Battlegroup Helios: Design Interview


Aaron and Zac at Battlegroup Helios answered some of my questions on the painting and design process for their amazing ships.

Aaron and Zac at Battlegroup Helios kindly answered some of my questions on the painting and design process for their amazing ships as well as offering some advice for aspiring model makers.

How large is the team over at Battlegroup Helios? Is it just you and Aaron Dickey?

Correct, just the two of us. Aaron takes care of the website, design and 3D modelling. I take care of the scratchbuilding casting and distribution. It’s a good team!


Your design process seems to involve Aaron sketching the models out on graph paper and then you using creating a 3d model using a CNC router and a cutter ready for final sculpting work followed by casting. How long does this process take from be idea to creating a sellable product?

Our process isn’t actually that set in stone! Yes, Aaron does devise concepts which he then refines on paper. He’s a really talented artist! From there we have two options: either Aaron will 3D model the design for printing or I’ll scratchbuild the design (with the help of a 2D CNC router for creating base shapes in plastic sheet). It comes down to time availability which, since we both have very busy full-time day jobs, can be scarce at times! So far only the Helian Frigate variants have been scratchbuilt. The cruisers and corvette were 3D printed.

There isn’t really an answer for the typical timeframe to take a concept to market. It’s kind of proportional due to the size (obviously a larger model takes longer to design) and again due to time availability is FAR longer than if we were doing this full time. 6 months is probably the average.


There is quite a lot of high praise for these models around the web, I’ve put a few together myself and I can see why as they are really well designed models with plenty of space for expert painters to really go to town on them in the prows, was this your intention when they were designed?

Absolutely! Aaron also being a talented painter means that he’s able to approach the design from many perspectives and often wary of adding too much detail in certain areas.

Have you worked on any other projects using these skills before this both inside and outside the miniature gaming world?

I’ve scratchbuilt and cast many of my own space ship (and other) models prior to this. I’m an engineer by day and a lot of my fabrication skills cross over. Aaron is a professional graphic artist so that’s obviously why he’s so good at the design and illustration side of things.



Checkout the Battlegroup Helios Store


~ Any buyers out there?

This post continues at:

Chilvers Industries


  • Agent OfBolas

    looks great but they went full retardo with the price.

    • Alistair Collins

      Price looks good from my point of view. Generally on par when GW was selling BFG during the end of the Specialist Games era.

      • Josiah

        It looks good to you… Have fun.

      • carlisimo

        The exchange rate makes it hard to tell; just three years ago, dollaridoos were bigger than USD. Now it’s reversed.

        At AUD=USD, these cruisers are priced the same as GW battleships at their last US price. With current exchange rates they’re set in between the GW price of a metal cruiser and a battleship. Problem is these replace plastic Imperial Navy cruisers which were half the price of a metal one.

        It’s also worth noting that Battlegroup Helios cruisers are larger than their BFG counterparts.

  • SilentPony

    Its totally not BattleFleet Gothic and I totally don’t approve.

  • Alienerd the unbannable

    How they went about ‘designing’? Ctrl+c Ctrl+v looks about right. Although it’s not like the company they copypastad from hasn’t done the same, so all’s fair I guess.

    • Josiah


  • Andrew

    Yeah. Way too expensive.

    • Alistair Collins

      Nah, it’s roughly on par for BFG models during the end of the Specialist Games era.

      Looks good to me.

      • Andrew

        They were that pricey? Christ. Guess I’ll stick with my War Rocket models for space combat then.

        • Alistair Collins

          Different design aesthetic. Not comparing apples and apples.

          • Andrew

            Pretty similar sized figures though. But the 3D printed stuff is way expensive compared to pewter and resin, so there’s that.

    • Zethnar

      It’s in Australian dollars. Do a conversion into trumpbux and you’ll see it’s not quite as ridiculous as your initial impression.

      • Andrew

        Yeah I know dingo dollars are lower, still too much for me. 😉

  • Talos2

    They actually bothered to draw up “designs”?

  • BloodAngel

    What the heck is this? BFG wannabe?

    • Zethnar

      Basically. They produce models for people that want to play BFG but don’t want to pay the ridiculous asking prices on ebay.

      There’s plenty of other manufacturers doing the same for GW’s other forgotten games, if you have a poke around the net it’s not hard to find them.

  • D. B.

    Nice models. GW legal will tear you a new one.

    • OldHat

      Naw, they don’t own the IP on “Gothic Spaceships”.

    • Admiral Raptor

      The same GW legal that lost spectacularly against chapterhouse? I’m sure these guys are terrified.

      GW abandoned the BFG line over a decade ago. I doubt anyone at the HQ even cares.

  • Nyyppä

    Looks like 1 of the 2 actually great space ship games (BFG and Halo) and seems to be on the price point of the old BFG models.

    Not for me but I can imagine that they have customers.

  • silashand

    I’ve looked at those before. Would love to use them as a Sisters of Battle crusade fleet.

  • georgelabour

    As far as ‘inspired by’ models go I quite like these.

    They have an interesting blend of 40k’s gothic with a bit of firestorm armada’s smoother lines that blend together quite well IMO. In fact when I first saw these I thought Spartan had pulled a Mantic with their space game.

    Though they are right there on that border of ‘knock-off’ that would make me avoid them like an open manure pit. Hopefully they’ll not be like other smaller companies and instead try to put out some more original product to accompany these.

    Now as for using them as models in BFG or Rogue Trader. These models would come in handy for
    representing older patterns built during different design periods. In other words, an interim period between the heresy era aesthetics of the grand cruisers , and the more cathedral like blockiness of the ‘modern’ imperial ships.

  • Sean

    I’ve bought a few of these and thry are gorgeous. Zac is a cool guy with great customer service. The models are the best pieces of resin I’ve ever touched. They look like they were carved from a block with a laser. Unlike spartan games 3d printed models that show the layers everywhere.

    They are a great way to add variety to your fleets. And since china is the only way to get bfg anymore they aren’t too unreasonable. Also when when you realize the website is in Australian dollars and that exchange rate favors USA some of the sticker shock goes away.

    • Nostok

      Zac is definitely a cool guy, really helpful and is really invested in the model making and resin casting community. If you want to see some of the construction processes etc. head over to ResinAddicts.