Monday 27 April 2009

American Soldier

I picked up a copy of Queensrÿche's new album American Soldier the other day. I had fallen out of love with the US prog metal band following the release of the (to my mind) disappointing Promised Land (it is no Operation: Mindcrime!). However, they piqued my interest with the new album which promised to be an "epic concept album exploring the consequences of war from the soldier's perspective"...

I was intrigued that lead singer, Geoff Tate, had gone out and interviewed US vets from a number of wars from Vietnam through Somalia to Iraq and used these interviews to develop the album (and in a number of cases include excerpts of the interviews in the songs which can be quite harrowing).

Now if you are into Celine Dion then this probably isn't going to be an album for you, but if you like a bit of guitar and gung-ho rock then American Soldier may well be the CD to stick on when playing Ambush Alley or Scudbusters, I'm certainly enjoying it...

EuroFed Aerospace Craft

Curse the sunny weather - SWMBO (or "She Who Must Not Be Named" as Saul called her by mistake!) has had me out in the fresh air engaged in that heinous activity - gardening!!! :-) Lord knows what a Goji Berry is, but we've now got one and over the weekend I've had spent longer with my fingers stuck in mud than holding a paintbrush (well I hope it's mud, we do have a large black labrador that spends a lot of time in the garden...).

Anyway, I did manage to get some "me time" and whilst the EuroFed Armoured Company is still only half painted I did manage to paint up some useful aerospace support for them (and games of Iron Hawk). Tony at Brigade let me have some master castings from their forthcoming Squadron Commander range (I believe they will be available at SELWG) including four Comete class and two Meteore class from the European Federation Aerospace Force.

The Comete is a simple little one piece model that looks ideal for both air and space combat as well as dropping munitions on ONESS and Neo-Soviet ground forces. The Meteore is a much bigger model and probably will only see service in space. Both are nice sharp models, but I really like the look of the Meteore... I painted them up in a blue-grey/light blue scheme and used some I-94 Enterprises decals (they are WW2 British Pacific but unusual enough to work for the Eurofed - I wanted to avoid using French markings as they are supposed to be a European Federation, albeit French dominated).

Friday 24 April 2009

The Circuit

Last few days have been a bit of a rush work wise with meetings in London and Paris, so much of a rush that I forgot to pack a book to read on the Eurostar to Paris and plane back to Bristol! :-( I quickly browsed the small selection of books in WHSmiths' at St Pancras International and picked up Bob Shepherd's The Circuit.

The Circuit recounts (ex-SAS Warrant Officer) Bob Shepherd's work in the Private Security Companies since 1994 in Gaza, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. I have become increasing interested in PSC's and PMC's (Private Military Contractors) of late as I want to include them in the Iron Cow background as an option for gamers other than the national power blocs.

A fascinating read, the author is quite honest in how his 'black and white' opinions of who the good guys and the bad guys are changed after his experiences following his military service and certainly pulls no punches in respect of what he sees as strategic and tactical errors by the US Military (especially Lt Col Sassaman in Iraq), the ineptitude of some other contractors (including his own employer) and some of the people he was tasked with protecting. There is some really interesting detail and colour in this book and anyone with an interest in the current War on Terror, the world's trouble spots in general or even how battlefield reporters go about their job will be well rewarded by picking this book up.

Monday 20 April 2009

Memo To Self: Ignore All Distractions!

So there I was minding my own business trying to finish off painting my 6mm EuroFed when issue 65 of The Journal arrives... 

Lots of interesting stuff within but one article really piqued my interest. It was on WW2 Soviet coastal and riverine forces, not a topic I really knew much about, but the idea of gunboats (with T34 turrets) sailing up the Danube, engaging other vessels as well as tanks on the shore (one gunboat was famously sunk by a German Elefant!) seems hard to resist, especially as NavWar make some in 1/300th. (Now I do have some unpainted Soviet armour somewhere...)

I am doing best to be strong and focus on projects in hand, but I'd only need a couple, they are only £1.50 each and it's so easy to order things via the internet these days...

Sunday 19 April 2009

Monster Planet

Several years later... Just finished Monster Planet, the third in David Wellington's zombie trilogy. Set twelve years after the initial two volumes, Monster Planet is a bit of a disappointment. 

It starts off really well with the surviving Somalia heroines of the first book and the daughter of the UN weapons inspector flying a Mil-8 helicopter over rampaging zombies crossing Egypt. Indeed the post-apocalyptic/last survivors feel was promising, but the book goes down hill somewhat quickly after that as the action returns to America. 

Whilst there are some good scenes, it is increasingly far-fetched with too much emphasis on the magic powers of the undead and too little on zombie brain eating action (I mean who wants their undead turning people into mushrooms? We want them eating brains!). A shame really as the original novel was good and the second had its moments. 

If you read the first two you will undoubtedly end picking up the third to see how it all turns out, just be aware it ain't as good as its predecessors...

Saturday 18 April 2009

Shiver Me Timbers!

Took a bit of a break from painting today as the postman delivered a large parcel this morning! :-) Inside was the Mega Bloks Black Pearl which I spent most of the morning messing with around on the floor, sticking it together and then breaking it apart (then sticking it together so "SWMBO" could see it then breaking it apart!).

What's this got to do with wargaming you cry?! Well I'd been looking for some suitable ships to use in Strange Grogge, but as true to scale models would be ridiculously big and most kits are too small scale wise I'd almost given up on the idea until I spotted this game at Salute...

The models being used, with 28mm scale miniatures, are from the Mega Bloks Pirates of the Carribean line (Mega Bloks if you don't know is a company that produce Lego-like models, usually cheaper and IMHO having made a number through Saul's childhood, as good as, if not better...). The one above is (I think) The Flying Dutchman, but inspired by this game I hunted the Black Pearl and a generic Pirate Ship down on eBay, paying under a tenner for both.

This is a project for later in the year, but as I have now amassed a substantial collection of fantasy pirates from Black Scorpion, Olley's Armies, Fortress Figures, Rackham (to name a few) we'll soon be sailing the Seven Seas on Bleaseworld!

Wednesday 15 April 2009

Panzerfäuste Ogres

The 6mm painting came to a grinding halt when I found that all three cans of black undercoat had run out (!) so I need to get some more before the I can get on with the EuroFed armour. Turning my eyes to a pile of half finished projects I decided to finish of my Panzerfäuste Ogre conversions as they would be needed in the forthcoming PDF edition.

Based on WW2 Hungarians I did the majority of the conversion work some moons ago, using the GW plastic Ogre Bulls as the basis and building up the torsos with Milliput. Detail was added using Green Stuff and weapons and accessories came from the 1/32nd Airfix Multipose Afrika Korp set. I went with 1/32nd as 1/35th accessories looked too small and flimsy compared to the figures. The helmet on the sergeant is probably a tad too small to be realistic but to my mind it works well giving the figure a slightly comic fantasy appearance. The headgear on the private was sculpted from Green Stuff. The models were then painted in up in WW2 Hungarian colours.

Overall I am really pleased with the conversions and the overall look of the Ogres. I am not sure when I'll get around to actually sculpting some Ogres from scratch for Panzerfäuste but these conversions were relatively straight forward and will make good proxies for the time being. As an exercise in using Milliput and Green Stuff it has certainly given me more confidence to have a go on some larger models sometime in the future. In the meantime I need to finish off the long awaited Highland Orcs before I get lynched by Panzerfäuste gamers!

Tuesday 14 April 2009

Monster Nation

Back onto zombies and I've finished book two of David Wellington's trilogy,  Monster Nation. Trilogy is a bit of a misnomer as this prequel can be read in isolation as none of the main characters from Monster Island are in this book are in this and the action is by and large centred in California and Colorado.

Lots of good bits in this book that would make great wargames scenarios, such as the S&R teams in Denver trying to rescue the uninfected, but also bits that will make the zombie purist somewhat annoyed (invisible zombies?). Overall I quite enjoyed it but it might not be to everyone's taste.

Of course with all this reading about zombies and having seen 28 Weeks Later again recently on the TV I was pondering some zombie orientated miniature games. I do have the excellent Twilight Creations' Zombies!!! (a must have game), but was thinking about something more military themed. Ambush Z seems popular but I may be a cheapskate and just play around with Scudbusters using the reaction charts to control the zombies and the campaign system to gradually wear the SOF down.

EuroFed Mechanised Infantry

The Iron Cow arms race continues apace with the European Federation building up its forces to counter the fascist military of the American Republic!

First off is a mechanised infantry company using Brigade Models' lovely little Tassigny APC's and infantry. The Tassigny is a nice looking GEV APC and one of my favourite models in the entire Brigade line (there is just something about it's boxy look that appeals).

The unit HQ is a variant, the Tassigny Command APC which has a communications dish replacing the hull mounted weapon on the standard APC.

The infantry are Brigade's generic infantry pack and I must say probably the best 6mm SF infantry I have come across (with GZG a very close second). When I built my first Iron Cow armies up fifteen odd years ago using AFV's from GZG, Scotia etc, SF infantry were either non-exsitant or very poor. For the most part I used Heroics & Ros modern troops, their insurgents pack regularly getting drafted to various armies causes.

These days we are served with a number of really very good offerings including GZG and Dark Realm.
Unfortunately Brigade only do one pack which is a damn shame as they are very well detailed but not too fussy to paint up nicely with simple use of a black undercoat, some dry-brushing and odd dots of detail.

The infantry platoon pack contains regular troopers, a commander pointing and three different types of heavy weapon and I've decided to use them for EuroFed as I have enough to do a regular infantry company and also a EuroFed Legion one later on.

On a related SF infantry front I have ordered a couple of packs of Dark Realm including their jungle troops which look like they could be useful for English Republic Genetic Infantry (Gen: I) and in a strange turn of fate re-discovered several packs of the (very) old NavWar SF infantry which could well be useful for some Private Military Contractor forces I was planning to raise...

Before that though it'll be back to the EuroFed with a pile of tanks, artillery and close aerospace support currently sitting on the painting table awaiting undercoating.

Monday 13 April 2009

AmRep Support Tanks

Tony at Brigade was kind enough to include three turrets for their M-826 Boyd Support Tank which uses the same body as the standard Boyd MBT in my order so I can switch between them dependent on mission requirements. I've now painted them up and here are the Boyd's in support mode...

Work continues apace on the Iron Cow front with my eyes (and paintbrush) now turned on the EuroFed. I've painted up several APC's for an infantry company and am part way through the infantry. Photos hopefully tomorrow. Before this I did finish the remainder of the AmRep Eagle flight which now just need decals applying.

Tuesday 7 April 2009

Monster Island

Just finished reading Monster Island by David Wellington, a zombie story set in modern day New York. I must say I quite enjoyed it even if, (disregarding the zombie aspect), it is somewhat far fetched with a gang of Somali girl soldiers and a UN weapons inspector sailing a trawler from East Africa to the US to try and acquire AIDS drugs from the UN building in zombie infested New York.

The story is written in alternate chapters in the first person (for the UN weapons inspector) and the third person (for a zombie eye view) and rattles along quite nicely. Some fun touches such as the zombie pigeons and the mummies in the museum that also come back to life along with the other dead.

It does have some "fantasy" elements that might annoy zombie purists (yes, I know how silly that sounds)  but has some excellent ideas gamers looking to put on some zombie games, whether they are scenarios or just some cool concepts.

Monday 6 April 2009

AmRep Eagle Aerospace Fighter

Tony at Brigade Games was kind enough to provide me with some samples of their (mostly) as yet unreleased 1/300th SF fighters. Brigade acquired the rights for Squadron Commander 3600 a little while back and intend to re-release it geared towards 1/300th scale miniatures (and thus compatible with their 6mm Iron Cow vehicle range). Of course in Wessex Towers we did not know this when we set David Manley to work on our own set of 1/300th SF Fighter rules using the AirWar: C21 mechanisms which will be called Iron Hawk: 2136AD. Not sure which set will see light of day first but I'm sure they'll both be worth buying (he said diplomatically!).

Anyhow, looking for some aerospace support for the AmRep Marine Corp tanks I have started painting up a flight of AmRep Eagle aerospace fighters. So far this one is the furthest along and is just waiting for markings to be added. I will probably opt for some of the current US low-vis grey ones if I can find some appropriate decals. A very well sculpted model I can see this being popular with both Iron Cow and Iron Hawk gamers.

AmRep Marine Tank Company

Having painted up some infantry I thought I'd better get some 6mm armour painted up for Iron Cow 2103AD and decided to stay with the American Republic by painting up Brigade Models AmRep Marine Tank Company.

The company comprises of four 3 tank M-82 Boyd MBT platoons and one M-823 Boyd Command Vehicle (yes Tommy, they are named after you!)

Nice models, they required minimal cleaning before undercoating I went with a two colour green over sand camo scheme. I had initially decided to go with something akin to the old US MERDC scheme but after adding the green was happy enough as is.

I haven't added any national markings as yet as I am undecided on how prominent these would be. I also need to get some perspex rod to raise them off the ground slightly as they are grav tanks and should float slightly above the surface.

I now need to hunt out the rest of the US Marine Combat Team which I put away somewhere safely and can't remember where! I am also working on some aerospace support for the Am Rep Marines and hope to get a couple of fighters painted up tonight.

Saturday 4 April 2009

AmRep Mechanised Infantry

I've started a bit of a push on the 6mm SF front having realised that the Iron Cow rulebook is OOP. I started sorting through my Salute purchases yesterday and thought I'd line up the AmRep forces first on the workbench. At Salute I bought a pack of pretty much all of GZG's 6mm SF infantry. Unfortunately when I got home they weren't labelled so I didn't know what was supposed to be what. No major shakes as the Iron Cow background is obviously different but it means I can't tell you what I painted!

All the packs contain 24 nicely sculpted 6mm scale infantry with this unit in full body armour and enclosed helmets with a mix of small arms and man-portable heavy weapons. This pack has an Aliens style chaingun and a shoulder fired missile launcher with magazine.

The figures were a breeze to paint, black undercoat, drybrush Catachan Green, lighter drybrush of green with a dab of white added. The helmets vizors were painted Enchanted Blue, with a dab of grey splashed on the weapons and a couple of dots for unit insignia added to the shoulders.

Basing was a slight conundrum. The rules suggest four to a base but I decided to base them in twos on some tiddlywinks I'd bought from em-4 a while back. I discounted the GZG bases as too high (2mm = 2 foot in 1/300th) and requiring too much work to scrap flash off etc.

Overall quite pleased with the first 6mm I've painted in a decade. I'm currently working on a company of M-82 Boyd MBT's, the test model for which I think looks really nice...

UPDATE: the infantry are GZG's UNSC Marines Hardsuit Infantry Platoon (code DSM-135). Thanks to Nick Whittock for this...