mars@acks!

Getting over COVID (although it was only a mild bout) and the general world situation at the moment means I’ve been a bit out of sorts lately. So although I have finished a small amount (see below) I’ve mostly done a bit of cleaning and preparing of models for painting at some point in the future.

Back in December I reviewed what I’d been working on over the 5+ years I’ve been writing this blog and identified those conflicts/periods that I’d largely neglected (more details here). Keeping this in mind, all of this year’s activity (and there hasn’t been much) has concentrated on the most neglected of the neglected, although a lot of that has been preparation. However, I have managed to get a handful of figures painted for my Victorian Science Fiction/steampunk project and these are shown below.

These are Cephalopod infantry from the Fighting 15s’ range of 18mm Martian Empires figures. I think they’re quite creepy, basically tentacled brains with big guns! These five figures have just been finished, but the army has been featured before (back in March 2018) and most of my thinking behind this army can be found here. I painted them in a simple scheme of grey and purple with brass for the guns and then slapped a coat of Army Painter shade on them (either Strong or Dark, I can’t remember, but it’s the brownish shade rather than the black). Previous figures had then been touched up but I didn’t bother with these and they’re virtually indistinguishable from the earlier ones. As far as size goes they fit in well with my 20mm 19th Century historical armies who are going to be fighting them (see below).

At this point I’m sticking to the premise that these invaders, nicknamed Squids by Earth’s soldiers, either arrived on Earth from afar or already had enclaves on our planet and were forced into combat with Earth during the 1880s. However, Earth technology has developed a bit and weapons such as as steam tanks, robots and flying machines have all been developed in some rudimentary form or another.

The main reason for getting the figures above finished is that I now have enough numbers and variety in my 19th Century historical armies to start equipping them with new technology to fight the invaders. This entire project is really a spin-off and only requires some extras to convert historical armies to steampunk armies. The Squids are the only army to be painted specifically for this project and there aren’t many of them (there doesn’t need to be, given their advanced weaponry).

Shown above are three Squid infantry units (including the new one, at the front) plus two support units of bio-engineered artillery. Since I’ve moved all of my historical armies onto unit bases, I’ve also had to provide these for the Squids (see more on the bases here). Because of this I’ll develop all of the Squid weapon effects on a unit basis, but I’ve still to do that. The Squid bio-constructs will be familiar to all GW Epic Tyranid fans as they are Exocrines, here mounted on a large unit base (see below).

These are accompanied by a Dactylis unit (see below), obviously intended to hurl big gobs of acidic snot over friendly troops and onto the enemy!

The support units have oval MDF bases topped with steel paper for the magnetised bases to stick to. I’ve left the bases plain so that they can be used for different support units mixed with the odd Squid figure.

Next part of the army is some heavy and mobile firepower (see below) provided by small tripod walkers and bio-tanks (the former from Spartan games and the latter from Alternative Armies).

The bio-tanks are on the same support unit oval bases but have a couple of Squid crew to accompany the tank (see below). I’ve also got a third bio-tank but it’s not shown here (just looks like the others).

The small tripods will probably be fast and armed with short range, area effect weapons that fire over their frontal arc. I’ll probably assume they’re lightly protected but that enough fire aimed at them will eventually bring them down. Two of them are shown in close-up below – I think now I’d have gloss varnished them for more contrast. In the photos I forgot to mount the small tripods on their unit bases, but they’ll operate as two tripods to a unit/base.

Last up are the remaining small tripods (I’ve got six altogether) and two larger versions (also from Spartan Games).

The two larger tripods are shown in close-up below.

These will be slower and more heavily armed with a short-ranged forward firing battery and a longer-ranged weapon capable of all round fire. The larger tripods operate individually and don’t require a unit base. These models are a pain to store, even though the “heads” are removable to reduce their height!

So, that’s my Squid army for now – 19 infantry, six bio-construct artillery pieces, three bio-tanks, six small tripods and two large tripods. I may add some units in the future but for now it’s finished!

I’ve also got two other options for introducing these invaders into Earth’s timeline apart from the 1880s, which is why I’ve kept all of the figures on their individual bases (to simplify using them with different rules). The first option is to introduce them in 1917 at the height of WW1, which will allow me to use my WW1 historical armies with some 1919 tank designs chucked in for Earth’s armies to use. In that case I wouldn’t add any additional technology to the human forces and would assume that such huge armies equipped with machine guns, artillery and tanks would be capable of tackling smaller Squid armies. The nice thing about this option is that I only need to add some extra tanks into my historical armies.

The second option is to set the Squid invasion in an Alternative WW2 timeline in 1945, when Earth’s armies have developed advanced weaponry themselves. I’ve had an Alternative WW2 project on the sidelines for years but never got it started, although I’ve got figures I can use for it. Since most of my WW2 armies are finished, they only need the superscience elements adding, and their Squid opponents are already finished.

I can run each of these timeline options in parallel, since I’m going to assume that the Squid invasion only takes place in one of the periods. Otherwise, setting it in 1917 assuming the 1880s invasion had already happened would mean significantly changing the human technology in the later period (and more than likely WW1 would not have taken place). I wish I could make my mind up!

40 comments

    • Thanks Dave, glad you like them! πŸ™‚ I still need to work on rules for them, but at least I now have an army to fight whoever, whenever, wherever! Tried your link but couldn’t find anything for some reason!

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  1. Glad to hear you are on the mend John, great looking army, and utilising multiple different manufacturers, to come up with a truly unique looking force,
    As for which time period to play, you could do all 3, as a “What If” scenario, and see if the human race is saved, then if one in particular, has merit, continue on with that one.

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    • Thanks Dave! πŸ™‚ I’ll certainly go with the 1880s and 1917 time frames, since they’re relatively easy to do (particularly 1917). I’d like to do Weird WW2 anyway, but that requires a bit more work in the way of Earth forces so it’ll take longer!

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    • Thanks Ann! πŸ™‚ I have trouble visualising them as the good guys, although if they’re just defending their millenia old enclaves on Earth from marauding colonial powers then I guess they’d fit the bill!

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  2. Glad to hear that you are getting over Covid and doing well!
    These models look excellent, I really like the nod to War of the Worlds, these really feel like those sort of aliens. And I’m glad you said about the 40K epic as I thought they look familiar!

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  3. I’m glad you’re feeling better, John! This is a surprising and really cool project but as you say, it fits into your other interests really well at the same time. I’ll be curious to see if you prefer the WWI or WWI setting for this alien army ultimately. Have you thought about getting some infantry like from the Mars Attack movies to supplement your forces further? I’ve never watched those movies but I know they’re popular with some people and I could see them fitting in well here too.

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    • Thanks Pete! πŸ™‚ My original plan was to just use the Fighting 15s Cephalopod infantry, but then I spotted the Spartan Games tripods and had to have some. I’ve always liked Epic Tyranids and Epic warmachines seemed just the right size for support weapons.

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    • Thank you, glad you like them! πŸ™‚ If there are some ideas you can use there, all the better. I’ll keep my eye open for your tripod warmachines made from table tennis balls, cocktail sticks and carboard (and, for details, we can’t forget granny grating)!

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    • Thanks Dave, I appreciate that! πŸ™‚ I really like the bigger tripods but they are buggers to store with them being quite tall (the “heads” are removable but that doesn’t help much). All of the tripods were limited Spartan Games products, but I’m not sure if they’ve been picked up by anyone after Spartan Games ceased business (I have a feeling Wayland Games may have picked up some of the lines they had but am not certain). But, as you say, very War of the Worlds!

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  4. Good to hear you have recovered from Covid-19, take care all the same, I have heard a few cases of it returning like when in the film the monster is quite finished……. Which neatly brings me to your Martians- very impressive. Very tempting again.

    Thanks john

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  5. A really great set up, John. The brass metalwork on the tripods is spot-on, very War of the Worlds / steampunk. The squid brains are just horrible in a very good way.

    Hope you’re feeling better. Covid is rampant lately it seems. My daughter had it last week (she’s fine now) but my wife and I somehow evaded it.

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    • Thanks Marvin! πŸ™‚ I painted the tripod brass and then painted a thin coat of enamel black/brown over it, wiping that away with a damp brush to leave it shaded and a bit grubby (my usual method with some vehicles). One of the larger tripods is in brass while the other one was painted in silver (I think – could be a light gunmetal) but the “wash” tones it down. I think “horrible in a good way” is exactly the right description for the Squids!
      You’re right about COVID being rampant so you doing well to have avoided it!

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  6. Oooo! Those brains look juicy!
    Lovely work John, a lot different from what I’ve seen from you before, I’ll have to follow your links and jump back to 2018 when I get chance.
    That looks like a really interesting army you’ve put together and I’m looking forward to seeing where you go from hereπŸ™‚

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    • Thanks Justin! πŸ™‚ I only come up with something different once in a blue moon mind you, so that’ll be me out of surprises for a while! Been a long time in the planning but I’m quite looking forward to getting some steamtech into my 19th Century armies!

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  7. Oh they are all lovely, especially the tripods, they have got the old brain gears turning!

    Glad you are feeling better, my works has been decimated by covid at the moment! (luckily I’ve still avoided it).

    Cheers Roger.

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