Wednesday, July 23, 2014

New Arrivales: Optimus Prime, Megatron, Double Clutch and the Rallybots drones

I got a parcel today: Double Clutch the Autobot with the Rallybots drones. Double Clutch is a large car, and the Rallybots are drones that look like small rally racing cars, that can join together with Double Clutch to power him up into a big combined form, just like Steamhammer and the Constructicon drones do.

I haven't done any more painting, so Steamhammer isn't complete yet - I've been distracted by a computer game, and some classical guitar composing, but I'll get to more painting sometime soon.

I also got Optimus Prime and Megatron in the Ultimate Battles box set. However, Optimus Prime is two things: a very good, poseable robot, and a horrible 'truck' that doesn't look all that good. The vehicle mode is quite horrible. However, I'll paint it all up and maybe make some minor mods to the vehicle mode, not sure yet. The robot mode is very poseable - but with one sore point: he has a button on his back that makes his arm perform an 'attack swing'. This is accomplished by the top half of his torso spinning around. The spinning is so loose, that it spins left or right without even pressing the button. So I'll be cutting the button off, and using thin layers of paint to add friction to the torso twist, so that it won't swing about so freely. But yeah, he's very poseable - knee joints, hip joints, shoulders, elbows, tilting feet, and the shoulders and hips are full ball joints, so it's pretty great.

The Megatron in the Ultimate Battles has a button too which does something with one of his arms, I'm not sure what it's supposed to be doing, but I can ignore that, and there's no loose spinning on him, so it's okay. This Megatron has a tank with a big gun as his vehicle mode. Outside of the 80's cartoons, there are actually numerous alternate forms for Megatron, and giving him a vehicle form like everyone else makes more sense than turning into a hand gun that morphs size to fit who wants to hold it - very impractical for a miniatures toy game, so the tank mode is actually really great and a lot more playable. The problem though, is that he is green, and tan, and a kind of burnt orange-brown, and does not look, colour-wise, like Megatron. So I'll be painting him up in his traditional grays.

While the vehicle mode for Optimus looks like a truly bad disguise, and the freely spinning torso is a downer, the fact that I got the box set for about $30 means that I got two deluxe Transformers for only around $15 each. That's pretty fantastic for getting an Optimus and a Megatron. The cheapest I can see a standalone Optimus on Ebay is $35, so it's less than half the price! That's a good deal, though he'll need a little bit of work for me to be happy with him.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Steamhammer Painting part 4 - almost there!

I finished the other two Constructicon drones today! I forgot to take photos of their vehicle modes, but here's all four drones attached as limbs to the powered up Steamhammer the Decepticon. Now I just have to paint Steamhammer! I put some civilians in to show game scale. They are 25mm humans.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Steamhammer painting part 3

Not really 'part 3' but just another photo for today. Here's the vehicle modes of Steamhammer and the Drones all together, with the two painted ones, and the other three yet to be painted.

Notes on gameplay scale:
The vehicles aren't really 25mm scale. Steamhammer is a 'scout class' Transformer, in that he stands between 3.5" and 4.5", and they look great near other scout class transformers, such as cars, etc. But when you look at the physical size of the cockpit sections of the Constructicon Drones, they're really tiny next to 25mm humans, which means 'real life' scale wise, they should actually be a lot bigger (Deluxe class or something instead). However, I quite like them at this size, and they look good on the table with other figures even if a human wouldn't be able to fit inside them, and if they were double this size the combined form would be monstrously huge on the table and not as playable a figure.

Steamhammer Painting Part 2

Yesterday and today I've been working more on the Constructicon Drones that attach as limbs to Steamhammer the Decepticon in his power suit combined mode. I finished more highlighting work on the Front End Loader, and today I finished painting the Drill digger drone that makes the other arm of the combined form. So here's some pics of how it turned out!

And here's how it's all looking so far, in combined mode. Both arms are done now! Next up: I'll be working on the legs, and then finally, Steamhammer himself.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Steamhammer Painting part 1

I recieved Steamhammer the Decepticon Transformer with the Constructicon Drones today! And my paints, so I can start painting them up :)

This pic above is the finished product of today's work - the Front End Loader Drone, one of the Constructicon Drones. Basically, Steamhammer is a Drone Commander (Power Core Combiner range of Transformers). He can transform into a bulldozer or his robot form, or into a special Powered Up mode, where the four drones can connect to him as limb extensions to turn him into a giant powerful robot form.

Here is Steamhammer unpainted in robot form, with some civilians and MR-15 Rest-Q the Gobot.

Here are the unpainted Constructicon Drones. They're a bit plasticy and an assortment of colours.

 Here's Steamhammer the Decepticon in his giant bulldozer form. He is SOOO green.

Here he is powered up in the Power Suit mode with the Drones plugged in to form giant arms and legs. The colours might not bother some people, but I like toys and miniatures and things to look more realistic, so I'll be painting up all Steamhammer and his drones into a unified paint scheme. The Optimus Prime pictured here is a Deluxe Scale model, while Steamhammer and the drones are probably Scout Class in size.

Here he is with some Transformers to show scale with other vehicles.

Step one: Working on the Front End Loader drone which forms one of his arms in Power Suit mode. I undercoat the whole thing in yellow while opened up in arm mode, so that I can paint the interior bits of it as well.

Then I did a light coat of grey over some parts of the model.

Here it is pulled off and back in drone vehicle mode. I took this photo to show the difference between a painted model vs an unpainted model - you can see all the molded details as light reflects off the model, but in the photo after it...

... you can see the difference when a wash is applied - suddenly all the engraved bits and embossed bits and shapes and everything are outlined and stand out really well. This is one of the main reasons I paint things, to bring out the details.

In this photo, look above the cockpit section (above the windows) and you'll see the parts of the model facing upwards are kind of glowing in bright yellow. This is highlighting - after the wash dries, every part of the model which faces upwards is painted in a brighter shade of paint, to make it look like light is shining down on it from above. This really enhances the 3D look of the model

Here I've done a whole lot more bright yellow highlighting, and the model shape is really coming together nicely now.

I'm also working on it when opened up in Power Suit arm mode, to make sure the interior has details. Adding more black washes to the conveyer belt, and highlighting raised surfaces of gray areas, and adding some brown/dirtiness to the scoops, etc.

And the following photos are final views of the vehicle mode of the drone, once all highlighting and shading is done, and with gloss 'Ardcoat applied to the windows of the cockpit.

And here it is attached to the Power Suit Mode as the arm, as part of Steamhammer's powered up mode. Hopefully you can get an idea of how it might look when the body, other arm, and both legs, are painted up. I think the yellows and greys will look nice when it all comes together.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Steamhammer Power Core Combiner paint scheme design

this is an idea roughly of the original paint scheme
fluro green, blue, orange, yellow, white and green

Basic concept of a new unified paint scheme:
golds, reds, blacks, greys.

So I should be getting Steamhammer, a Power Core Combiner Transformer, in the mail, hopefully tomorrow or the next day. It will be my first paint test of a more modern Transformer toy. The Power Core Combiners consist of a Transformer, (scout class size - 4 to 5 inches tall in robot mode I think). The Transformer is a Drone Commander, and with him comes 4 drones. The drones look like human vehicles, but are not Transformers - they have no robot mode. Instead, they are remote weapons under the control of the Transformer commander. When the Transformer is in trouble, he can call in the drones, and they attach to him, to form a combined 'power suit' kind of mode. It's like when the Constructicons come and connect together to form the giant Devastator form, but smaller, and the commander is the only actual Transformer.

Anway, the Power Core Combiners are designed so that drones from any box set are able to connect with Transformers from any box set, meaning the more Power Core Combiner sets you get, the more different types of combined modes you can have. Sounds like fun!

The down side - in typical 'it's just a toy for kids' fashion, the paint schemes are often kind of, well, terrible. And when randomly coloured drones connect to the Transformer, you're left with a sometimes visually jarring jumble of coloured body parts on the combined machine.

In Japan, they re-released the Power Core Combiners in matching paint schemes, so that the drones and their commander all matched colour wise, and when they combined, you would get a combined machine form that actually looked like it all went together. However, while they were all the same colour, they still didn't possess the sort of shading, panelling, highlighting, and so forth, that you get from hand painting miniatures.

So rather than buy expensive Japanese Power Core Combiner variants, I decided to fork out $28 and buy the standard version of Steamhammer and his drones, and I'm going to paint them up how I want. I found the instruction book for Steamhammer on the net, and I have simply coloured in the image of his combined form, to see what it might look like with all the drones and the Transformer in yellow and black :)

I think I'm going to quite like the look of it!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Humans in a Transformable World and Transformer Scales

So I found that a number of my minis look okay with the Transformers. I thought a lot were bigger than 25mm, but I realised that they're mostly all 25mm scale, but different games have different styles in sculpting the figures. Some figures, like Games Workshop ones, look huge and out of scale, because they are 'chubby' over-muscled and thick-limbed figures with heads almost twice as big when compared to others. My Doctor Who minis are much thinner/frailer sculpted, and look okay, and the Descent fantasy minis in the previous post look a good scale, because they are thin/frail thickness sculpted. When sitting them all next to each other, they're all the same height scale-wise, but the proportions (things like head size) make them look like they are different scales. So GW figures are out, as they look huge and out of scale, even though figures like Imperial Guards are the correct height.

Anyhow, my bonus for the day was that I found my civilians (a collection of 1930's American civvies) are the perfect height, and they have physical sculpt proportions, that make them look the same scale as my Legend Class / Scout Class Transformers and Gobots. So I've got about a dozen different civvies to inhabit my city of the future.

Here's two civvies painted up, and in the background is a UNIT soldier from Doctor who.

For Transformers scales, regular things like cars, vans, utes, etc, seem to work great in the Scout Class / Legends Class, I think. That's about 25mm scale with figures. Big vehicles, like large trucks or aircraft, will probably work best with bigger classes, like Deluxe Class. Here's a Deluxe Class Optimus Prime, and the scale between the cars and the humans with Deluxe sized Optimus seems about right. That's good, because I quite like some of the Deluxe Class sized models of things like Optimus (big Truck Cab), Megatron (tank / artillery mode), Starscream (Jet Fighter), etc.

I think Deluxe sized Optimus here looks about the right size, when you compare with comic books and the 80's cartoon, and I could picture the 25mm humans sitting and looking out his windows.

Transformable Wars City Terrain

So, I've been thinking about tabletop terrain for modern / near future scenarios, with transforming vehicles and giant robots. I have the perfect thing!

Back in August of 2012, I collected a set of 3D CNC (wood routed) terrain boards. Each is about a 9" / 23cm in size I think? Anyway, they are a beat-up city terrain set. I've only painted a couple up so far, and haven't had them out in a while now. I think I'll work on completing the rest of the set, but the photos above show the tiles I've completed so far. They're 3D - all the gaps in the concrete are physical engravings, and the craters are actual holes with rubble flocking glued around them.

It would be neat to cover the whole table in this sort of terrain, with streets and areas for scenery pieces. I can't remember, but I think I've got tiles to do my whole 5 by 4 foot table, I just have to flock and paint them.

They're from this site:

Though looking up the site again now, I see that it will soon be discontinued as they are making something new.

Have a browse of their facebook page, and there's all sorts of buildings and vehicles coming out using laser-cutting technology or something, so that all looks interesting. That stuff, I think, is in a larger scale (30mm or 35mm or something) than the scale I'm going to be gaming in though.

Anyhow, I worked out that I'm working in Scout Class / Legends Class / Energon Class, I think, where Transformers scaling is concerned. That's robots that stand between 3.5" and 4.5" in height. I'm going all the way up to 4.5" in height, because I want to include the Power Core Combiners (repainted!) when playing miniatures games with transformable toys.

Anyhow, from what I can see, it looks like it amounts to 20mm or 25mm scale humans. The 3 or so inch vehicles are more like 20mm, and the 4.5" are more like 25mm figures, I think. I only have fantasy figures in that range, so here's some fantasy figures beside vehicles to see how it might look scale-wise.

Note: the ambulance is the only painted figure so far. The others are unpainted.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Rest-Q the Gobot, or Delivery Man the Machine Man

In the late 80's, Australia did something interesting. Instead of Gobots, they named them the Machine Men, and to make some more money, they cast some of the Gobots in different colours. I didn't know this at the time, and for years I've had a blue delivery van which had red sirens on the roof for some reason. I eventually discovered my blue delivery van was a reproduction of Rest-Q the ambulance.

Anyway, my delivery van transforming robot has been missing a wheel for ages, and the legs have a habit of collapsing with no warning. So I decided to test what painting a transforming toy would be like, by painting Delivery Van Robot into Rest-Q the Ambulance Gobot, but with all the details you'd expect from a wargaming miniature.

So here you can see the ambulance has been recast in solid blue plastic with no stickers or painted markings. The sirens were supposed to have blue paint on them, some of the paint is still there, but has rubbed off over the years revealing the original Ambulance sirens.

Next I've painted one section white, and applied a black wash over it, bringing out the detail, and also, shading the windows.

Here I've done a bit more, and coloured in the rear brake lights too. In robot mode, you can see Rest-Q's red cross is on his chest, though like everything else, it's bright blue plastic. I've painted the sirens now too.

Started putting red stripes down the side of the Ambulance, and a red cross painted on top, sort of like the original Rest-Q.

Next are photos of the basically finished product. There's still some blue plastic showign through the gaps in the rear of the vehicle, but the rest is painted up now. I didn't realize until I painted the front window, but there's even windscreen wipers in the model. It's amazing the details you discover when you paint a toy, that one-colour plastic just doesn't show.

And for final comparison, here's unpainted and painted side by side.

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