Tuesday 31 January 2012

Armed British Police

Finished a couple of packs of Urban Beat's 28mm armed British Police earlier, destined to do double duty sorting out left wing rebels and zombies.

Since I bought these last year the pack composition has changed a bit with additional figures being added which is a bit of a PITA. One of the figures (now in the character pack) was bare and bald headed which I didn't like so I "painted" a balaclava on using Liquid Green Stuff.

Working on my Liverpool Dockers Trade Union Militia next which has raised an issue as they are Red Star's Chechens and dressed for cold weather whereas the Police (the original purchased opfor) are in short sleeves. Not sure this will look right so I'm considering getting some African militia and raising a summer weather Popular Front to battle the Police (with some Caucasian head swaps if necessary) and have the Union Militia fight the Assault Group British infantry I bought a while back...

40K 25th Anniversary (Imperial Guard I)

Really dodgy painting alert here! Couple of photos of the first metal Imperial Guard figures, a real hotch-potch of a range (including some really good female troopers which have gone AWOL for the moment).

I'd been using a sepia wash on my fantasy figures (and first Space Marines) at this time and hadn't really thought about the shading on these before painting them up in a cod-Waffen SS three colour camo pattern. Whatever my aim is to find the rest of the first IG troopers and repaint them with a distinct Vietnam vibe and use them with some toy hovercraft and Pibbers I picked up a while back in a toy shop.

The IG range did include this wonderfully clever casualty figure lying wounded propped up on one elbow...

...who you could flip over to show he was dead.

Not sure why this has never been repeated elsewhere because it is perfect for most skirmish games.

The first plastic Imperial Guard tomorrow...

Monday 30 January 2012

40K 25th Anniversary (Space Marines)

February marks the 25th Anniversary of Warhammer 40,000, a game that has changed somewhat from its humble Laserburn inspired beginnings. Rumaging around for some 28mm British Police figures I bought for the England Prevails project I chanced across a box of old 40K figures from days of yore which I'll upload over the week in "celebration" of the 25th anniversary (be warned dodgy painting alert!)

First off are some of the first ever Space Marines, the first metal Limited Edition Bob Naismith sculpted Space Womble and one of the supporting miniatures released soon after. I have an uncompleted squad somewhere and IIRC the models were washed with a thinned sepia oil over enamels (my standard fantasy painting technique at the time).

Next are the classic RTB01 plastic Space Marines, here four of my Ice Hearts chapter. Unfortunately the Humbrol varnish has aged giving a yellow shade to the white which is a shame. I still like the scheme and would not mind repainting my old plastics if I could find the rest.

Old Imperial Guard tomorrow...

Sunday 29 January 2012

More Zombies

The remaining sixteen Wargames Factory zombies. Really quick and easy, block paint, bit of blood (GW Red Gore) then Army Painter dip......

Saturday 28 January 2012

Wacht Am Escargot?

A few years back I had one of my "ohh shiny!" moments at Fisticuffs and ended up coming home with a pink carrier bag chock full of 15mm Early War French from Peter Pig (don't ask...). Currently sat somewhere on Lead Mountain I hadn't given them too much thought until I hear that Zvedza were planning to release a Matilda I and Hurricane for their Art of Tactic game sometime in 2012. I mentally filed this information away until the ducks started to line up following Mark Hamman's post on his blog about his Wacht Am Weekend Battle of the Bulge project.

It was Mark and Maff's idea to have some small beer 'n' pretzels games using the Axis & Allies Miniatures rules that caught my imagination as I didn't want to go full tilt into something like Flames of War at this stage. I've never played the game but having downloaded the rules for free from the WizKids! site here, I was quite taken with the simple mechanics and that looked like they'd provide a fun old school type game (in the 'Airfix' tradition as Maff put it).

The only problem was that whilst the rules were free the unit stats were on the cards that came with the miniatures (which I didn't want to buy as I already had miniatures to use). Mark and Maff however came to the rescue pointing me in the direct of the Axis & Allies community who have developed some house rules (here), importantly all the stat cards for the house rules (here) and loads of other units including anything from dinosaurs to the Red Skull (here).

So having solved the rules (and stat card) issue all that remains is the miniatures. Tentatively I'm going to look at knocking up some small Blitzkrieg era 15mm forces later in the year when I take some holiday (note to self, take more than one day off in the first six months this year!), looking at blitzing through the forces in a week or so (well, how long can 15mm German really take?!).

All I have to do now is find the French to see what I bought and then draw up a shopping list of Germans (and yes, the Zvedza plastics will probably be the route for AFV's I think I can get away with an Ausf G variant of the Panzer III in 15mm...)


Another of those real world gets in the way weeks but I have tried to grab a few minutes here and there to progress the first zombies for Undead Kingdom. Seven are now done with sixteen waiting for a slap of grey paint on their bases (they currently look like they are in the desert!)

Wargames Factory plastics, they have plus points in being cheap and easy to convert, with some negatives in some soft detail and strange pack composition issues (not enough bare arms, too many with short sleeves). Still for a large shambling horde the plusses probably outweigh the minusses and with another sixty to be made up the cost savings alone make them worthwhile.

Alongside these I am also working on the Dwarf Kings Hold miniatures and must say that the Mantic skeletons are a lot better than I thought when I looked at the sprues and if you have any wish to make an undead fantasy army, these along with the superb Mantic zombies are the way to go...

Sunday 22 January 2012

Panzerfauste Eins?

Some of you may be aware that Wessex Games produce a fantasy-WW2 game called Panzerfäuste with the historical protaganists replaced by fantasy stereo-types, this having been a (un)natural progression from the work I did on Flintloque in the mid-nineties.

A couple of packs of miniatures have more of a Great War flavour, especially the Dwarf stormtroopers, Gnome infantry and (unreleased) Orc Highlanders so I was quite taken to see that there is a small online community producing fantasy-WW1 miniatures with a possible game being put on at Salute.

First off there is The Goblin Barracks with their lovely German Goblins sculpted by Richard Ansell as an OPFOR for the Hasslefree Kindred WW1 British Halflings. With miniatures in Picklehaube and Stahlhelm I must say they are very tempting.

Second off are Akula's Armies Dwarf Russians sculpted by Bob Olley (with the possibility of Undead Ottomans to come) which look absolutely lovely...

I know I must resist the call of a new (albeit related to an existing) project but it is proving very hard! :-)

Friday 20 January 2012

Eternity Stair

Following on from the Dreadfire Portal, I have now finished the Eternity Stair received at Christmas from Angji and family. This was a much better model than the Dreadfire Portal and very easy to construct, although the tower does come in four sections rather than two and requires a bit of patience to stick together (my tip, build two halves then glue them together).

I decided that I wanted this to look like an old weather structure as well, though this model is has much less of a grey-green finish than the portal, it still has the same old bronze and verdigris on the metal work as well as some moss and Devlan Mud weathering on the stonework and skulls.

The platform features the signs of the eight winds of magic from the Warhammer background so I went with painting the colours under each design. I didn't manage to get these colours as pale as I wanted as my attempts to do so ended up changing the colours but I think the final effect is ok.

Finally I decided to paint up an old GW wizard who has been languishing on Lead Mountain for far too long. Having painted up a red wizard and a purple one a little while back I thought it an idea to paint up one from a different college of magic. The obvious colour for this Gandalf-esque model was obviously grey so being ornery I decided on green and a wizard of the Jade Order which has turned out ok.


Regular blog readers may recall at the end of November I was undertaking some 'spring cleaning' under the watchful eye of SWMBO and I was experiencing some spousal pressure to cull my rather large collection of magazines (so far skillfully resisted!). In all fairness she does have a point and there are only so many crates a man should be filling with magazines that rarely get revisited. Consequently whilst there are a number of good wargames magazines on the market I have restricted my only subscription to one, Wargames Illustrated, which has (IMHO) been consistently good to excellent since Battleground have taken over the running.

I do have a soft spot for Battlegames and a while back purchased the 'motherlode' of the first 26 issues in PDF format for future consumption and following a work business case for a tablet being accepted I have transferred this collection into my iPad library. Whilst I am still trying to work out the work benefits (not sure 3G is a great idea as I am always contactable now!) I am really taken with reading wargames mags electronically now. In fact I might have become addicted...

So when Big Lee's Miniature Adventures favourably reviewed the relaunched Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy mag I decided to download a PDF issue which costs just under half what the paper magazine does. Big Lee was right, it is an excellent magazine these days with some really good columns by Rick Priestly and Richard (Lardie) Clarke so I ordered an electronic subscription and the back issues since the relaunch. Excellent stuff and lots of hugely enjoyable reading (conveniently wherever the iPad is and not having to hunt out a paper magazine, indeed I would say I am reading the PDF more than I am the paper WI...).

The publishers in confirming my sub kindly gave me a 10% of my next order... Damn! With the pre-relaunch issues at a paltry £1.86 and 10% off that I went PDF crazy and bought the lot. I am slowly working my way through them and whilst they are not as good as the current issues and have some wonderful Spanglish in, they are proving to be more interesting (and useful) that I thought (though worryingly I keep flipping from the PDF to the internet browser to check out companies miniatures and have manfully resisted the lure of 20mm Stalingrad Germans and 28mm Samurai tonight).

I have even uploaded a couple of Ragnarok's and (having typset it with the PDF in mind) I must say that I think the full colour Rag 59 PDF looks pretty fine on the iPad!

It's actually quite funny it has taken me so long to make this step as I have for the last year or so switch most of my music purchasing from CD's to MP3 downloads due to storage issues (a much bigger problem than the magazines unfortunately) and have been comfortable with that.

Whilst I doubt I will completely switch over to digital only for magazines or books, I am taken with the convenience of the electronic format and suspect that one day soon this will be the more common medium and paper, by and large, redundant in most cases.

Sunday 15 January 2012

Happy 20th Birthday SFSFW!

I didn't realise until yesterday that Thursday 12th January was the Society of Fantasy and Science Fiction Wargamers 20th birthday, or at least the date of the first meeting of the inaugural committee to get the thing off the ground. It's funny to see how the hobby has changed over the last twenty years (the internet for one thing) but at the time fantasy and SF wargaming was falling in a black hole between historical wargaming and role-playing.

For my sins I took on the role of society journal editor for the first thirteen issues, before a twelve issue break, then another eleven issue stint before handing the reins of Ragnarok over again. I was adamant that was it and I could hand over to a long series of future editors. Two later I'm back in the hot seat largely because it seems no one else is fool enough to volunteer! :-)

So since November I've been back on editorial duties and have just finished editing and proofing Ragnarok 59, will probably be sending it off to print next week. If you are interested in fantasy and/or SF wargaming have a look at the contents here and see if it interest you. If so, please join the SFSFW, the more the merrier and it would be good to have you on board as we set forth on the next twenty year voyage of F/SF wargaming...

Friday 13 January 2012

Dreadfire Portal

As previously stated Christmas brought the unexpected present of the GW Eternity Stair/Dreadfire Portal boxed set. Whilst I haven't bought the Storm of Magic supplement, both items are useful enough as general scenery items and you can't have enough scenery can you? :-)

Whilst I have made both up I have only painted the Dreadfire Portal so will concentrate my observations to this half of the kit. First off I must say that the Portal is probably the worst fitting kit I have made in decades. The detail is fine but the decision to mould the long stairway as a one piece means that it does not fit the two halves of the main body very well at all and in the end I took the decision to snap the stairway in two and fill the gap. Filling is a must on the model but is an easy job with the new Liquid Green Stuff, if I had used standard Green Stuff it would have been a very long and laborious job.

I had wondered whether I had just got a box with a badly fitting piece but a quick surf of the internet shows I am not alone in having this problem. It is not insurmountable and shouldn't detract from what with a little effort does build into a great looking piece of scenery, but it is worth being aware of the problem and I think snapping the stair in two is the easiest solution.

When it came to painting I wanted to do something totally different to the painted example on the box (that so many gamers seem to have copied, why?). Looking at the model I decided that it was going to be an ancient construction, dark to reflect an evilness and weathered in such a way as to give the impression of being somewhat damp.

Working up from a black undercoat with green washes and grey drybrushing the end result is a tad more grey-green than I planned but not so much as I am unhappy. I also used some Devlan Mud to dirty up the model notably around the areas near the ground and on the edges of the stairs, the centre being clearer to show where those that have climbed the stairs have rubbed away some of the moss of grime.

In keeping with the stonework I decided the metal needed substantial weathering as well. Wishing to avoid iron (not very good for magic) I decided on the metalwork being copper/bronze. Fortunately the current White Dwarf shows some really good examples of verdigris weathering on their undead army's bronze armour. Unfortunately it does not tell you how they achieved the effect. However a bit of Google-fu found this useful article on the GW website showing how they painted Dark Bronze on a Skaven Doomwheel which I followed step-by-step (the initial undercoat of a mix of normal and metallic paint was not one I had tried before but worked well).

Finally it was a decision on the flames which I'd rather not had on the model but are moulded onto the skulls. I did consider the unearthly green balefire look GW give their undead but decided regular red fire would provide a better contrast to the grey-green model. For small (candle, torch) flames I have a simple white-yellow-orange-red technique that works well enough but these flames were substantially larger than Dwarf candles so I did some research and came up with this excellent article and guide to painting flames which I followed by and large. The flames are pretty smooth so are not too receptive towards glazes and drybrushing but the end result is ok.

Overall I am very pleased with the end result and any issues with the fitting are not beyond an average modeller with basic skills.

Tuesday 10 January 2012

Tank Museum Buys War Horse Tank

The Tank Museum in Bovington has bought the replica Mark IV tank from the new War Horse movie to show off what a moving Great War tank looked like. Interesting little feature off Meridian Tonight on it can be seen here.

Friday 6 January 2012

Undead Kingdom?

Wargaming pressies in Blease Towers were rather limited (through choice) this Christmas. I received a couple of packs of lovely Indian Mutiny figures from Mutineer Miniatures (no, not a new period, just a very stagnant one) and an unasked for, but very welcome, GW Dreadfire Portal and Eternity Stair (currently constructed, undercoated and hoping to start on the Stair this weekend). Saul received an Arachnarok Spider (which he wants to have a 40K option scratchbuilt for) and three packs of Wargames Factory zombies...

The latter are going to end up on the workbench first as I look to get them ready for some games of Apocalypse Z (the zombie supplement for Battlefield Evolution), which you may recall I picked up off eBay for just 99p. Although the supplement is somewhat American orientated you can use any of the forces from Battlefield Evolution which would tie in with my preference to have a British based battlezone (if only because 28 Days/Weeks later are much beloved films in Bleaseworld).

This also ties in with a couple of other projects. The military and survivors will also be used as forces in my planned England Prevails games and I have for sometime planned on converting Scudbusters into Z-Busters, the background fitting in with that in Firewall 2136AD (the reason that Scotland is a wastezone in the background).

Anyway, off to study the supplement and ponder hat additional miniatures will be needed but in the meantime if you need a little zombie fix check out this excellent low/no budget fan film on You Tube, 28 Days Later - The Rage...

Thursday 5 January 2012

Barbarians In The Arena

It seems that many of you (like me) have taken advantage of purchasing Warhammer Historical's Gladiator rules during their half-price sale (still on, if you haven't). I have only managed to give them a brief read but like the look of the game and intend to dig out my em-4 Gladiators sometime in the New Year and give it a spin.

Browsing Warhammer Historical's site I noticed they have released a free 14 page PDF supplement for Gladiator, entitled Barbarians in the Arena which adds to the diversity of the game bringing in new fighters from different cultures from the far flung reaches of the Empire as well as fighting in provincial areas with specific local rules.

On the subject of gladiators Spartacus: Vengeance reaches US TV screens this month and hopefully UK ones not too long after...

Sunday 1 January 2012

Return To Mars (And Belgium)

First off I'd like to wish everyone of you a happy, peaceful and prosperous new year.

Looking forward to 2012, as stated, my sole real target is to play more games with Saul, this may prove hard given the fact that he has his GCSE's in May in addition to all the usual 'real world' demands but even if we play just once a month that will be an improvement on 2011...

I also need to clear the Wessex Games project log jam and to this end I have drawn up a (secret) plan to tackle this and will be concentrating my initial efforts on finishing off Le Roi, la Loi, la Liberté, the Belgian Land Ironclad supplement first so expect some 2mm loveliness this month...