Thursday 26 January 2012

The Society of Fantasy and Science Fiction Wargamers



I have been a member of the SFSFW for quite a few years now.

The society is dedicated to promoting fantasy and science fiction wargaming both within the wargaming hobby and outside as well.

The SFSFW is a totally fan run organisation. It takes it’s committee members from within it’s own membership. A subscription entitles a member to receive 6 issues of the clubs magazine, Ragnarok. The magazine is written and edited by the members and features a selection of articles, scenarios, new rules systems and reviews, as well as the occasional news item. The membership period is flexible and simply based on the length of time it takes to produce the 6 issues of the “The Rag” (as Ragnarok is known).


As well as Ragnarok the society has a fairly active mailing list (based on it’s Yahoo Group) and also a presence on Facebook.

There is also a regular blog post over at, which offers regular news of new miniatures and related items.

The membership is drawn from all corners of the world, although it is based in the UK. As well as the usual perks, several mainly British, gaming companies offer discounts to members.


The society is currently on something of a membership drive. So if you have an interest in wargaming with either a fantasy or sci-fi twist (in whatever form) drop by the website and check it out. You can also purchase some of the more recent back issues of Ragnarok in PDF form via Wargames Vault. I would however recommend joining the society rather than simply buying your Rag on Wargames Vault, as joining helps guarantee a future for the magazine (and the Society).

Please drop by and see what you think:-

Tuesday 24 January 2012

Airbrushing, Paint Racks and the Watermill!

I have been very busy recently. I have a figure sculpting job on at the moment. I am really enjoying it as it is the first commercial sculpting job I have done for a while. Also the artwork supplied was well thought out and is making my job easier…

Anyway, I can’t show any photos of that job at the moment, and as I am concentrating on it, I don’t have much else to show off at the moment.

Work on the Watermill is progressing, although it has slowed now that the main development is done. I am finishing off the terrain at the moment and will soon move on to painting and then finally adding the water. I also have to decide on what figures I want to put on it. I am thinking that a typical fantasy scene is probably in order. A raid on the watermill with the inhabitants defending as best they can! I am going to have to look through my collection to find suitable figures for the inhabitants and also the raiders. The inhabitants will certainly be humans, but the raiders can be more flexible. I have plenty of Dark Elves, Undead or possibly even a barbarian horde.


I am also considering how I am going to paint my Critical Mass Games Praesentia 15mm grav-tanks (and possibly the Praesentia figures too). I am considering airbrushing them. I haven’t used an airbrush in 25 years, and even then it was for painting actual paintings, not work on models.

Although not exclusively airbrushed, both of these paintings have some airbrush work on them!Although not exclusively airbrushed, both of these paintings have some airbrush work on them!

Although not exclusively airbrushed, both of these paintings have some airbrush work on them!

Anyway, I still have my airbrushes and my compressor, so it seems about time that I tried them out for model making uses.

When it comes to painting figures I have a large collection of paints, some dating right back to the very first Games Workshop colours. However, recently I have become very fond of the large Vallejo range. So it seemed logical to try the Vallejo Model paints for my experiments with spraying. Last week I bought the Model Air Basic Set. I am just awaiting the arrival of a bottle of Vallejo Acrylic Airbrush thinner and cleaner. Once I have them I will be ready to start experimenting!

Just to get back to the laser cutter. Now that I have settled on the Vallejo paints I decided to build myself a paint rack. I have seen several companies paint racks, and it is simple enough to knock one out on the laser cutter, and I had some spare time this week.

Paint Rack 1Paint Rack 2Paint Rack 3

This seemed like a good idea. A small hole in the base plate so that near empty bottles can be kept upside down.

Paint Rack 4

Anyone who knows a little about art theory may recognise the Golden Mean/Section in the curve I have used for the side plates.

Paint Rack 5Paint Rack 6

I am planning on making a second Paint Rack that will hold the bottle Airbrush Cleaner as well as the the selection of Model Air paints too.

Wednesday 18 January 2012

Mantic Games Crazy Christmas Bag!

I am usually very dubious about “grab bag” type deals. They always sound amazing value, but when it comes down to it you can never guarantee that you will get anything like what you are hoping for… So initially I dismissed Mantic Games Crazy Christmas Bag (£24.99 + shipping) and promptly forgot about it!

Mantic Bag

Still, after spending the festive season putting together the Mantic/Warlord German zombies I have acquired a something of a fondness for Mantic, both there apparent attitude, there fantasy figures and more recently the pictures that are trickling out of their new Corporation figures. So when I saw that the Crazy Bag deal was finishing, I jumped on board and ordered one!

Mantic Crazy Christmas Bag

It arrived today, and I have just had a quick look at the contents. For shear quantity there is no denying the value. I received 173 figures, two bolt throwers and of course the bag. Totalling up the figures, if I had bought them via Mantic’s website today they would have set me back over £98 (not including the bag)! Now there are, of course, some caveats to that. Firstly, you don’t get any bases for the figures. Also you don’t get the plastic boxes that Mantic use as packaging, that they say you can use as figure storage. However, the catch on the box I got my German Zombies in broke after a fall from my desk, so I wouldn’t want to put much faith in them protecting my figures anyway…

I wasn’t really worried about the bases (although I do like Mantic’s bases, they are nice and solid), as I still have a stack of the white-metal bases that I used to make and sell. So they will give the figures the weight that is often lacking from plastic figures!

So what did I get? 84 Elves (40 spearmen troops and command, 40 Bowmen troops and command and 2 two-man artillery crews)and 2 bolt thowers, 60 Undead (40 Skeletons troops and 20 Revenants troops and command), 10 Dwarf Ironclads (troops and command), 9 Orc Ax Troops (and a command sprue), 2 Orx Marauders (command sprue).

Basically, that is the guts of two skirmish forces and a good selection of bits for conversion, scenery decoration and anything else I can think of! I would have been happier with a little more Sci-fi in the mix, as that is where my main interest lies, but I can see myself using a lot of these figures for Song of Blades and Heroes skirmishes, as well as probably trying out Kings of War.

Now, I must admit that from the photos I had never been very impressed with the Elves. The poses looked a bit stiff and fairly boring. However, now that I have them in my hands my opinion has changed somewhat. They are actually very nice and I think that once I put them together they will have real possibilities of becoming one of my favourite armies. So my initial disappointment upon opening the bag and seeing so many Elf sprues has been somewhat overthrown. If nothing else I will be able to use them to supplement my GW Dark Elves, and possibly even my Dark Eldar…

Mantic Elves

I was hoping for plenty of Undead, a force that I seem to get around to with any of the fantasy games I play. So now I have no excuse!

Mantic Undead

The Orcs and Dwarves are fine and will be useful for adding a some variety to my games, but I have never been a big fan of either race so I suppose I am biased against them anyway.

As for the 2 lonely Orx Marauders (Sci-Fi Orcs), they may well end up as mercenaries, or alternatively there are enough interesting parts on the sprue they may just get raided for parts.

Overall I am pretty satisfied with the haul! It may not have fitted in exactly with my tastes, but I don’t think any of it will go to waste…

Mantic, if you do it again next year, how about doing two different bags, one for Fantasy (Kings of War) and one for Sci-Fi (Warpath)?

Tuesday 10 January 2012

Toy Soldiers: 28mm Weird War Two German Zombies

I  have been putting together a collection of Weird War figures for sometime (more or less an extension of my Pulp plans). As such, when Mantic Games released their German Zombie mash-up kit (combining Mantic Zombies with Warlord Games German Infantry) a couple of years ago I was sorely tempted. This year when they put them out again as their Halloween special I couldn’t resist.

German Zombie Horde

I was quite keen to see how easy it would be to combine the two different companies figures and achieve a decent result. As it turned out the design of the zombies and the German infantry is not exactly compatible. The zombies are cut in half at the waist, to offer a good range of pose-ability, whereas the German figures from Warlord come as torsos with the legs attached and just separate arms and heads so as to give a better look to the German troops tunics.


However as both sets are produced in hard plastic it was not too much work to cut them where necessary to create the desired effect. The set claims to offer enough parts to produce ten German Zombie figures. This would actually leave quite a few spare bits and as I had just bought the Miniature Wargames magazine’s Sci-fi and fantasy special, Darker Horizons, I also had a single sprue of 2 Mantic Ghouls. So, combining all the pieces together and adding a fair bit of greenstuff I managed to get 19 zombies out of it!

My main plan for these zombie figures was that I would pretty much hack them together, I didn’t plan to spend too long on each figure. As I was doing a small horde of figures and also as they were zombies and should look quite rough anyway, I didn’t feel that I wanted to spend more time than absolutely necessary on them!

Tools wise I used a pair of clippers (to snip armes and waists etc), a scalpel (for rough trimming) and a 1mm drill (for the three bullet hole through one of the figures). That was it except for a bottle of Revell plastic adhesive.

Once I had done a rough hack job putting them together I added a little greenstuff to hide joints and to add some torn uniform parts to some of the figures (oh, and some dangling intestines to one lucky chap).

These are some of the figures after assembly and greenstuff work:-

German Zombies greenstuffed 1

German Zombies greenstuffed 2

German Zombies greenstuffed 3

As far as painting went, again I wanted to do it as quickly as possible, but still achieve a half decent result.

I undercoated with grey, which seemed most appropriate as most of the uniforms would be grey anyway, and also the skin tone would probably have something of a grey cast to it.

I used a mix of different paints for this project. Mainly Vallejo, but also some old Scotia Grendel Leviathan paints (what can I say, I don’t chuck any paints away until they dry up…).

I used Leviathan Elf Flesh as the basic skin tone as it is very pale. Then used Vallejo German Grey for the uniforms. I added some metallics for the guns and some browns and blacks for belts, gun butts etc. Then I brushed on a layer of Army Painter Dip to add some tonal depth. I like to work into my figures after I have added the dip. so I gave them a coat of matt varnish, left them for a couple of days and then did some more work on them. Some more washes on the skin tones, both greens and purples to bring out the dead flesh. Then did some highlights on the uniforms and also on the exposed skin.

I sat down to finish these guys off in the evening on New Years Eve, my wife was at work and the kids were in bed. I had picked up Dead Snow on DVD for £3 a couple of days before and thought it would make suitable viewing as I added the final badges and insignia. Can I just say, Dead Snow was perfect subject matter for painting these German Zombies, but don’t try to watch a subtitled film while figure painting, you either end up watching the film, or painting, you can’t do both…

Once I was happy with the paint job I prepared the bases. I wanted a ruined rubble style basing, reminiscent of well fought over cityscapes. I built up the base texture with tiling grout and cut some plasticard strips to make bricks, some girders, and a little plasticard pipe.

Once the grout had dried I added some fine sand (play-pit sand is really fine and cheap, in big bags from DIY stores). I painted the bases with Vallejo beige brown, then washed it with some watered down Windsor and Newton Peat Brown ink. Finally I added a little Gale Force Nine dark green scatter material and some Ash Wastes scatter.

All I need to do now is tidy up the edges of the bases, either with a black or a mid to dark grey…

Anyway, here are some of the photos:-

3 German Zombies 13 German Zombies 23 German Zombies 33 German Zombies 43 German Zombies 53 German Zombies 6

German Zombie 1German Zombie 2German Zombie 3German Zombie 4German Zombie 5

German Zombie 6German Zombie 7German Zombie 8German Zombie 9German Zombie 10German Zombie 11German Zombie 12German Zombie 13German Zombie 14German Zombie 15German Zombie 16German Zombie 17German Zombie 18

Overall I am very happy with how they have turned out. There are a couple that look a little odd (the kneeling figure with the submachine gun obviously picked up a helmet that was way to small…) but mostly I think there are a nice interesting variety of zombies.

I don’t know if I will need anymore zombies to fill out the ranks, 19 does seem like a reasonable, if small infestation. However, if I want to add to them I will either pick up some of Studio Miniatures Plastic German Zombies or West Wind’s German Zombie Hordes. I have had enough of converting German Zombies now, so buying them ready to paint seems like the way to go if I expand the horde…

Monday 9 January 2012

Toy Soldiers: Review–Adler Miniatures

Sometime last year, in a discussion on a popular miniatures forum, I left a comment on a discussion of some miniatures photos. I had been doing my usual surf around the forums and spotted these these photos in passing. I wasn’t familiar with the company, and to be honest I didn’t pay a great deal of attention to the scale, or much else. My comment was simply that the miniatures in the photo looked as if their heads were about 25% of their overall height.

A couple of months later, obviously a little miffed after seeing the posts, the owner of Adler Miniatures emailed me, and after some discussion he offered to send me some samples of his miniatures so I could assess them, actually in the flesh, as it were!

A parcel duly arrived and I have had a good chance to look at them now. Adler make a wide range of miniatures, covering Ancients at 10mm, Napoleonic and World War 2 at 6mm, as well as several other periods. Overall I must say I am quite impressed the samples I received. They are very nice miniatures.

As a sculptor I have never done any work below the 1/100 (15mm) scale, and then it has only really been half a dozen sample figures. As a collector of minis, I do have a small but growing collection of 1/300 sci-fi vehicles (for a planned Future War Commander campaign), but no actual figures. Otherwise it has always been 15mm or 28mm for me…

So, with that in mind it is worth pointing out that when approaching the smaller scales you do have to take certain things into account. Clearly, as they are so small, some companies find that certain liberties have to be taken with anatomical proportion so as to both make the figures cast-able and also give them some character! Even at 28mm it has often been necessary for companies to thicken up ankles a little to strengthen the miniatures and stop them snapping off from the stands, so at 6mm (1/300) I can understand that some compromises are necessary.

Anyone who has read my blog for a while will soon realise that I tend to lean towards figures being sculpted within accepted anatomical scale limits, rather than the oversized heads, hand and feet that have proliferated across many ranges for a long time. This is probably where my original comment sprang from.

What follows are a selection of photos I have taken of the sample miniatures that Adler sent through to me. When photographing such small scale miniatures it is easy to forget just how small they are and blow the images up to huge proportions and then compare them with larger scale miniatures. To avoid this as much as possible I have not posted the photos at their original size, as they really give a false impression of the figures. They are still well enlarged, but certainly no to the level that the original photos were.

First off we have the 10mm scale ancients. These are Ancient British or Celtic figures.

Adler 10mm 1Adler 10mm 2Adler 10mm 3Adler 10mm 4Adler 10mm 5

It was a photo of some of these 10mm miniatures that I originally commented on in the forums. I still hold that the figures heads are approximately 25% of their height (espesially in the minis in the second photo), however, when you consider that they are only 10mm high they do have plenty of character and I tend to think that with a descent paint job they would come out rather nicely.

Moving on we have a selection of 6mm Napoleonic figures.

Adler Naps 1Adler Naps 2Adler Naps 3Adler Naps 4Adler Naps 5Adler Naps 6Adler Naps 7

I must say at this point that I know virtually nothing about the Napoleonic period. I’ve watched Sharpe and the movie of Waterloo, but that is it…

Still, I think these figures are quite attractive. They still have fairly large heads, and as far as realism goes I suppose they probably bare more relation to young boys in soldier suits than men, but for 6mm figures they have plenty of character and I am sure they will paint up a treat!

I know a little more about World War 2, and so it was with interest that I had a look at these samples. A mix of German infantry, British Infantry and British Paratroopers.

Adler ww2 1Adler ww2 2Adler ww2 3Adler ww2 4Adler ww2 5Adler ww2 6Adler ww2 7Adler ww2 8

Some of the running poses leave a little to be desired on these, but generally they are well sculpted characterful figures. It is more difficult the show the differences between the figures in the more modern eras as the uniforms and equipment all start to look quite similar, especially at the 6mm – 1/300 scale. So it is nice to find that these figures are easily identifiable (mainly due to their helmets).

Finally, I have some photos of  Adler Miniatures 6mm Sci-Fi range. Now as I said I already have a selection of 6mm sci-fi vehicles (GZG, Scotia Micro Models, and some others), but I don’t have any infantry. So I was really interested to see these.

Adler SF 1Adler SF 2Adler SF 3Adler SF 4Adler SF 5Adler SF 6

Firstly the turreted armoured car/tank, a nice neat model that will fit in well with near future games. I prefer my sci-fi vehicles a little more far future – grav tanks, exotic weaponry etc. but that is just personal preference. This is certainly a well put together model and I will be painting it up to add to my own forces.

On to the figures. Yes the heads are little big, especially the ones with full helmets. But again they have plenty of character. I think that once painted and making up a full force these will work really well.

When I get around to finishing off my 6mm sci-fi army I will almost certainly be picking up some more of these.

Just a quick note about photographing small scale miniatures like those on this page. It is particularly difficult to get a good result when taking pictures of figures this small. I have had 30 years plus experience of photographing minis and I still find it difficult to get satisfactory results. With the photos on this page I have tried to reduce any perspective effects and keep the focus on the whole of the figure rather than just on one part (particularly difficult when using a macro lens focused this closely).

I have also done some post-processing on these photos to enhance the contrast and emphasize the details.

Also, please note that I have not cleaned up these miniatures in anyway, which is why there are a few bits of white-metal still attached from the casting process. These will come off very easily when I get around to tidying them up for painting.

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