Saturday, 31 December 2016
Happy New Year
I've been taking some pictures and I thought it would be nice to welcome in the new year with an Atlas, just because I can. So, let me wish all my friends and readers of my blog a very happy new year, and thank you one and all for taking the time to come here and read my posts. I really appreciate the fact that others find what I do and say of interest.
Saturday, 24 December 2016
Let me wish all my readers a very merry bah humbug, because it's that time of the year when people eat, drink and open presents time. I have no pithy observations about life, happiness or anything else that you all haven't read before, but here's to painting toy soldiers and playing games. May you forever roll high.
Thursday, 22 December 2016
Xmas Comes Early: Extra-Read All About it!
Went shopping today for the usual food stuff and found a card from the Post Office that they were holding a parcel of mine with a ransom to be paid before I could have my stuff: some 15mm figures from Clear Horizon. I was so excited I just had to rush out to go collect them.
Now all I've got to do is find the time to start working on them, but first I must have a bath (I know I'm such a tease). More pictures to come in due course. Still, if you look closely you can see my progress on the plastic Ammon mount I'm making up.
Edit: Breaking News
Out of my bath and I've started assembling them.
Did I mention I was a wee bit excited by these?
Friday, 16 December 2016
Size Comparison Part Two
Back here I did a size comparison of Heavy Gear walkers with some modern tanks to 1/144th scale. The comparison was most illuminating and it begged a question, how would a 15mm tank look with the walkers, and would I be better off making my Bad Dog project in 15mm?
I just made up a Visigoth Khan tank made by Dream Pod 9 for their Heavy Gear game.
So what we have here are a 10mm scale Abrams with a 15mm Abrams from Battlefront Miniatures next to a Dream Pod 9 Visigoth Khan to show, as my friend David Barrow said, it's way too large to be a 1/144th scale tank. As you can see it's enormous, so large that it might make a good giant cybertank, except that the proportions aren't quite right and it would be a lot of work to convert.
The Acco snuck in front for comparison as to whether it's suitable for a manned walker if it were treated as a 1/100th scale 15mm wargame model?
This only brings home a point I always make that 15mm is a size and 1/100th is a scale, and while one may use the former to work with the latter (15mm figures with 1/100th scale kits), the figures are not to a scale. For a start wargame figures are stylized caricatures of real people. Don't get me wrong, they're full of character, which true scale figures are not, but what that amounts to is larger hands and head etc. that are out of proportion to real life.
TL;DR: What is good for wargaming, figures one can relate too, is not necessarily accurate to a fixed scale.
Why am I going on about this? Simple really, my Bad Dog conversions of 12mm Heavy Gear's look to be more suitable to represent 15mm combat armour suits. And as for the Accos, they'll manned by very short men and women pilots.
Edit: Except the cockpits are too small for 15mm, so I'm back to Bad Dog in 12mm and perhaps doing Heavy Gear is 15mm. That's called two for the price of one–or so I keep telling myself.
Wednesday, 7 December 2016
My friend Graham Worsfield has been talking about Team Yankee and his Chieftan tanks. For me 15mm WW3 games are out of the question given I only have a 40 x 45 inch table. It would be hard enough to have large games fighting over the Fulda Gap in 1/300th, let alone 15mm.
I only mention this in passing, not because I'm getting into the game, but rather taking advantage of the plastic tanks they're doing. In particular the Abrams and T72s. My AK47R project has been languishing unloved in a box going nowhere for a number of years, six to be precise. This was down to me becoming dissatisfied with the basing conventions of the game, which meant every thing ground to a halt and then I saw some thing else that was shiny.
However, given some recent navel gazing, pondering on wargame scales and toy soldiers – all very deep and meaningful stuff I can assure you – I'm feeling a bit more love for my 15mm lead pile. So this is me planning, plotting and preparing for when TooFat Lardies release Fighting Season, which I intend to use as the basis for Mogadishu inspired games.
Thursday, 1 December 2016
Plastic Ogre Miniatures Success
Friday, 25 November 2016
In the comments of a previous post Sitzkreig asked, "Will the accos be manned as well or autonomous drones in your world?"
I hadn't given it any thought because as things stand at the moment I've not written any scenes with anything other than the large walker I showcased here. Pokhodnaya Boyevaya Platforma or Object 295 is the enemy machine that one of my characters encounters in my second novel. But obviously nothing operates in isolation and I have been giving some consideration to its role and how it fits within a force.
That force will have platoon equivalents with some heavy support. Object 295 is one of two support elements that will be attached to a formation containing smaller walkers. I've previewed the command variant and in the picture above you can see in the background what I've made up to represent another walker variant. My plan is to have a command walker with four of the new variants and three Accos attached to each: for a total of seventeen walkers with two heavy walkers attached.
However, that doesn't answer the question of, are the Accos manned or drones? I pondered that question for a while, and thought about how much easier it would be to source 15mm figures, rather than using the limited range of poses available in 10mm. So I decided to do a size comparison with real tanks to the same scale: a Sheridan, an M60 and a Russian prototype Object 640 – a T80U variant with an extra road wheel that was never put into production.
Comparing the Accos to the Sheridan, I think it is large enough to be a manned walker and makes it more plausible that the larger walkers have multiple crew members. I think three, consisting of a driver, gunner and commander. This is interesting as it means that in my future universe the Russians are not relying on expert system AIs to run everything. That makes the Accos a bit unusual because they aren't large enough for three crew. And then I had another thought, as one does, since they're so small they're probably are air-droppable by parachute.
And that is how one does world building without really trying.
Friday, 18 November 2016
Science Fiction Wargaming: The Three Rs
Over on Neil Shucks Meeples & Miniatures podcast Henry talked about his decision to resign as editor of Miniature Wargames, and mentions what he sees as a problem with SF wargaming: namely it's not a unified community in any shape or form, being driven by ranges from manufacturers. An obvious example being Warhammer 40K from Games Workshop. The implication being that SF wargamers tend towards one system and setting, though I would add that most of my friends tend to mix it up and play in more than one manufacturers universe.
So, for example I tend to be thought of as a BattleTech grognard, at one time it would've been Battletech for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a late night snack of BattleTech before going to bed. However, as readers of this blog know I also have an extensive collection of Steve Jackson Games Ogre and GEV game miniatures, which have also graced this blog, and I've been know to wibble on about the game at great length. And then there's Dream Pod 9s Heavy Gear range that I've gotten into over the last few years.
I should also add that I'm also into StarWars: X-Wing from Fantasy Flight Games, and have in the past played the odd game of Star Trek Star Fleet Battles from Amarillo Design Bureau.
However, perhaps I'm not necessarily a typical SF wargamer?
There is an element of truth that SF wargames are compartmentalized by brand/universe setting. In fact one could argue that all the successful SF wargames have a strong brand/universe setting, because without the setting what is one actually playing? And furthermore, without a setting, how does one come to an agreement about how to play a game set in a hypothetical future?
Fantasy gaming also has a similar problem with, for example, Lord of the Rings versus Warhammer Fantasy Battles, but the one thing they do have in common is the extensive mythology from historical cultures. Even if the trolls from Norse mythology are not the same as say the trolls from Runequest, one doesn't have to explain that a troll is a monster, only the nature of the beast.
There again there are the common SF tropes, which I will boil down to the three Rs of science fiction: Rockets, Robots, and Rayguns.
But, once you get past the basics what is actually the common denominator? I'm into robots – BattleTech and Heavy Gear – but my friend John Treadaway is into Hammer's Slammers and Silent Death, and we disagree on the relative realism of walking tanks versus hover tanks. Whereas in Fantasy no one I know is arguing that trolls are less realistic than goblins. The root of this is the difference between science fiction and fantasy: one is rooted in historical based reality the other in mythology and beliefs about forces outside of human understanding.
Is there an answer to this?
Probably not, and does there need to be one because what we're talking about is playing games. However, it does seem to explain Henry's assertion about the lack of a central community for SF wargames. Personally, one of the reasons I play SF games is because I free of community group thinking about what is right or wrong in the games I want to play.
Monday, 7 November 2016
Steve Jackson Plastic Ogre Miniatures
I'm not in the position to run with this, but I'm sure some of you who read my blog might be interested in these. KickStarter link.
Friday, 4 November 2016
I haven't done a film or TV review for a while, though the real reason for this post today is because I'm a bit under the weather and this is a nice distraction.
I bought the 2014 version of Hercules staring Dwayne Johnson from Amazon after seeing a review of the WSS Ancient Warfare blog. The direct link is here. From reading the review one might think why bother? However, I quite like Dwayne Johnson, so I took a chance and bought the Blu-ray.
What to say? Yes the Ancient Warfare blog author is right at every point, but Hollywood films are not documentaries, and getting tied up in knots over egregious historical inaccuracies is pointless. What one does get is a fun film with a great cast: John Hurt, Rufus Sewell and Ian McShane for a start, and we both really enjoyed it.
Thursday, 27 October 2016
Next Wave Of Russian Walkers
Snip, snick went the snippers, snickecty-snack, snick, snick they went some more, and one-by-one the pile of parts did grow.
And here's a quick work in progress shot of a bunch of Heavy Gear plastic Caprice mecha snipped off their sprues waiting for me to find some time to clean them up and assemble them. Things are a bit busy at the moment, hence the briefness of this post with a couple of writing deadlines hanging over me.
So I'll catch you all on the bounce next week, when hopefully, I will have made some progress.
Friday, 21 October 2016
Russian Federation Walkers
I like Dream Pod 9s Heavy Gear miniatures. Small giant robot walking tanks, what's not to like?
However, as is my won't, the chance of me playing in their Terra Nova setting is minimal, not because it's not a great setting, I would go so far to say it's one of the best SF RPG setting books ever published, but because I like to do things my way.
Here's my Meggido-Kadesh-Bashan kitbash: perhaps I should call it a Mekabashan? Perhaps not. It is meant to be a command variant, hence all the extra gribbly bits, which I think makes it look interesting.
I'm using the Caprice walkers as a basis for my own near future setting as Russian Federation combat armours: combat armours being sit-in and drive large power armour suits. Clearly Russian combat armour is designed to deal with soft ground, from all the snow Russia gets.
The generic name for these in Russian is Pokhodnaya Boyevaya Platforma or PBP, my first conversion of a Caprice Ammon, which I called Object 295, can be see here.
I also made up a couple of Caprice Accos, so I could make my mind up which weapon I preferred? Still not sure which one I like best. Again I've added gribbly details bits, in particular the fuel tanks that are signature item on Russian tanks, which for me adds a Russian feel to the models.
My observations on the plastics is that they're OK for what they are: cheap intro models.
The plastic is slightly shiny, and feels like it's some sort of engineering plastic i.e: designed to be slippery. Some people have had difficulties gluing them with conventional plastic cement. I use Butanone aka MEK, which welded the plastic together.
Also, I would have also preferred a lighter colour than the very dark grey because it would be easier to see the details when trimming the models off the sprue.
I'm also a bit fussy when it comes to mould parting lines and therefore spent a considerable time filing and fussing over the parts before assembly. When I took these pictures, I could see that I hadn't paid enough attention to the finish and went over the models with a fibreglass pen to polish the surfaces up. Also, in my opinion the sprue-gates on the mould did not take into consideration ease of cutting the models off the sprue e.g: on the Accos the sprue attaches to the nose of the legs, which means it is easy to lose detail when trimming the model unless great care is taken.
Still, way better than the Robotech models for ease of assembly.
As for differences between the injected moulded models and the resin originals, I only have the Ammon to compare.
This I can say is going to turn out differently, because the legs are from the Meggido, and do not feature the extra box-like structure on the upper leg that the Ammon has. As such, it will sit lower and be less imposing. I will make an Ammon up next and post pictures comparing the plastic to the resin and pewter model in due course.
Friday, 14 October 2016
This last week has been very busy with work and having to deal with changing my internet service provider. The one bright light amid all the stress this caused was my Heavy Gear KickStarter pledge arriving from Dream Pod 9.
I took some pictures of everything unpacked, kept the rule-book out to read and had a hell of job getting everything back inside the box. Whoever packed this did an excellent job. I ordered the Caprice army in addition to the four army starter pack, added a couple of extra Accos, and took advantage of the option to buy some Terra Nova terrain: Badlands Outpost and four stone heads.
As you can see in the above picture I also took up the offer to add a couple of standard models to my order: the new Hoplite and a couple of metal Gears – Hunter and Jaguar for a special conversion. So Christmas has arrived early at the Paint-it-Pink household.
Monday, 3 October 2016
Venasque Medieval Re-Enactors
I'm back from a holiday in Provence, and during my week in the south of France I was taken out for the day to a Medieval Faire in Venasque.
Troops strutting their stuff.
My French wasn't good enough to follow the presenters spiel, but the demonstration was understandable.
The authenticity wasn't always 100% pucker, and there were Orcs in amongst the re-enactors, but all the same people went to a lot of trouble to dress up, which is what counts.
One of the Orcs.
These people we thought were meant to be lepers, but were Cagot, which we read more about in a newspaper about French news written in English. For those who are interested in reading more Elizabeth Gaskell wrote a book called An Accursed Race, which can be downloaded here.
There were people dressed as lepers with bells on them, which is how we knew they were meant to be lepers, but I failed to snap a picture of them.
And there was archery demonstration, and how could we resist having a go? Susan shooting, and getting a bruise on her arm for her trouble.
And no I didn't get a bruise on my arm, but there again I shoot modern recurve bare bow, whereas Susan shoots longbow, which requires a different technique. Late edition update, a picture Susan took of me shooting.
And finally, there was a cute dragon the kids could ride on.
So a fun day.
Thursday, 22 September 2016
Here's an update on my progress with writing the Bad Dog rules, the initial outline can be seen here.
For those of you who don't know, I've been busy writing other stuff. If you follow my other blog I've been involved in editing my second novel and thinking about the feedback I received from my first novel, which was rejected.
In addition, I've been busy writing a monthly article for Galactic Journey:
April, A Peek at UK fandomAnd if you haven't read Galactic Journey, it's a blog that is recording what is happening on this day 55 years ago that relates to science fiction and fantasy, and of course space.
May, Red Star, Blue Star
June, Home Counties SF
July, A Cultural Divide
August, Seven Days of Change
September, Disaster on the Moon
Friday, 9 September 2016
Newten Town Phase 3
Tally-Ho! chaps here's the first aerial recon shot of my next project Operation Blitz...
Back in the real world, I have made eight town boards for wargaming on. This is not enough to make up a three-by-three area to play on, and arguably I want a minimum of twelve boards to make up a four-by-three area, which would pretty much fill my dining table.
It would be good to have a choice about what boards to use or swap out to make more scenarios too. Hence six more board for my Newten Town project. Hence Phase 3.
I've had these hanging around for a while gathering dust and thought it's time to get on with finishing them. After all they won't paint themselves. I'm doing dribs and drabs as the mood takes me, but with my Heavy Gear KickStarter models arriving in the foreseeable future I really need to get my act together.
So much to do, so little time to do it in.
Friday, 2 September 2016
I own a classic military vehicle. I mention this, not because it has any great wargaming relevance, because lets face it a M1009 CUCV radio truck is hardly likely to be the central attraction of a wargame, but because of an article on fuel consumption. My partner was reading a piece comparing modern cars, and trucks, claimed mileage per gallon versus the actual miles per gallon.
As was her wont, she then thought about my truck, and went off and found figures for it.
Would it surprise you to know that my 1984 Chevrolet Blazer with a 6.2 litre V8 diesel has a better mileage than a smaller modern Land Rover. Also, officially my truck produces 160hp, at the wheels where it counts, and though the official figures are 19 mpg, probably because I'm an old biddy who potters around town, I record 22 mpg.
Who would have thought that a 32-year-old classic car would be greener than a new car with all the whizzy toys?
Also, it's worth remembering that if one is going to go on about being green, then one has to factor in the carbon cost of making the car. A first order approximation being that the resources used to make the vehicle are equivalent to the amount of fuel the car will consume in 100,000 miles.
Ironically, cars that are more economical will need to go further than this. I mention this because my truck is now standing at 99,902 miles on the clock, which also means the engine is probably just about run in.
So not only is it painted green, but it's pretty green to run, as time adds a certain quality when a vehicle is still soldiering on after 32 years, because the biggest cost is building it. Besides which it carries all our gear when we go off to do archery practice on Saturday.
Monday, 22 August 2016
Newten Town Grafitti 3
|You can't actually see this graffiti as clearly as the pictures allows because I removed the facing building to take the shot.|
Chopper and Attention in Russian graffiti. Chopper, for those who don't read the 2000AD comic, was a character in the Judge Dredd strip who was renowned for putting his tag on the Justice Building in Mega City One. Apparently, in my far future wargames setting, the 2000AD comic has inspired a new generation of street artists.
I got the inspiration for the Cyrillic from a picture of a warning sign for one of the forbidden Russian cities. BTW Newten Town translates as Novyy gorod desyat'.
A picture with the blocking building in place. And the final shot showing where the Chopper graffiti resides.
The Scorpion is from my old BattleTech campaign and was Susan's mech ride, with the all important coffee maker custom addition to her machine's cockpit. From working on revamping the graffiti on these building I've been motivated to take down the other six town boards that I started and plan to start working on them again. I'll take a picture of them to show the work in progress soon.
Colour me excited with the impending arrival of my Heavy Gear Kickstarter package.
Monday, 15 August 2016
I've been a bit busy entering archery competitions and winning a medal for my efforts. Hurrah me! However, here's a sneak look at the custom decals I received for my Heavy Gear miniatures that I showed here and here.
With these I will be able to finish my FAT-Cs.
Just in case it isn't obvious these are very tiny. Now all I have to do is find some free time to spend applying said decals to my models. Oh the laughter never stops in our household.
Monday, 8 August 2016
Bad Dog Rules 1
The above picture is a teaser of the Table of Contents for the Bad Dog draft rule-set that I'm working on. Of course there's the small matter of all the text.
Whether or not I will complete writing the rules is dependent on a large number of variables, which when you boil them down are based on time and money considerations.
But, at least now I have resolved the scale of the game's actions, up to a platoon, the ground scale as 12 inches equals 100 yards, and the model size as 10/12mm or 1/144th scale.
The latter being quite easy as I've been a big fan of this scale for a number of years. But the rules will also be able to use 6 and 15mm miniatures without any major concerns, and larger figures if one is prepared to do some scale conversions, and have a big enough playing area.
Monday, 1 August 2016
Object 295 WIP
I was shocked to find that I started work on this model in June last year. As readers may have noticed I've been putting up work in progress reports as I seem to have found my model making mojo again, which is a good thing.
Above is the current state of my Pokhodnaya Boyevaya Platforma or Object 295, which is less of a mouthful for my non-Russian speaking readers. The picture shows how untidy and rough looking my models are as I work the paint to get the battle-worn finish I'm trying to achieve.
For those who are interested in techniques, what I do is paint solid colours on first then I apply Army Painter dark wash tone. Then I paint what are effectively highlights with the original colours and apply Army Painter light wash tone. To finish, I reapply a lightened version of each of the colours as a highlight.
Then it's a matter of picking out details, drybrushing silver on any metallic parts, and finally a coat of gloss varnish. After that it's time for decals and then matt varnish to seal.
Saturday, 30 July 2016
I haven't talked about archery practice for a while, not wanting to bore people with my latest passion, but today was a day worth talking about.
Last Saturday I bagged some second hand Easton ACC 750 arrows, which are a better match for my poundage than my Easton Navigators 660s. However the nocks were too big for my string and the fletchings were pretty ropey, so I spent time over the course of the week refurbishing them, with a little help from Susan.
These are Norway Industries 1.5 inch Fusion vanes on a 3 degree helix using a Bohning Tower Fletching Jig. The red vanes looked a litttle pink to me, so as it's useful to have two sets of arrows with different colours, I used a permanent red marker on six of them.
Anyway, with new nocks fitted, which arrived in the post on Thursday, I was all set for Saturday.
Last week with the old arrows I shot 81, shooting at 60 & 50 metres, which is called a Long Metric 2 where one shoots three dozen arrows at each distance. This week we changed to 60 & 50 yards, which is called a Western shooting four dozen arrows at each distance, to practice for the club handicap that's being held next month.
I scored 328, which is enough to get my archer first class badge, if I can repeat the success again on two more occasions. Doing so well is stuffing my handicap score, but it looks like I'm in the running for most improved handicap of the year award.
NB: Me shooting a longbow for the first time here.
Thursday, 28 July 2016
Newten Town Grafitti 2
As I said, I have two of these rather impressive 12mm scale building that were bought from Fieldworks, but are no longer made: they seem to have stopped doing 10/12mm building altogether. Click here to compare the blue walls versus the grey from the other building.
The reverse of the two building that in my imagination is some sort of hospital, which was why I used blue for the trim because it's the colour an NHS Trust I worked for in the past used.
With the aforesaid Bewlay brothers, in their awesome Urban mechs, striking terror into the powers that be of the planet Mummerset, which was the setting of my Operation Sandbox BattleTech campaign.
Thursday, 21 July 2016
Newten Town Grafitti 1
I have two identical buildings like the one above, and I managed to paint the exterior walls blue on the wrong set of walls on one set of floors. Unfortunately, while the buildings are the same the floors from one will not fit the base of the other. I had even painted the interior walls with different colours to indicate this, but managed to forget this salient fact in my flurry of enthusiasm to get the buildings off the workbench.
So I ended up having to repaint the end walls grey, and I took the opportunity to run a drawing pen around the grafitti to make it look sharper. The slogan is from the Japanese show Fang of the Sun Dougram, Taiyō no Kiba Daguramu. The lead hero mech, Daguramu, became the basis for BattleTech's Shadowhawk mech, and for those who are in trivia, this was Natasha Kerensky's original ride.
The close-up shows the depth of field that I can get using the auto focus bracketing feature on my camera, and it opens up whole swathes of ideas for interesting pictures that would be otherwise impossible to take.
This is the front of the building, and yes my Shadowhawk's shoulder mounted autocannon swivels. When I finish the grafitti on the other building I will post a picture on the blog and link back so you can compare the difference a small change of colour to the exterior can make to the feel of a building.
This and my other buildings are part of my Newten Town project, which I started here and last commented on here.
Thursday, 14 July 2016
Newten Town Hi-Res versus Focus Stack
|This is taken from a Hi-res image (6775 x 4192 crop from a 9519 x 7314 original) with the camera set to ISO 200, lens aperture F8 at 0.6 seconds, resized to 1400 x 866 pixels (click on image to see full size).|
For the past few months my hobby focus has largely been on taking pictures with my new Olympus OMD EM5 Mark 2 micro four thirds camera. One of the reasons I chose the camera was because it features a 40 megapixel Hi-Res mode, which I thought was super awesome. It is, but after months of practice I've come to the conclusion that the really super awesome feature of my camera is the automatic focus bracketing feature, which was a firmware upgrade that the reviews I read didn't mention.
That's serendipity for you.
I've been sorting out some terrain and changing the graffiti I wrote on one of the building from FA*M Will Set You Free to Death Will Set you Free – driven by a friend who was playing in my old campaign who read FA*M as Football Association, rather than Freedom Army, which rather spoiled the effect that the graffiti was suppose to have for me.
The re-write involved sanding down the original letters to, to remove them, and then repainting the wall. As I didn't want to go to all of the effort it would require to repaint the wall to the original colour I took a short-cut and repainted it red.
I've been trying to do a real comparison of the advantages and disadvantages of using the Hi-Res mode of my camera, and the pictures in this post have been re-shot several times to get results I was happy with, and proving that I'm not as good as photographer as I like to think I am.
|This is a 1027 x 1210 pixel crop from the 40 megapixel Hi-Res image.|
In some ways the results of this comparison are a little disappointing because the depth of field at F8 is insufficient to meet my needs, even thought the out of focus background is quite nice the lack of sharpness across the model is telling.
|This is a 777 x 831 pixel crop from a 16 megapixel focus stack.|
Looking at the pixels, by taking a full size crop from each image, I think it's quite clear that the focus stack has produced the sharper looking image, and if I wanted to blur the background it would be possible to remove images from the stack to achieve the effect. So for now, until Olympus offer a firmware upgrade that allows automatic focus bracketing in Hi-Res mode, focus stacking 16 megapixel pictures is the way to go.