This is not the post I had planned for this week, but since I’ve been up to my ears getting the next issue of the Frontier Explorer ready to go, I didn’t have time to do the post I had planned. You’ll probably get that one next week.
Now, this is a bit of an interesting ship to do the mini for. If we look at the counter from the game (shown at right), those familiar with the miniatures produced by TSR will realize that a miniature already exists with that silhouette.
This is the miniature labeled on the blister pack as the Sathar Cutter. This particular one is missing one of it’s cannons but it’s a really close match for the shape on the counter.
This isn’t the first time that TSR messed up the labeling of ship images as the counters and the “Ship Identification Guide” in the Tactical Operations Manual don’t match up. We can probably assume that they had this miniatures and its silhouette and since the cutter doesn’t have game stats (until fans created them – see Frontier Explorer issue 2 – Friend or Foe), they used the image for the UPF Minelayer but didn’t change the name on the blister pack. In the blister pack, it is sold with the Sathar Frigate so my guess is that it was supposed to be a sathar ship but the silhouette was used for the UPF Minelayer by accident.
In any case, it poses a bit of dilemma. We need to make a ship that at least sort of looks like the counter to continue with the theme of the miniatures I’ve been creating but it also can’t look exactly like the sathar ship. This is also why I saved this miniature for last as you could always use the Sathar Cutter mini as the UPF minelayer in your game as it matches the game counter. So with that background out of the way, let’s look at the ship.
UPF Minelayer Miniature
Since I’m not planning on matching the shape of the silhouette on the counter exactly, I want to look at the broad features of the silhouette for inspiration. In my mind there are four main features to be considered:
- The body should be somewhat roundish and elongated
- There should be two side lobes off the main body
- There should be two guns mounted forward on the main body
- The engines should be long and skinny.
Now that last one doesn’t match with any of the engines on any of the other UPF ships. However, I’ve always felt that the minelayer, unlike the mainline ships, used ion engines instead of atomic engines. It’s really more of a system ship that does its work before the battle starts so it doesn’t need the performance of the main warships.
And the game stats bear this idea out. Ion engines are limited to an ADF of 1 and that is what the minelayer has, unlike all the other ships which have an ADF of at least 2. So these long skinny engines can be the UPF ion engines instead of atomic ones.
The two guns really aren’t an issue either as the minelayer sports a pair of laser batteries in addition to the mine and seeker missile dispensers. And the other features are just things to keep in mind while designing the ship. The minelayer is listed as hull size 7, so in the end, the ship should be a bit bigger than the UPF Destroyer when it is all done. With those design constraints, let’s get to work.
The image to the right shows the finished model. Instead of the smooth rounded body of the Sathar Cutter, I chose to go with a more angular squashed cylinder and then add cylindrical lobes to the side somewhat like the UPF Assault Carrier.
The two laser batteries are mounted on the front of the ship and the engines are long, tapered to the back, and, although you can’t easily see it in this image, angled slightly inward at the back as are the engines on the silhouette.
Beyond that I added some surface features reminiscent of the other UPF vessels and then a bunch of small cylindrical indentations on the back of the fuselage to represent the mine dispersal system. In the model, they are all at different angles so that mines are spread out as they are ejected.
Printing the Miniature
With the model made, it was time to print. Since this is a relatively small miniature, the print only took about 5 hours. Here is the UPF Minelayer next to the sathar cutter and UPF frigate, as well as a ruler for scale.
The engines didn’t come out as straight as I’d like. I’ll need to add some more supports to them on future prints to get them to hold the right positions.
As you can see, the ship is a bit bigger than the cutter and the body is bigger than the main part of the frigate as well. It’s also bigger than the destroyer although I don’t have a picture of that one. While it’s not as long, it is about as thick and much wider so I feel that it came in at right about the correct size to be just a bit bigger than the frigate and the destroyer.
This model just about used up all of my grey resin so I’ll probably be printing in the black or white resins until I get some more grey ordered. The grey (and white) take longer to print as they are opaque resins and need more curing time but I definitely like the look of the grey miniatures. At least they photograph better than any of the others.
I finished this model a couple of weeks ago so my Patreon supporters already have the model file. I’ll be posting it on DriveThruRPG shortly with all the other models on my 3D Models page. I’ve also added it to the Miniatures Price List here on the site.
That completes all the UPF and Sathar ships. I’m probably going to revisit the fighters soon as I need to make those models more friendly to FDM printers. The models I created work on an SLA printer but the wings are too thin (by about a factor of 5-10) to print on a regular FDM printer. I want to make the models easier to print on FDM printers (or at least versions that are) before I post those models on DriveThruRPG.
But before I do that, I’m going to tackle the last military vessel that I haven’t reproduced from the original miniature sets, the pirate frigate. That’s a ship that came in the Sathar ships box of miniatures along with the pirate assault scout which I have already reproduced. I’ve already started on the model, so once I get issue 27 of the Frontier Explorer out the door, I’ll get back to it.
Once the pirate frigate model is complete, I’ll be in a position to start offering “module packs” of printed miniatures that contain all the ships needed for the Knight Hawks scenarios from the various modules as well as the UPF Task Forces. I may need to make a few more models for some of those (the Gullwind and Elanor Moraes come immediately to mind) but that will give me some direction for future builds.
After the pirate frigate, there are just 7 ships from the original sets left to recreate: the freighter from the Federation Ships box and the six ships from the Privateers box. Those will be my next projects, interspersed with the models needed for the module packs, after reworking the fighters.
What are your thoughts on the minelayer model? Let me know in the comment section below.