Didn’t See That Coming!

Well, so far, this month is shaping up to be “No Models March” for both good and bad reasons!  I’d sort of signed up to the Squad! March! challenge, hoping to finish my next Paraguyan War unit, but that’s looking unlikely to happen!  So although I got my Mammont tank painted, nothing else looks like being close to getting finished, although quite a few figures have managed to get cleaned up, based and primed.

In the Mammont post, I mentioned that I don’t do sci-fi and I don’t do 15mm figures.  Well, that’s not quite true and this will probably end up being a bit of a lengthy, dull post justifying that statement!  You’ve been warned!  And it’s more blurb than pics!

2018_0309_17512900Before that, though, a bit about the figures in the photo above.  The small figure in the centre is a Black Hat Miniatures 18mm Martian Cephalopod civilian, from the Martian Wars range (and there are some close-up views later in this post).  The civilian variant of the Cephalopod stands on one tentacle and there are a further four tentacles that are glued to the underside of the head/body.  This individual is overseeing the operation of the three larger models in the picture, which are 15mm bio-tanks from Alternative Armies.  These are classic Laserburn/Asgard miniatures from the 80s, available currently from Alternative Armies.  There was quite a heavy flash line on these minis, and I had to resort to using a mini-power tool to clean them up!  I went with purple for fleshy bits, German camouflage sand for bony bits, flat earth for muscle and grey for the Cephalopod’s head, all washed over with sepia wash and then drybrushed or touched up.  The gun barrels for the tanks are in bronze, representing an amalgam of bio-engineering and traditional metal.

These figures were actually painted in February and I managed to get some daylight to get them photographed in (although they’re not great pictures)!


OK, so why have I got these figures and how the hell do they fit in with anything else I’m working on (particularly since 20mm is my scale of choice)?

Back in the 90s I started painting 20mm figures for wargaming the Boxer Rebellion and gradually built up a reasonable amount of both Chinese and Western units, also expanding the scope to include French operations in Indo-China (Vietnam) in the 1880s.  Way back when I was a teenager, a bunch of us played future sci-fi games using converted 1:72 plastic figures, scratchbuilt tanks and an early sci-fi rules set (which was quite good and we all memorized it, although I can’t remember what it was called)!  So, I thought why not sort of come back to sci-fi by doing Victorian Science Fiction (VSF), adding steampunk elements to my 19th Century armies?  The amount of steampunk minis available in 15/18/25/28mm scales would mean I would be able to find some stuff to use with 20mm figures, but what about a setting for the whole thing?

My first thought was to base it around A Princess Of Mars and have the Red Martians breeding a Green Martian invasion force on Earth (so they could withstand Earth’ s higher gravity).  But when Black Hat’s various Martian figures came out (which cover 18mm figures for A Princess Of Mars, Space 1889 and War Of The Worlds backgrounds) I opted to go with their Cephalopods invading with three-legged war machines.  Then I thought “what if invaders were already scattered across the solar system and bio-engineered “humans” on various planets and large moons that they terraformed”?  Then Stars Of Empire came out and I realised that someone had already thought about this!  Then I (somewhat belatedly) discovered Call Of Cthulhu and H. P. Lovecraft and realised I was a bit late jumping on this particular bandwagon!

So, where do I think this is going?  Well, my historical 19th Century armies have expanded to the point that I can now add bits of steamtech into them and get quite a range of different forces!  I’ve planned to add steam tanks, automatons, rocket launchers, steam-powered personal armour, lightning cannon, tunnelers and mechanised transport, and heavier-than-air craft will probably appear!  And I’m planning on having human armies on Mars, both indigenous ones evolved from bio-engineered humans born on Mars, and human invaders from Earth.  So, where does that leave the non-human forces?


I’m basing my alien invaders of the solar system on the Black Hat 18mm tentacled Cephalopods.  I haven’t got a name for them yet, although I understand most humans that have fought them (and survived) disparagingly refer to them as “Squids” (and to those squids reading this, please don’t be offended, as that’s not the intention here)!  Originally reaching the solar system millions of years ago, the Squids terraformed Venus, Earth, Mars, Europa and built outposts on other moons and in asteroid belts.  Hominids evolved naturally on Earth, but the Squids cloned humans and bio-engineered other creatures and populated all of the terraformed planets.  However, over millennia, the Squids’ numbers have reduced and they have retreated to small enclaves throughout the solar system.  On Earth, they have remained hidden until the early 19th Century, mainly in remote areas of rainforest, but their existence has come under threat after mankind’s discovery of the super-element gravitium and subsequent development of new transportation modes, weapons and space travel.

As far as armed forces are concerned, the Squids maintain some of their original technology, but have generally developed bio-engineered weapons or constructs for use on different planets.


The bio-tanks in the photo above are actually just the latest additions to my Squid army, with most of the figures having been painted over the last few years or so.  I’ve tended to build units with three models in each.

2018_0309_17451700I started off with some Black Hat Cephalopod infantry and small fighting machines from Spartan Games.  At this early stage, I’d envisaged the invaders being part of a telepathic hive mind, and the fighting machines being constructed from advanced alloys but with a cephalopod brain implant controlling them.

I then decided that, to supplement war machines manufactured from limited resources, the Squids would make use of their bio-engineering capabilities to grow their own combat systems.  Although they sell for what I would consider ridiculously inflated prices, I managed to get some old Epic Tyranid war machines to use as bio-artillery!

2018_0309_17541000Exocrines make good direct-fire heavy weapons, whilst the Dactylis lends itself to being a short range indirect-fire system, both types being overseen by Squid controllers!  As yet, I have no idea what the effects of such weapons might be (short of being “considerable” and “nasty”)!

2018_0309_17531600I’ve got plans for various other bio-constructs to appear in the Squids’ armoury, mostly heavy close-combat types, but none of these have managed to get to the painting stage yet.

2018_0309_17492100As far as scale is concerned, the Black Hat 18mm Cephalopods fit in well with 20mm figures, as you can see from the above picture showing Vietnamese irregulars (converted from Lancashire Games 20mm figures) attacking Squids!  I’m assuming that most of the time Squid weaponry would prevent any attackers getting this close, but in dense jungle anything can happen!

So, at the moment, I’ve sort of got a sci-fi army under way!  The path it takes, though, appears to be a bit hazy (although that could just be Squid refractive technology taking effect)!



    • Yep, you’re right! Even if I’m preparing stuff in the background it means I can hopefully have a good run on finishing stuff at some point in the future! The Squids have been under way for quite a while and I’ve enjoyed working on them, particularly since I now have to work out how they’ll work in a wargame! Glad you like them!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. That’s a very cool little force you’re putting together there, and you know that they would count, right? If you’ve been painting them? I wasn’t entirely sure if you’ve been painting the squid from your text..

    Liked by 2 people

    • Glad you like them! Unfortunately, the last unit painted was the bio-tank unit, but I’ve been honest and admitted that I managed to finish them in February (sorry for the confusion)! I might still get something done in March though!

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Mark! Actually, using purple is a bit of a first for me, since I never need it for 19th/20th Century figures, so I’m sort of pushing my boundaries here (OK, not by much, admittedly)! It’s straight Vallejo Model Color purple and it even get’s my wife’s seal of approval!

      Liked by 1 person

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