Scarlet Thunder

Can Colonel White escort the World President to London Airport in a convoy of SPVs, SPCs and an MSV before Mysterons wreak their deadly havoc? Find out in Scarlet Thunderat Salute 2012

Set in the Gerry Anderson world of the TV series Captain Scarlet, this is a road race game with violence – though all in a good cause!  Using an adaptation of the board game Thunder Road, this game will allow up to four players to try and beat the Mysteron threat and ensure that the World President and Spectrum commander in chief Colonel White make it all the way along the motorway to ‘London Airport’.

Using the Thunder Road’s ‘rolling road’ system, players will have control of their own Spectrum vehicles – the sleek Spectrum Patrol Car and the heavy, multi-wheeled Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle – and have the duty of escorting the heavily armoured Maximum Security Vehicle on their journey. Players have an individual task: in addition to protecting their President, Colonel White is about to retire and each player team wants to do well on this mission and so put themselves in a prime position to get his job!

The four player teams - Team Red (Captain Scarlet and Captain Magenta), Team Yellow (Captain Ochre and Captain Brown), Team Blue (Captain Blue and Captain Indigo) and Team Green (Captain Emerald and Lt. Green) have to negotiate slow moving traffic on their dangerous, high-speed mission but an added factor is also present. The Mysterons have vowed to kill the World President, destroy Spectrum and bring Earth to its knees in revenge for attacks on their home world.

During the game they will try and wrest control of Spectrum agents and their vehicles – even Spectrum helicopters – as well as civilian vehicles to try and achieve their terrible vengeance.

 

What are the games origins?

Over and above the obvious starting point – the iconic TV series – the starting point really had to be the vehicles. I’m old enough to remember the series first time around and had a toy die-cast DinkySPV: the blue, hulking, multi-wheeled road tank with its reverse seating position and pop out doors was the sort of dream vehicle that every eight year old lusted after (well, thiseight year old, at any rate) and my fascination for it did not abate as the years progressed.

However, I did not retain the model: as is the way of many things I had in my youth, the Dinky SPV went the way of all toys. But help was at hand: modern retreads and the re-issuing of the show both on TV then on DVD (and even in a re-imagined CGI version [which we will draw a discrete veil over…]) meant that kits and toys were never long out of production. Such is the way with icons…

On an aside, however, let me just say that I’m a bit of a ‘scale’ fan. I tend to have a problem when ‘toys’ of a different scale get mixed on the table top and  while I’m apt to play up to my reputation a bit – I used to always worry about the classic problem of die-cast toy cars being ‘fit-the-box’ scale. Even as a youth, I could see that the Dinky SPV was too small for the rest of the toy cars (including the others in the Captain Scarlet series that they made: the Patrol Car and the Maximum Security Vehicle). So I longed for a degree of consistency. My longing eventually bore fruit.

A few years ago a company called Product Enterprisesstarted making iconic replica die-casts and other things. They did some Daleks and so forth, for example, but – early on – they made some SPVs. And jolly splendid they were too. They were a little larger than the old Dinkyitem (one of which, by then, I had acquired) and – rather more importantly – were superbly manufactured and finished: weathered with an air-brush and finely detailed. Then Corgiissued a new SPV and Patrol Car set. The SPV was (of course) too small for the Patrol Car (The Corgi SPV is nearer 1/72nd whereas the Patrol Car is closer to 1/50th) but the Patrol Car fitted in with the larger Product EnterprisesSPV and... well, you can see where this is going!

An original DinkyMSV was found on-line that someone had stripped and painted white. I located a spares manufacturer that had decal sets (well, stickers) to refurbish older Dinky vehicles and these were duly purchased. Other toy cars started to be collected in earnest as the ball – or, more properly, the road – started rolling!

 

Scarlet Thunder: Building the game

Over the last two years I started collecting buildings – mostly Plasticville1/48th scale model railway stuff (well, nominally 1/48th scale – it varies rather a lot). I wanted to make a stretch of British motorway, as featured in several episodes, but – as with much Anderson TV work – a great deal of the iconography was 60’s Americana. So the Plasticville stuff fitted right in. Some was left ‘as is’ but some was modified (like the toll booths) to fit in with the road widths I planned to make.

I asked advice (mostly via the TMP forum) on a game system to base my ideas on and the Thunder Road option was flagged by several people so I bought a set (second hand and a bit beaten up). It’s the sort of level of detail I had in mind, though: a family game where up to four players run three vehicles of different types each (plus a helicopter) and is designed to last for an hour or so (classic, after Christmas dinner, Cluedo/Monopoly substitute). The game is played on two map boards which are switched - back one to the front – to make a ‘rolling road’ which, in 1/300th (or round that size) the system works well with two boards, each a little over a foot long.

In Thunder Road, the vehicles each occupy a square on that track with 7 lanes of various types (essentially soft going desert or faster ‘black-top’). Multiplying up the two road boards that come with the game for 1/50th scale vehicles, I obtained a vehicle ‘square’ of around 125mm wide by 170mm long on two boards around 2.5m long and 1m wide (which was pretty impractical) so I made the game a 4 board system and built them using pink, hard, insulation foam. Each road section is two 1200mm by 500mm (by 50mm thick) insulation boards stuck together using specific glue for the job (the improbably – but accurately – named Evo-stick “Sticks Like” glue) which doesn’t melt the foam and is very strong.

The ‘embankment’ is made from a sandwich of pink foam cut with a very large hot wire cutter tool obtained as a kit on eBay. This came with sections of round dowel and the relevant hot wire component and has a ‘capacity’ (if that’s the right word) of around half a meter which means that it can cut shallow curves on a  big block of layered pink foam that’s 500mm wide by up to 200mm thick.

The tarmac road surface itself was painted with neat PVA and sprinkled with sand and then brush painted with blackboard black paint. The surface was then lightlysponged with tester pots of grey emulsion and masked with masking tape and sprayed white with spray cans to get the lane markings and the SLOW signs (which were cut from paper and then sprayed with spray mount).

Crash barriers are Scalextricitems, cut down to size and weathered. They are then pinned to the foam roads with dressmaking pins (and so are removable for transportation). The verges and embankments are covered in a mixture of flock, grass sheet flock, chopped foam flock, gravel, sand and mode flock… This all held on with another litre of PVA (I used over 2 litres of PVA on this project and over 1 litre of black board paint). The grass was then ‘contoured’ and shaded with spray cans.

 

The Vehicles

I was lucky in that the SPVs needed no work doing to them at all – they came beautifully weathered from the manufacturer.

The rest, however, were a different story. There are a couple of non die-casts: one resin 8 wheeler from Old Crow was a kit and so was the Spectrum Helicopter (the latter injection moulded). Kevin Dallimore applied his airbrush skills to those two. But the rest were either new, like the four (very shiny) CorgiPatrol Cars, or second hand like the MSV I mentioned earlier or very second hand from eBay that needed a big repaint. There were a couple of exceptions to that: a lorry and a coach were purchased because they… well: they just needed to be! Most were selected to look either 1950’s 60’s or sort of Sci-Fi looking (that is the sort of SF that the Meddings team did, design wise, for all of the Anderson shows).

All of the vehicles had drivers added where needed (ie most of them) and these were obtained from 1/50th scale plastic seated railway figures, suitably repainted and chopped up to fit (most had to have some or all of the legs removed to fit inside the cars). Cars were painted or simply weathered using a variety of materials: Modelmatesweathering fluids (an excellent product that I picked up at Salute in 2011), MiGwashes and powders and spray Humbrolcolours (dark earth, specifically), along with TestorsDullcote to finish off and flatten the vehicles. The vehicles themselves were almost always taken apart by unscrewing the chassis (where possible – drilling out the rivets where necessary) and reassembling afterwards.

Scale wise, the vehicles are all around 1/50th. Or so…

Rules

The game is largely Thunder Road with fiddle. The players play two vehicles not three and there is only one helicopter – the Spectrum Jetcopter – to share. But as there is only one Mysteron player at any one time, that player gets to fly the helicopter while the other players run their own vehicles plus a go at moving the MSV.

The idea of the game, as I mentioned in the introduction, is for individual players to try and be part of the escort for Colonel White and the President whilst one of them – randomly – gets to be the Mysteron player each turn, turning suddenly on his former allies with both his own vehicles, the Spectrum Jetcopter and any other members of the publics’ vehicles he has managed to turn to his evil Martian ways!

A participant wins by being the Spectrum player that drives the Colonel in the MSV off of the table or being the Mysteron player that destroys the MSV (and/or all the other players’ vehicles). Mayhem will ensue!

 

See you at Salute 2012: Good driving!

Game Scale:     1/50th

Vehicles:         die-cast (Corgi, Dinky, Product Enterprises) and model kits (Old Crowand Imai)

Figures:          a mix of ranges (some by Crooked Dice)

Scenery:          scratch built (1.5m by 4.5m)

Buildings:       Mostly Plasticville

Pictures

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