1:6 Kitbash – Hot Toys TACP meets MIL/Merit Spanky.

Here’s a kitbash I put together awhile back. I took photos but for some reason it appears that I never posted them up here… you can tell it’s well over a year ago since the Warcraft login screen lists WotLK. It’s also my old monitor..

I’d had the Hot Toys figure for awhile, and always liked it, so I decided that one of the most romantic ways my wife and I could spend a Saturday evening and night was to play some World of Warcraft and put together a mandollie.

I wanted to put together a USAF TACP using the Hot Toys kit, but I also wanted to update him a bit. Since that early Hot Toys “ACU” is probably better off used in some kind of sci-fi bash, or as a commercial camo, I got out a spare “Lucas” 10th Mtn with BBi’s nice ACU print.

The other option was to use Multicam with Crye-cut pants, so I picked out a parted-down MIL/Merit “Spanky” to scavenge his clothes if needed. I also wanted to save the Jake Gyllenhall-alike head sculpt for my eventual Jarhead “Swoff”  bash.

The first pic shows the stuff I got out to work with – a Hot Toys nude from the Secret Service ERT figure, a broken-down Merit/MIL ”Spanky” figure, and BBi “Lucas”.

Hot Toys TACP - Boxed

Next 2 pics are pretty much the “unboxing” images from the TACP – the first with his gear in the tray, and the second with all of his gear taken out. In the second you can see my referencing Orion0800’s kitbash on OSW in the background. Orion is an actual USAF TACP, and complimented me on my work (along with another TACP active on OSW) – so that gave me a little warm glow and continues to do so when I look at this figure.

Hot Toys TACP Tray picture

Hot Toys TACP Unboxed!

From here, it was simply a matter of putting all the gear into a pile, working out which to go with, and then playing dolly-dress-up.

Gear Pile!

I wanted to keep it pretty much the same, despite swapping out both the figure and the uniform. I used Spanky’s boots since I wanted to keep the high-sitting HT beets for future bashing (and a lot of those hiking type boots look quite plasticky anyway), and the kneepads were obviously not needed since I was using the Crye cut pants. In the end I did go for the Multicam, since it appears to be more current and just looks better. I ended up using more of Spanky than I’d originally planned, but that’s okay.

TACP Kitbash - front view

Another view

TACP Rear View

In the end the parts breakdown is:

Body: HT Truetype Secret Service ERT
Uniform, Hat, Sunglasses, gloves, boots: MIL “Spanky”
Dropdown: PH USMC RCT
Smoke Grenades: Soldier Story (I think)
Everything Else: HT USAF TACP

TACP Kitbash - last pic!

Painting & Modelling Blog: Eureka Miniatures USMC part 1 – Proxie Models bases, Vallejo Acrylic-Polyurethane Primer, Vallejo Sandy Paste

Since I’m quite excited about these new Modern USMC figures from Eureka, I’ve decided to start painting them already – typically figures sit in my “to do” pile for anywhere between months and forever (don’t ask me how many unpainted Space Marines from the 1990’s I still have). Moderns though – I’ve always wanted to get hold of moderns, but until very recently they have always been in 20mm, or quite frankly – not good enough models for me to be willing to spend money on. I guess I’m a bit of a snob in that sense, but I grew up with Games Workshop sculpts by Jes Goodwin, the Perry Twins, Kev Adams, Mark Copplestone et al, and later on, figures by the Rackham crew, so seeing figures that looked mostly-smushed or not much better than what I could sculpt myself never did it for me.

As well as a follow-up order with Eureka, I’m also planning to pick up pretty much the entire Modern (Western) range from Empress Miniatures very soon – US Forces and Brits. Again, they look very nice, and should add some additional variety to my modern forces.

I started by basing them on 25mm rounds from Proxie Models. A couple of months ago I ordered a ton of bases ($70 worth) from Ken after some recommendations on Dakka, and they are both dirt cheap and excellent quality. I’m tempted to order more just to have a healthy stockpile for the future.

One of the new things I’ve decided to try with these was the coloured primers I picked up a couple of months ago from Vallejo. These are the new Acrylic-Polyurethane primers. I picked up the full range of 10 colours in the 200ml bottles, in the hope that I’ll never need to buy the stuff again. I’ve heard people talk about how they’re wonderful for plastics but not so great for metals. Well, they applied very nicely and smoothly to my Marines using a 3/16 flat brush, and once dry, the paint has indeed “shrunk” into the detail, leaving them unobscured.

I have to say, using coloured primer has been a little hard to get my head around – after more than a decade of using a spray can, using a brush to apply coloured paint just seemed wrong in some way – like I’ve started basecoating without undercoating. The Vallejo primer was very smooth in it’s application, and feels quite nice on the models. I used a 2:1 mixture of RAL8000 German Green Brown with White, as I figured if I’m going to use coloured primer I may as well lighten it to be a bit closer to what will be my main base colour.

In all, it turned out well. After drying I’ve spotted a few places on a number of the figures that I’ll need to touch up. After that, basecoats!

The one thing I’m not sure about is the basing of the sniper. He’s too big for a 40mm round, which leaves me with a choice of the two 40k cavalry bases. The WFB square one leaves his rifle overhanging, which means I could more easily position him as shooting out of a window etc, but the round one will better protect the rifle from damage in storage, transport and play. I can also do a little more on the base by adding some rocks and such, though not to the extent of making a mini-diorama, as I feel they detract from models when used as gaming pieces. I also prefer round(ed) bases. A 60mm round would be overkill, I feel. I’m using another figure as a spotter, but I prefer to have 2-man teams based separately as it offers more flexibility on the tabletop and in storage.

In the end, I went for the rounded base for the extra protection. Since with these figures I’ve decided that I want to try a bunch of new materials and techniques, I found the Vallejo Sandy Paste that I purchased awhile back, and decided to ladle it onto their bases. I haven’t used this kind of material for basing before, and have only used non-textured acrylic pastes for adding bulk, such as on my FoW DAK, and then going over the top with regular fine sand. Since the Proxie bases have a slight indent and the Eureka figures have an integral metal base, I used the paste to level out the tops of the bases, using a sculpting tool to apply it, and the same brush as I used for the primer to wipe it off when I got too much on their boots.

Verdict – the paste is way too fiddly to use on something like a 40k army or a full historical army, but should be fine on a smaller skirmish force like these ones. Finally, I added some kitty litter to the bases to add some texture as rocks. I’m going for a more rural Afghan-style base, rather than simply sand. I added a couple of the larger stones to the front of the sniper, to make it look like he’s found a spot that affords him a little bit of visual cover, while still keeping him in theme with the rest of the figures (so no bricks or ruins).

Now I just need to touch up the primer where it got rubbed off during the basing, and the actual painting can begin!

Eureka Miniatures: SEAL Team Six, USMC Force Recon

Following on from my post/review of Eureka Miniatures Modern USMC, I’m posting up some photos of the rest of the figures I got in that batch. I picked up two sets of the SEAL Team Six pack, to give me a slightly larger force that I could use in more flexible ways in my miniatures gaming. One thing that I noticed about these figures when I was checking them out on the web is that despite being officially called “SEAL Team Six” (which should be NSWDG, or DEVGRU, or even something else as I’ve heard they’ve had another change of name recently) – these figures would work just fine as Australian SASR, US Army 75th Rangers, and I’m sure quite a few other modern Special Ops and Special Forces units including 1st SFOD-D (aka Delta Force) as well though they are notoriously much more camera-shy than SEALs. With this in mind, I won’t be painting them in AOR1 or AOR2 camouflage (the ones that look like USMC MARPAT – digital camo) but in Multicam, which everyone uses anyway (including DEVGRU). They also come with helmet optics, but they’re so small (and separate parts) that I didn’t bother photographing them. I’d have liked the weapons to be sculpted as HK416s instead of M4 SOPMODs, but that’s probably being too picky at this scale, and besides, the M4s are more universal.

Eureka Miniatures SEAL Team Six

Eureka Miniatures SEAL Team Six

Kosta has done a good job on these sculpts once again, right down to the cut of the pants being recognisable as Crye G3, including the integrated kneepads. If he does any more of these sorts of figures, it might be nice to see the AC cut make an appearance as well. Regardless, they (and checking out the Frenchmen) made me realise that none of the USMC figures have kneepads.

I also picked up Eureka’s USMC Force Recon figures, initially thinking that I could simply mix them in with the other USMC figures. On closer inspection, the uniforms and gear are too different, as the FR figures kit visibly dates from the early 2000’s. They’re still very nice figures, and I’ll most likely use them alongside, but as a separate unit. I’ll probably paint them in 3-colour “coffee stain” desert BDUs rather than the MARPAT of the more modern figures. In retrospect, I should have gotten 2 sets of these, since they’d work better for me as three fireteams, but I’m not too keen on paying postage for one small set of miniatures…

USMC Force Recon: Front

USMC Force Recon: Back

USMC Force Recon Sniper

USMC Force Recon Sniper

With my large order of all of their Modern USMC and SEAL figures, Eureka also sent me along a free sample of a related range: 1960-80s US trooper in MOPP gear. It’s a nice enough figure. The uniform doesn’t have the same amount of detail, but as he’s wearing a MOPP (aka NBC) suit, it’s to be expected. I guess the old-style M1 metal helmet gives the figure a wider range of years the figure could fit into, I can’t help but wish he had a PASGT helpet instead. If he did, I’d buy up a bunch of these guys as they would fit in decently from 1985-2002.

1960-80s US trooper in MOPP gear with M60 Machinegun: Front

1960-80s US trooper in MOPP gear with M60 Machinegun: Back

Overall, my buying experience with Eureka was very pleasant, with fast service and excellent product. The figures would work as their own group of 40k Imperial Guard for those so inclined, but be warned they’re close to “real” 28mm figures, so they’re a bit smaller and slighter – also known as more realistically proportioned.

Next week, I’ll hopefully be picking up some of their La Legion figures, so I guess I can get some more FR as well then to pad out the fireteams…

Eureka Miniatures: USMC

I’ve had my eye on picking up some modern miniatures for awhile now, as it intersects nicely with both my interests in Modern Military, 1:6 Moderns, and of course, Miniatures. Since I haven’t actually played anything for dogs ears, it’s been a low-ish priority, but I recently found out about Eureka Miniatures‘ new-ish moderns. Since Eureka is local, just across town, and the owner, Nic is a great guy (who probably doesn’t remember me since it’s been years), I immediately did nothing since there was always something more pressing to pay for. The week before Christmas, I finally got off my arse and rang them to place an order, which I got, expresspost,  in 2 days. Such a nice change from overseas orders taking weeks to arrive.

One thing that does bother me about Eureka’s site is that the pictures are generally pretty small and not shown all that well. I figured since I’ll be painting these suckers up soon, I’d take some pictures and put them all up to show the figures off in their bare metal glory and give them a simple review. It’s really quite odd since Eureka have quite a nice gallery of painted figures, which for some unfathomable reason aren’t linked from the individual models in their online store.

The castings are crisp and clean, no flash, and just a slight mould line. You will have to trim a slight bit of metal off the bottoms of their bases in order to get them to stand up straight, but this is simply a matter of running a knife or file along the bottom for a couple of seconds. The sculpts are great as well. Kosta has done really well here, including lots of small details. ACOGs and Reflex sights are easily identifiable, weapons look good, and he’s clearly taken the time and care to understand what the equipment is and does, unlike way too many sci-fi miniature companies that have started to stick rails on everything but seem to have no idea what they’re for…

In short, excellent sculpts and excellent castings.

Now, for the good stuff – The pictures!

(Pictures all link to the appropriate pages on Eureka’s Website)

Eureka Miniatures USMC Officer and Marksman armed with M21: Front

Eureka Miniatures USMC Officer and Marksman armed with M21: Back

Eureka Miniatures USMC Fireteam Patrolling: Front

Eureka Miniatures USMC Fireteam Patrolling: Back

Eureka Miniatures USMC Fireteam Advancing: Front

Eureka Miniatures USMC Fireteam Advancing: Back

Eureka Miniatures USMC Fireteam Firing: Front

Eureka Miniatures USMC Fireteam Firing: Back

So those are the USMC figures. Eureka kindly provide a simple paint guide so you can purchase the appropriate Vallejo paints to paint them up as Kosta has. I’m not that excited by the M249s all using different ammo sources (we know they can use a loose belt or a STANAG magazine, but really, box feed, please! The USMC set is also available as a Squad Deal, which is the way I picked up the entire range.

Next up I’ll get the SEAL set and the Force Recon Marines organised.

Probably worthwhile as a disclaimer – I have no association with Nic Robson or Eureka miniatures, aside from having bought figures off him and had a chat with him in the past. I paid RRP for these figures and there is no Quid Pro Quo for my thoughts on them. Judge for yourself via the pictures if you’re in the market for Modern USMC.

edit – I thought these figures could work just as well as US Army, but decided to ask someone in the know. After asking an online aquaintance,  US Army MAJ (Ret) Will Rodriguez who is still very much in the loop on these things, I got the following response:

“At this scale it’s very difficult to tell a difference between these Marine and Army figures.  The paint applications will probably be the most determining factor.

The biggest giveaway that these are Marine figures is the fixed stocks on the weapons though the US Army was using a large number of fixed stocks through 2005.  The vests were the earlier IBAs which aren’t so molle intensive as the more current versions of body armor.

The Marine Spartan vest and Army IOTV are almost indistinguishable at this scale.  The rest (helmets, pouches, boots, uniforms) are not detailed enough to definitively say what branch they are.”

After hearing that, I’m very tempted to pick up a second set of them so I can paint one up in UCP/ACU to represent the US Army and the other in MARPAT for USMC. Hmm.. I might end up doing that with my next pay. Oh, I’m supposed to paint these guys up as well!