Monday, February 25, 2013

M577 Armoured Personnel Carrier

One of the most elusive 1/72 diecast models has fallen into my clutches, courtesy of Mandarake. It is the M577 APC from the film Aliens, made by Miracle House for release by Aoshima. I was surprised that the model had never been opened, but a couple of the corners of the box were slightly damaged, so perhaps a perfectionist collector dropped it by accident and then sold it off in a fit of disgust.

It is a nice heavy diecast model with rubber wheels. The forward turret rotates, but the gatling cannons the are not detailed, and merely represented by a pair of plain cylindrical barrels. The plasma cannon turret on top of the hull rotates, and slides on its mounting rails.

Many have commented on how it would be a very tight squeeze to fit a dozen fully equipped Marines into the APC. It's about one and a half times the size of the Micro Ops Warthog, so it is relatively small.

The set also comes with a pair of Colonial Marines. The pair on the right are Gorman and Vasquez. A pair of Micro Ops figures are on the left for comparison.

Two other models of the M577 APC exist in 1/72 scale. The first one is a resin model produced by Gonzoid Models. The casting is barely adequate, and the wheels and tread pattern do not appear to be very accurate. It is fairly expensive, and would have cost more than the actual diecast model at one point in time.

The other model is produced by the infamous BamBam Model Productions, and it is essentially a pirate version of the Aoshima APC in resin. Apparently, even the screws in the bottom of the hull of the diecast version are replicated in the copy. From what I can tell from their website, the casting seems to be much crisper than that of the Gonzoid APC. Nevertheless, it is a pirate, and BamBam models have a pretty poor reputation.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013



Gremlins originate from the realm of aviation mythology, with the earliest references coming from the RAF in the 1920's. They became a part of popular culture during the WWII years through Roald Dahl's book The Gremlins.

Gremlins never appeared in 1st Edition AD&D, but a number of small nuisance creatures from the Fiend Folio were later grouped under the category of "gremlins" in later editions. Two of these creatures are the Snyad and the Mite. I'd put the Jermlaine in this category as well, though in recent editions they seem to have turned into some sort of little rat-men.

To represent these creatures in proper 1/72 scale, I looked at various 6mm and 10mm miniature lines to find figures suitable for conversion.

For Jermlaine, I went with 6mm ancients from Rapier Miniatures. The two strips to the left are Celt slingers (CEL004), and Libyan infantry (EGY007). For Snyads and Mites, I selected 10mm Orcs (TM1) from Copplestone Castings represented by the strip on the right.

I find it difficult to believe that it's possible to be knocked unconscious by sap wielding Jermlaine, regardless of the number attacking you (the equivalent of being knocked out by being hit with dozens of half-filled hacky sacks), but I went ahead and made one for the sake of appearances. I also made some Jermlaine holding a tripwire. Other conversions I'm planning will be missile weapon troops and some rat riders.

The Snyads (left) and Mite (right) were modified 10mm orcs. The shields had to be removed from all of the figures.

In the case of the Snyads, the weapons were cut off and replaced with loot made from Kneadatite. I also went ahead and added a long hooked nose. I couldn't quite achieve the look of Russ Nicholson's illustrations, but I think the figures look decent.

The Mite was pretty much a stock 10mm orc with the shield removed and the arm re-positioned. They should be a bit shorter than Snyads, so I shaved the base a little to give it the appearance of being shorter. I tried making a sharp jutting chin on this conversion, but it's not readily apparent even on close-up, so I think that I won't bother for future conversions.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Combine the two most dangerous creatures on earth and you have the mosquito-people. In China Miéville's novel, The Scar, they are called Anophelii. The male Anophelii are portrayed as harmless scholars, while the female Anophelii are ravenous predators. The she-Anophelii only come to their senses when their overpowering hunger has been sated by a blood-meal.

Anophelii by Deviant artist VenGethenian

“Like a woman bent double and then bent again against the grain of her bones, crooked and knotted into a stance subtly wrong. Her neck twisted too far and hard, her long bony shoulders thrown back, her flesh worm-white and her huge eyes open very wide, utterly emaciated, her breasts empty skin rags, her arms outstretched like twists of wire.”

The Scar

The difference between the Anophelii genders are based on real-life mosquito biology, with only the females being equipped with mouthparts necessary for sucking blood.

However, striking a blow for equality, Syfy's Mansquito defies mosquito gender roles, and gives the male mosquito the ability to suck blood as well.

Human-sized mosquito-people are not available in any scale as far as I know, but I picked up a bunch of Mage Knight Spine Suckers (Minions #79, #80, #81; Nexus #105) for 79¢ which would be perfect as some sort of stirge- or mosquito-demon.

Using a technique I picked up from a fly fishing forum several years back, I printed some mosquito wings onto clear acetate sheets. These were cut out and attached to the miniatures.

The tutorial mentioned inscribing the veins in the wings and going over the lines with a dark wash, but I didn't bother with that step. I may have to print out some bigger wings since the current ones seem a bit undersized in the close-up shots.

A similar, but more involved tutorial for creating iridescent wings can be found at OOAK sculptor. I'll probably graft some 40K Gargoyle wings onto some of the other miniatures for a bit of variety (if I can ever find any at a low price).