I'm big on making wargaming an accessible hobby. There's a lot to that: making people feel welcome, stopping gatekeeping, literally making the space we play in more accessible. My own little contribution, such as it is, has always been about making wargaming affordable. No-one should be kept away from, or have to give up, their hobby because of cost.
My Facebook page, Badger Bodges, is all about that. Sometimes I splash out on some nice models, but I try to include ways of making all sorts of things for little or no money. From jet bikes built from lighters to spaceships made of pasta, I just put my ideas out there for everyone.
I'd known about EM4 for a while. They have a good reputation in "cheap" wargames circles for being an affordable company. But being a sci-fi kind of guy I'd mostly stuck to buying their gangers and troopers. But one day I clicked on the fantasy section (purely by mistake, I assure you) and saw just how many orcs I could get for so little.
Then a package of 150 orcs arrived and I realised… I have no idea what I was actually going to do with them. And so these charming, monopose, diminutive orcs languished in a drawer, then a moving box, and then in a new drawer 50 miles away, until one day I had an idea.
Just a few of the orcs (and some dwarfs I guess).
A challenge! I challenged everyone on Badger Bodges to make an army worth 3000 points in a One Page Rules system for just £55. And I knew exactly what I was going to use. I just had to make them more sci-fi.
Over the years of cheapskating my way through my wargaming hobby, I've picked up some tips and tricks. One of the best is that basically anything can be made to look sci-fi if you have electrical components and zip ties. Resistors can be oxygen tanks, terminal blocks can be cracked open for gun parts, and zip ties… zip ties can be anything the imagination can conceive of, providing it's roughly square.
Visors? Zip ties.
Cooling vents? Zip ties.
Spaceship flooring? You guessed it, zip ties.
Even the little end bits have a role, as ammo mags or as exhaust ports. Zip ties truly solve everything. Sometimes I even use them to tie things together.
Armed with my zip ties, super glue, orcs and imagination, I got to work. The actual conversion was quite simple. Take the bowmen, shave the chest down so you can stick a terminal block in there for the gun, then cut and reposition the other arm. All it was then was adding other bits to hide the cuts and create that sci-fi feel.
Some troopers converted with all that junk.
I achieved my goal of 3000 points built, and then life hit again and I had to abandon my usual work space. I had those strange people in my house who use electrical parts to actually power stuff. Waste of good arts and crafts material if you ask me.
Once their work was done, I could move back in. In the meantime, Stargrave had gained popularity as a game. I had some models I used for a crew whenever I played a game, but they didn't feel coherent. So I dug the converted orcs out of their second moving box of the year, and got painting.
I paint mostly with drybrushes, contrast paints and inks. I have a slight tremor that makes precision painting tricky. I won't bore you with the details; here's my terribly edited and overly long painting "tutorial" explaining what I do to get around it.
I think they came out pretty good. I varied the colours within a "theme" to give them each some individuality. Even though they're made out of only two poses, small variations in how the guns sat and what tools I gave them also lent them a bit of individuality and character.
The crew all together.
For monopose models first cast in the 90s (before I was born!) these little orcs also have a bit of personality of their own. It was just a matter of bringing that out.
If you'd like more tips on how to keep things cheap and fun in wargaming, consider joining Badger Bodges. I've still got more than a hundred orcs either converted but unpainted, or still sitting in their little plastic bags, so I'm sure there's plenty more adventures to be had!