Thursday, 26 May 2011

Toy Soldiers: First Sculpt!

I was tidying up a box of figures the other day and I found my very first figure sculpt. I made him around 1986/7 while at college doing my model making course. We had a very active roleplaying group, I used to play every Wednesday evening ( MERP and then Rolemaster) and also on a Sunday morning (everything from Call of Cthulhu through Judge Dredd, Traveller, Paranoia, and anything else you could mention) and we also played a few sessions of Stormbringer on a Saturday afternoon.
As well as the roleplaying we regularly bought Citadel and Ral Partha miniatures (there weren’t many other manufacturers around then – or at least not as easily accessible). I still clearly remember buying my first box of plastic space wombles, what a revelation they were…
Space Marine Rogue Trader Boxed Set
OK, so you have a group of science fiction fans and role players who also happen to be training as professional model makers, it is only natural that we also painted minis and eventually had a go at sculpting. Now before I go off on the whole sculpting thing let me just add that my group of roleplayers included Ivan Bartleet, who won the very first Slayer Sword in 1987, and also Tim Adcock, who went on to build many of the vehicles and tanks that GW have released over the years!
Ivan Bartleet's Slayer Sword Winning Piece
Back to the sculpting. Anyway, we all used to have ago at converting the occasional figure (our miniatures that we used for the roleplaying games developed as our characters did). Then I sculpted a dead orc, which I don’t really consider to be my first sculpt, as it was more or less a half figure, sculpted lying flat on the ground. After that I thought it was about time I had a go at a full figure. So in the naivety of youth I decided I wanted to sculpt Geiger’s Alien.
Alien 6 - first sculptAlien 1 - first sculptAlien 2 - first sculptAlien 3 - first sculpt
Now bear in mind that, at the time, Greenstuff was pretty much unheard of in the UK (outside of Citadel and a few select others I assume), we were all still using Milliput epoxy putty to sculpt and convert our figures.
Alien 5 - first sculptAlien 4 - first sculpt
Considering all of these factors, I don’t think it turned out half bad! In close up it may not have a great amount of detail, but figures in the 1980s didn’t have the level of detail that they do now. Also, as you might have realised, this figure was never intended to be cast!
Excuse the poor photography, I only took these at 10.30pm last night, with only the cameras flash and the normal room lighting.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Wednesday Eye Candy: Frutti di Mare by Robert aka muhani (from Massive Voodoo)

Frutti di Mare by Muhani

This is an absolutely wonderful piece of model making!

Frutti di Mare by muhani, one of the contributing bloggers from the figure painting blog Massive Voodoo, shows mastery of a wide range of model making  skills. From the first-class paint job on the actual figure itself, through ship and rigging modelling, sculpting of the tentacles, and to my mind the “piece de resistance”, the sculpted water effect!

This model has been a long term project, apparently started in 2009, and just finished recently.

I don’t honestly think I would have the patience to spend that length of time on one model. Although here it clearly shows that it was time well spent.

Here are some more photos.

Frutti di Mare by MuhaniFrutti di Mare by Muhani

Massive Voodoo is a fantastic blog and well worth checking out on a daily basis for the amazing paint jobs and figure bases that they produce.

They also turn out some very interesting tutorials from time to time.

There have been a series of WIP (work in progress) posts about the Frutti di Mare model. Here is a link to one that is worth looking at.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Model Making: Laser Cut Nodding Donkey

It has been a while since I showcased any of my laser cut models. So just to prove that I haven’t given up on it completely, here is one I have just been putting the finishing touches to.

Nodding Donkey 7

Built from 2mm and 6mm MDF, with some short lengths of bamboo barbeque skewers at the pivot points and a little polystyrene tubing for the valve. Scale-wise, it is built to suit 28mm figures, although it is probably a little over sized and rather simplified, in a very pulpy kind of way…

Nodding Donkey 1Nodding Donkey 2

The basic design is a mixture of several photos of nodding donkeys that I found online, simplified and refined for gaming purposes.

Nodding Donkey 3Nodding Donkey 4

The valve is a couple of pieces of polystyrene tube with some excess epoxy adhesive that will be painted as some leaking oil.

Nodding Donkey 5Nodding Donkey 6

Very much simplified, the motor to drive the donkey was cut down to a basic box with a couple of hatches etched into it.

Nodding Donkey 7Nodding Donkey 8

You can get a rough idea of the overall size by looking at the last photo. The green cutting matt is actually A4 sized. Also the bottom hoop on the ladder, is designed to come about 10mm over a 28mm sized figure (on it’s base).

The rectangular base worked out quite well, both anchoring the whole model, and also representing the concrete slab that these nodding donkeys re normally built on.

Now all I need to do is add a scenic base and get it painted up…

I am planning on using it as scenery, or possibly an objective, for everything from pulp games through steampunk, weird war II and onto maybe even the occasional Warhammer 40K game. Also off the back of this model I have decided I want to build a drilling derrick to go with it.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Toy Soldiers: Critical Mass Games Participation Game

As I mentioned in my Carronade 2011 post the other day, Mike and I  took part in a participation game run by Craig from Critical Mass Games of their new rules (logically called Critical Mass). We had both bought the rules in the morning and then settled in to pick up the basics from the man himself in the afternoon. Firstly, can I say that Craig did an excellent job of running through the rules with us before we started and then directing the game dropping in little titbits from the rulebook as he went along. I haven’t had a chance to sit down and read the rules through yet, so this is purely going to be a brief run through of my impressions of our first try of Critical Mass. Mike took command of the Kaamados army and I shared control of the ARC Fleet with another chap who’s name I have woefully forgotten.
The game itself uses the alternate activation system, whereby one player activates a unit and then the other player activates on of his units. This goes backward and forward until all the units have activated, and then the turn ends and new turn begins. I have liked alternate activation over the more common “you move all your stuff then I’ll move all of mine” for many years, actually since we used to play Target’s Warzone, a great system let down, in my mind, by some very average figures (at least in it’s first edition, which was all I played).
First off we have some photos of the Kaamados Dominion troops and buildings. For this game the Kaamados are defending their Comms building, and the ARC Fleet are trying to destroy it. In the foreground of this first photo you can see two sections of Kaamados Squamata, lurking behind the two smaller pyramids. These are reserves that (in theory) should emerge from said pyramids, after a successful dice roll, at the beginning of a Kaamados turn. Don’t expect to se them move during this game… the dice were definitely against them.
Here we can see the main line of Kaamados Vivipara infantry split into two squads, in front of the large pyramids. Between them is an assault squad of the rather vicious Naga. Lurking off at the back and just peeking out from behind the far pyramid is a  Dragamaa heavy tank, equipped with a twin heavy slug cannon. The Dragamaa heavy tank in the foreground is equipped with at twin heavy plasma cannon, this is also the Kaamados command vehicle!
Here we are looking at the Kaamados battle-line from the other end. The square, squat building on the right-hand side is the Comms centre. This is the objective. The ARC Fleet must take and hold it for a turn, the Kaamados simply have to stop them…
The ARC Fleet army consisted of two companies of troops carried in GRAV APC's and each accompanied by a GRAV medium tank. They also had two units of three, lightly armed, GRAV Scout vehicles. The force was finished off with the command vehicle, another GRAV APC. I suggested to my team mate that I would distract the Kaamados forces while he went straight out for the objective, which was on his side of the table.
I would also add at this point, before the action starts, as well as the on table forces both sides were able to call in orbital strikes. These were refreshed on a turn by turn basis, and should have given an extra boost to both sides offensive capabilities. Once again however, as a result of some poor dice rolling on both sides, of the six or seven strikes called in only one actually caused any damage. Consequently I have more or less ignored it during my battle report.
The first turn opened with my winning the initiative, I forced the Kaamados command tank to move, which basically wasted it’s first turn. Then I moved my recon unit fast down the right-hand side of the table in the hopes of avoiding any combat and then getting around the back of the command tank. Then I moved my mechanised infantry company forward between the two hills and disembarked my troops. At this point I also opened fire with the medium tank, taking a pot shot at the Kaamados Dragmaa command tank. As soon became evident, the Dragmaa tanks are very well armoured and it shrugged off the hit n a fashion that soon became all to familiar to us.
My team mate sent his Scout unit down the far left-hand side of the table, taking advantage of the hill for cover. He then, cautiously, sent his infantry company that way too, rather than making a direct charge on the objective. His plan was to approach the Comms centre from the rear, emerging from the cover of the hill at the last possible moment. To mind my, laudable though a commanders concern for the safety of his men is, this reluctance to commit and risk his troops probably cost us the battle!
On the Kaamados turn, Mike first rolled to see if any of his re-enforcements arrived, no luck this time.He then chose to send the Naga forward to occupy the hill at the centre of the table, planning to have them sweep down into my infantry company on his next turn. He also moved his main line infantry, the two companies of Vivipara infantry forward across the table, allowing one to move close to the objective and lining the other one up to take on my infantry company on the right-hand side of the table. Mike then opened fire on my infantry company, trying to take out the attached medium tank, and as many of the infantry as he could. He managed to put one of my APCs “Out of Action”, needing a repair roll to return to action, and also take out several squads of troops.
Still my diversionary tactics were working reasonably well. More than half of Mike’s available force was concentrating on my company and not on the main assault force that was heading for the objective.
My infantry company was fairly bogged down now, taking fire and  heavy casualties. They were returning fire and managed to wipe out most of the Naga squad and also inflict a fair bit of damage to the Vivipara company that was advancing towards them. The medium tank was still popping away at Mike’s command tank, but not managing to quite get through his front armour. The dice rolling definitely favoured Mike throughout the whole game. At one point, rolling to hit with a weapon that had the Sustained Fire ability (on a roll of 6 you can roll an additional D6 for a further hit) he rolled ten 6s in a row.
My GRAV Scouts now sitting nicely behind the Dragmaa Command tank kept up a continuous barrage of attacks on both the tank and the Vivipara company in front of it. They managed to take a fair toll on the infantry, but still couldn’t even scratch the paintwork on the command tank (even in the rear armour).
The Kaamados Vivipara infantry took a pounding both from the front and behind, and were slowly whittled down.
Over at the other side of the table we finally managed to destroy the other Dragmaa tank, and slowly reduced the second Vivipara company, eventually wiping them out.
However, the remains of the Naga fell back from the central hill and occupied the Comms centre. Mike also kept up his barrage on my remaining medium tank and two APCs. I advanced these towards what remained of the right-hand Vivipara company and of course the ever present command tank.
Our left-hand ARC Fleet infantry squad disembarked from their APCs and advanced on the Comms Centre.
Mike’s Naga burst from the rear door of the Comms Centre and charged into close combat with the ARC Fleet troops and APC’s.
After some furious close quarter fighting the Naga were finally wiped out, but unfortunately for us it was at the end of the final turn, and we didn’t have any infantry left to occupy the Comms Centre. Defeat for the ARC Fleet. Although such a near thing that both sides had taken a real pounding, and all things considered neither side came away with much glory.
As for the Squamata reserves that remained hiding in their pyramids for the entire game (on the last turn Mike needed a two for them to arrive, but Craig cursed them with the comment “you can’t roll another one for your re-enforcements, can you?”), well they were consigned to guard a convict colony on a distant ice planet for their complete cowardice.
Now, I know I have not gone into a great deal of depth about the rules mechanics in this battle report, but as I said at the beginning, I haven’t had a chance to digest them myself yet. Craig guided us through this game giving us hints and tips on tactics and telling us what dice we needed to roll and when. However, I can say that the feel of the game was excellent, two forces felt different and played well against each other, both with their own strengths and weaknesses.
The dice rolling varied from a single dice for an attack, to rolling around twelve dice for some of the larger units. There is the usual Hit/Save mechanic which will be familiar to most players. Dice roll results can be brutal at times, but you can also pull off some spectacular near misses where units take a serious punishment but somehow manage to get through it in one piece.
I am in the middle of pointing up my own ARC Fleet army and Mike is doing the same for his Kaamados Dominion army. Once our group has had a chance to play a few games for ourselves I will post some further comments, but don’t hold your breath, we tend to take some time to organise games.
If you are interested in 15mm science fiction gaming you can do far worse than ordering up a copy of Critical Mass, oh, and if you get a chance to sit in on one of Craig’s games at a show, do so!

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Wednesday Eye Candy: Constance Blaze By Yannick Hennebo

Constance Blaze By Yannick Hennebo
Yannick Hennebo has just recently put these photos of his new sculpt for Privateer Press up on his blog.
Personally, the figure is not to my taste, far to anime inspired, and I think anyone would agree that the armour and sword are verging on the ridiculous. However, I have included it in my Eye Candy reviewsimply for the level of detail that Yannick has managed to achieve with figure  (it’s worth remembering that she probably stands around 35mm foot to eye). I would be happy to achieve the folds and movement in the cloak/skirt, let alone add the pattern to it the way that Mr Hennebo has. Also the detail on the armour is quite breath taking.
I have seen some comments saying this figure will be a nightmare to paint. Personally I think it would be rather simple to give it a base coat, an ink (or dip) wash and then some careful dry brushing. I am sure a painter could go to town on it, but for a quick wargaming paint job that would work just fine.
I wouldn’t mind painting this one up myself, even though I stopped playing Warmachine (and sold off my collection) around the time the second book came out. Unfortunately, know the kind of premium price that this figure will sell for, I doubt I will be able to justify getting this one, simply on a whim…
Here are a few more photos from different angles. Please note that I have tweaked these photos a little from the original one on Mr Hennebo’s page, just to help make the detail stand out a little more.
Constance Blaze By Yannick HenneboConstance Blaze By Yannick Hennebo
Constance Blaze By Yannick Hennebo
For more of Yannick Hennebo’s work check out his blog.

Monday Eye Candy is Pulp themed, offering beautiful artwork to inspire and amuse!
Wednesday Eye Candy is sculptural, offering some of my favourite figure sculpts and models!
Friday Eye Candy features painting and visual images that capture the imagination and offer inspiration!

Monday, 9 May 2011

Show Report: Carronade 2011 in Falkirk

It has been several years since I have been to a wargames show with out my sons (my wife has been working most weekends, so I generally have to keep the boys occupied at the weekends. I love taking them to shows, but it generally means I can only stay there for around an hour before they get a bit bored. Consequently, the only shows I have attended have been the reasonably local ones at Forfar (Skelp) and Kirrimuir (Targe). It made a real change over the weekend to get away with one of my gaming pals (Mike) and just spend the day soaking up the ambiance of the event at Carronade 2011 in Falkirk.

I must say I really enjoyed the show. If fact, most of the people I spoke to felt that it was the best Scottish wargames show for several years, beating it’s only real competition, Claymore, to a place in our hearts. With over 30 traders in attendance and as many demonstration and participation tables there was plenty to keep us all occupied.

Mike and I spent an enjoyable afternoon taking part in the Critical Mass Games participation game, which I lost just at the wire. It was great to actually try out the new Critical Mass game, and get to use some of the figures we already bought and are furiously painting up. I will hopefully do a follow  up post later in the week with my full impression of the Critical Mass rules and the the game we played.

Shown here are just some of the photos I took during the day, some I will comment on, others you will just have to take as they are.

Critical Mass game at Carronade 2011, featuring new resin pyramids.Critical Mass game at Carronade 2011, featuring a Dragamaa Heavy Tank in the foreground

Critical Mass Games participation game table, showing off some of their new pyramid-like resin buildings. Fielded on the table are forces of the ARC Fleet and the Kaamados Dominion.Carronade 2011 Star Trek game


Carronade 2011 Rapid Fire game

Carronade 2011

Carronade 2011

Carronade 2011

This ancient Chinese game is worth a closer look. The table was beautifully put together and the detail was fantastic. Here are a couple more photos of it.

Carronade 2011Carronade 2011

Carronade 2011

Carronade 2011

Carronade 2011

Carronade 2011 Warhammer 40K game

Quite a nice Warhammer 40K table, although to my taste I would have preferred to have seen more handmade terrain, rather than so much of the Games Workshop kit stuff! Still, I wouldn’t have minded playing on it.

Aberdeen Wargames Club Russian Civil War Game

A nice Russian Civil War table from my local club, Aberdeen Wargames Club (I’m not a member, but like to give them a shout out when I can).

Kirrimuir Wargames Club’s Viking raid game

Kirrimuir Wargames Club’s  lovely Viking raid participation game.

 Carronade 2011 game

Carronade 2011 gameCarronade 2011 game

Carronade 2011 game

OK, so moving on from the tables, lets have a look at some of the interesting figures that were on display from the traders.

"hedi" an improvised tank from Scheltrum Miniatures German Civil War range

Scheltrum Miniatures new German Civil War range of vehicles and figures were on display, if only in their bare resin or undercoated states.

Krupp/Daimler flak wagen from Scheltrum Miniatures German Civil War range

A couple of early 20th century examples of “technicals”, again from Scheltrum Miniatures German Civil War range! I get the feeling that these are going to be very popular amongst the A Very British Civil War gamers.

Russo Balt armoured flak wagen from Scheltrum Miniatures German Civil War range

Four A Miniatures

Here are a couple of photos of some miniatures from Four A Miniatures. Firstly a very attractive set of pirates, and then followed up with some “squid-headed” cultists. They had some other lovely figures on display as well. Since getting back from the show I have gone online and bookmarked their webshop, ready for future use.

Four A Miniatures


Finally I would just like to mention Design 28 Miniatures Steam and Steel range. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to grab any photos while I was at Carronade, these are pinched from Design 28’s website. However, I must say that, in the flesh – as it were, these miniatures were the find of the show for us.

Incident at Reichenbach from Design 28 MiniaturesLord Fecitt and Hunting Party from Design 28 Miniatures

Brunel and Steam Navvies from Design 28 MiniaturesMycroft Holmes set from Design 28 Miniatures

I have added the Incident at Reichenbach set to the top of my want list now. A fine steampunk rendition of Holmes, Watson, Moriarty and Moran. Mike bought the Mycroft Holmes set on the spot!

As I have a distinct bias towards science fiction and fantasy, for a more general view and plenty more photos you may also want to check out the Wappinshaw blog.

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