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!