Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Reaper Bones Kaladrax Reborn WIP Part 2

It's been a little over a month since the first post in this series. I haven't gotten as much done on this project as I hoped. Life outside of my hobbies has been more active than I expected. On the upside, slow and steady progress is better than no progress.

The hip and remaining leg pieces.

I was pleased with the color scheme I tested previously, so I'm using the same combination of paints and techniques on the rest of the skeleton. The hip and remaining leg pieces were done within a couple of weeks. I noticed that the initial pair of legs doesn't quite match the color of the later work. There's just a shade of difference - not even enough to really show up on camera - so it shouldn't be too much of an issue. I'm planning on applying a final layer of wash after assembling and highlighting the whole figure. The additional layers of color should cover up any small inconsistencies.

The tail pieces. I estimate that's enough plastic for at least a dozen regular 28mm miniatures.

Next came the incredibly long tail. I wanted to get the lower extremities done while I pondered my options for the rest of the figure. The assembled tail pieces combine to a length of about twenty inches. The only difference in materials or techniques from the leg and hip pieces was the amount of paint/medium mix I had to make. The colors match the second batch of leg and hip pieces, so I've got the formula consistent at this point.

Starting the main body means making a decision - use the green, necrotic glow effect that inspired me to start this project or go with painting the fleshy parts of Kaladrax Reborn as rotting carcass. The necrotic glow is more of a challenge - I've never painted a glow effect on this scale and my past attempts have been hit and miss. The rotting flesh approach should be quicker and easier.

On the other hand, Kaladrax Reborn is going to end up as a centerpiece of my miniatures collection. The piece is going into the display case when completed. The reason is purely practical - I have no other place to store it. Why not go for the more ambitious version? Figuring out how to paint a necrotic glow will expand my skills and come in handy for future projects. Progress may slow even more, but I've got time before my self-imposed deadline of Halloween. Besides, I always have the rotting flesh approach as a backup plan. One of the things about this hobby is that it is forgiving of mistakes. Paint goes over a failed color scheme as easily as it goes over primer.

Kaladrax Reborn's backstory.

As a little bonus content for this post, I noticed that Reaper printed a backstory for the figure on one of the inside flaps of the box. Kaladrax Reborn is basically the boss monster of a vast graveyard full of other undead creatures. Just the kind of thing to use as a highlight for a F20 campaign. Now I'm tempted to use Kaladrax Reborn in my next 13th Age game. The connection to the Lich King is obvious. Maybe Kaladrax Reborn could be the campaign's big bad guy?

Monday, July 20, 2020

Three New Worlds for Star Trek Adventures

Here are some more unused ideas from our still-in-hiatus Star Trek Adventures campaign. These are three unusual planets and possible adventure seeds for each one.

Biswell IV

A planet resembling Earth during the Hadean period of four billion years ago. The Biswell system is late in the process of planetary formation. Large numbers of asteroids and other debris are moving throughout the system. The risk of collision can be mitigated with close attention to sensor readings, careful navigation, and - if it comes to it - a strong deflector system. Biswell IV is under constant bombardment from impactors of all sizes. Conditions on the planet's surface are unwelcoming. Molten rocks cover a barren, geologically active landscape. The surface temperature is over 200 degrees C (over 400 degrees F). The atmospheric pressure is over twenty atmospheres and composition is mostly carbon dioxide - utterly unbreathable. Ship's sensors can predict magma displacements and imminent meteor impacts, but only with enough advance notice to transmit emergency warnings to Away Teams on the surface.

Why would anyone come to this literal hellhole? A bright spark hit on the idea of putting an independent mining colony on the planet. The colony is located underground and is composed of a large processing facility and attached habitats. Mining teams venture out to the fresh deposits of minerals that arrive with every eruption and impact. A position in the colony is highly profitable, but the risks and hard work discourage most from volunteering. Automation is used as much as possible to minimize the workforce required to keep the colony operating and to simplify any possible evacuation.

Adventure Seed: Our Starfleet crew has need of minerals available on Biswell IV to either make repairs or fabricate equipment needed for their current mission. The colony's administrators are happy to make a sale or trade. The Complication: The Biswell IV mining colony broadcasts a distress call just before the player characters arrive in system. The garbled transmission mentions something about the automated systems going haywire and all personnel evacuating to emergency shelters on the surface. Our Starfleet crew must rescue the colonists, figure out what happened to the colony, and get the minerals they need.

Ardan V

A paradise planet in a conflict zone. This lush world is mostly ocean except for a couple of small continents and extensive island chains. The average climate is mild and the equatorial region is a tropical paradise marred intermittently by summer storms. It is an ideal colonization candidate, but every attempt on record was quickly abandoned. Ardan V is far from any major galactic power. The small interstellar governments in the area around Ardan V are in constant conflict. Pirates and other criminals take advantage of the political instability to operate freely. A fledgling colony on Ardan V would be a tempting target. The beginnings of several colonization efforts lie in ruins at various locations across the planet. However, only a few of them were abandoned due to direct attack. Everyone attempting to set up shop on the planet - even scavengers looking for salvage - find themselves packing up and leaving after a month or two. Every interstellar government in the area has given up on claiming it for a variety of reasons. Those aware of its existence consider Ardan V to be "cursed" and "unlucky" or even a "haunted" place.

Adventure Seed #1: Ardan V is an ideal hidey hole for those willing to ignore its reputation. Any group that's been a thorn in the player character's sides - the leadership of a renegade Klingon House, an "off the books" Tal Shiar or Obsidian Order operation, or a ruthlessly pragmatic mercenary company - might see Ardan V as a good place to lay low for awhile. Ardan V could be the end of a thrilling chase or a methodical investigation and the outcome could be a search for a base hidden somewhere on the planet or a siege against a fortress built in the ruins of an abandoned colony site. The Complication: Whatever caused everyone before them to flee the planet - predatory life forms with a talent for traveling around access tunnels, a strange energy field that causes paranoia, innocuous life forms that have a gremlin-like effect on technology - starts acting against the group that the player characters are after. They send out a call for help, preferring capture by Starfleet to whatever is on the planet. How does our Starfleet crew respond?

Advenure Seed #2: The Federation Council is entertaining a proposal to sponsor a colony on Ardan V. The planet is unclaimed, an ideal candidate, and those wishing to establish the colony are quick to dismiss its reputation as superstition. The player characters are to transport a small team of would-be colonists to Ardan V and assist them in surveying potential sites for the initial settlement. This involves a fair bit of work for the Science and Medical departments - they must identify and find ways of dealing with any potential dangers on the planet. The Complication: Naturally, a member of the civilian survey team disappears. Is it one of the nearby governments interfering to prevent the Federation from expanding into the area or does it have something to do with the mystery of Ardan V?

Adventure Seed #3: The indigenous people of Ardan V are powerful telepaths that find the presense of other minds to be painful. They wish no harm to those who come to their world, but broadcast telepathic suggestions to deter efforts to explore or colonize the planet. However, the surrounding governments are expanding into the system to exploit the resources of its asteroid belt and outer planets. They are carefully avoiding Ardan V due to its reputation, but they are still close enough to unsettle the planet's population. Even worse, the competing mining operations are each sponsored by different governments and they are coming into conflict. The miners are calling for military intervention while their governments request Federation mediation. Our Starfleet crew meets with representatives of the mining companies. Accusations of sabotage soon ring loud across the table. There have been constant reports of black outs, lost time, and accidents among the miners. The inhabitants of Ardan V are seeking to drive away the mining operations through more direct telepathic influence. The player characters must keep the situation with the miner from escalating while figuring out what is going on. The Complication: Any overt violence in the system will trigger direct intervention from Ardan V. Can our Starfleet crew make contact with the telepaths of Ardan V and establish a peaceful compromise between the miners or is evacuating the system the only practical response?

Kumarax III

A temperate world hosting an independent colony that recently celebrated its three year anniversary. The colony was established over the objections of experts who recommended a more detailed long term survey. The indigenous life forms all display adaptation for surviving a low pH environment not in evidence on the surface of the planet. This suggested a hidden danger to any colony placed there. The private group who proposed colonization pressed ahead, but were rebuffed by both the Federation Council and Starfleet. The colonists purchased the necessary supplies and leased several ships to transport everything and everyone to their new home. The colony then declared itself independent of the Federation. Kumarax III is far from major trade routes and the colony sees few visitors.

Adventure Seed: It turns out that there is a reason why all indigenous life is able to survive low pH levels. Torrential acid rains begin to scour the colony. The initial surveys missed the danger since the acid monsoons only occur once every several years. Forecasts indicate that the storms will last for several weeks. The colony structures start dissolving after a few hours of exposure. The colonists reluctantly send out a distress call. Starfleet dispatches the player characters to evacuate the colonists. Communications are intermittent due to acid damage to the colony's subspace antenna - it will fail before much longer. The colonists begin to retreat to better protected parts of the colony infrastructure while they await rescue. The Complication: Some of the colonists are refusing to leave their home behind, believing that they can somehow hold out.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

The Listening Post - A Star Trek Adventures Mission Treatment

Our Star Trek Adventures campaign is on indefinite hiatus due to the ongoing situation. I've decided to share an unused mission* idea in the hopes that somebody will be inspired by it. I'll dust off my notes and post more ideas on a periodic basis.

This treatment sets up a basic scenario for a Starfleet or Klingon crew. It then examines that concept through the lens of various eras of Star Trek.

The Listening Post

The Romulan Star Empire has recently established a listening post in a system near both the Federation and the Klingon Empire. Starfleet Intelligence and Klingon Intelligence have determined that the listening post is an indicator that the Romulans are expanding into the area. Romulan reinforcements may already be on the way. Both Starfleet and the Klingon Defense Force send a ship. Starfleet Command would prefer that the Romulans remove the listening post themselves after negotiations. The standard rules of engagement apply - force is only to be used as a last resort. The Klingon captain has a freer hand - the KDF's orders are simply to remove the listening post by any means necessary. The Romulan commander is trying to hold out until help arrives - the listening post is outgunned, but the Romulan commander knows a trick or two.

Starfleet Command doesn't know why the mysterious "Romulans" set up a listening post so close to a United Earth colony, but they do know that the situation demands a response. The arrival of a Klingon ship claiming that Klingon interests in the area are also threatened is an unwelcome complication. The Klingon captain's belligerence may make a peaceful resolution impossible.

Canon concerns can be addressed by keeping the Romulans firmly out of sight of any humans or Earth allies. Any communications should be limited to audio only transmissions translated from the unfamiliar Romulan language. The listening post could be completely automated with no Romulan crew present and any communications relayed from within the Romulan Star Empire. As a last resort, a nuclear self-destruct charge is not out of character for the Romulans and would destroy anything that Earth humans aren't supposed to know about until "Balance of Terror" in TOS.

The cold war tensions between the Federation and the Klingon Empire and the Klingon-Romulan alliance of convenience means that nobody trusts any of the others involved. Everyone is seeking an advantage for their own side. If the Klingon captain believes that the Romulan listening post will ultimately hurt the Federation more than it does the Klingons, they may leave it alone. The Romulan commander will play the Starfleet and Klingon captains against each other. The Starfleet captain could do the same to the Klingon captain and Romulan commander. Three clever leaders with opposing goals is a situation that could turn nasty.

The Federation and Klingon Empire are allies, but their interests and approaches don't always align perfectly. Starfleet strongly advocates for a peaceful solution. The Klingons can present the argument that the Romulan listening post is a clear threat to both Federation and Klingon interests in the area and that using force to remove that threat is regrettable but necessary. The situation could develop into the two allies each trying to convince the other while the Romulan commander wonders why their reinforcements are taking so long.

Complication: The Klingon captain fought for the Duras faction of the Klingon Civil War. The Romulan commander could reveal this fact to sow distrust. Alternately, this could leave the Klingon captain with something to prove - ridding the area of the Romulan listening post might settle any questions of their real loyalties.

DS9 - The Federation-Klingon War
Depicted in the middle seasons of DS9, the second war between the Federation and Klingon Empire ranges from periods of heightened tensions to open battles on the ground and in space. The Tal Shiar established the listening post to monitor the conflict and see what opportunities it offered to the Romulan Star Empire. A Starfleet and Klingon captain might be able to convince each other to join forces against the Romulan listening post during a quiet period of the war. On the other hand, the two ships might come in shooting at each other if their captains' blood is up. The middle road is for the situation to play out like it might have during the TOS era, but with all sides armed with more advanced weapons and an extra century of familiarity with each other's cultures.

DS9 - Early Dominion War
The misunderstandings of the recent past are swept aside as the Dominion tests the mettle of the newly recreated Federation-Klingon Alliance. The only two ships that can be spared from the front - one Starfleet and one Klingon - are sent on a joint mission to deal with a listening post set up by the opportunistic Romulans. The two captains might try a "good cop, bad cop" approach to negotiations, but their goals are aligned perfectly - the Romulan listening post has to go and there is little time for games. Unfortunately, a third party shows up to throw off everyone's calculations. The Romulans have been allowing Dominion ships to raid through their territory for months. Such a Dominion raiding force appears to pick off the pair of Alliance ships. Can the Romulans be convinced to join the fight or will they sit back and wait to see what happens?

DS9 - Late Dominion War
The Romulans may have joined in the war against the Dominion, but that doesn't mean they can be trusted. If they were counting on the war to distract everyone from noticing their new listening post, they were mistaken. Both Starfleet and the Klingon Defense Force has sent a ship to make their displeasure with their new Romulan allies known. Starfleet can't allow the Klingons to destroy the listening post, even if the Romulan commander is going out of their way to provoke the Klingon captain. Negotiations promise to test the patience of everyone involved.

*I'm using the term "mission" to mean "adventure" since "a Star Trek Adventures adventure" just doesn't look right to me when I typed it out.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Gale Force Nine's Bestial Huts and Chieftain's Hut - First Impressions

These are the BB539 Bestial Huts and BB540 Chieftain's Hut from Gale Force Nine. As part of their Battlefield in a Box line, these are pre-painted terrain pieces intended to go straight from the box to the tabletop. This post presents my first impressions rather than a review. These are recent purchases and it will be awhile before they see play due to current circumstances.

The two pieces from BB539 Bestial Huts are on the left. BB540 Chieftain's Hut is the big one on the right - clearly where the boss lives.

Gale Force Nine introduced these products about ten years ago. Availability dried up for a few years between then and now. That left me regretting not picking them up when I first became aware of them. I decided to take the plunge when I noticed they were back on the market.

It's safe to state that these pieces are fantasy themed. The blurbs on the boxes suggest that the Bestial and Chieftain's Huts originate from cold northern climes, but they wouldn't look totally out of place on a savanna or somewhere else beyond the reach of civilization. The trio of huts pictured in this post (one box of Bestial Huts and one Chieftain's Hut) could represent a camp for a small group of hunters, scouts, or raiders. Multiple sets would be needed to represent housing for a larger population.

Close up of the two larger huts.

Whoever designed these pieces put thought and effort into the details. The overall design appears to be inspired by a yurt or a tipi. Each piece represents a structure constructed of hides stretched between tusks from mammoths or some fantasy equivalent. The textures and colors of the hides show variation, suggesting that the pelts were taken from different animals. The sculpt also includes stitching holding the hides together and ropes lashing the hides to the tusks. The huts also feature fully detailed interiors. All surfaces are painted to a tabletop standard except for the bottom edges which make contact with the table. I was considering applying a wash to the pieces, but dismissed the idea as soon as I got my hands on them. The existing paint job shows off all the detail just fine.

Interior of the Chieftain's Hut.

There is a substantial size difference between the three pieces. The smallest of the two Bestial Huts would be crowded for more than a couple of occupants at 28mm scale. Meanwhile, the Chieftain's Hut looks big enough for several people. Buying multiple sets of Bestial Huts and only one or two Chieftain's Huts might work best for setting up a larger population center. This will help the Chieftain's Huts to stand out as important structures among the smaller pieces.

All of the huts appear to be cast from resin. Initial inspection revealed no bubbles or other imperfections in the pieces. The material seems durable enough to regular handling. I would be concerned about chipping or cracking if one took a fall or had a rough ride during transport. Careful storage should be enough to address these worries.

I've seen a wide variation in price for these sets. Both sets together retail from about $50-$75 USD before shipping, tax, or other fees. Shopping around for the best prices - both for the pieces themselves and for shipping - pays off.

These pieces are a welcome addition to my collection, which is a little lacking in fantasy terrain. They offer good value and live up to the claim that they are ready for play right out of the box. I'm looking forward to putting them on the table.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Reaper Bones Kaladrax Reborn WIP Part 1

My current big miniature project - Reaper's Kaladrax Reborn. Getting to it has taken awhile. It was a backer reward from the first Reaper Bones Kickstarter. I finally found a paint scheme that inspired me to tackle the challenge. Besides, I want a horror-themed project to finish by Halloween and a giant undead dragon is a solid choice.

Time to awaken a sleeping giant undead dragon?

Kaladrax Reborn is a whole lot of plastic. The base alone is a hefty chunk of whatever formula Reaper used for its early Bones line. Painting it in sections makes it easier to reach everything. It also divides the work into manageable chunks.

That's a whole lot of plastic. I'm gonna need a bigger brush.

I acquired Kaladrax Reborn as a Kickstarter reward from the Reaper Miniatures Bones: An Evolution Of Gaming Miniatures Kickstarter. It was the first of many Kickstarters by Reaper Miniatures and the one that launched Reaper's Bones line. Kaladrax Reborn was a $10 USD add on that later retailed for $75 USD - the price increase reflected the scaling issue that came up during production. Internet rumor suggests that there was a miscommunication between Reaper and the company that was manufacturing the Bones miniatures at the time. The miscommunication resulted in Kaladrax Reborn being made at roughly 200% of the intended scale. Mine showed up on my doorstep back in the summer of 2013. Kaladrax Reborn is out of production at this time.

That's a hefty base. I'm not worried about the figure falling over.

The main obstacle to starting this project - other than simple procrastination - was a lack of inspiration. Most of the color schemes I've seen for this piece looked underwhelming. Black for the undercoat, off-white for the skeleton, red for the fleshy bits, brown and gray for the base - a perfectly functional color scheme for an undead figure, but not rewarding enough to me for the effort. Kaladrax Reborn would become a centerpiece of my collection due to its sheer size. When I finally committed to putting paint on this critter, I wanted something different.

Dry fitting the main body and painted legs on the base.

I found a couple of visually distinct color schemes on Deviantart. The first depicts Kaladrax Reborn imbued with frost magic. As much as I like the blue color scheme, it isn't quite what I wanted. I'll keep the idea in mind if I find myself painting a figure with cold powers, though. The second has Kaladrax Reborn glowing with necrotic energies. It's a familiar color scheme - green is widely used for undead figures - but I never considered applying it to this figure. Maybe I'm not alone in that oversight, since I don't recall seeing it used on any other Kaladrax Reborn projects. I'm not sure if I can execute the green glowing effect with the same level of skill, but I'm giving it a try.

Close up of base with Reaper 02608 Tyden, Barbarian. Note the scale difference when comparing the skulls with Tyden's head.

I approached the hunk of plastic that serves as a base like a terrain piece. The paint scheme is straightforward - a mix of FolkArt Glass & Tile Medium and black paint as a primer/undercoat layer, gray for most the stone areas, brown for the rock areas, some FolkArt 420 Linen to highlight the raised surfaces, and a dark wash to bring out the details. I was surprised by the number of skulls sculpted on the base - I had to check that I hadn't gotten it mixed up with a GW product somehow. The size of the skulls are a telltale of the scaling issue that Reaper ran into with this figure. They are about twice the size of a human skull at 28mm scale. The wash gives the base a shiny appearance, but the clear sealant I'm planning on spraying on after final assembly should knock it down.

Skeleton color scheme test. Why do I have a sudden craving for chicken wings?

Here are two of Kaladrax Reborn's legs. These attach to the base and support the rest of the figure. I decided to use these to test a color scheme for the rest of the skeleton. They are the lowest parts of the figure other than the base, so any mistakes should be less noticeable. At this time, they just have a layer of FolkArt 420 Linen brushed over a mix of FolkArt Glass & Tile Medium and Reaper 09199 Russet Brown working as the primer/base layer. I'm putting off a highlight or wash layer until I have more of the figure done.

Hip/rear leg/main body dry fit.

I'd like to get started on the main body piece, but the way the figure fits goes together suggests otherwise. The hip parts block off areas of the main body. I'll paint the hip parts and remaining legs next so they will be ready for fitting after I paint the main body.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Spaceship X from Creative Gamescapes

This is a single set of Spaceship X from Creative Gamescapes. I received it as a Kickstarter award from awhile back. There were delays in getting the product out and communications could have been better. On the other hand, getting it late was better than not getting it at all. That's far more success than some Kickstarters can claim. Bottom line - Creative Gamescapes could have done better, but they ultimately came through for me.

Set with almost all of the pieces - one door was being stripped for repaint.

This set featured in a few previous posts - most notably a description of a Star Trek Adventures encounter and a work in progress post after I decided to have another go at assembling and painting it. Since then, I've sprayed the corridor pieces with a coat of clear sealer. This seems to have solved the silver overspray problem. I also decided that I didn't do as bad a job with two of the doors as I thought. The paint job on the third door didn't come out at all - that one is getting stripped and repainted down the road. Still, the set is in a state where I feel comfortable about writing a review, especially since I've already used it in play.

Door close up. The one with the green keypad is intended to look more worn.

Spaceship X represents the interior of a large spacecraft. The level of detail - floor grating, round bolts, doors with keypads - is sufficient to convey a futuristic industrial appearance. The aesthetic is well suited for a game about exploring a derelict spacecraft inhabited by violently aggressive extraterrestrials, although some might lament the lack of decorative skulls. The rugged industrial look is generic enough for a variety of sci-fi settings. Spaceship X is also handy for representing other sci-fi environments - a built up underground area like a moonbase, a confined industrial area, a supervillian lair, etc.

The scaling of Spaceship X is flexible by design. The corridors work equally well for 15mm or 28mm figures. The keypads on the doors are a little large for 15mm, but the effect is not too jarring.

15mm figure comparison. Maybe tall enough to reach the top row on the keypad?

Assembly is relatively straightforward. The parts did arrive with mold lines, but nothing that a little work with a hobby knife and some sanding couldn't take care of. I made a couple of minor errors when I reassembled the parts due to my misplacing the instructions. Unfortunately, Creative Gamescapes did not respond to my inquiries about getting a replacement instruction sheet and it isn't available for download. The sides and bottom of each corridor segment do lock together, but I don't feel that the fit is snug enough to rely on. I ended up using plastic cement to bond the parts of each corridor segment together permanently. The details on how I assembled and painted my Spaceship X set are presented in a previous WIP post.

Who needs keypads when an anti-armor weapon is available? Just mind the back blast!

Each corridor segment is designed to slot together with the others. Unfortunately, the interlocking tabs and slots don't always fit smoothly. They line up well, but the slots aren't always large enough for the tabs to fit without forcing them together. Priming and painting the pieces has only made the issue worse. However, the fit issue is likely to resolve itself as the interlocking tabs and slots wear down.

Close up of interlocking tabs and slots.

Creative Gamescapes used a sturdy plastic for Spaceship X. I'm more concerned with the paint job and cement bonds than the plastic getting damaged during normal use. A piece did fall on the garage floor while I was preparing the set for priming - it bounced off and wasn't even scuffed or scratched. Durability doesn't seem to be an issue with Spaceship X.

28mm figure comparison. The girls are having an easier time with reaching the door controls.

Spaceship X is an affordable product with limitations. Spaceship X is at its best when its used for assembling tight corridors and claustrophobic rooms that result in intense close-in encounters. A single set of Spaceship X retails around $35 USD before shipping and tax. It provides a variety of corridors arranged on a single level, a couple of small rooms, and an assortment of accessories such as doors - a good value for the price. There are other products on the market featuring multiple levels, more expansive rooms, and a higher level of detailing. Such products allow for more maneuvering and better use of ranged attacks during play. However, those products tend to be correspondingly more expensive and many use less durable materials such as card. Spaceship interiors are a niche market within a niche market - trade offs may be unavoidable. Potential buyers would be best served by carefully evaluating their needs before making a purchase.

I'm satisfied with Spaceship X, but I have concerns about Creative Gamescapes. They demonstrated a lack of good communications during the Kickstarter and when I reached out to them for support. On the other hand, they put out a good product. There were some issues during assembly and with how the tabs fit, but nothing too serious. It looks good and works well on the table.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Warsenal Angled Planters and Benches

These are Angled Planters from Warsenal. This specific product doesn't appear to be available at this time. However, they are included as part of certain Island Packs and Warsenal's Square Planters are a comparable product.

The Havoc Girls check out a small park. Some of the groundskeepers went missing recently.

These Angled Planters have been unfinished projects (UFOs) for awhile now. I've got plenty of hobby projects sitting around in various states of completion. Even though I'm still working regular hours, some of my work can be done from home and the commute has been much easier. This freed up time that I've been using to catch up. My plan is to shoot down as many UFOs as possible to free up space and time down the road for new projects.

This project became a UFO after I ran into some issues gluing it together. The Angled Planters use MDF parts for the main structure with plastic panels for the details on the sides. The glue I used worked well for holding the MDF parts together, but the plastic panels popped off with routine handling. Fortunately, this problem came up before priming or painting. Since I had other priorities at the time, I stored the parts in a plastic bag with the intent to get back to it later.

As it turned out, "later" took awhile.

The second step of restarting this project - the first was making sure that all the parts were still in the bag - was to sand off the glue residue from the plastic panels and where they were glued on to the MDF pieces. This also had the benefit of roughing up the surfaces and insuring a stronger bond when I reassembled the pieces with cyanoacrylate glue.

A pair of tourists use a public comm array in a small park to call for directions.
Priming was straight forward - I just sprayed on a thin layer of dark gray auto body primer.

Next came spraying on the base color. I prefer to spray on the base color for projects with large, flat surfaces. It helps with achieving an even, consistent layer of paint.

This particular color was chosen for these very important reasons:
  • I knew that this product works on both MDF and plastic from past experience.
  • I still have a can of the stuff in the garage and need to use it up.
  • Spraying on the base coat would speed things up.
  • I felt the need to use up the can.
  • The bold and colorful Jack Kirby aesthetic appeals to me for futuristic civilian models and terrain. I've still be reaching for khaki, olive, and brown for near-future or hard sci-fi military stuff.
  • I really need to use up that can.
I applied a dark wash left over from a previous project to bring out the details. The wash was brushed on and the excess was wiped off with a sponge to prevent pooling. I also experimented with using a Silver Metallic Sharpie to simulate wear on the corners of one of the pieces, but I didn't feel that it really added anything worthwhile.

For most of the pieces, I decided to simulate soil and foliage from an Earth-like environment. I applied the same mix of PVA glue, Folk Art 231 Real Brown paint, water, and sand that I use to base some of my miniatures and allowed it to dry completely. The green bushes are Woodland Scenics Light Green Clump-Foliage held in place with PVA glue. A neatly trimmed appearance might have been more appropriate, but I feel that the uneven look is more interesting to look at. The bare patches allow the basing material to show through.

The quality of landscaping declined after the groundskeepers started disappearing.

I wanted some kind of alien plant life for the remaining pieces. Some spare melted drinking straws stored away from the Alien Plant Terrain project I did several years ago did the trick. I picked out the best of the lot and hit them with a few layers of spray paint. A layer of black covered the bright colors of the plastic. This was followed up with a layer of red and finally a layer of orange. Again, the color choices were determined by what I had on hand and had a mind to use up. I attached the straws to the planter pieces with hot glue.

These XT flora samples adapted well to class-M conditions. There is no evidence that they are carnivorous.
Alien plants need alien soil to grow in. In this case, I used an Ikea product - Kulort. It's crushed glass used for decorative projects. I picked up a bottle awhile back for use in alien terrain projects and as basing material. There were a number of colors available - I opted for black since it would match with just about anything.
Unlike the Angled Planters, the Benches weren't UFOs. I assembled and painted these awhile back. However, the tan color I originally used was rather bland. I decided to repaint the Benches to match the Angled Planters. This would make using them together easier (and use up more of the can). A dark wash brought out the details and a little work with a Silver Metallic Sharpie added some wear marks to the edges.

The Benches are available from Warsenal on their own and as part of their Island Packs.

Benches in the process of being moved for park maintenance. They're a little worn and could use a touch up of paint.

Together, the Angled Planters and Benches make for good scatter terrain to represent a park or similar area in a sci-fi setting. Both are large enough to plausibly provide cover for 28mm figures, although more robust small arms might be able to penetrate the Benches depending on the setting and rules used. Combining the Benches with some consoles and container pieces could represent the passenger waiting area in a spaceport. The Benches could also be placed around a stage or large data console piece for a theater or auditorium.