Thursday, February 20, 2020

Judge Dredd Sovs from Mongoose

Before current license-holders Warlord Games started to tear up the Judge Dredd gaming world, Mongoose Miniatures had the license and raised a little Hell of their own. One thing they did was a massive Kickstarter campaign back in 2012... the last of which was still being delivered in 2018!

Anyway, back at that time Conscript Perry was a backer of the Kickstarter and asked me if I wanted to share in his support. Did I! I ended up getting a bunch of stuff from the campaign, including these Sov/East-Meg "Apocalypse War" Judges that just hit the painting table. Above is Judge Officer Gagarin.

Here's Senior Judge Drago. Some notes on painting: pads and helmet trim are Mephiston Red washed with Red Ink, with Nuln Oil applied around the edges. Black bodysuits were highlighted a dark grey. Gloves, boots and ammo pouches are Catachan Green highlighted with Camo Green. Speaking of the ammo pouches... I know that in the comics, you sometimes see these coloured red, but I thought they looked better in green matching the gloves and boots. So there.

Judges Tretiak and Federov.

Judges Markov and Kozlov.

The Karpov MF7 Sentenoid in its full glory... this is a pretty cool model.

"Drokk! Satellat!"
The Satellat... a sentient helper-robot-drone that assisted Orlok in introducing the Block-Mania virus into Mega-City One's water supply, prior to the Apocalypse War. TMI???

Lastly, here's some of the group posing alongside a Rad-Sweeper, the main Sov armoured vehicle used in the Apocalypse War. Readers will note that the Rad-Sweeper is represented by the T-640 tank I built, converted and painted for my FuturKom force, years ago... funny how these things can cross over!

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Kitech "1:48" Soviet T-72M1

Back when the Conscripts started getting into WW3 in 28mm, we discovered a range of inexpensive modern tanks from a company called "Kitech" - never mind that the actual molds probably came from Academy or some other company. These models and the eBay source we got them from ("North Korea Store"!) live on as a reminder of those more innocent times ;-)

Anyway, with the recent completion of a set of Eureka's Soviet tankers, I figured that they should have a ride. I asked Conscript Greg for recommendations on resin T-72s, but in the end, I decided that the best option is the one you've already paid for, so I dug a Kitech T-72 kit out of the tub where it's spent the last 7+ years, and just assembled and painted the dam' thing.

The painting part was super-easy - I primed black then sprayed a coat of Rustoleum Army Green Camo Paint. I'd initially thought it might be too light a green, but after a coat of Agrax Earthshade it looks suitably Soviet, albeit maybe a bit faded, which is OK. The rubber skirts were painted with a mix of Catachan Green and Mechanicus Grey, then the whole model was lightly weathered with drybrushing in shades of brown.

The kit itself is funny... it's based on a motorized chassis that is shared in common with all of the models in the Kitech modern AFV range. So not only does the T-72 share a chassis/platform with the T-80 kit, it's also shared with the Merkava, Leopard 2, M1 Abrams, etc... meaning that the notional 1:48 scale is just that - notional.

The result is that the T-72 is somewhat larger than it should be... this is especially evident when compared to 28mm infantry models. It doesn't look bad in the foreshortened picture above, but the Kitech T-72 is quite a bit bigger than it should be, I think. However, back in the day, when true 1:48 or heaven forbid, 1:56 models of modern AFVs were not readily (or inexpensively) available, the North Korea Store came through with these models for something like $5 each. Good enough!

Star Wars: Legion - Sibling Rivalry

"I am a Jedi like my father before me."

As I indicated in my earlier Star Wars: Legion post, my own contribution to the project are the various heroes on both sides of the galactic conflict. With the commander version of Darth Vader already completed by Steve, and with The Empire Strikes Back version of Luke in Cody's capable hands, I turned my attention to Return of the Jedi and two of the main protagonists: separated-at-birth twin siblings Leia Organa, Princess of Alderaan, and Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight.

The model for Leia was released by Fantasy Flight Games back in May of 2018. It's a decent casting, in a soft plastic, that captures the general features of Carrie Fisher. In the game, Leia is an excellent commander, able to direct troops to take cover, rally off their suppression and panic, get soldiers moving, and give accurate supporting fire with her favoured sporting blaster (in the movies, I do not recall her ever missing a shot).

In contrast, the "Operative Luke Skywalker" model just came out a couple of weeks ago. The sculptors have really stepped up their game; it's a very nice likeness of Mark Hamill. In Legion, Luke is no longer a leader of troops, but rather a lone wolf. His powers and abilities are off the hook, able to leap over obstacles, bend others to his will, deflect blaster bolts, and slice up tanks with his lightsaber. The soft plastic is also better formulated; I was able to take a finer grit sanding stick and sand off the mould lines on his saber, which you cannot do with the earlier version in the started box.

After priming with Chaos Black, I started off with many very thin layers for zenithal highlights on Leia. Only 7 drops of colour (6 drops Vallejo White and one drop Golden Sepia airbrush paints) in the small metal cup in the airbrush, 6 drops of thinner, and the rest water. This was airbrushed downwards at a 45-degree angle all around the model. Then, switching the pigment portion of the mix to 6 drops of only Vallejo white, I airbrushed downwards at about a 60 degree angle from above and in front of the head of the model, giving a spotlight effect on the front of the figure.

Emo!Luke is wearing various tones of black. I masked off the rest of his body with a plastic bag with a hole cut in it and taped to the painting handle, and sprayed zenithal highlights on his head. I then masked everything but the saber blade and sprayed that with an even coat of GW Wraithbone, a yellowish off-white colour, which I thought would be a good base for the green glowing effect I was going to add later. I then hand painted Vallejo Black Grey on Luke's boots; this is Vallejo's default army boot colour.


Leia and Luke have different complexions. Luke grew up on a desert planet with twin suns, and Leia was raised in the halls of nobility on Alderaan and the corridors of the Senate on Coruscant. I under-painted their faces in Vallejo acrylics with this in mind.

For Leia, I worked from dark to light using Black Red, Beige Red, and Light Flesh, working the contours of her face like makeup. I used the shadow tone to completely cover the black paint under her arms and chin; I did not want too harsh of a contrast. In similar fashion, I painted Luke's face and left hand using Burnt Cadmium Red, Brown Sand, and highlighted with Basic Flesh Tone. Leia's lips got some Flat Red, and Luke's lower lip was sketched in Violet Red. Note that I did not paint in eyeballs. For both figures, the eyes are sculpted as slits, with well-defined upper and lower eyelids. The eyeballs themselves are not rendered. I decided to concentrate on the features around the eyes. Especially for Luke, this would give a steely expression.


Next up was the oil painting of the skin tones. I laid out several colours on my palette, as seen below. Note the number of flesh, brown, red, and neutral tones, all useful for the figures' skin. As in the past, I used very small amounts of pigment. I focused on highlighting things like the shape of Leia's skull around the edges of her forehead, refining the shapes and details around the eyes and middle face of both figures, adding ruddiness to both their cheeks, shaping their jawlines (I used the neutral tones mixed with flesh, to give shape without making it a true highlight), picking out the knuckles and refining the general shapes of the hands and arms, and blending the transitions between all these various tones. Leia's lips had a couple of catch-points of  Titanium White, and Luke's lips highlighted with a pinker version of his flesh tone.


Leia was finished fairly straightforwardly with glazes of GW acrylic shades, using some oils to lighten up the shirt and lighten the top edge of the stripe on her pants. Looking at various photo references of Carrie Fisher on-set, I intentionally lowered the brightness values of Leia's shirt, vest, and pants, as compared to the movie versions. This was to focus the viewer's eyes more on her skin tones. Her hair was glazed with various browns, more to emphasize the overall shape of her hairdo, rather than to pick out details of the individual braids.

Luke had an added complexity. I find black is a difficult colour to work with. You don't shade black, you can only highlight it. But you cannot add so much highlight that the article of clothing reads as "gray" instead of "black". I used neutral gray oil tones to bring out some of the folds and upper edges of Luke's uniform, belt, right glove, and boots, feathering them into the black. Some lighter gray and white highlights picked out reflections on the metal of the equipment belt, the handle of the lightsaber, and the shinier leather boots. The inside lining of his shirt was painted with GW Ulthuan Gray, and edged in Titanium White oil. 

I painted Luke's hair with Reaper's Blond Shadow, Blond Hair, and Blond Highlight acrylics, with the light source again above and to the front of the figure; some GW Seraphim Sepia glaze pulled the hair colours together. I masked Luke with another baggie and lightly airbrushed his lightsaber "blade" with Golden's Fluorescent Green, working up the blade from the tip, lightening near the hilt, giving the effect of a hotspot of the plasma blade at the hilt.

Following Steve's formula for the sand on the bases, I started with some fine grit acrylic medium, sculpted some small sand "waves", painted the groundwork with Vallejo Desert Yellow, shaded with GW Seraphim Sepia, and highlighted with Vallejo Iraqi Sand. Again using the airbrush, I slightly dusted the figures' boots with Desert Yellow. I edged the bases with Vallejo Black.


A thin coat of Tamiya TS-79 Semi-Gloss spray, and the figures were done!





I think the figures turned out pretty well. They are instantly recognizable as the characters from the film. As an added bonus, they will provide very powerful support and strike capability for the Rebel forces.

Perry Miniatures WW2 US and British Tank Crews

There's a bit of a story behind these models (the crewmen I mean). As readers will know, Conscript Greg B. is currently neck-deep in WW2 Winter Germans he's painting for the Analogue Challenge. As I'd love to see those models out in a game, I thought I'd revisit my WW2 Americans to see if I could tune some up to face them.

On my "American shelf" sit three Tamiya Shermans obtained years ago as assembled models. One has its hatches buttoned but the other two are open on top, but I've never had any US crews for them. Obviously this would need to be remedied immediately.
I commenced a search for 28mm US tank crewmen and came up with a few options. The best of these appeared to be Perry Miniatures' offerings, with four half-figures and two full ones for 7.50GBP (they also offered Brit crew which I picked up as well).

The models are well done, as you would expect from the Perrys. They might be a skosh on the small side for 28mm models, but fit well in the 1/48 Tamiya turret hatches.

Here's the other two American crewmen.

... and the five half-figures in the British crew set. They look like they're set for the desert but should fit (for the most part) in Italy and NW Europe as well.

The issue was how to mount them in the turrets! I happened to have some thin ferrous metal bases handy so I superglued these onto the inside roof of the turret under the hatches. I then trimmed down the half-figures to the appropriate height and superglued 5mm magnets to their bottoms. Hey presto - swappable crewmen. Plus, they stick down nicely onto thick washers for storage!

Two newly-crewed Shermans ready to face the Germans!

Painting Challenge Submission 14 - 1/56 Scale Hanomag APCs for Winter WW2

1/56 scale Hanomag APCs - models from Warlord Games "Bolt Action" range.
More output for my late WW2 winter Germans.  I have painted up a nice basic force of infantry, but they will need some vehicles to get around the gaming table.  These Hanomags should do the trick - they are 1/56 scale plastic kits from Warlord Games "Bolt Action" range (and I think Italeri is involved somehow too).

Seated plastic figures to be used showing some troops are embarked.
When I started this project, one hobby quirk I needed to make peace with is the use of 1/56 scale models in 28mm gaming.  I laugh at how consistently the gaming world insists that 1/56 scale is the "proper" scale for 28mm figures. So many manufacturers go to the length of adding "1/56" right after "28mm".  And yet, even the most cursory observation on any gaming table shows the link doesn't hold up.  A better scale would be 1/50 or 1/48...

The 28mm infantry look huge compared to the 1/56 APC...oh well.
And yet...while 1/50 and 1/48 options exist, they are either too much fuss (complex model kits with too many parts), too expensive (the rare Solidos - they are pricey now) or made of resin that is difficult to work with (check for "#flakegate" over at the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge).  1/56 scale is the least-bad option, and because so much of the hobby industry remains committed to this group hallucination, 1/56 scale offers the most options in terms of available vehicles to choose from. Thus I swallow the blue pill...1/56 scale is perfect for 28mm!

AA MG mounted on the backs of two of the APCs. 
The Hanomag is an iconic piece of German WW2 kit.  They built thousands of these things, but there were never enough to meet the enormous demands created by all-out war on two fronts. They would typically be found among one of the battalions of the Panzer and Panzer Grenadier divisions, and among "favoured" units.  These are 251/Ds, later models of the basic troop carrying half tracks, apparently easier for German indsutry to build.

Bring on the winter muck!

Don't look too closely...the license plates all have the same number. I wish Warlord would vary their decal sheets...
I suppose one can go too far when it comes to weathering vehicles, but when it comes to winter AFVs, as far as I'm concerned one cannot go far enough. Winter is beautiful, but the pristine white snow lasts for so long as you stand still and never move...winter conditions are somehow still muddy, dirty and - yes, it's true - somehow even DUSTY.  I know this, I have grown up with it. Here in Winnipeg we in peaceful times in a city with concrete roads, and yet in the winter my red truck turns grey about 72 hours after any snowfall, and a grey-brown about 15 minutes after any thaw.

Vehicle 412, ready to roll out.
Another view, showing the optional embarked infantry models.
These vehicles would be driving through mud, on dirt roads, then snow...seeing snow, dirt, and even rain (it happens in the winter, after all). Plus, it's a war!  The white-wash would have been applied in a hurry, at a depot or rear area, probably with one eye on escape as the Russians could arrive at any moment...I want my winter German AFVs to "look the part", and so I have mucked them up here.

Tried to put some muck and snow inside the halftracks.
Open-topped vehicles are always an extra challenge in large scales...after all, you can see inside them! I tried to muck up the inside a bit. I also painted a few of the seated infantry figures that came with the kits, so as to use as markers to show when an infantry unit is aboard the APC.  I see that Warlord sells winter MG-34 gunners for the Hanomags...wish I had thought to order some.  Oh well.

Out for a walk in the forest with my dogs - it was so nice to see the sun!
Some more WW2 items are still clearing the painting desk before other subjects pop up - stay tuned for more, and thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Star Wars: Legion Project - The Imps


I am a big Star Wars fan. Star Wars (the 1977 film) changed my life, inculcating a lifelong love of science fiction and fantasy. However, it took me almost two years to pull the trigger on FFG's miniature war game, Star Wars: Legion, after its release in 2018.

The rules are elegant. Combat, at its heart, is an opposed dice roll, whose outcome results in both casualties and morale effects, including suppression and panic. The various effects and stratagems really have a Star Wars feel to them.

The figures are well sculpted. But. They are also 40mm tall. Darth Vader is even taller. Which means all the Star Wars figures I have collected for the past almost 30 years are not compatible with the new figures; the old figs are too small. This also means that my pre-existing building terrain is too small.

A certain critical mass was achieved during the Game-itoba convention last fall. As I ran What a Tanker! several times, on the next table over the Winnipeg Wookies game club ran Star Wars: Legion, which I watched when I could throughout the day. At weekend's end, I contacted Brian at Amuse 'N Games and went all-in, purchasing a starter set and several trooper and vehicle expansion boxes. I also went all-in on the terrain, obtaining all the Galactic Warzones terrain (including some dupes) from GF9, and have ordered some really neat stuff on Etsy that I am saving as a bit of a surprise.

My intent is to provide both sides' forces in a series of linked games for my fellow Conscripts. To that end, I have collected a selection of both Imperial and Rebel units for everyone to game with. Approaching 70 figures and vehicles, this was waaaay too much for me to tackle by myself. So, I enlisted the aid of fellow modelers Steve Brown and Cody Bernard. I commissioned Steve to paint the bulk of the Imperial forces, and Cody the Rebels. (That left for me to paint some of the heroes of the Galactic Civil War: Jedi Luke Skywalker, his sister Princess Leia, Han, Chewie, Artoo, Threepio, Boba Fett, General Veers, Mandalorian Sabine Wren, and Bossk.)

This post shows the main components of Steve's Imperial commission, which was completed last week.

At the top of the page is Darth Vader. The pose is suitable menacing, showing Vader Force-choking some hapless victim. Steve rendered both the varying textures of Vader's uniform, and the glow of his red lightsaber, very well.

Below, two squads of the ubiquitous Imperial Stormtroopers, with some optional heavy weapons. I  really like how Steve rendered their armour. There's no white involved, just varying shades of darker and lighter grey! The groundwork and dusty boots fit the desert planet theme I have in mind.



Below is an Imperial Officer, a communications tech, and a couple of droids. The Officer provides a much cheaper (points-wise) commander option than Vader, and the others provide different kinds of tactical support in-game.


Below, a unit of Scout Troopers riding speeder bikes. They will allow for fast, deep striking attacks. The bikes are suitably lean and mean looking. The pose of the one firing a Parthian Shot is neat.


Another unit of Scouts on speeder bikes.


Below is the heavy metal of my Imperial forces. An Imperial All Terrain Scout Transport (AT-ST) walker, armed to the teeth. The weathering effects are well rendered.


The model is huge. Recall, the officer figure is about 40mm tall.


With these models I am ready to run the Imperial side of the first three games in a Star Wars campaign setting. Steve has more Stormtroopers on the go for me; another full squad, and some different heavy weapon and support troops.

I was so excited to receive these models. They evoke fond memories of movies past, and they will allow us to fight some key moments in an alternate history of "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away..."

Monday, February 17, 2020

Painting Challenge Submission 13 - Female WW2 Russian Scout in 28mm

Death to the fascist invaders! 28mm figure from Warlord Games' "Bolt Action" range.
In Curt's Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge, I continue to plot my way along the "Challenge Island" map (for info on how and why the participants do that, see here).  I needed another balloon ride, and so I looked for another chance to paint a female figure.  The Soviet Army of WW2 offered a great opportunity to do so.

28mm Female Russian Infantry Scout

Dangerous work, close to the enemy - a female scout for my 28mm winter WW2 Russians.
As you have seen I have been working on a 28mm winter WW2 project.  Amid the many submissions involving various late WW2 Germans, a few have asked if and when their tabletop opposition might appear? Well, I'm hoping Dallas will get his 28mm winter US troops organized for some "Battle of The Bulge" games.  But in terms of painting opposition myself, well, I'm focused on the Eastern Front as always, so this is the first opponent - a 28mm Female Russian Infantry Scout.  This is a metal figure from Warlord Games' "Bolt Action" Range.

As always, great details on these metal sculpts from Warlord.
The "scout" set from Warlord's WW2 Russian figure range is not intended for winter, strictly speaking.  They are sculpted wearing the "ameoba" style body suits, which are often seen in browns and a (rather bright) green.  So I'm taking artistic license of a sort - I don't think it's a huge reach, as scouting would still need to be done during the winter fighting, so I just painted the suit white instead.  Warlord also tends to give you some options for alternate heads for the figures, and they include a female head among them - so I thought this would be a great figure to accompany a passage on Lady Sarah's Balloon.

No reason the scout suits couldn't be white, right?
The war in the east in WW2 was so tremendous and vast in scale.  I read about it, I try to study it...but it is hard to truly understand or picture, such a complete and total mobilization of an entire people across vast distances in an all-out effort to repel the Germans and their allies, and vanquish them totally.  Of course all the main countries in the conflict did the most they could to pit their entire national power into the effort - it was total war. But in the east, and Russia in particular...the scale, it was incredible, and the sacrifice it took - the numbers get so large, so fast, they sort of lose their impact.

Russian women - fighting at the front lines.
Women made tremendous contributions to the Allied war effort in many countries. But in the case of Russia, this contribution stood out to my mind.  Russian women - hundreds of thousands of them - served in what were thought of as traditional non combatant roles - nurses, medical support, industry.  But huge swathes of Russian territory came under occupation, and as the front lines found the Russian people, Russian women made important contributions to front-line fighting.  As pilots, snipers, partisans, machine gunners, all in the front line - decorated for bravery and courage under fire, and in untold cases, making the ultimate sacrifice along side so, so many of their fellow people.

Once again, some fine blanquette from Limoux to enjoy during the balloon trip.
Bad Squiddo Games have some fantastic sculpts of female Russian soldiers - just look here for some examples painted by the incredibly talented Dave V. I will look to add one of their sniper teams down the road. But the scouts will work for now, and I thought it would be great to have one of my first 28mm Russian painted as part of the small scouting squad, the first of what I hope will be a healthy-sized collection of 28mm Winter Russians to oppose all of the Germans I have been painting.  Scouting is dangerous work, but she is more than up to the task...we see here she has snuck into a position, and is tossing a grenade toward some unwary invaders...

This balloon trip involves a perilous destination...
This figure allowed me to take a balloon trip directly to the centre of "Challenge Island", where Curt will hit me with a hobby challenge to complete prior to March 21st. Stay tuned for more on that.  In the meantime, thanks for looking!