Saturday, December 7, 2013

SciFi Saturday – Ping Pong Planets

Here's the latest addition to my set of miniatures for playing the Star Frontiers: Knight Hawks game -- whereas action around planets and space station is an integral part of the tactical game (and essential to the one-and-only Sathar victory condition in the Campaign game), the official miniatures don't come with any representation of these features. So I thought for a while how I could make my own.

It finally dawned on me that at the game scale of 1" = 10K km, a ping-pong ball is actually very close to the size of an Earth-like planet (like all the inhabited planets in Frontier space). In particular, the current ping-pong ball is 40mm * 1 in/(25.4 mm) * 10K km/(scale in) ~ 16K km, whereas the diameter of the Earth is close to 13K km. So I bought some ping-pong balls and started painting them, as well as assembling standard SFKH stands and bases for them. Below you can see my best take on planets in the fashion of Earth, Mars, and Venus. (The Earth planet is actually the result of a simulation in Maxis' SimEarth game; the Mars one was my best freehand recreation of the real Mars).

The only problem with this, having completed the project, is that of course the SFKH ship miniatures are not at the same scale (they're at a scale of about 200,000 times larger). While this is also true for the counters that come in the boxed set, the visual effect is limited when playing on the hexmap, because the hexes themselves box the figures in to a known, limited space. When playing on the open tabletop the effect is a little more wonky:

I also made a black hole. There's a whole prior post from when I was planning this about what scale to interpret the black hole at, and how the resulting gravitational force would affect the game.

Finally, I purchased what seems to be the only small-scale space station miniature that exists on the open market and set that up on a similar stand and base. Now I think I finally have everything necessary for the very first scenario in the Knight Hawks tactical game book. :-)


  1. Did you intend to paint a face on Mars? Or just an accident?
    I can see an eye, the nose and suggestion of the other eye in that first picture

    1. Wow, I totally don't see that! I was just trying to recreate some ice/cloud pattern in a NASA photo that I was looking at.