Tuesday 30 October 2012

Moving on from the Laser Cutter – Other High-Tech tools for the model maker…

My posts about the laser cutter have been some of the most popular articles I have done on this blog. We are upgrading the workshop at the moment which has meant I haven’t had access to a lot of my machinery over summer (including the laser cutter). However, we are now fully back up and running, with more space and some nice new toys to play with.

Due to the clear interest in new technology for the model making workshop I have decided to follow up the laser cutting articles with some new insights into some other processes and techniques that may be of interest. Our CAD facilities have been expanded considerably this year, or at least they will be once all the new gear has arrived.

We received a 5 axis milling machine a couple of weeks ago, we are expecting two 3D printers any time now and will also be installing a CNC Router over the Christmas break.

With all of this equipment arriving more or less at once there will be quite a learning curve. I hope to document some of my trials and tribulations here, as I become familiar with these machines.

So what do all of these things do, and how can they be utilised by model makers/wargamers?

Lets briefly look at all of them:-

5 Axis Milling Machine

Studiomill 2Studiomill 1

A milling machine uses a cutting tool to shape solid material into a form. I haven’t used a milling machine in over a decade, and those were manual machines, so it will be interesting to see how much of it comes back to me. Also this machine is totally CAD driven, so I have to learn all the 3D software to generate the files to be cut on the machine…

3D Printers

UP Plus Portable 3D Printer

3D Printers are already a fairly familiar part of the modern figure sculpting industry. Many companies are already designing their figures in CAD and using 3D printers to produce their masters. As I learn the basics and get up to speed with the machines I will explain the various processes involved in create a 3D printed model.

CNC Router

cnc router

A CNC Router shares much with a hand router as found in most woodworking workshops, except clearly it is controlled by a computer instead of by the joiner or carpenter. We use the CNC router for cutting out large 2D shapes as well as doing some shallow 3D work, terrain modelling for example.

I have already started playing around with the milling machine and I will describing my initial finding in the next few days. I am going to Glasgow tomorrow for the day to receive some basic training in these new machines. Hopefully this will help speed up the learning process and let me get down to some real work sooner rather than later…

Laser Cut Stalingrad Factory

I haven’t posted many laser cutting projects recently, mainly due to not having had much time to work on any!

However, I am getting back into the flow of things now and have just knocked this up for a friend of mine, Aidan. He is a member of Aberdeen Wargames Club and they are planning on doing an Eastern Front Flames of War campaign. Aidan asked if I could put a few building together for them. It seemed like just the sort of thing to get me back into designing for the laser cutter.

Stalingrad Factory 01

The first building that Aidan requested was a factory, similar to one they had seen one of the Flames of War source books. So taking that as inspiration I produced the model you see here.

Stalingrad Factory 02

Stalingrad Factory 03

Stalingrad Factory 04

Stalingrad Factory 06

Stalingrad Factory 05


Firstly I designed the intact, complete building and then I added the bomb damage. Consequently I now have two new designs added to my library, a nice shiny new looking factory, and a bomb damaged factory (both at 15mm or 1/100 scale)!

As it is quite a large model that covers a fair bit of table space I wanted to have access to the interior. I designed the roof so that it would lift off. It is a little fragile, and you have to be careful when putting it back in place, but I didn’t want it to look clumsy when it was on the model.

Stalingrad Factory 10

Stalingrad Factory 07

Stalingrad Factory 08

Stalingrad Factory 09

I left the interior mainly clear, so Aidan can fill it with as much or a s little rubble and machinery as he likes.

Next up I will be working on an apartment block…

Monday 22 October 2012

Wargames Show Report: SKELP2012

Last Saturday annual SKELP wargames show was held in Forfar. I have a cold at the moment, but decided I really didn’t want to miss the show, so I set off with my eldest son for a fun day out.

The day didn’t start too well, as there had been an “incident” on the A90 (the only major road south out of Aberdeen), which meant we ended up taking a rather extended tour of Angus, before we finally found our way to Forfar.

Skelp 2012 02 A small but lively show!


Once we reach our destination the day went much better. I took down a box of rule books to put into the “Bring and Buy”, I didn’t sell as many as I would have liked but the sales did at least cover the cost of the days petrol. Glasgow Games Group - Empire of the Dead participation game

When I first enter a show I usually like to have a quick wander round and then browse things a bit more in depth once I have the lay of the land. However, that didn’t really happen this year as, as we were making our initial wander around, we were accosted by the guys from the Glasgow Games Group who talked my son and I into having a go at their Empire of the Day. We took the parts of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, while one of the GWG members took on the part of Jack the Ripper. The objective of the game was to stop Jack the Ripper killing 4 victims (from the normal citizens wandering around the table). The game was up to 10 turns long.

Empire of the Dead - My son considers his next dice role...



It was a very close run thing with Jack taking 2 victims fairly quickly, while Holmes and Watson (and three local Bobbies) slowly closed in across the table.  However, we had engaged Jack in hand to hand (2 Bobbies plus Holmes and Watson), we soon managed to bring down the scourge of the London nightlife…

Empire of the Dead - Jack the Ripper takes his next victim (who fortunately suvives as Jack flees from Holmes and Watsons bullets)


Obviously the Empire of the Dead rules had been slimmed down for the demo game, but I was pretty impressed with the the feel of the rules and it has put the game back on my radar again. I was however put off by the high cost of the rule book and the figures. I may pick up the rules at some point in the future, but I have already got a selection of steampunk, and gothic horror style figures, so I doubt I will be buying many from West Wind.

Moving on, we had a good look around the show and I picked up a few of the new figures that Crooked Dice had on offer (as well as a couple of packs of their OOP minions that they had found in their show supplies). I caught up with several people that I haven’t had a chance to chat with for a good while, and also had a couple of interesting chats with people I had not met before (in particular Adam from the Aberdeen Wargames Club, who seemed to share my opinions on a lot of the sci-fi and fantasy figure ranges that are on the go at the moment).

As with previous shows, here is my photo gallery, including comments where applicable.


Skelp2012 - Battletech game

This was a nice Battletech table. I haven’t had much experience with Battletech, but this one does look very nice. I would have like to have a game on this table.

Skelp2012 - Urban War Demo Table

Urban Mammoth always put on a nice looking demo game!

Skelp2012 - Possibly the best looking table at the show!

I didn’t get much time to look at this table, but it was the best looking table that I could see…

Skelp2012 Dr. Who game, Daleks and Cybermen everywhere!

I like this Dr. Who game, but that looks suspiciously like a Star Destroyer in the middle of the table, have the Daleks been making alliances with the Empire?

Skelp2012 Korean War table

Skelp2012 RAF Leuchars WW2 table

Skelp2012 A very attractive Viking table

My son loved this Viking table (he made his own Viking ship for a school project last year)

Skelp2012 My photography when it come to the painting competitions was frankly terrible, but these cavalry stood out to me

Skelp2012 16 More poor photography from the painting competition

Skelp2012 Aberdeen Wargames Club's Dux Bellorum demo game

The Aberdeen Wargames Club Dux Bellorum demo game was not the most exciting table to look at, but i pick up an appreciation of the rules that may well lead to my getting into another period…

 Scheltrum Miniatures Dark Age Fort

While on the AWC table i couldn’t help but snap a photo of the Scheltrum Miniatures Dark Age fort (one of the guys running the demo is the proprietor of Scheltrum Miniatures).

I don’ think that this years SKELP was that impressive to look at. The games certainly lacked some of the flair of previous years. The show also felt quieter and simply smaller than previously (it was in the same hall, so that must just have been an impression). I enjoyed SKELP and I will certainly be back again next year, it just didn’t seem to have quite the energy of other years.

Next weekend I will going to the Aberdeen Model Railway Club Exhibition. Then in early November it is on to TARGE. Lets hope that those show have a little more of the WOW factor…

Monday 15 October 2012

Wolsung Indiegogo Campaign

I have been following this Cloud-funding Campaign for a couple of weeks.

If you are interested in Steampunk and some really interesting figures and laser cut scenics I would highly recommend it!

Compared to some recent cloud funding campaigns, this one seems to be developing quite slowly. I really hope that it manages to reach it's goal!

I haven't backed this one yet, but I am planning on doing so in the next few days!

Monday 8 October 2012

It's official, I'm actually a wargamer again!

I played my first wargame, in several years, last week!

I never really stooped wargaming, and I have had a strong need to wargame for quite some time. However, my gaming group has gone through quite a few changes over the last few years and we ended up being more of a board game group (who talked about wargaming a lot), than anything else.

I considered going along to my local wargames club (Aberdeen Wargames Club), but as my spare time is pretty much limited to one evening a week that would have meant loosing touch with the friends I game with at the moment. Anyway, we finally got our act together and settled on a system that was familiar to all of us, that we already had armies for and wouldn't tax us too hard to get back into, Warhammer 40K. Del had been playing regularly with another friend and Jeff and I both played it a lot a few years back.

So, we had decided on 40K, Del has been playing 5th edition recently, but on checking my much used rulebook it turned out to be 3rd edition. I also found a mint copy of 4th ed. ( I must have bought it about the time we stopped playing, probably read it once and then put it aside until the next game). Jeff was in a similar position, he also had a 4th edition copy. Fortunately, Ebay is your friend when it comes to older versions of 40K. Both Jeff and I managed to pick up the the smaller version (from the starter box) of the 5th edition rule book. I got mine, including the scenario book, a new set of dice, those horrid plastic rulers and the new (day-glow) templates, all for around £5!

As Jeff and I hadn't played for a long time Del offered to referee the first game and introduce us to the "new" 5th edition rules. We decided to start small and work up to some larger games. So initially we will be playing 400 point games. I fielded my Tau and Jeff brought along his Necrons.

I like my games to have a bit of narrative to them and know the terrain I planned to use I came up with the following:-

Early in the game things look quite positive for the tau!
Planet QV973alpha (Imperial Designation): Located in the quarantine zone that exists between Imperial Space and the Tau Empire. The planet was surveyed and found to be barren and uninhabited, although it was also discovered that certain geological features (crystal spires) displayed fairly severe effects on the warp around the planet! A team of scientists led by the Inquisition was despatched to investigate the nature of these "Crystal Spires". It was found that too much work around the geological formations caused heretical mutations and the research base was soon abandoned. The planet received the"Restricted" designation and was scheduled for a planet wide bombardment to erase all taint from it. However, the Imperial fleet has been busy elsewhere, and as such QV973alpha has been forgotten.

The incursion by the Imperial force did not go unnoticed!
  1. The planet may be barren, but it is far from uninhabited! Hidden by thousands of years of harsh weather, a Necron tomb (Jeff's Necrons) is located on the far side of the planet and the arrival of the Imperial teams roused a small force to investigate the unwelcome intrusion...
  2. An Eldar Craftworld (Del's Eldar) was not far from the planet while the Inquisition was conducting it's experiments. The Eldar felt the disturbances in the warp and sent a scouting force to investigate...
  3. The Tau (my Tau) had been watching the Imperial ships as the came and went from the planet. Fairly sure that all the humans had left, the Tau sent a small ship with an advanced scouting party to see what the humans had been up to and to see if there was anything of the humans primitive technology left that could be of use for the Greater Good...
With some decent shooting the Kroot could easily take out those metal aberrations...
You'd think the Kroot had the upper hand here wouldn't you...
The idea was to have two games over the evening. The first would have two opposing forces rushing to take and hold the base. The second game would have the winner of the first game trying to hold the base while Del's Eldar tried to take it from them...

Who is that coming through between the buildings?
We can take them! Not with shooting like that you can't...
Jeff contemplates a rules question...

As it turned out we didn't get enough time to play the second game, but the first helped us all get back into the rules without too much mishap. The game went fairly well (at least from Jeff's point of view). I made a couple of serious tactical errors early in the game and then suffered some appallingly bad dice rolling, which led to my small Tau recon force being completely wiped out.  As it turned out, sending the Tau up against another shooty army that was in many ways more resilient than them, and also putting quite a lot of cover on the table definitely went against me...

We haven't got another game for a couple of weeks, but we will be returning to 40K. I imagine the Necrons will be squaring up against the Eldar next time. We will possibly increase the army size to 600point as well, so that we may get some vehicles on the table.
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