It all starts with a concept. Ever since Anvil Industry released the Drone Controller upgrade kit I was ensnared by a desire to create my first, all Anvil, infantry army.
That head there in the middle, with the over the top VR goggles and headset that I’ve highlighted in the box below. It put me in mind of all sorts of cheesy films and TV shows that had ridiculous virtual reality premises and advanced technological hardware that allowed the characters to experience it. It gave me a very late 80s, early 90s vibe, and I knew that I needed to make an army that featured this helmet as its core defining feature.
I set about finding other parts to make a complete figure and chose to use this head as a template to guide my process. The head features a cloth face covering so I knew I needed to represent that in my choice of parts. I settled on our Fatigue Legs and Fatigue / Webbing Torsos fairly quickly as they match up with the feel I was going for; that of a haptic-feedback suit that covers the user completely. The Fatigue Legs sport a knee pad as a point of detail, but are otherwise very plain and show the same kind of slightly baggy cloth as the face covering, while the Fatigue Torsos have a harness that covers the middle torso and straps that mirror the look of the VR headgear straps, as seen from the reverse.
But what to do for the arms? I could simply continue the theme I’ve established and go with Fatigue Arms, but in doing so I felt like I was missing a clear connection between the more technological, hard-surface elements of the head. I focused on Armoured Arms which have the same underlying baggy fatigues, but supplement that with rigid armour plates and a wrist-mounted bit of tech that looks like it could be a small LCD screen or similar. These armour details bulk out the arms a little, giving the miniature a more “top heavy” appearance, much like the headset, which I felt was almost perfect.
With the body, arms and legs sorted I moved on to the weapon. What weapon would best fit?
I briefly considered three options before committing to what I eventually chose. The M4 carbine was designed throughout the 80s and early 90s making it a worthy contender, but as a nigh-direct copy of the real world rifle I didn’t feel like it had a place in my fictional army, and its close association with real world military action even today, tied my army a little too closely to US NATO forces. So I looked towards a more generic set of weapons. The assault rifle with either the curved magazine or drum magazine had an appeal, as they are not particularly close to a realistic portrayal of any real world rifle, but upon dry-fitting them into a test miniature I felt like they just didn’t capture the right “feel” I was going for. My last consideration was the Crisis SMG.
The Crisis SMG is somewhat modelled after the Kriss Vector, and first appeared in Anvil’s Afterlife cyberpunk styled skirmish game in the hands of Republic Commandos. It fit the aesthetic wonderfully, being a design that evoked a high-tech weapon designed for special operations as well as being a somewhat bizarre silhouette that gave more visual interest to the model overall. I decided early-on that I would attach the suppressor and EOTech scope to really push the strange shape and original inspiration for the weapon.
I lastly needed to find some form of extra detail to add more points of detail to the mini. I searched through the various accessories and upgrade packs until I found exactly what I was looking for. I wanted to find a way to ground these miniatures as somewhat more anachronistic than just the strange retro VR headset, and stumbled upon the Modern Equipment Pack that included a small Walkie Talkie. I thought that this is exactly the kind of “oversight” that the original inspiration for my VR Troopers needed. The inclusion of a seemingly more low-tech bit of communication technology is often found in old films showing sci-fi futures, and I think firmly cements the look and feel of these miniatures as something from a Cyberpunk B-Movie.
From there it was just a couple of additions to the final iteration of the proof of concept. I added the relay beacon from the Modern Equipment Pack as a tiny back-mounted bit of random technology, and a single Light Angular Shoulder Pad to the left shoulder which breaks up the symmetrical silhouette just slightly, just for more visual interest.
With the template established I can now make my first few squads. And I’ll run you through my build process as there are a few alterations that need to be made so the chosen parts can coexist on the model properly;
First I take a torso and add the two accessories; the Walkie Talkie and the Beacon. It is essential to add the radio to the chest at this stage because it is almost 100% likely that it will need some modification before we’re through.
Next I dry-fit one of the arms. Usually this is the right-hand arm that holds the pistol-grip and stock of the weapon. As you can see in the next few images the Walkie Talkie would have not allowed the arm to fit close enough to the chest and has had to be filed back to allow the stock enough space. I do this modification very gradually; a few file strokes at a time, so as to not over-correct and introduce gaps. I fit the SMG after I’m happy with how the arm sits in the socket.
When I have set the correct angle on the SMG to ensure it’s straight I introduce the other arm that will hold the foregrip. Here you can see how the radio had to be shaved to allow the arms to fit into their sockets. This is not a problem however as the illusion of it being simply compressed behind the rifle stock is achieved. At this scale, such occlusions of different forms are common and once the miniature is complete will be utterly unnoticeable and natural looking. At this stage I add in the weapon accessories of scope and suppressor too.
From here assembly is very simple. Adding the legs at an appropriate angle and setting the head in the torso socket lets me give the miniature a sense of movement and intent. With the head looking off to the side while advancing I lend the miniature some forward momentum and dynamism.
From there I just built more, and more until I had a squad
I also created a Sergeant for the squad adding a Katana and silenced pistol. To further distinguish him from the rest of his squad I added a clawed cable from the Infantry Mechanical Arms sprue, applying a little heat to make the resin bend without snapping, and then cold to set it in its new position. This addition really pushes this army concept into futuristic fantasy, firmly putting them in the realms of a cheesy cyberpunk sci-fi movie.
That’s all for now, but I intend to make a complete army with Heavy Weapons, Specialists, a Command Squad and maybe even a Special Character!