Thursday 25 December 2014

Merry Xmas 2014

Hope you all had a good one!


Sunday 21 December 2014

Benefits of an Attic Clear-out Come my Way: Space Crusade and Battle of Britain

My brother's attic received a pre-Xmas clear out (as in "What are things that are not Xmas decorations doing in this pile?") and I was the lucky beneficiary of two old, old games dating back to the late 1980's/early 1990's (see below):

Space Crusade is missing a few parts (notably a Dreadnought model and lots of counters) but the Battle of Britain is in pretty much mint condition (I remember playing it once). A detailed "unboxing" will come later. However I am torn between keeping Space Crusade as a "Collectors edition" for future episodes of "Antique Roadshow" in 2100. I think it is pretty much as given that I will "devalue it" and paint the 'dodgy' miniatures ;)

The notion of using my small collection GW miniatures as fill-ins and extras also makes common sense to me!

Thursday 18 December 2014

I Didn't Mean To Do All This Sci-Fi Stuff (Honest): Star Wars Republic Attack Shuttle

It sort of just happened! Honest! Like a bolt of lightning from the blue. See this kit was innocently lurking around in the loft minding its own business gathering dust until I strayed across it. Then an "urge" simply took hold of me "Gotta make it". The Star Wars Republic Attack Shuttle in 1:120 scale so it is almost, as in good enough for me, the correct scale for my 15mm Star Gruntz figures (see below):

I think it is pretty cool as the front opens up giving a landing bay. A bit of a mix between a Huey and a landing craft, although not in shot you can imagine teh 15mm Yaeter troopers poring out (see below)

Although it comes pre-painted, the act of cutting the parts off the sprues invariably chips and flakes some of the paint away. I am not too bothered as I want to "own it" in the modelling sense, so I was planning to add my own weathering affects to it. More so as my eldest son has taken rather a shine to it, introducing other bits of battle damage (aka drops) to it. Whether it even makes it to a wargame table is 50:50.

Wednesday 17 December 2014

X-Wings: The Coolest of the Cool ('Red 2' and 'Red 5')

So I got myself another X-Wing fighter and finally put it together. I can now field 'Red 2' and 'Red 5' twin section (see below):

This is (yet) another Revell purchase from their "pocket money" series, but rather than pay full price (which seemed an awful lot of pocket money) I waited for a Hobbycraft sale last year. I'll be doing the same in January 2015 for other items, including perhaps another X-Wing, in the series.

Note: I never have seen a normal TIE fighter yet (although I do possess a model of Darth Vader's advanced fighter). The intention is to get three X-Wings (I need 'Red 3') and Darth's plus two TIE's for the 'Trench Battle' scene [shades of "633 Squadron"] as shown in the original Star Wars. May have to pay some attention to candidate rules soon!

Monday 15 December 2014

Star Wars: Jedi Star Fighters

In the beginning (as in the Star Wars prequels, Epsodes I, II and III ) there were the 'original' Jedi Star Fighters: Obi-Wan_Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker. I already had Anakin's but recently acquired Obi-Wan's (see below):

Small nippy little things, very good at blowing up the baddies. Same design for each Jedi but different colour schemes, which means if I see another couple in the bargain shops I could legitimately buy them for re-paint jobs. The snap together kits are speed-builds with decent detail, but I am always tempted to re-paint them.

Saturday 13 December 2014

The Cutty Sark .. Er, well why not?

The next 'fun' project is another ship. Nothing less than the "Cutty Sark" from the ubiquitous Airfix 'small ship' Starter Kits (see below, primed grey):

The subtle twist to this one is that this is not a "school project" but a reaction to the last set of school projects, in that my youngest son was too young for a Tudor Ship. Seeing as he was so distressed I promised to get him one, to which brought a smile to his little face.

He then stipulated he wanted to paint it all gold .. which will be er, interesting!

Friday 12 December 2014

Are they doing this just to confuse me?

My old friend Airfix seem to be throwing me something of a curve ball. Are they testing my sanity? (see below, two very similar tins [yes/no] delete as applicable, so how do you open them):

But behold, the one on the left "screws off" (if you pardon my expression) from the top, despite having a 'fake' lid on it, while the one on the right "pops off" with a flip off lid (see below, which has totally confused me):

No, but wait for it the one on right also "screws off" but from the bottom (see below, dual action):

What the?

Life is hard enough without this additional taxing mental strain while I am trying to relax! Oh, and despite the new one despite being taller, it only contains 12ml, that's 2ml less paint than the shorter/wider one on the left (which had a capacity of 14ml)


And I thought model instructions could sometimes be hard to understand!

Tuesday 9 December 2014

Gruntz meets Star Wars

I found that when I inspected the "mountain of miscellaneous plastic" in the loft, I actually had more than the three Star Wars Republic Gunships than I expected for my "Yaeter" science fiction Gruntz project (see below):

Side on and close up Republic Gunships look quite impressive, troop lift capacity and close support rolled into one, but probably light on the armour side of things, er, we've all seen the films and theer is always a gunship or two that goes down (see below):

The click together models are impressively simple but still rather effective and fetching IMHO (see the "Diamond Dog" formation below):

I think the basic "Gruntz Squad" lift capacity is now fully covered (40 infantry figures), although I will keep an eye open for "something special" in the heavy weapons department


Saturday 6 December 2014

Battleship Row (Part Three) Second Mary Rose Sails Away

The second Mary Rose has now sailed away to a berth in a 'Tudor-themed' classroom. My eldest son's ship was constructed in much the same manner as my daughter's except it benefited from the additional use of Humbrol "Decalfix" in an attempt to keep the blessed things in place once they have dried out and avoid the dreaded 'flaking effect'. Interestingly the instructions imply you immerse the decal in the "Decalfix"liquid to, in order to help it release from the attached paper (rather than the traditional water) as well as coating the 'target' surface prior to decal application and then again in the 'smoothing down' post-application tidy up (see below):

Meanwhile the holding the detail of the stern of HMS Victory are fixed in place. Although I have heard people complain about this, I think it works well. Also note, for once I did follow the Airfix forum advice and gloss varnished the target area beforehand (something I didn't do for the Mary Rose which perhaps in hindsight I should have done to make a smoother surface) and again used my newly acquired "Decalfix". The stern went smoothly, perhaps too smoothly. I got myself in a bit of a fix when I tried to slide off the simple "HMS Victory" name plaque on to the stand and I got myself into a right old tangle. I was a second away from a perfect slip on but botched it and spent a good ten minutes in 'panic recovery' mode, but I think I saved it (see below):  

I carried on with Tudor Rose number three and applied a watered down Vellojo "Black Wash" over the hull planking joints and grills that adorn the ship (see below):

By no means finished, but it did have an immediate positive effect that I liked. Yes I will have to go back and highlight, perhaps re-wash with the Vallejo "Brown Wash" and stain the sails with wash and ink, but it's there simply to be experimented on (see below):

I must admit I had much more fun than I expected to with these old Airfix kits. I will have to wait around and hope Airfix releases the Santa Maria again and build up a Spanish Fleet!

Friday 5 December 2014

Gruntz Force "The Terra Legion"

The Gruntz army of 40 figures (troopers), safely out of the reach of small children and animals on a bathroom glass shelf, which seemed a suitably Sci-Fi storage setting (see below):

Though Gruntz is mainly an infantry combat game a force still requires specialist elements. I have chosen an air element, as in  a "borrowed" Revell Star Wars (Attack of the Clones) kit. I am thinking of repainting it to s more bland dirtied Satin White scheme with plenty of weathering and washes (see below, I have another one to make up, one per wing of the force):

The basic Gruntz infantry close-up, the 40 figures are very nice "en masse" with sufficient variant poses to make two blocks/formations of troops 20 unique poses, which seems about right (see below):

In amongst the cool new 15mm kit from GZG is a more retro Airfix Apollo lander that I have deemed a "Command and Control" module, again weathering and washes are required  (see below):

Plenty of painting ahead in December, kind of a simple fun holiday task when Xmas TV gets too boring ;)

Tuesday 2 December 2014

Is it just me ... but a useful thing about Xmas is ...

The availability of "goodly proportioned" biscuit tins (see below):

This one is just tall enough for 28mm cavalry provided their lances are not raised or halberd wielding infantrymen.

Thursday 27 November 2014

Star Gruntz .. "Move Out!"

First packet of Ground Zero Games 15mm Science Fiction Star Gruntz figures have been painted. Perhaps a little bit more attention to pay to the basing but I am keeping it all basic (no vegitation, maybe a light white dry brush). A heavy shadow, dirty, grimy 'used to be white' feel to the troopers, kind of like the Star Wars clones without any frills (see below):

There is another pack of basic infantry still to do before I move on to the more 'specialist' figures (heavy infantry weapons, missile launchers, snipers and bossy command/medic types). These figures are from the GZG New Israeli range, but I have named them as part of my Yaeter (nation/race/clan/tribe/affiliation delete as applicable) "Terra Legion".

The Yaeter descend from a not too distant colonist/exploration past but have lost contact with their "roots" (logistical and infrastructure-base, i.e. their replenishable economy). The Yaeter are having to make do with salvaged, washed-out equipment, trying to keep it in a running state. Their high-tech is often of a very "breakable form" and they are ultimately in a race against time to regain contact with their 'home' Terra before "the batteries run out" on their most sophisticated equipment. Their battlefield heavy equipment is becoming less and less sophisticated over time and they now have but just a few off-planet craft capable of a limited deep space travel, beyond the local Sol system. It looks like any time soon they will either have to make a desperate (blind) "deep space jump" gamble or become fixed on a 'home castle' planet.

Sci-Fi don't you just love it, you just make it up :)

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Battleship Row (Part Two) One down, three to go

The first Tudor battleship has now sailed away in the basic starter set colour scheme, festooned with "ever so colourful but tricky decals" and has now taken its rightful place in my daughters classroom. She did a pretty competent paint job all things considered and I only had to step in towards the end with the decals (see below):

I was keeping pace with my daughters ship and intend to "keep working away" on mine to put in a little extra detail, including trying out some experimental (well for me) Vallejo "inks and washes" (see below):

My son's project has a later hand in date and his kit stands painted in the basic scheme but pre-decal stage, which again I will have to step-in and help (see below):

Meanwhile the main mast went up on HMS Victory and the 'basic' paint coverage was completed. Still have to apply the rear decal yet (see below):

Still unsure how much use HMS Victory would be as a wargame "element". I cannot envisage forming a fleet of "Victory" clones. The closest I can think to a use is a naval gunfire marker in the Siege of Toulon, any better ideas out there?

Thursday 20 November 2014

Battleship Row (Part One) School Project WIP

HMS Victory sporting some colour and sails bar the main mast (see below):

Mary Rose Number #1 for my daughter (see below):

Mary Rose Number #2 for me, primed grey, Airfix Acrylic 1, playing catch-up to the kids after getting distracted with HMS Victory (see below):

Mary Rose Number #3, for my eldest son (see below):

The deadline is approaching so I will have to put on a painting spurt ;)

Monday 17 November 2014

Tudor Battleship Production Line

A "Spot the difference competition", or rather a challenge as there are no prizes to award. The topic is my overflowing Painting Table (see below, photograph I circa 1980):

And again. What's the difference? (see below, photograph II circa 2014):

The answer is .. none, other than the sepia setting (hit by accident by me on the camera). The Mary Rose and HMS Victory kits are selected from the maritime Airfix "Starter Kits" range and could have been made in either era.

The reason for this annexation of the dining table was a looming Tudor School Project deadline. If you look carefully there should be three Mary Roses WIP (well one is still technically in the box) as well confusingly a HMS Victory chucked in for good measure (that one was a project of mine that I had lingering around in a cupboard for a while).

Looking forward to Xmas already: "Dear Santa I am a big kid and want to pretend I am eleven again and play 'make a model' on Xmas day!"

Tuesday 11 November 2014

Friday 7 November 2014

1/144 Revell Ju 87's

I could not decide what to do with a bit of extra time hobby on my hands. I could not get into the painting mood so I decided to finish off the assembly of some 1/144 Mini-Kits, two more Stukas to make a flight of three (see below):

These are old but nevertheless good kits. These are destined to be part of a 1940 Battle of France German air contingent for a 10mm demonstration game scheduled for 2015.

Thursday 6 November 2014

First look at me 15mm Science Fiction painting attempt

Black washed (see below):

Vallejo Game Colour Stone Grey, highlighted with Vallejo Game Colour Wolf Grey, Vallejo Game Colour Bone White and Humbrol Acrylic (170) Satin White (see below):

Same colour combination from a different angle (see below):

Application of a burnt umber "dipping wash" after full immersion (IMHO too heavy) and left to dry (see below):

Retouch with Humbrol Acrylic (170) Satin White (see below):

Hmm, it was an experiment and the attraction of the Sci-Fi is that there are not hundreds of figures to paint, but methinks perhaps I spent too much time on this one and I could be a lot cruder.

Your thoughts appreciated ;)

Wednesday 5 November 2014

New (for me) Airfix/Humbrol Acrylic Paints and a "Man" foiled at the first step, but saved by the Wife!

As part of the recent Saturn 1B project I had to acquire some "Satin White" paint. As a local shop stocked the latest range of Humbrol/Airfix acrylics and the Saturn 1B  instructions handily told me which specific tin I needed (aka 170) I opened up an account at yet another manufacturers range of paints (something familiar about this story perhaps? Humbrol Enamel, Tamiya Acrylic, Games Workshop Citadel Acrylic, Revell Acrylic, Airfix Acrylic, Vallejo Acrylic, Anita's Acrylic).

I was actually relieved to see the paint was was acrylic rather than the dreaded smelly enamel I was expecting from my childhood! (See below for a look at my first tin of new paint, is it time to pop the lid off?):

Hang on, this is harder than it should be. Screwdriver and sharp modelling knife were used, but to no avail!

Note: OK I lied (170) was not the first tin I used, in fact the first one was (1) "grey primer" (which I am very impressed with), but take a look what a mess I was making of the tin lid! (See below):

Luckily my wife was at hand (my head was literally in my hands) to point out that like most wines these days it was actually a screw top, ahem. Surely not, foolish woman! A flush of embarrassment later and yes, she was right (see below):

It came off so easily in the end. My excuse? I'm a 'Bitter, Best  or Lager man", rather than a wine drinker ;)

PS: That "grey primer" (1) is the business for preparing the ground for further paintwork. Out goes my old technique of using Tamiya matte black (XF1) on planes, ships and tanks!

Monday 3 November 2014

Third Rock from the Sun (Solar System Science Project)

Needs must and my eldest sons science project calls for my 40K (and some) "Space Wars" planets to be scrutinized for stand in Solar System duty. I had to knock up Mercury from a small polystyrene ball destined to become an asteroid or minor moon [first rock from the sun], repaint a green planet with some earth-like oceans for you guessed it Earth [third rock from the son] and then repaint another green planet to blue for Neptune [last rock/gas planet]. Work in progress, the planets get an identity parade line-up (see below):

The backdrop was the reverse side of a game board I luckily (or was that great 'male' foresight at work?) had painted black, The family, three children armed with defunct tooth brushes dipped in white paint  "splattered" stars and the like onto the backdrop. Great fun until we looked at our shoes the next day and saw lots of "white spots" of them. Pity the kids wore their best shoes (ahem), I was not popular!

Another view of Sol's planetary system without the dangling strings on Sol ;)

Saturday 1 November 2014

The Space Race continues Saturn 1B

Half-term comes and school projects seem to fill up the calendar! If you can't beat them join them and it's as good as excuse as any to build that Nasa rocket [Saturn 1B Apollo 7] that has been lurking in the loft for several years (see below, assembly in progress):

The final beast is quite impressive (see below). It was the first manned Apollo space mission in 1968. The hardest part about the build was putting the long decals on the sides. I had a nightmare with one of the USA decals that go on halfway up the rocket. I thought I would be asking Airfix for another set as the darn thing tangled around itself (the worst decal nightmare I have been in bar those situations when the decals just disintegrate) but long served modelling patience and micro surgery in a bowl of water recovered the situation. Standing tall she it hoping to have a walk on part in my eldest sons "Solar System" video (see below):    

I did not fuss too much with the modelling aspects of the project as it is basically a tube to be viewed from a distance, so no real "sanding" the joints etc. for a perfect finish. I was slightly taken aback by the amount of white paint she needed. The final white is a satin, but the undercoat was matte. She pretty much took up two thirds of a tube of Vallejo Game Colour White and a third/half tin of Airfix Acrylic Satin.

She was my training day before I go for her bigger sister the Saturn V, but first I will go to Russia with love and try my hands on a Vostok ;)  

Friday 10 October 2014

Star Wars

The Millenium Falcon rides again (yipee), courtesy of a Revell snap-together mini-kit (see below):

The excuse to snap this together was of all things a school project about erm, "Space". I might have been stretching the context to have a bit of weekend fun with my son ;)

Note: I did resort to the "let a responsible adult use superglue" to fix things I thought would 'pop-off'. I know it was advertised as a 'no-glue required kit', but neither the laws of physics or the consequences of kids playing with toys believe the marketing blurb ;)

Thursday 9 October 2014

Thoughts on a AWI Project (Part II): "The Slow Gathering of Hosts"- First Purchase, British Infantry

"These are not the Colonials you are looking for!", but I bought them anyway. Somebody else had snaffled the Mel Gibson lookalikes but thanks to Mark Urban's tome I had enough interest to put these in my shopping basket (see below):

The figures can be assembled in so many different variety of headgear a multitude of options exist, however on the back of the box it says these are "Centre Company" or "Hat Men". A closer look at the Perry's Web-Site mean revealed that the sexier stuff is available in metal (doubling the cost from £0.50 a figure to roughly £1.00), such as Mark Urban's 23rd Welch [sic] Fusiliers.

I shall try and steer away from the metal, but certain infantry troop types, cavalry and artillery will lure me there in due course ;)

Hmm, yes I seem to have been bitten by another "shiny madness bug"!

Wednesday 8 October 2014

Notes to self for WWI Naval Historical Scenario: December 15/16th 1914, TheScarborough-Whitby-Hartlepool Raid

The Phases of Battle (Sequence of Play)

Stage 0: The Scenario Set-Up and Historical Conditions

German Forces:

1st Scouting Group:
  • Position: In Enemy Home Waters 
  • Mission: Bombardment (Hartlepool/Whitby/Scarborough)
  • Screening Force Cruiser/Destroyer (Alert)
  • Battle Cruisers Status (Alert)
  • Weakness: Dispersed Formation (Hartlepool, Whitby, Scarborough)
  • Incorrect Assumption: High Seas Fleet will stand and fight
High Seas Fleet:
  • Position: Distant Covering Force: Distant (Home Waters)
  • Screening Force (Alert)
  • Battle Squadrons (Complacent)
  • Weakness: "Do not engage superior forces order"
  • Weakness: Withdraw in face of superior or equal foe
German Intelligence: 

  • Weakness: Complacent, over confidence
  • Weakness: Assumption "No Battle Cruiser Force (BCF) or Grand Fleet (GF) at sea"
  • Zeppelins (Inactive)
  • Submarines (Inactive)

RN Forces

RN Intelligence: 
  • Status (Active)
  • Room 40 Advanced Warning of German Raid (Jellicoe)
  • Weakness: Thinks HSF in Jade
Early Interception Force Battle Cruiser Fleet (BCF): 
  • Position: Distant (Closing)
  • Screening Force Destroyers/Cruisers (Alert)
  • Battle Cruisers (Alert)
  • Restriction: "Do not enter enemy home waters order"
  • Special Ability: "Pursuit of 'Enemy Fleeing' override"
  • Weakness: Rashness "Close with enemy"
  • Weakness: Poor Signalling
Covering Force: Grand Fleet (GF):
  • Position: Distant (Closing) 
  • Screening Force Destroyers/Cruisers (Alert)
  • Battle Squadrons (Alert)
  • Weakness: Partial Deployment of 2nd Battle (Warrender) Squadron only
  • Weakness:  "Do not enter enemy home waters order"
  • Weakness: Submarine/Torpedo Trap Fear
  • Weakness: Mine Trap Fear
  • Weakness: "Do not needlessly endanger Grand Fleet"
Local Defense Force Land (Hartlepool):

  • Advantage: Heugh Battery Gun camouflage
  • Weakness: Complacent Status
  • Weakness: Recognition - German Ships Assumed RN
  • Local Defense Force Naval (Hartlepool)
  • Destroyer Patrol at Sea (Alert)
  • Cruiser Force in Harbour (Complacent)
  • Submarine Force in Harbour (Complacent
Stage 1: German Advanced Penetration
  • Forces Identified/Engaged 
  • Mission Start Point - Local Defense Activation
  • Naval Patrol (Destroyers)
  • Turn Restriction (Iterate) to Achieve Mission Objectives
    • Bombardment Damage Counting
    • Defensive Shore Battery Fire
    • Naval Force Escalation (Cruise/Submarine)
  • Cessation of Bombardment
Stage 2: The Chase
  • Initial Position - BCF Light Forces v 1SG Light Forces
  • Screening Rolls for Contact (Visual)
  • Strategic Map Positioning
  • Command Dice Activation
  • Tactical Map Positioning
  • Simultaneous Movement
  • Fate and Weaknesses
Stage 3: Tactical Engagement

Possible Outcomes of the The Engagement Phase
Repeat sequence until break out of loop
  • Fight/Movement
  • Force/Asset Commitment
  • Gunnery
  • Torpedo
  • Morale/Confusion Status
  • Tactical Orders
  • Tactical Movement
  • Break off (beyond visual contact)
Stage 4: Strategic Movement
  • Chance to Evade or to Escape
  • Return to The Chase Strategic Map
  • If no Escape (break contact) implies chance to Escalate or End of Strategic Play and game
  • Return to Stage 2: The Chase Screening Rolls for Contact (Visual)
To be continued: Solitaire Decision-Making Process considered  

Any comments or thoughts (including requests for more explanation) on the above appreciated ;)

Tuesday 7 October 2014

Notes to self: Musings on WWI Naval rules (North Sea) Part #2

WWI North Sea Battle Cruiser-Actions, Beatty versus Hipper: Round One 1914.
"Now you see them now you don't, Battle Cruisers in the mist!"
Hipper's First Scouting Group of December 1914 comprising of: SMS Seydlitz, SMS Molke, SMS Von der Tann, SMS Derfflinger and SMS Blucher (see below):

Beatty's depleted Battle Cruiser Fleet (BCF) of December 1914 comprising of: HMS Lion, HMS Queen Mary, HMS Tiger and HMS New Zealand (see below):

Note: Unbeknownst to the Germans, in terms of Capitol Ships, they actually possessed a numerical superiority of ONE. Despite this they were always thinking in effect they were numerically inferior. This was due to RN Battle Cruiser commitment to other theatres, namely fighting the Goeban and Von Spee. However this superiority is somewhat artificial as the SMS Blucher is technically an Armoured Cruiser rather than a true blood modern Battle Cruiser.

The goal is to develop a solitaire card and dice driven naval combat system (because it is so hard to find an opponent and it is good to replay scenarios over and over again).

The assumption is that the active player is the RN Commander (aka Beatty), for WWI 'contact' naval actions in the North Sea. The RN's goal, with the aid of secret intelligence (courtesy of Admiralty Room 40), is to ambush a German raiding force (aka Hipper) with superior forces and bring about it's destruction. The logic being that Command and Control problems for RN player is far greater, whereas the High Seas Fleet (HSF) is more concentrated, easier to control and is intent more on escape.

This type of scenario was played out several times during the course of the war (particularly 1914 to 1916) and seems an ideal test-vehicle for solo play.

Raw Game Ingredients:
  • Formations
  • Orders 
  • Command Dice
"This is a  new idea since last posting. As I have been playing a lot of Chain of Command, it's Command Dice mechanic seems much more sophisticated and appropriate that my initial musings using PiP points (aka DBA)"
  • Simultaneous Movement and Combat
  • Morale Status
Next: A historical scenario "The Scarborough Raid December 1914"