Cometh the apocalypse

No, this has nothing to do with the release of 40K seventh edition; that hasn’t really registered on my radar just yet to be honest. This is actually all about Dropzone Commander, or more specifically the universe it occupies. Hawk Wargames 10mm scale sci-fi game has been slowly but surely infiltrating my painting plans for best part of a year. Every time I’m about to fully launch into it however, it always seems to get pushed back again in favour of another project, be that Lord of the Rings, Deadzone, Flames of War or even 40K (yes, I do still paint the occasional piece). It’s not that I don’t like DZC; quite the opposite I love it. It’s just that when I start planning how to paint the forces and terrain I really want to do them justice and simply cannot settle on a scheme or method I like yet. Rather tragic isn’t it.

To try and get at least some momentum going on Dropzone, I’ve begun by painting a few scatter terrain pieces just to set the mood. I can’t take credit for this as it was actually ‘Pilgrim’ on the Hawk Wargames forum who came up with the idea first, but I thought it was a fantastic little weekend project. Basically one of the elements that’s frequently missing from ruined cityscapes is all the abandoned civilian vehicles, yet how often do you see massive gridlocks of cars and trucks desperately trying to flee the area of conflict? I really want to emphasise this in my Dropzone games as well as create a tactical challenge on the tabletop. DZC is all about mobility and rapid deployment/re-deployment using the iconic dropships and by blocking the streets with abandoned vehicles, choke points are created which help to create those challenges not to mention add another eye-catching element.

The vehicles in question have to look like they were abandoned during the panic and confusion of the initial ‘Scourge’ invasion years earlier. Incinerated during the attack, they now lie burned out and rusting from their exposure to the elements. This creates a great backdrop for a whole host of gaming scenarios, be it Rebel survivors looking to loot resources from the Scourge held city (think “Falling Skies”), or a more organised UCM Strike Force targeting intel. The basis for all of this however is a set of ‘N’ gauge model railway plastic cars and lots of them, one hundred in fact. Manufactured in China they are very cost effective and easy to source online, including postage these cost a little over £8 for 100 assorted pieces. Obviously, they could be used as they are straight out of the factory being fully painted already. So if you have a less apocalyptic scene in mind they are ready to go. I wanted something a bit more atmospheric however, so they required some preparation first. I began by separating the chassis from the  body and removing the glass section from all the cars to create a hollowed out hull. I also clipped the wheels flush to make them easier to glue down. It also emphasises the appearance of burned out tyres and bare wheel rims as ‘pilgrim’ quite rightly pointed out. The bodywork section and chassis were then primed black inside and out en-masse before I gave the exteriors a light coat of dark and mid brown with the airbrush. The trick throughout all of this is to create an inconsistent and patchy covering to help emphasise all of the different shades of rust. It’s even ok, desirable in fact to leave areas of the underlying paintwork showing. If you’ve been following my Twitter Feed the past couple of days you will of course have already seen all this, but here are the stages in a bit more detail.

With the two halves in a patchy brown I re-assembled all of the vehicles again before fixing them onto 2mm MDF bases to create a gridlocked/pileup appearance. With the cars in place I gave the bases some texture in the form of Tamiya paving effect paint which I stippled using an old brush. This was then airbrushed in a patchy Vallejo German Grey to add variety before picking out patches with Games Workshop’s cracked earth effect paint. Although I didn’t take much to it for 28mm scale, applied thinly for 6mm or 10mm scale it looks great! Finally before calling it a day to let everything dry I applied random patches of Games Workshop corrosion paint effect to bodywork and hoods and stippled on some of their dry rust effect. Note: a number of these paint effects take time to dry and form correctly, if you want to speed this up a quick blast with a hair dryer works wonders.

Day two was all about applying a range of medium and light rust coloured weathering pigments which were sealed into place with MIG pigment fixative. Ash brown and white pigments were then added sparingly here and there to create the deposits left behind from the fire. Again, these were sealed in place with fixative.

 

As a final step I added a few scarce patches of dead grasses and fine scratches of recently exposed bare metal using a graphite pencil. In total the one hundred cars filled out nine large bases and eleven small bases, more than enough to choke up the highways of even a moderately sized urban table. Overall a nice little weekend project, but sadly it still hasn’t helped me decide on a paint scheme for the Scourge. Oh well. Next update, more scatter terrain, but this time for Deadzone/40K.

Until then, have a great weekend.

Carl

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