When I needed to procure terrain for Zona Alfa, I looked at a great deal of Soviet armor on many websites. Some, like Empress Miniatures, offered beautiful sculpts with great detail, but it had one issue; price! I needed abandoned vehicles, not wrecks, but simply left to decay in the Zone after their crew disembarked and never returned for some reason or another.
While talking this over with a few of my fellows at https://badlypaintedminis.ca, one guy, Cody, offered to print me up a few. I was skeptical, as I thought the resulting model would look like trash. I had seen his own 3D prints before, and while frankly amazing, it was primarily bits for his 40k army to lend flavour, nothing on this scale. But, it was for terrain, so I decided I didn’t care if they didn’t turn out perfect; after all, I’d be covering the thing in rust, mud, moss, and other detritus.
After a while, he sent me an in-progress picture, shown above. I was astonished, this looked considerably better then I imagined. Especially since we had decided to scale up a 15mm print to 28mm. The details, gun barrel, and vents especially, came out sharp and extremely detailed. Sure, it wouldn’t hold a candle to a dedicated 28mm model such as what Empress offers, but it was still incredible!
(for reference, this is the file we used: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4062110, go check it out! Thank you, Ollie1269! )
It took several weeks for Cody to make his way up from the City to come over to the Clubhouse, where we have a limit of ten people currently at a time. Finally, we did meet up, and I took possession of two great looking BTR-70’s!
They weren’t perfect of course, but honestly? They still looked far and away better then I thought. And the cost, as I had paid for the resin used as a courtesy, was minimal. I was looking at a much higher budget for one, and instead got two, with plenty of change to spare. Now the usual scale for Zona Alfa is roughly considered anywhere from 1/56th to 1/43rd for vehicles, so these are a little smaller then you might expect. But on the consumer-friendly printer Cody has, we couldn’t go much bigger!
While Cody was in the City, I asked him to buy me a couple cans of Vallejo Spray, one color being Russian 4BO. I wanted to get these primed quickly to see how they would look, and I rushed to do so. After all, I had a game lined up for Zona Alfa and these would be far better then the Sherman hull I had used previously.
This color worked great! It filled in the very small print lines, and left models with a very smooth, almost store bought quality, finish. Suitably dressed up with some moss, and thrown unto a table, they turned our Citadel Realm of Battle table into the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone quite effectively!
The game we played was fun, fast, and violent. As we are testing the waters and rules before going in deep for a campaign, this was a one-off game, and all sides were therefore incredibly reckless and trigger-happy, something I don’t anticipate will continue once we start for real.
All in all, we are quite happy with the game! One of us with an FDM printer is printing a full Soviet Bunker complex from Black Site Studios, a process he believes will take a couple weeks. https://blacksitestudio.com/bunker-16, if your curious. It’ll be a great set-piece for our final campaign excursion.
This whole thing has also convinced me to purchase my own Phrozen Sonic Mini, and quite luckily a supplier in Taiwan was having a screaming deal, and I managed to get it at a decent price. It arrives tomorrow! It’ll be a learning curve, but being able to print some terrain and bits for all my games will be nice. And tanks, a lot of tanks. Frankly an unneeded amount of tanks. So. Many. Tanks.
Of course, as you may see, there are three BTR’s in the above picture. Not everything goes perfectly each time when you print something. And the third BTR…well it suffered a bit of damage.
The nose of this BTR has warped and broken off a bit. Again though, this minor issue was easily overlooked for the purposes of making terrain, especially Zone terrain. Something clearly sliced through this with a massive claw, or it drove into a temporal anomaly. It’s easy to imagine a scenario where this could happen!
These miss-prints are sort of a learning error, and in this case it was because it was a new resin to Cody and he hadn’t worked out the kinks yet. His other two are practically perfect, for the purposes I’m using them for at least.
I’m quite excited to get my printer, learning mistakes be damned. I found quite a few Patreon’s, Zona Alfa related or otherwise, and I’ll be doing prints from them as soon as I can. You will still see lots of classic, metal miniatures on this blog, I simply love them too much.
But the times, they are a changin! I’m going to be trying this new part of the Hobby, with gusto! I really think this will disrupt the industry, in both good and bad ways, and with easily available, and affordable, 3D printers now commonplace, will we see the demise of certain parts of the hobby?
But, to leave you on a happy note, I will continue to document my progress in the Zone, fellow STALKERS. For now, Happy War-gaming, wherever you might be! Have a great day!