More Steam, Sir? (1)

Well, after decades of planning, another project has finally seen some painted figures emerge into the light of day (although I’m pretty sure my wife thinks I confuse “procrastinating” and “planning”)! My first 20mm scale Victorian Science Fiction (VSF) unit is complete (see below)!

This is a unit of three infantry in what would be described as power armour in a futuristic science fiction setting, but in this case the armoured suit uses more in the way of steam and clockwork to power it! I haven’t decided how these troops will be referred to yet, but “dreadnoughts” or “men-at-arms” seem to be more suitable 19th Century terms for them. You can see them from different angles below.

As I mentioned briefly here, this project has been under consideration since the late ’90s, with the plan being to just add some VSF/steampunk elements and units to my historical armies to give them a different character and let them fight my Squids.

The figures are Ground Zero Games 25mm Oceanic Union Defence Force (OUDF) power armour infantry, commonly referred to as “eggs on legs”! These figures don’t appear to be available anymore so it’s just as well I bought them when I did (whenever that was). Since they are relatively small and lower-tech in appearance I thought they’d look fine as 19th Century figures, and painting them in grey and bronze just adds to that look I think. I didn’t want them looking too clean, so they got a thinned coat of black/brown enamel that was selectively removed using a brush dipped in white spirit – that added some shading, so all I had to do was drybrush them again in grey and add some highlights to the armour and vision plates. This version of the OUDF trooper came with a comms link mounted on a short mast, but I left the comms gear off and let the mast stand in for a short steam vent/funnel.

I imagine these “suits” as being manoeuvred by a soldier inside via means of control rods, with his arms remaining inside the torso and his legs only extending down into the legs of the suit as far as the knees. On that basis, they fit in quite well with 20mm figures (see below with two French 1870 chasseurs for comparison).

Being honest, the first figure (on the left) was painted as a test figure before I started this blog (so pre-2016) so I’m surprised the other two match his finish so well! One of the reasons I’ve made some progress with VSF units is that I’ve decided to add smaller units than I’d originally planned. My current thinking is that these heavy infantry will operate in groups of three figures, so those shown here represent a single unit. I’m planning on being able to field two three-man units, but they won’t quite be identical. Some of the weapons hands are different in the models and my intention is to paint five figures in the plain grey/bronze scheme shown above, but with a further four (I’ve got nine figures in total) painted as officers. The four officers, however, will all be different nationalities and painted in distinctive schemes, possibly with some extra bits added to the figures to make them that bit more special (but still working from the same basic metal figure).

This is where you get the chance to have a say in what you’d like to see as far as officers go! I can’t make my mind up as to which four nationalities I should choose from amongst my 19th Century historical armies. For various reasons I can see that some of my armies won’t have these dreadnoughts – my Brits have another option, the Chinese eschew western technology (which this is seen as), Mexico and Paraguay won’t be able to afford them and Balkan nations, Ottomans and Afghans won’t find it practical to use them in rough terrain. That leaves these figures being available to my French, Prussian (or German), Austro-Hungarian, Russian, Japanese, Brazilian and US armies, with mercenary forces also being an option (by US I mean USA – I’m not currently planning on having a Confederacy, but that’s only because I have no figures for them, whereas I already have US figures for the Boxer Rebellion). So if anyone’s got any ideas about how I may be able to paint up the heavy infantry officers I’d be pleased to hear them. At the moment the US and Japanese are favourites, since I only have small historical forces for them and so some steam-powered heavy infantry would be very useful. Based on my performance to date, all suggestions submitted over the next 20 years will be given careful consideration!

39 comments

  1. Great job on those eggs on legs, John! They look great, they’re clever and unique sculpts and they definitely fit in with a basic 20mm human figure. Looking forward to seeing more of these!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great work John. VSF is a great fun period. Played the Osprey series of In Her Majesty’s Name but the rules are not that good and we lost interest. I am about to resurrect these with the 7TV Pulp rules which are really good fun.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Dave! šŸ™‚ I’m looking forward to doing VSF stuff I must admit. I did get a copy of IHMN but I’m now just bolting on steamtech rules to the Neil Thomas rules I use! I will check out the 7TV Pulp rules though!

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  3. They look great and really fit in nicely next to those French figures. Which brings in my next point, I think the French would be my pick, I see these as definitely being shown off at a Exposition Universelle in Paris!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Nicolas! šŸ™‚ The French were my first choice for these figures and I was going to have the suits developed from diving suits and call sub-marins but thought that might get confusing! The French remain as strong contenders for getting these troops though!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. These look great John. I have to say I saw them more as robots lead by a mad scientist, sort of Jules Verne type thing. I’ll ponder it more over the next 20 years and if I’m no longer living will communicate via a medium. šŸ˜‰

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Dave! šŸ™‚ Well, speaking as a mad scientist, I actually already have a plan in place as far as robots go, so I’ve kept these figures to use instead for armoured infantry! I’m hoping we’ll both still be around in 20 year time to discuss these things on the blogosphere, but I’d imagine by then I’ll be eating a lot more soup and dribbling more (if the latter is indeed possibe)! šŸ™‚

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Hi John, I had a moment last year in the midst of some between world wars gaming when I tinkered with sci fi. They have disappeared into a box but all those quirky armoured cars, gas masks and revolutions from the early 1900ā€™s might fit? and Japan was already flexing its muscles so why not USA versus Japan.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. These look great John, and the idea of using them for different forces with a different officer is great, the USA and Japan seem great ideas, planning to add flag colours on the leaders or are you going to put on extra equipment as well?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Lord Commander! šŸ™‚ We’re maybe thinking along similar lines here! Some of the figures have an arm with a hand so I was thinking of having the officers carrying national flags or unit colours and also maybe painting some of the armour panels in colour. Adding some extra equipment sounds a good idea – so far the only options I’d though about were adding extra armour embellishments and a back banner to the likes of a Japanese officer, or maybe a shield or back-mounted rocket launcher onto some of the others. I’m hoping I can add such extra bits to the officers as I’ll probably build and paint them individually rather than as a unit.

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  7. Hey John I like these a lot. Too bad they are OOP but that does add to their appeal in a way. As for officers, Iā€™d look for US Army to be bluish – maybe along the lines of the Spanish American war.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Mark! šŸ™‚ I do maybe have a couple of extras that I’d allocated to a Weird War 2 project in this scale that I could use for this instead if I need to. A US army officer in blue armour sounds like a good idea and the US is one of my favourite choices for getting these armoured figures!

      Liked by 2 people

      • I thought I’d share this song’s lyrics John from my Alma Mater, West Point:

        From the 1947 Bugle Notes:
        “Army Blue,” traditional tune played for “Graduating Class Front and Center, March,” when the First Class steps out of ranks for the final time as cadets, and also played for the last dance at all hops, has its beginning as the song of the Class of 1865. The first six stanzas were written by L.W. Becklaw and the tune is that of an old minstrel song, “Aura Lea.” As years passed innumerable verses were added to this and only a few of the more renowned can be presented. The allusion to the “cup” has reference to the “class baby cup” which was to be presented to the parents of the first male child of the class. “Old plebe camp” has disappeared in the passing of Camp Clinton, once the scene of summer training.

        ARMY BLUE

        We’ve not much longer here to stay,
        For in a month or two,
        We’ll bid farewell to “Kaydet Grey”,
        And don the “Army Blue”.

        Chorus:

        Army Blue, Army Blue,
        Hurrah for the Army Blue,
        We’ll bid farewell to “Kaydet Grey”,
        And don the “Army Blue”.

        With pipe and song we’ll jog along.
        Till this short time is through,
        And all among our jovial throng,
        Have donned the Army Blue.

        Chorus.

        To the ladies who come up in June,
        We’ll bid a fond adieu,
        Here’s hoping they be married soon,
        And join the Army too.
        Chorus.

        ‘Twas the song we sang in old plebe camp,
        When first our grey was new,
        The song we sang on summer nights,
        That song of Army Blue.

        Chorus.

        Now, fellows, we must say goodbye,
        We’ve stuck our four years thru,
        Our future is a cloudless sky,
        We’ll don the Army Blue.

        Chorus.

        Liked by 2 people

  8. Wow, great looking minis! First time I’ve see you do a SciFi mini, which is pretty cool. šŸ™‚

    I wouldn’t have known that one of them had been painted so long ago, until you pointed it out. Great job on making them all match up!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Faust! šŸ™‚ Way back in my teenage days a bunch of us used to play sci-fi games using troops converted from Airfix figures with plasticene but that all lapsed unfortunately. I’ve always been a sci-fi fan and this was a way to bring that element back without having to build complete armies. I think it was more good luck than good management that the figures matched up, but I’m pleased that they did!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Ohhh, the Airfix figures look like what we call ‘Little Green Army Men’. Pretty amazing that you converted those up. The closest thing I saw to that was delinquent kids cutting their arms off and lighting them on fire! šŸ˜‰

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Roger! šŸ™‚ Black armour for a Prussian officer with national colours and a liberal smattering of Maltese crosses would look good I think (well, OK, maybe one cross if I’ve got to hand paint them)! Prussians are strong contenders though since I have an 1870 army and can add in some 1914 troops as more drab clothing becomes introduced to lessen the chance that armies are visible from airships (apologies if that sounds like I’ve been putting some thought into this)!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. These are really cool little sculpts and you did a great job edge highlighting the metallic parts as well šŸ™‚ I don’t think I have a country preference for these guys as they could be used in a great many forces. I could even see them being some kind of pulp alien walkers if you needed them to be!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Justin! šŸ™‚ I know exactly what you mean, unfortunately! Either that, or those robots from the Cadburys Smash adverts, the ones that say “and then they smash them all to bits” and roll around the floor laughing!

      Liked by 1 person

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