Welcome to Martin's Models!

Welcome to Martin's Models, Programs! 

As you can see, we are temporarily descending into the digital dystopia that is the universe of TRON. The reason is the game Martin will be running at Little Wars Adelaide 2015 - TRONBALL! A high-speed combination of high-tech gladiatorial combat and football. 

For the next few weeks, you will be able to discover the inspiration, rules and miniatures that combine to create this unique spin on the Tronverse. There will, of course, be the usual how-to articles, as well as hints and tips about creating your own game (namely - don't do it.) 

And now, read on...

Saturday, June 28


The Grid… A digital frontier. I used to wonder - do they play football there?

Welcome to the Grid, Programs! Here's the first in a series of articles about the game I will be running at Little Wars Adelaide, 2015 - Tronball.

As I am sure you can guess, Tronball is set in the universe of Disney's original sci-fi property (the one without Jar Jar Binks) - Tron

For those of you who've somehow avoided the pop-culture icon that is Tron, here's a quick summary:

Computer programs possess a form of sentience, and live a parallel existence in a microcosm called The Grid. In the first film, Tron, a games designer called Flynn gets inside the Grid, meets a security Program called Tron, races around on some cool light cycles, and saves the Grid from the all-powerful Master Control Program (who appears to be a raspberry whistle-pop with a face.)

In the follow up Tron: Legacy, Flynn's son - Sam - gets inside, finds his Dad has been stuck in the Grid for ages, and his crazy, digital clone - Clu - is running the place. So, they race around on some cool light cycles, defeat Clu, Sam gets the girl (nicely though, this is a Disney film…) and Flynn won't be back for the third film. 

Sadly, a superb animated series - Tron Uprising - was cancelled by Disney after just two seasons, and there most likely won't be a third Tron movie. Disney's acquisition of Star Wars ran over that like an out of control light cycle. 

Which neatly leads me to the question: What's the most iconic thing about the Tron films? Why, it's football, of course!

Or, maybe light cycles… 

And that leads to another question - why aren't I running a game with light cycles? Surely that's the single most notable thing in Tron. Why football? 

In truth, I did indeed plan to run a light cycles game. In fact, I still do! But, I was a victim of my own over-enthusiasm for detail, and ran into a seemingly minor issue that, for me, ruined the appeal of a light cycle game. Let me explain…

Spin Masters released a load of licensed toys for Tron: Legacy. Action figures, full-size discs, and, die-cast light cycles. About ten minutes after seeing Legacy in the cinema, I went searching for the cycles. I found a swag of them, for about $5.00 each, in the Disney online store, and grabbed ten of them. 

Ages later, with the intention of using fluorescent acrylic to create the light-walls, I wrote a set of rules for my light-cycle extravaganza. This would have multiple levels, jumps, and hand-to-hand combat for dismounted riders. 

And that was where I hit a snag; where would I get figures for the riders on foot? 

Back to the internet, and I soon found that Spin Master did a few series of small, plastic figures to go with the cycles. Aha! I ordered a few packs, and… 

… discovered the figures aren't in scale with the cycles. 

It's only a few fractions of scale, one can argue: About 1/24 for the figures, but nearer to 1/30 for the cycles. I tried to convince myself that it wouldn't matter. But it did. It played on my mind. I wondered about cutting sections from the figures' arms and legs to make them shorter. Maybe they'd shrink in the wash. Could I abandon the die-casts, and replace them with 3D prints? How about using cardboard stand-ups, anything. 

But at the same time, I was undergoing a re-discovery of my love for the round ball game. This led to me searching for tabletop versions of soccer, including Subbuteo, and, less well-known, a game from Finland - Soccero

Following a link from Boardgamegeek, I got my hands on a PDF of Soccero's simple rules. It was elegant. It was neat. It lacked detail, but, provided a real sense of the tactical challenges of football. It was crying out for me to do something with it. The Tron game was crying out for me to save it. 

Somehow, their pleas mingled in my mind… Tron… Football… Tron… Ball.

One day, I'll work out just how my head does that to me, but until then, ladies and gentlemen, programs and fellow users, allow me to introduce Tronball!

The idea of Tronball is simple: Imagine soccer as a video game, invented sometime in the late 80's. The designers figured the glowing 16-bit sprites might be kind of dull, just kicking a ball back and forth, so combat is added to the mix. Lethal combat. 

And how about a ball that can double as a deadly weapon? Throw-ins take time, so we'll just say the ball rebounds into play when it goes out. No need to re-set the game after a goal, the ball can just randomly spring back into play. 

That's a game guys, let's get it into the arcades in time for summer!

So, with the concept firmly planted in my head, the task now was to work out how to translate this into a visually attractive, easy to pick up, wargame. And that would involve some challenges…

In our next instalment, I'll show you how I modified Soccero for Tronball, and we'll take a look at the miniatures too. 

Funny Old Game, Football...

Far too long since I did any updates around here, so here's something that will in no way whatsoever contribute to the reduction of my painting pile. 
It's Subbuteo, but probably not as you remember it!

Follow this link to see where this is all going, but watch for offside!

Tuesday, August 26th
Martin's Martians
Here's a new page full of Martian madness - yes, I finally got some paint on the rather brilliant 15mm scale Tripods from All Quiet on the Martian Front!

And there's a tutorial for making the dreaded Red Weed, too. You lucky people, you!

Wednesday, July 23rd
More Real Estate
Here are some new pics of another example building I've just completed. 

As an experiment, this one was built with the unadorned alley-way side on the right, which allows me to match it alongside its bigger brother, with a narrow alley between. Just the place for a troop of Roughriders to lurk, waiting for a passing tripod!  

Monday, July 21st
PDF instructions for 18mm scale Apartment Ground Floor

My thanks to those of you who have bought a preview copy of the 18mm Apartment kit - the response to the first of this new line has been great! As promised, here is the PDF of the instructions for you to download.  

Sunday, June 22nd

Sneak Peek: 18mm scale Apartment building for All Quiet on the Martian Front
I've been bitten by the Martian bug! Having just ordered the starter set for Alien Dungeon's retro-sci-fi system, All Quiet on the Martian Front, I've decided that a game set in the USA cannot be fought without a pell-mell battle in the middle of downtown [insert name of unfortunate city here]. For that, we need skyscrapers, but preferably not at the prices model railroaders pay... 

So, its off to FabLab, and some experiments into creating cheap real estate with nothing more than MDF, card, and thinly sliced kittens*.

Read on here, and find out about what will soon become the first commercial offering from Martin's Models.

* I may be lying about the kittens. 

Sunday, March 20th

Funny Little Wars review
With the 100th anniversary of the publication of H.G. Wells' Little Wars fast approaching, (2013) I have started a couple of 54mm (1/32) toy soldier armies with which to celebrate the occasion in the proper manner! Padre Paul Wright is of a like mind, and his take on the subject - Funny Little Wars - is my latest addition to my ever-growing rules collection. I've written a review of his work, which you can find here.

Sometime in January...

Happy New Year, all!
I forgot to add this to the front page - More 1/144th scale fun for Star Wars, plus an article about making lightweight, near-indestructible asteroids for gaming and profit... come and see!


Martin Evans,
Jul 21, 2014, 12:37 AM