Thursday, March 29, 2012

Game Tonight - Mordheim!

Aiming to further amortize the funky 4x4 terrain with a game of "Mordheim" tonight.

Pictures and report to follow, as they usually do...

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Some Random Painting

Figured I'd take some time out from "GW hate" (?) to actually do some painting... first up was a batch of 16 Tyranid Termagants with Spinefists... posing for a family picture with "Mum"

Next is an interesting little project in the making... 28mm German Great War cavalry (from Old Glory) to balance out the Canadians I painted - whoa - over three years ago??? Yikes!

These guys were scored off TMP and as I didn't like the ugly sabres, I converted them to have lances, as apparently the German cavalry used lances right up until the end of the war.

The lances themselves are 18-gauge florist's wire, the lance-heads are plastic leftovers from a box of Wargames Factory Zulu spears. I greenstuffed the hands and voila. They are primed now and ready for paint.

Next up are some GW Orks for RT/Spacekrieg games. They don't quite fit with the RT Red Star Boyz as these models are more recent, but I like them a lot. I'm thinking that they might see service as Xeno mercs with Futurkom, or something.


Lastly, a few stands of robots from Khurasan to reinforce the 15mm Machine Army. These models are super-nice (as you'd expect from Khurasan) and will add some close-combat punch to the force. Don't those chainsaws look narsty???

Anyway, that's it for now. I'll leave you with a picture of Leonard enjoying the Optex portable photo studio!!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

15mm Panther Tanks from Plastic Soldier Company

More PSC product - 15mm Panthers.
Earlier this month I did a post on the plastic 15mm T-34 kit from Plastic Soldier Company.  Here are some pictures of another Plastic Soldier Company product - German Panther tanks, recently completed as a final entry for Curt C's incredible Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge.  Like the T-34s, these are also in 15mm scale.

Panther "D" test model to the right.
You get five models in each box - and parts to do them as either "D", "A" or "G" variants.  You also have options for stowage - spare track links, fuel cans.  You can put a tank commander in the hatch, and mount an MG on the commander's cupola.

The Second World War is a period of great historical interest to me, and I try to read up on it, but I am constantly baffled and confused by the progression of the various versions of the Panther tank.  I think the first one was the "D", then the "A" followed, with the "G" coming last.  I wanted to try at least one of each variant, but do the balance of them as late-war vehicles.

I think the "D" version first saw action at Kursk (well, if you can count having an engine breakdown and catching fire before you hit the front line as "action").  So I tried to provide it with a camouflage pattern that I have often seen on other vehicles at Kursk - dark yellow and medium brown splotches.  This was done mostly as a test model, just to see how things would turn out while painting these models generally.

The "D" variant - no hull MG, no schurzen, twin exhausts, basic cupola.
PSC does a great job modeling stowage on the vehicles.
The other four tanks would represent a platoon, and I made an effort to replicate a version of the "ambush pattern" camouflage that I associate with the late war German armour.  There are three "G" versions, and one "A" version. 

Panther "A" on the left, and a Panther "G" on the right.
I tried my best to follow the directions, which are still a bit confused (by my standards, I mean - which means they will be fine for everyone out there because I suck with modelling directions), but near as I can tell the differences are slight (from a modeling standpoint) - different hatches on the front, a different cupola on the turret, and different exhausts.   I have spotted some mentions on TMP that perhaps PSC made some mistakes on which bits go with which variant, but I suspect it is fairly minor.

I put an MG on this cupola - it was a bit fiddly, but it turned out OK.
Lots of fun with the dot pattern camo on these vehicles.
Like the T-34s, I found the track assembly tricky.  Again, this is probably a reflection of my struggles with modeling, and not at all a reflection on PSC's quality.

I decided one of them should have some schurzen plates time I will mangle them more.
All of the models received decals from Battlefront.  For the four tanks in late-war camo, I thought I would get cute and use some Panzer Division decals.  I applied the symbol for the 20th Panzer Division on the front right sides, just over the fender.  I thought I was pretty cool, but really you can hardly see them.  But at least I know they are there...

The more I work with PSC stuff, the more I like it.  The detail on the vehicles is excellent.  The assembly is highly idiot-resistant.  They paint up very nicely. They are much, much cheaper than Battlefront.  Maybe the only thing PSC hasn't accounted for is Zimmerit - no big deal for me, but some gamers may feel this would press these models into either the very early stages of the Panther's deployment, or the very late stages of the war when the Germans stopped applying Zimmerit finish to their vehicles.

I don't really "need" more Panthers - even a platoon of four vehicles is plenty in a 15mm game, but I'm sure I am going to paint some more up for fun.  These were a real treat to work on.  I highlight recommend PSC's products!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Attention Games Workshop: This Is How It's Done

OK Games Workshop marketing bods, listen up. This - not this -  is how a promotional video is done.

And there's more great news: to find out how, all you have to do is walk across the shop and talk to whoever produced this cracking video for Forge World. Hosted by the very personable and well-spoken Tony Cottrell (also an ace designer at FW), this video promotes the new Proteus Land Raider and Deimos-Pattern Rhino models from GW's Forge World division. Note how Tony explains the rich history of the original designs and how this history informs the new sculpts. Some prototypes are shown off, as well as excellent 360-degree views of unfinished and finished versions of the models.

Yes, we're well aware from watching the video that we're being sold something. But the video treats its audience like adults and enthusiasts, not like spastic excitable children. I love hearing some of the history of my hobby and how that connects with the new products. Unlike many of these videos, this one appears like it's actually intended to inform a buying decision, and to me, anyway, it works. I am anticipating coming back from Salute 2012 with a Land Raider MkIIB at least.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

15mm Normandy WWII Battle Report

Owing to Conscript Greg's recent 15mm mania, we thought we'd roll out a WWII game this week using some of the new toys. Greg came up with a scenario based in late June, 1944, featuring a German armouyred counterattack by the 1st SS Panzer Division, near Caen. Conscript Brian and I took control of the German forces while Conscript Mike F. played the British defenders.

We set up the terrain to represent a village near the Odon bridgehead defended by the British 11th Armoured Division. I got to deploy a very impressive cathedral model that I'd bought a couple years ago as a "Christmas Village" piece - it had a lot less snowy patches to repaint (you can see a couple on the roof) and none of the usual twee elements (Christmas wreaths, poinsettia bouquets, garlands, etc.) that really destroy most Christmas village pieces for gaming use.
For rules, we decided to use the tried-and-true "Spearhead" set that Greg as gamemaster is very familiar with. We'll try Flames of War v.3 soon i think but for a last minute idea Spearhead was great. Since all wargames are just representational to some degree we considered each vehicle model to represent a single real-life counterpart and each infantry stand to be a half-section. So we essentially had an understrength German company (two platoons) plus two Panther platoons and a StuG platoon, attacking a British infantry company and attached Sherman tank squadron (three troops of three tanks each), plus two 17-lber AT guns and a Typhoon as close air support. German objective: to eject the British from the village, in 10 turns.

The Germans came streaming across the table towards the village.

German panzergrenadiers on the left flank of the assault.

 British AT gun lights up a sdkfz 251, eliciting the "WTF?" marker for the mounted squad...

The Panthers rolled directly towards the village. Note the straight line that could be drawn through all the Panthers at top right. This become relevant when the Typhoon arrives...

View of the assault from the steeple of the cathedral.
British infantry in Universal carriers arrives from reserve.

Shermans in a gun line. They were quite successful against the StuGs, less so against Panthers.

Germans dismount preparatory to the close assault.

"Targets in sight..."

"Target destroyed."

Sherman troop next to the cathedral destroyed one Panther platoon with some nice shooting.

The result...

The German assault was repulsed, bloodily. By turn 8 it was apparent that the assault would fail - the Panther platoons were destroyed or had fled, and there wasn't a great deal of infantry left, either. While the Germans had some local success on the left flank, they were doomed once reinforcements arrived. And the Typhoon (when it showed up) was devastating - a cool historical result.

I quite enjoyed using Spearhead for a smaller game. While the engagement ranges were quite short (mainly 6"-9") for some reason it didn't bother me, as the game rattled along quite quickly. A lot of fun - thanks to Greg for running the game and bringing his awesome new toys!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

More Madness from Games Workshop..."145"

Like many of you, I am on the GW email marketing list.

For the most part, the emails I receive are rather unremarkable. Pictures of new models, announcements, that sort of thing.


Then today I got an email announcing a "teaser trailer". "Servitor 13... has managed to intercept a new transmission"!!! Cool, I think. Perhaps a sneaky look at some new models or something.

Then I click through to the video... *SPOILER ALERT* the video consists of the numerals "1", "4", and "5" floating about in a rather dull way. "145"... what could it signify?

a) The number of price increases visited on GW customers in the last 5 years?
b) The number of people worldwide who think Finecast is actually an improvement?
c) The number of meltagun shots possible in one turn from a listhammer 2k points Space Marine army?
d) The number of skulls sculpted onto the latest uber-Chaos Lord model?
e) The number of paints in the new Citadel Colours range?

Correct answer... (e). You can read about the latest Citadel paint rumours all over the Web, but suffice to say that it is the end of the line for Skull White and all of our other old favourites. Gotta change things up a bit to get the old cash flow freed up again, eh? Why have a range of 70-odd paints when you can have over 140... with a corresponding price rise in the "mega paint set" kit. (As an aside, does anyone buy the Mega Paint Set other than single parents trying to buy the love of their child?? or perhaps the same benighted souls who lay out $16 for a can of Citadel primer?)

Anyway, the paint rant is one for another day. This rant is concentrating on an epic fail in GW's marketing department on what is a neat idea (teaser video) executed lamely. I know that some marketing bods would say that any press is good press and the fact that I'm blogging about their piece of **** video is a "win" for the brand. But to me this "teaser trailer" is just more evidence demonstrating the Culture of Fail at GW.

[/rant off]

ps "Adding Comments" was disabled on YouTube... I wonder why??

Monday, March 19, 2012

15mm T-34s from The Plastic Soldier Company

Photo in my improvised Optex Studio - i.e. the back yard.
Some more WW2 15mm stuff as part of my last gasp in the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge - the 1000 point is in sight!  These are plastic T-34s from the Plastic Soldier Company. I have seen these guys come out with scads of new releases over the past several months (in different scales - 15mm, 1/72 and 28mm) and I thought it was time to see what all the fuss was about.  Here are some photos of the finished products, and some thoughts on the kits.

One up front note - I have already noticed that I screwed up in terms of placing the square fuel cans - they should be higher up on the hull.  Oh well - next time.

T-34/76s ready to roll.

A tank commander popped out to give instruction.

Rear aspect picture of the T-34/76s. On to Kiev!
You get five vehicles in one box, along with stowage and bits for a tank commander popped out of the hatch for each vehicle.  The price is 17.50GBP (which works out to about $27 in Canadian dollars, depending on the state of our petro-dollar on a given day).  Compare this to the approximate major competitor - Battlefront, in which you pay 35GBP (or about $54 in Canadian dollars for five vehicles with associated bits and decals etc).  I'll return a little later to more of a comparison. 

Assembly is fairly straightforward, and highly idiot-resistant, even for me.  I found the track assembly to be a bit fiddly.  Don't get me wrong - it's still pretty easy, but I struggled to get the joints on the two track sections (there are two section - a top and bottom on each side) to match properly.  AARGH!

One enormous positive of this box is you get sufficient parts to ensure a T-34/76 or T-34/85 for each vehicle - it's not a "one or the other" choice.

Just switch the turrets, and you are in the late war period!
I painted some improvised tactical markings on the turrets.

I love the over sized look of the T-34/85.

On to Berlin!

Painting was very straight-forward - these are, after all, Russian tanks.  I had no decals to use, so I did my best to bodge a couple of commie sayings for some of the turrets.  I also decided to do one tank as a captured T-34/76.  The others are all Russian T-34/76/85s.  I did one commander figure with the hatch open on one of the T-34/76s.

Under new management.
I wish I had saved some of the extra skirting from the Panthers...
Ready to serve against its former masters...
Some things to consider if you want to purchase these.  First all, the models themselves are very, very light compared to the sturdy-feeling wargame models of other suppliers.  Dallas suggested adding some ballast in the hull or something before assembly - probably not a bad idea. I'm not sure how well these will handle the wear and tear on our gaming tables without losing a track piece, or stowage.

Second, the detail on these models is not too crisp in some areas. An example would be the tow cables on the hull - the detail is there, but not as sharp (or easy to paint) as it would be on a Battlefront or Peter Pig 15mm model.  This is no big deal for the tanks, but I suspect a significant issue for the infantry models - the tank commander was hard to paint, because very little detail on the model survived the primer.

Third, in terms of size, these models seem to be "true" 15mm models, whereas Battlefront's scale creep has actually created it's own "Battlefront Scale".  I don't have any Battlefront T-34 to compare, but I suspect they would not mix perfectly.  Not an issue for every gamer - just something to remember.  Finally, as above, I suspect it will matter more for the Plastic Soldier Company infantry, assuming they are slighter than the BF (or Peter Pig) sculpts.

A final comparison point - Battlefront box sets are great for including decals. These don't.  Not a huge deal for Russians, but I love them for the German tanks, as the tactical numbers, crosses etc. really finish off the model and I SUCK at painting those by hand (for proof, just look at the hack job on the captured T-34 in this post).  I should note here that PSC appears to be offering some of their own decals separately, however.

But on the whole, these are minor quibbles.  PSC destroys the competition not just on price, but on value.  You get five tanks. You get turrets for BOTH variants, so with the quick switch of a turret your drive to the Dnieper becomes a drive to the Oder.  Can you imagine GW - or BF for that matter - ever doing something like that with their models? I like the look of these tanks, and I'm sure I'll get better at assembling the tracks.

My assessment - buy these things! I am looking at covering a table in 15mm T-34s from some kind of WW2 tank shoot-a-thon later this year, and I think these will do nicely.

Up next - a box of PSC Panther tanks!