Posts Tagged ‘Woodbine’

h1

From the painting desk #20 – Synth pop

December 1, 2012

My ongoing game project is providing me with loads of painting inspiration. Here are three models I recently completed:

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

The models on the left and right are from Victory Force miniatures, from their not-Star Trek range of space explorers. While (or because) they have have very short arms and big heads, they’re very characterful sculpts and were fun to paint. The one in the middle is a not-Bishop from Woodbine’s scifi range. As with other Woodbine models, the style is quite cartoony, making the model easy to paint. These were quick paintjobs, and I’m happy with the end result.

Androids feature heavily in the Alien franchise, so I thought it only appropriate to include them in my games as well. This trio featured in the second game of the Utopia campaign, where they were the assistants to a Weyland-Yutani scientist.

The simple paint scheme is based on the blue-grey overalls worn by Bishop in Aliens. They also tie these synths in with me previously painted combat synth.

Comments and critique welcome as always!

 

h1

From the painting desk #17 – More Colonial Marine specialists

August 30, 2012

It’s a busy time here, with plenty of work. I’ve got a few new projects in the pipeline, and surprisingly this doesn’t even mean I’ve dropped my old ones. The Colonial Marines are still rolling out and they’re slowly moving towards a more generic futuristic army. My latest addition to the force consists of three models from three different manufacturers.

A while back, Paul a.k.a Sho3box commented on how he felt that the Colonial Marines deserved better leadership than that of the inept Lt. Gorman in Aliens.

Click for a larger version

Enter this officer from Copplestone Castings. With his simple stance and his hands behind his back, he really looks like he means business. I’m guessing actual combat drops instead of simulated.

Next up is a CM operating a sentry gun. The model is from Woodbine, and I really like the pose, with the trooper sitting on his knees and casually holding his rifle. I painted the laptop’s screen to suggest that it’s being used to control the sentry gun. I like the way his paintjob turned out, and I’m especially happy with the five o’clock shadow I painted on his face. The sentry gun is from the same set, and it’s a very nice piece of hardware as well. It will join my four em4 sentry guns to help my marines dish out loads of automatic, motion tracking death. The laptop’s screen didn’t photograph too well, due to the gloss varnish on the screen.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Speaking of em4, they produce the third model of this trio. I decided that attaching some form of special forces to the Colonial Marine strength would be fun, so I’m currently painting up these troopers in berets. I settled for a black beret with a silver/steel badge, and in my opinion it looks suitably special force-y. What do you think?

Click for a larger version

A fun batch to paint, all were minis that painted up nicely. I ran into a terrible hitch during spray varnishing, as for some reason – humid weather I guess – my Army Painter matt varnish left the models with a horrible, gritty texture and turned all the blacks grey. After some brooding I went back and did a lot of fixing on the minis. The next run with the same can of spray went without a problem, so despite the setback the minis are finally finished.

As always, comments and critique welcome!

h1

All together now

May 14, 2012

Time to get back on the posting horse again, after my trip to Malaysia. I’ve been a bit busy lately, so really needed to stop for a moment and put a post together in order to keep this blog from going dormant.

I was recently asked to do a group shot of the terrain pieces I’ve finished for the Aliens board game, so I quickly rounded up the nine finished pieces and added some Colonial Marines and Aliens for style and scale. Below you can see the set piece of a valiant CM last stand.

Click for a larger version

Personally I think the miniatures and terrain pieces go together very nicely. What’s most important to me is that they capture that Aliens feel. Then again, I might just be blind to my own work, what do you think?

Also, I have to mention that I just got a new job as a project expert, working on a project focusing on preventing video gaming and gambling addiction in adolescents. So happy about this, as I actually get to combine my degree (MA in Education) with my interests and get paid to do it!

h1

Accessorizing the hive – Aliens game board update #3

March 4, 2012

This is an update on my Aliens game board project. I’m at a point where I’ve glued most of the magnet pieces to the game board. I’d show you pictures, but it’s not much to look at currently, just black squares on a foam board. I’m going to focus on something much more interesting, in other words the various obstacles dotting the board. These are based on magnets, and should be pretty interchangeable throughout the board. I had three guidelines for these:

  1. Quick and easy. On a quick count, I need to make 23 of these. Since I want to eventually finish the board, I don’t want to spend an hour on each, but rather be able to churn them out at a steady rate, while still having them look nice enough.
  2. Cheap. See above. While it would be lovely to have 23 exquisite resin terrain pieces, I’m trying to keep my costs down.
  3. Large enough to block LoS. In the board game, all obstacles block line of sight. Me being something of a pedant at times, I didn’t want obstacles so small that I couldn’t see them blocking line of sight.

These guidelines were easy enough to follow. So far I’ve constructed three pieces, and I’m happy with all of them.

Click for a larger version

The first one is composed of a hollow wall anchor, available from hardware stores for a few euros per a bag of four or five. I removed the screw in the middle for an instant scifi-industrial looking structure. Next I added on some electrical wire and conduit tubing, applied a liberal amount of insulation paste and left it to dry. I then sprayed everything black and gave the Alien goo two drybrush layers of grey (GW Codex Grey and Fortress Grey) followed by a black wash (GW Badab Black). The visible part of the wall anchor was given a drybrushing first with VMC Oily Steel and then VMC Natural Steel. I finally gave the Alien parts a layer of gloss varnish for a wet look and to create more contrast between the alien and the man-made. The final step was to add a few drops of Scotch universal glue gel. As it began to dry, I stretched it around with a toothpick to create strands of that sticky resin the Xenomorphs tend to leave around, the messy critters they are.

Click for a larger version

The second one basically consists of a resin container from Ainsty. I simply glued it on a piece of magnetic sheet, which I’d covered with plastic bug screen to match the game board. Some insulation paste was added to Xenomorph it up a bit. Again I sprayed everything black, and then drybrushed the container with a suitable colour (GW Shadow Grey), and painted the Alien stuff as above, with the same gloss varnish treatment. While this piece is generally more expensive than the previous one, I happened to have the Ainsty bits around already, so I didn’t have to buy new stuff specifically for this.

Click for a larger version

The third terrain piece is a very simple, cheap scratchbuild. Like all of my hive accessories, there’s a square piece of magnetic sheet. On that I glued a 30mm stainless steel washer. On top of the washer I glued a plastic base from a Mantic miniature, and covered that with a small square of bug screen. I then glued four beads in the corners to look like rivets. Once more out came the black spray, followed by painting the steel like above. There was one problem, however: guideline #3, the line of sight one. Nice enough as it was, there was no way that flat ventilation thing would block line of sight. However, as I’m a clever little monkey, I’d taken this into account! I glued some white craft wool to the grid to represent steam billowing up (sadly not too visible in the photo), and gave it a spray of matt varnish to keep it in shape. Quick, easy, cheap as chips and guaranteed to block your LoS.

Here’s a final shot comparing them with a Woodbine miniature. I think they look fine. Opinions?

Click for a larger version

 

h1

Sizing up

March 2, 2012

To my regular readers, apologies in advance. The post mentions a fair few points that I’ve made earlier, so there’ll probably be a feeling of repetition here.

Miniature size/scale is one of those things that tends to come up whenever different ranges are discussed. Some people will stalwartly refuse to combine different ranges in their games, if they’re not stylistically compatible. I used to be one of these people. However, as years have gone by I’ve started to alter my stance. See, the Colonial Marine review I did left me with a slew of miniatures from various manufacturers, in different sizes and styles. As I tend to favour a “waste not, want not” approach when it comes to miniatures (and stuff in general), I figured that the differences weren’t such a problem.

I think that one of the main reasons for the aversion to mixing sizes and styles comes from the way we view miniatures. Most comparisons are done at eye level, setting the miniatures next to each other and noting all the differences. However, when gaming we view the minis from what – half a metre, metre (that’s two to three feet for all you silly ancient measurement system types) up? In most games they aren’t next to each other either, and our eye will probably focus on the uniting factors, such as paint schemes and basing, instead of the differences.

Allow me to demonstrate. In the pictures below there’s a variety of scifi miniatures from six different manufacturers painted with a similar colour scheme. There are major differences in size and proportions, and viewed next to one another, the ranges certainly don’t look too compatible in terms of size and style, although the paint scheme and basing does help.

L to R: Woodbine, Denizen, Copplestone, 1st Corps, Hasslefree, em4, em4 plastic. Click for a larger version

Let’s have a look at the picture below. For some obscure reason my Marines have wandered onto a Blood Bowl pitch, where they are about to take on the Drakwald Ravens who are incidentally another group of miniatures of various styles and manufacturers. The photo is taken from a gamer’s eye view, e.g. me sitting down and viewing the game board from a usual gaming height. See my point? The same size and style differences are still present, but in my humble opinion they are far less prominent, even to the point of being negligible. The eye is drawn to the different bases (green vs. grey) and colour schemes (the Marines’ green and camo vs. the Ravens’ black and purple). What we have here is not a motley collection of miniatures of various sizes and styles, but rather two coherent factions.

Click for a larger version

Your mileage may vary, of course, but I believe that sticking too adamantly to a single manufacturer’s ranges will sometimes unnecessarily limit your options. Naturally if you’re painting miniatures only for display, it’s another story. If not, do something wild (well, ‘geek-wild’) and try mixing two or more ranges if you haven’t already.

Crazy, I know!

h1

From the painting desk #14 – Colonial Marines

February 28, 2012

I just completed these five models. They were specifically painted for my Aliens board game project. What these five models reminded me of is that I [expletive] hate batch painting. It’s dull, it’s dreary and it takes most fun out of the area of the hobby that I enjoy most – painting. After much eye-rolling, cursing and exasperated sighs, they’re finally finished – luckily they turned out alright. All miniatures except Frost (holding a pistol), who is a conversion of an em4 plastic trooper, are Woodbine Colonial  Marines. They were nice enough to paint, and I pretty much just followed my regular recipe for painting CMs. I’m quite happy with how some things turned out, such as Vasquez’s darker skin colour. Some of the teeth sculpted on the models make them look a bit squirrel-ish, but who’s counting.

Painted Colonial Marines

Click for a larger version

With all the minis I need for the project now finished, I can move on with the game board as well!

h1

Dry heat – Aliens game board update #1

February 10, 2012

The Aliens board game game board (tee-hee) project I announced a while back is going strong. In this post I’ll take a look at what’s happening with it.

The board

In the previous post I wondered about a suitable flooring texture – brass and resin alternatives were too costly. I considered textured styrene sheets, but couldn’t find a suitable texture. In the end I settled for a cheap and easily handled material: plastic bug screen. It provided me with a nice mesh texture, and perhaps most importantly it was dirt cheap. I bought a large offcut sheet for 5€, and it’s over twice the size I needed.

Yesterday I cut a suitable shape from the sheet and glued it over the board with watered-down PVA. I left the staircase portion unglued. After the glue had dried, I carefully removed the rectangle with a craft knife. The bug screen has the added bonus of showing through the markings I made on the board earlier.

Click for a larger version

Today the mailman brought me the magnetic sheets that will be used to attach the terrain pieces to the board, so today will probably see some test fitting – not to mention testing whether the magnets have a strong enough hold. If they don’t, it’s back to the proverbial drawing board.

Accessories

The game board is clogged with various obstacles, and I’ve slowly gone to work on them as well. Shown below are some of the things I intend to use.

Various scifi bits and bobs from Ainsty. I bought these earlier to use in my Triton-4 Aliens/Predator/Colonial Marines campaign – which might or might not return. They’ll serve their purpose wonderfully here as well.

Click for a larger version

Scratch-built junk. Every miniature gamer hoards up things they might need one day. Lo and behold, this is “one day”! Out will come the random bits bought from hardware stores, beads, offcut pieces of sprue and miniatures and things like that. This project is a fine way to use them, since a lot will be covered more or less with Xenomorph gunk (more on that below). There is one innovation I’m actually proud of, and that’s using my Mantic bases. I’ve assembled quite a few from ghoul and zombie sets, and until now I’ve had no use for them. Now I’ve combined them with some of the extra bug screen I have, and they make wonderful exhaust vent -type thingies. A slight problem is that in the board game all obstacles block line of sight. In Aliens, however, there is steam billowing all around the reactor room (“Yeah, but it’s a dry heat!”), so I’m thinking of using craft wool to simulate steam issuing from the vents.

Alien gunk. This gave (and might still be giving) me a hard time. While I love the biomechanical Xenomorph look, it’s a bastard to recreate in larger quantities. Ready-made resin sets exist, but that would rapidly escalate the costs of this project – something I definitely don’t want. My current choice is to go with Tetra paste, which is a somewhat elastic paste for sealing windows, bathroom tiles and the like. This doesn’t produce a neat, organic surface, but rather a creepy, gooey one. It can be crudely shaped and takes paint well. Below is a quick mock-up using a blue foam offcut and some paste. On the right you can see the same piece with a quick, patchy paintjob (black with grey drybrushing, ink wash, I’ll later add some strands of glue for that sticky look) and a Marine to give you an idea of how it looks. Definitely let me know what you think. In my opinion it looks nice enough, even if it is a slight departure from the source material.

Click for a larger version

Miniatures

Unsurprisingly I have a whole lot of Colonial Marines. All I needed to do was pick out a suitable selection to match the characters in the film. I took some liberties to save me some time. What I needed was Apone (flamethrower), Crowe (pistol), Dietrich (flamethrower), Drake (smartgun), Frost (pistol), Hicks (shotgun), Hudson (pistol), Vasquez (smartgun) and Wierzbowski (flamethrower). Surprisingly I had less than half of suitable minis for these fellows painted. Like the Marines in the film, the lack of pulse rifles proved troublesome.

Here are the painted ones. Apone and Drake are from em4, while Crowe and Hudson are from Copplestone Castings.

L to R: Apone, Crowe, Hudson, Drake. Click for a larger version

And the unpainted ones. Apart from Frost they’re all Woodbine designs models. Frost is an as-of-yet unfinished conversion of an em4 plastic trooper.

L to R: Dietrich, Frost, Hicks, Vasquez, Wierzbowski. Click for a larger version

That’s the project so far. Comments and critique, send them my way!

h1

Rumble in the jungle

July 29, 2011

Triton-4 has kicked off nicely! I’ve noted that the game provides both the motivation and the concrete incentive to do a lot of work on miniatures and terrain – so far we’ve played about a game per week, and that leaves me a week to finish whatever is needed for the next scenario or two. This weeks accomplishment was painting the three miniatures below – a pilot and a co-pilot/generic trooper from Woodbine, and a scientist from Hasslefree. All were used in a scenario detailed later on. I’m happy with how they turned out, and they were a joy to paint.

Click for a larger version

So far we have played three scenarios:

Scenario 1 – Landing on Triton-4

This was a peculiar wargaming scenario in that there was a distinct possibility of there not being any fighting at all. The two marine squads (numbering five each) landed on the planet. Their mission was to investigate the jungle near the landing site and find a suitable location for a communications satellite, allowing the USS Hades to transfer supplies and personnel down to the planet.

The marines went through the jungle in a fairly orderly fashion. A lot of strangeness was discovered, including dismembered animals, an abandoned camp site and a data recording device with unknown insignia. The only real action the marines got was when a weird flying creature attacked one of them. Some brutal hand to hand ensued, and finally Sgt. Kosltezlo was able to bring the creature down. The marines then found a suitable spot for the comm station, and set it up. Below are a few satellite photos (disturbed by the atmosphere, naturally) of the proceedings.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Scenario 2 – Rescue

With the comm station in place, traffic from orbit was ready to start. Disaster struck soon, however, as a dropship carrying one of the lead scientists suffered an engine malfunction and crashed. The pilot, co-pilot and the scientist all survived, but were now stranded in the middle of the jungle. To make matters worse, military technicians had been able to decrypt some data from the recording device found earlier, revealing a xenomorph presence on the planet.

With most marines stuck fortifying and building the base, Sgt. Kosltezlo took three marines with him to find the missing people. Xenomorphs were indeed present, and the crash survivors were quickly running and fighting for their lives. To make matters worse, most shots fired attracted more and more xenomorphs. The situation seemed desperate, with the rescue team quickly finding themselves in a serious fight instead of a search and rescue mission. The co-pilot was speared by a xenomorph’s tail, causing the pilot to panic and blindly run into the jungle. The scientist was manhandled from one marine to the other, and eventually the rescue team managed to drag him back to the camp, with the camp’s sentry guns chasing away any Aliens that tried to cross the treeline. While the mission was a success, the xenomorph threat was confirmed and their deadliness apparent.

Scenario 3 – The aftermath

Following the daring rescue, the marines decided to go on another recon mission. While most xenomorphs had retreated deeper into the jungle, some remained. The marines advanced carefully towards the treeline, where they could glimpse flitting dark shapes. All of a sudden a rapidly moving Alien managed to circle around them and pounced on the target it perceived the weakest – Pvt. Turner who was still a rookie, only just having joined the force. Turner was quickly joined by the other marines, and together the group of four managed to bring the creature down, with Turner himself delivering the killing blow. The youngster’s joy was short-lived, though, as acid blood sprayed from the broken body, showering Pvt. Turner and providing him with an agonizing death. The sight caused a ripple of horror, with Pvt. Glory escaping all the way back to base and the marines generally falling back. This prompted more xenomorphs to charge from the trees.

The other squad’s leader, Sgt. Slaughter (I assume that’s a nickname) surprised everyone by downing xenomorphs left and right. With his squad falling back around him, he took on first one creature, then another, surviving both and killing one. Other marines then moved up to help with the mop-up. With most of the xenomorphs downed, the marines set their sights on the treeline to put down the one remaining beast. The Aliens’ speed proved to be incredible once again, as the creature flitted through the trees to charge another bewildered rookie, Pvt. Austin. The soldier tried desperately to escape, but the xenomorph mercilessly cut him down before being gunned to pieces.

With the Alien threat neutralized, the marines finally managed to venture into the jungle. Their search brought up all sorts of interesting things, such as alien artifacts and  xenomorph eggs. Pvt. Stanton from the first squad managed to evade a strange attack – all of a sudden three red dots appeared, followed by an explosive blast. Of the attacker there was no sight, but it was apparent that the xenomorphs weren’t the only threat around. On a more positive note, the pilot who had fled earlier staggered out of the jungle, bloody and incoherent. He was taken back to base by Cpl. Burbank. It’s anyone’s guess how he made it out alive.

Most of the area had already been searched, when the marines made the same mistake as the dwarves in Moria: they dug too deep. With the marines spread out through the jungle, Pvt. Stanton suddenly found himself surrounded by no less than six Aliens, four of which tore him to pieces. The marines retaliated fiercely after this first casualty, and managed to completely eliminate the creatures in short order, with Sgt. Slaughter even destroying one in close combat. Pvt. Gunn’s flame unit was also invaluable, torching jungle and xenomorph alike. After this the exhausted marines retreated back to their camp.

The games were good fun, and we’re still getting to grips with all the rules. It’s getting quicker and smoother to play, and we’re slowly getting into the intricacies of the system. The narrative aspect is present, and we tend to view in-game events through a narrative filter. The second scenario especially was very cinematic and tense!

With these three games the campaign is off to a good start, and both me and the two players are looking forward to our next session on next Wednesday. Whatever’s coming up next, the marines are in for a rough time with three of the original ten troopers down.

By the way, feel free to comment on the satellite photo look of the pictures. In my opinion action report pictures are often quite boring, as they’re basically just miniatures standing next to each other.  I figured I’d simply use them as for a bit of flavour, so photoshopped them heavily. Personally I like the look, but CC is definitely welcome!

h1

Colonial Marine miniatures – a review

March 25, 2011

Update April 1st 2013: Citadel plastics with Mad Robot parts added.

Update February 27th 2013: Sgt. Major Miniatures’ Allied Troopers added.

Update May 15th 2012: Defiance Games’ UAMC marines added.

Let’s see now. I’ve already done reviews of Predators and Aliens in 28mm. To complete the holy trinity of science fiction kick ass, we need one more player: the Colonial Marines.

Mostly known for their bravado and for being mercilessly slaughtered in Aliens, the CM have nonetheless become a fan favourite with scifi enthusiasts, cosplayers and of course wargamers. I’m in the first and third groups (cosplay? heavens, no), and have posted a fair few times about Colonial Marines (from here on referred to as CMs). With lots of people out there looking to do a bit of Aliens-inspired gaming, it’s time to take a look at what’s available in miniature. Just like the Alien miniature review, I’ve split the review into three sections: licensed products, almost matches and DIY stuff. There’s a whole lot of size comparison pictures after that, with other troopers, Aliens and Predators. Let’s go.

Licensed products

There’s only one set of licensed CMs that I know of, and that is of course the Leading Edge set by Bob Ridolfi. I couldn’t get my hands on them, so I turned to the community for help, and this is what I got – thanks TMP users Thieses and Only Warlock!

The Leading Edge Colonial Marines miniatures are the most complete line of figures produced. The figures are true 25mm sculpts, are on the “cartoony” side, and small. However what the figures lack in detail they more than make up for in diversity.

LE has unique sculpts for all 13 marine characters with integral bases. LE also has sculpts for “support” characters such as, Burke, Newt, and Ripley.

Leading Edge Colonial Marines are true 25m figures, matching well with Ral Partha Battletroops and GZG 25mm figs, except tending to slimmer figures with less overall detail.

Additionally I received a few wonderful size comparison pictures from Akula. They can be found further down with the other comparison pictures. The photos below are taken from Stuff of Legends, and show all the Leading Edge CMs.

The set pops up quite often on eBay, and is almost as often massively overpriced. If you, however, for some reason want the licensed stuff, this is your only choice.

Not-Colonial Marines

The miniatures industry has a tendency to give the public what the public wants. Luckily the public has wanted CMs. There’s a slew of miniatures available that are an almost perfect match for the troopers in the film, and this section is devoted to those.

Denizen Miniatures Mid-tech assault team

When I received the Mid-tech miniatures, I was blown away. These miniatures, sculpted by Chub Pearson, are something like 20 years old. Compared to a lot of stuff from back then, they’re pretty excellent and have stood the test of time very nicely. I pondered for a bit before adding these miniatures to the review, since Denizen advertises their models as 25mm. With the scale creep that’s been going on for years, these days “28mm” can mean anything between 28mm and 35mm, so I wondered whether Denizen’s miniatures would be far too small to include in a 28mm review. After doing some comparison work, however, I decided that they were worth including. It would’ve been a cardinal sin to drop such a range from the review. Do note that the miniatures are indeed slender and realistically proportioned compared to many others in this review, so see the comparison pictures to find the best match for your needs. They go very nicely with the smallish Reviresco Homophages, for example.

There are 14 different Mid-tech troopers, with most armed with ACRs, a real-life assault rifle with a scifi look to it. The poses are varied and a good combination of static and dynamic. There are shotguns, a flamer and smartguns available as well as a bareheaded female smartgunner obviously based on Vasquez in Aliens, so you can easily recreate a CM squad pretty much straight out of the film. The models come on small hexagonal integral bases. The miniatures are amazingly cheap for their quality. Guess how much? No, really. 90p each. That’s 1 EUR or 1.4 USD at the time of writing, which is cheaper per miniature than a lot of plastics out there. Casting quality is great, with no flash and very little mould lining. Some of the minis have a separate arm, and the parts fit together nicely.

You can get the Mid-tech troopers direct from Denizen Miniatures.

A selection of Mid-tech troopers – click for a larger version.

East Riding Miniatures Colonial Marines

ERM produces a pack of four CMs sculpted by Tony Yates in their Mythic Worlds line, and there are three more on the way. The models come on small integral bases. They’re very obviously CMs, as shown by their gear with helmet cameras, body armour and weapons: two are armed with pulse rifles, one with a Aliens-style flamer and one with a heavy pistol. Casting quality is fine, with minimal mould lining and no flash to speak of.

Stylistically these miniatures resemble the ERM Aliens a lot, and share the same pros and cons. The models are very cartoony, with exaggerated proportions, large heads and big guns. Not to put too fine a point on it, the sculpting leaves much to be desired. Detail is soft and the puttywork sloppy, basically. If you’re willing to look past these points (although they are major to some) you’ll find a nice pack of characterful Marines. As with the Aliens, the ERM CMs somehow capture something of the essence of what they’re depicting – the combination of gung ho and panic, which for me is the iconic aspect of CMs. These miniatures will obviously be a horses for courses thing, but I like ’em and can’t wait for the extra packs. The price for four miniatures is £5.00. It’s competitive, but the price/quality ratio does leave a bit to be desired.

You can get the miniatures direct from ERM.

Click for a larger version

1st Corps Miniatures Colonial Troopers

The inclusion of these minis in a CM review was something that required a bit of pondering. Why? Well, despite the name these miniatures are obviously based not on the Colonial Marines of Aliens fame, but on the Mobile Infantry from Starship Troopers. However, there are enough similarities to justify putting them in, and with a suitable paintjob these little fellow will fit right into an Aliens setting. The range is large and comprehensive, consisting of 17 packs including smart gun -style and heavier support weapons, recon teams, vehicles and even a news theme. Again, they’re very SST, but adaptable. Stylewise the 1st Corps stuff slots somewhere between the previous two entries. The style is a bit cartoony (which, to be honest, most 28mm minis are) but not as over the top as the ERM CMs. The minis come on small integral bases and are sculpted by Rob Baker. The quality of the sculpts is fine. There’s some softness here and there, but all in all they’re clean sculpts and simple in a good way. The models are sold as 25mm, but will fit ok with 28mm. Again, see the comparison pics for yourself.

As with the previous packs, the price is very competitive. 1st Corps’ infantry packs retail at £3.00 for three miniatures, with the support weapon packs a bit more expensive. All are available directly from 1st Corps. And while you’re there, check out their Aliens (see Alien miniature review) as well.

Regular troopers – click for a larger version.

Recon troopers – click for a larger version.

Hasslefree Miniatures Adventurers

Hasslefree miniatures stocks a wide range of individual characters that draw from a variety of pop culture sources. Luckily for us, there are several in their Adventurers line that suit the need for CMs: KJ (HFA053), the two versions of McKenzie (HFA049 & HFA054) and Debra (HFSF001a). As far as kit goes, the models aren’t quite Aliens, nor are they quite SST, but a good mix of the two to create the style we’re looking for. The most obvious CM aspect to the miniatures is the excellent Hasslefree Pulse rifle, which is a 1:1 match for the iconic gun in the original film. With the exception of the first version of McKenzie, the models are armed with that, and the weapon instantly gives them that CM look. It’s worth mentioning that the guns are available separately for your own CM conversions. The poses are nice, with McKenzie the first being a particular favourite. In terms of size the HF stuff is nicely in line with the miniatures reviewed above. The style is realistic, although with a hint of cartoony look thrown in. All models stand on standard slottabases, and are sculpted by Kev White.

As models  not intended to be purchased in large quantities (I think), the HF miniatures are more expensive than most ranges in this review with prices between £3.50 and £4.50 per model. While not too steep a price for quality miniatures, these are still at the high end of this review’s price scale. However, if you’re not looking to build a full army out of these four models, they’re well worth the investment as the sculpting is top notch. You can get them all direct from Hasslefree.

Hasslefree also sells other miniatures suitable for Aliens gaming,  and I will cover these in a later review. The facehugger-like head crabs can be found in my Alien miniature review.

Update August 30th 2012: After the original writing of this post, Hasslefree has released various new troopers in the vein of those reviewed here.

L to R: McKenzie 1, McKenzie 2, KJ, Debra – click for a larger version

Fenryll Science Fiction Troopers

French resin miniature manufacturer Fenryll has six more or less obviously not-CMs in their science fiction range. It has to be said right at the start that these miniatures are very big. While the Fenryll site lists them as 28mm, the models actually measure 33-35mm from top of base to top of head. The size is a real shame, since the miniatures are very nice. The sculptor Dominique Seys has done a nice job with the troopers’ faces and gear, and resin produces beutiful, crisp detail. There is one thing about the first pack that bugs me a lot, and it’s the way the troopers hold their pulse rifles. They’re all holding them one-handed (two of them are holding a grenade in the other hand), and the guns look entirely weightless. This gives the troopers of the first pack a very action figure-ish look, which I’m not partial to. The troopers in pack 2 hold their guns much more sensibly with two hands, and I prefer this pack to the first one. The models come with separate guns and backpacks, and they’re all on square integral resin bases, with some sculpted detail and texture. There were some casting flaws, with quite a lot of flash and mould lines/misalignment.

The size of the Fenryll troopers will probably put a lot of people off. As the comparison pictures below show, they’re very tall, standing head and shoulders above most other miniatures in this review. While this might make them unappealing to a fair few gamers, their large size does mean that they’re a perfect match size-wise for the Horrorclix Aliens or the Heresy Hurn, which tend to be pretty big compared to most 28mm miniatures. In terms of price the troopers are at the higher end in this review, with a pack of three models costing 10 EUR, which amounts to £8.40 at the time of writing, or £2.80 per miniature.

The two packs of troopers are available direct from Fenryll.

Pack 1 – click for a larger version

Pack 2 – click for a larger version

Copplestone Castings Troopers

Mark Copplestone has sculpted loads and loads of futuristic not-CMs, and they’re sold through at least three different companies. Copplestone’s own company has a wide range of around ten packs of five miniatures each. All kinds of troopers are available, with different gear options and weapons. There’s a pack of five female troopers for a nice piece of variety, as well as specialists and officer types. The sculpts are clean and paint up nicely, and the casting quality is fine as well. The models stand on small, thin integral bases.

There are some differences between these models and those sold by em4 and Mirliton (see below). One is the bases. Copplestone Castings minis have an integral base, whereas the others have slottabases. The Copplestone Castings minis are also a bit bigger and bulkier. If minis from em4/Mirliton and CC are placed next to eachother, you can tell the size difference. If the models are mixed in a unit, the difference isn’t very noticeable. Check out this post to see what I mean. The other difference is in the weapons. Some of the weapons have been changed from the original ones which are very pulse rifle-ish. Longer barrels have been added, the underslung grenade launchers removed and so on. The smartgun has also been altered to look more like a regular machine gun, which of course is disappointing when you’re looking for CMs. These are fairly minor quibbles, though and can be quite easily fixed.

All the Copplestone Castings packs retail for £8.50, which amounts to £1.70 per miniature. They’re available direct from Copplestone Castings.

Click for a larger version

em4 Miniatures Troopers

em4 is the second company in this review distributing the troopers sculpted by Mark Copplestone. As far as I know, these are the Future Warrior minis originally sold by Grenadier. Everything that was said above is true with these as well. The CC models are largely the same as these with minor changes, headswaps and so on. As mentioned, these are a bit smaller than the CC ones, and carry more Aliens-y weapons. The range, however, isn’t as large as the one produced by Copplestone Castings. There’s also a pack of sentry guns available. As with Hasslefree and Denizen, you can order single miniatures, which allows you to pick just the ones you want. The em4 troopers are £1.28 apiece, which gives you great value for your money. See em4’s online store for these.

Click for a larger version

In addition to their Copplestoney goodness, em4 also manufactures some cheap multi-part plastic troopers sculpted by Bob Naismith. While they’re not as similar to CMs as the Copplestone figures, I still thought it would be appropriate to mention them here, as they could easily be used for that. There’s a good example from Germy, who has combined the plastic troopers with Hasslefree’s pulse rifles for very nice almost-CMs. There are five basic bodies, with separate arms, chest and extra kit on the back. There are also metal conversion sets available from em4 that allow you to turn the minis either into a command squad or a heavy weapons squad.

The miniatures themselves are moulded from silver-coloured plastic and come with their own 25mm round slottabases. There are two pairs of arms holding a heavy futuristic pistol, one pair holding a large combat knife and a SMG and two pairs holding something that looks like a cross between an assault rifle, laser gun and heavy combat shotgun. Detail is not bad, although it is softer than newer plastic sets from Games Workshop or Mantic for example. The sculpts themselves are quite nice. My biggest complaint is the heavy mould lining present. There was a lot of cleaning up to do, which is always a chore. Then again, you still get a very good value for your money, since the plastic troopers retail for £2.50 for five miniatures (£0.50 apiece), making them by far the cheapest choice in this review. They’re available direct from em4, you can find the link above. There’s a more detailed review here, in case you’re interested.

Click for a larger version

Mirliton Future Warriors

The Italian company Mirliton picked up the old Grenadier moulds for the Future Warriors line. As far as I can tell, these are exactly the same models that are sold by em4, so the above reviews apply. They’re marginally more expensive (+£0.15 per model at the time of writing) than em4, and come in pre-selected packs of five miniatures each. They’re available direct from Mirliton.

Scotia Grendel Nexus Colonial Marines

Part of Scotia Grendel’s old Kryomek range, the CMs are a nice varied bunch consisting of three packs of three troopers, plus one pack of casualties. The funny thing is that I could detect no damage in one of the casualties, so he would pass for an intact marine easily. The Nexus Marines bear some resemblance to the original CMs, although it’s mainly due to their bare arms and their weapons. Some of them also sport a familiar helmet design. They’re armed mostly with very pulse rifle-ish weapons, although there are three sporting pistols or submachine guns. Two models have pretty neat shields strapped to their arms. All in all, it’s debatable how much the Nexus Colonial Marines resemble the Aliens ones, but I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

The models are pretty nice sculpts, although some of them suffer from overly long arms. A few also succumb to the action figure syndrome by firing their rifles with one hand. As with the Fenryll troopers above, I find this more than a bit silly. The sculptor Chaz Elliott has managed to pose the troopers in good, dynamic poses, so they really look like they’re in a combat situation. They’re quite bulky and heroic in style, resembling the Copplestone Castings range for example. There are some multipart models, and the pieces fit together okay. All the models stand on fairly thick integral metal bases and due to the wide stances some of them have, basing them on standard 25mm bases will require some cutting and filing of the bases.

The casualties are a nice addition to the range. While I’ve never really understood the function of casualty miniatures, I guess they could be used as markers or tokens. The sculpts are great and characterful with gruesome wounds. If you’re looking to do some scifi zombie action, the casualties could easily be painted as zombies.

The Nexus Colonial Marines can be ordered directly from Scotia Grendel’s webstore. They retail for £5.00 for a pack of three models.

Click for a larger version

Casualties – click for a larger version

Woodbine Design / Gripping Beast SciFi Marines

These CMs, sculpted by Rob Baker who also did the 1st Corps stuff mentioned above, have steadily grown on me. I was first put off by their cartoony look, which I’ve begun to like more and more. For me the selling point of these miniatures is their kit, however. With the exception of their pulse rifles (which are the same guns carried by the 1st Corps troopers) their gear is an exact match for that worn by the marines in Aliens. There are pulse rifles, flamers, smartguns, a shotgun, motion trackers and even an automated sentry gun. All the main characters from the movie are depicted in the range, including Burke, Gorman, Ripley and Bishop – all of who will be discussed in detail in the upcoming Aliens gaming review.

As said, the models are quite cartoony as well as bulky. While the sculpting style will not be to everyone’s liking, I find that the cartoony features give the models a lot of personality. There’s a variety of expressions ranging from panic to intense concentration to anger. Again, the spirit of the CMs has been nicely captured. There are six packs in the range, with one being the aforementioned characters from Aliens and one a pack of support weapons – a marine with an RPG and one operating a sentry gun. All models come on thin integral bases. There is one irksome thing, though. Some of the models have a mould line running right through their face, and this can potentially cause the whole face to get wrecked by a casting flaw. On my copies of the minis there was some flash in the middle of the face which required very delicate cleaning so as not to disfigure the face. This becomes doubly important because of the great facial features mentioned above.

With the exception of the support weapons, all packs consist of four miniatures. Each pack retails for £5.50, and is available through Gripping Beast’s webstore.

Click for a larger version

Defiance Games UAMC Infantry

Defiance Games offers a set of 24 multi-part plastic futuristic US (or rather United Americas) marines, digitally sculpted by Tim Barry. They are very CM in style, so they’re well worth including in this review. The box includes 12 identical sprues, each with the same components: five right arms with weapons (two identical assault rifles with two different arm poses, a shortened version of said rifle, a version with an underslung grenade launcher and a leafblower/smartgun style support weapon. There are three pairs of legs in different poses, four left arms, two torsoes, six heads (five different), some ammo pouches and a backpack. While the sprue offers a nice variety, I can’t help thinking that a third torso to go with the legs instead of a backpack would’ve been a smart move on DG’s part. As it is, after assembling your 24 marines you’ll have 12 extra sets of legs – not the most useful thing to own for conversion purposes. The box includes 24 separate 25mm round plastic bases.

I’d give the models a 7 or an 8 out of 10 on casting quality. The detailing on the guns and the torso armour is pretty nice and crisp, but there are some bad softness and mould line issues on the legs. While the quality is better than on the em4 plastics (which are what, 20 years old?), it’s definitely not as good as with Games Workshop or Mantic. This is basically my main complaint about the set, as crisper casting would’ve made this set wonderful instead of “just” very nice.

The marines are nice and businesslike. They look suitably gruff and bad-ass, and their gear with body and leg armour, helmet cameras and rolled-up sleeves give them a good Colonial Marine vibe. The gun designs don’t resemble the CM guns, but to me this isn’t a major issue. The style of the support weapon immediately says “smartgun” to me, which is always nice.

With 24 models to a pack that retails for $29.95, the price for a single model is roughly $1.25, or £0.78 at the time of writing. This makes the DG marines pretty cheap, although somewhat more expensive than the em4 ones. With the DG models you do get a lot more variety, though.

You can get the UAMC box directly from Defiance Games.

Click for a larger version

Sgt. Major Miniatures Allied Troopers

Sgt. Major Miniatures produces two packs of five Allied Troopers in their Get Some! 28mm SF line.  Sculpted by Adam Gayford, these troopers look like a nice amalgamation of various lines in this review which means they can be used with a lot of other lines without much trouble. They are quite chunky and their proportions are on the cartoony side, and they’re all on fairly thin integral bases. The Allied Troopers wear helmets somewhat similar in design to those worn by the Hasslefree troopers, and they bring to my mind the UNSC Marines from the Halo franchise. They carry the Hasslefree pulse rifle (which Hasslefree have allowed to be used commercially) which instantly gives them a lot of Colonial Marine points. The Allied Troopers wear fairly bulky body armour and have no kneepads or shin guards.

There’s nice variety in the poses supplied, with moving, firing and at ready poses. Of the ten miniatures nine are troopers and one is an officer with a long trenchcoat and a pistol. The officer is sadly the weakest of the lot by far, and the only one in this set that I wouldn’t recommend as he looks like he’s been given a good going-over with the proverbial ugly stick. In fact I left him out of the photo as he really isn’t representative of the overall quality of the miniatures in the sets. The troopers have characterful expressions on their faces, and a decent painter will definitely make them look great.

Variable casting quality is my main gripe with the Sgt. Major Troopers. Approximately half of the models had an excessive amount of flash and mould lines on them, as well as some pitting in the metal that will need filling in. Then again, the other half of the Troopers are nice, clean casts with no defects, so I’m willing to chalk this one down to sheer bad luck on my part.

A pack of five troopers will set you back $12.50, which translates to $2.50 or £1.65 per miniature (as of 24th February 2013). You can buy them from Sgt. Major Miniatures’ webstore.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Games Workshop plastics with Mad Robot Miniatures’ conversion parts

Games Workshop’s Warhammer 40K range of miniatures includes the Imperial Guard, who are basically the footsloggers of a very dark future. This range includes two styles of plastic regiment: the Catachans, who are Rambo-esque jungle fighters and Cadians, who are a more generic type of soldier. Neither of these regiments as such looks like Colonial Marines, although due to their wide availability they have often been used for conversion work (see here for one example). However, there’s a large after market selling resin conversion parts for GW’s plastic sets. One of the companies doing this is Mad Robot Miniatures, who just happen to sell some CM style Colonial Defense heads and pulse rifles.

The heads come in a sprue of five different heads, although with some heads the expression differences are quite slight. The resin castings are very very crisp, with nothing to clean up. They’re instantly recognizable as Colonial Marines due to their distinct helmets with helmet cameras, mics and even the protective neck flaps. The pulse rifles are an amalgam of the Aliens design and a GW lasgun. Just like the heads, they are nice clean castings with no cleaning required. Everything is sculpted by Mr. Mad Robot himself, Steve Stodden.

I tried the extra parts on both Cadian and Catachan models. I found that they work with both, but the Catachan with their vests, tank tops and bare arms make for a more CM look. The main fault with the Cadians is their long jacket that doesn’t mesh with the CM look. The Cadians do have the body armour that the Catachans lack, though. As the long hem of the Cadian jacket is attached to the legs, a good alternative is to combine Cadian torsos with Catachan legs for the best of both worlds. Mad Robot is also releasing armoured torsos for their Colonial Defense line, so that will definitely fix things. The Cadian torso features a high collar, which requires some trimming to make the new head fit.

There’s not much to criticize here, apart from one very obvious thing: the parts are intended to be compatible with GW’s plastics, which makes them the wrong size for most other ranges. The pulse rifles and heads are in line with GW’s “big heads and bigger guns” aesthetic, and will look odd on other minis. This is pretty mild critique though, as the parts are very good for what they’re intended to do.

The pack of five heads costs $3.50 while the pack of five pulse rifles will set you back $4.00. They’re available in the Mad Robot online store. You can find the Games Workshop plastic sets in the GW online store.

Click for a larger version.  Photo © Mad Robot Miniatures

Click for a larger version. Photo © Mad Robot Miniatures

Click for a larger version.  Photo © Mad Robot Miniatures

Click for a larger version. Photo © Mad Robot Miniatures

L to R: Catachan w/ Mad Robot head, Catachan w/ Mad Robot head and pulse rifle, Cadian w/ Mad Robot head and pulse rifle

L to R: Catachan w/ Mad Robot head, Catachan w/ Mad Robot head and pulse rifle, Cadian w/ Mad Robot head and pulse rifle

Overall verdict: Oh boy. That’s a lot of miniatures. The great variety means there’s something here for everyone, and what I recommend depends a lot on what you’re looking for. Authentic CM gear? Go with Woodbine. Not cartoony enough? Turn to ERM. Too cartoony? Try Denizen. Too small? Check out em4. Still too small? Copplestone. STILL too small? Fenryll. Want to do Starship Troopers as well? 1st Corps. Need more generic scifi types? Scotia Grendel or Sgt. Major might just be your uncle. Want to do it on the cheap? em4 or Defiance Games plastics. Looking for premium sculpts? Hasslefree. Want to build a CM force for Warhammer 40K? Try Mad Robot. And so on.

The size comparison pictures should give you a pretty good idea of the miniatures’ size differences. As you can see, they’re not too bad. Note that some height differences depend on the models’ integral bases, which I’ve simply slapped on top of  a 25mm slottabase. The pictures should function as guidelines, but keep in mind they’re not The Truth. They weren’t taken in laboratory conditions, after all. It would’ve been too much work to photograph every single combination of different manufacturers, so I figured you can simply compare different images. There are some Aliens for size reference in some of the pics. You can click on any picture for a larger version.

L to R: Hasslefree, Defiance, Sgt. Major, em4, 1st Corps

L to R: Hasslefree, Defiance Games, Sgt. Major, em4, 1st Corps

L to R: Hasslefree, Woodbine, Defiance Games, Horrorclix Alien, em4

L to R: Denizen, em4, em4 plastic, Hasslefree, Woodbine

L to R: Scotia Grendel, em4, Fenryll, Hasslefree, Copplestone Castings

L to R: Scotia Grendel, 1st Corps, Fenryll, ERM, Copplestone Castings

L to R: Hasslefree, 1st Corps, em4, Copplestone Castings, Woodbine

L to R: Hasslefree, Reviresco Homophage, em4, Horrorclix Alien, Woodbine

L to R: Scotia Grendel, Reviresco Homophage, Denizen, Horrorclix Alien, Fenryll

These next two comparison photos are by Akula, so much thanks to him. They show the OOP Leading Edge CM size.

L to R: Hasslefree, Woodbine, Leading Edge

L to R: Hasslefree, Denizen, Leading Edge, Woodbine

Conclusion

Like in my Alien miniatures review, I’m not going to stuff my own choices down my readers’ throats. Besides, I like all the models in this review, and will be using most of them. It’s very much a horses for courses thing, like I mentioned above. If you can’t decide, just buy a bit of everything. A matching paintjob will bring it all together regardless.

Again I must thank all the companies in this review for taking part. All of them deserve your support for what they’re doing for the hobby. My part is making their products easier for you to find. Your part? Buying them, painting them, gaming with them. Being miniature gamers, that should come naturally.

How do you see your Colonial Marines? Are they strictly the guys and gals from Aliens? What about the rest of the franchise? The comics and the books? The way I see it, it doesn’t really pay to be too much of a purist in some cases. Maybe you like your CMs with experimental laser rifles, railguns, tanks and whatnot, regardless of what’s in the movie. Definitely don’t let that stop you. These are toys, depicting fictional people in a fictional future. When you find yourself thinking “oh, but this isn’t accurate, this isn’t right!” it might be time to take a step back and think again.

Why do I say that? I used to be a real nitpicker. I couldn’t combine miniature ranges if one was 28mm and another 30mm. Different style weapons and gear made me weep. After a while I found this all a bit stressful. Now as I’m writing this, I have most of the miniatures mentioned above sitting on my desk. They’re going to be made into units, with their various weapons and gear. They’ll be painted using a consistent colour scheme. When they’re on the table – all those ranges – will people be going “how can you combine those? The horror! Different weapons! Inconsistent gear! Have you even seen Aliens?“? No. If they’re worth spending time with, they’ll be going “ooh, Colonial Marines! Awesome, I love them!”

I suggest you do that, too.

%d bloggers like this: