my ticket for Arc40K and have tentatively turned in my 30K skinned World Eater list for the event. When I quit 40K a few years ago I sold off most of my fully painted armies and a large chunk of my bits pile. Thankfully, because we had long term houseguests, I lost access to the last of my collection. This means I still have quite a nice collection of space marine bits! While this was very helpful to go through (to get ideas), I was surprised at how little I could use for a proper 30K project.

Not one to slack on the details, I really wanted my army to look and feel like a proper, early to middle Heresy era World Eater army. This meant a lot of scrounging. I started by buying a Calth boxed game. This gave me an excellent jumping off point in the form of 30 Mark IV marines, 5 terminators and a Contemptor pattern dreadnought. Problem is that Angron's sons are known for high casualties and a high turnover of equipment because of misuse, abuse and attrition. I don't want the army to look... standardised. I want my marines to look like tech priests have been scrounging and scraping to keep these guys equipped and armed on the battlefield. I needed different marks of marine armour and a pile of spare weapons and replacement bits!

I was able to source two squads of Mark III marines from the new Prospero boxed game. In an idea world I really would have preferred to use this Mark for most of my marines as it looks brutal and it is an older model of armour BUT I started with the Calth box soooooo c'est la vie. 

Likewise, I really wanted to acquire some Mark II armour (which is essentially a less fortified version of the Mark III) to either represent veterans or poor marines, who because of the breakdown of their original armour, are forced to wear this older, out of date armour pattern. Luckily Forge World sell these guys in packs of five. Unlucky, ordering from Forge World can be a brutally expensive experience. Given that I already had 50 marines, I grabbed a single pack of these guys to add variety to my forces. 

This left one armour variant to obtain. The Mark V. Now, if you read your fluff this is a stopgap design to equip legions on the fly after the Heresy breaks out. The first time I read about this armour in White Dwarf, when I was literally a kid (25ish years ago), I wanted some. Ironically, though I could have easily bought some from Forge World, I chose not to. Instead I dug through my bits box and pulled out a pile of torsos to match this variant's distinctive external hose system. I also ordered 10 additional Mark IV legs from an Ebay online store. Why not go whole hog? Well, after buying all the weapons I needed for my marines (more on that in a future post)... I realised that I had blown my budget. Besides given the large numbers of marine parts I already own and the slapdash nature of this suit, I thought I could just make my own. Besides I have always hated the look of the external piping on the thigh plates. That said, I really need to get a few of the suit's distinctive helmets to make these guys stand out from their brothers. 

Now that everything is ordered and is on the way. It is time to start cleaning flash from the legs, torsos and arms that I do have! 

More soon!