Friday, November 25, 2011

Super Robot Friday

Its friday after Thanksgiving, I hadn't expected any excitement as I dislike going out for all the sales and shopping craziness. But the mail showed up with not one but all three packages of models I'd ordered, really odd timing as some of these were ordered as much as a week and a half apart.

It was a bit like a nerdy Christmas so I'm naming today Super Robot Friday in honor of being able to dive into multiple boxes of robot mecha awesomeness. In the tradition of present opening we of course start with the biggest box, the 30th anniversary Dougram collection.

Back in August they released a box set of all the old Combat Armor Dougram models in 1/144 scale. I'd kinda missed them as my focus was on finding the various Macross models. As I've aquired a few more N-Scale Battletech designs it got enough of a bug rolling that I wanted to look for some more of the old kits which I didn't see much of on Ebay and I managed to find this copy of the set on Amazon. It made it here from Japan in 4 days which was very impressive. The complete set was originally priced about $65 but since they are sold out at a distributor level they run about $100 now when bought through hobby stores. Individual kits go for around $10 which is nice as the original kits were running as much as $30 a piece about a year prior.

Combat Armor Dougram released back in 1981 and along with Robotech/Macross were part of the early "realistic mecha" animes. While mecha in any sense are a bit of a fantasy the "realistic mecha" phrase comes from how the mecha are used within the setting. There's a number of much old mecha animes but they tend to be singular robots usually acting as a super hero or as a boys best friend. and the mecha are often very stylized of have fantasy elements like animal designs, swords etc.. Gigantor, Transzor Z, Voltron etc.

The realistic mecha started off with Gundam and Armored Trooper Votoms which showed them as common place military machines. They fulfill a role of armored support for urban settings and were found in large numbers like a large scale grunt soldier. They were fitted with much more standard military fare for weapons, they broke down and needed to be repaired and no longer were super robots.

Dougram followed suit and all of it's mecha were military machines and their designs were meant to be used as a combined arms approach alongside armored fighting vehicles. One of the cool things of Dougram is that the mecha were air deployable by means of a massice twin bladed heli-carrier that would air lift the otherwise slow mecha to the battlefield.

So what makes the Dougram series relevant to Battletech? Well much like Macross they were a large part of the designs that were liscensed to form many of the core designs of first edition Battletech. Most of the medium weight mechs in 3025 are Dougram designs. So scoring this set was a great deal as it gives 10 differant models to use in N Scale. They are also the same kits that were repackaged under the Battletech model kits. (TCI reboxes)

The sets consists of:

Dougram  -   aka  Shadowhawk

Soltic  -   aka  Griffin

Blockhead  -  aka  Wolverine

Ironfoot  -  aka  Thunderbolt

Bigfoot   -    aka Battlemaster

Crabgunner  -  aka  Goliath

Blizzardgunner  -  aka  Scorpion

The Dougram, Soltic, and Blockhead all have two variantions so you do get a couple repeats but their weapons load outs differ.

The next box for Super Robot Friday was the Macross Mission 1 Gashapons from "Bandai". I use that term loosely as these are made in china and I highly suspect they are from the boundless variety of cheap chinese pirate mecha that flood ebay. Not that I care if they are offical Bandai or not, I just want cheap models in the correct scale.

I bought these so that I can recast the hands, and so I can set them on my shelf along with my growing collection. I got these for $28 with shipping from Hiong Kong included so that breaks down to just under $6 a model as you get five in the set, so it works well if you are aiming to use them as cheaper alternatives to the Nichimo kits for N-Scale games.

They are posed much more dynamically than the Nichimo models as well, their limitations are no real posability and the bendy rubberized plastic they are made from. They are made to fit together on pins and ball joints but are a bit ill-fitting so if you plan to handle them reguarly you will need to super glue them or they will constantly fall apart. They also bend easily and have lots of warped parts. The warpage can be fixed with some hot water or being warmed under a hair dryer but they will slowly warp again over time.

If you're a super anal hobbyist like myself one could easily buy a set of these and recast them in resin so that they are much more rigid and won't warp. The parts are all solid so recasting would be a fairly simple task compaired to trying to cast the hollow nichimo models. (which is as serious chore) The other downside is the lack of available destroid models in this line, the only available version being the tomahawk.

If you just want some figures that are prepainted and you can throw in a shoe box in between games without fear of damaging these are certainly good choices.

The Bandai Mission Gashapons are at a very slightly larger scale than then Nichimo models, I'd guess they are closer to a 1/180 or 1/170 scale. Not a huge deal as the scale often varies from episode to episode  in the anime series.

The Gerwalk mode figure is about the same height as the Nichimo model although it's parts are noticably larger. This is due to the way the leg structure is built, the knee pieces on the Bandai Mission figure are at a much greater angle more a  "U" shape curve while the Nichimo knee is much more upright. I do feel that the Mission figures are much more dynamically posed and match the feel of the show better. If they had a wider range of models and weren't so bendy they'd probably be my preferred version.

Last but certainly not least for Super Robot Friday is an incredibly awesome and rare Battletech Locust Model kit.

These are super hard to find, much moreso than the various Macross and Dougram kits. The mech was originally from the Crusher Joe series which was no where as popular and as a result their models are much harder to find.

This one had been listed on ebay but the seller took it down, when he inspected it closer it didn't match the stores description as "new" it'd been partially assembled and the secondary model for the griffin was misisng and had some odd ball model in it's place. Fortunately I'd saved the auction as I'd planned on bidding and contacted him right away to see why he'd taken it down. I told him all I was interested in was the locust model even if it was partially built so long as the parts were there.

He sent me some pics and it looked like it was complete, and I told him I'd take it as is although still no idea what the second model was. The model does in fact have all it's parts and I got it for a whopping sum of $3 which is total win. (plus $5 for shipping)  It could easily have been in the $30 range had it been bid out and been entirely on sprue.

The second model turned out to be a covered army jeep and APC combat vehicle. They are in the same overall scale, it's likely that they are some of the 1/144 Dougram vehicles as a number of the Revell Battletech versions of the Dougram models came with various fighting vehicles.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Veritech Hands Completed

New hands fresh from the casting pot. The larger size gun has grown on me and I think I'll leave it as is without any further mods. The piece that forms the upper part of the gun grip is pretty thin so it was bending everywhere while i was trying to glue it in place, future casts I'll make sure to leave sit for extra time so it can cure more before using.

Hands still need to have the mold lines scraped down but they are a vast improvement over the old ones. Angle of the gun got raised slightly as I need to tweak the arm posistion to accomidate the increased barrel length.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Quick Paint Update

Small update but time consuming.

Started base coating the mechs, it seems like it's next to impossible to get the base layer of paint down on these plastics. The paint goes on nice and smooth and then 10-15 seconds later pulls back leaving exposed areas. It's moving around simular to how water beads up but in jagged patches instead of droplets.

I'd given them all a good wash in dishsoap, rinse, and air dried before starting them so they should be free of oils. I'm wondering if the age of the plastic might have something to do with it? I know the standard back then was for enamel paints (not acryllics) so maybe the plastic formula is differant and more oily?  I've tried paint straight from the pot and paint dilluted on the wet pallette and both are having the same effect, although moreso on the pallette.

Whatever it is has been driving me nuts, I've been getting coverage but it takes a lot of extra passes. I probably should have just spray painted these but about a month back when I went to spray prime my Hatamoto-Chi it got over done and flooded and I spent a good hour soaking and cleaning it before the spray paint set all the way. Total sticky mess and it had me freaked out about ruining these models as well, so I've been hand priming and painting them. 

These should be ok from here out, I'm leaving them over night before I add any further layers on as the paint rubs off kinda easy right now. Once I get the colors blocked out a bit better it's a simple matter of black lining and touch ups so I should be able to have these table ready with a couple hours work tomorrow.
(The one on the far left was white plastic where the right two are in dark grey so the whites and blue look cleaner despite the paint coverage being the same)

N-Scale Battletech Fan Sculpts

I thought I'd show these as they are pretty cool, they were done as Fan sculpts for players who like using the larger N-Scale games. Most of the stuff used for N-Scale is from Mechwarrior dark age and uses later period designs. I prefer the 3050 mechs and earlier 3025 mechs so I wanted to track a few of these down. The Thunderbolt and Hatamoto-Chi were done by Orkko-One and the Atlas was by Elfbait. I mounted them on 60mm bases from Proxie Models.

Scale shot alongside their standard CBT scale versions.

The Hatamoto-Chi and Thunderbolt I did the casting work on, Orkko was in need of a caster and I wanted a couple mechs for myself so we worked out a trade. I had to use a slightly differant technique than what I use on the majority of my stuff and had to use a slower curing resin and run the stuff under vaccuum, before applying pressure.  I normally just use pressure by itself but these were a bit more tricky. I needed a few tweaks to the molds to get rid of the major bubbles points but after that they both came out really well.

The  Hatamoto-Chi was particuarly challenging as the armored skirt has so many differant angles and potential trap points. I'm very glad I did the mold work for the piece as I love the sculpt and it also gave me some more experience with complex shapes. Everytime I mold something new I pick up a few new tricks.

Here's a shot of it before it was primed.

At some point we'll tackle some more 3025 era mechs, a Kurita Dragon mech is currently in the works and possibly an Awesome after that. No clue on when they migh be done but there's no rush on it as I certainly don't want him to feel rushed and I already have a very full schedual with all the Robotech/Macross stuff.

New Veritech Hands

I put the chop to one of my bandai gashapon figures, sacrificing it's hands for the greater good.
As both models are the same scale the hands are pretty much spot on in scale, they are probably slightly larger but only when you really sit and look at it, on the table I doubt anyone will care. The gun pod however is noticably larger.

The original gun pod is undersized, the new one is probably over sized, I think the ideal size is probably at a point about 50% between the two but I'm not sure if I feel anal enough to scratch build one unless it looks grossly out of place. Any thoughts?

This is probably the best scaled version of the GU-11 gun pod and what I'm aiming for

Earlier today I ordered up a set of Mission Set 1which has a two more options for the left hand, open and a clenched fist so that way I'll be able to add a bit of hand variety between models. Mission Set 3 which I took this one from only has one hand set shared on all 5 of it's models. (It also looks like it shares the same hands with Set 2)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Road to Adepticon

What: AdeptiCon 2012! Ten Year Anniversary!
When: April 19th – 22nd, 2012
Where: Westin Lombard Yorktown Center (Lombard, Illinois)

Well I finially got off my duff and got ahold of the Adepticon crew about running a Macross game. That gives me a goal to work for and keeps the pressure on for getting everything painted and game ready. Adepticon isn't until April but that's not much time considering the the amount of work that still needs to be done.

For those of you unfamilar with Adepticon it's a convetion they hold semi-local to Chicago (Lombard is only the next town over for me so it's only a stone's throw away) It's mostly centered around Warhammer and 40k, but over the last couple years they've been expanding with a lot of other miniature events. There's a schedualed Battletech event pretty much all weekend. They are doing demos of Leviathans which is a Steampunk style flying battleship combat game by Catalysts Game Labs (the guys who currently do battletech) They also have events for Flames of War, Warmachine, Hordes and several other games.

One of the things that sets Adepticon apart is that they require that people playing in their 40k events do so with fully painted armies. While it poses a major challenge and hobby dedication from the players, it makes for a very visually impressive event. As I paint terribly slow I've yet to actually play in any events there but I've gone for the last three years now just to watch as it really gets the creative gears turning. In a way the game play at Adepticon takes a back seat as people put such an effort to make their armies look good an stand out, there are some absolutely increible armies on display there with lots of custom work.

They also hold a very impressive painting competition, last year they gave out a 10k prize for first place so it's the largest draw for pro-level painters that I know of. There is a pretty cool vendors hall with lots of gaming products.They also have a late night bits and model trading bazaar, great way to sell old models or trade for stuff you need.

I don't have a finalized time and date for the Macross event just yet, I'm aiming to run an evening event Thurs, Fri & Sat. It'd be an open play demo style event so all people need to do is show up. I'll have all the models and materials needed to play onhand. I'll definately post an update once I get the time & date finialized.

As far as conventions go it's one of my top picks, ignoring the local bias it's held in a great location with plenty of places for food and plenty of bar options. As part of the hotel it doesn't require taking cabs all over the city, there's also several lower priced hotels in the area. It's very well run and always managed to impress me. As a miniatures gamer I honestly prefer it much more than Origins or Gencon.

RPG and card players won't find much of interest there but for minis gaming it is an amazing event.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Regult w Paint


With the exception of priming one of my large scale battletech models I realized that it's been over a year since I've painted anything.  :eek:  I picked up some new paints as the old ones were getting a bit dried out and gummy. This has a long way to go before it's finished but I started blocking out the color and it's starting to look like something other than a boring white piece of plastic.

I'm not the worlds best painter and I'm going to have to do about 30 of these so I'm simply aiming for a good tabletop standard rather than anything flashy. It'll get a wash and maybe some basic highlights. I used a mix of GW and PP paints, the blue is GW enchanted blue, the P3 paints are frostbite which is an off white blue and thamar black.

I may lighten up the white a bit but I was aiming for an offwhite for a couple reasons, in the animations the white is almost always a milky off white color that reminds me of white out which is probably a result of how they paint the amination cells. It also has the benefit of letting me see what areas I've already covered. The plastic is a pretty stark white color so skull white wasn't showing and I couldn't tell how thick the paint was going on and where I'd already covered.

Anyways not much to look at just yet, but a small personal milestone as it's been ages since I touched a brush.

Also my buddy Seb took a crack at doing some cutom graphics for the PDF. I think these came out really killer and much better than the earlier greyscale versions I'd worked on.