Friday, April 11, 2014

Saved From the Internets!

So I was looking for something else, performing an image search and lo and behold from the mists of the internets emerged a long lost photograph of a long sold off kit bash of mine. Refining the search parameters, I succeeded in locating and rescuing various and sundry photos of past projects done for fun and profit in years past while in Texas in what now seems like another lifetime ago. For your amusement and consideration, a trip down the memory lane of Recycling With an Attitude, beginning with an anti grav tank made from an empty deodorant container with a dental floss container for a turret:

The figures are a Metal Magic Space Lords Wartech (gunmetal grey armor) and a second generation Warhammmer 40,000 Rogue Trader Space Marine figure with his bolter enhanced by the simple expedient of adding the "male" half of a barrel clasp to extend the barrel of his otherwise ridiculously stubby gun!

The next vehicle is an anti-grav tank hunter made from a plastic container the origins of which I simply cannot remember, with lots of 1/35 scale tank stowage added for an extra layer of realism for a sci fi armored fighting vehicle:

Next up, some anti grav speeders made from travel size shampoo bottles, assorted plastic beads, model parts, and whatever else wasn't able to escape my grasp from the parts box:

And when one gets ahold of an empty full sized shampoo bottle, large anti grav attack craft are as likely to emerge as starships or aerospace fighters:

While I ran my little side business at the Frisco Merchantile, I made a run of imposing war walkers thanks to coming across a bargain priced line of Lego robot toy construction sets that made the perfect basic set of legs and robotic feet for walking mechanical fighting machines of the far and distant future:

While I was running Grayhawk Studios at the Frisco Merchantile, in addition to ready made models for collectors and wargamers alike, I took orders for custom built models from private clients. I would build a particular model to serve as a stand in for a particular game system, the only limitation being that the execution of the model was left up to me, but otherwise the model was made to be as close to the physical size as the original, and the armament and such would be easily recognizable to the onlooker. Here are some of those custom projects for your enjoyment, starting with a Victorian sci fi (VSF) steam tank made originally for Ed Teixeira of Two Hour Wargames:

Finally, one of my guilty pleasures in life is painting up French tanks of the two World Wars, as their colorful, even downright garish camouflage patterns simply cannot be beat, with the added bonus that the tactical markings used by the French were also uniquely colorful to say the least, so the end result is also a piece of eye candy on the tabletop! Give me a pile of French tanks to paint up from either World War and I'm a very happy little fellow indeed! As it was, I painted up quite a few sets of the HaT Industrie 1/72 scale fast build format Renault FT-17 light tank and sold the results through Grayhawk Studios during the years in the wilds of North Texas, including a number I converted to the modified World War 2 standard of rearming the machine gun armed FT-17s with a 7.5mm Reibel machine gun replacing the First World War vintage Hotchkiss machine gun that comes with the HaT kit.

The little two man 6 ton Char Legere Renault FT-17 is the granddaddy of the modern battle tank. It was the first combat tank to incorporate the layout of crew and revolving turret containing the main armament of the tank forward, engine to the rear that virtually every tank since has followed. Some 3,000 of these were made during the First World War and in the immediate years after the Armistice, and the FT-17 turned up in numerous armies after the First World War ended, and again in the French Army during the opening years of World War 2. The following are a mix of 28mm scale Char D1 infantry tanks from BEF Miniatures (now IIRC Warlord Games), and the HaT FT-17 kits finished in a mixture of Great War and Early World War 2 styles of camouflage and markings. You can tell the World War 2 variants from the Great War variety of FT-17s by the presence of the tricolor French cockade (aka roundels) on the later refurbished vehicles:

The last two photos in the series above are the 28mm scale Char D1 with their distinctive inverted "V" radio masts, and 1/76 scale Matchbox Char B1bis 32 ton assault tanks I painted up many years ago when these were the only decent plastic model kits of this unique French combat vehicle available. I finished these Chars B1bis in batches as I managed to procure the kits in ones and twos, relying upon the best available color guides I could locate at the time. The irony was that the finish of French tanks during the chaotic period of French rearmament and the disastrous six weeks of fighting in May-June 1940 that ended in a spectacular German strategic victory was varied, from monotone green or gray to elaborate multi-colored patterns applied at different factories or at the unit level. 

The result is the hodgepodge of colors and patterns seen in this group, from the prewar "plucked grape stem" ocher over army green outlined in black in the group in the upper right of the photo, to the horizontal bands of colors, to basic drab army brown over army green in the rear and lower left of the photo, to one-off schemes based upon the needs of experimentation or propaganda. An example of this is the case of the Char B1bis named after the famous French First World War commander of colonial troops, General Charles Mangin. This unique Char B1bis was painted in an overall khaki sand color echoing the khaki uniforms worn by Mangin and his soldiers from France's Armee de Afrique. 

The lone Char B1bis in the lower right of the photo is the best representation I was able to produce at the time based upon one (1) photograph of the Char B1bis "Mangin" I located on the internet on a French website. This group was sold off when I began to receive the splendid (and noticeably larger) 1/72 scale white metal Char B1bis kits I commissioned from Reviresco, as I had reached the end of my patience with not having a proper 1/72 scale model of the Char B1bis available here in the U.S., and felt that we American hobbyists deserved to have nice toys too, so I simply took matters into my own hands... 

I finished the D1s in the most common pattern seen on these obsolescent three man infantry tanks in May-June 1940, a peculiarly French pattern of horizontal bands of various camouflage colors. The Char D1s were very simply marked during this period, usually only a marticule (military serial number) and white two-digit tactical numbers. They performed surprisingly well for so aged a design, their short 47mm main gun proving quite lethal in 1940, and even in 1943 when the last D1s went into action with the Free French forces in North Africa against the Afrika Korps after Operation Torch, one of the old dinosaurs actually knocking out a Panzer IV during one engagement!

The remainder of the recovered photos are a grab bag of various subjects, from a shot of my 1/72 scale ArmourFast Sturmgeschutz III to assorted sci fi and fantasy figures I've painted over the years. There are Khurasan Miniatures 28mm Garn, a Dorvac powered armor suit model kit converted into an intimidating Imperial mecha for Warhammer 40,000 Rogue Trader, a whole brigade of large armored hovercraft made to order for Mr. Dean Shaw complete with everything from troop carriers to a mobile recovery and repair workshop vehicle, and various spaceship miniatures and models I've painted up for Silent Death: The Next Millennium, mostly classic starships models from Star War 2250 A.D. from Reviresco.

 Like all the rest of the photos I've rescued from the forgotten corners of the internets, I share them with you all now in the hope that it might amuse and inspire you all in equal measure:

Khurasan Miniatures 28mm Garn. The Garn in the left foreground has had his gun modified into something much nastier by simply adding a plastic bead and model part to the front end...

"DIE, YOU SCUM SUCKING ALIEN HERETICS!!!" Dorvac anime fighting suit model repurposed into a menacing and cry large Imperial war walker for the grimdark universe of Warhammer 40,000 Rogue Trader…

So my old buddy Dean Shaw showed up one day with a box full of old early technology cellular phone cradles and said, "Make me a bunch of hovercraft for Starguard!" So, I did just that...

Everything in the brigade from soup to nuts, from a command vehicle to dedicated tank busters and personnel carriers. It's amazing what one can do with a box full of old telephone cradles...

ArmourFast 1/72 scale Sturmgeshutz III, a part of my slowly growing late WW2 German kampfgruppe. These were built straight out of the box, and they are good, solid, easy to build kits of this ubiquitous German tank destroyer from WW2.

Dwarf Dark Tusk Clan Totem beast and handler from back in the days of playing Chronopia, which was/is actually a fun game to play (and my Dwarves didn't do all that badly despite my atrocious die rolling!). I still have my Dwarf army and old Harly here, as it's a very large and impressive model of a giant werebeast with an attitude...

Plastic 28mm scale Space Rangers from back in the day. EM4 Miniatures of the U.K. produces these now, and they are still good value for the money even if the poses are limited to one trooper and one officer. Several different guns besides the basic assault rifle shown here are included, so there is some variance in appearance possible despite the otherwise static pose.

Travel shampoo bottle turned into a handy military transport ship for Silent Death...

Reviresco Federation Stonewall Jackson class battlecruiser repurposed as a proxy for a House Tokugawa heavy gunboat or heavy military transport as required. Sometimes the conversion is all a matter of the paint job...

This is a Fletcher class destroyer from Silent Death painted up in the colors of House Colos. Would you all believe that I made this picture by placing the actual miniature on my old flat plate scanner, then laying an Astronomy Magazine calendar image on top of it, and scanning the two like a page from a book? I kid you not!

Reviresco Imperial Terran Wasps painted as Hayabusa proxies for Silent Death: The Next Millennium, and a plastic mini model of a White Comet Empire attack bomber from Space Battleship Yamato. This ship that looks like a horseshoe crab with guns comes with another such mini fighter kit include in the original injection moulded plastic model kit of the Earth Defense Forces Main Battleship kit still available currently from HobbyLink Japan. The battleship itself is quite a nice kit for a 70s vintage moulding, and great value for the money at less than $5.00 U.S., and makes a great large warship model for games of Silent Death or for that matter, outdoor games of Full Thrust if you can work out the movement stands! You can look them up here:

Necessity is the mother of invention, and all I had to do to convert a Constellation class frigate into an FTL tender for the Silent Death: Campaign System was add some detailing panels left over from another project. Bam! Instant FTL Tender.

Thanks for stopping by and viewing the assorted blasts from my model making and wargaming past! Next time 'round I'll be doing a number of posts in succession focusing on specific historical subjects, a sort of photographic housecleaning/chronicling of different subjects from my collection, starting with showing you all what happens when I acquire a whole bunch of snow covered model pine trees for dirt cheap at the local Michael's craft store on closeout sale…


Another search revealed a few more long lost photos for everyone's consideration and hopefully, *inspiration* to Recycle With An Attitude!

I believe everyone remembers the destroyer Jericho from House Red Star, my trusty kit bashed escort ship made for Silent Death: The Next Millennium out of an empty deodorant container. I could be wrong here, but I don't believe that I have previously posted this image, a view of the Jericho in all her menace passing under your hull, thundering into action with all the bravado one expects from Red Star braves!

These little 1/72 scale gems are for Starguard!, that granddaddy of all science fiction ground combat miniatures games. I made these from a pair of empty mini mint containers from Target, and to this day I deeply regret not having bought an entire case of the dratted things, as they make the perfect anti-grav skimmer platforms as you can see. These two are made up as fire support/fast attack skimmers for the Ameron Republic from Starguard! The Amerons are the religious fanatics in the Starguard! universe inspired by the friendlies from Gordon R. Dickson's classic military sci fi series of Dorsai! novels from the '60s and 70s. The Amerons rely upon mass of numbers and intensely held religious convictions to make up for their lack of advanced technology, as well as a heavy dose of ancient human asymmetric warfare chicanery and a willingness to use their planet's natural resources wealth to play one rival off against another. 

I adapted weapons from a variety of sources to arm up these lil' nasties, and some Ameron basic figures cut from their cast on bases and bent to fit their seating. These were very easy to make, actually as are all grav vehicles, really, and drat it all, WHY DIDN'T I BUY A CASE OF THESE MINT CONTAINERS WHEN I HAD THE CHANCE?!!! AGGGHHH!!

Here's a very handy warbot made from a simple plastic kit aimed at younger hobbyists. The 'bot was very basic, like a stick figure, and I just added more firepower from my bits box to achieve the final result. The figure is a 28mm not-Han Solo from waaay back in the late '70s made by Garrion Miniatures IIRC, part of a series aimed at players of Traveller. I acquired a small set of these classic figures from my old friend and sci fi wargaming mentor Ray Phillips, who has since retired from gaming to enjoy his status as grandfather and patriarch of his extended family, and remains a respected mentor and friend to this diehard practitioner of the fine art of making things out of things. Ray's own kit bashes for Starguard! so long ago inspired me to pursue this creative activity as I have, his use of a Roco Minitanks T-34 chassis, a gum ball machine toy capsule bubble, two Ralnai, and a pintle mounted laser cannon stay etched in my imagination to the present day.

I may have posted these before, but just in case I didn't, this is what happens when an empty dental floss container meets a travel sized shampoo container, and one adds the classic pennant colors of the Royal Tank Corps to a brass wire radio antenna...

A heavy 28mm grav tank made from an empty cheese container for the hull, a plastic Christmas ornament for a turret, and a figure base and ear exam cone from the doctor's office for a neutron ray energy cannon as the main gun.

Anyone remember those ancient Budget Gourmet microwaveable dinners from the 1970s? Well, those early microwaveable plastic plates were hard plastic, and when one glued two together an armored hover or grav tank hull instantly emerged. On this particular model I used an empty medicine inhaler I found in a parking lot in North Texas one day, and a large action figure rail gun rifle I found at a garage sale for the main armament. The intake fan covers located in each corner of the top hull deck are worn out electric shaver blade covers, a handy little item that makes for perfect intake fan covers whether for building ventilation systems or the lift fans on a hover tank such as this beast. A few other few-gaws and model tank stowage bits, and here you have an instant heavy hover main battle tank for sci fi wargaming. 

When Iw as running Greyhawk Studios in Frisco, texas, I had a client request for a Land Raider proxy. My solution was the Grav Raider, an anti-grav counts-as-a-Land-Raider brute of a machine for my old client's Ultramarines chapter contingent complete with Terminator honors, twin heavy blotters in the TC's cupola, a Hunter-Killer missile, and custom main armament of Lascannons paired to autocannons on the sponson mounts. The hull was a single piece, a container for a Lego robot toy I picked up for a song at a local Ross or Marshall's store (or T.J. Maxx, as all three were frequent favorite localities for my kit bashing materials hunts in addition to the neighbors' recycling bins).

Wow. I was a busy little fellow while we lived in the wilds of North Texas...


  1. It's been a real pleasure looking at your work here. Like you I think French camo is a blast, and their army is much underrated by gamers.

    1. Thank you, ma'am! There'll be a much more in-depth photo shoot in the coming weeks of my ever expanding 1940 French collection, plus my Great War French tank motor pool of Reviresco FT-17s, Schneider CA1s and a lumbering Char St. Chamond. I also just came across a St. Chamond I did up as a whimsical Chinese Civil War tank in the service of a Chinese warlord just for yuks. While the FT-17s and perhaps a Schneider CA1 were used in China during the civil war in the 1920s, there is no record of the St. Chamond seeing any further service with any army after the end of the Great War in 1918.

      Now the French *did* try and sell the St. Chamond to Finland, but after testing the single example provided, the Finns opted for the smaller (and more effective) FT-17, and that was the last time a St. Chamond was used for much of anything other than attracting pigeons… >;)

  2. Great kustum Speshals, Leland! ;)
    I have been unable to score those hairpin boxes you like, but I did get some plastic rhinestone, gemstones and other scrapbook detritus. I have also scored beads and tubes from the beading section. I have tons...well lots of screws and nails. I also have 4 Jade Throne Foreign Battalion tank commanders.
    Just gotta find 7-8 hulls/ turrets for them. I've seen a few, but it's been cheap flimsy package plastic ...of course it was saved anyway to make windows and broken glass! ;)

    1. The hairpin boxes are Japanese products I found at the local Daiso. If all else fails, drop me an e-mail and I'll shoot you enough to put those four JTFB TCs to good use… ;)

  3. Utter. Genius.

    I just found out about your blog from Space Cow Smith of Tales from Farpoint. Excellent, excellent, inspirational stuff. I HAVE to try some of this. May I ask how you made that awesome superplane (the one right below the USS midway)?

    1. My apologies for the slow response! I can only plead being impacted professionally to the gills... >;p

      Now, about that strike fighter, it was an unusual body wash bottle for the fuselage IIRC, the engines two identical plastic prescription bottles, and the weapon pods at the rear of the fuselage are a pair of travel size shampoo bottles. The stub wings are from a cheap plastic toy, plus odds and ends from the bits boxes including some Legos for the heavy caliber cannons mounted in the wing roots.

      The cockpit canopy is a vacuform plastic canopy from a set of three meant for pinewood derby cars. The panel detailing is the result of using decorative enamel stickers on clearance sale from Michael's craft store. The base is half of a disposable margarita glass (these make fantastic clear plastic flight stands for large ships or flying craft).

      This particular bird resides in the collection of Mark Ryan of New York, and has been providing close air support for his Imperial forces for a number of years now.

      BTW, that's not *The* USS midway, but one of her shuttles. I used some left over jet aircraft model decals for various USN fighter aircraft, and carrying the name of one's ship on the aircraft fuselage is a relatively old USN practice, so I just co-opted it for giving a nice finishing touch to this particular heavy landing boat.

    2. Nice! Thanks for the pointers. Just have to say again that I love seeing what you come up with.

  4. You are on Warhammer Proxies! FB group now.

    1. Not sure how I missed this! Thank you! Rest assured, there will be more photos of kitbashed madness as we progress into the new year... >;)

  5. I'm uncertain how I stumbled onto your photographic history of scratchbuilt wargame fighting vehicles and such, but your work is so good I'm slapping my fool head and thinking "Why didn't I think of that first...ages ago...and actually build it?"

    Part of my love for it is due to my almost allergic reaction to the ludicrous prices of Game$ Work$hop (at some point a couple of years ago, I woke up to the insane cost of their "hobby" and their newest little plastic men), but most of my praise for your work is simply a case of appreciating radical creativity. ("I have a shampoo bottle, a deodorant case, some plastic spoons, clothespins, dull disposable shavers, ballpoint pen barrels, stuff from between the couch cushions, and a bag of faux beads and baubles...EUREKA, LET'S MAKE A HOVERTANK!") Sometimes I think that gamers have lost that DIY passion with everything already designed (terrain, for instance, is premade, and so scrap insulation foam and hot-wire cutters are seen as obsolete and too slow to make). That kinda saddens me. Of course, fighting for control of an obviously "Yogurt Container City" is a bit cheesy, but the creative mind can find ways to make those plastic cartons look like something really futuristic.

    Anyway, I'm babbling. Keep the custom-made, spun-from-junk, wow-that-is-really-cool spirit alive. Someday, we'll win out over the robber barons of wargames. :)

    1. Thank you for the kind words! As for that Yogurt Container City, it's only as cheesy as you care to make it. A plastic rhinestone, sheet plastic, and assorted gew-gaws can cover many sins... >;)

      Another thing is that more than a few plastic containers for deli foods or takeaway can be readily converted into very plausible modular habitation units. I am currently accumulating some empty humus containers that are basically square pyramids. I'll be using them for some 15mm modular habitation/utility buildings once I've piled up enough of them to build a decent sized corporate forward operations settlement/mining base/illegal weapons lab. I'll be mounting them on some old sheet plastic sign strips I picked up from a defunct department store that was selling off their old fixtures for pennies on the dollar.

      Another thought along those lines are the cylindrical plastic containers that Clorox or Lysol disinfectant wipes come in. These could make for some very fetching colonial ad hoc housing units converted from starship cargo pods. Think of a doublewide trailer home or a converted shipping container turned into a house, a local diner, a saloon, or a general store to make for a fetching colonial settlement town out in the Far and Away.

      The large sized containers for these disinfectant wipes would be perfect for 28mm sci-fi. Another angle is to use them for Space Ork housing made out of discarded nuclear fuel cells dumped by a Terran starship. >;)

  6. Wow you are a Master Sci Artist! Great work here!! Can I ask if you still make items? I would love to get some Sci Fi stuff? Thanks so much plz contact me at

  7. Look forward to hearing from you :-) Have a Great Christmas Grey in Va. USA

  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. You are a spammer. Spammers get deleted and reported for same. >:(