Monday, 31 May 2010

Natasha Kaplinsky Led Me Astray...

Natasha Kaplinsky may not strike you as an obvious excuse for buying more wargames figures but please bear with me because it is true...

A couple of years back the (then) BBC newsreader was featured on the TV series Who Do You Think You Are? Like Stephen Fry, featured in an earlier series, she is of East European Jewish descent and her relatives had been victims of the Holocaust. What sparked my interest was the story of how some of her relatives joined the 'Forest Jews' and fought back.

At the time this was a relatively unknown story and with my interest piqued I started to do some research which culminated in buying a book called The Bielski Brothers by Peter Duffy which described the story of the leaders of the Forest Jews and their battles against the Germans and their allies (and even on occasion the Polish Home Army). Subsequently the story has been brought to the big screen in the film Defiance which is a reasonable attempt to tell the story (although slightly inaccurate in the interests of dramatic license), iteself based on Nechama Tec's book Defiance (also worth reading).

I must confess to being a bit of a supporter of underdogs, especially when they win against the odds and the story of the Bielski's and the Forest Jews is one that I have found especially interesting. I have pondered for a while about raising a small Bielski Partisan force, if only as an antidote to the interminable armies of Waffen SS* we see at shows and the impetus came when I found out that Caesar Miniatures had re-released, as a limited edition, their original WWII Underground Resisters (Partisans) set alongside their existing WWII Partisans in Europe. For about a tenner I soon had 74 20mm figures courtesy of Hannants.

I hope to get these painted over the summer holiday, once I get the work top cleared of existing projects and try out some small scale partisan actions with them.

* my antipathy for this fascination of wargamers with right-wing forces extends to the Freikorps as well and one day I plan to raise a small German Red Army/Spartacist force to keep Bavaria and Berlin red!

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Victorian War Mole

Before I sit down to an afternoon and evening of football, beer and Dr Who, I finished off the toy I picked up in the Entertainer last weekend. It was a Hasbro G.I. Joe Mole Pod which they had for sale at £7.50 (half price).

As you can see, it's perfect for 28mm VSF as a small terranef and I have painted up for use in such games. Most of my VSF 28mm machines are painted black with bits of brass with no national markings so they can be used for any side, though this got a heavy weathering to show it had been ploughing through the earth...

I'm quite pleased with the end result and as it required no additional converting to make it useable I might pick up a couple more (thinking about it, it would also work in 40K and looks quite Orky or suitable for an IG unit, umm...)

Novel Ideas

The train journey between Bristol and London is quite useful for getting some reading done and this week's meetings in the "Big Smog" allowed me to finish James Lovegrove's Age of Ra. A contemporary alt-history set in a world ruled by Egyptian dieties, the book follows a British soldier who ends up fighting with a rebellion against the Pantheon of Gods in Freegypt.

Whilst Egyptian SF it is well removed from Stargate, except maybe the use of ba lances by the troops. Well worth checking out and would make a great near-future SF background with battles ranging from small scale guerilla raids to a mass battle on the plains of Megiddo.

Age of Ra is one of a trilogy of ancient god in contemporary settings books by Lovegrove, the next being Age of Zeus, with Age of Odin forthcoming, though apparently they are all stand alone stories.

Looking for the release date of the Odin book I stumbled across a short story by Lovegrove called Dead Brigade. The premise of this sounded really interesting so I picked up a cheap second hand copy off Amazon (it is only a hundred odd pages and in a large well spaced font so not worth the £5.99 RRP).

Set in the present day with the British Army unable to recruit the numbers of troops it needs for the various guerilla wars it is involved in across the globe, scientists reanimate dead soldiers to fill the ranks.

In many ways it is a shame this is a short story as it has a lot of good ideas and a moral twist that would have been better developed in a longer novel. That said it is well worth picking up a second hand copy as it has some really 'cool' ideas for games (especially the attack on the Serb hospital). If you like modern games and zombies, this is a must read.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

ONESS Artillery & Brigade Command

A certain clamour on the Brigade Models forum reminded me that I only have the Germans left to paint to enable the PDF of Iron Cow to be released, so I have commenced painting operations! The intention was that I would paint them in the same camo pattern as my old Scotia 2300AD Germans but black undercoat technique and colours available meant this wasn't possible, so I've settled on this green and brown camo pattern.

I still need to do a little more work on the Brigade Command Unit and Artillery Battery pictured here, but I am pleased with the overall look. The miniatures are from the Brigade Models Iron Cow line.

On an unrelated note I picked up an interesting toy from the local Entertainer shop on Saturday that looks like it'll make a great VSF vehicle. It's currently drying after being undercoated but hopefully as it'll be predominantly dark grey/black I may get this finished by the weekend (though I am working away for a couple of nights this week). More on this soon...

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Carry On Up The Khyber?

When we last had a Conservative government and they were so generous to give me tuppence a week as there were no jobs, I started to develop an interest in Afghanistan and the possibility of gaming in 20mm scale the various conflicts that had blighted the country up to the (then) recent invasion by the Soviet Union (this was before anyone was clever enough to realise you could sell moderns (or WW2) in anything other than 6 or 20mm (sorry HO/OO). Anyway I saved my tuppences up and with some Xmas money had the late Ian Weekly make me some lovely generic Afghan buildings in 20mm.

Whilst they saw some action with a few Soviets and Afghans from FAA (IIRC) I never did anything colonial with them, discovering TSATF and other colonial campaigns. That did not stop me at the time pencilling lists of figures for armies from adverts in the latest Military Modelling (the dark days when there were no wargames mags!) and although I bought some 20mm colonial Brits from Pax Britannica (now long gone...) I never go round to ordering anything from Jacklex who (IIRC) you could order from the Model Shop in Harrow.

The Jacklex list was fantastic with Boer wagon trains and Indian Army screw guns on mules etc. I must confess I thought these old figures had gone the way of the dodo until an announcement on TMP that Jacklex had released their first new figures in 30 odd years for the Pancho Villa Expedition (and people complain at the Wessex Games release rate!).

Anyhow, I have now discovered the Jacklex range on the Spencer Smith Miniatures website an all the old stuff I remembered is there, along with photos. Ok, they aren't as good as some of today's high standard miniatures but the range looks really useful and (AFAIK) quite unique in 20mm - and they take PayPal! I seriously doubt I will be able to resist, just don't tell the wife (or with a birthday coming up should I tell SWMBO?)...

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Eldar Jetbikes

Forgot to post this picture of the Eldar jetbikes yesterday. Being second hand bits were missing on the riders (arms IIRC) so I used some bits and pieces of Guardians to make up the rider with the gun. One of the bases is from the Foundations of War 'alien temple' range.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

More Eldar

Few more pictures of elements from Saul's small Eldar army. Pretty much everything has been picked up cheap on eBay or at shows. We've still got a few bits and pieces hanging around like the Wraithguard and some specialist troops to paint up so I need to re-focus on getting them done.

The Avavtar is an impressive model and definitely kick-ass on the tabletop. Whilst it slightly erodes the hard SF look of the Eldar it is a finely detailed miniature, which is brought to the surface by a slightly lighter grey for drybrushing. Contrast is provided some "fire" runes and the white cloth sporting the Craftworld icon.

Also pictured here are some Elder Guardian infantry. These were very cheap and already stuck together (some really badly), however the black paintjob hides a multitude of sins. 

The Rangers are scout troopers for the army in long hooded coats. Keeping with the overall black theme of the army these have been painted grey with a dark grey splinter pattern inspired by the WW2 Luftwaffe scheme. We have an Eldar tank somewhere that will probably end up with a similar pattern.

Monday, 3 May 2010

101 Uses of Neodymium Magnets (part two)

After recovering from Salute it's been an up and down week of some extremes. The big up was Saul singing with prog-rock band Twelfth Night at their homecoming gig in Reading on Friday night, the big down was our dog, Jet, passing away in his sleep yesterday.

The dog has, of course, left a big hole and wherever you turn you still expect to find him under your feet. Karen has taken to planting flowers in the garden, Saul blowing things up on his computer and I decided to update the blog...

Reading Jim's Wargaming Blog and his post on 40K, reminded me I hadn't posted any pictures of the Eldar I painted for Saul. There were two reasons for now doing this. First off the colour scheme is very minimalist, quick to do and looks effective so may encourage Jim down the Path of the Warrior. Secondly was the judicious use of neodymium magnets. Previously I've mentioned using them for bases on planes, aeronef and, most recently, aquanef. After having an entire Full Thrust collection de-based by a two year old nephew (snap, ooh, snap, ooh, snap...), I've found magnets the only way to go. However, flying bases are not their only use and I've used them to great effect on the Eldar Wraithlord and Heavy Weapons Platforms shown here.

Games Workshop do provide a number of weapons variants for both kits and have suggested in an old WD about pinning them so they can be swapped. This is extremely fiddly and you need to be pretty exact with your drilling and pins, so enter the magnets. The Wraithlord (and old metal one) needed a bit of work on the weapon mount but nothing taxing (and certainly less effort than would have been needed with a pin vice and metal pins). As you can see from the photos the weapons are easy to switch and indeed can be switched between the Wraithlord and Weapons Platform.

The bases were purchased off a company called Foundations of War. They are resin (ruined alien temple IIRC) and are really good for adding character to 40K armies. There are a number of other useful base designs from FoW (and indeed other companies worth checking out as well) and I tend to use them on command figures and large/support weapons to add some character. I really like the way the base helps accentuate the striding pose of the Wraithlord.