Nuka Cola Chemical Factory

I’ve finally got this Chemical Plant off my paint station and into my terrain collection for This is Not a Test. The paint job isn’t quite a good as I’d like, but I’m honestly just happy it’s finished.

It is a reasonably large terrain piece and covers a good amount of the table, as well as giving snipers and other heavily armed figures something to fight over. It hasn’t been deployed at TCOW yet because I’ve been too distracted by Gaslands to organise a game of TnT there yet.

It was primed with Army Painter ‘Dragon Red’ – like most of the terrain for my TnT table, and then over painted and dry-brushed with cheap student acrylic paints before getting sealed with pre-stained polyurethane floor varnish.

I also acquired another copy of the same kit that I’ve assembled in a mirrored version of this plant, but I haven’t managed to base it yet due to my band-saw being out of operation. I also suspect it might take me a while to get around to painting this second copy as well!

Printed Platforms and Ladders

I’m continuing work on my post apocalyptic table for This is Not a Test. I’m trying to improve the vertical possibilities of the table by adding some height and climbing surfaces to game over. TnT’s rules are fairly brutal, requiring a lot of game time to make unaided climbs – so I’m also printing and painting lots of simple ladders to make getting vertical easier.

I’ve created a set of 3D printed platforms, that can be printed with legs or with angle brackets. Both variations are shown in the photos. The platforms with legs are the right height to rest against the large number of shipping containers I’ve already assembled and painted. They’re the diving board looking platforms on the right of the photo. The platforms without legs have 45 degree pieces that help them to rest on free standing terrain, and they’re shown on the left between the tanks.

The platforms work with a clip system that involves a some work with a needle file to get a good fit. I deliberately left them a little tight so there’s a friction fit between the pieces before I glued them. The design was inspired by some similar pieces I found on Thingiverse, that were bit lacking in surface design for my tastes, and somewhat tricky to print on the Anet A8. My designs are simplified for ease of printing, and only require light rafting for the joining pieces. They’re also available on Thingiverse here.

The tanks and some of the other terrain is constructed from very old Urban War ‘Hexagon’ kits. These are still available from a few places online.

Painted 28mm Arcade Machines

Update: The STL files are available on Thingiverse.

I designed and printed a handful of these 28mm scale Arcade Machines late 2017. During the Xmas break, I’ve cleared five of these fun little terrain pieces off my paint station.

I considered finding official cabinet art and trying to scale it down, but I suspect the cabinet sides are too small, and the wrong shape for real cabinet art. Instead I’ve tried to paint some simple art inspired by classic video games in general. Missile Command and Space Invaders are fairly obvious inspirations, then I had to have a mushroom cloud somewhere since they are for a post apocalyptic table. ‘Killer Bees’ was inspired by some WWII nose art, and ‘Punch’ is a nod to the real ‘Punch Out’ cabinet.

These pieces are designed to be simple scatter terrain I can throw around my This is Not a Test table for some amusing scenery and light cover. Here’s a few of them added to one of my earlier Mantic Red Brick terrain builds.

There’s a couple more finishing touches I need to do on them. The ‘Thermo’ piece has had gloss varnish applied to the screen, which I’ll do to the rest of the cabinets too. I also need to paint the bottom of each cabinet black or dark brown, so they can be thrown over on their sides for cover.

Container Office and More Barriers

I’m still assembling and painting post-apocalyptic terrain for This is Not a Test. I’m hoping to get a TnT campaign started at TCOW, my local gaming club in 2018. For that I’ll need enough portable terrain to cover a 4′ x 4′ table, and now my 3D printer is fully operational again I’ve started cranking out more terrain parts.

First up was a few extra pieces to add to a shipping container to turn it into every working man’s nightmare: the on site porta-office! That’s the first one I have assembled and painted in the photo above. These parts were created to add some more variety to the containers.

I’ve also thrown together a couple more barriers from 3D printed test pieces and some of my original designs – metal lockers and the venerable IBM 729 Tape Drive. Originally I had planned to build a more traditional junk yard, but as time goes on I find my terrain slowly turning it into some kind of electronic cargo cultist’s lair. Perhaps the post apocalyptic occupants worship the great old gods of Tesla and Turing.

I’ve also printed and painted up a few pieces from this small, but well formed forward command post terrain set on Thingiverse. I’ve got a few barriers from this set ready to varnish, and the forward command panel makes a nice bit of scatter terrain. I may also get around to printing a couple of copies of the command post too.

Barriers from 3D Printed Parts

It’s been a month since I last posted, and in that month I have been continuously 3D printing all sorts of terrain pieces on my Anet A8. I’ve had some technical issues with the printer too – the extruder heating element failed ($2 to replace) and my control board appears to have suffered some damage as the hot bed temperature is reading wildly incorrect values (despite the hot bed sensor operating as expected) – so I have another board on the way ($32 to replace). That means I’m limited to printing smaller PLA items on a cold bed. However that’s still ideal for 28mm terrain pieces.

I’ve been cranking out pieces from Thingiverse, as well as some of Kim’s Kreative Scenery designs, and a bunch of my own stuff too. I’ve burned through at least 1.5kg of filament and now have an old shoebox full of various small parts. So it was time to start gluing them together and painting them up!

It turns out to be very easy to make barriers from a mix of barrels, drums and corrugated plastic-card scraps. That’s handy because I need a bunch of barriers for a This is Not a Test table I’m making steady progress on. Also, because I generally print on ‘rafts’ I tend to have a lot of spare pieces of mesh plastic laying around. It seemed a shame to just throw these away, so I’ve been cutting them up to use as wire fencing, and with the additional of a simple printed bed-frame they also make horrible old mesh bed frames. You can see several of these above on the two barriers I’ve painted and varnished.

The barriers are also pretty good fun to paint as you can throw around graffiti for some light detailing. I have several more on the go and plan to try and crank out at least a half dozen of them for the table. I’m also working on a bunch of scatter cover terrain in the form of 1980’s style ‘spacies’ machines. You can see the first one painted up in the background.

Painted 3D Printed 28mm Shipping Containers

Goodness, 3D printing is fun. I’ve been spending so much time printing parts, teaching myself Autodesk Fusion 360 and tinkering around with my Anet A8 printer that I have struggled to paint anything recently. However I have managed to finish the first batch of my 3D printed 28mm shipping containers.

Here’s a bunch of them stacked together with some of my earlier hand molded terrain and painted figures for This is Not a Test. The container ends are 3D printed, the doors and other details – while the main bodies are just made from hobby shop plastic card.

They were primed with Army Painter colour primer, either Dragon Red or Skeleton Bone. Fortunately 3D printed PLA filament primes just fine with Army Painter spray cans, and it also glues together well with normal polyester cement. The containers were then painted with a variety of cheap student acrylic paints, crudely highlighted, stippled with grey paint applied with a scrap of foam, and then brown washed with a variety of products.

Initially I started washing with cheap liquid shoe polish, but the polish ends up looking a bit heavy and patchy once it dries. The yellow shipping container above is an example of this. After a few containers I changed from shoe polish to my old standby: satin ‘Kauri’ pre-stained floor varnish. This provides a smoother finish, and has the advantage of being a reasonably good sealant for the paint job. The disadvantage is it takes about 12 hours to fully dry and requires Turpentine to clean up. The rest of the containers were treated with this, followed by a dusting of Army Painter spray varnish to dull the shine down.

These containers are the first piece of 3D printed terrain I’ve painted using my normal quick and dirty techniques. The 3D printing process does leave some light texturing on the parts, but once they’re painted and on the gaming table you don’t notice that at all. This second photo shows the finished containers a little better. For comparison the rust coloured container on the bottom left is one of my earlier hand built prototypes. It’s made from the same plastic card as the rest, but the doors were painfully hand assembled from plastic rod and stamped greenstuff handles. The 3D printed doors next to it look crisper, and have more detail, and are a breeze to print once designed.

If you discount the time spent designing the parts, these containers are very fast to assemble and get on the table. It takes roughly an hour and a half to 3D print the ends of each container, around 15 minutes to cut and assemble the plasticard, and around 30 minutes of painting time. You can batch assemble and paint them too of course while fresh ones are printing. It took me around a week of hobby time to hand make three containers, and about the same amount of time to 3D print and assemble three times as many containers. I’ve got another six on the paint table as well, which will give me a reasonably good collection for an abandoned shipping yard.

Cost wise they’re also ridiculously cheap. Assuming you have a 3D printer (the Anet A8 is $200 NZD), the hobby store corrugated plastic card is considerably more expensive than the power, or 3D filament used to print the container ends.

The only disadvantage these 3D printed containers may have is that they’re super light. My prototype containers were built around children’s wooden blocks so have a good heft to them. The 3D printed containers are hollow, bottomless, and probably don’t weight more than 80 grams each painted. I may resort to a little blu tack quietly applied to the bottom corners before I game over them.

I’m considering selling the STL design files for a few bucks to download. Would anybody be interested?

This is Not a Test: Chemical Factory

I’ve been slowly adding terrain to my collection for This is Not a Test since I was introduced to it a few years ago. On a recent trip through the dustier parts of my gaming cupboards, I found several boxes of “Urban War” terrain from “Urban Mammoth” – both a game system, and a company that seem to have ceased to exist in the 11 years since I bought these kits.

As all of the terrain I’ve put together so far is single level, I was looking for something a little more elevated, so I built and based the “Bio-Toxin” plant.

This design is based on one of the possibilities illustrated in the very simple one page instructions: an elevated platform surrounded by tanks and piping. It seemed like the most interesting option because it gives figures a firing platform with a nice mixture of cover. It’s also high enough off the table that you can move figures around underneath it with some care.

The kit is rather painful to assemble because every pipe run has to be glued together from two halves, which takes quite a bit of prep work. However you do get a lot of piping, and that gives you plenty of options for building crazy pipe runs connecting the tanks.

I’m pretty pleased with the end result, which used most of the kit, but still left me with enough bits and pieces to building something else, or use as scrap for ruined terrain. The Imperial Guard Sergeant is for scale.

The assembled kit is epoxied down to a couple of pieces of cut 5mm MDF. The stairway is based separately from the main platform for ease of transport. I’ve also found that large pieces of MDF tend to warp pretty easily by the time you’ve covered them with PVA, gravel and over-painting.

To paint the main structure I plan to resort to either a can of Army Painter primer, or try to find a cheaper option like a plastic automotive rattle can. After that the usual weathering and ‘dipping’ with tinted floor varnish will be applied.

This is Not a Test: Sculpting Pig Iron Productions

For many years now I’ve wanted to sculpt 28mm figures in green stuff. This year I’ve resolved to make an effort to improve my sculpting skills. However rather than attempting to sculpt a full figure from scratch, I was looking for a smaller piece of work to get started.

That’s when I realised I need a couple of Linebreakers for my This is Not a Test Peacekeeper warband. These guys are basically the melee specialists in the warband, which means they need a hand weapon and riot shield. I have a bunch of Pig Iron Kolony figures, but every torso is carrying a firearm, usually in some kind of slung pose. So I dug out my ancient strip of green stuff and got to work sculpting a replacement torso.

The top photo shows the finished product, complete with plastic-card shield and weapon. I’m reasonably happy with the final figure, although it has a few issues. First the arms are considerably thinner than the rest of my Pig Iron figures, and because of the rather fine garden wire I based them on they’re rather too flexible. It’ll be interesting to see how the painted figure stands up to transportation and gaming. For posterity here’s the steps this figure went through.

The Torso

I sculpted the basic torso over a large blob of green stuff attached to some 3mm garden wire. The blob was shaped and then filed down to a rough scale match against a production Pig Iron metal torso. This was the easiest way to get a suitable volume for the torso piece.

Next was some light sculpting work to clone a basic Pig Iron armored torso, including the interesting back plate. My efforts aren’t as crisp as the Pig Iron sculptor’s, but I’m hoping once painted you won’t notice the difference. This photo also shows the start of various packs the figures have around their waist, mainly to conceal to join at their hips and provide support to the arms.

The Fit

The basic torso was reasonably easy to sculpt, and once complete I pinned in a production head, and dry fitted a set of legs. The wire arms went through a few iterations as I tried to get the ratio right between shoulder, elbow and wrist joints compared to the figure’s height and legs.

For the arms I used wire that was far too thin, 0.9mm garden wire. On reflection I should have used the same 3mm garden wire I’d sculpted the torso on. The wire was also only pinned into the green stuff torso, which is a problem too. Really I should have made the whole armature in a single piece for additional strength. I’ve since started sculpting a second torso, for a second Linebreaker, but using 3mm wire for the arms this time around.

The Arms

By far the bulk of the time in the project was spent trying to get the arms and hands right on the figure. Here’s the finished arms sculpted holding two thin pieces of wire that formed the basis of the weapon and shield. This wire is again too thin, and isn’t connected to the wire in the arms in any meaningful way. This made sculpting arms, hands and weapons a lot more frustrating than it should have been due to movement. That said I’m reasonably happy with the hands themselves, which while a touch small do look like reasonably human grips. Both arms could have been thicker, and using thicker wire as the base for my second torso will encourage that I think. The cloth on the arms doesn’t fall in any realistic way, but this is similar to the Pig Iron figures themselves, who appear to be wearing some kind of thick, rather stiff ballistic uniform.

The final figure is on my paint table at the moment, and I’m keen to see what it’ll look like painted up and next to the full Pig Iron Product figures I’ve already completed.

This is Not a Test: Scratching Pig Iron Productions

I’m a big fan of Pig Iron Productions miniatures, which are still available thanks to the new business owners. Pig Iron figures are cast in pewter, which means they’re an excellent base for scratch building.

Here’s a couple of figures I scratched up recently for my This is Not a Test Peacekeeper warband. First is a flame thrower unit, because nothing keeps the peace like the threat of being swiftly barbecued. He’s made from a mix of Pig Iron Kolony Militia and Kolony Rebel parts. The flamethrower tanks are from a Games Workshop Cadian sprue, with the garish skull and crossbones carefully trimmed off both tanks. Fortunately the back armor of Kolony figures works well with the GW Cadian parts, and they fit nicely together with some minor filing to remove some detail from the Pig Iron figure. A bit of greenstuff piping, a paperclip and a small length of aluminium rod make up the rest of the flamethrower. The plan is to paint that last couple of mm of the paperclip as an ignition flame. I might put a small band of greenstuff around the end of the paperclip to indicate the pipe end as well.

The second scratch build, is your typical dirty sniper figure. The base is a Pig Iron figure who was holding a futuristic SMG weapon at a jaunty angle. There were only two simple bits of work required to convert him into a sniper. The gun scope is built from a bit of garden wire and two bits of carefully filed aluminium pipe. The SMG barrel was extended and silenced with a bit of paperclip and another piece of aluminium tube. Paperclips are excellent for this sort of work as the wire they’re made from is very robust, and won’t bend easily during handling.

Review: Genestealer Neophyte Hybrids Magnetised

The Warhammer 40K Genestealer Cult army came out late 2016, and just before Christmas I cracked and picked up a box of the “Genestealer Cults Neophyte Hybrids” from Mighty Ape. Here’s a quick review of these figures now I’ve finished assembling and basing them.

In the box:

There’s 10 plastic figures (torsos and legs) on two sprues with a variety of heads and several different weapon options for each figure. You’ve got a leader figure, a cult icon carrier, two heavy weapons figures (with three weapon options), two special weapons figures (with three weapon options), two “3rd generation” hybrids and two “4th generation” hybrids in the box. Legs and torsos are largely interchangeable, but certain weapon options only work with certain torsos due to annoying (and probably deliberate) differences in shoulder width between the “3rd generation” hybrids, the heavy weapon figures and everybody else.

The weapons choices are great! For heavies you’ve got a big old mining laser, a heavy stubber and something called seismic cannon. For specialist weapons you’ve got the classic flamer, grenade launcher or webber. Everybody else gets a choice of autogun or a shotgun of some kind.

There’s also a clear set of instructions for assembling the figures in the box, which is very handy, particularly for choosing weapon options. There’s also plain GW bases for everybody, including a couple of larger bases for the heavies. The bases you see in the post photos are from Micro Art Studio.

Cost in New Zealand:

Yeah, Middle Earth tax as usual from Games Workshop so you’ll be paying around $7.50 per plastic figure, plus shipping. As usual GW’s local prices made me prevaricate before buying the box, but I caved eventually and don’t have any regrets.

The Hybrids:

This box is a great return to form for GW in my opinion. Highly detailed plastic figures with a plethora of weapon options that are easy to assemble, and have optional heads. The sculpts are sporting lovely looking environmental/mining suits with a nice shoulder/chest piece that looks like it carries some kind of life support, and many mount shoulder lamps. The heads have a mixture of crazy work goggles and breathing apparatus in place too. The heavy weapon guys also get great back packs laden with stuff.

I was initially disappointed with the lack of an pose choices in the box, as each figure goes together in a certain way according to the instruction booklet, but once the torsos are assembled, there’s a nice range of standing, running and braced for firing positions anyway.

Magnetise for effect:

The box contained so many weapon options I refused to be bound by ‘one choice per figure’ as per the instructions. Instead I whipped out the pin vice and a bag of 1x2mm rare earth magnets. The arms are easily wide and deep enough to seat a small magnet in, and the torsos have plenty of space for them too.

I magnetised everybody except the heavy weapon guys – because I made them first before asking myself why I was gluing their arms on permanently. Being able to swap arms really extends the usefulness of this boxed set, and gives each figure a choice of at least two weapons. These guys will be used as a mining crew for This is Not a Test, so it’s nice to have arm swaps between cheaper shotguns and autoguns/assault rifles. The leader’s pistol and melee options can also be spread around between figures as well.

One tip for magnetising the two hand weapons, which come as a weapon and a short ‘arm’ piece, is to magnetise them individually first and then once they’re in place, glue the short arm piece to the gun at the wrist as you would normally. The magnets will hold everything in place while the joint dries, and then with a bit of carefully flexing and sliding you can still swap arm sets easily.