Wednesday, May 4, 2022

More Star Trekkin'


Space, my final genre.
These are the online ramblings of the Blogger; Stewart
His continuing mission: To constantly lose at miniature wargames.
To seek out ways to barely paint but still have fully painted armies.
To boldly follow where others have lead before!

Tripping on Scales

AS mentioned in a previous post HERE; I've got a hankering to do some spaceship flying, laser firing, shield frying, Sci-fi space gaming and I'm gonna do it with Star trek as seen on the shows "Next Generation" and "Deep Space Nine."   I am an absolute rookie in this genre so this is all experimentation.

WHY YES, I am happily watching Star trek Next Generation of Netflix while I paint my dark ages figures.  At least I was until the series suddenly left the catalog, but I happily switched over to DS9.  Don't tell anyone, but DS9 is kinda a better show anyways.  Plus, DS9 covers the Dominion War which is kinda a BIG deal and likely where this little genre will lead...

Anyways, last Trek post we talked briefly about rules and TNG vs TOS, and this post will discuss miniatures, which will lead to a discussion about scales.  Miniature wargamers LOVE to discuss which scale is the best.  Just google 15mm vs 28mm vs 6mm and you'll get TONS of results.  I can't tell you what the best scale is, but I can tell you it's definitely not 6mm.  
I also know that 28mm is not really a scale but a size, but we all know what I mean and using the wright wirds iz knot importent. 

First Difficulties in Size Matters (no matter what she says)

There is no dedicated range of Star Trek TNG/DS9 ships.  Which means you have to cobble your collection together and mix-n-match manufactures and do it all yourself.  So where to start?

First we'll consider the size of the ships, because they're actually pretty big.  Well not really because they're all made up, but you get the idea.  The Enterprise D, a Galaxy class starship, is supposed to be around 650m long.

Secondly we'll consider the size of the ships, because they actually pretty small.  Well not really because they're all made up, but you get the idea.  The Defiant, a Defiant class ship (go figure), is around 130m long. 

Basically, what I am saying is that the size of the ships is AAALLLL over the place...

Ship sizes in silhouette for comparison. 

I'm OBVIOUSLY gonna have a Defiant class and Galaxy class on the table (these are like, the mainstay ships of the TV series).  But it does lead to an interesting conundrum that's probably unique to spacehip/ sci-fy gaming: On the same table you have 2 objects and one is supposed to 5x the size of the other. 

I'm struggling to think of a historical miniature wargame where such a size difference would come into play.  I guess you could take a 6 gun schooner next to a 100 gun Ship of the Line but not many historical scenarios would call for that;  being based in, you know, reality.

Being Picky

You could just ignore this issue, which is basically what happens in the Wizkids ship ranges for the game Star Trek Attack Wing. (I think the game is out of print now but you can still find the ship blisters).  Which means you COULD just get all your ships from them and there are lots of youtube videos and blogs where people paint over the the extremely piss poor manufacture prepaint and make the model pretty.  It's kinda like when an average person gets hair and make up done by a professional in a make-over style show.

Some Star Trek Attack Wing ships.
The Galaxy class on the far left should be 5 times bigger
than the Defiant class on the far right.

But I'm gonna be picky and I want the ships to scale to each other.  If anything because I want players to be able to see that one ship is bigger than another just by looking at them.  Big ships will probably have lots of guns and be dangerous.  Small ships will likely be really fast and cute with Hello Kitty Stickers on them.

So it's obvious we need some sort of scale.  Common scales for ships are 1/7000, 1/5000, 1/4800, 1/3900 (the original FASA scale), 1/3125, 1/2500.....   you get the idea.  There's a wide variety to choose from.

At this point I should mention that I got a lot of help from posting on The Miniature Pages, my wargaming club email group, and Internet best friend David from Lazgunpacker Blog.

Thirdly we'll consider the size playing the table.  I'm gonna be using my standard 5x6 table (two folding tables pushed together).  So I want ships that are big enough to be seen and look cool, but small enough that they'll be able to swoosh about the table and do some maneuvers.  After watching videos of Full Thrust games on Youtube and playing my first game of Klingon Armada with David; I have the idea that ships ought to be around 3"for a big ship and around 1" for a small ship.  Ship miniatures bigger than that appear to only creep slowly about the table and ship miniatures smaller than that might as well be cardboard counters.  And cardboard chits are for board games and board games are boring.  
(that's a joke, I love board games, don't send hate-mail).

OK, so it was a BAD joke.
They all can't be gems.

Not to mention that really big ship miniatures will likely need really big flight bases to keep them from toppling over in a slight breeze and damaging the amazing paint jobs I'm gonna give em.  I want flight bases to to be under 2" so that I can use a space mat with 2" hexes to play Starmada.  When playing with hexes,  I don't want ships that are in hex C, to be spilling all over hexes A, B, D, and E as well.  

As can be seen from this pic from my 1 game with David;
Ships that are around 1-3" ish look good on a 2" hex

Doing some easy math using the Enterprise D (because the Galaxy class starship is one of the bigger ships in Star Trek, and as I said, required for Trek gaming); at 1/5000 a Galaxy ship miniature is 5" long.  Too big. 
But at 1/7000 the ship is around 3.5" big.  That seems right.  The Defiant would be a little more than 1".

So 1/7000 seems to be goldilocks of scale choice where ships will not be too big or too small. And there we have nice, well though out,  line of reasoning that makes perfect sense.  

To Boldly Go Where Others Have Gone Before (or TLDR that above bit)

In reality, while exploring ships and doing image searches I found the blog A Mere Matter of Painting who has an impressive gallery of 1/7000 Star trek miniatures and I just decided to copy what he did.  Why lead when I can follow?  Afterwards I convinced myself of the virtues of the 1/7000 scale.  

I tried a couple of times to leave a comment to thank him s but it never seems to go through, so just in case he stumbles across this:  "Thank You Sir.  You are a (Star Fleet) Officer and a gentlemen."

Getting on Board the Ships

Having chosen the best and proper scale, it's time to do some shopping. Shopping is the most fun part of miniature wargaming after actually playing the games with cool people.  Then comes designing scenarios, then making terrain, then talking about miniatures with your wife, and then lastly painting the miniatures. 
Obviously 3d printing is the first stop; but as I don't have a 3d printer nor do I want one because where the hell would I put it?  My hobby desk is almost constantly covered in crap I mean cool miniature projects in various stages of completion.  

That means Shapeways is my shopping center.  The search function for the Shapeways market place SUCKS. But eventually with time and effort you can find some good stuff.  There's actually not that many shops that are selling Star Trek ish ships (probably because no one has the license) and I really only found one that labels the miniature as what it is called from the universe and puts in the description of what episode or movie it comes from.  Most shops will have a pic of the ship miniature that is obviously a Trek ship but have it called "SF Hvy Cruiser Refit" or "exploration cruiser" or "Bob's Bigboy Pickle Battleship."   Again, this is because no one has a license to do these so most try to disguise it somewhat so Paramount can't come after them (though I wonder if they would really?) 

That's right, it's a Star Wars Meme in a post about Star Trek.
I cannot be contained by mere genres.

So it helps if you know what you are looking for.  So go on and get your trek-nerd hat on and get to know the the star ship classes.  Get to know the Star Trek timeline.  If you're like me, you'll enjoy it for the first couple of hours and then get annoyed at all the inconsistencies that arise from reading about a fictional universe written by too many people with too many timelines. 

Also; A Mere Matter of Painting blog (that I linked above) has links to where he got his ships which is super cool because you can see how the ships look after being painted.  

Here are a few shops to get you started, because they are where I started:

Armadillo Miniatures: This is the easiest shop from.  He calls the ships what they are called in the Trekverse, has scales, and a wide selection.  Because of this his shop seems much more personable and user friendly.

Halcyon Shipyards: Seems to have some nice ships and provides the scale of the ship in the label.  However, there are no descriptions of the ships and they have generic names.  You just have to know that the "SF Assault Cruiser" is a Sovereign Class (or the Enterprise E) just by looking at it.   

Robs3dModelShop:  this is an Etsy store and the ships LOOK like they're at the 1/7000 scale.  Much cheaper than shapeways stuff.

The hard thing about buying stuff online is that you don't really know what you're getting until it arrives in your grubby hands.  

If you're like me then you also have a hard time visualizing accurate sizes
(just ask my wife what I think is 6"....yukyukyuk).
In order to see it better, I took some graph paper with a 1" grid
and drew out the size of the ship.

I've seen that people also use models, toys, and board game pieces for their ships.  This might work fine if you can see it in person but most of the websites that sell such things don't list how big or small the actual ship is.  

First Plunge

Having decided on the scale it was time for test run; I bought some ships from Shapeways.   Also because after window shopping online for weeks I ran out of willpower to resist the urge to buy stuff.  I am not made of steel.  If anything I am made of soft couch stuffing.

I made a order for a small ship, a medium ship, and a large ship, with the idea being I can see how they rank up to each other.  I also made sure I got them in 'Fine Detail Plastic' as that seems to be the way to go with small miniatures like these.

Taking a picture of clear plastic ships was kinda hard.

These are 2 Saber Class ships (because 2 came in the file) as the small, and Excelsior class ship as the medium (in the middle), and the Galaxy class for the Large and because the whole point is to have a TNG Enterprise. 
A Saber class ship is supposed to be around 200m, so about a 1/3 the size of the Galaxy.
An Excelsior class ship is around 400m, so 2/3s the size of a Galaxy.
I'm pleased that these all seem to line up well next to each other. 

I'm waiting for some flight stands to show up in the mail before getting these primed and I just might be tempted to paint one or two.  Maaayyybe.

Thanks for Reading

Glad you stopped you by.  Hope the above was a fun read.  Feel free to have the replicator make you a hot drink for the road.

Till next time.


  1. Those are some nice prints! Looking forward to seeing your take on a STtNG paint scheme!

    1. Thanks Dai! Probably just greys on greys with some other stuff. πŸ˜€

  2. Made me chuckle several times! I do like the hard to photo ships though.

    1. Thanks Ray! I hope after I paint them they’ll continue to look goodπŸ˜€

  3. I am sure it would be fun to see some early war tankettes fighting a Tiger II or something like that, but that is about the only example I can think of besides space games.

    Anyway, looking forward to seeing these painted! (and just priming them will make them look 100% cooler)

    1. Thanks David. Yeah, it’d be something like that.

      I gotta stick magnets on all of them and the flight stands to ensure fit before I prime them.

  4. Naval gaming is the only equivalent I can think of aircraft carrier would be five times the size of a frigate I would think ? I am not a huge Star Trek fan...last watched it as a teenager I think...but the models and games should look great once you get around to painting them all are your hundred Dark Ages warriors going by the way...I hope you have not been distracted ..?

    1. Thanks Kieth. I wouldn’t say I was a huge fan either; more of a casual one. But I like the atheistic and the known universe.
      I am not distracted! Coming up on 65 dark age types soon ish. πŸ˜€πŸ˜€

    2. 65 Dark Age figures: you are destroying my under-estimation of your capabilities...

    3. Lol. Well, they’re not done yet! πŸ˜€

    4. Stop typing long posts and replying to each and every comment and get back to painting then! We demand results, not excuses man!

    5. Yessir!
      But don’t worry. I tend to do 90% of my post writing while at work where I can’t paint anyway. πŸ˜€

  5. Great post! Defintately looking forward to future progress.

    1. Thanks Mr Irish. Glad you liked it. πŸ˜€

  6. A fun (and all too familiar) thought map of the considerations and hurdles involved with starting up mini gaming in a new era. I saw what you did there at the end (took me a few moments before the "Fraser" tag line dawned on me).

    1. Thanks Ed. But to be clear; I don’t make the memes but just steal them off the internet. πŸ˜€

  7. A great read Stewart, made me laugh multiple times. The ships you've gone for to start look good, and a good call on the dominion war, as it gives you a vast array of ships and races to use, depending on which point in the timeline your in.
    Having a defiant is a definite must, although doesn't follow your rules of bigger has more guns, as it's one of the most heavily armed ships in the federation. Also will you be using cloaking devices, and how will they work in your rules ?
    Sorry don't know where the loveheart button is ! LOL

    1. Thanks Dave. The Defiant is a special case to be sure. In my Megalomania I can picture a 4 player game with the federation and Klingons vs the Jemhadar and Cardassions.

      The two rules I’m using have cloaking devices in them that are usable but I’m not sure if I’ll actually use cloaking devices as it might just be a pain.
      Probably a subject for a future post when I actually get some Klingons. πŸ˜€❤️

    2. And Romulans ;)

      Excited to hear the Cardies will be making an appearance! DS9 was easily my fav series in the ST universe and those sneaky buggers made for the best badguys, easily equal to the Romulans.

      Just keep the Bajorans out of the game? They were whiny not-Palestinians that just annoyed.

    3. I said no Romulans!
      Mainly because I don’t like their ships all that much and the most commonly known one (the D’Derifix class) is freaking huge. See the size chart in the post.

      But Cardassions are hella cool so they could see the table eventually. πŸ˜€

  8. Your funny, talking to your wife about miniatures, surely doesn't come that high in enjoyment stakes?! Entertaining planning spiel, as I've said before I've jettisoned my star trek figures but I think your plan makes sense?
    Best Iain

  9. Thanks Iain! It’s not that talking to the wife about miniatures ranks so huh, it’s that painting miniatures ranks so low. πŸ˜€

  10. DS9 is the best Star Trek, and seasons 3-6 of DS9 is the best story arc in Star Trek. This is my hill, and I will die on it. Ships look good, and I'd agree that small scale is the way to go. Although, clearly, they would be better if Klingon.

    1. Thanks Markus. I am liking the show though the episodic nature of it sometimes gets old (we have this adventure and then that adventure and then this other adventure and then we’ll never mention any of them again).

      But fear not. There will be Klingons. Lots of them. πŸ˜€

  11. The new minis look great and I'd have to agree that buying new minis can be an awful lot of fun! I'm curious to see where all this goes and I'm going to have to bone up on Star Trek because while I love the two J.J. Abrams movies, that's about as far as my knowledge and interest goes. I can see that there is going to be a lot of Klingons, Romulans, and Vulcans in the coming days :)

      (That’s just a running gag that I have with Dai. πŸ˜€πŸ˜€)
      Thanks Jeff.
      Fun useless Star Trek fact; the JJ Abrams movies represent a whole different alternate ST universe called The Kelvin Timeline which has nothing to do with the TOS or TNG or DS9. These are the things one learns while looking at starships all night. πŸ˜€

  12. Brilliant post as always Stew. How sad that I was actually reading your first paragraph in the cadence of Willian Shatner and with imaginary classic TV music in my head!

    1. It’s not sad, that was the idea after all. πŸ˜€

    2. Oh it worked a treat πŸ˜‚πŸ˜…πŸ€£

    3. Your mind is mine and Resistance is Futile.

      When I read it I hear Patrick Stewart in my head. πŸ˜€

  13. 6mm definitely not the best scale? Now you’re really pissing me off man!

    1. The exception of course are your outstanding 6mm troops. Those are the best. πŸ˜€