Thursday 31 October 2013

French Foreign Legion in Dahomey V

Finished the penultimate batch of Dixon Legionnaires this morning...

The final batch of four are almost finished, just the bases needing finishing off and then the  unit will be complete.

Wednesday 30 October 2013

French Foreign Legion in Dahomey IV

Another three Dixon Miniatures legionnaires for service in Dahomey or Madagascar (or as occurred to be me today, Venus!)

The remaining seven are almost finished so hopefully the whole unit will be complete by the end of the week. I just now need to buy some Dahomey warriors (and maybe some Venusians!!)

Tuesday 29 October 2013

Game Over Man?

I guess most of you have seen the news that Prodos Games will be producing an Alien v Predator miniatures game. Fortunately, despite the name, it is not based on the AvP film, but the wider franchise so not only will there be different kinds of Aliens and Predators but also Colonial Marines.

Prodos have been drip feeding sneak peak images which I am finding somewhat tedious but they have released some pics on their Facebook page which show some of the resin miniatures as well as a size comparison with some other miniatures. According to a post at AvP Galaxay, Prodos are planning a Space Hulk type boxed game this year (that seems a tad optimistic) with further releases in the new year.

Much as I loved the background and whilst I would have been all over this a decade ago, I'm not sure whether I will be rushing to pick this up. It will be interesting to see what Prodos do with the licence and how the game and miniatures measure up when released...

Monday 28 October 2013

French Aeronef Officer

Back from Belfast, an enjoyable evening as well as a visit today to the Titanic Museum which is excellent and well worth a visit if you are in that neck of the woods. Three recommendations, book before you go, do the guided tour of the area outside the museum and allow a good three hours to see all the galleries properly...

Anyway, back to things miniature. Whilst painting the Dahomey Legionnaires I pulled out this miniature which, if I recall correctly, is a Foundry Darkest Africa figure...

The original intention was to paint him up as a naval officer for Dahomey. However that would have involved stopping painting and doing some research so he transferred from Dahomey to the Martian Front and into the service of l'Armee d'Aeronef (so I could paint him how I liked).

I just need to find some suitable French sailors to follow him now. I suspect some Franco-Prussian War or Boxer Rebellion range will provide these...

 2013 Painting Target: 446/365

Sunday 27 October 2013

French Foreign Legion in Dahomey III

Four more Dixon legionnaires have been painted up for the unit...

I have made good progress on the rest of the unit but am popping over to Belfast to see God is an Astronaut this evening so there will no further progress until Monday evening.

2013 Painting Target: 445/365

Saturday 26 October 2013

Gandalf the Black!

I meant to finish off my Dahomey Legionnaires today but fell asleep in from of the TV(!) so a complete lack of progress hobby wise. However I did come across this wonderful picture by Benjamin Collison, and it got me thinking...

I was wondering about alt-historying The Lord of the Rings, maybe having Gandlaf the Black with Gondor in his thrall up against the free peoples? Possibly a three way bad guy fight between Gandalf, Sauraman and Sauron? What if Frodo had kept and used the ring? Could be fun and all you'd need to do is paint a Gandalf black.

Friday 25 October 2013

The (not quite) Half-Price (but still rather good) Sprue Sale...

Warlord Games have a half price individual sprue sale going one at the moment. The normal cost of a sprue depends on what is on it, but for WW2, the Bolt Action plastic infantry sprues are normally £5.00, reduced to £2.50 during the sale. Of course the price of buying the sprues individually is more than if you bought the boxed set from which they came but the sale still offers a good saving on the normal RRP.

Each box contains five infantry sprues and three weapons sprues which in sale terms equates to £16.25 compared to the retail price of a box costing £22.50 (so a saving of just under 30% which isn't too bad).

As a man who can't resist a bargain I decided to avail myself of the offer and have purchased the equivalent of the British, German and US Infantry boxes, adding in an extra sprue of US weapons to give me enough Garands as well as a couple of sprues of Zulu War other ranks British to finish off what I need for when I get back to that project.

I'm not a 100% decided on what I want to use them for. The Germans are late war so definitely 1944-45 NW Europe and Ostfront, but they might do Italy and possibly Tunisia at a stretch depending on the models. The Yanks are really 1943-44 period, I don't think they don't look scruffy enough for 1945 but Tunisia or Italy looks promising. I'm not sure about the British models and will wait to see whether they could do anything other than NW Europe 1944-45.

Whatever, it is a good offer! :-)

Thursday 24 October 2013

Scarecrow Returns!

I've just finished Matthew Reilly's lastest novel Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves (or as the Americans call it Scarecrow Returns).  Sometimes you need a book that allows you to check your brain out and just be entertained and Reilly does that. He will not win a Booker Prize and the literati will turn their noses up at his efforts but I enjoy them.

If you are unfamiliar with his work he writes over-the-top Hollywood popcorn SFX heavy action movies as books. Each chapter ends with a cliffhanger, the villains are preposterous, the plots unbelievable, the heroes death-defying (well, most of the time) and there are lots and lots of explosions, stunts and gunfire.

Take the latest book, a renegade army of terrorists takes control of a secret Russian Arctic base and threatens to set the atmosphere on fire using a captured Soviet doomsday weapon*. Oh and the hero has just an hour to stop them!

Yes, they are silly, but they are entertainingly silly and that is all Reilly wants to do, entertain. He does in spades.

I'm not sure if the books would wargameable, I suppose 7TV would be the way to go as opposed to Force on Force, but you would have some great fun doing it.

If you haven't read a Scarecrow book start at the beginning with Ice Station. You don't need to have read the previous three books (and novella) but they are also great fun and they are referenced in the Army of Thieves...

* now that is what James Bond plots should have, not lost laptops!

Wednesday 23 October 2013

Colonial Jungle Warfare on the Tabletop

Whilst painting the Dahomey Legionnaires, I have been pondering on the difficulties of jungle warfare and what type of game would best recreate some of this difficulties. The classic image of colonial warfare is hordes of spear armed natives charging the thin red line. The  Second Dahomey War (and the Ashanti War) are examples of European Victorian armies fighting against an elusive musket armed enemy in dense terrain, which seems to have more in common with the fighting in Vietnam, than the battles against the Zulus or Fuzzy-Wuzzies...

I did dabble with Dahomey a few years back using some 20mm Esci plastics and The Sword and The Flame. Whilst I love the rules for the fun game they produce I got the feeling that the battles were fought around the jungle terrain, not through it.

It has occurred to me that Dahomey (and Ashanti, another fascinating campaign) should not be treated as just another Colonial game, but maybe more as a Vietnam type game. Of that period there was a set (Bodycount?) that had all the players on the Free World side and the (elusive and rarely seen) Viet Cong controlled by an umpire or tables

I'm going to give this some more thought, but my initial hunch is that games of campaigns like this are better served using mechanisms designed for modern asymmetrical warfare, as opposed to traditional Rorke's Drift type rules.

Tuesday 22 October 2013

French Foreign Legion in Dahomey II

Inspired by everyone's kind comments regarding yesterday's three legionnaires, I picked on three more Dixon Miniatures to subject to the Army Painter Strong Tone ink wash last night...

It is a terribly easy way of getting a decent effect, and whilst not the same as the same company's dip, it provides a great grubby look for on campaign miniatures.

Technique wise, after allowing the wash to dry (I slightly water it down on very light colours like the white to thin out and prevent unrealistic dark pooling in creases) I will lightly drybrush some items such tunics and helmets with the original paint colours to add a bit of relief.

For these miniatures I have not done that with the white, preferring to leave it stained and dirty looking...

In addition to the Army Painter ink wash I also used some Flames of War Brown Tone ink wash. I had thought it to be the same, just relabelled, but it is a slightly darker, less warm brown than the Army Painter one. I use this sparingly at the bottom of the trousers, on the rifles and around the edges any webbing.

2013 Painting Target: 441/365

Monday 21 October 2013

French Foreign Legion in Dahomey

As you may have guessed from yesterday's post, I wasn't too happy with how the three Dixon Minitaures French Foreign Legion figures were turning out, especially as I think they are wonderful figures. However, some judicious use of the Army Painter Dark Shade wash and they have come up ok...

I have gone for a very grubby campaign look, I can't imagine that white trousers would stay very white for too long in West Africa.

The figures were sculpted by Mike Owen before he joined Foundry and as such have (IMHO) less of the "Copplestone" look that many of the ex-Foundry designers now have. The officer is very gallic...

The shirt order legionnaires can also be used as Naval Infantry, though technically a small anchor should be painted on the helmet.

Only another seventeen to go... :-)

2013 Painting Target: 438/365

Sunday 20 October 2013

Down Dahomey Way?

Last night I decided I wanted to spend today painting and try and complete something or other. I'm not sure why but I decided I wanted to paint up some US Marines for Redcoats on Mars. I'd started them a while back but never finished them, so that was the plan. Except they weren't where I thought they were... However there were some half completed Dahomey French Foreign Legion from Dixon Miniatures so I decided to work on them. Unfortunately my painting skills seem to have deserted me and the three I have done so far look like they were painted by a two year old. Where's the dip? :-(

Saturday 19 October 2013

Signs and Portents?

Today saw son and heir investigating the University of South Wales with me on taxi duty despite the lingering effects of the Manthrax.  Yesterday's retail therapy seems to have done the trick and I feel a lot better though...

Gav at Baker Company still has not told us which campaign will get the nod for the April Kickstarter, only that he spend £40 on books for both the Balkans and Norwegian Campaign! I think things are moving into alignment for Norway though, look what Osprey are releasing next February... :-)

Friday 18 October 2013

Finland and Beyond...

Bravely battling a bout of manthrax kindly given to me by my son, I have resorted to the medicinal therapy of internet shopping today!

Participants in the Baker Company Winter War Kickstarter have been voting on the next Baker Company project in April and with a few people left to vote it is neck and neck between the Norwegian Campaign and the Balkans. My preference is Norway, but I'd be happy with either, the 1941 Balkan Campaign is fascinating in itself and it would be great to see some European theatre Italians, Yugoslavs and Greeks...

However, with a view to an eventual Norway release (Gav has said he will do it, we're just voting which comes first), I have ordered a copy of Skirmish Campaigns Norway! booklet from Caliver, which contains ten scenarios that can be linked into two campaigns. The sample Encounter at Roa scenario here looks pretty good.

I also ordered the Finland Winter War booklet as well, to give me some ideas for what to do with the original Kickstarter miniatures when they turn up next year...

Right, now where's the Lemsip?

Thursday 17 October 2013

Orc Warlord Chûrg-ill

Also sent off for master moulding this week is this green of Orc Warlord Chûrg-ill.

A Panzerfäuste character piece I'm not sure what role he will play, I just fancied sculpting him, perhaps a The Eagle Has Landed type scenario (though that would mean sculpting some Dwarf Fallschirmjäger...)

Wednesday 16 October 2013

Charley's War - The End

The tenth and final volume of Titan's Charley's War reprints turned up today. A little sad that it is the conclusion but it does contain some of my favourite stories from my youth, starting in the summer of 1918 and the arrival of American troops through to the Russian Civil War (and a short depression era epilogue).

Joe Colquhoun's artwork of the battles against the Bolsheviks in Northern Russia is some of his best and the storyline revolving around the Red Colonel Spirondov's armoured train is quite exciting, although the conclusion is somewhat rushed.

I know many people look down their nose at "war comics" but Charley's War was something unique and special and has thoroughly deserved the excellent reprint treatment Titan have given it.

If you have any interest in the Great War I cannot do anything but recommend the series and suggest you try volume one. I will be truly surprised if Pat Mills story and Joe Colquhoun's artwork do not grab you, hook, line and sinker...

Tuesday 15 October 2013


"There are so many things about this war that cannot be told now - possibly never..." Eisenhower.

Long time sufferers of this blog may recall me posting about a set of rules I published through Wessex Games called Geheimkrieg. The game had an extremely lot gestation but was eventually released in PDF format a few years ago (please feel free to buy from Wargame Vault here).

Soon after publication I had the inspired idea to commission a range of 28mm miniatures to provide the non-historical troops for gamers. I found a sculptor, paid him a wodge of cash and he sculpted me the first three miniatures for the range. And then dropped off the face of the planet...

I was unable to find a suitably talented sculptor with enough free time to continue the range so the three figures have sat around for a while after being master moulded.

Somewhat peeved with this waste of money I decided to try my hand at converting some of the masters to see if I could at least create enough miniatures for one blister. They are not as good as I would like but I now have four Abteilung 848 Schreckentruppen which have gone off for moulding today.

I'm not sure if they will be commercially released. Since I planned the range lots of other companies have come in and filled the 28mm Weird War Two market with lovely miniatures which can be used as proxies in Gehemkrieg, but you never know. If I can find a decent sculptor with an eye for this sort of thing it may be a project worth revisiting.

Ps. I retook the photos of the SWAT Team posted yesterday. They look so much better in daylight! :-)

Monday 14 October 2013

SWAT Team 2136AD

I managed to grab a lunch break today and finished four of the Reaper NOVA Corp troopers which I am painting up as a C22nd SWAT team.

I think they have come up quite nice (for plastic figures) and the grey-blue/light grey scheme works well.

I still have several more to finish to complete the whole unit which I hope to finish this week,

I also revisited the commander figure and painted out the red helmet stripe and tried pale grey. It doesn't clash with the orange visor anymore but I'm still  not 100% sure.

2013 Painting Target: 435/365

Sunday 13 October 2013

SWAT Officer 2136AD (Test Piece)

I've been working (in fits and starts) on the Reaper Bones NOVA Corps figures over the weekend, after some prevarication I decided to paint them up as a SWAT type unit for some Firewall 2136AD games.

Whilst I had a basic look in mind (slightly inspired by the old Paranoia troopers) I've have concentrated on one miniature (the officer) to finalise the scheme. Looking at it now I think the red stripe on the helmet will go as it detracts from the orange visor, but the overall look is ok. Just need to finish the other twelve now...

2013 Painting Target: 431/265

Saturday 12 October 2013

Steampunk Scrunts...

I don't need this kind of temptation...

(I've wanted to do steampunk fantasy for years inspired by Castle Falkenstein).

Friday 11 October 2013

(Some of the) Armies of France and (some of) the Allies

Given my fascination with the smaller armies of WW2 I was looking forward to seeing the Bolt Action army book covering France and the Allies and luckily the postie dropped it off just before a rather lengthy telephone conference ("sorry, can you repeat that, the line is a bit dodgy").

As previously stated I have picked up some early war French and also some miniatures suitable for the Army of the Levant so I was pretty excited by the prospect of this volume. Given it included some other interesting armies such as the Poles, Norwegians, Dutch and Greeks I thought I would be in pig heaven. Actually I'm a bit disappointed.

I'm not quite sure what I imagined but Warlord have restricted themselves to pretty much the Blitzkrieg era so for the French (who fought though out the war on various sides!)' we have theatre selectors for the Phoney War, Battle of France and a broad Defence of Vichy. Given the detail and variation the so-called major nations have, this was a tad disappointing. Further, whilst you could use the American volume for a Free French force in 1944-45 or a British one for the Poles in Italy (similarly restricted here to a few weeks in September 1939), they won't have the specific rules that set them apart from the armies they are attached to and supplied by. 

Ok, I could do this myself, and probably will if I want to raise specific Free French or Polish late war units, but I think I am an exception, judging by the comments on the Winter War Kickstarter many Bolt Action (and Chain of Command) players cannot see beyond the official lists...

No doubt space was the issue, as well as lack of demand, but it would have been nice to include some more theatre selectors for the later war French, Poles etc, even if the vehicles were only in the US or British book.

Dutch infantry at the Battle of the Grebbeberg, May 1940
The volume also shows how narrow the Osprey book range is. In other volumes we are treated to pages of wonderful artwork, here we have whole sections with no illustrations at all (whether that is paintings from Osprey or miniatures from Warlord). Critise Battlefront all you want, their book including the Greeks includes photos of their 15mm Greek army).

Greek infantry counter-attack the Germans on the Metaxas Line, April 1941
The book also includes an army list for a Partisan platoon, which in itself is pretty cool, but is very vanilla trying to cover everything from Tito's partisans through the Polish home Army to the Marquis in one list with two theatre selectors (early and late war).

Overall, there is enough to go on with here (and I am lowering my expectations for the Italy volume now accordingly), but it does go to show how narrow minded the interests of WW2 gamers are when it comes to raising armies and playing games.

And, no, there is no Chinese army list despite them supplying thousands of troops and fighting throughout the war...