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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Project: Captain America

Ever since I opened up Ultimates #1 and saw the fantastic images of Captain America leading the charge in a battle during WWII I've wanted to make a model of him.  He's been my all-time favorite Marvel superhero and really needed to add him to my Weird War II collection.  My first plan was to use some Marvel Heroclix figures, however the samples that were available were pretty much of the original depiction of him but with some terrible sculpts.

The sculpt was terrible and just no use to me.  No the body was just so ridiculously out of proportion.  I questioned if the sculpter had ever seen a human being. 

Later when Wizkids released their Ultimates line I was really hoping for an improved version that was much closer to the Ultimates version depicted in the book.  The good news was the figure released was a significant improvement, but it was the modern version of the Ultimates Captain America.  Overall it was probably usable and I could make him look more WWII by adding a helmet and a Thompson submachine gun and helmet.  However I liked the double breasted shirt depicted in the comic, so I was holding out for a WWII version from Wizkids.

Then it was finally released and I couldn't help buf fall over laughing.  Although having the WWII style costume complete with helmet, double breasted shirt, ammo pouches, army boots with gaiters and even the original shield.  However this was one of the most laughable and disapointing Clix figure I had ever seen.  First of all the head is so poorly sculpted it looks like a cartoon parody.  In fact the first thing I thought was "It's Henchman #24 wearing a lame Captain America Halloween costume and holding a .......not a Thompson SMG, but an undersized toy version of an AK-47???".  Not only does the helmet look undersized, like a an adult wearing a children's toy helmet, but didn't even look like a WWII vintage US Army issue helmet.  I think the original style shield was the only thing that could be useful.

Well in the meantime I picked up Marvel Heroscape from Hasbro and it had one of the best Captain America figures I've ever seen.  Static but heroic pose but far better sculpt in terms of details than any that Wizkids had put out.  However, he was the classic comic depiction complete with the scalemail costume.  Despite that I wanted to use this figure as the basis of my project.  I started to gather the other parts I needed.  Helmet and ammo pouches from a 1/48 Tamiya US Army figure set.  I find these Tamiya figure sets have lots of good bitz to use for 28mm figure conversion and are pretty reasonably priced.  I could probably use the Thompson SMG from the kit as well but I found that the plastic weapons may be accurately scaled they just looked too small and thin.  Furthermore too flimsey for any gaming use.  I instead ordered some pewter ones from Hasslefree Miniatures.  After all the necessary bitz were collected, I had them boxed and then lost.

Then the movie finally came out and boy was I not dissapointed, loved it!  I loved the way the costume evolved through the movie and looked functional yet kept the appearance.  So I've had renewed interest in trying to complete this project but I couldn't find the box of parts I had put away.  Then a few weeks ago during some cleaning in my workshop over the Christmas break I found the box!  Just in time too, as I was back in a Weird War II kick again. 

So after my WWII Japanese and US Marines were done, Cap was put next into the que.  Furthermore I had a really cool Red Skull that came in the Marvel Heroscape set and picked up a decent looking Bucky from Marvel Heroclix as well.

The Red Skull, looked a bit cartoonishly proportioned by overall I really liked the look of him.  He had character and I think the paintjob really detracted from him (those huge gobs of paint in the eye sockets really don't do the figure justice in the photos).  Holding the pair of Lugers and the trenchcoat reminded me of a really cool picture of him which also seemed to inspire the looks for the movie.

Bucky was pretty much the classic Bucky complete with double breasted shirt I wanted on Cap as well.  However I was pretty much committed to the scalemail version, as the movie used his costume as sort of body armor (ala the Batman movies) I figured the scalemail would make some sort of ballistic protection.

I wanted a more functional look and wanted to incorporate more standard US Army issue gear to match up with the Ultimates comics and the movie.  First of all I had to get rid of the boots.  The boots had that comic style cuffs that really don't fit.  I wanted more of an army boot with gaiters.  However the Tamiya figures were just too slim to fit onto the muscular legs of Captain America.  Of all the figures I ended up using, it was that horrible clix figure of WWII Ultimates Captain America.  Cutting off the boots of both figures and then timming the Clix figure boots to go onto my Heroscape version to match the same length.  However I noticed that sculpter even had these boots at two significantly different lengths.  However there was enough material to trim both to the same length and match the lenght of the original boots.  One foot was bent as part of the dynamic pose.  By cutting a few slits in the ankle, I was able to bend the foot to the pose I needed.  Then filled the slits in with super glue and accelerant.

The Heroscape figure came with the shield on the right arm.  I wanted it on the left with the Thompson in the right.  Trimming off the shield was easy as it was simply glued on to the arm.  However the arm was molded with a feature to locate and hold the shield.  I ended up cutting the right forearm from the original Marvel Heroclix figure.  Turns out it was about the same size and had identically styled gloves.  This also allowed me to repose the arm in the position I wanted.  The shield easily glued onto the left arm.

The helmet required me to trim off the top of Cap's head.  However I found that fitting a Tamiya plastic helmet, it just looked too small with no detail and almost like a toy helmet.  Fortunately I found a DC Heroclix Easy Company Soldier that I was able to get a decent looking helmet that was much more proportionately sized.

I added some combat webbing using some green stuff.  Also cleaned up the seam for the boots.  The Ammo pouches, canteen, and hand grenades were from a combination of Tamiya parts and from Warlord Games Plastic British Commandos.  The new Warlord plastic figures are just fantastic with lots of extra bitz for customizing.

Overall, my version of Captain America sort of captures a lot of elements inspired from the classic comic, the Ultimates comic and the early movie version costume.  Cap was then mounted on Secret Weapons Trench Works themed 30 mm lipped base.  For added detail I included a downed sign from the Tamiya WWII Roadsign set.

The Red Skull on the other hand, really didn't need much conversion work as I was concerned.  So I just mounted him on another Trench base and added some German ammo cases and a sign.

Bucky proved to be a bit more of a problem.  Cap's costume looked a lot more functional now and Bucky just didn't seem to match up.  Rather than coverting the figure more, I decided to take the approach from the movie where Bucky simply work a standard US Army uniform.  Taking a figure from the Tamiya figure set I found the one running with a BAR a neat pose to use.  Furthermore, the slimmer stature of the Tamiya plastics seemed to keep the smaller boyish look when compared to Cap's super soldier physique.  First I cut off Bucky's head and transferred it to the body.  I decided no helmet as it would destroy any recognition of Bucky.  However I wanted something to make it look like he was wearing more than a standard US Army issue uniform.  I ended up transferring the gloves from the Clix figure.  Not only did this give him a bit of super hero flare but it matched up with Cap.  I trimmed off the Thompson SMG and glued in a pewter Hasslefree part.  I changed the pose of the arms, due to the available plastic arms I had to work with.  Rather than having the left hand cup the barrel of the Thompson, I made it look like Bucky is giving a thumbs up.  The pose reminds me of some comic covers and I can almost hear Bucky say "hey Cap, I just shot up a bunker full Nazis back there!"

I then finished off the figure with some canteens, ammo pouches and hand grenades from the Tamiya set.  Bucky is also mounted on a Secret Weapons Trench base and I added a sandbag from Itar's Workshop.

Now all the major conversion work is done.  These figures will be off to the primer table and be ready to paint.

Update 01/15/12 - Started work on painting Cap, Bucky and The Red Skull.  Gave them a light primer of flat black just to cover all the vinyl, plastic, pewter, and epoxy materials with a constent medium.  Unfortuantely I'm running into a cracking problem with my red paint again.  Will see about fixing that later this week.  Also you can see on my bench some progress on the Orions, Romulans and Kzinti.

Update 01/17/12 - More progress coming along on Cap, Bucky and The Red Skull.  Started working on the faces and costume details.  Also worked on painting all the Kzinti stripes.

I'm sort of at odds with Bucky.  Right now he has the classic mask with the blank Little Orphan Annie eyes.  Not sure if to paint them more realistic or not (mask needs a bit more cleaning up too).
The other route is to go something completely different.  Rather than have that Robin-like mask, what about goggles?  Something that keeps the shape, hides the eyes with reflective silver lenses in the same shape.  That may require some rework of the face as I greenstuff some goggles into the eyesockets.

Update 01/22/12 - Went ahead with the comic book Bucky look for now.  Just not all that confident in my Greenstuff skills yet.  Besides I had all those Kzinti to finish up.  Mostly just finishing up the weapons, belts, buckles and other small details.  The Thompsons were done with Reaper Blackened Steel drybrushed over black and then using P3 Armorwash.  The wood parts were done with Reaper Mohogany Red with Citadel Delvan Mud glaze.

Mostly some final detailing and work on the bases.  The bases were Secret Weapons Trenchwork bases.  I added the roadsigns from a 1/48th Tamiya set.  The sandbag and ammo cases were some resin pieces I picked.  After applying the decals to the signs and ammo cases and giving them a coat of Dullcote, I stitched some bullet holes with a drill and splintered them up with an X-Acto knife.  I painted in the wood colors where the bullet holes nicks and scratches went.  Then drybrushed some Reaper Basic Dirt on them. Inkwashed and then another coat of Dullcote to finish them off.

I'll probably go back and redo Bucky's face with more of a google-like mask as I really don't think the comic book style blank eyes fits with the other figures.  Also I'm thinking of filling the crater at Cap's feet with some clear acryllic to make it look like a water filled crater.

Using the optional Super Hero construction rules for AE-WWII, found in the Over the Wire Issue 15, I made a stat card for Captain America.  I started with an American Airborne Officer and added the War Hero Template, then added the National Symbol (I mean he is Captain America).  Then in order to get an extra gear, which I needed the Shield, I had to take a hinderance.  So I selected Ideologically Pure (so he doesn't hang around scary occult stuff even if they're friendly).  So he's got Command and Inspiring which makes him pretty good in keeping your detachment in the fight and the High Drive is going to help ensure go good chance of keeping the Initiative each turn.  With a 3+ RC he's going to be nasty with the Tommygun.  The extra rules of being a Supreme and the Shield gives him an Armor 6 from the front which is pretty tough to hurt so he can lead the charge and break through enemy lines. 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Weird War II - Pacific Theater, Part II

Over the holiday break I was watching a lot of WWII movies on Netflix, especially a lot of Pacific Theater.  Finishing up the IJA I had to finish my US Marines to go along with them.  These are Bolt Action models from Warlord Games.  To build this collection I had the boxed set and several blisters.  Like the IJA figures these have separate heads with lots of options to vary them, which came in helpful with some of the duplicate models.  Also that came with the Marines were extra bitz to customize the figures, which included extra packs and bags as well as some prize katanas.  The Marines are sculpted well, with some nice poses and all have a very scruffy look about them.  There's a few diorama type figures that are more vignette or diorama type pieces rather than playing pieces.  Namely the mortar team, which has the mortar in process of being assembled by 3 separate models.  Another is a Marine sitting and taking a break (which comes with alternate hand either holding a canteen or a piece of paper), the other is the stretcher bearer.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Starfleet Conversions - Part III

Some more work I've been doing.  Coming up with some decent Kzinti figures.  I snagged up some Togorian Soldiers from Star Wars Miniatures from The Miniatures Market pretty cheap, about $0.50 a figure.  These proved to be the perfect size and build that matches Amarillo Design Bureau's concept of the Kzinti for Starfleet Battles.  I'm basing my models off of Adam Turner's sketch of a Kzinti whom I absolutely love all of his work he's done for ADB.

I've also been collecting some Kzinti figures from Dark Sword Miniatures.  These will be my fully armored marines.  These are based on actual Larry Niven Kzinti from the Man-Kzin Wars stories, in fact the models involved were from a Larry Elmore cover for one of the books.    However these will need some work in order to match the SFB Kzinti and my Togorians.  First of all the tails need to be removed, SFB Kzinti don't have tails.  Secondly the legs need to be redone to be more catlike and less human.  That's going to be a bit more work. 

In the meantime I got a bunch of these plastic Togorians and started cutting away.  The vinyl proved to be firmer than I expected, I generally find the miniatures produced by Wizards of the Coast to be too soft and flimsy.  Despite the firmness, all the super large bases were warped like potatoe chips.  I planned to remount them anyways on standard slotted bases.  So using a very sharp X-Acto knife I removed them from the bases and started cutting their arms at the joints.

I found the Tau fire arms to be ideal for the size of these models.  The tiny human sized blaster pistol just looked silly for these guys.  Tau pulse rifles needed some trimming to fit in the hands and I was fortunate enough to reposition the arms in various poses.  Unfortuantely all of them are left handed.

For some of the heavy weapon specialists I took the same Togorian soldiers and modified some more Tau heavy weapons from my bitz bin.  I have a missile launcher (because anyone who's played Starfleet Battles knows Kzinti love guided missiles) and a Heavy Disrupter Repeater Cannon.  To finish things off I made an officer with heavy disruptor pistol  This was a Grymn blaster from Hasslefree Miniatures.  It matched the style of the Tau weapons and just looked like a heavy disruptor pistol in the hands of a giant cat person.

Now I have enough Kzinti to fill out a pretty decent Marine detachment.  Next to work on the other factions.

While digging through my Heroclix figures bins looking for parts I came up with these that pretty much said to me 'Romulan'.  First is the Hive Trooper from DC Heroclix.  The helmet really reminded me of the helmets used by the Romulans in the old classic series but with a face visor.  Trying ot the figure on it's own I found it to be too small and I couldn't find a rifle small enough to fit.  Seen here is a Junkers combat shotgun from Void 1.1.  Next I found a Shi'ar Warrior from Marvel Heroclix.  The body seemed better proportioned and came with a rifle I could use.  I trimmed off some of the 'looped pipes' on the rifle and added the remains of the blaster pistol (minus the always bent barrel) that I removed from all those Togorian Soldiers.

The other figure I found was the Science Police Officer from DC Heroclix.  She'd make a good Romulan Crewmember.  Best of all her hair covers her ears so I don't even have to attempt to put pointed ears on her.  I think with a simple paint job to match the classic Romulan uniforms I can attempt to make her fit in.  If I'm abititious I might use some greenstuff and give her a miniskirt.  As I don't have enough models yet to even make a Preatorian Team, I guess I've got time.  I may also pick up a few of these Pointy Eared Rim Aliens from Gary Mitchell's Space Vixens from Mars line. 

Now the Orion Cartels can be pretty easy as they are made up of pretty much all races within the Starfleet Universe and really don't have any uniform and ethnic Orions simply look human. All that's really needed is to paint their skin green.  However, one iconic Orion is the Slave Girl.  Now in the Prime Directive RPG, there is a Prestige Class called Slave Girl and it's more of a Geisha (or Companion for you Firefly fans) than a slave.  In fact they are useful for espionage and assassination and can be quite useful in the Orion Pirate Crime Teams.

I found these models that sort of said Orion Pirate to me.  First of all Tigra from Marvel Heroclix just really said Orion Slave Girl.  I had to remove her tail and I came across some great weapons from Astro Miniatures.  I plan to fit the ones that resemble Federation Phaser IIs to my Federation crew figures, the ones that resemble Klingon distruptors to my Klingon crew, and possibly my Romulans (as the Romulans had a modified version of the Klingon Disruptor in the original series) and these other retro-sci-fi looking ones look good for just about anyone else.   Adding this to into her hand.  I had to use my knife to split her fingers a bit and then one at a time bend them into the pistol grip while wet with CA glue and apply a spritz of accelerant.  I think I might add a dagger to her other hand.  

The other figure, Aphrodite IX from Heroclix Indy, really just said gun fighter or pirate than slave girl.  I may just keep her as is and paint them both green.  In the meantime I can use just about any other scoundrel looking human model to represent an ethnic Orion, human, Rigellian, Cygnian member of the Orion Cartels.

Update 01/22/12 - With my Project: Captain America finishing up I can focus on my Starfleet conversions. 

The Kzinti were done using Vallejo Green Ochre with a brown inkwash.  Then highlighting the chest and face areas with Vallejo Ivory while gradually adding white to highlight.  Stripes were done with Reaper Pure Black, thinned down with acryllic floor wax and the finer parts were done with a 0.5 mm felt tipped pen.  I tried to match the pattern established by the concept art, followed up with some close-ups of actual tiger faces.  Eyes were done with P3 Ember Orange with a black slit from the pen.

At first I wanted to try to reference the Kzinti from the Star Trek animated series for ideas for uniform colors.  After doing a quick Bing-Search I now remember why I didn't remember what colors they were.  The Marine uniforms are done using Reaper Aged Brick Red for the jacket, Vallejo Ultramarine Blue for the shirt (which I determined that the shirt color would determine the department like Federation crew, in this case Blue means Marines for Kzinti), and P3 Coal Black for the pants.  Ranks were done with painting a strip along the collar.  P3 Ember Orange for enlisted, Reaper Viper Green for NCOs and Reaper Lava Red for Officers.  The weapons were done with Reaper Rainy Grey.

The Romulan uniforms were done with Reaper Burnt Metal and then the Commander has Reaper Metallic Red along the right side of her uniform.  The lower ranks have Reaper Gunmetal Blue on the right side.  I'm not sure if I really want to do all the checkered patterns on the uniforms as the metallic colors tend to add some variation in the uniform itself.  The marine helmets and body armor is Reaper Brass with Polly S Copper highlights. 

I removed the guns in the DC Heroclix Science Police figures hands and replaced them with the Klingon Distruptors I got from Astro Miniatures.  Weapons are Reaper Honed Steel.

The Greenstuff miniskirts came out pretty good.  I had to clip off the loincloth parts that hung on the front and back as they hung below the hem of the skirt.  I painted the exposed legs bare flesh and I think the miniskirt look came out pretty convincing.  I plan to add some black glaze to simulate stockings as in the example of the Romulan Commander from The Enterprise Incident episode.  The skin is done using Reaper Golden Flesh Shadow and Golden Flesh.  Then adding a slight amount of green ink to P3 Fleshwash and thinning it with acryllic floor wax. 

The Orions were done using Reaper Viper Green as a base color with highlights by mixing some Golden Flesh to the Viper Green.  Then inkwashed the flesh with a green ink mixture with a drop of P3 Flesh Wash.  Following the examples from the classic Trek, I painted the hair black with Reaper Slime Black as highlights then followed with Citadel Badab Black glaze.  Eyeshadow was done with Vallejo Bronze on the slavegirl and Reaper Gunmetal Blue on the pirate girl.  Lipstick was Reaper Conch Pink with a Citadel Baal Red glaze.

The slave girl I went with a metallic bikini and used Reaper Copper Orange with black stripes.  The claws/teeth along the belt were Reaper Stained Ivory.  The pirate girl, I decided to go with the slutty space pirate girl and stick with colors inspired from some Halloween costumes.  The armored leggings, elbow pads and gloves were Vallejo Black Grey with some highlights by mixing Reaper Honed Steel and then covering with P3 Armor Wash.  Painting an Orion Pirate symbol on a black field on her top and then adding some brass detailing to her pistols.  Then some gold, brass and silver details to finish her off.