Sunday 30 June 2013

Fantasy Adventures on Lead Mountain

Yesterday I finished off a couple of fantasy miniatures that have been sat on the workbench for far too long, an old Citadel (CO1?) fighter with plastic shield (yuk) and an Ogre (that maybe Ral Partha sculpted by Bob Olley).

I have a number of generic fantasy fighters purchased in the mid to late eighties hiding in Lead Mountain which I have decided I will paint up as a human mercenary unit, the only linking theme being a black and red shield colours. The unit comprises of two fighters now(!) but I did find a carrier bag full of fantasy odds and sods yesterday that included some more fighters from the time, as well as lots of other old stuff. I need to make my mind up about a lot of this stuff, whether to find a use and paint it or sell it, it serves no purposes living in a carrier bag for nearly thirty years.

I can't recall who produced the Ogre (Ral Partha? Grenadier?) but it is nice enough and was a bit of fun to paint. He is fairly generic and will be useful for a range of games.

Back to the Saxons...

Saturday 29 June 2013

Armed Forces Day 2013

Today is UK Armed Forces Day 2013, when we celebrate Britain's armed forces past and present. Fortunately my son-in-law is once again safely at home this year (hopefully decorating after being promoted to Lieutenant Commander and receiving an upgrade of house!).

Last year I looked at some of my relatives who served (and sadly in the case of one died) in the First World War. I did at the time mention a Corporal Albert Blease who may have been a relative who served in the 13th Battalion The King's (Liverpool) Regiment and died in Burma in 1944. A bit of investigation shows him to be a relation, albeit more distant than Charles and George. 

The Support Platoon en route to Burma
Ironically it has proven easier to find out about Albert's service in WW2 than it was about his birth and parents, mainly due to the excellent Operation Longcloth site by Steve Fogden. Albert served as a machine-gunner in the Support Platoon of the Chindit 5th column. He was part of the 1st Chindit Expedition fought in the Battle of Hintha but was captured in April 1943 during the retreat suffering badly from malaria and dysentery despite having made it across the Irrawaddy in a water-logged boat. Unfortunately he died in Block 6 Rangoon Jail of Beri-Beri in January 1944.

Corporal Albert Blease's grave, Taukkyan War Cemetery, Rangoon
There is something that causes you to pause and think, just that little bit more, when you see your surname on the grave of a brave man who died in the service of his country. It is fitting to remember, today, the likes of Albert and others who served and continue to serve their country in distant lands.

Friday 28 June 2013

City of Ghosts

I've just got back to Blease Towers from a week working (and drinking) hard in Warsaw. This is the second time I've visited the Polish capital and whilst I have enjoyed both visits it is an incredibly poignant place, especially when its history confronts you...

Line of the Warsaw Ghetto where 250,000 Jews died and 100,000 shipped to extermination camps 
Memorial to 1943 Jewish Uprising 
Memorial to 1,000,000 Poles exiled to the Soviet Union in 1939
Memorial of 1944 Warsaw Uprising
Statue of Józef Piłsudski

Thursday 27 June 2013

Ia! Ia! Cthulhu Fthagn!

Earlier in the month I was pondering whether to get involved in the Cthulhu Wars Kickstarter. I love the Lovecraft Mythos and this game (and its wonderful miniatures) tick a lot of boxes for me, I was just wary of the shipping costs and potential VAT and import duties. I was not alone...

Kudos to Sandy Petersen and his team for looking at this and coming up with solutions. Apparently because pledges on Kickstarter are explicitly for the "funding of a project in a pre-retail environment" they can ship the products with a declared commercial value equal to the core manufacturing cost, rather than the full pledge amount. Additionally they are trying to finalise a deal for European distribution that should deal with the heavy shipping cost.

That said, if you are looking at getting most of what is on offer, over 140 mythos miniatures including all the Great Old Ones (free of your pledge is over $200, you are looking at a discount of around 40% on MSRP even if you add in the postage).

So, with so many wonderful mythos beasts to be had and in a scale that allows use in other games I think it is time to take the plunge and sell my soul to Great Cthulhu! Ia! Ia! Cthulhu Fthagn! Ph'nglui mglw'nfah Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn wibble...

Wednesday 26 June 2013

Reaper Preview Bones Models...

Reaper have posted photos of some of the Bones models that are part of the Kickstarter. The RRP of these new miniatures reinforces what a bloody good deal the Kickstarter was. The basic Vampire level pledge box of goodies which was $100 on Kickstarter now retails for $400 and anticipation is building here at Blease Towers for my big box of Bones!

Nethyrmaul the Undying (RRP $39.99 KS $25.00 )
Ebonwrath, Dragon (RRP $19.99 KS $10.00)
Cthulhu (RRP $39.99 KS $10.00, yes $10!)

Tuesday 25 June 2013

(Saxon Month) Beowulf of Barkynge

Well "Saxon Month" has been an unmitigated disaster with just 24 miniatures undercoated. However, I was determined I would paint at least one bloody Saxon this month and here it is...

The miniature (IIRC) is a Musketeer Miniatures one given away free to attendees at Warfare a few years back. It is an excellent miniature, simple but effective posed charging forward.

It occurred to me that as well as serving with the Saxon army in Dux Bellorum this particular miniature could well do as a proxy for Beowulf of Barkynge in an updated Thane Tostig campaign if I decide to make Tostig's band out of historical rather than fantasy figures (and given they are Saxons it would make more sense to use historical Saxons rather than fantasy humans).

Monday 24 June 2013

The Return of Thane Tostig?

David Wood posted an excellent piece on his Dear Tony Blair blog the other day about the Barry Minot Thane Tostig miniatures and rules from the late seventies.

For those of you too young to remember the excitement the Minot adverts in Battle for Wargamers bought and the sadness of how far your pocket money would not stretch, The Quest of Thane Tostig was a set of fantasy wargames rules set in Dark Ages Britain. Minot's Miniature Armoury produced a range of miniatures including Tostig and his companions and the evil Sprites foes, as well as some skeletons and monks. A list and photos of the range can be found on the Lost Minis Wiki here.

Reading David's post and painting the Dux Bellorum Arthurians I have begun to ponder the possibilities of continuing Tostig's quests using modern day figures, after all the heroes are historical types, skeletons and monks are readily available, it is just the Sprites that would need a good proxy.

I think this has potential, I will re-read the rules (which I have) to see whether it will just be the background that makes the transition or whether the rules themselves are useable. It will certainly need some work as the rulebook only contained one adventure against the Sprites with the background including fights against Grendel, a two-headed giant and a dragon, but it could be a a fun small project making use of existing miniatures...

Sunday 23 June 2013

Are You My Mummy?

I managed to pick up a paint brush for the first time this month today - and found my mojo for painting Saxons had completely disappeared! :-( I sat there and looked at the 24 undercoated figures and didn't feel inspired one bit, so I cast around to find something else and an old Grenadier UK Giant Mummy, which has been sat around on the workbench for some time caught my eye. So I painted that...

The model is part of a long planned/unlikely to come to fruition WHFB Araby project with a Tomb Kings army, Desert themed Elves and Bretonnian Crusaders (with some Imperial Dwarves). I do have reasonable size collections of these figures sat in Lead Mountain and Plastic Hill so it may happen. Anyway I decided to paint the Mummy which should form part of the Tomb Kings army one day.

The model is quite chunky, an impressive 65mm tall and was an easy paint, largely drybrushed with some Devlan Mud washes. It is still available from Mirliton along with the rest of the old Grenadier UK undead which is a great range that whilst looking chunky paints up very well. I do have a small collection somewhere which I painted up for a game at Salute may years ago (in the Kensington days) which I will have to dig out and post on the blog sometime...

Saturday 22 June 2013

America's Fighting Dinosaur: Armed To The Teeth!

You may recall last year me posting about the Kickstarter for America's Fighting Dinosaur, a faux-documentary short film about Little Sammy, a T-Rex who fought with the Allies in WW2 (they didn't teach you that at school?!). Work on the film is progressing and a snippet (without sound) has been released. If you missed the Kickstarter and want to order some AFD merchandise before the film is released you can at the AFD Stockyard...

Friday 21 June 2013

Google Reader Is Dead! Long Live Google Reader!!!

Readers of BLMA blog may recall Lee having a slight (understandable) meltdown over the demise of Google Reader. If not you can read it here.

As Lee states Google Reader makes life a LOT easier when trying to keep up to date with the various Blogs he follows (all 422 of them). Whilst this may sound a lot, Google Reader makes it easy to find and read the latest blog posts. In many respects it is invaluable.

Well I have found a possible solution - Flipboard.

I have used Flipboard for some time on my iPad and really like the way it displays items in a magazine style format which you then touch the one you want to view. It is elegant and very simple. It has uses beyond displaying Google Reader (RSS leads), I use it for newspapers, Facebook and Twitter.

I had assumed that with the demise of Google Reader on 1st July that this would disappear from Flipboard but no, the RSS leads would be maintained so if you are a Google Reader fan and have an iOS or Android device you can find out more here but note you need to take action before 1st July. There will be some limited functionality issues (such as being unable to add or delete feeds after 1st July) but for Lee he will still be able to read the 422 he has at a glance in a very friendly magazine style format...

Thursday 20 June 2013

Mystery Project Identified!

Well Boggler was quick off the mark yesterday identifying the mystery project to the the long overdue PDF edition of Tusk II: Wrath of Kong. Jim will, when it is finished, get a copy of the PDF free.

So what does Tusk II: Wrath of Kong add to the basic game of Tusk?

For Stone Age gamers it adds shamans, stockades and dependants, pterodactyls, "tame" dinosaurs, beast v beast combat, human v human combat, domestic animals, raptors, giant wolves and triceratops.

It also expands the game through history beyond the short VSF section in the basic game including rules for primitive firearms, rifle grenades, flare pistols, gas bombs, light machine guns, artillery, swordsmen, halberdiers, pike blocks, cavalry, aeroplanes and trained beasts.

Finally there are four scenarios, the unpainted scenario pack contents of which I have photographed (sans the dinosaurs which were painted for the original game).

Bonny and Rex - Napoleon's dinosaurs attack the British at Waterloo...

Where Pterodactyls Dare - First World War action in Maple White Land...

Capture King Kong - Carl Denham uses beauty to capture the beast...

The fourth scenario is New World Nightmare (the photo from yesterday) with Conquistadors and their prisoners being attacked by the exotic local fauna.

Overall it adds a lot to the basic game and expands it in a multitude of directions. I need to paint all of the above but it would be good to get it out this autumn along with a couple of other projects.

Wednesday 19 June 2013

Mystery Project Clue One

On Monday I posted a teaser for a long overdue PDF project. I assumed you'd all guess it straight away, but no. So I've decided to run a little competition featuring the unpainted contents of the box from "opp north". First person to correctly guess and post the answer today in the comments will receive a copy of the long overdue PDF project when it becomes done. If no one answers correctly today, there will be another clue tomorrow! Exciting eh?!!

Clue One:

Tuesday 18 June 2013

Tank Infantry Mark I A11

When I looked at Zvezda's forthcoming Art of Tactic releases earlier in the year I was a tad disappointed that their Matilda I (A11) (aka Tank Infantry Mk I) was still only to be found in the big Art of Tactic box set. I know it isn't the best tank in the world and the Matilda II (A12) is much more use on the tabletop, but I like the quirky little beast.

Consequently I was surprised a few weeks back on an irregular visit to Antics to see that Zvezda had released it as a separate model (box code 6191). I picked up three for the Watch Am Escargot project. I opened up a box for a quick look and the kit is a really simple six piece one that should make a great little model. With the Cruiser IV coming out this year and the Matilda II (A12) already out, the BEF armour looks pretty much covered.

All I now need to do is find the bloody French that started me considering this project!!!

Monday 17 June 2013

Mystery In The Jungle...

A little box arrived the other day from 'opp north' containing some goodies that need painting for a long overdue PDF project. Can you guess what it is?

Sunday 16 June 2013

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to all wargaming Dads and Dads of wargamers. Hope you are all being pampered and thoroughly appreciated today. I intend to fall asleep in from of the TV having had a big brunch!

Saul and I didn't get back from Donington until after 3am this morning so it is unlikely I will be going anywhere near a paint brush but we had a great day yesterday and the crowd was buzzed by a Spitfire before Iron Maiden came on...

Update: Here is some video of the Spitfire buzzing the crowd that is much better than my crap photo...

Saturday 15 June 2013

For Those About To Rock!

Early start today and a late finish as Saul and I head off for deepest Leicestershire and the Download festival at Castle Donington. Obviously this will mean no hobby activity today but I thought (some of) you might appreciate a song by headline act Iron Maiden about the Crimean War (you don't get that on X-Factor eh?)

Friday 14 June 2013

Heroes of Weird War Two...

Devil Pig are progressing on their funded Heroes of Normandie Kickstarter and are showing off artwork for new pieces as it becomes available, some of which is very cool.

Like these German zombies...

And zombies dogs...

And Deep Ones...

And Mi-Go (this should be fun up against a Panzer IV!):

I must say I am really looking forward to this. The basic US v German Hollywoodesque game was fun enough but the added goodness option of Weird War and Cthulhu is really exciting!

Thursday 13 June 2013

Red Storm Rising

Saxon Month is going desperately slowly, half the figures are based and undercoated but the scourge of the real world is eating into my available time and I haven't had a chance to pick up a paint brush this week (boo!). However this has not stopped me thinking about wargames projects and an email today from QRF started me on further pondering the Yom Kippur/Ramadan/Tishreen War (depending on who teaches you history!)

QRF are offering a 20% discount (enter code redtide) for orders over £100 on top of any other discounts such as their 10% platoon pack deals. They have been inspired by the work of Mike Edwards and the Cardiff Wargames Club who have produced a Cold War version of Flames of War which can be found here, complete with NATO, WarPac and Non-aligned army lists.

This is all useful stuff for my potential 6mm October War project, inspired by Big Lee's use of FoW for 6mm WW2 Desert Campaign. It is the 40th anniversary of the war this year so it might be one to start some planning on for a concentrated effort later in 2013.

Wednesday 12 June 2013

The Desolation of Tolkien?

You may recall that I was pretty excited when the trailer for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was released and less so after I saw the film. Consequently I am trying to keep the Tolkien fanboy under control having watched the new trailer for December's The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug...

Some bits look stunning but having had the experience of Jackson's first attempt you can see the silly things that will grate like like the CGI elves running through the trees and the obvious 3D ninja action leaps into camera which is a shame as the slower sequences and panoramas are quite breath-taking. No doubt I will go and see it but I shall approach it with lowered expectations...

Tuesday 11 June 2013

Boxes of Bones!

With a Kickstarter as insanely popular as Reaper's Bones one, it was inevitable that there would be some slippage on delivery times so I have been pretty laid back on the big box arriving at Blease Towers. However, it looks like things are getting close with two forty foot containers (containing 470,000 models) arriving at Reaper with a further one due at the end of the week.

Reaper have hired extra staff to run a second shift to despatch items almost around the clock so I'll have to start finding space to squirrel stuff away from SWMBO! :-) Seriously though, really looking forward to receiving this, especially the big models, which should be great...

Monday 10 June 2013

Storming Paradise

I picked up an interesting looking TPB in the Forbidden Planet sale on Saturday and have just gotten around to reading it. Storming Paradise collects the six issue mini series of comics set in the alt-history Operation Olympic invasion of Japan in late 1945.

Olympic has always been a fascination of mine and many moons ago, after reading Alfred Coppel's excellent The Burning Mountain, I started drawing up plans to game it in 6mm (owning a 1/300th US Armored Division at the time). Sadly this was nothing more than a paper exercise and never progressed.

Storming Paradise has started the old brain juices flowing again. Whilst the story is not as detailed as that in Coppel's novel, or the characters as good, the graphics are excellent at encapsulating the potential horror, especially the involvement of civilians in what would have been an extremely brutal campaign. In part it has echoes of Vietnam, in others the Korean War, but is is certainly one of the most fascinating of what-ifs? and would make for an interesting project if you already have access to US WW2 or Korean forces.

Sunday 9 June 2013

(Saxon Month) Bored, Bored, Bored...

Today was the boring prep work on the Saxons. Cleaning up the castings, drilling out hands and fitting spears and basing, all jolly boring. Indeed, I was so fed up at one stage I stopped and cut the grass (without being ordered to by SWMBO!!!).

I decided to concentrate on the four bases of Ordinary Warriors first, which is half the army, before starting work on the Foot Companion and Noble Warriors bases.

Of course such tedious work does get the mind wandering and my thoughts have kept returning to Cthulhu Wars and the miniatures, some of which can be seen on Board Game Geek. I quite like the idea of Acthung Cthulhu!'s WW2 background and it occurred to me that it could be a reasonably simple enough exercise to produce stats and maybe some special rules to extend Geheimkrieg into the realms of the occult with some Black Sun organisation bringing the Old Ones back to earth during WW2. This might be something to consider if the shipping issue is resolved for Cthulhu Wars (which is now more tempting as it hits the free stretch targets and has unlocked some cool expansions).

Saturday 8 June 2013

After The Stars Are Right...

I came across (another) very interesting looking project on Kickstarter - Sandy Petersen's Cthulhu Wars. This project is a board game set after the return of the Old Ones and allows players to take control of one of four of the Old Ones battling across the ruins of Earth. What makes the project uber-cool (aside from the fact it is written by Sandy Petersen) is that it contains sixty-four 28mm scale miniatures including Cthulhu, Nyarlathotep, Shub-Niggurath and Hastur.

Unfortunately there is a catch. Whilst the Kickstarter looks like a great deal the boardgame does weigh eight pounds so postage across the pond is a little it eye-watering to say the least (combined with the pledge levels it is still lower than the RRP but it wipes out most of the Kickstarter savings). However Fenris Games (who are sculpting the miniatures) are looking to ship a container load of the game over reducing postage for UK/EU pledgers and removing the spectre of import duty. If that happens, this could be an unmissable game to pick up.

Friday 7 June 2013

Snow Dragon

This model is from the long defunct Edinburgh based Fantasy Forge. At 170mm long (curled up) it is an impressive beast and one of my favourite pre-acrylic painted models! The model is a metal-resin hybrid, with the main body and base cast in resin with the head/neck and wings cast in white metal.

I'm not quite sure why I decided to go with the snow dragon look, but I think it worked. I am tempted to add some of the GW Snow "flock" to the base...

Unfortunately the model appears to be out of production which is a crying shame. I thought Scotia-Grendel had picked up all Fantasy Forge's moulds when they went bust but I couldn't find this model on their website.

IIRC this was one of two impressively large dragons that Fantasy Forge released in resin and metal, which in the pre-plastic era was the only way you could get a suitable large dragon for an affordable price. I have the second one unmade buried in Lead Mountain. Looking back at this model from the late nineties does make me want to dig its brother out and paint it up...

Thursday 6 June 2013

Blue Dragon

I'm not sure why but girls like dragons (well they did, I think they like shiny vampires now). SWMBO is a girl that likes dragons (and shiny vampires) and on occasion diverted me from painting tanks and other green things with demands for painted dragons.

This old Alternative Armies dragon is one such "commission" (paint me a dragon if you want dinner type commission). Unfortunately I believe it is now out of production.

With my Reaper Bones Kickstarter box containing a number of dragons I may soon be painting for food once more!

Wednesday 5 June 2013

Fantasy Wizard's Tower

Following on from yesterday's Snapdragon Peel Tower, an equally long in the tooth 10mm scale resin  Wizard's Tower from the same company stolen by SWMBO to act as an ornament!

I love this model, it was a joy to paint and has a slightly comic fantasy feel to it without being silly.

I must reclaim these for wargaming one day - an excuse for digging out the 10mm fantasy?

Tuesday 4 June 2013

Fantasy Peel Tower

Bit of a blast from the past today, an old Snapdragon Studios Peel Tower that I painted many moons ago and the wife had hidden in the dresser as an ornament! :-)

The model is 10mm scale so perfect for Warmaster and similar games. It can, at a push, work for 15mm as well.

Unfortunately I don't think it is commercially available any more, which is a shame as it is a lovely quirky little model. I have a pile of painted Snapdrgaon models hidden away somewhere, I'll have to see if I can dig them out.

Monday 3 June 2013

BBC To Go All Medieval This Summer...

The BBC is launching a new 10 part historical drama based on Phillipa Gregory's Wars of the Roses novel The White Queen. The central character is Elizabeth Woodville, wife of Edward IV so expect lots of political machinations, monumental battles and inevitably some kissing! The trailer looks pretty good...


I'm not sure what the book is like, SWMBO is a big WOTR fan and has read the series and says they are pretty good. It is quite strange how medieval and renaissance historical fiction is dominated by female authors (despite odd forays by the likes of Bernard Cornwell) whereas most other period tend to be male dominated (with odd exceptions mike Manda Scott). Whilst not having read Gregory's Cousin's War series I would recommend anyone wanting to read some historical fiction from the period to try Sharon Penman's excellent The Sunne in Splendour.

Sunday 2 June 2013

Dux Bellorum Romano-British Noble Riders

It's my birthday and I'll paint if I want to...

Another year older but certainly not another year wiser I managed to grab some "me time" today and finish the Romano-British Noble Riders for my Dux Bellorum army.

The miniatures are all West Wind except for one Gripping Beast. Whilst I understand all the reasons why West Wind sell in blisters of two and eight, it is a pain when you want nine! Luckily Gripping Beast sell their miniatures individually so I was able to make up the shortfall.

When painting I used a similar palate to that for the Shiedwall with the inclusion of a couple of richer colours on the assumption the cavalry would be a bit richer than the puddlesplashers and have some more money to spend on finer cloaks etc.

With the shields I decided not to paint uniform designs as I had with the infantry, but kept the shield colours to black and white to ensure some unit coherency. There is no historical basis for this but it looks good.

Birthday presents did not include any new toys (although I was given some money to buy some more Chaco War planes) but did include an interesting "Helping Hands" tool, a combined magnifying glass and clamp device that should be useful for painting fiddly things. SWMBO bought it off Jewellery Maker so it obviously has "other uses" and I will need to make sure it is not borrowed on a permanent basis (like my tweezers!) I also received James Holland's book on the Dam Busters so that should be an interesting read.