Thursday, August 29, 2019

Repurposing Pegasus Hobbies' Alpha Centauri Saucer Kit

A few years ago I stumbled across Pegasus Hobbies "Alpha Centauri UFO" kit, an extremely affordable model set containing three small saucers with a  rather cartoony style.  The kit is still on sale over at their site here:
After taking a look at the components, I quickly decided that they'd serve my purposes much better with non-standard builds, letting me use them as 15mm scale scout saucers with a small crew onboard rather than the single-man designs they were intended for.  This basically called for leaving out the cockpit components, including the pilot, and assembling the domed canopy so it pokes up from within the hull rather than being stuck on top like a Jetsons car.  It's a fairly simple job and leaves you with a variety of interesting bits for other jobs, but it does call for painting in subassemblies before sticking everything together.
I did about fifteen of these over a couple of years, mostly landed versions with crews of various 15mm aliens, or as command post/objective models for larger invasion forces.  You could build them as in flight models with the legs retracted, but I don't seem to have any photos of those.
This was the prototype, seen here with a bunch of Blue Moon aliens and robots.
Here's a rusted out hulk from a long-ago crash, surrounded by a slew of Fortress Figures brain worms and parked in a plastic crater - old GW piece, IIRC..

A more intact model with Rebel Miniatures Grays.

Assembling landed saucers gives you a iris door piece as a leftover bit, which is nice as an entrance to an underground base or opening for a missile silo.  Again, I think that's a GW crater.

You also wind up with an unused pilot figure, which makes a fine 28mm not-so-little green man.  Little tall for a traditional Gray, unless you're doing 40mm scale Inquistor or something.  This one's had a trivial conversion adding a coil of psychic energy and a slight re-pose to improve the levitating pose.  Can't expect superior alien life forms to actually walk anywhere, can you?
The levitating Martians here are the only figures here I haven't sold off yet.  $10 each and US shipping from US zip 12159 if anyone's interested, first come, first serve as always.  Contact me at

Another more recent crash, with some power still running as you can see from the dulled glowing bits.

Scale shot with 15mm and 28mm figs.

Some of the cockpit detail parts can be bashed together to make your generic glowing alien artifact. 

More Fortress Figures brain wyrms, which are either quite large 15mm or smallish 28mm as you desire.

Old Glory/Blue Moon Aquans for crew this time around.  These saucers must be the Model T Ford of the galaxy judging by how many species use them.  Or maybe they're Pintos, given the number of wrecked ones I've done.

Pegasus also has a larger "Area 51 Suacer" kit, which makes a good 15mm invasion ship once the little guys are done scouting and probing and whatnot.  Only one in a box for these guys, and no leftover parts worth mentioning.  Seen here with Old Glory/Blue Moon Betelgeusans and Old Glory/Superfigs Alien Host robots. 


Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Silent Death: Baker's Dozen, Mercenary Starfighter Squadron

Today's post showcases Baker's Dozen, a formation of mercenary starfighters for Silent Death.  The squadron consists of two flights of four Blood Hawk escort fighters each and a flight of four Eagle heavy strike fighters, with a fifth modified Eagle flown by Squadron Leader Thomas Baker as a flight command & coordination craft.  Baker is a multiple ace and a very dangerous man to face in a dogfight.  Outside the cockpit he's a bit of a martinet and demanding about appearances ("We are NOT the Dirty Dozen!"), an uncommon trait for a mercenary commander.
The minis are available at the metal Express web store over here:

As with most Silent Death minis they're single piece castings, and come with 1" flight bases.

The paint scheme was inspired by the popular Terran Trade Authority books, which run toward the  bright, colorful patterns typical of Foss and Elson.  While I'm not up to their level by a long shot, I do like the way these came out. .

The undersides are done in a muted blue-gray "stormy skies" color scheme, both for contrast with the upper hull and as camo in atmospheric operations.

Commission Job: Rebel Miniatures Titan Dropship/Gunship

Today's post showcases one of Rebel Miniatures' Titan dropship/gunship models from a recent painting commission.  The figure's been out for quite a while now but I haven't seen it photographed much online, so I thought I'd signal boost a bit.  The Titan is sold here:
The model is a hybrid metal & resin kit, with the body in 4 resin pieces - the forward hull/cockpit, the troop carrying fuselage section, the wing assembly, and the tail assembly.  The chin turret and weapon pods are metal.  It also comes with a metal flight base and post.  I discovered that the flight post and its mounting hole are perfect fits for the "Hawk widget" pieces from TTC, which are mostly used in Dropfleet Commander and Dropzone Commander.  These things are terrific for flying models, as they let you easily dismount the mini for storage, transport, or showing that you've landed. 

Assembly is mostly straightforward, with the resin parts having very broad contact surfaces and minimal gaps.  Despite its considerable size there's no real need to drill and pin the main body and it's very sturdy.

The weapon pods are shaped to fit brackets on the underwing, and simply glue snugly in place.  If you bought more pods (which I thought Rebel sold separately as well, but if so the store listing is eluding me) or just wanted to mount them differently, there are four more brackets, two on the top of the wings and one on each wingtip.  As you can see the brackets look fine even when empty, so you could leave off the pods if you wanted a more lightly armed dedicated dropship.

The chin gun is somewhat lacking for a decent mounting point, as the ball-and-socket on the model isn't sturdy enough when just glued in place.  After the third time the piece detached on me I broke down and did a quick drill-and-pin job on it, after which it was rock solid.

The only other minor quibble I have with the kit is that the thrusters on the wingtips came miscast, as I had to do some quick repairs with putty where the mold hadn't completely filled in.  It's not a hard fix and I don't know how common the problem is, but still worth mentioning.  Maybe they just need to use more pressure during the casting process to get the air bubbles out, or some modification of the mold itself.  Still, at $19.95 it's really quite a bargain.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Full Thrust House Rules: Damage Control Repaired

The existing damage control team rules in Full Thrust are sometimes criticized as ineffective or for slowing the game down for little purpose, although they are optional so you could just skip on using them altogether.  Personally I do feel like using them is a good idea, in large part because they give a potential "out" for the "lost all my FireCons (or drives, or screens, or whatever key system you like) on the first thresh check" thing, which can be really frustrating.  But I can see some justification for the mechanics of how they work, so in the spirit of Full Thrust, I'll suggest a variant - with some pictures of old fleets I've painted as eye candy.

Faster damage control:  Instead of assigning DCTs to specific systems, roll 1d6 for each team in a single throw. For each six you roll, pick a single damaged system and fix it. After repairing systems with your sixes, for each one you rolled, pick a damaged system and mark it permanently destroyed - it can't be repaired during this game.  If you don't have enough systems damaged to use all your ones (or sixes) on then ignore the excess bad (or good) results - they don't "carry over" to future turns or anything like that.  You may opt to roll fewer than your maximum allowed dice, but don't blame me when they still come up all ones on you.

For example, a superdreadnought starts the damage control phase with 9 DCTs and the following damaged systems after being mauled by editorial mandate: 
All 3 Fire Control Systems, 1 Screen generator, a Beam-3, and a Beam-1
She opts to roll her maximum 9d6 for her remaining DCTs, getting 6,6,5,5,4,2,2,1,1
She then picks two systems to repair using the six results - let's say a single Fire Control and the Screen Generator.  Then she has to choose two systems that are broken for the rest of the battle.  The Beam-1 is an easy choice, but what to lose next?  The Beam-3 is a major weapon and could be fixed later, but (since the Screen is now repaired) the only other choice is to lose a Fire Con.  The would only leave you with a maximum of two for the rest of the battle - maybe that's too big a risk of being blinded later?  Choices, choices.
This is about as complex a decision as this variant is likely to cause, and usually you'll have enough broken systems to make the choice of what systems to lose to any ones pretty obvious.

This is generally quite a bit faster to execute, especially with larger ships.  It definitely gets key systems back online more reliably as well as fixing systems more often, but has the added risk of bad rolls permanently breaking other systems.  The potential permanent loss of systems is a mechanical balance feature.  In terms of fluff, you can think of it as the DCTs triaging repairs, taking parts from less important and/or more broken systems to salvage the key stuff, as well as them physically checking damage reports ("The red light on the #3 katatron mount was just a severed power feed, but the starboard PD array is just plain gone, along with about 5 square meters of hull plating.")
What?  I stuck the poor ESU with outdated starships in the photos?  Capitalist bias?  Enemy of the Proletariat?  Sheesh, fine.  Here, enjoy your modern ships.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Commission Gallery: Little Green Men & Friends

More commission stuff from several lots I've done for the same customer over the last year.  The paint scheme's an interesting change from the drab military colors or camo work.  The very strong contrast between the purples and greens makes them pop nicely at tabletop distances.  Not sure where most of these came from, although th ecannon in the last image is a Rebel Minis piece - and, I think, my favorite piece of the lot, although the mecha are also quite nice.



Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Commission Gallery: 15mm Demonworld Dwarves & Drow

Latest commission job, two 15mm fantasy armies from Ral Partha Europe's Demonworld range.  Took about two weeks from arrival to completion, a bit faster than usual despite  about of sciatica in the second week.  The customer is basing them to playtest a new set of rules he's working on, which will make shipping easier and less like to break in transit.
The minis themselves are absolutely top notch sculpts with incredible detail for their scale and decided Warhammer Fantasy aesthetic to them.  Only had one broken figure (a snapped halberd head) although many weapons needed careful straightening.  Almost no mold line cleanup required, and the larger models were simple and obvious to assemble.
My brief was to paint them as Dwarves and Drow ala D&D styles, so I stuck to fairly generic fantasy schemes on the short guys with a unifying touch of orange throughout.  The Drow got a purple-gray skin tone and an overall purple, gray and black color palette
Dwarves first, because I wear a beard.
These are the character/hero set and the Guards of the Gate troop unit.
A couple of dozen Clansmen.

Some Orc Slayers.

Arquebusiers in front, Heavy Clan Veterans in back.

Four blunderbuss teams and unit leader.
And a Dwarven Bat, a rather DaVincian aerial war machine.  It'll get a flight base later on, better to ship without.

Very difficult to photograph the pilot.  He's got these cute little steampunk goggles on.

And on to the drow.  These are the Gor'Dragon, the Singing Death ballista with crew, and the War Wagon chariot with crew.  The chariot horses and the two "side" ballista crew are separate so they can be arranged on the eventual base as desired.

It's a very "90's GW" style of dragon sculpt.

Drow heroes & command unit packs.

Mounted repeater crossbowmen.

Mounted heroes & Heavy Cavalry.

Two dozen Repeater Crossbow Infantry.

Two dozen Drow swordsmen,

And a dozen Drow Spearmen and six Shadow Blade assassin types.

In total, 168 infantry, 15 cavalry, and 4 war machine/large monster figs with what I'd define as "tabletop ready" paint jobs.  Not too bad for two week's work, albeit a couple of days over original estimate for completion.  Now if the Canadian postal service doesn't feed the package to polar bears or something all should be golden.  :)