Vallejo shifters, space dwarves, and ISS Vanguard

I originally thought that I’d never had to write this post.

At the time I wrote this post on shading Tainted Grail miniatures, I was growing a bit tired of the exercise of airbrushing minis. I knew that painting the second wave of Etherfields minis was ahead of me.

That was about the same time that I placed my initial crowd-funding order for ISS Vanguard. I decided that I wanted a mini-painting break. As I placed the ISS Vanguard order, I chose to have Awaken Realms apply their “sundrop” effect to the minis. It cost extra, but at the time it seemed worth the extra cost to save me the effort.

I received the ISS Vanguard first-wave shipment a few weeks ago:

Jiku closely guards the ISS Vanguard box against all invading space aliens.
What was in the big box that Jiku was guarding. The main game box is on the middle left; it contains player minis and the ISS Vanguard mini shown below. The uppermost box, Close Encounters, is optional and contains ship, alien, and equipment minis. This time I ordered Awaken Realms’ own card sleeves instead of ordering them on my own; this gave me an extra box (the one on the middle right) for component storage. The Section PETs and Section Boxes will be discussed later in this post.

Here’s what Awaken Realms’ sundrop effects looks like on the ISS Vanguard minis. You can compare this to my own efforts in other mini-painting posts on this blog.

A Recon figure. Both of the Recon figures included in the game were this color.
Both of the Security figures were shaded like this.
The two Science figures were sundropped like this.
The last of the players’ section colors is Engineering.
The ISS Vanguard. All of the ship minis were painted in this shiny blue metal color.
The Arrogator Warswarm. All of the alien minis are painted in this dull metal color, through not all of them have the transparent blue extensions.

My overall verdict: AR does a good job. In particular, they do a better of drybrush/highlight than I do.

So why am I writing a mini-painting post? I ordered two optional accessories for the game: Section boxes and Section PETs. (Since I haven’t played the game yet, I’m not sure what a PET is; I do know that even though each Section has its own, there’s never more than one PET on the game board at a time.) The problem is that I made a mistake when ordering: The Section boxes and PETs were not sundropped.

You’ve guessed it: I had to paint again. I couldn’t stand to have unpainted gray minis on the table.

Since ISS Vanguard is a science-fiction game, I decided to use Vallejo Shifters to paint the minis. I’ve written about these paints before: These are metallic paints whose color shifts depending on the angle you view them.

In the game, each player takes control of one Section in the starship: Engineering, Recon, Science, or Security. Each one of those sections has its own color:

The Sections’ colors, from the ISS Vanguard rulebook.

If I was to use the Vallejo Shifters on these minis, I had to figure out which one of the paints came closest to each Sections’ color.

Some results from using the paints in the Vallejo Shifter Magic Dust set.

When I looked over my old pictures, I saw plenty of alternatives for purple, and even one for yellow. But there wasn’t really anything that matched red or blue. I ordered the Vallejo Shifter Space Dust set, in the hopes of getting those colors.

Of course, I had to test all the new paints. The last time I worked with Shifters, there weren’t enough dwarf brewer minis available, so I settled for bugbear warriors. Since then, Amazon’s supply of dwarf brewer minis has been restocked. I ordered enough for this project and, perhaps, any future projects I may understake.

When using Vallejo Shifters, the first step is to apply black gloss primer with an airbrush.
The dwarves with the paint from the Space Dust set. The main takeaway from this photo is that the colors of the paint in the bottles may have little to do with the final airbrushed effect.

In the end, two of the Space-Dust dwarves approximated the color blue. None looked red. I’ll get to my work-around below. First, some of the colors that I did not use:

Electric Blue/Intense Violet; 77.004 from the Space Dust set. This looked darker than the blue shade I use below, but I later wished I’d used this one instead.
Red/Gold; 77.016 from the Space Dust set. Despite the name, I see plenty of gold but little red.
Out of curiosity, I tested Vallejo Metal Color Magnesium on one dwarf. It looked good, but wasn’t what I was looking for in this project.

Here are the colors I picked:

Gold Yellow/Burnt Orange 77.015 for Engineering = yellow; from the Magic Dust set.
Since none of the Shifters looked red, I used Vallejo Metallic Red over Vallejo Black Gloss Primer instead.
Old Silver/Pale Violet 77.011 for Science = purple.
Green+Blue Violet 77.005, for Security = blue. This is the only color from the Space Dust set that I used.

Now that I picked the colors, let’s take a look at what there was to paint. The Section boxes are an alternative fancy way for the players to store the cards, sleeves, and dice they accumulate during the course of the game.

A Section box with black gloss primer.
This is to show how the Section boxes break down into compartments for storing dice and cards. Normally they’re held together by magnets.
The Engineering (yellow) Section box.
The Recon (red) Section box.
The Science (purple) Section box.
The Security (blue) Section box.

What you may notice is that color of boxes, at least as I photographed them, doesn’t always match the apparent colors of the test minis. The issue is that the minis contain lots of crinkly, detailed surfaces. The Section boxes have mostly flat surfaces, which is closer to what the Shifters were designed for. As a result, unlike the minis, the reflected color of the Section boxes changes depending on you look at them. The color-shift is so strong that, when looking at them side-by-side and moving your head, it can be hard to tell blue from purple, or both the “yellow” and “blue” boxes can look green.

After seeing the consistent color from the metallic red paint, I wished I’d gone with Vallejo Metallic Colors instead (though I would have had to order metallic purple separately). But having started with Shifters, I was determined to see it through.

The Engineering (yellow) Section PET. All of the unique PETs look like animals. They also all have a holder for a die at the top. Here we have a space monkey.
Recon Section Pet (red). I’m not sure which animal this is. Perhaps it’s a lemur?
Science Section PET (purple). This one looks like a vulture.
Security Section PET (blue). OK, this is the entire reason why I painted everything else. There’s no point in playing the game unless you have a painted Space Llama.

Will there be more mini painting in my future? Maybe, but not soon. My next “big game” projects that I anticipate receiving are Great Wall and Tainted Grail: Kings of Ruin. I ordered sundropped versions of all the minis.

Eventually I’ll receive the solo expansions for Mysthea and Icaion, which may have minis that I’ll want to paint, but that’s at least a year away. Also, while I’ve painted my Mysthea minis, I’ve never painted my Icaion minis since I’ve never been able to play that game face-to-face. I may not have much incentive to keep up with the airbrush.

So it goes!

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