Thursday, October 10, 2013

Dropzone Commander starter Set

Approximately last year, I became aware of a new game arriving on the cyberspace. From some pictures on the specialized websites (beast of war, and perhaps bell of lost souls if I remember correctly) I could clearly see something that appealed to some nostalgia from eon past : the advertisements of the 6mm miniature game space marine of the beginning of the 90'. As most of us, miniwargamers, I was brought to the "hobby" by the "warhammer" games from Games Workshop. At the local store nearby, there was only a box of warhammer 40k, so that's what I bought that day. But I remember fondly looking at those pictures, trying (and almost succeeding) to sell me the 6mm goodness. Alas ! the epic line is no more, even if some of the friends still play it with some obscure ruleset from the depths of the internet community.

Enough rambling on the age pasts, back to last year : I found the dropzone commander miniatures very appealing with their sleek futuristic design, but I was somewhat rebutted by what I perceived then as a steep price. It was to my delight that the starter set was announced, and I swiftly pre-ordered one box. The wait was quite worth it.

The hard truth is that I don't really plan to build an army for either the Scourge or the UCM, the two factions of the starter set. I already had my eyes on the PHR. But I figured that I could use the strater set as a bootstrap, and if I like it, invest more time (and money) into the PHR.

From the day I received the strater set box, I worked on the miniatures (I still didn't had the opportunity to play the game, but I plan to eventually). I took me one week of painting, planning, and I am now almost finished (miniature painters know that a model is often quite never finished...).

 The scourge infantry, basecoated and highlighted with the airbrush. Doing the bases was the most time consuming part of the process.
 the Scourge vehicules, painted with vallejo chrome. A very nice metallic colour.
 After a purple wash and satin varnish. Some details here and there but nothing fancy really.
 another shot
The Scourge infantry and their transports, finished. I still have to put some snow on the bases but it can wait.
a view of the dropships loaded. I can't do it with the middle one as these tanks have their turrets glued on : I don't want to loose a small turret...

The Scourge was the easier part. Basecoat of vallejo grey primer, then chrome form vallejo model air, purple wash (citadel range), some details (the eyes in red) and some varnish. The infantry took most of my time : brown and metallics mainly, nothing fancy, but I find the result to be "ok". I took me maybe 3 hours to paint all the Scourge, from basecoat to varnish. Maybe the easiest miniature range to paint quickly and with great results.

For the UCM, first I decided to paint them green, the emblematic colour, but then I changed my mind. I decided to do something different. There is a map in the game mechwarrior online called "Frozen city", where the battle takes place in the ruins of a city taken by the ice. I decided to use that as an source of inspiration and paint my UCM accordingly. Then, I would build a map of the frozen city with buildings recovered by ice and snow... My painting template for the UCM would then be one of cold colours : greys, blues... I chose a digital camo painting to improve my skills with my brand new airbrush (badger patriot 105).

 UCM infantry, painted in light grey (vallejo model air). Some zenital high lightning but I don't really know if it shows much.
 UCM vehicules with the base colour : 1/2 light blue grey, 1/2 sky blue from vallejo model air. Used german grey underneath

I used tamiya 18mm masking tape and tried to print some digital camo from some tutorials on the internet, but after some time trying to cut the squared shapes from the printed templates, I realized it was easier and quicker to just cut by eyeballing it. I chose to place the tape semi-randomly on the models, and I realize now that I could have done some kind of symetrical pattern, at least on the dropships (the tanks are asymetricals so it would have been more difficult).
 My prototype : I made a mistake with the third colour, too similar to the light grey I used as the second colour. I use small caps from empty bottles as handles for the models (fixed with bluetak). It is very handy.

I waited too long (2-3 days) between the different steps of the procedure : main colour, applying the masking tape, new colour, applying another layer of masking tape... and it appears that the longer the tape stays on the model, the more chance there is that the paint will come of with the tape. One of the dropship had a huge chunk of paint removed, leaving the plastic bare. I had no choice but to send it to the "Stripping Can"...

After correcting the paint scratches from removing the masking tape, I varnished the models, and then finished the details and applied the wash. Even with acrylic wash (nuln oil from citadel) the varnished model let the wash flow better in the recesses. It doesn't flow as well as with oil wash (I use AK interactive Dark brown wash on other models) but there is a real effect.

 The (almost) finished UCM vehicules. Some defaults here and there, but it doesn't show too much. The dropship in the middle went to the stripping can, and I tried a symetrical pattern for the camo on it. Unfortunately I also had some problems with the varnish (particles) on this one : I think it will be unlucky in the game !

 another view - the turrets are glued, and I didn't magnetize any of the models.

In the end, I think that the (almost) finished result is good. In my mind it was something better looking, but it is often the case when I am still in the planning phase : I am often somewhat optimistic in my expectations.

The Dropzone Commander starter set is a very fine product, and a great way to get into the game. I plan to maybe buy another starter set as it is such a good value. It was a real breeze to paint the models and I wait eagerly for an opportunity to play with these now painted models !


  1. This ice planed city digi cammo is fantastic. Wonderful work.

    1. I'll try to get some action pictures with the city when playing with it, it should be even better. Thank you !