Saturday, September 7, 2019

Battletech Bandit Group

So, about 30 years ago, 8 year old me watched in awe as some of the older kids on my block played  two games that would go on to be the basis for my interest in wargaming - Dungeons & Dragons and Battletech. Tastes and the gaming industry always change so that, by the time I was a teenager myself, both were waning in popularity a bit and were eclipsed by the rising juggernaut of Games Workshop. But the interest was still there in the back of my mind, and I read the occasional Battletech novel or played the occasional Battletech video game (Mech Commander being my favorite). So, I was pleasantly surprised when the game was given a much-needed makeover and a fantastic second Kickstarter focusing on the Clan Invasion. I needed to get in on this.

So here I am, much older, with my first set of fully painted Battlemechs. I picked up these up on the cheap ($15 for a closeout Alpha Strike Pursuit Lance and $10 for a clearance Robotech box of Warhammers and Riflemen) and I just thought "get these on the table so you can learn the game before your Kickstarter pledge comes in!".....and here we are. To be honest, I've never painted Battletech minis before and haven't painted anything for myself in this scale (6mm) for several years now, so this was also a learning curve for me as well.

I primed these Mechs black, then used a zenithal priming of Red Oxide, applied a coat of hairspray for chipping effects, and then airbrushed a three-tone soft-edged camouflage scheme of Tamiya Red Brown, Olive Green, and Wooden Deck Tan. I then chipped it....which didn't really work. At this small scale, there aren't a lot of well-defined edges to run the brush over and, coupled with the Red Brown basecoat, the chipping doesn't really stand out. I then washed everything in diluted GW Agrax Earthshade.

As I wanted this unit to look like a group of rag-tag mercenaries or bandits, I overpainted some of the panels and gun barrels with Vallejo Oily Steel to represent arm that had been replaced but never repainted. I also did this to the ends of the PPC gun barrels on the Warhammers, working in successive shades of blue and purple to simulate the heat-tinting of metal. In my headcanon, these mechs are captured stock from some military unit or mothballed storage depot and the red shoulders represent the new owners covering up the old unit symbols and I painted these with Vallejo Flat Red, highlighted with a 50/50 mix of VMC Flat Red/Reaper Rach Red, and washed with some ancient GW Baal Red wash. The cockpit glass was just a spontaneous decision of trying to see if I could replicate jewel effects with a single color and multiple washes - the basecoat is an incredibly ancient bottle of craft Medium Yellow paint (so old, in fact that the brand - Illinois Bronze Paint - is no longer in business!), given multiple washes of GW Casandora Yellow to build up orange shading, then given the "glint" in Pure White. The infrared lights on the Warhammers were done in a similar way but given multiple washes of the GW Baal Red, then a final wash of Secret Weapon Red Black.

Decals were a mix of whatever I happened to have on hand that would fit. They all got some skulls because skulls are cool and then a few different designs to "personalize" each mech to its Mechwarrior. I then did all the basework and glued the Mechs down and this is the final result. For a force that went from bare plastic to fully-painted and table-ready in a month, I'm happy with the result. Is it my best work? No. Does it have to be? No. But it's the realization of a seed that was planted decades ago.

1 comment:

Lasgunpacker said...

I think these are pretty great! The red shoulder is very striking and the main color works out well too. The plastic figures are obviously superior, but I think that has quite a bit to do with design, rather than production per se.

I have never played Battletech myself, but I have always sort of hovered on the periphery, checking out color schemes, wish listing starter boxes and so on.