Tuesday 31 March 2015

The Empire's Twilight

I came across a fun looking modern alt-history setting on Facebook, called The Empire's Twilight. It postulates a setting where the British Commonwealth came out of WW2 much stronger with the point of divergence being Singapore holding out against the Japanese.

Whilst much of the background centres around the '91 Disaster when a military governed USA invades Canada, there is material around the post war interim including a successful Suez Campaign where Commonwealth forces topple Nasser.

Along with the Facebook page there is also a Wiki site with almost 300 pages on the alt-history, the wars and the planes, AFV's etc that took part. The latter is great as it contains many photos of models made to represent vehicles from the conflict, I must say the French Concorde Bomber is a favourite...

A very interesting background, it might just kickstart my England Prevails project, which has been too quiet for too long...

Monday 30 March 2015

Lion Rampant: Back to Bas(e)ics

Having recovered from my 48 hour lurgy I was hoping to get some painting done today, but instead ending up watching Looper, which was a lot of fun. I did however undercoat my retinues for Lion Rampant.

I also solved a mini conundrum around basing. I have based all the figures on 1p's, and whilst I normally don't worry about soft plastic figures as they are fine as long as you treat them with some respect, I was a little concerned about longer pieces like spears and bills. However Warbases seem to offer a solution in the form of their Zombie/Dux Brit 1p movement bases that all you to group figures together in various numbers, but maintain the required "blob" formation.

These can also be useful for WW2 when moving lots of troops (Russians and Japanese spring to mind) An order will go off tomorrow...

Sunday 29 March 2015

Order of Battle: Pacific

My eyes are playing me up today so I've not been up to doing any more painting, however I did have a nose at Slitherine's website and came across news of a forthcoming hex-based WW2 strategy game called Order of Battle: Pacific.

Sitting feeling sorry for myself on the sofa yesterday watching Tora! Tora! Tora! once more rekindled my interest in the Pacific war and looking at the screengrabs below, this may well help scratch the itch...

Saturday 28 March 2015

ACW: Union Infantry II

I managed to finish the remaining bases for my first Union regiment this morning despite waking up with a stinking cold...

As with the Confederates the flags are from Solway Crafts and give a really pleasing end result. I ordered a few more this morning for the remaining Union regiments, my only quibble with Solway is that it is hard to tell what specific Union flags they do from their listings and I want to do a couple of Zouaze regiments and possibly the 54th Massachusetts.

Anyway, here is the complete regiment ready for action - the 20th New York State Militia (the Ulster Guard)...

Painting Target: 97/1000

Friday 27 March 2015

ACW: Union Infantry I

Well.it's taken a bit longer than planned but I have finished the first three bases of my first ACW Union Infantry Regiment using Perry's 28mm plastics. Hopefully the other three bases including command will be finished tomorrow.

I had a few problems finding a blue spray that would look good after being dipped with Army Painter Dark Tone and I think I found one. As previously mentioned I also struggled with a trouser sky blue and in the end went 50/50 on two Vallejo light blues, one sky, one blue grey.

I wasn't sure how the dip would look with its black pigment on the figures, especially the lighter colours, but I'm happy with the grubby campaign look that has resulted and they will look good en masse.

Painting Target: 85/1000

Thursday 26 March 2015

Battlefield Evolution: Romanian Infantry IV

These are the final figures from the first batch of HaT WW2 Romanians - a sniper team. The HaT box contains lots of useful platoon support types including hmg teams, mortars, flamethrowers and a sniper figure.

I've not made my mind up as to what to do about his spotter. I painted up one of the mortar team to see how that looked (swapping the head with one of the infantry NCO's) and a kneeling firing infantryman to see which looks best. Not quite sure which...

Painting Target: 73/1000

Wednesday 25 March 2015

Forgotten Soldiers of Empire

I eventually sat down and watched the two episodes of BBC2's The World's War: Forgotten Soldiers of Empire, shown last August as part of the centenary programmes around the start of WWI. Written and narrated by historian David Olusoga, it examined the role of colonial and ethnic troops and ancillaries in the Great War.

I must say the two programmes were a fascinating snapshot of history and I was captivated by the whole thing. In many respects the subject could have been fleshed out into a longer six part series as some subjects were just briefly touched upon, but the two hours we got was well worth watching.

Of course some of the programme made for uncomfortable viewing, the inherent racism of the colonial powers and the ironic contradictions of all the imperial nations deserved the spotlight they got, but Olusoga did not forget the individual bravery and sacrifice of the soldiers he talked about.

There is far too much to write about in a short space, but I was fascinated by the employment of the Indian Corps on the Western Front in 1914/15, the attempts by the Germans to create an Islamist Jihad in the British and French Empires and Von Lettow's East African campaign, the latter not for the common place praise for Von Lettow's generalship, but more the cost of almost a million African lives resulting from the starvation that followed where his army marched. As Olusoga pointed out, this sideshow to the war really was pointless as the Allied troops Von Lettow is often credited with having tied down were largely ones from British colonies who, it had already been decided, would not fight in the trenches of the Western Front.

If you get a chance to see the programmes do so. Unfortunately I could not find that they have been released on DVD, but Olusoga's book The World's War has been released and I have already ordered a copy.

Tuesday 24 March 2015

Battlefield Evolution: Romanian Infantry III

I finished the three Romanian officers I painted today. I really only need one for my infantry platoon, but having converted two I painted all three, I'm sure I'll find a use for the spare two...

The conversions were simple cut and re-glue with superglue. I was surprised how well the soft plastic HaT uses took standard superglue without any convertor or similar...

Painting Target: 70/1000

Monday 23 March 2015

Battlefield Evolution: Romanian Infantry II

I managed to finish the bases on the remaining HaT Romanian infantry today. Once I get the lmg teams done that will be three sections complete, with just the platoon HQ and support to go...

Painting Target: 67/1000

Sunday 22 March 2015

Battlefield Evolution: Romanian Infantry I

I managed to finish the basing on the first of the HaT Romanian infantry today. They have been really easy to paint, undercoating in Army Painter Leather Brown, picking out the flesh, webbing, boots and helmets, then dipping.

I still need to base and paint the lmg team for the section. The NCO with smg has a head conversion and, as stated previously, I found the HaT soft plastic took superglue surprisingly well. Hopefully I'll manage to get some more finished tomorrow...

Painting Target: 51/1000

Saturday 21 March 2015

Plastic Rampant!

Today has been very productive, I managed to get out in the garden and matt varnish the WW2 Romanians and ACW Union infantry, even managing to base the latter. I almost finished some of the Romanians but having been so pleased with the effect the dipping gave on them I then dug out the 20mm plastics I had rescued from the attic for the Lion Rampant project and got a bit distracted.

I decided not to work to a specific list but see what units could create out of the boxes I had making up one of mounted knights, two of foot serjants, one of foot serjants with spears and one of bowmen. I've still a pile of figures left but noted that I was short on the crossbow front and had nothing suitable for mounted serjants.

Thankfully Plastic Soldier Review has a wonderful resource that lists and reviews 20mm plastics by manufacturer and by period. The Medieval section is fascinating and has given me lots of ideas beyond my initial Agincourt plans! Off to eBay and I have ordered some boxes of Zvezda and a box of Scurrers from Redbox which will fill in for the missing mounted serjants.

Friday 20 March 2015

Rats in Space!

After a week away I managed to spend some time at the painting table today, even if it was just to "dip" the Romanians and my first Union infantry regiment. Hopefully over the weekend I will get a chance to matt varnish and base some of them...

Ooh Shiny Syndrome has struck again with Mantic's latest Kickstarter, Deadzone: Infestation. I didn't get on board with the original Deadzone Kickstarter, but thought the plague zombies rather cool. The Veer-myn (think Space Skaven) here are tempting, it's a concept I have always liked having written rules for the never produced Hrud for Space Hulk. Some of the core items look good as well including the Red Planet mat and the industrial scenery. Given the number of stretch goals Mantic's Kickstarters usually provide, this one is tempting me...

Thursday 19 March 2015

The Battle of Sevastopol

I came across the trailer for an interesting looking new Russian/Ukranian film called The Battle of Sevastopol that is due for release this spring. The film is a biopic based on the life of the famous female Soviet sniper Lyudmila Pavlichenk who fought in Odessa and at Sebastopol.

The trailer looks similar to other war films coming out of Eastern European cinema in recent years, but the subject matter should be interesting...

Wednesday 18 March 2015

Open Combat

Still enjoying the delights of a Lancashire hotel, I spotted this testing looking Kickstarter today that has just a couple more days to run. I'm not familiar with the original PDF rules, but a set of generic historical/fantasy pre-gunpowder skirmish rules do sound fun. Anyone played Open Combat?

Tuesday 17 March 2015

All Hail Our Robot Overlords!

I caught the trailer for a new British SF film that, despite starring Ben Kingsley and Gillian Anderson, appears aimed at the Hunger Games market, but is only of a b-movie standard.

Despite that, I must say that I did start thinking about getting a set of the EM-4 plastic robots when watchg them stomp over the screen! 

Monday 16 March 2015

Into the Wastelands!

Sitting in the waiting room waiting for the train to head "oop norf" I came across this interesting looking post-apocalyptic SF Kickstarter that looks kinda cool...

Wasteman, "a game of desperate conflicts in a desolate future" looks rather like a "Mad Max" Western and has some wonderful looking posses, I especially like the Lunar Coalition and the Mangle Men, and the bottle cap tokens are a great idea.

Not sure whether I can afford to get on board but if you are looking for a cool looking post apocalyptic SF western games, Wasteman looks well worth checking out...

Sunday 15 March 2015

Back to the Future?

Today I was extremely productive! Thirty 20mm Romanian infantry are now painted and awaiting a coat of dip, along with a regiment of 28mm ACW Union infantry also waiting some dip. Unfortunately a business trip "oop norf" this week will curtail any further work until Friday, so the hobby will be restricted to reading, playing in the iPad and perusing the online wares of various wargames retailers...

6mm SF scenery from Angel Barracks (photo from their site)
One of these who will probably be getting an order pretty is soon is Angel Barracks. I saw their 6mm SF scenery "in the flesh" at Reveille last year and have been meaning to order some items up for my Iron Cow collection. The old grey cells got a kick today by their release of a force field fence that looks wonderful, I also like the solar panels. Just a case of working out an affordable order now...

Saturday 14 March 2015

WW3: Flames of (Cold) War

Last summer I started painting up some WarPac miniatures to use with the unofficial Cold War Flames of War supplement. I haven't progressed much past the East Germans I started and some British armour that has been undercoated but things will be about to change later this year due to the announcement by Battlefront that they will be launching Flames of War into a new period in October with Fulda Gap...

This is what they posted "October sees us diving into a brand new period as we release Fulda Gap. The period of the modern war when tensions between NATO and the Warsaw Pact were running high is a wonderful theatre to develop as the forces arrayed on both sides boast some of the coolest-looking equipment in history. And with the advances in technology, we are looking forward to seeing forces of M1-Abrams covered by A10-Thunderbolts pitting their might against the swathes of T-72s and BMP-mounted infantry. We plan for this to be a complete period with books covering nations and plastic sets for all the main vehicles of every nation. October is just the start and 2016 will have more books and additional miniatures."

As with my Yom Kippur project (which I shall be returning to soon) I don't fancy doing this in 15mm but having piles of GHQ micro-armour already in Lead Mountain (and some now painted), Autumn should see a more dedicated return to the Central Front of 1983, finishing my East Germans, BAOR and starting a few other armies I've always fancied (MERDC camo in 6mm should be fun!)

Friday 13 March 2015

Up The Mekong...

Plans to crack on with the Romanians today have been thwarted by work which is a shame, hopefully tomorrow I will escape observation by SWMBO and get a chance to slap some more paint on the Romanians and ACW Union infantry...

I have been intrigued by the latest news from Battlefront and their planned Brown Water Navy supplement for Flames of War Vietnam. I've always been fascinated by the idea, probably as a result of Apocalypse Now and the old 10mm Skytrex range, but never done anything (aside from converting an old Irregular 6mm monitor into an SF one!).

Brown Water Navy (Battlefront)
What has caught my eye (aside from the pretty pictures) is that in April Battlefront plan to release "2’x4’ delta river mats that come in a set that can be swapped around to give you a variety of a full 6’x4’ delta system." 

Brown Water Navy (Battlefront)
Obviously these will be really useful for a plethora of periods but the "ooh shiny" butterfly is beating its wings and reminding me that GHQ do a lovely Vietnam riverine range in 6mm. Wouldn't need much models wise...

1/285th Riverine Monitor (GHQ Models)

Thursday 12 March 2015

A World a Little Less Magical... Terry Pratchett RIP

Really gutted to hear that Sir Terry Pratchett has passed away at age 66, I still remember buying my copy of The Colour of Magic when it came out have been a fan ever since...

"Some people believe that when you die, you cross the River of Death and have to pay the ferryman. People don’t seem to worry about that these days. Perhaps there’s a bridge now."

Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky

Wednesday 11 March 2015

Battlefield Evolution: Romanian "Mountain Hunters"

I finished basing my WW2 Romanian Infantry platoon today (sans the lmg teams as I need to decide how I am basing them) and gave them a basecoat spray of some Army Painter Leather Brown which will form a good base to work on. This is a bit darker than Khaki, but Romanian uniforms were darker than the Hungarians and Soviets.

The HaT box still contains a lot of unused figures and I have been pondering what to do with them. Initial thoughts were to paint them as Marines in dark blue uniforms but I am now considering painting them up as Mountain troops - the Vanatori de Munte (Mountain Hunters).

The most obvious uniform difference is the large (rather French looking beret) and the white ankle socks. The latter should not be a problem, the beret more so given the soft nature of the HaT plastic as I don't know how well it will take Green Stuff additions.

Fortunately the Mountain troops do appear to have worn the Dutch style helmet in action (see above)  alongside the beret, so I could have a mixed unit if the converting proves too onerous. I'll have a crack at a conversion tomorrow and see how it goes...

In addition to the photos of the Mountain troops above, I also came across this one of Romanian troops in the Caucasus - now this would be an interesting unit! :-)

Tuesday 10 March 2015

Battlefield Evolution: The Romanian Army in WW2

My on/off 20mm late WW2 Eastern Front Battlefield Evolution project flicked back to "on" today after I (literally) tripped over a box of HaT WW2 Romanian infantry last night. I bought the box a few years back when it first came out, pleased that someone had bothered to release 20mm miniatures of the forgotten armies of WW2.

The Romanian contribution in WW2 is fascinating and a decent overview can be found on the Flames of War site here. What makes them a great army for wargamers is that they fought both for and against the Axis, switching sides in August 1944.

Today has been a day of planning and working out what I can make up from the box I have. The HaT box is pretty decent value containing 96 figures including command, flamethrower, sniper, lmgs, mmgs, anti-tank types and mortars, as well as a plethora of rifle armed troops. For under a tenner you have pretty much all you need to make a reinforced platoon with lots of spares.

The sculpting isn't the best, but looks like it will paint up well due to the slightly chunky style (they look more like metal wargames figures than plastics). The plastic is quite bendy and I was initially very disappointed with this, but I tried a head swap on one of the officer figures and found it took superglue very well, making conversions simple (two of my NCO's now have helmets).

Having had some fun this afternoon with the infantry I turned my attention to vehicles. You can get away with using readily available German and Czech vehicles which were supplied to the Romanians, but liking the some of their unusual designs such as the two TACAM SPG variants (their version of the Marder) and the upgunned French R-35's that were still in action in 1945, I was pleased to discover the Friend of Foe range at Shell Hole Scenics which includes all the AFV's I fancy.

A bit more Google-fu led to this excellent site resource about the Romanian Army in WW2 and this useful painting guide on the Battlefront FoW site, so no excuses for not getting one of the largest forgotten armies onto the tabletop!

Monday 9 March 2015

ACW: The Killer Angels

I picked up a copy of Michael Shaara's The Killer Angels the other day when Amazon included it in their daily deal. A widely acclaimed novel of the Gettysburg campaign, reading it will hopefully inspired me to crack on with the first Union regiment in my Bull Run to Gettysburg project.

This had slightly stalled as I wasn't happen with either of the Vajello sky blues I'd picked up for the Union infantry trousers. I've now picked up a slightly less vibrant colour and will try that. I know the dip will muddy colours down but the original attempts were brighter than the old Britain's pre-painted ACW figures! :-)

Sunday 8 March 2015

Number 22 is Alive!

I went to the cinema today to see Neill Blomkamp's latest film CHAPPiE. Inspired by his excellent short Tetra Vaal, CHAPPiE has received a mixed bag of reviews, but I thought it a decent enough film, something of a cross between Robocop and Short Circuit, and certainly worth going to see on the big screen.

SF and near future gamers will enjoy the action sequences, especially the police raid on the gang compound near the start of the film which would make for a great tabletop game. Miniatures wise I'm not sure of the Victory Force SAYTRS are still available, but they would clearly fit the bill...

Saturday 7 March 2015

Let's Croak Us Some Toad!

Ral Partha Europe have launched their first Kickstarter, a range of 28mm SF amphibian miniatures - the Phroggs!

I think they look really great (yes, I secretly loved watch Bucky O'Hare) and really hope they get funded as they'll be great for Pulp SF games as well as 40Kish ones.

Friday 6 March 2015

Batman: The Dark Knight

I managed to finish my first Knight Models Batman miniature at lunchtime. This is the Batman from the Frank Miller Dark Knight Returns story, well the second half of it, in the first half he has the old yellow and black oval bat on his chest and the classic blue cloak, boots and gloves.

A bit bleak, I didn't "warm" the black up by using cream to mix up highlights, I wanted him to have a cold look to him. Not the best paintjob I've ever done, but he'll do. Penguin next...

Painting Target: 43/1000

Thursday 5 March 2015

Batman: Building Gotham?

Another of those pesky days were I have had to work for a living, but I did manage to make some slight progress on the painting of my Batman figure. During the joy of one phone conference I started pondering terrain ideas and didn't really get anywhere.

A bit of Google-fu when I got home uncovered these lovely Sarissa Precision MDF kits. They look lovely but the large factory is £50 and I'm not sure how they would scale against the 35mm tall Batman figures...

Another idea was the old Robogear range, but I'm not sure about its availability anymore. The chemical plant does look like the sort of place the Joker might have a disfiguring accident...

Perhaps I need to watch some of the old animated series for some inspiration?

Wednesday 4 March 2015

Batman: Harley Quinn - Hot in the City

Unfortunately today was lost to a business trip to London so I didn't get any chance to do any painting. However, following on from finding the Kindle version of the first volume of Suicide Squad on Amazon for pennies, I spotted that the first volume of the new Harley Quinn series was available on Kindle for just 79p (as opposed to over a tenner in paper).

Harley Quinn is a favourite from the days of watching the Batman Animated Series with Saul when he was a kid, she could easily have been a one dimensional lightweight character but was a lot of fun. I may have to pick up the Knight Models once I've painted the models I've got.

Tuesday 3 March 2015

The End of (Norse) Days

You'll all be pleased to know I managed to grab sometime today to start work on Batman and the Penguin. Both are based, undercoated and initial basic paint work on Batman started. Hopefully the Dark Knight will be finished this week and maybe Oswald.

This evening though I have been salivating over CMON's new Kickstarter, Blood Rage. A fantasy boardgame with Viking clans fighting and pillaging at Ragnarok, the pictures of the miniatures renders are absolutely stunning. Following on from Conan, you have to ask why the boardgamers are getting all the cool toys?