Tuesday 24 January 2023

Space Jamming to Star Man .. PSC Freighters Grab Bag - Painting Description

It all started with a "Grab Bag" special offer (thirty two space ships for a tenner) from the Plastic Soldier Company (PSC) for their excess Red Alert "Freighters" - as in freighter class space ships, but as space ships go they were nice models and incredibly so, so cheap is seemed crazy not to buy one, nay two bags. What does one do with sixty four space ships - technically without guns, but I think you have to use your imagination in Sci-Fi and pretend they "have what they need". In fact the support stands to base the fleet cost more than the ships of the fleet (see below, plastic crack, I could not resist - yes, I have little or no will power, maybe later I can figure out and tell you the "why"):  

Step one .. with no idea how to really paint them (as in a proper paint scheme of sorts) I decided to prime them with Airfix Primer Grey Acrylic (01) and follow a hunch, a Traveller style hunch, of Free Trader Beowulf - a grubby planet hopper plying his trade, trying to make that big credit deal to set him up for life in the manner of his dreams (see below, the first batch of eight of my cosmic traders - "free booter" as I call them): 

I figured they would have lots of trouble keeping their ships "clean2 with all that atmospheric burn, planet hoping through the inner solar system dust clouds and engineering burn, plus the odd bullet hole or laser burn from a pirate. At some point they would be hauling mineral loads and getting and dirty with the asteroid miners (see below, Vallejo Black Dipping Wash to the rescue, suddenly a fleet of dirty space ships): 

By this time I had come across a simple painting formula to try: 
  • Vallejo Game Colour "Off White" for the top half of the freighter
  • Vallejo Game Colour  "Bone White" for the bottom half of the freighter
  • Vallejo Game Colour "Gun Metal" for engine and exhaust parts on the freighter
Note: I took care with the above to leave black lines coming through the panelling, this is where I fell in love with the rugged, chunky design of the ships that played to shade and highlight!
  • Vallejo Brown Dipping Wash along the black lines of the panelling to bring out a grubby feel and depth, and cover the Gun Metal engine parts to make it rosy
The result was just as intended but just a little too grubby for teh final finish (see below, even Beowulf would get the cleaning droids for a spring clean if he got this dirty!): 

Highlight time: 
  • Highlight "White" areas with the base colour ("Off White" or "Bone" White respectively) 
  • Highlight "Gun Metal" area to "Silver"
Yes, good enough, anything else would be silly (see below, my Free Trader awaits adventure): 

When you have done one, then it is just as easy to do two (see below, the advantage of the simple paint scheme, was that it could be turned into a factory production line): 

The budding space commercial space empire takes a trip through the fruit bowl system and basks in the fading sunlight from a Red Dwarf (see below, but beware danger can strike from any quarter, unannounced):

So best paint some more in case you run into losses (see below, simple paint scheme begs a simple production system - one ship at a time as I am getting into a rhythm and getting to know the peculiarities and wrinkles of the model - but the more I paint it, the more I like it): 

The fleet burgeons to three active "freighters of the line" (see below, I have not yet got to the point of naming them yet, but I am getting attached to them and thinking of possible rile systems such a Billion Suns to use them with, as well as Traveller!) 

Half way through (aka four done) my initial batch of eight which were to be my 'proof of concept' that I can be 'bothered' painting the ships in this way (see below, each one is getting slightly faster to do which is a good sign):   

To get from four to six, I did two at a time and to be honest was more frustrated that pleased. There was a certain satisfaction of doing one and moving onto another, that was not "doubled" by finishing two at the same time. As it is partially about enjoyment of the painting journey, as opposed to just painting them for gawd sake, I reverted back to one at a time for seven and eight (see below, but I think they do look grand "en masse"):   

Starting the "last one" of the "initial batch" - I an finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Even though it is really the first stop on a journey of many (see below, the squadron celebrations are about to begin): 

At last I can rest my weary brush hand, the "trading" squadron is assembled in quite a beguiling formation (see below, I know they are specifically not warships by design but I think they have a "we mean business" look and feel to them): 

What do you do with old Xmas tangerine boxes? Why you fill them with the first painted batch of transports alongside a primed and washed second batch (see below, remember that this is half of one "grab bag" and I bought two, of which I have only painted a quarter in total - not a quick project):  

Hmm, but what do you think I have in mind in the long term? If I said the Trillion Dollar Squadron would you be any the wiser or at all interested?

Monday 23 January 2023

Nuclear Folly: Audible Audio Book

You read all about it in the history books, the popular press and the papers so you think you know all about the story at least at a superficial level, thinking no more real shocks to come out. Then you settle down with a book like "Nuclear Folly" and then and only then does it dawn on you, how "stupidly comfortable you are in your thinking" - you were lapping it all up and sitting in a "history with the benefit of hindsight" syndrome. Facts drawn out long after the events push a new interpretation and open up "the things that could have been"! (see below, a "good read" rating underestimates the staggering impact of the Soviet perspective on events): 

Most disturbing was the Epilogue that quite rightly pointed out what a dangerous time we are living in, remiss without some of the safeguards that existed in teh Cold War. I intend to follow up this with Max Hasting's Abyss. Need a strong coffee first.

Note: I was parallel streaming two very different books (one over Alexa in the kitchen and one from Audible in the car) hence such a sudden turn around in my reading speed ;)   

Sunday 22 January 2023

Power Grid Game - Euro Game

It just goes to show that you make a game out of anything, including the US Power Industry which must make it kind of the ultimate resource management game. No panzer tank but plenty of cut-throat competition (see below, the USA with the "potential" power infrastructure shown, each player starting up their budding empire with a "state-sized" company in search of lucrative markets):

Coal, oil and nuclear are the opening options with more greener variants emerging later in the day (see below, energy wattage of power consumes resources, some non-renewable which creates a conflict sensible resource management versus profits - a dirty, cut-throat bidding war can easily emerge):  

One interesting feature is a fixed hand of assets (three power plants) which can be upgraded but you have to decommission one to bring a new one on and you can get locked into markets which will ultimately run out of natural feeder resources (see below, the expansion phase is about to leap into action, routes to population centres and careful financial planning required as you easily go boom and bust): 

A trial run of the game was attempted in Covid, now post Covid real world energy struggles are all in the news, albeit in the national actor arena. Maybe time for another run!

Friday 20 January 2023

Start With Why: Audible Audio Book

Giving myself a break from history I switched to what I refer as intelligent common sense (business/self-help) books and turned to one that keeps getting recommended (see below, I was expecting a slightly jingoistic "can do" but was sobered with the same advice and candid warnings): 

If you lose your "reason why" - stop, think and reevaluate. It is that quiet coffee with yourself moment. Not what I expected and one to go back to!

Sunday 15 January 2023

Some leftover Christmas trappings with Wargaming Potential?

You may see Xmas stars left over from the craft table waiting for next Christmas. But I see "Objective Markers" for the likes of Chain of Command or Command Decision? (see below, all they need is some paint - Red [Soviet or 'generic bad guys - aka the enemy'], Black [German], Green [US] and Blue [British or generic 'good guys' - aka friendlies]): 

Meanwhile .. er, some more Xmas "tat" leftover from a trip over to see The Works, a bargain semi-craft shop. I see a "Road to Moscow" diorama in 15mm (see below, I must confess I did have this alterative notion in mind at time of purchase, but I put it under Xmas cake decoration to get through security): 

Waste not want not! Remembering also that someone's efficient recycling is another person's clutter.

Thursday 12 January 2023

Strange Blogger Stat Question - View Count Seems Frozen at (1) : Blog Feed Problem

----------------- FIRST DRAFT OF PROBLEM ---------- FIRST DRAFT OF PROBLEM ------------------

Very, very strange, all my posts since (after) January 1st 2023 (as in 2nd January onwards) seem to be getting only one read (best hang up my blogging boots, but wait, I was doing it for my self really, so blog on). I therefore must have one very devoted reader that is not me, or something is amiss with blogger stat counting? Curious!  

If you are reading this and are not the author then the stat counting will have a problem if it says only one read. Please leave a comment to say you were here.

Thank you in advance for your posted comment.

Then after an Internet search ... 

------- STOP PRESS ---------- STOP PRESS --------- STOP PRESS ----------- STOP PRESS ---------

Turns out to be a different problem [not the inability to see this blog as I first thought but] with respect to the "blogger feed" mechanism, updates are not been delivered to other Blogs that advertise my new posts. All getting a bit technical I know.

This helpful post sorted me out by clearing my cache (the "clever" behind the scenes mechanism which controls spotting content "which is new without having to do too much work finding it):


With computers there is always something "Heath Robinson" going on in the background ;)  

---------- PROBLEM SORTED ---------- PROBLEM SORTED ---------- PROBLEM SORTED ----------

Business as Usual :) 

---------- PROBLEM SORTED ---------- PROBLEM SORTED ---------- PROBLEM SORTED ----------

Tuesday 10 January 2023

Can anybody answer this strange Troop Type/OrBat Question from Command Decision?

I have recently been 'reinvigorating' my interest in my loft bound 20mm WWII collection, dwelling on the shame of knowing that I have a lot of 20mm kit without without a corresponding large number of battles under my belt. Wargaming "shame". This is something I need to address. Perhaps it is my choice of rules that is at the heart of the problem. I started my collection long before my Chain of Command skirmish interest when Command Decision was my bible (in the early 1990's it was CD I and CD II fresh off the press, post 2000, I picked up CD III with good intentions to do something with it, then quite recently, ahem as in couple of years [pre-Covid] I got a copy of CD IV 'Test of Battle' - for shall we say completeness sake). One of the troubles in getting tabletop is the [relative] 'considerable' amount of kit required for Regiment and Battalion OrBats in 20mm (let along thinking of doing a spectaular Divisional Battle - for which I would now opt for 1:200 [early war] and 1:300 [later war] figures, but then Spearhead is also an alternative rule contender). It is the wargaming butterfly syndrome in me and slow meticulous painter (rather than a ruthless "good enough for a tabletop game" finisher), combined with the terrible "lofty goals" and "ambition" (Arnhem - really?)). The paradox: I am both happy and unhappy at always being an "unfinished WIP". Life is somebody else's problem, it is the journey not the destination that counts.

So, the good news. I have been making progress and creating "battalion boxes" of 20mm formations. Starting with early WWII Eastern Front (1941-42) organisations. The basic idea is to get a German  armoured battalion and motorised infantry battalion together, then field it with some support companies to play against a (depleted) static Russian infantry regiment [three battalions and RHQ], with perhaps some scraped together support assets. It is also a way of avoiding "bundles of tanks and figures" rolling around in shoe and foolscap boxes in the loft, with the inevitable series of broken and missing plastic parts (see below, a German 1941 Motorised Infantry Battalion from a Panzer Division; multiple manufacturers [old and new] and various 'true' scales but all around 20mm [20mm, 1/72, 1/76, HO/OO] which is good enough for me - in this Amazon age we seem to be blessed with lots of suitably sized boxes):   

Now came a bit of a puzzle, a conundrum so to speak. As well as attaching in companies (such as armoured cars, motorcycles and tanks) from other battalions I wanted to also attach down stand to attach from higher level command levels, such as Regiment and Brigade. As it should be. That allows attachment of things such as the dreaded 15cm Infantry Guns and "the like". "The like" being an issue, as all manner of odds and sods exist in the Command Decision multi-verse (from USMC Raiders, Porter Stands, to Japanese National Service Militia Stands), which is great because they are mentioned in the rules as 'specials', or at least appear in Equipment Data Charts under Personnel, showing a "movement" or in the "Small Arms Fire" table with a combat value. To this end when I consulted the Frank Chadwick, Armies of World War II, Volume 1 (note, there never was a volume II) for early those Barbarossa units I was after, I was happy until I reached the German 1941-42 Motorised Infantry Regiments "level" in the Panzer and Motorised Infantry Divisions. 1941-1942. It appears there was a magical musical moment in the German Army in 1941-42? Not before, (1939-1940) and not after (1943-45), does this mystical "band stand" (get it?) appear (see below, perhaps it was a Germanic marching meme of the time? In total there are "three bands" in this Panzer Division OrBat, one playing for the panzers and two playing for the infantry - highlighted purple on the page. Quite a social itinery): 

So what is this "band" stand (that joke is wearing thin after the telling)? It comes along with a light truck as transport so its "motorised". I am puzzled, as I cannot "see it" in the rules. Without any additional mention that I can find, I am going to put it down as a simple "Veteran Infantry Stand" that is RHQ close protection (as it is not in italics which denotes rear echelon elements, so it is a 'fighting' element). If anybody has any other thoughts please let me know, otherwise I may have sleepless nights! I did consider a formation morale point loss if it was eliminated, but as it stands it can just beef up element count by one! 

Note: I have found references to the German Band in CD I, CD II, CD III (and I am still looking in CD IV).

Further Update: These musical Germans were also found in ..

  • German Infantry Division (1941-42)
  • German Jager Division (1943-45) 
  • German Mountain Troop Division (1941-45)
Back to my Tiger Tanks now!

Sunday 8 January 2023

Waterloo - From a 1000 piece Jigsaw to a one piece Picture

It all started with a trip to Edinburgh Castle Museum and seeing a marvellous display of the Scots Greys famous picture of them charging at Waterloo. Then there was a chance find in a charity shop of a jigsaw of the same print (see below, I would say a 54mm or 28mm diorama begs doing to do it justice): 

After the epic marathon of putting this incredibly hard jigsaw together (which became a byzantine exercise in matching shades of blue, shades of red, shades of white and shades of brown as described in a previous post [see link])/ By the end of piecing it together, this second-hand jigsaw was well and truly war weary so I soaked in PVA glue and made "an item" of it (see below, I think it splendid in its final state - alas missing only one piece [but coloured brown behind to conceal the gap]. Whether it was sold to me minus this one piece (the peril of second hand jigsaws) or I had managed to lose it is unclear, at one point there were three missing pieces but the other two turned up in "the strangest of places"): 

It seemed all very fitting as at the same time I was playing the Worthington's Waterloo solitaire game (see below, it plays really well and I have also used it as a cooperative team game, where the players comes too a consensus of what decision to do next): 

It is a map based, decision orientated game with a Bot based [AI would be too generous] enemy (see below, high level as each block represents a brigade):

Next up is to convert it to a figure based equivalent using the Warlord Epic Scale Napoleonic miniatures.

Saturday 7 January 2023

Audible Book - Street Without Joy

I seem to be continuing along with the Vietnam theme, or rather more a wider Indo-China theme, as I have just finished listening to a "Street Without Joy". This is a book really 'of its time' (written by the French journalist Bernard B. Fall who covered the war during this time for the French papers). It describes the ill-fated, tragically French led (but American backed and bank-rolled) prequel to the more famous Second Indo-China War (which then lead into the Vietnam War). The French Indo-China war was covered by the Max Hastings "Vietnam" book, but I felt the flavour of the time really came through in trumps with Bernard B Fall's book. It is an epic story of the demise of an eighteenth century colonial adventure that had out-lived its time and purpose post World War II (see below, I can highly recommend it, being poignant in the extreme as from his privileged perspective Bernard B. Fall saw the train crash coming but could do nothing to advert it): 

To me there was a frightening sting in the tail of the book, written in 1964/65. This was after the detailed description of the numerous reasons of the French defeat: be it the gradual and inevitable destruction of the of various forms of the remote defensive French outpost chains; after chronicling the one-by-one demise of the elite French mobile groups as they were continuously ambushed (each valiantly fighting a forlorn campaign to their deaths); after the tragic vulnerability of South Vietnamese citizens not being protected from Viet Minh intimidation (as the Viet Minh came as visitors in the night); after seeing the under performance of the much vaunted "American made" French air power with its inability to dominate the jungle battlefield as promised and after seeing the ability of the Viet Minh to dissipate back into the jungle when conventionally outmatched. It was the last chapter that chronicled the way that the American administration was rinsing and repeating the same pattern of behaviour. The tragedy of the next phase of Vietnam was already written in the stars.     

Sunday 1 January 2023

Rogue Heroes Inspired Journey Continues .. Next Stop a Book!

Following on from my interest in the BBC TV series I was naturally "hooked" by the array of SAS themed books in the supermarket "in the fashionable to be reading" section, aka an area of distraction for bored dads and teenagers. I was spoilt for choice with three SAS North African Dessert themed tomes on display (see below, I chose 'Sped Aggression Surprise' a bargain with a pre-Xmas tenner spent in a flash in Tesco): 

I chose not the overtly BBC (as in, based on the recent series) one, reasoning on grounds on diversity of background research and flick-through appeal (it was not so heavy on pictures and had maps but the also content looked more interesting). Not disappointed to date, as a hundred or so pages in and it has elaborated on the pre-North African history of the SAS and the funny "other things" (Vichy French, Abyssinia, Iraq, Levant) going on around the rest of the Mediterranean at that time. The crazy intelligence chief who fabricated a SAS back-story, based on feeding the Axis disinformation features prominently (this being a certain staff officer Dudley Wrangel Clarke).

WIP: Still reading, the SAS "proper" has not appeared yet, but there is a lot of pre-SAS Commando units being talked about!

Happy New Year

 Let's hope it is less interesting than 2022!