AvP: The Painting Begins

Disc Predator faces an Alien Stalker and an Alien Infant Warrior
A Smart-Disc wielding Predator faces an Alien Stalker and an Alien Infant Warrior. The bases are third party from ebay as the ones that come with the game are flat/un-textured.

I’ve started painting my AvP models from ‘AvP: The Hunt Begins‘ by Prodos Games.
I though I’d share the results as well as my thoughts on why I love these great movie franchises.


I’ve been fascinated by the Alien and Predator movies since I was a kid and I have bought various merchandise relating to these properties over the years. One of the best I’ve acquired is Prodos GamesThe Hunt Begins board game, which includes some astonishingly details miniatures to construct and/or paint. In this article I explore what drew me to the films in the first place as well as share some photos of my painted miniatures. (My wife recently purchased a light-box to photograph her yarn skeins, and I have permission to pinch it from time to time so I can finally get decent pics of my models!)

In future articles I’ll be sharing in more detail how I achieved certain results. In my next AvP article I’ll be shining a spotlight on how to create your own detailed custom bases.

Now, read on for a long-term fan’s appreciation of these titanic franchises. Or you can just speed-scroll to the pictures! 😉


One Alien Infant side view
This is an Alien Infant Warrior from the core set of AvP: The Hunt Begins. I’ve painted this with a series of dry brushes and black washes. These models are a great excuse to test drive Games Workshop’s ‘Nuln Oil Gloss’ wash.

H.R. Giger, Ridley Scott and James Camerson (et al) captured my imagination many years ago with their films about the now-legendary Xenomorph. However, my first experience of the Alien mythos was actually a conversation with my Dad, stuck in traffic in Shrewsbury town in the West Midlands of the UK. We slowly passed a Woolworths store with a large cardboard cutout promoting Alien 3 coming to home video in the window. I would have been 13, maybe 14 when I spotted that horrific Runner Alien and I asked Dad what it was all about. He recounted the broad strokes of the stories of both Alien and Aliens to me and that was it – I watched those films asap!

For many of my younger years, my favourite in the series was Aliens due to the eminently quotable banter of the marines and the steeled aesthetics of a doomed Hadley’s Hope. However, in more recent years, my preference switched over to the progenitor and original: Alien. It doesn’t quite topple my all time favourite film, ‘Jaws’ from the lofty pedestal I hold it upon, but it comes pretty close. (There are a lot of similarities after all.)

Alien bridges a passage through sci-fi for me somewhere between 2001: A Space Odyssey and almost everything that come since. A time when computers in film are still those enormous, blocky boxes with a million flashing lights. Alien originated in a time before the general public understood computers all that well, so its techno-wizardry can get away without having to explain itself. We don’t know how ‘Mother‘ works – and it sure looks swanky with all its flashing lights – but at the end of the day it’s a super-sophisticated piece of tech. In cahoots with its AI companion Ash, they will enforce ‘special order 937‘ any way possible. ‘Alien’ is probably one of the earliest examples of ‘evil capitalism’ that influenced me too – Weyland-Yutani really does see the individual as utterly expendable.

Just like 2001, Alien has a mystery central to the plot. Albeit in 2001 the mystery is the secret of existence, space travel and human evolution beyond the stars, whereas in Alien, it’s a mystery for the crew and then the audience as to just what the Hell they’ve found and unknowingly brought back aboard the Nostromo!

In both films, as is often the case with sci-fi, you’re taken along for the ride. A ride James Cameron calls his director’s cut/extended edition of Aliens during the intro: “40 miles of bad road”. As the audience, you’re trapped in the passenger seat of this banged up truck for the whole ‘bad road’.



The Colonial Marines are ‘some really tough hombres’, but they usually get got. I love how ‘Aliens’ subverts what you think of as a hero, treating the heroic marines as mere cannon fodder. They can talk the talk, but they’re way out of their depth here, and it shows. The catastrophe of the initial incursion is evidence enough. Gorman is green from the academy and even though they’ve been on ‘bug hunts’ before, no one could anticipate the rancid intentions of the Xenomorphs and their Queen.

What hurts all the more about this bunch of cowboys getting rubbed out is that they’re so damn cool! I mean you’ve got Michael Biehn, Jeanette Goldstein and Bill Paxton (RIP). They’re some of the heaviest genre hitters of their day on show, right there. To top it all off, you’ve got Lance Henriksen, whose career has never quite shaken the touch of the Xenomorph – appearing in almost every project involving Alien(s) over the years – and we’re eternally grateful for it!

I haven’t painted any of the marines yet, so have a hug instead:

Facehuggers in progress
Facehuggers WIP


four photos of painted Disc Predator model
Four angles of my painted Disc Predator miniature from AvP: The Hunt Begins core set. Some finishing touches still to be applied, but mostly done.

John McTiernan has a lot to answer for regarding his machismo-laden, ultra-violent bombast that is PREDATOR. This has always been one of my favourites. Also employing the less-is-more approach to revealing the alien until the finale: it just works. I love how this remains an ‘Arnie’ vehicle even though there’s so much more going on than just his one-liners and mutual muscle-flexing with Carl Weathers! “Stick around” and “get to the chopper” will stay with me til the day I die.

The creature design here nearly sunk the ship early on. Did you know, Jean-Claude Van Damme was originally playing the Predator in a wobbly latex suit before some serious and hugely redeeming(!) changes were made? What emerged from the ashes of Van Damme’s departure was the ever-intriguing Yautja that Arnie faces off with in the finished product. Another of the most brilliantly conceived creatures ever created – and what’s more – all completely in-camera! It’s a guy in a suit, a la Godzilla and it still looks amazing.

The Jungle setting here is perfect. It in itself is Alien to most a lot of viewers and really adds to the sense of the unknown throughout the film. As Poncho, panicked and confused translates: “the jungle… it just came alive and took him”. Dutch’s team really don’t know what they’re dealing with and for the most part can’t even see the enemy until its too late.

It’s been great news to us fans that Prodos Games have recently released their first full blown expansion to ‘The Hunt Begins‘ with ‘Hot Landing Zone‘ which includes a jungle-based set of tiles on which the three species can fight it out.


Many Aliens vs Predator
Many Aliens vs Predator. Good job that Smart Disc cuts through multiple enemies! The backdrop and floor is also from the AvP: the Hunt Begins game.

So, onto the controversial paragraph of this article… after all everyone loves Alien movies and Predator movies, right? But what about AvP movies???

I actually have a soft spot for Paul W S Anderson‘s earlier work. I went into the cinema to see Event Horizon without knowing anything about it – and at the tender age of eighteen, it was just what the doctor ordered! Over the course of its run-time, I relished the realisation that it’s basically ‘The Shining’ in space, just with the ‘Hell’ elements a tad more literal and visceral. It’s nowhere near as sophisticated as Kubric/King’s work, but it certainly wears their influences on its sleeve. (Mr Anderson’s recently taken Event Horizon’s DNA and transplanted it to the small screen with Origin. Check it out if you like Sci-Fi horror and people making lots of stupid decisions!)

I deem ‘AVP: Alien vs. Predator‘ one of Anderson’s earlier works too and after my initial disappointment in this project upon first viewing (bullet-time facehuggers WTF???), I’ve come to appreciate it more. If you consider for one moment just how ridiculously over the top the source material of the AvP comics is, I feel the need to cut it some slack. I’m glad we have this movie instead of nothing to bridge these alien universes.

There are some pretty stand-out moments in this film after all: bullet-time facehuggers (did I mention that already as a bad thing? Well it grew on me over the years), the Predator grabbing an Alien by the tail and pummelling it into stone pillars(!) and the inevitable showdown with the Hive Queen all work well enough. I think as awesome as the flashback scenes to when the Predators were worshipped as gods by human ancestors are, they only damaged the film as “that” scene atop the temple was the film everyone really wanted to see! But still, this film gives us characters who aren’t a bunch of colonial marines, so it was always gonna be an uphill struggle.

AvP was coincidentally the second film directed by Paul W S Anderson in two years, within which the often-overlooked British-born actor Colin Salmon was diced! Yes DICED! Both his AvP ‘Maxwell Stafford’ and Resident Evil‘s ‘One’ end up in significantly more parts than they start – and one of those deaths is realised in all its on-screen glory! I’ll leave you to find out which, if you haven’t seen them. The first Resident Evil movie is a guilty pleasure of mine. It’s not got much in common with the games, but it blazes its own trail and again, has some stand-out moments. Sadly, the sequels went from bad to worse. Here’s hoping the upcoming reboot of the film series gets to the roots of the original game(s)!

Alien Stalkers
Alien Stalkers

Picking a side

I’m not sure which of the three species I like more, but I love the fact that they all like to fight! It’s made for some great showdowns over the years. Yes, there have been miss-fires with the more recent material, but the originals (a term I would stretch to mean: Alien, Aliens, Predator and Predator 2) pack a punch, whether it’s horror or action you’re looking for.

In Prodos Games’ ‘AvP: The Hunt Begins‘, you can choose to play as any of the three races fighting for the Hive as Aliens, for trophies as Predators or to just to get out alive in the case of the Colonial Marines. It’s a miniatures-based board game with some of the most amazing resin sculpts around. The amount of detail Prodos have managed to cram into (mostly) 32mm models is fantastic and lots of people buy the game for the miniatures alone.

So far, the Alien models are my clear favourite to paint as they can be done quickly and easily with dry brushes and washes! 🙂

I picked up a copy of this game shortly after it went to retail in 2015 and it’s a lot of work to get it to tabletop standard as all the minis in the original production run (i.e. v1 of the product) were multi-part, requiring a lot of tlc (they’re quite fragile!) to get them constructed and then painted. I spent some time shortly after acquiring it trimming the flash and gluing the parts together, but that was about it, so it’s great to be finally getting stuck in! I also got hold of some custom 30mm and 40mm bases which nicely represent the floors of the USCSS Theseus (the ship upon which the game’s narrative takes place), but I’ve recently started to make my own which I’ll go into in a future post.

Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed either reminiscing with me or if this serves as your introduction, falling in love with these monstrous creatures!

For more AvP articles and info, check out AvP Central.

Alien infant
Alien infant.

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