Saturday 28 February 2009

Skytrex S.E.5a's

Today I've started on making up a pile of Skytrex and Reviresco WWI aeroplanes for the photos in the forthcoming AirWar: 1918 2nd edition. After considerable "umming" and "ahhing" I went with the flow and opted to pick 1/144th as scale of choice despite having WWI land forces in both 1/72 and 1/300th! There were a number of reasons for this including model availability, but I admit some of it was pure cowardliness looking at the German lozenge camo scheme and seeing the pre-painted German Wings of War models.

Having a number of 1/144th German pre-paints already and little opposition, I decided to start with the RFC planes and the Skytrex S.E.5a in particular - not the wisest move! :-) The model does not have a good reputation, but hey just how hard can it be to stick a couple of bits of white metal together for someone who has been doing this for thirty odd years? Well after shouting at wife (not recommended), son, dog, cats and providing the S.E.5a with some choice new nicknames (none of which are printable here) I did manage to get the buggers stuck together and looking vaguely right.

The main problem is the fact that the main lower wings are cast at a noticeable angle to the body (see photo below) and short of cutting them off there is nothing you can do about this. It is apparently a problem with Skytrex's mould and my recommendation is to buy the Reviresco one even though it costs more or wait for the forthcoming Wings of War one.

I also decided (after reading numerous web articles) to replace the white metal struts with ones from brass wire. Initially this resulted in lots of cursing, gluing fingers together etc, until I found a big lump of Blu-Tac which is currently my best friend and supporting two R.E.8's and a B.E.2 (both Skytrex and reasonably good models) whilst they dry...

Once I've finished these and a couple of Brisfits, Camels and Dolphins, it'll be time to slap some paint and decals on so watch this space!

Friday 27 February 2009

The Two-Headed Eagle

Well I haven't managed to quite finish the rest of the SAYTR robots (see below) so I thought I'd tell you about the latest book I've read (or in this case re-read). 

I've just finished The Two-Headed Eagle by John Biggins, the third book of the Otto Prohaska series). Otto is a naval officer of Czech heritage in the Great War Austro-Hungarian navy and recounts his adventures in four (sadly out of print) novels. 

The Two-Headed Eagle is set in 1916 and concentrates on his secondment to the Austro-Hungarian flying service, flying Hansa-Brandenburg CI's over the Carso front in Northern Italy. To say Prohaska is flying is technically incorrect as, despite Prohaska being able to fly, the army insists that officers command aeroplanes whilst the other ranks actually fly them following the officer's orders!

It's a really very good novel providing much flavour and detail about a relatively unknown theatre of the Great War. I first read it in 1995 but had forgotten most of it so it was like reading it anew. It certainly has tempted me to paint up some Austrian and Italian planes for AirWar: 1918 games - if only that Austro-Hungarian camo pattern wasn't such a nightmare...

Thursday 26 February 2009

Steve's Brand New Hobby!

Karen (aka She Who Must Be Obeyed) decided that as I enter my dotage (40's) that I needed to "get out and about" and could do with a relaxing stress free hobby (not sure why painting and wargaming isn't "stress free" but there you go...), so she bought me a set of golf clubs and enrolled me for six starter lessons at the Woodspring Golf and Country Club!

Having just had my first lesson with Kevin I must say that this was not the "soft, easy, stroll round and just knock a few balls in a hole hobby" that I thought, my lower back is killing me and my body is telling me I have muscles in places I never knew they existed! Kevin stated it was the equivalent of doing two hours ironing which I had to take his word for! :-)

Still, it's all in a good cause I suppose and I'll enjoy the benefits of strolling round some warm exotic Mediterranean golf course in my 60's!

Back to the toy soldiers tomorrow, if I can move...

Sunday 22 February 2009

Robot Police

For a bit of a change, I started working on some SATYR robots I had picked up from Victory Force Miniatures earlier this year. The bulk are earmarked for battlefield use but I kept four aside to paint up as robot police for Firewall 2136AD games inspired by this video on You Tube.

The paint scheme is quite simple, just an overall blue drybrushed over black with white and black front panels and an orange light on top of the head (I don't think that's what the sculptor had in mind but I think it looks good and added a splash of colour).

The miniatures are about 40mm tall and I really liked the spring type legs, however they did require a fair bit of work to get them ready for painting, more than most miniatures usually do these days. They are also rather static, which works well for the police but less so for the battlefield. However, they are moulded in a suitable soft white metal to allow for heads and legs to be bent (carefully) as required.

Thursday 19 February 2009

Khanopian War Robots

Back to Dick Garrison with two of W.S.D.'s wonderful Khanopian War Robots.

I'd been puzzling over what look to give them and stumbled on this completely metallic one purely by accident, indeed technically I haven't finished painting the models as the original intention was to paint the main body work red to tie in with the Khanopian Troopers. However having got to this stage I felt they looked really good (the photos doesn't really show the antique bronze off to best effect) and stopped.

On a related note I have finally managed to get hold of a copy of Flash Gordon Trip To Mars which was not released when Space Soldiers and Conquers The Universe was on Region 2 DVD. It has subsequently been bundled as a complete collection with the first and third adventures but I was not particularly happy with having to buy 2/3rds of something I already own to get it. Thankfully I found a copy on eBay that had no region coding so am a happy bunny. More thoughts when I've had a chance to watch it...

Wednesday 18 February 2009

SW Warhammer World Trip

So, I hear you all asking, how did the South West Warhammer World Trip go? Well, not being a morning person (some would say not even an afternoon person either) I was not overly happy about getting out of bed at 4.30am. Arriving at the (rather smelly) local GW for 6am (the "dedicated hobbyists" had been playing all night - phew...) we then embarked for Warhammer World (via a rather interesting route coming off the M42 along the M6 and M69 to the M1 rather than just continuing up the M42/A42 to the junction south of Nottingham - sat navs eh?).

We arrived around 10am just in time for Saul and friend Chris to play their first game. The competition was organised between Bristol, Plymouth and Truro stores (they set off 2am!!). The first game was against Space Marines! Unfortunately Saul's half of the army got well and truly hammered, he didn't inflict one casualty and only his Dreadnought (with no functioning weaponry) was still on the board at the end of the game, surrounded by the enemy - but he loved it!

The second game was against a combined Eldar/Tau army which went much better with lots of bloodshed on both sides. Unfortunately the pesky aliens kept firing and retreating which was apparently typically cowardly alien behaviour and meant the Space Marines did not get in close enough to really kick xeno butt (apparently the land speeder would have been a good idea here). Second battle lost - still loved it though!

The third and final game was against a combined Space Marine/Imperial Guard army. Again lots of death and destruction. Saul's right flank was wiped out down to a sergeant and missile launcher, but the left did much better, killing lots of Guard and taking out one unsuspecting Leman Russ with the Dreadnought's multi-melta (Saul had cunningly used his Terminators to cover the advance of his Dreadnought and his opponent was distracted by the Termies ripping his scouts to shreds...). Unfortunately time was an issue and the game wrapped up early so a draw was called, but to be fair if it had gone on another turn Saul and Chris would have been clear winners on kill points (I am not convinced they hadn't won anyway but they decided to call it a draw rather than add it all up - kids!).

Whilst Saul and Chris were rolling D6, I had a few beers (Bugman's XXXXXX is quite nice), bought the Joesph Bugman mini (well two if I'm honest, both the old and new ones), had a poke around, took lots of photos, listened to Jervis' seminar (really two PowerPoint presentations, one on The War of the Ring that provoked no questions and one on forthcoming 40K which provoked lots. The new IG Valkyrie looks lovely and though I don't like the concept, the new ratling snipers are a lovely set of sculpts).

Arriving back in Bristol at 9pm it was a tiring day, but Saul had had a great time which was the whole point of the exercise.

Monday 16 February 2009

Screaming Eagles Space Marines

Well, tomorrow son & heir and myself will be boarding a coach at the unearthly hour of 6am as we embark on the South West Warhammer World Trip! I'm just intending to potter around, have a beer, listen to a seminar by Jervis Johnson, have another beer, potter around etc. Saul however, is entering a 40K doubles tournament with a friend from school called Chris...

Now Saul isn't the most experienced 40k player in the world and has never played in a tournament before, let along a doubles one, but he wanted to do it and he wanted to use his Space Marines... For the tournament your army has to be 750 points strong with all the core choices, but if you both have the same army as your partner you only need to have one lot of core choices for 1500 points therefore increasing your choice of optional units. Now Chris is also taking Space Marines but in typical teenage fashion, neither have actually talked to each other about what they're taking (there may be have been some one word - sometimes one letter - texts, which Saul is so fond of sending, but who knows!), so they'll probably have a lot of grunts on the table and not much else...

Anyhow this meant we have had to blow over 400 points on the HQ and core unit choices alone which kinda limits your remaining options... So out went the land speeder, attack bikes and devastator squad and all that remained were 5/6th of his terminator squad and a dreadnought (total 748 points). Whatever, it will be somewhat a shooty army and he'll have plenty of opportunity to throw lots of dice which is the main reason to play 40K.

The Chapter is one of our own making. Initially I was planning a grey with distruptive green camo look with WWI iron crosses as chapter markings, however with our Eldar being black with white helmets I thought this was all too monochrome so did some experimenting and settled on this Dark Angels green overall with blue shoulder pads look which is a doddle to paint using drybrushing techniques.

The miniatures are largely from the Assault on Black Reach box set with some odd ones from the MacCragge set and others that just happened to be hanging around. The dreadnought is from the Black Reach set and is a very nice and easy to construct model.

The chapter is the Screaming Eagles, named after the famous 101st Airborne (guess who had just watched Band of Brothers?). With hindsight this proved to be a big PITA as my printer could not print the 101st unit insignia small enough to use on decal paper and in the end I had to hand paint the eagles. Some are good, some ok and a few look like ducks, seagulls and geese, but if you don't look too closely the effect is ok. Hopefully I can one day address the decal issue and overpaint the hand painted designs with some neater and more consistent in appearance.

The Space Marine sergeants are the only regular troopers bare headed as I am not keen on helmetless marines but didn't have enough helmets for the complete squad. One sergeant had a pronounced mould line across his forehead which I could not remove well enough so in a flash of inspiration it became a pair of talon scars (this guy is obviously a veteran of MacCragge). The other sergeant is black, an unusual choice in 40K, but inspired by the black Sergeant Majors seen in war films and because it's boring seeing just white Space Marines. 

It did get me thinking about painting up a black chapter with assegais as hand weapons and a camo pattern based on zulu shield designs, but thankfully I came to my senses!

Sunday 15 February 2009

Khanopian Troopers

Having painted up the Ignian troopers for The Amazing Interplanetary Adventures of Dick Garrison, I found myself still 'in the zone' painting wise and quickly moved the W.S.D. Khanopian's to the front of the workbench!

Hitting on the right colour scheme for these bad guys wasn't straight forward, but as I quite liked what Agis Neugebauer had done on his website and used this as an inspiration. As bad guys using a red-white-black scheme, which has suitably Germanic overtones, for the Khanopians works well, and I'm pleased with the final look.

Mike has started putting teasers about the rules and the scenarios on the WGPulp Yahoo group and this is the place to be if you want to know more about the forthcoming Dick Garrison game.

Thursday 12 February 2009

Thrud The Barbarian

Twenty-five years of sitting in a mountain of unpainted lead should be enough for any miniature to endure, sadly this was the fate of the mighty Thrud the Barbarian, produced by Citadel Miniatures in 1984 as part of their 'White Dwarf Personality' set (IIRC it was Gobbledigook I was really after!).

Anyhow, after said quarter of a century (ouch!), Thrud now stands proud and bloodied, axe poised ready to wreak violence on anyone who crosses his path (he may even make it onto the gaming table, I kind of like the idea of him being a chaos champion...).

For the uninitiated Thrud was a comic strip character created by Carl Critchow and appeared in White Dwarf in the days of yore. In recent years he has made a comeback in his own full colour comic, which I thoroughly recommend to anyone with a sense of humour...

Wednesday 11 February 2009

Ignian Troopers

One of the current projects being worked on by Wessex Games is The Amazing Interplanetary Adventures of Dick Garrison. The rules and background are based on Wagames Supply Dump's Dick Garrison range of Golden Age SF miniatures sculpted by Bob Olley.

Mike Baumann is enthusiastically working away on the rules, which have grown to such an extent that there are now two (or is that three?) supplements planned! The background includes a number of races (some, but not all, made by W.S.D.) ruled by the evil despot Khang the Compassionless. These include the Ignians, a race of dwarfen magma miners who populate the volcanic world of Ignia.

The Ignians fall under the "not made by W.S.D." label, so I had to hunt out some suitable proxies. This wasn't too hard as Olley's Armies have recently released some Scrunt Inquisitors (Scrunts being their Space Dwarves). Sculpted by Bob, they fit in with the W.S.D. style perfectly and look suitably 'Golden Age'.

Unfortunately Mike has told me that he has had to cut them from the main rulebook (!) but they will be in the first 'Return To Khanopia' supplement. Whatever, they are lovely miniatures and were an absolute joy to paint. I'll have to pick up the other two packs sometime...

Tuesday 10 February 2009

Dwarf Assassins

Well I should have been off to windy Paris today, but Air France have cancelled my flight so I thought I'd post a picture of Saul's dwarf assassins instead...

Saul came up with the concept for the assassins, presenting me with a sketch of one he did during a geography lesson at school (quite!). I thought it was a pretty cool idea so decided to convert some of the GW plastic dwarves for him with the judicious application of Green Stuff! Oddly, whilst I prefer the models in the current box, the previous release is much more useful (and easier) to convert, so these models are mix of current and old plastics (they are quite easy to pick up on eBay). One is armed with a crossbow, one with a brace of pistols and one with a long musket complete with scope and leather silencer!

Saul loves them and though they are not an official unit by any stretch of the imagination, they have been used to great effect in battles at the local GW store, especially the sniper...

Monday 9 February 2009

Ogre Mercenary Slayers

Ok, first post, umm... Bit of a test this one to get the ball rolling!

My son, Saul, is the proud owner of a slowly growing Dwarf army for WHFB. As Warhammer armies go, it's pretty good for a novice, the troops being hard, tactics limited (hit it with an axe) and the models easy to paint. At his local GW his army did come a cropper against some Ogres which (unsurprisingly) led to a call for an Ogre Kingdoms army! A compromise was reached when we realised Ogres could be a mercenary ally choice...

Not one to do what the instructions say (or as wife Karen says, not one to read the instructions!) I wanted them to look unique and indulging my fascination with Green Stuff (and the fact the GW Ogre models are great for conversions) I hit on the idea of having a unit of Ogres who wanted to be slayers!

Now for a long time I have hated the GW slayer concept (it's the Italicorange hair...), but having read some of the Gotrek & Felix stories I was coming round to the idea, although Saul's army only has the one that came with the Skull Pass set.

Anyway, long story short, I started to convert some Ogre bulls using some spare axes from the Black Orc plastic set (with Orc iconography removed) and Green Stuff mohicans. The bull poses are pretty sedate so some green stuff work was required on the muscles, especially the two waving their axes. I got fed up with sculpting the mohicans so one stayed bald (with dyed moustache and hair lock), the other - in a blatant homage to Snorri from the Gotrek books - has iron nails driven in his skull (pins nicked from the wife's sowing box).

I tried to ape the GW colour for Ogres but it is a bit greyer than I wanted and it looked rather boring, consequently I painted on some blue tattoos as per the Storm of Chaos book (which contains a Dwarf Slayer army, umm...).

They were favourably commented upon at the local GW when they made their debut, but got too far ahead of the rest of the army and went down after some bad dice rolls to some Lizards. Ho hum...