It all started with a "Grab Bag" special offer (thirty two space ships for a tenner) from the Plastic Soldier Company (PSC) for their excess Red Alert "Freighters" - as in freighter class space ships, but as space ships go they were nice models and incredibly so, so cheap is seemed crazy not to buy one, nay two bags. What does one do with sixty four space ships - technically without guns, but I think you have to use your imagination in Sci-Fi and pretend they "have what they need". In fact the support stands to base the fleet cost more than the ships of the fleet (see below, plastic crack, I could not resist - yes, I have little or no will power, maybe later I can figure out and tell you the "why"):
Step one .. with no idea how to really paint them (as in a proper paint scheme of sorts) I decided to prime them with Airfix Primer Grey Acrylic (01) and follow a hunch, a Traveller style hunch, of Free Trader Beowulf - a grubby planet hopper plying his trade, trying to make that big credit deal to set him up for life in the manner of his dreams (see below, the first batch of eight of my cosmic traders - "free booter" as I call them):
I figured they would have lots of trouble keeping their ships "clean2 with all that atmospheric burn, planet hoping through the inner solar system dust clouds and engineering burn, plus the odd bullet hole or laser burn from a pirate. At some point they would be hauling mineral loads and getting and dirty with the asteroid miners (see below, Vallejo Black Dipping Wash to the rescue, suddenly a fleet of dirty space ships):
By this time I had come across a simple painting formula to try:
- Vallejo Game Colour "Off White" for the top half of the freighter
- Vallejo Game Colour "Bone White" for the bottom half of the freighter
- Vallejo Game Colour "Gun Metal" for engine and exhaust parts on the freighter
Note: I took care with the above to leave black lines coming through the panelling, this is where I fell in love with the rugged, chunky design of the ships that played to shade and highlight!
- Vallejo Brown Dipping Wash along the black lines of the panelling to bring out a grubby feel and depth, and cover the Gun Metal engine parts to make it rosy
The result was just as intended but just a little too grubby for teh final finish (see below, even Beowulf would get the cleaning droids for a spring clean if he got this dirty!):
- Highlight "White" areas with the base colour ("Off White" or "Bone" White respectively)
- Highlight "Gun Metal" area to "Silver"
Yes, good enough, anything else would be silly (see below, my Free Trader awaits adventure):
When you have done one, then it is just as easy to do two (see below, the advantage of the simple paint scheme, was that it could be turned into a factory production line):
The budding space commercial space empire takes a trip through the fruit bowl system and basks in the fading sunlight from a Red Dwarf (see below, but beware danger can strike from any quarter, unannounced):
So best paint some more in case you run into losses (see below, simple paint scheme begs a simple production system - one ship at a time as I am getting into a rhythm and getting to know the peculiarities and wrinkles of the model - but the more I paint it, the more I like it):
The fleet burgeons to three active "freighters of the line" (see below, I have not yet got to the point of naming them yet, but I am getting attached to them and thinking of possible rile systems such a Billion Suns to use them with, as well as Traveller!)
Half way through (aka four done) my initial batch of eight which were to be my 'proof of concept' that I can be 'bothered' painting the ships in this way (see below, each one is getting slightly faster to do which is a good sign):
To get from four to six, I did two at a time and to be honest was more frustrated that pleased. There was a certain satisfaction of doing one and moving onto another, that was not "doubled" by finishing two at the same time. As it is partially about enjoyment of the painting journey, as opposed to just painting them for gawd sake, I reverted back to one at a time for seven and eight (see below, but I think they do look grand "en masse"):
Starting the "last one" of the "initial batch" - I an finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Even though it is really the first stop on a journey of many (see below, the squadron celebrations are about to begin):
At last I can rest my weary brush hand, the "trading" squadron is assembled in quite a beguiling formation (see below, I know they are specifically not warships by design but I think they have a "we mean business" look and feel to them):
What do you do with old Xmas tangerine boxes? Why you fill them with the first painted batch of transports alongside a primed and washed second batch (see below, remember that this is half of one "grab bag" and I bought two, of which I have only painted a quarter in total - not a quick project):
Hmm, but what do you think I have in mind in the long term? If I said the Trillion Dollar Squadron would you be any the wiser or at all interested?