More Steam, Sir? (4)

As with my previous post on rocketmen, I’m catching up a bit here and posting some minis painted a few months ago. Work continues on the hussars for my 1859/66 Austrian army mentioned in the last couple of posts, and they’re nearly finished, so the minis posted here haven’t interfered with progress on them at all.

The minis shown above are war machines for my 19th Century Victorian Science Fiction Chinese armies, rumoured to be engineered by the warlord and criminal mastermind Fu Manchu! Little is known about them, although they are thought to be steam- and clockwork-powered and crewed by one man jammed inside a very cramped cockpit (in other words, I haven’t really sorted out rules for them yet, although they will be armed with flamethrowers and rockets at least)! Western observers have noted that these war machines do not appear to be controlled by either wireless or an accompanying operator, leading them to surmise that they must be controlled by pilots inside the machines.

The models are from the Spartan Games Dystopian Wars range, sadly no longer available (although Wayland Games have picked up some of the Spartan Games ranges). They are actually 1:1200 scale, but fit in fine with 20mm or 1:72 scale figures. They’re made from resin and nice clean models with no flash or faults on them at all!

My original plan was to paint them red and use an acrylic wash to shade them. In the picture below you can see one of them in its earth primer coat while the other one has been painted red/brass/gunmetal and gloss varnished in preparation for a shade wash.

Well, true to form with me and acrylic washes, the latter were a disaster! I repainted the red and then dropped back to the weathering/shading method I used on some vehicles, a thin black/brown enamel coat wiped off before it dries to leave it shaded and grubby! I then drybrushed with red and added a drybrushed highlight of orange, followed by some layered orange highlights for more specific areas. I also added some extra black/brown shading overall where it was needed, along with some black shading on the undersides (the models are solid to simplify production, so they have large areas filled in on their undersides, which don’t look too bad when shaded in black).

I’ve got four of these models and they come in two poses, so I painted one of each pose. They were actually painted weeks apart and one of them appears slightly lighter as far as colours go, which I think is down to the mixed wash. In the picture above the two completed war machines (I haven’t got a name for them yet) are shown with some of my historical Chinese troops and they fit in well I think!

I’m really pleased with them! I’m planning on using them in units of two machines and I’ve got another two still to paint. I like them in red, but I might change the colour of the next two to fit in with some different Chinese units. Having said that, they might still end up in red, since red goes faster!



  1. These are excellent John, very fitting for the Chinese army. As for a name, they are known as Foo Dogs, and Temple Dogs, and occasionally referred to as Guardians, so maybe Iron Guardians would work. As for a different colour you could always try a Jade green as you often see them carved in red and green Jade.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks Dave! πŸ™‚ I think Iron Guardians it is, good call! My conventional Western “robots” will be called Iron Men after the Pyramid Games figures I’ve used for them (will hopefully feature in a future post when some of them are finished) so Iron Guardians is quite appropriate, since they fulfil a similar battlefield role. I hadn’t thought about a Jade green, that sounds like a really good idea as long as I can get the wash right. I’d thought about blue to go with a Chinese unit I have, but am not convinced I can make that work, so my fallback plan would have been boring bronze!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You did a great job staying patient until you achieved the look you wanted on these, John! Being a fan of Asian mythology, I really like these sculpts and think they’re perfect for your steampunk setting. You did an excellent job getting some contrast in the red parts as well. I think that’s why these really “pop” in the pictures! In fact, these might be the best thing you’ve painted in 2022 and there is some stiff competition for that title πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Jeff, glad you like them! πŸ™‚ With them being relatively small (and there being a lot of very small detail) using a wash in some form or another was the most practical way to paint them. It did take a while to touch up all of the highlights and shading but I’m happy with them and it’s an extra bonus if you think they’re the best things I’ve painted this year! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m used to you posting historical minis, so I was pretty surprised by these! The color turned out nicely. They might also work well in gold, but the red is more interesting I think. I’d probably call them β€œThunder Dogs” and have them fire lightning from their mouths. I guess if they shot flame, maybe Phoenix Dogs?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Faust! πŸ™‚ Nice to have surprises now and then! Gold, brass and bronze were all in the running for colours but red fitted in with some of my existing Chinese troops. I like “Thunder Dogs” so I might name them by units and use that along with Dave Stone’s suggestion of Iron Guardians (since I’m planning on having two units with two minis in each).

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi John now I would go with your fudged technique-it’s very effective and slightly different shaded creatures just tells you one has been in action longer! All this steam fi, is very distracting in a pleasant way.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. really neat John! funny thing is I could use these on the little dio I’m doing at the Moment! HA HA , then again I wouldn’t have been able to paint them up as well as you have.

    Liked by 1 person

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