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LPS2 Round 1 - Report from CoatOfArms

PPR-5S Salamander
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Suggested Retail Price
$10.95 USD


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nycjadie writes:

I especially like the conversion. It truly made the difference in the movement (or lack of) in the model.

Revision Log
7 March 2006page first published

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RobH writes:

"Pounder" took stock of the situation, his 80-ton Salamander looking very much the worse for wear, once tidy paintwork now burned and blasted to a dirty grey, his RT LRM20 a blackened hole and the shattered arm a mess of broken metal and plastisteel cables. The exploding LRMs had torn off a chunk of the armoured carapace and peppered the torso of the Mech with metal fragments, the one which shredded the right hand laser coming closer to the cockpit than he wanted to think about. At least the score of AC hits to the right leg had not penetrated so he was still mobile, still able to walk back to the refit facility... still in the game.

Last Painter Standing II. Round 1

Salamander by RobH

Salamander by CoatOfArms

The PPR-5S Salamander is an 80-ton Fire Support Mech. Its weaponry is 3 pods of 20 Long Range Missiles (LRM20s), one in place of the left hand and the other two in the left and right upper Torso, each side of the cockpit. For defence it has 2 medium lasers below the cockpit. Its primary function is to provide artillery support to friendly troops during an assault.

Converting the Model

The model came as 3 pieces, the 2 arms being the only parts to attach. The pose is the standard uninspired one associated with BattleTech castings. In order to add some movement to the model, I needed to change the position of the legs and the torso.

Original casting

I used a razor saw to cut the body in half at the waist (unfortunately destroying the ribbed section in the process). I then cut through the base just to the side of the model's left foot, and cut the left leg away from the body and cut it in half at the knee joint. I used a grinding wheel to remove the residual base from the left foot so that I could display it lifted from the ground. I then drilled and pinned the upper and lower sections of the leg in a bent-knee pose and rebuilt the damaged lower edge of the knee plate with epoxy putty (I use a plumber's repair putty, 2-part mix like milliput and greenstuff, but dries rock hard in about 30 minutes). I drilled and pinned the torso at the waist and inserted a small wheel from a plastic truck kit to replace the damaged ribbed section. The torso was glued in place at a slight twist from the original pose.

I then added the battle damage using various-sized drill buts and wire cutters. The right arm I cut off just below the "elbow" and rebuilt a damaged lower section from plastic card. I chose to rebuild the piece so that it would be hollow rather than a solid lump. Into this hollow box I glued several pieces of soft wire to represent damaged control tubes and cables. I then added the battle damage to the model using various-sized drill bits, scalpels and wire cutters. I concentrated all the damage on the right hand side of the mech. The intention was to show noticeable but non-critical damage. Small holes were drilled at the location of the damage, and then blades inserted into the hole and twisted to give irregular, ragged edges.

The model was reassembled in a walking pose, left foot back and lifted off the ground, body leaning forward to imply motion. The arms were positioned in a loose hanging position. All joins were drilled and pinned.

Finished conversion

Painting the Model

I brushed the model with acetone cleaner (very sparingly on the plastic parts) to remove any grease from the moulding and my hands during the conversion work, and then brush-undercoated the entire model with Humbrol Dark Grey matt enamel. I always use enamel for undercoating, as it forms a stronger bond to the metal and gives a tougher surface for painting onto - particularly important for this model, as I was planning to be fairly heavy handed in the painting. I used basetex to fill the recessed Battletech Base and to add the mud stuck to the raised foot.

Rather than paint this as a 25/28mm figure, I thought that this particular theme (Junkyard) would be better served by painting it as a vehicle, using techniques more common in 1/72nd and 1/35th tank modelling. I was going to paint the model using ink washes over a preshaded basecoat, rather than painting colours/shades in sequence. So using a cheap number 3 brush which I had cut the bristles down to about 2mm long, I began to stipple Citadel Ghost Grey onto the panels of the Mech, trying to avoid the edges. This was then scrubbed over with another stipple brush, this one dry and with shorter bristles. This served to distress the finish, blurring the lighter colour onto the panels. A second stipple, this time with white, was sparing applied to areas where I wanted the final colour to be lighter, on the upper surfaces. Due to the speed that acrylic dries, I was working on very small areas of the model at a time. This was followed by a very thin wash of the original dark grey enamel into the corners, underhangs and panel lines. This gave me a fully shaded and highlighted model in shades of grey.

Pre-shading and first colours

In keeping with the Junkyard theme, I opted for a dirty grey/brown finish as if the Mech had been operating in a temperate, wet environment.

I worked on individual sections of model, going from pre-shade to almost-finished before moving onto the next piece. This made it easier to check my progress and if anything went wrong (too dark a wash, or wrong colour) was going to be less work to remove. Hence the picture with one leg finished.

Unfortunately for those of you wanting a step 1, step 2, step 3 type of article, I did not have specific recipes of wash - I "winged it," adding colours and coats to get the finish I wanted. I used Citadel inks and distilled water with drops of acrylic extender/flow improver. The inks were red, yellow, brown and flesh wash. Some areas got 3 or 4 washes, some over a dozen depending on how I wanted the colour to end up. I darkened all the areas of shadow. When I was happy with the finish, I used a very dilute black drawing ink (Rotring) and a very small brush to draw in all the engraved panel lines.

The rust was added with Citadel paints - an undercoat of Vermin Brown, then 50/50 Vermin Brown and Blazing Orange, and finally pure Blazing Orange. The rust was applied to areas where paint would have been removed from the metal through wear or damage, so mainly on edges and corners, and around the weapon impact points.

As you can see in the picture above, the pre-shading on the model shows through the very thin inks and gives a subtle blended look to the model.

Once I had finished the colouring and rusting on all sections of the model, I applied a coat of satin spray varnish to give a good surface for the final stages of painting. I needed to "filter" the whole model to emphasise the rusty, careworn look of the thing. "Filtering" is a technique that has developed in large-scale armour modelling to change or emphasise specific colours/tones. Based on the photographic technique of "mood filters" - red for warmth, blue for cold - it involves over-painting the entire model with a very dilute (virtually colourless) glaze of oil paint. It is not a wash, as no colour is allowed to pool on the model; the layer applied to all parts of the model must be equal. There is no set right or wrong colour; an olive-green can be filtered with orange or red to give one look, or magenta to give another. For the rusted look I was after, I filtered the grey/brown with a orange mixed from Cad Yellow and Burnt Sienna. This added a rusty under-colour to all armour panels, intended to show that the problem was not located solely on the brighter orange spots around the edges and corners, but was actually erupting over the entire mech.

Basing and Display

In my opinion the hardest thing to do with any scale vehicle model - and Mechs in particular - is to show just how big the thing is in reality. Model aircraft have pilot figures standing next to them, tanks have crewmen. For a BattleTech figure scaled to 1/300, a human figure is 6mm high. Unfortunately, the restrictive size of the base for this competition and the very large feet of this particular Mech do not give much scope for reference details.

So I chose to make a removable display base.

I cut an irregular-shaped piece of 5mm plastic card, and removed a hexagonal slot slightly larger than the widest dimension of the Battletech Base. I then glued the base onto another piece of plastic card and sanded all the edges smooth. This gave a surface for scenery and a hole in which to stand the mech.

The base was surfaced with basetex and, when dry, drybrushed with light brown acrylic paint, and small patches of static grass were fixed on with drops of superglue. The base of the Mech was treated the same, so that it would blend with the display base groundwork. Care was taken to add small amounts of static grass to the mud collected on the raised foot of the mech.

The model building is a plaster-cast wargame scenic piece simply painted with GW acrylic paints. The trees are scratchbuilt from pipe cleaners, dipped in dark green household paint and left to "drip dry," then drybrushed with GW acrylic green paints. The two 6mm scale soldiers are from GHQ.

See the Finished Pictures