Just like Liam, I was also inspired by our most recent Patreon release - but by more than just the attack dogs, pretty much the whole release, in its entirety! (this might have something to do with the fact that I sculpted the weapons for these models!)
It's been a while since I've done anything for Zona Alfa, and this was the perfect opportunity to revisit the Zone and bring back the weapons I used before, but this time as full digital sculpts rather than conversions.
As my faction I decided to go with Independents, as I imagine my crew as an ex-military unit that broke off and decided to try their luck on their own, freelancing in the Zone. As my starting crew, I hired my Veteran leader, another Veteran, two Hardened and two Rookie characters.
The core build
I can't really leave anything unconverted, and looking at artwork for the S.T.A.L.K.E.R.® games gave me some good ideas. I knew this would be a mostly digital kitbash, so I loaded up Blender and started adding gear on top of our Gorka Suit bodies.
Most parts were more or less straightforward, just moving them into place and overlapping with the bodies, with the exception of the mask and the hoses.
The mask came from Undercover Operatives, but it had the headset attached, so I cut the back portion off using a cylinder and Boolean Difference, then cut the rest of the mask in half, and mirrored it to get rid of the microphone.
The hoses were part of the Biohazard Containment team - they didn't line up properly with the mask, so I had to use a creative combination of scaling, and the Grab Tool in sculpt mode to get them into place. Then I mirrored them and repeated the process for the other side. This was something I had to do individually for each body, as I did not want the combination to be in the exact same place on all the models.
The rest of the digital parts came from various sets: A head, holster and the crosses on the first aid packs from Undercover Operatives, the oxygen tank from Biohazard Containment, the scabbard from Jungle Fighters, the machete and flask from Wasteland Raiders.
With the digital part of the work complete, I adjusted some supports for the modified parts and printed everything.
The Veterans - Leader and Sniper
To keep the crew uniform, I used my modified bodies with the Gorka Suit arms on all the models. This somewhat limited my posing options, but I could get around it by getting creative.
- The Leader - starting skills: Leader & Scrounger, starting equipment: AS Val (Assault Rifle), Machete, Flash Bang, Hand Grenade, Binoculars, Gas Mask and two Med-Kits.
I opted not to represent any grenades on these models, as they can just be hidden in pouches or pockets. I wanted to model him with his weapon slung, binocular in hand, looking off into the distance. One of the open wrist arms worked for this pose, but it needed a hand, so I took a fitting one from the Tactical Hand Gestures sprue, glued it to the weapon and then to the arm. After I attached the arm to the body I finished the pose with adding a plasticard sling. His binocular came from the General in the D-Day bundle, mirrored.
- The Sniper - starting skills: Steady Hands & Wrench, starting equipment: VSS Vintorez (Sniper Rifle), Machete, Smoke Grenade, Hand Grenade, Scope, Binoculars, Gas Mask and a Med-Kit.
More or less a straightforward build, the sneaky crouch-walk pose works great with the idea of a sniper stalking her prey. I usually try to go for a hooded head for my snipers, this time one from the Female Modern Hoodie heads sprue.
The Hardened - Machine Gunner & Medic
- The Machine Gunner - starting skill: Unload (what else?), starting equipment: PKM (Squad LMG), Machete, Satchel Charge, Hand grenade, Gas Mask, Med-Kit.
This model uses the PKM from the Booster Pack, but split from the original body and moved to a different pose. Only minor adjustments were needed for the supports. I finished this model with a resin Watch Cap head.
- The Medic - starting skill: Bone Doc, starting equipment: AS Val (Assault Rifle), Machete, Hand Grenade, Flash Bang, Gas Mask, two Med-Kits.
She's almost entirely a digital build, the only "meat space" part was adding her printed arms to the body. Her head comes from the Undercover Operative Sergeant, and I made sure to add two of the first aid pouches representing her two Med-Kits.
I imagine the newest members of the crew wouldn't be equipped with the "modern" Val or Vintorez, so I had to look for alternatives. I also wanted to keep the loadout to Eastern Bloc weapons, luckily our resin range offers a fair few of these!
- Female Rookie - starting equipment: Skorpion (SMG), Machete, Molotov Cocktail, Hand Grenade, Gas Mask.
Her Skorpion is from Modern SMGs, and the machete held in a backwards grip is on the Scrap Melee Weapons sprue. I wanted to get a cool female head I never used before, that's when I realised that I have a leftover from my previous PMC Operative One conversion. When I was in the planning stage I decided that she'd be wielding her machete, so I did not add it into the scabbard when I was doing the digital build.
- Male Rookie - starting equipment: Zastava M77 B1 (Battle Rifle), Machete, Molotov Cocktail, Hand Grenade, Gas Mask.
I wanted someone armed with something other than an Assault Rifle. I could've obviously used a regular AK-47, but why not go all the way? As I was researching Soviet era battle rifles for something I could add without designing a new weapon, I came across the Zastava M77 B1. It's a battle rifle, a modification of the AK, and something I could convert relatively easily, great! I cut the magazine and the front of the muzzle, added the mag and muzzle brake from a M16, removed the wire stock from the arm and glued the weapon on. With a little bit of work, I managed to make something closely resembling the real world weapon!
The Scientist & Attack Dog
These two models are not technically part of the crew, but they fit right in!
- I had an idea to make a character who's essentially useless in combat, but would work great as an objective or someone to be escorted in a scenario. The Scientist uses Civilian Hazmat Suit arms and body, with the oxygen tank removed to be swapped for an Alice Pack. His mask, filter pouch and Anomaly Detector came from Post-Apocalypse 2, while the hose is another piece from D-day, this time cut from the Captain. I finished the build with adding some extra equipment, in the form of a Duffle bag, held in his right hand.
- Every team needs a trusty canine friend (as we don't have 'tacticool' feline friends yet)! The Attack Dog is almost unmodified, apart from the addition of goggles (doggles!) from the Wasteland Raiders asset library. The goggles almost fit perfectly, with only minor adjustments needed with the Grab tool in Blender Sculpt mode.
I wanted to convey an abandoned, overgrown urban decay feel with these bases, and the 25mm ones just don't give me enough space to really work on that, so I opted for 32mm bases. On top of these I added sidewalk pieces cut from the Modern Road bases, a few tree stumps, a fence made with aluminium mesh, a concrete bench from Urban Scatter with a piece of broken balsa wood as a slat, some broken bottles and even two rats.
Something was still missing, so I designed some radiation warning and town signs from the Chornobyl area. These are now available in the Post-Apocalypse 2 booster pack for everyone to print!
Prior to painting, I added Vallejo Brown Earth texture to all the open spaces. I was too excited to continue working on these, so I couldn't wait to get unpainted photos taken! After painting, I finished the bases with tufts and spiky shrubs from Gamers Grass, and Leaf Litter and Tall Shrubbery from Greenstuff World.
The crew is now finished and ready for gaming if we ever get around to run a Zona Alfa campaign! I'll leave you with some painted photos - that's it for now, see y'all later!