A bit of a random departure for me, this. It’s a squad of futuristic soldiers in power armour. No, I don’t really know why either, but aren’t they cool?
Usually I’m very focussed about painting only stuff I need for games that I already play. I rarely paint just for the enjoyment of it, which is why doing exactly that was a nice change. It helps that the sculpts are just absolutely lovely. I’m a big fan of Hasslefree miniatures, these are a squad of scifi troops they call The Five Eight, for some reason.
One of the reasons I like them is that unlike most space marines in power armour that you see miniatures for they’re actually proportioned like a normal human. A lot of “power armour dudes” in tabletop and video games have proportions that look cool, but into which a normal human body wouldn’t fit. As you’d expect from Hasslefree these are beautifully proportioned and posed, while still looking extremely badass. Also note that a couple of them are female, but wear armour almost identical to the males. To be fair to Hasslefree while they do include a lot of nude and scantily clad female minis they also include a lot of sensibly dressed ones too. And there are quite a few nude and scantily clad dudes, too.
One of the things I like about painting fantasy and scifi is the freedom to choose whatever colours you want. After tossing around a few ideas I went for a really simple metallic look. I’d be lying if I wasn’t a little bit influenced by the Goliath power armour worn by the Martians in The Expanse, one of my favourite TV shows.If it’s good enough for Bobbie Draper it’s good enough for me. I had originally thought of doing some kind of camo or disruptive scheme, but it occurred to me that in an environment when everybody was using sensors for targetting the visual spectrum probably is going to decline in usefulness and a reflective finish on the armour might actually work better against directed energy weapons. The suits probably conceal the wearing using stealth technology and sensor jamming, because who is relying on the Mk1 eyeball in scifi combat?
Besides, it’s a cool look and easy to paint. To give them a little bit of colour I painted each soldier wearing a different bodysuit under their armour. I remembered hearing that NASA astronauts find it difficult to recognise each other in their space suits, so the suits have a different colour stripe on the arms and legs to identify each astronaut. I thought that a squad of power armoured soldiers might do the same, with each trooper wearing the same armour over a colour-coded bodysuit. It actually wasn’t until after doing this that I realised I’ve basically made some crewmates from Among Us in their colour-coded spacesuits…but never mind.
All this was a doddle to paint: colour the gaps between the armour, paint the armour Vallejo Oily Steel, do the details, then wash the whole mini in Citadel’s Nuln Oil (still the best black ink out there I think). Because I was painting these for pleasure and wanted to do a nice job I then went back in and edge highlighted everything. I normally paint historical miniatures so edge highlighting isn’t something I do much of, but for minis like these it gives and awesome result without too much work. I didn’t go to town on them, just a single highlight is enough for me.
I did spend a bit of time doing the visors. I normally let washes do a lot of the heavy lifting when I paint, but I wanted to do the visors all by doing actual blending. It’s not something I’m really very good at, and I’m not totally happy with how the visors same out, but they ok. After matte varnishing the minis I went back in and put several coats of gloss varnish on the visors, but they’re still not super shiny. Perhaps because it’s gloss over matte?
Scifi stuff really needs decals, so I rummaged through my pile of old ones and managed to find some that looked good for a bit of detail. They’re actually 15mm Italian tank markings from WW2, but the bright yellow geometric designs look kind of futuristic.
I’m calling these guys “space marines”, but let’s be honest that’s a silly name. Space isn’t the sea, but scifi insists on using naval terminology and concepts for space stuff, even though the real life aerospace industry and military space forces are actually much more like air forces than navies. But I digress…
To bulk up the squad a little bit, I’ve 3D printed them a couple of robot buddies.
The first is a funky little “EC-025 Recon Bot” from EC3D Design (check out the rest of their designs by the way, lots of good stuff). Sticking with the monowheel vibe I grabbed the “House Vermeni Monomech” design from Ill Gotten Games and tweaked it slightly. The original model was split into pieces for easy FDM printing, so I stuck them all back together in Tinkercad, changed the guns a bit and scaled the whole thing down to 75% because it was pretty humungous. My modified version is up on Thingiverse here.