These Are The Droids You’re Looking For!

Another post in the series “More Steam, Sir?” that I couldn’t resist giving a different title to (see also the yeti post here).

Shown above is an Iron Men unit for my Victorian Science Fiction project. OK, these are robots/droids/mechanical men but I’m calling them Iron Men since I can’t think what the Victorians might call them and they are sold as “Iron Men” by Black Pyramid Gaming. I think they’re meant to be 28mm VSF power armour troops but for me they make good oversized robots for my 20mm forces. The pack of figures come as four different Iron Men, but the guys at Black Pyramid were good enough to let me buy an extra amount of the figure with the Gatling gun.

The figures were painted in Vallejo London Grey, Bronze and Gunmetal, with Roman numerals done freehand in white, and then given an enamel black-brown wash. I then re-painted over some areas to brighten them back up and highlighted the armour in light grey. Looking at the numbers it seems unlikely that I’ll ever have Iron Men numbers VII or VIII in my unit (or 88, Heaven forbid)!

I plan on using Iron Men in one of two ways, either individual figures attached to infantry units and controlled by that unit’s commander being in close proximity, or by having dedicated command units that control units of three Iron Men by wireless. This unit took me longer to get done because I wanted to have a mobile command unit and didn’t know how to best approach that. I decided that I’d probably make a variety of command units that would let the Iron Men be used by most of my 19th Century armies and those shown here are just the start.

The picture above shows a British Iron Men Command unit, intended for service in such far flung locations as India, China and Mars! As such it needed to be small, mobile and light, relying on being able to hide for protection while the command crew took up position and directed the Iron Men from cover. The figures (slightly out of focus) at the front are plastic 1:72 figures from the HaT Zulu War Gatling Gun set. They come as a soldier operating a heliograph and on officer observing through a telescope but I thought they looked spot on for a command team. I painted them in colours representative of uniforms at the time of the Second Afghan War so that I could also use them historically.

The small tractor is a resin Polish C2P tractor from 1939 by Frontline Wargaming, but with a Newline Designs Zulu War British artillery driver added, the uniform colours matching the other figures. The C2P comes with a windscreen that I was going to add after painting the driver but I thought it maybe looked better without it. The trailer carrying two seats for the command team and a large equipment container was made from a French trailer for the UE infantry carrier by Butler’s Printed Models, with the container, seats and handrails coming from the spares box!

I’d normally try and make generic units first before moving on to those for specific armies, but the above models seemed to be best suited to a British Empire force. I wasn’t sure about what vehicles I might use for other command units and spent quite a while looking around for something suitable (shown below).

This represents a generic Iron Men mobile command and control centre, with a small armoured tractor towing an armoured command trailer. The latter can be left in a location where the crew can observe and direct the Iron Men in action and this can be done from the trailer or by dismounting the control equipment and using it form a nearby location. The models are 3D prints from Paint & Glue Models, a Polish 1939 TK tankette and a French armoured crew trailer for the Lorraine 38L armoured personnel carrier. These are painted in Humbrol 140 Grey and I’ve got a couple more of each to keep for future units. The TK tankette and C2P tractor shown in the previous picture shared common chassis components.

Since I’ve made good progress with my French VSF troops it made sense to also get a French Foreign Legion Iron Men unit done (shown above). The only minis painted specifically for this unit are the seated controller in the red trousers and the wireless unit to the right of him. These are Early War Miniatures 1940 French Army minis. The standing figure at the right is an EWM French WW1 tank crewman painted ages ago and the command vehicle is a WW1 Renault TSF command tank converted from a HaT 1:72 Renault FT gun tank (the upper superstructure is plasticard), also painted ages ago. The Renault TSF was a radio tank designed to accompany Renault FT tanks in WW1 so it seemed to be an ideal choice as an Iron Men command vehicle. I had intended painting a new TSF model for this unit but the camouflaged TSF in the picture doesn’t really look out of place so I might just keep using it.

The picture above shows the French Iron Men unit alongside some of the Foreign Legion automatic rifle and rocket troops I painted last year, hopefully showing how uniforms have common colours linking them. The French Foreign Legion seems to be the unit making the most of the technology needed to propel them into the 20th Century!

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38 comments

  1. What a great batch of models, good painting and good model selection! I love the idea of the interchangeable commands, they all look very suitable. I did some work on robot remote control in a past life so I appreciate the thought you’ve put into how these might be operated!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Nicolas! πŸ™‚ My latest thought on things is that if both sides are using robots, they can accidentally/randomly take control of the robots the other side are using! I’m imagining that 19th Century wi-fi would not have been as tamper proof as it is these days!

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  2. John this is all getting out of hand – you need to stop all this fantasy stuff – it’s doing my head in πŸ€ͺ your next thing will be a steam powered military observation corps flying fake weather balloons – oops I think I just got back to reality🀭 thank goodness for small figure gaming πŸ‘

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  3. Great work on all John, the command units for each variation is inspired and probably took quite a while to find suitable models for, excellent progress.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Nice models and the blue/grey color schemes look really nice across the unit. I think “Iron Men” is a perfect name and likely something they would have used in that time period. I really like that first tractor too. I can almost imagine them carrying the Iron Men on a bigger tractor bed. Though it probably wouldn’t look right with the minis pose.

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    • Thanks Faust! πŸ™‚ I’m assuming that the Iron Men would be transported to combat areas on a bigger transport that maybe held them in racks and they’d disembark closer to the action and the command/control ream would then take over. This saves me having to build a bigger transport!

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  5. Lovely stuff mate, they tower over the infantry in just the right way and the colour is perfect.

    I painted a couple of Black Pyramid figs myself in the past, they are very nice miniatures and it was good of them to let you split the packs too.

    Cheers Roger.

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    • Thanks Roger! πŸ™‚ I think these (and a variation on them) are the only Black Pyramid minis I’ve got. You only get one Gatling gun version in the pack of four so I asked if I could buy that figure individually and the guys were more than happy to do that!

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    • Thanks Harry! πŸ™‚ I’m pleased I’ve got the basic robots done along with a generic command/control unit at least. I thought that if I get stuck I can maybe use artillery crew as robot operators, and if I get really stuck I can say the crew are remaining under cover in their vehicle so I don’t need any crew figures at all!

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  6. Dave Stone’s Star Wars titles have become contagious! πŸ˜‰ I love the Iron Men figures and surely with those huge Gatling guns, they are a powerful unit on the tabletop. Even if they shoot as well as stormtroopers do, at least they’ll look great doing it! πŸ™‚

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  7. ‘My Sir! Is that a banana in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me?’
    ‘No, it’s a massive Gatlin gun!’
    John, I do believe you’re slowly converting to sci-fi wargaming. What next, a bit of Star Wars?

    On a serious note – These are really great, John. I love the look of them and nicely painted they are too.😁

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    • Haha, thanks Justin! πŸ™‚ Way back in my late teens I used to do sci-fi wargaming with a bunch of friends and we converted all our figures from Airfix figures using plasticene, cardboard and stretched sprue, with all the vehicles being made from cardboard. It was brilliant! Unlike a rather well known manufacturer of sci fi minis, I used to carefully design all my vehicles around crew spaces, engine and transmission volumes, weapons mounts, ammunition and fuel stowage, based on modern combat vehicles (well, OK, late ’70s modern combat vehicles). Really enjoyed it! I think the only reason I don’t do pure sci-fi now is because I’ve got enough on the go, but it’s easy to add alternative elements to 19th Century and WW2 armies to place them firmly in a sci-fi environment! Cripes, I don’t half rattle on sometimes!

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    • Thanks Lord Commander! πŸ™‚ Of course I obscured the numbers partially when I put the wash on, so I picked some bits back out in white afterwards. Roman numerals are all straight lines, which helps, but you still need to try and get the proportions right! Not all of my forces will get Iron Men, but I haven’t worked out that far ahead yet!

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  8. Even though they are French they remind me of the Prussian Empire from Dystopian Legions, they had similar uniforms as well as dieselpunk robots: https://images.beastsofwar.com/2012/09/Prussian-Empire-Starter-Set1.jpg
    Shame they’ve discontinued them, would’ve loved to get some of those teutonic knight robots…

    It’s a super interesting theme, and I really like how you did the metal on the bots, it really has that gritty WW1-era theme. The automatic rifle guys are also a highlight for me, such unique little minis.

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