Friday 31 December 2021

MARPACE Exoskeleton Suits

Three two man teams form a squad. The squad leader mounted as two figures on one base for ease of identification.

These are Clear Horizon Epsilon Squad infantry. Inspired by the exoskeleton suits from The Edge of Tomorrow aka Live. Die. Repeat. I've had them in my too be painted pile for too long. Since 2017 in fact.

Part of me thinks this is shockingly slow. The other part of me thinks that it's just down to my inability to just focus on one thing at a time.

For me this meant I had to understand how a squad in the Gate Walker universe was built.

No, I couldn't just take a current Marine squad, because nothing is ever totally static. A position recently reinforced by the Marine Corps changing from a 13 man squad into a new 15 squad. About the only thing that seems consistent is three teams make a squad.

A three figure base for the senior leader in command of the platoon with a Big Dog mule.

Saturday 25 December 2021

Xmas Haul

And here are my prezzies. The MDF terrain pieces from Charlie Foxtrot Models, who I can highly recommend because he turned around not only the order, but some custom corner pieces for me.

Some Scale 75 Instant Colours that I've tried and liked, so getting some more is welcome. These were from Hobby Heaven on eBay, who also sent a Christmas Cthulhu badge. Thank you. Again, highly recommended.

Got a book by an author new to me who specializes in first contact stories.

And my big prezzie, which was a total surprise was a LED light for my camera, which I will have to practice with, but will be super useful for when a flash is not welcome.

Friday 24 December 2021

Merry Christmas 2021

A year that can best be described as a good example of the Curate's Egg. Bad, but needing to find something good about it because, otherwise the horribleness of it all just gets you down. Time as they say to turn lemons into lemonade.

An opportunity to try and makes the best from all the bad happening around us. So Merry Christmas one and all.

Saturday 27 November 2021

OMWB: Something New, Something Old


This last week I have been busy writing Big Little Wars. Roaring along with 3,250 new words added to the running total of 28,456 words. But still a fair bit to do.

The Scenarios are the next big job ahead of me.

Meanwhile, lurking on my workbench is an ABS filament print of a Bob Semple WW2 tank that I'm making into an insurgent improvised armoured fighting vehicle. Wants to be a tank when it grows up. Not happy with it yet, but I will prevail.

I bought some liquid Green Stuff to smooth out the printing ridges. After that, I'll tart up the barrel and maybe add a TOW missile or some thing to jazz up the model.

And adjacent is my long overdue armored exoskeleton suited infantry project.

Spent a long time procrastinating on how I wanted to base them, and another long period of neglect as I painted other models. But they are nearly finished. In the home stretch with one more glaze and some some drybrushing to finish these.

So that's all until next time. Catch you all on the bounce.

Wednesday 17 November 2021

The Jungle: The Mighty Jungle

As you can see, I received a very generous package of jungle terrain arrived from my dear friend Tamsin; a wargame sister of battle whose blog can be found here, or in my blog list in the left column of this page.

She had been building some mighty fine jungle terrain on her blog a while back, and impressed, I commented on her work. To my surprise and delight, Tamsin then offered me the surplus trees as a gift, which I was truly flattered to be offered, and grateful to receive.

The box of trees arrive yesterday.

I took a quick photo, but I was too busy until today to post it. Sorry for not emailing you immediately Tamsin, but I was busy, more like lost in writing my Big Little Wars rules, managing to add a mammoth 2,069 words to the project. Not yet finished, but closer to reaching that goal.

I see a jungle, a mighty jungle in my future. Thank you again Tamsin.

To all my readers, stay safe. Catch you all on the bounce.

Thursday 11 November 2021

Big Little Wars: Post 5 - Chapter Headings


A progress report that is more than just there has been progress. I've set a goal of completing the first daft by Christmas. So I sat down and made a priority list of what I needed to do to finish to be able to send the first draft out the door to my play test team.

The picture shows the progress made and the word counts.

My document tells me that the current word total is: 19,677 words; though the project counter only says 19,401 words. No doubt there are good reasons for this, but I haven't a clue why they differ?

This project has completely sidetracked my work on my next novel, but doing this has involved me thinking about a lot of stuff that counts as world building stuff I will need to know for later stories. I'll take that as a win.

The list of sections to finish are:

Chapter 2. Big Little Wars Assumptions: 
Terrain; Choose Your Faction; and Overview of play.
Chapter 3. Playing Big Little Wars:
Deployment Points Example; Command Dice Example; Action & Movement Examples; Resolving Attacks; and Combat Resolution Examples.
Chapter 5. Troop & Vehicle Creation: 
Armored Fighting Vehicles; Robotic Attack Vehicles; and Weapon Options (cost to do).
Chapter 6. Force Organization: 
Adding vehicles to a force.
Chapter 7. Scenario Set-up:
Force building for scenarios (this is the first of the two big parts of what's left to finish).
Chapter 8. Optional Rules:
Non Player Controlled Forces; Company Level Games; and Calculating Line-of-Sight (is the other big part of what's left to write).

That's it. Catch you all later.

Thursday 28 October 2021

OMWB: The Next Mech

Now I've finished painting the other mechs in the original batch, I'm going back and getting this combat engineering mech ready for the paint shop. I decided that as it's basically a non-combat model, I would have it with an unarmoured cockpit.

It allows the operator to feel the wind in their hair while slinging stuff around using their mech as a glorified crane jib.
I saw that the original arm has a rather limp wrist pose. Not that a limp wrist itself is a problem, but the arm hanging straight down holding a grenade launcher just looked naff.

So I drilled and cut the arm apart to repose it.

It's the little details that make a pose look more dynamic.

It's surprising how much time all of the above took. Basically, a whole Sunday afternoon's work at my bench. Need to get some Green Stuff to cover the pin joining the two parts and it will be done and dusted.

Just gotta do roll bars and grab handles before I can apply paint.

Okay, it may take me a while to prime, but WIP!

Sunday 17 October 2021

RAFM Conversion Portraits

CASE-2X Mod-1 Dog. Tachikoma's original ride from Bad Dog.

After months, what seems like forever to me, I've finally gotten around to finishing two conversions, and I took the time to run all my models through the studio (get the camera and terrain out), and take some portrait shots of my completed mecha suits.

CASE-2XC Mod-2. Tachikoma's new ride from Ghost Dog.

I haven't made Tachikoma's suit from Strike Dog, yet. I'm going to start working on it next, along with some other RAFM models that I want to convert for use with the rules I'm working on.

CAS-4CP Buster. Ferretti's suit from Ghost Dog.

And the rebuild of Espera's Army Ape suit that I finished before deciding that magnetized arms, head, and torso were the way to go.

CAS-3-Mod-1. Espera's ride as it appeared in Strike Dog.

This mech suit was featured in Strike Dog, where Espera made an appearance. This configuration of the Army Ape suit will appear in future stories as more people are recruited into MAPCOM.

Espera's CAS-3-Mod-1.

I'm not sure if Army Ape suits will make an appearance in Two Moons Prometheus yet as I'm currently still writing the book. Long delayed due to health issues that stymied my ability to imagine anything.

And finally, the running repose. 


The above CAS-3-Mod-1 is running as if its existence depended on it, or for some other reason, yet to be decided. But there will be running, shooting, and no doubt screams too.

Just because really.


It is the way of things.

Go to a new world they said.

Explore and have fun they said.

Really pleased how the placement of the danger decal, on the rear backpack, adds to the feel of the mech suit as a real machine. 


Okay, these are nowhere near the Golden Demon award level, but I've surpassed myself and really upped my painting over the last year. It has been good to learn how, and as importantly, been good for me.

Catch you all on the bounce.

Friday 15 October 2021

The Veteran Podcast

I've been interviewed and talked about Japanese mecha, science fiction and warfare in the shape of mecha and wargames.

Hear me speak in Episode 72: Mech Mania is live!

And, having listened to myself yack on, I can authoritatively say the word of the day is Absolutely.

I use it so often in the podcast that one could turn it into a drinking game.

If anyone does, please let me know what happened so I can add the number for that totally authentic Sesame Street vibe.

Sunday 10 October 2021

Proof of Life

Work in progress of the two Ape suits, glossed and ready to have decals applied in due course. Next to a Dog with decals and matt varnished for comparison.

I may be some time.

And after much faffing, a quick touch up of the paint that turned into the nightmare of effectively becoming a repaint, I've finally varnished my 15mm insurgents.

And in breaking news, I sat down with Jay Arnold of The Veteran Podcast to talk about all thing giant stompy robot. I'll post links as and when he puts the podcast up.

Tuesday 21 September 2021

Big Little Wars: Post 4 - Down in the Weeds

Another progress report. There has been progress. I've reached 14,843 words and I'm now down in the weeds.

By that I mean I've now have movement and combat resolution mechanisms that float my boat. I'm just at that stage where I'm working through the chapters making sure I'm not contradicting myself, and that everything is where it is supposed to be.

Keep finding things missing though.

I'm checking the construction rules, where there are still some gaps from equipment not yet covered, and checking the section that describes model attributes, and cross referencing to the movement and combat rules, and came across an oopsie.

As in, I thought I'd described what the game allows players to play with on the table, you know robots, tanks, power armour, and mecha etc but, oops not stated clearly in the introduction that these units are what the rules cover.

It's not a big oops. But it is an oops. One where one finds one has described a bunch of rules, but not which models have access to said rules.

And then I remembered last night, while semi-awake, between dreams, that autonomous vehicles and robots will have a variant of the activation rules to make them feel different. This also ties in with the solo play and group play rules that Big Little Wars aspires to deliver.

Extrapolating how future science and technology affects war. You know, to make the rules not just another SF recreation of WW2 or Vietnam.

Important stuff. Not just fluff, but the flavour of meaty goodness that comes from giving players significant choices to make with different benefits versus costs, which creates the feeling on involvement in the game.

Saturday 11 September 2021

Shiny from Khurasan

Huntarr Zenegg IFV and Sseventur AFV

I saw the above Khurasan models, while browsing the Facebook 15mm group, and I thought they were awesome. They arrived and the resin castings are stunningly good. Someone might now say, "Ashley, I thought you were against anti-gravity vehicles in your games?"

Even though I'm not a big fan of anti-gravity tanks, because the science nerd in me equate anti-gravity with perpetual motion machines (courtesy of Isaac Asimov), but advance repulsors that don't break the way the universe works are another matter (courtesy of Sabine Hossenfelder and Isaac Arthur).

Besides, Arthur C. Clarke pointed out that the existence of technology that is currently beyond our ability is always a possibility. Repulsor fields certainly fit in the Clarketech paradigm. 

And they're shiny. Must have the shiny.

I also ordered a bunch of 15mm figures too, which I will get around to sorting out pictures of at some point, as follows:

Five Corsair Battlesuits, which are a bit smaller than I thought they'd be, but that's better than being too large.

A pair of Downed Flyer or Mecha Pilots/Operators because, well just because.

Two Toyota Land Cruisers, with a ZSU-23-2 to add-on one Technical, for my insurgent force.

On top of that, I got a bunch of Tah-sig and Stikk aliens. An assortment of each, enough to assemble a platoon with support elements.

Yes, aliens. Because, aliens are a thing in the Gate Walker universe. I just haven't written the stories featuring the dangerous ones.

Thursday 26 August 2021

Alpha Echo Romeo Tango Two

Three 15mm robots off the workbench ready to be varnished.

The android and Big Dog is the robot explorer team Alpha Echo Romeo Tango Two. The second team sent by the Magnetic Anomaly Project that got lost in the Pillar network, as mentioned in my novel Strike Dog.

And below is a commercial robot loader.

That's as much as I've managed to finish, though my two Ape combat armor suits are nearing completion. Just in the process of paneling with a pin wash and weathering.

Saturday 14 August 2021

Big Little Wars: Post 3 - Progress Report

WIP on two CAS-3-Mod 1 Apes.

Progress on everything has ground to a halt for the reason that I made the decision to take the rules to places I hadn't thought of after doing some research on the rules currently out on the market. And there are a lot of very good rules on the market covering near future warfare with or without mechs.

Having read a few I thought that there was something missing that would make mine standout as offering something different.

Hence very little progress. Not none, as I'm up to 10,224 words.

I recall that while I wrote the first draft of OHMU War Machine in a month, it took much longer to play-test and fix wonky rules. And even then we still had to do a FAQ to clarify some parts and and errata sheet for all the missing words and typos that got through the editing process.

So it is what it is. Given my funk I've done good.

Anyway, I've changed the working title to Big Little Wars, which is thematically congruent with the Gate Walker setting where have major powers fight small proxy wars.

Therefore the rules must be able to keep both players interested where asymmetrical warfare means one side is outmatched by the other. Not just Vietnam in space, but something truly science fictional with alien aliens.

If only because that while I haven't introduced technological aliens into my universes setting (yet), it seems to me that the key to having interesting games between human forces facing an alien race whose technology is far superior is the key to science fictionally interesting games.

The problem is how the rules allow players to enjoy the experience of being outmatched in one area is balanced by game mechanics that still allow for a victory? I'm doing my homework by researching all the rules that have attempted this.

And just to remind readers, I will also be stealing the best ideas for solo play/group against the game mechanics running the opposition rules too.

It's a tall order, but I'm having fun, which is the important part, right?

Wednesday 28 July 2021

Scatter Terrain and Robots


First up is some Gale Force 9 Badland Tors, which I repainted because I wanted more variation in the colour pallet. And I think these turned out pretty good.

For good measure I painted my Stone Heads from Dream Pod 9. Nine seeming to be the number that manufacturers name their companies. Just a coincidence, but like adding an X to a name makes it sound cool.

I did a lot of shading with glazes, filter, drybrushing to get that weathered craggy look. And finally, three 15mm robots and a jump-off point for using with my variant of the Chain-of-Command rules I'm still working on.

I need to matt varnish all of these before using them, but just felt the need to show some proof of life.

Stay safe, and I'll catch you all on the bounce.

Tuesday 6 July 2021

More Insurgents

I've been spending a lot of time at my workbench with only this handful of finished miniatures to show for it. I can only conclude I'm as slow as snail snot. Or some thing?! I'm pretty sure that when I was young I could paint whole armies in a week (30 plus figures). 

Now, it seems to take me forever to do this third section to complete my insurgent platoon and some support units. 

But here they are. The three Toyota Technicals below having had their gunners repainted to match my new standard paint job.

The green truck is new. I based the camo scheme on a half-remembered photo I saw, which funnily enough I found again.

To no ones surprise, my interpretation of said scheme is different to the original. Mostly down to the fact that I was painting my model to look nice, whereas the rebels just sprayed some blotches on their battered old truck.

I also worked on the red trucks highlights and shadow, and yes that was probably unnecessary, but I did it anyway. The yellow truck I mucked up whist doing so, and guess what?

Yep. You got it. 

I ended stripping and repainting it, but I think I did a better job on the tiger stripes. You can compare the previous paint job here.

And finally, two Nakamura Robotics Oshiguruma SDR (Search and Delivery Robots), converted for the insurgents as Highly Improvised Combat Armor aka Gunstriders.

Of course, I now need to varnish them. I've run out of Testors Dullcote and no one has any, and it may no longer be being made too. In further bad news, my other preferred matt varnish from Windsor & Newton is also out of stock.

Cést la vie.

Wednesday 30 June 2021

Spot's On It

Bring it on. Anyone who doesn't think that the future has robots in it is sorely mistaken. I've lived with a love for robots ever since I was a child, and now the science, material technology, and engineering have come together.

Real robots.

Now all we need to do is start making them large enough to ride on, or ride in, and mecha will a thing.

Note: Always remember to consult a science fiction author before introducing robotic mechanisms into the world. Adverse, or unintended outcomes for human civilisation sometimes arise.

Monday 21 June 2021

A Mecha Post

A month has flown by, and I'm genuinely bemused at my inability to have generated new posts, given how much painting I've been doing. But nothing has quite gelled into a finished model to show.

So here's a post with some book and manga suggestions for those readers who may be in need of some mecha reading.

Hardfought (1983) by Greg Bear
Cloned, energy-exosuited soldiers fight aliens, but human identity is the main casualty. On my to be read list.

Great Sky River (1987) by Gregory Benford
Post-apocalypse nomads in battlesuits fight to survive against alien robots. On my to be read list.
Rimrunners (1989) by C. J. Cherryh
After the Company War ends, a battlesuit trooper finds herself trapped, incognito, among civilians on the other side. One of my favourite books with power armour.

Warstrider Series (1994) by William H. Keith
Exotic aliens and “realistic” mecha that transform via nanotechnology. This is an early series from Keith after his BattleTech Gray Death series, which has a lot going on it that makes him one of my favourite authors.
The War for Eternity (1983) by Chris Rowley
Ursoid aliens and their human allies fight power-armored space marines. On my to be read list.

Legacy (1995) by Steve White
Human marines in well described powered armor fight to liberate an alien world. Recommended to me.
Appleseed  (Manga) by Masamune Shirow
Battlesuited cops, cyborgs and terrorists clash in a realistic cyberpunk future. I love my treasured old copy I have.

Metal Skin Panic Madox 01 (Animeigo)
An ordinaryJoe finds a secret battlesuit – now the military wants it back. This is worth watching for the power armour design. Recommended, though good luck finding a copy, but you can watch it here.

Wednesday 19 May 2021

Insurgents: First Batch

My intention was just to re-base these AK47 Peter Pig miniatures to my preferred basing style. I originally painted them back in 2010. My, how time flies. You can see here the old post here. Above is a shot showing the assorted wounded and dead counters.

However, after re-basing them I looked at the paint job and thought I can tart these up a bit.

And lo and behold, I took them to the next level. So here are some close-ups of the first two sections of my insurgent militia platoon.

Still need to varnish them, and afterwards I shall apply some grass tufts to their bases, but otherwise I'm calling these done. Now to start painting the mortar squad and the gunstriders.

Back in 2010, one of the reasons that I got stuck and never completed my AK47 Republic armies was the basing, which is one of those topics that requires a post all of its own, which I will no doubt come back to later when I talk more about the rules I'm working on.

Monday 3 May 2021

WIP: Insurgent Platoon

I've been busy working on the rules! Got a whole bunch of words written last week. I'm deep into the infantry construction process, which at points was doing my head in as I noodled different ideas and running numbers.

Edit: to add a close-up of my insurgents. 

I finished sculpting the seats for the Gunstriders. These are my idea for near future equivalent to Technicals.  Highly improvised walking platforms converted from Nakamura Robotics product; The Oshiguruma SDR: Search and Delivery Robot.

Slow going because it seems to take forever and a day for Kneadite or Milliput to harden.

So I've spent more time making other odds and ends, and stuff, as one does. In this case making a couple of tracked drones. One for my insurgents to use. The other a robotic fork-lift truck.

Here's another thing I made. A Jump-Off point for the rules, which will mark where troops can come onto the table.

An idea from Chain-of-Command that adds something to playing wargames that can be difficult to achieve: hidden movement, ambushes, and reserves.

And, whilst rebuilding my Toyota Technical I showed previously,  I found myself cutting apart another RAFM Gear, which was a surprise as I hadn't intended to start another conversion until I finished rebuilding the open cockpit crane mech.

So much for discipline.

That's all for now. Catch you all later.

Friday 23 April 2021

Who Let the Dawgs Out? A review of Bad Dog


I caught this on Zepp Jamieson's 's blog. Found through David Brin's blog that hosts very lively discussions on everything SF. Both are worth checking out if you're into science fiction. Anyways, here's a snip of the review. Click on the link for the full review.

I’ve mentioned Groundhog Day, Russian Doll and Haldeman in this review, but in the end, Bad Dog wound up reminding me of something far grander and more ambitious: The Expanse. The blurb on the cover promises that Bad Dog is only the first novel in a Gate Walkers series, and if Pollard’s first novel is the metric to go by, she’ll give The Expanse a run for its money.

I look forward to the next installment.

I was stunned.

Needless to say, but I'll say it anyway, it made my day.

Tuesday 20 April 2021

Ready for Painting


I've finally finished the running pose that has taken me a long time to complete. I think the conversion of this CAS-3 Mod 1 Ape has come out looking pretty good. Head, torso and arms are magnetized and are moveable/removable to change the models pose or weapon loadout.

Below are two shots showing the other side.

And here's the previous conversion now completed, ready to paint. Again the head, torso and arms are magnetized allowing me to change the models appearance.

And again, the picture below shows the other side of the finished model.

I'll be painting both, just as soon as I've cleared the workbench of the models sitting on it, whose conversions are still ongoing works in progress, clogging up my space.

It is the way.