Sunday 26 September 2010

Games Day 2010

There was an interesting programme on the BBC the other day looking at various less well known stories around the Battle of Britain. At one stage they debated the merits of the Spitfire versus the Me109 with surviving pilots, concluding the latter was just about faster. Well, all I know is that the Peugoet 407 is much faster than a Spit' as we took this one on the M5 this morning on the way to Birmingham, no problem! :-) Seriously, it was an unusual sight with the wings following in a second vehicle. I don't think it really is a Spitfire but the 1/1 scale "Airfix model' James May made in his programme on Airfix as the wings looked like the ones with the emergency steel support pipe in, still it was fun coming up behind it and firing the Peugoet's cannon! (I know I should grow up...)

Anyway we arrived at the NEC about 10.10am and walked straight in, no queue, which was a pleasant surprise. The LG Arena was extremely crowded initially, especially the Forgeworld stand, so we moved into the other hall to look at the various studio exhibits (and THQ area for Saul who loves Dawn of War). This area was well lit and apart from the scrum around the new Dark Eldar (photos on TGN for those interested - the raiders are very Martian sky galleon kite now) easy to get around and to see the two huge WHFB displays, one from the new rulebook, one (the Sea of Blood) from his months WD. Incredibly impressive, photos do not do them justice, you could have spent hours looking at all the detail.

Back to the LG Arena I was distinctly underwhelmed first by the abysmal lighting and then by the "samesness" of many of the games. There were too many Elves v Skaven, almost all were on the GW terrain boards and even the 40K games suffered from too many Ork games (I didn't see one Necron...). That said there were some gems, two good Empire v Undead WHFB games and one with two floating wizards towers. There was a big Aeronautica Imperialis using 28mm scale Forgeworld planes instead of 1/300th (this was the only non-GW trinity game and there were only a couple of LOTR). For those interested I have run my photos through iMovie and uploaded them to You Tube (due to the lighting and the lack of variety, sadly only half as many as last year).

Another disappointment was the lack of any Warhammer Historical games, but Forgeworld did offer the launch of Warhammer Forge, their new fantasy arm and WHFB gamers will now be pleased to see they are receiving the same (expensive) love as 40K gamers from the resin model makers. I've uploaded the photos I took of the forthcoming models for the soon to be released Tamurkhan: The Throne of Chaos sourcebook onto the SFSFW blog. The models did look tempting, especially the Chaos Dwarf machinery (and I've never really liked Chaos Dwarves...)

That though was about it, ok, but not a patch on last year. By 1.30pm we were talking to the blokes who design the boxes for the figures so we decided to grab a pasty and call it a day. We did have a quick look at the Black Library books on the way out. Dead Men Walking (Death Korp v Necrons) and The Emperor's Finest (new Ciaphas Cain) were available pre-release (both due December) but even Saul isn't that much of a fanboy to pay £7.99 for a paperback that Amazon will have at a much cheaper pre-release price...).

Saturday 25 September 2010

Forward The Red Army!

Bit of a Red Army theme in this post, although I have also almost finished a fairy for SWMBO, scratch-built a 2mm North-West European village from sprue for the "secret" VSF project and just cleaned up some nice new (as yet unreleased) land ironclad masters Tony from Brigade sent me.

More of this another day, today I have finished some more of the wonderful 28mm Plastic Soldier Company Russians I bought at Colours including some conversions I attempted...

First off are these two riflemen and smg'er. The smg pose is a little awkward in that he is holding the barrel but this is because he shares a common body with a rifleman which dictates the pose somewhat.

Next is the nurse many are moaning about (use your imaginations chaps), an officer kneeling and pointing and an uninspiring figure I've now concluded is the no. 2 to go with the walking lmger I painted earlier.

As these were plastic (and cheap) I couldn't resist attempting some conversions. The standing pointing officer had his arms replaced with the "holding smg" pair to make an NKVD Internal Security officer. His original pointing arm was stuck to the "useless" grenade thrower I didn't like to make a useful NCO and an lmg was stolen from a prone lmg team to have a soldier firing dramatically from the hip!

The prone trooper sans lmg was quickly converted into a casualty with one of the separate heads provided on the sprue and a quick arm and leg amputation and reposition of another of the "useless" grenade throwers gave me another casualty figure.

I painted up one prone lmg team as they are very nice but have yet to decide on how to base them as they don't fit on a 40mm base.

Finally in a fit of Sovietness I dipped and based a couple of old 20mm Hotspur troopers from their 1980's Afghanistan range. I have no idea who (if anyone) produces these now, but they are very nice figures and I must try and find the rest I bought back in the eighties (this also gave me a chance to try of the Dead Grass flock the idiot in GW Cribbs Causeway said they didn't sell!)

Off to Games Day tomorrow with Saul (and credit card) then a bit of working away so there'll be little chance to get much more done for a few days, but at least I might get a chance to finish reading Road of Bones...

Monday 20 September 2010

The Shadow Over Innsmouth

Back in July I mentioned that I'd picked up a copy of Strange Aeons and with it a couple of Uncle Mike's resin Deep Ones. I painted them up pretty quickly at the time but never quite finished the bases until the other day when I remembered them so here they are. A pretty minimalist approach to the painting but I'm happy enough with them (though I may put a green wash over the grey/black to give the clothing a more damp look).

The workbench is currently covered in "dipped" Russkis drying. I've painted up some more of the Plastic Soldier figures and had a go at converting a few so hopefully I'll be able to post photos of these by the end of the week. The conversions have turned out pretty good which is pleasing as I wasn't sure how versatile the largely one piece castings would be for converting.

Going forward though I need to refocus on some 2mm scenery for a (currently) top secret VSF mini-project and my 6mm WWI if I am to get Elan reissued on time.

Sunday 19 September 2010

Damme Fer A Marlinspike Else!

To celebrate International Talk Like A Pirate Day I found this wonderful fan made (and rather wacky) video for Pirate Metal band Alestorm's Over The Seas...

For the more literary minded amongst you I recommend seeking out George MacDonald Fraser's The Pyrates, a very funny pirate novel by the master storyteller of the Flashman papers.

On an unrelated note, according to the local Craft Shop it was International Cup Cake Week last week, now how stupid is that! ;-)

Wednesday 15 September 2010

For The Motherland!

With a busy work schedule looming I was determined to get some more painting done before I sample the delights of Athens, Montpellier and Ipswich over the next few weeks...

Following a couple of comments on the blog about the Plastic Soldier 28mm Russians I decided to paint a few up. Whilst there are nineteen different figures in the box I have only painted up ten so far.

I'll get the negatives out of the way first...

i) Opening the box they look rather soft on the detail front. the slightly shiny grey plastic is to blame as they paint up ok (not Bolt Action white metal standard I agree, but they are more than acceptable).

ii) The box says there are 6 junior offices/NCO's, 45 riflemen/smg's and 6 lmgs with loaders - there aren't. There are only 36 rifle/smg as nine figures (three lmg loaders and six others are unarmed - okay three of these have holstered pistols but that would mean nine officers...). It would have been nice for some separate weapons to be included on the sprue to convert these figures.

iii) Some figures had small pits and holes in the small of the back that needed filling.

iv) The soldier throwing the grenade is pants and to my mind not worth painting (his right arm looks far too short).

v) I'm no expert on Soviet webbing but rather a lot seem to be sporting the 1940 period meshok rucksack and webbing.

Ok, so that's what is wrong with them but I don't really care...

Converting plastics is not beyond me, I might even fit out some with captured German weapons. I'm used to filling metal figures so this was no chore and took minutes. The grenade thrower will probably become a casualty and I'm nowhere near anal enough to worry about rucksack webbing on a toy soldier which is painted in a slightly lighter khaki than then khaki blouse its on especially when viewed from three foot above. Above all they are excellent value at around 32p a figure.

For speed I block painted and dipped the figures in Army Painter Strong Tone. I think they've come out well enough, dipping certainly shows the detail that cannot be seen very well on the unpainted plastic.

Overall, whilst they are not perfect, they are to my mind more than acceptable and a quick, cheap and effective way of quickly getting a Soviet horde on the tabletop. All I need now is the support weapons pack to be released pdq to help thwart the fascist invader...

Tuesday 14 September 2010

WW2 Grubs

One of the things that caught Saul's eye on Saturday at Colours (when he wasn't shoving Victorian Evil henchmen into my hands) was the range of WW2 Grubs from Ironclad Miniatures.

Not being an expert in this area I cannot say whether they are grubs or worms (they do remind me of the old PSOne game) but they are quite cute in a strange way, so whilst he was failing to Catch The Pigeon (beaten by a five year old girl - ouch!) I snuck back and bought two of the four packs available for his birthday...

I bought one each of the "German" and "Ruski" packs and smuggled them home and onto the workbench pdq. With only two days to his birthday (and SWMBO insisting I go into the garden and start building her pergola - where is the rain when you want it?) painting was going to be a bit of a rush job, so I decided to go with the Army Painter dip doing the block painting Sunday lunchtime, the dipping in the evening and then the basing and varnishing last night.

I'm quite pleased with the end result. I probably could have done better with my usual style of painting but in all probability they would probably still been in their blisters or just based and undercoated so all things considered I'm happy enough - and so was Saul this morning which is the main thing. Now I've just got to find some rules...

Dwarf Slayers of Karak-Zaul

Saul's birthday today and amongst his presents was this unit of twelve Dwarf Slayers I painted up for his WHFB army. I must confess that when GW first introduced the orange mohicaned beserkers into the Warhammer mythos I was not overly enamored. Indeed, along with chaos spikey bits and comic trolls, to me, they symbolised all that was wrong with the silly fantasy genre GW were creating. However whilst I still dislike chaos spikey bits and comic trolls, I have come to like the slayers.

The primary driver to this change of heart was the Gotrek and Felix books by William King which gave some useful insight into the slayer mentality and subsequently the Storm of Chaos campaign sourcebook (one of GW's best IMHO) with its Slayer Army of Karak Kadrin.

I'm not sure if we will go down the Slayer Army route (though that Goblin-Hewer looks fun...) but painting the models was very relaxing, working with a quite minimal palette. Hopefully they'll see some game time soon and carve huge holes in the enemy ranks!

Monday 13 September 2010

Colours 2010

Saul and I toddled up the M4 to Colours on Saturday. Unfortunately I wasn't feeling too hot (well actually I was feeling too hot!) so we cut our visit short but we did manage to check out the games, Saul play Mutley in Chase The Pigeon and buy a few things (well I did, Saul showed remarkable restraint - or was he saving his money for Games Day?)

There were a lot of interesting games with a number that caught the eye (some like the Battle of the Bulge seen at Salute). I have created the traditional IronCow TV video with my photos which you can watch on YouTube, but I was especially taken with the late C17th Tangiers game (an unusual subject well executed), the Ork-a-Nawa Epic 40K game (a 26ft x 6ft and parallel 26ft x 3ft table of an Ork invasion - some great scratch built ships and ideas to do with the pile of old ships in the loft), The Yangtze Incident, Catch The Pigeon and the Lost World amongst many. One thing I have noticed of late though is games using 15mm or smaller miniatures, really do need quantity as they lose impact with similar size units to 28mm games).

Toys wise I went with a plan and for the most part stuck to it. I picked up some 1:285th Brits for my England Prevails project, the GZG Spider Mechs I missed out of at Salute to use in Iron Cow (and some hover drones Saul persuaded me to buy for his Terminator army as they are similar to the ones in T: 3D at Universal Studios in Florida). I also bought a box of the Plastic Soldier 28mm hard plastic Russians which are great value and look a lot better with an undercoat on as well as a couple of HaT SdKfz 251/1's for Saul's 20mm Germans and some Empress Zulu War British heads in pith helmets (to use on some old GW Praetorians so they fit in better with the Empress figures). I resisted the new Perry Sudan book and the Warlord/Bolt Action plastic Germans but did weaken and buy some more Ironclad Victorian figures and something else from Ironclad for Saul's birthday tomorrow that is currently drying on the workbench...

Overall a good show and I wish I could have spent a bit longer at it, especially some of the games which looked a lot of fun.

Tuesday 7 September 2010

Ford O' Kabul River

Looking for an odd figure to complete a unit of figures I working on for Saul I stumbled across a 99% completed unit of 20mm (very) old Pax Britannica Colonial British for my (very) long ago planned North West Frontier project. Painted in enamels and on cardboard bases they looked very flat, so in a fit of enthusiasm I slopped on a bit of Army Painter dip on, finished the bases and et voila!

The figures were produced in the mid-80's and are very nicely detailed. The range became one of those enduring mysteries of wargaming as it moved across the pond (and possibly back and then back again) but I believe they are now produced by an American company called the Dayton Painting Consortium.

Unfortunately the unit, clearly one being raised for The Sword and The Flame is one man short. I hazard a guess I pulled one infantryman to convert to a standard bearer but I'm buggered if I know what became of him after 20 odd years.

Now I just need to paint up the Jacklex stuff SWMBO bought for my birthday, find the Pathans I bought back in the eighties and "blow the bugle, draw the sword!".

Friday 3 September 2010

The Death Match

The great Bill Shankly once said that "football is not a matter of life or death; it's much more important than that."

Tonight England are playing the first match of the European Championship Qualifiers but I just can't be bothered to watch it. Shankly's quote however reminded me of a book I read a few years back about the legendary "Death Match" in Kiev and the incredible bravery exhibited by a group of Ukranian footballers in the face of Nazi intimidation.

The story inspired the semi-classic film Escape To Victory, but enjoyable though that film was the true story is much more inspiring and ultimately saddening. If you get a chance to read Dynamo: Triumph and Tragedy in Nazi Occupied Kiev by Andy Dougan please do. Even if you are not a football fan you will find the actions of these brave players uplifting and see that Bill Shankly did know what he was talking about, even if it was only to the people of Kiev.

Wednesday 1 September 2010

'Ere's To You Fuzzy-Wuzzy

David Manley kindly invited me around for a game of his fledgling Sudan rules (Don't Throw, Bloody Spears, At Me!) tonight. Fast play simple rules they worked really well using a random card based move sequence (that almost worked in my favour in the end game) which gave a very good period feel.

I took the role of the "pore benighted" Madhists against the pride of the British Empire and decided to dispense with convoluted tactics advancing to contact as quickly as possible. Unfortunately one fuzzy-wuzzy unit seemed very reluctant to enter battle and kept rolling half movement for most of the game!

Contact was made on both flanks quite quickly. On the left DM's cavalry squadrons took out half my camel unit but came unstuck against a heroic band of fuzzy-wuzzys who managed to destroy both squadrons (the Madhist cannon picking off the sole survivor at long range with a lucky die roll). Unfortunately on the right my cavalry disintergrated after one volley from the Naval Brigade.

The card based activation system dictates whose move it is and I managed two simultaneous moves before DM pulled the Joker ending the turn without the British moving. I then pulled another black card so had a third move whilst all the British could do is defensive fire.

This run on the cards allowed me to seize the initiative and I managed to overrun and destroy one British infantry regiment, who had formed square after my surviving camels got behind the British line, however I did not quite have enough to break the second British regiment before DM managed to pull a card allowing the British to move again. The Naval Brigade swung into action and in a volley of Martini and cannon fire the Madhist centre was ripped apart with the Madhi himself dying as DM ordered rapid fire!

Overall an enjoyable game and it had a wonderful colonial feel with the plucky Brits managing to stand firm and grab victory at the end despite the breaking of one square and the incompetent behaviour of their cavalry.

So 'ere's ~to~ you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, at your 'ome in the Soudan;
You're a pore benighted 'eathen but a first-class fightin' man;
An' 'ere's ~to~ you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, with your 'ayrick 'ead of 'air --
You big black boundin' beggar -- for you broke a British square!