Wednesday 11 January 2023

Cheap Spaceship Minis & Tanks (Repainted Toys)

Painting in the shed with my 7-year-old, I have been repurposing old toys (and even seeking them out in department stores and thrift shops).

They are (a) extremely cheap and (b) usually sturdier than 'proper' minis*

*While my son is not rough, there is a lot more swooping planes around with pew-pew noises than I would (or admit to), and parking tanks in precarious locations when they battle dinosaurs.

Especially in 15mm or mico-scale, there is quite a bit of stuff that is relevant. I used to carry a 15mm mini around with me, but now I can confidently 'eyeball' them.

These "Lightyear" minis are perfect for 15mm fighters or dropships - and about $10AUD at the moment. I only sprayed them, drybrushed grey and then washed them to "smooth out" the rough bits in a 10-min-each paint job. I'm kinda tempted to go back and add some highlights and detail though; some are quite nice...

The Lightyear ships also work as bigger ships when scaled against smaller spaceships. In this case, some random Matchbox, and a four Hotwheels Batwings from a more recent Batman movie. All the small ships were $2ea.

The only "miniatures" are the smallest - plastic EM4 which are usually available on Ebay - about a dozen for $10. They are knockoffs of Silent Death minis, and given how much I use them for playtesting rules, my best $value/use miniatures.

These were painted by my son - $1 not-Hotwheels tanks and part of a $10 box of plastic (15mm/1:100?) Vietcong from Toyworld. They will duel with each other and some savage dinosaurs on an urban table. I'm surprised a 7-year-old was patient enough to paint them all...

This "Thousand Hawk" freighter works decently with 15mm as well. I merely washed it to make it look less "plastic-y." We're going for speed over style in the painting department.

Obviously these could all come up much more impressively if details and highlighting was done - but it would defeat the purpose of making them quick, 'playable' models. So next time your family drags you out shopping - have a wander past the toy aisle...

..some of the 'toys' are model-grade quality once you get past the plastic-y bright paint jobs...


  1. The Lightyear ship isn't bad, but I think it'd have been better if you had tweaked the shape to remove all of the winglets - unnecessary for space, and much too small for atmospheric. It's a rocket ship, so let it be so.

  2. I think every sci-fi gamer has added the Lightyear ships to his collection in the last few months! All four made it into mine. :)