Sunday, March 27, 2016

Painting RBJ's S.T.A.R. Trooper Minis

A small unit of Slammers hold off local militia while waiting for combat car support.
My buddies at Fortress Figures have started a new miniatures company called RBJ and their first release are these groovy S.T.A.R. Trooper minis. Designed by Ben Rodman and digitally sculpted by Bobby Jackson these sci-fi soldiers are super clean, well proportioned, and have the perfect amount of detail to make painting them quick and fun.

Solid, classic poses that are easy to recognize on the battlefield.
RBJ gave me a preview set of eight minis that included a commander, heavy-weapon trooper, four riflemen, two kneeling, and two troopers throwing grenades. The grenades and weapons are nicely scaled to the troopers, they are large enough to show up on the mini but not so ridiculous that they appear impossible. Even the massive rotary cannon looks great once you actually hold the mini in your hand. 

The proportions of the arms and armor have been carefully considered to look right once cast in metal or resin, something that many digital sculptors still seem to have difficulty with. I think this comes from Ben and his brother Jeff having so many years of sculpting and casting experience and from Bobby Jackson's history as first a putty sculptor and then a digital sculptor. Together these guys know what works on the final mini and what doesn't. On the STAR Troopers it all works.

First thing I did was a quick filing to clean up the very minimal mold lines. VERY minimal. Overall these minis are super clean and easy to prep.

The minis fit into the bases solidly and without any extra work.
Next up they were glued to the included plastic bases. the was a small gap that was filled with green stuff and the whole base was painted with wood glue and dipped in fine sand. I always add sand to my mini bases before I prime them so the the primer adds another level of adhesion to the sand.

Although I usually black prime my minis I decided to go with a white primer. I wanted to use a similar uniform color scheme to David Drake's Hammer's Slammers Mercenaries so they would be primarily light tan colored with black details. The Troopers minis that RBJ has shown have been in strong primary colors but they look great in more "realistic" military colors as well.

The base layer of color is GW Zandri Dust applied in two thin coats. Keeping the paint thin and allowing it to smooth itself as it dries really helps to keep the smooth surfaces and sharp edges of the armor plates.

Next up I used a wash of Nuln Oil and Calthan Brown to define the areas between the plates. I wasn't careful at all with this but made sure to get it all over the armor. I also find that blowing on the wet mini pops any small bubbles the form and allows the overall wash to dry more smoothly.

Once the wash was completely dry, I did some very light dry-brushing with Vallejo Model Colors Dark Sand and White. I did about three dry-brush layers adding a bit of white each time. I did a little edge highlighting but not much. I wanted to see how good I could make these look with minimal effort. :)

To finish up I painted the weapons, grenades, pouches, and helmet faceplates with black. I dry-brushed everything except for the faceplates with a very dark gray to bring out the detail. I use very little metal on sci-fi guns since it seems like they'll all have primarily plastic parts in the future anyway. I still paint the barrels silver to add a little visual interest.

Finally I added some small numerical decals to four of the minis and coated the faceplates with GW 'Ardcoat to make them shiny. Painted the bases and added some static grass.

Overall these new STAR Troopers are well sculpted, well proportioned, and a blast to paint. They clean up and assemble in a snap and stand on the bases perfectly so you don't need to prop them up as the glue dries. These are well detailed minis that are also made for painting and gaming. You really need to see them for yourself.

Check out the RBJ Kickstarter here: