Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Chicago Show and my new insane project

Back in October, several members of the Manitoba Model Soldier Society went on the annual road trip to The Chicago Show, hosted by the Military Miniature Society of Illinois. The Chicago Show is one of the biggest North American figure shows and competitions, showcasing excellent work from an international selection of modelers. I did not attend this year, but I did send a couple of figures down with the boys.

The full list of award winners is located here. Photos may be seen here and here. This year the MMSS had its most successful year, with several members garnering medals:

Historical Painters Gold
Jeff Burns - Celtic Warrior (Jeff's brushwork in the photo below is astounding):

Rick Taylor - Nurian Guard

Fantasy Painters Gold
Jeff Burns - Angron
Jim Robinson - Inquistor Cortez
Rick Taylor - entire display (Rick's freehand is ridiculous; in the three photos below, note that the figures are, respectively, only 40mm and 25mm tall; the Medusa on the female hoplite's shield is patterned after the famous painting by Caravaggio):


Historical Painters Silver
Jim Robinson - 7th Middlesex Drum Major

Fantasy Painters Silver
Jonathan Berrington - Dragon
Neil Berrington - The Fool
Dave Violago - Space Elf (I was surprised and pleased that my 28mm wargame figure garnered an award; the large silver medal I won is pretty spiffy, too)

Camera Roll-357

Historical Painters Bronze
Neil Berrington - Varangian Guard

Fantasy Painters Bronze
Graeme Berrington - Katerina

General Medal
Doug Bedford - Arnhem
Bill Cann - Defending Mother Russia

War Game Award
Glenn Shott - Napoleonic Prussians

War Game Certificate of Merit
Doug Bedford - Prince Carl Res


In the last 18 months or so I have only completed two actual figures (not counting various tiny ships for wargaming). I was slowly working on my Crimson Fist Terminators, but Games Workshops' rules for the Imperial Space Marines have changed, yet again. Some of my figs now have illegal weapon loadouts! Sigh.

Hanging out with the MMSS boys for a couple of painting days prior to the Chicago road trip got my creative juices flowing again.

Awhile ago, I played in a great game of Sedition Wars, hosted by Conscript Byron. I really liked the figs, produced by Studio McVey (yet another company owned and operated by ex-GW staffers). I picked up the basic game, which comes with around 50 figs. By my rough calculation, that's about a dollar a figure. I managed to get some more of the Kickstarter rewards on eBay (like some mini-drone models), and I started trolling blogs and forums looking for ideas.

In terms of style, I like the colour scheme done by CorticalBackup, a fellow on the Sedition Wars forums, here. His figs are painted to look like Master Chief, from Halo. Below is one of his female Vanguard Lancers:

Long story short, I have now assembled 17 of the 25 Vanguard soldiers and drones that I want to paint up. They're made from a stiff plastic that is difficult to clean up; I am averaging about an hour a fig for cleaning, pinning, and assembling.

Camera Roll-356

I shall be using my own zenithal highlighting and glazing style, like the Space Elf above. Followed by another 22 Strain models (think Resident Evil zombies and evolving bigger baddies), that will complete the minimum number of figs I need to play all the scenarios in the basic Sedition Wars rule book.

I am too late to enter Curt's annual painting challenge, but this is for me a pretty radical project activity. Wish me luck!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Plastic Soldier Company 15mm Sdkfz. 251 halftracks

 Also this weekend I finished up some models that had been languishing: 15mm Sdkfz. 251/1s from PSC.

Anybody who's read Greg's excellent posts or picked up PSC stuff for themselves will know how good these models are. They're accurate, easy to assemble, come with crew, and are cheap. What more do you want?

I hadn't painted a 15mm German for years but the PSC guys made it pretty easy. Looking forward to laying brush to some individually based figures soon.

I modelled the PSC vehicles with removable crew figures so I can represent the section mounted or dismounted. The squad MG looks very purposeful.

In order to minimize the potential for breakage, I glued the AA MG at the rear of the compartment in two spots - at the pintle mount and at the buttstock. Too easy for sticky-out bits to get mangled, I reckon.

Excellent stuff as always from PSC!! The last thing will be to decide whether to base these models on scenic bases. I'm inclined to do as as I enjoy the aesthetic (Greg has convinced me) - but I have a ton of other WW2 stuff and none of the other vehicles are based. Maybe an excuse to toss the lot and start over with PSC ;-)

Otherworld Miniatures Pig-Faced Orcs

Last week I took a notion to complete some long-outstanding miniatures - in fact I'd picked these up at Salute 2012. Yikes.

They are, of course, Pig-Faced Orcs from Otherworld Miniatures, sculpted by the very talented Kev Adams. Those in the know will recall that Kev was responsible for some of the greatest and most characterful models ever produced by Citadel Miniatures, back in the '80s and early '90s.

Anyway, Kev's new venture is producing very tasty models representing "old school" fantasy RPG-type monsters and characters.

 I just love these guys. No idea what I'm going to do with them, so of course I'm ordering more ;-)

I think they'd be great as part of a Mordheim warband or as a warband for some other skirmish-type hybrid RPG/tabletop game. I also really love the "Bederken" range of not-Chaos-Dwarfs and that company has a game called "Skulldred" that I'd love to try.

These guys turned out pretty well but I think I should have cranked up the brightness on the pics a bit. Oh well.

As I mentioned I have more on order from Paizo (if their shopping cart would ever get its act together) so stay tuned for some more - and I promise it won't take a year and a half next time ;-)

Friday, November 15, 2013

Snow Cats - Winter Panthers, WW2 15mm

15mm German Panther tanks in winter paint
More 15mm winter WW2 stuff for this post.  This time, some big cats - German Panther tanks. These are 15mm models, three Panther "A"s from Battlefront, and one Panther "G" from Plastic Soldier Company. We had the chance to get a couple of these on the table during a "Chain of Command" game last night at Dallas' place.  He kindly set up his excellent Optex light studio so I could take some propaganda-worthy photos for the blog. 

Panther "G" from Plastic Soldier Company

I'm a certified tank tool, and the Panther is of course one of my favourites.  I have a few of them done up for non-winter fighting, but couldn't resist doing up a bunch in worn winter paint to go along with the other recent 15mm Winter WW2 stuff I've been doing. Reading about formations like Panzer Regiment Bäke, which saw most of its fighting in the winter of 43/44, was an inspiration in this regard - fun to have German tanks on the table attempting some sort of against-the-odds drive at any one of the many winter crisis points on the Eastern Front in the winter.

The two antennas are meant to present this as a command tank - "300" would be a company command tank (I think...)

These will also do nicely for games set during the Battle of the Bulge, once I get some 15mm winter Americans painted up.

Battlefront Panther "A" - again two antennas for a command tank
I want this to be a Regimental Command tank, but I can't find an "R" decal in 15mm yet...working on that. So he's "01" for now...
The details on the Battlefront models are so impressive - I love the chipped zimmerit and spent shells on the deck

The Panther "A"s are from a Battlefront box set, and they are just awesome castings.  These are a LOT of fun to paint.  The little details on them are amazing - damaged fenders, chips in the zimmerit finish, helmets hanging with the stowage, and my favourite, the spent 75mm shell casings sitting on the engine deck.  It is very fun to get cracking on them and they really are a joy to paint.

Another Panther "A" - again, the zimmerit is chipped and give the tank a "lived in" look.

The Panther "G" is from Plastic Soldier Company's box set. Those sets are very flexible - you can assemble your Panthers in any mark, either "D", "A" or "G".   The downside is that they don't have zimmerit on them (which is not the end of the world - not every tank did) and as I have observed previously, the detail on Battlefront castings is crisper.  But it is still a very, very nice box set, and you get great value. 

This Panther is covered in lots of extra you ever have "enough" armour?

I am always keen to weather the tanks a lot, and these were no exception. I was reading about the attempted relief of the Cherkassy Pocket in Jan/Feb 1944, and the reported weather conditions caught my eye.  It was freezing cold, with a lot of snow, and then would suddenly rain (!) in February as the thaw started, but still freeze at night. This is a weather pattern I am quite familiar with growing up in the Canadian Prairies (a climate not unlike that around the western Ukraine/Russia).  It sucks, and I can't imagine being in a war (in any conditions), much less with that kind of weather misery.

The zimmerit finish adds a very spooky aura to some of the German tanks, particularly the Panther, which already has a fairly menacing silhouette

A Panther tank in that situation would have received a very rushed white-wash when the snow came, sometime in November/December 1943.  Then fought all through the winter into the new year, facing freezing temps, snow storms, woods, fighting etc.  THEN the rain, the mud, more freezing, flooding creeks...I figured it would be really, really messy, so that's what I had in mind when painted these.

Rear view of the Panther "G"

My cars are always a mess here at home in the winter.  And I (mostly) stay on the road, and don't have any T-34s and Sturmoviks to deal with (although Winnipeg drivers do have their moments).  So I thought the Panthers would be a real mess. I painted the tanks to a panzer-yellow type base as I would with any WW2 German vehicle of that period, and even applied the decals, but then stippled many layers of different shades of white.  I followed that up with sponge-chipping and spotting of mud, ice etc.  I did some "bird-poop" style runs of titanium white in different spots as well to show the paint and/or ice running off from the rain.

I like the helmet hanging off the turret on this vehicle.

My plan is to finish nine of these beasts for winter fighting.  That is plenty - likely too many - for any kind of Flames-of-War type game, but just right to represent a Panzer battalion in a game of Spearhead. 

Ready for winter fighting
 From the hopeless breakthrough attempts of Regiment Bäke, to the drive through the Ardennes, to desperate rear-guard actions in the Ukraine, to last stands along the Narva line and near the Baltic, to "Sleepwaking in Kurland", there are many different scenarios for these tanks. It was fun to see them on the table last night, and tread-head that I am, I will hatch more tank battles soon. 

Thanks again to Dallas for setting up the light box for these photos! I really do need to get one of those things...and stay tuned for a report on the "Chain of Command" game...

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Escape from the Death Star... or not

Being a big fan of hobby amortization, I'd been scheming for awhile about how to repurpose the corridor tiles from GW's classic Space Hulk game for use in a Star Wars "Death Star" game. With the push on to do a game at C4, I'd drawn up a tile layout and some ideas for how the game might work. For various reasons I didn't run the game at C4 but I didn't want to waste momentum, so I ran it on a Thursday night for the boys.

The rules of the game are based on the Star Wars Miniatures game (RIP) from WotC. The Rebels (Luke and Leia, Han and Chewie, the droids, and Ben) start in the corridors and have to get to the Falcon, situated in the hangar. The pursuing Stormtroopers are represented by "blips" (seen in a pile at centre left of the first picture), a mechanism stolen from Space Hulk. Each blip has a number on the back - 0, 1, 2 or 3 - which is the number of Stormtroopers it represents. The blips are only revealed when they come into view of a Rebel character. Blips only move 6 squares per turn but otherwise follow the rules for characters.

There were about seven "blip-spawning" tiles on the board (the dead-end ones as seen above) and blips were generated there at random intervals. The characters ran around the board trying to avoid the blips and make their way to the hangar.

The droids started off near the hangar and the Rebels needed to get Artoo and at least one other character to the Falcon to win (they needed to transport the Death Star plans to Yavin IV). The Imperials could not harm the droids. Vader started on a tile near the hangar but was prohibited from taking any role in defending the hangar until he defeats Ben. In the event, that wasn't required, but he handily aced Ben anyway (I think Frederick rolled two "20"s in the combat and Ben whiffed with "1"s).

"If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine"

Oh crap, didn't think he was really gonna do that...

"They went that way! Get 'em!"
A fun game but it could use a little tweaking. There were too many stormtroopers and it was too easy for them to gang up and trap the Rebel characters. I'd thought of having a simple "morale" mechanism for the Imperials that would require them to back off if they failed a check after a friend was hit, and that might work to relieve congestion and allow the Rebels to move more freely. I think we'll likely play it again sometime as it looks cool and has potential as a convention participation game.

28mm BMP-2 and a New Camera Debuts!

Two things - I finished painting the very cool BMP-2 I got from Conscript Greg some time ago. Thanks man! Secondly, the 5MP HP camera that I've been using for many years have finally been replaced with a new Nikon S6500. So I've taken this opportunity to try out the new camera in the photobooth.

These pictures are raw, straight from the camera to the screen. I have to say I'm pretty impressed with the new camera. It's a 16MP model and features a very large (for me) 3" screen, wi-fi upload capability and HD video. Should be cool for those YouTube videos I like to post from time to time.

On to the model - it's a 1/56 BMP-2 from Sloppy Jalopy. Moderately easy to assemble but did require some greenstuff work and minor surgery to make the track guards fit. The canvas shroud around the gunbarrel is greenstuff too. I added the aerials out of wire - but I'm not sure I placed them correctly!

The vehicle was basecoated Mechanicus Standard Grey and camo added with Catachan Green. The grey was highlighted with Codex Grey and Catachan Green/Camo Green mix. Chipping was added with Fortress Grey for contrast and decals from a random kit added. The whole thing was washed with Badab Black and weathered with powders. Lenses were painted with a gem technique and gloss coated.

I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. It's nice for the Chemical Commies to finally have a ride. Now I'll have to get to that Hind that's been awaiting paint for awhile...

One last shot from the new camera - it's the Zvezda KV-2 that I blogged about a week or so ago. Amazing what a difference a camera and the photobooth make, eh?

Friday, November 8, 2013

15mm Marder III-M from Battlefront

Marder III-M tank destroyer and infantry from Battlefront
Just one more quick painting update before Dallas gets some battle reports up on the blog (hint - escape from the Death Star, the re-write).  I've been doing a lot of 15mm WW2 lately, mostly in winter, but I went back to "summer" painting for this vehicle - a German Marder III-M tank destroyer.  This is a 15mm model from Battlefront, as are the individually based infantry that I painted along with it.

A nice model from Battlefront
I love the look of the Marder series of vehicles - they speak to a certain eloquent desperation.  In many ways, on first glance, it looks so damn impractical you wonder how it ever came to be in service.  To me this speaks to the great pressure the Germans found themselves under as they confronted the much more numerous tanks of the Allies, particularly the Soviets.

I like the roll-bar on the top of the fighting compartment...
"Hey, we really need to get these guns on wheels - now.  What can we do with that old tank chassis over there?"

Rear view of the cramped fighting compartment
The Marder sports the very effective 75mm high velocity gun, cramped somehow on to the chassis of a Panzer 38t.  You can see on the model just how incredibly cramped the "fighting compartment" was, and the armour up there would have been negligible, just enough o keep the small arms fire off.

The photo is a little blurry, but the figure holding the 75mm round has a badly miscast face - mostly covered by the paint...
This Battlefront model is very nice, but Battlefront can be hit and miss on casting sometimes, and unfortunately there was a big miscast on the faces of one of the crewmen (the guy holding the 75mm round).  I didn't want to leave him out, as I think having the crew on the gun looks nice, and just one guy in there wouldn't seem right.  So I just painted around the miscast…it looks a little odd, but not terrible.

Get those T-34s!
Marders served in the anti-tank battalions of infantry divisions and panzer grenadier divisions. As a fighting vehicle, they could dish it out, but certainly couldn't take much abuse.  Still, hard-pressed grenadiers would have counted on these odd-looking vehicles for essential support on defence - and even attack!