Tuesday, July 30, 2013

More Fun With T-Shirts

Kevin helped me out with this new t-shirt design now available in the Fawcett schwag store. Of course it refers to everybody's favourite assassin droid, IG-88, and "his" creators - Holowan. The Holowan corporate slogan was coined by Kevin J. Anderson in his short story, "Therefore I Am - The tale of IG-88" in the compilation "Tales of the Bounty Hunters" (1995).

Go buy it now! ;-)

UPDATE: make that score Conscripts 1, IP lawyers 1... t-shirt design removed from Cafepress :-(

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Battle of Brandon - Cold War 3mm "Red Dawn" Prequel

One of the defining movies of the '80s was definitely John Milius' classic Cold War scare-piece Red Dawn. High school kids forced to witness their country's invasion by the Reds took up arms and ran to the hills to wage a guerrilla war against the evil invaders who imprisoned and tortured their parents, flattened their cities, and even shut down their McDonalds.  

Of course, the Red scare is remembered fondly by many of us who grew up in the '70s and '80s and the Conscripts are no exception... especially Conscript Greg, who can pretty much recite the movie's dialogue verbatim! As regular readers know, Greg's been working on a new insane 3mm modern project and he had a notion to run an '80s game as a kind of "prequel" to the events of Red Dawn... over to you, Greg...

"In the 1984 movie 'Red Dawn', the Soviet Union and its allies launch a land invasion of the contental United States!  How? An enormous intercontinental pincer movement!  With saboteurs and elite airborne units leading the way, aided by select nuclear strikes (!), the Soviet 'coalition' tears right up through the 'open door' along the border with Mexico, occupying much of the US great plains and mid west.  The other arm of the Soviet pincer comprises three army groups that come across the Bering Straight, trying to link up with this southern thrust. 

So, like, Canada is in the way, there, eh? What happens to poor Canada in 1984's "Red Dawn"?  Let's play a game and find out!

It's September 1984, and the Soviets are invading!  Canada is scrambling to respond the best it can. Teeming Red Army tank and motor infantry divisions are spilling along invasion routes out of the Yukon (!) down through Alberta, Saskatchewan and Western Manitoba - home of Brandon and Prairiecon!  A Russian Corps has advanced down Highway 10 in Manitoba, looking to get to the US border. Soviet paratroopers have seized Brandon and its bridges over the Assiniboine river, but the advance has been slowed because the Canadians have blown the Shellmouth Dam, temporarily flooding the Assiniboine valley in the Brandon area.  Lead elements of the Soviet advance have been trapped south of Brandon.

Soviet Bombers and missiles have already hammered the air base at Portage and CFB Winnipeg.  But the troops in Shilo have fought off the Soviet surprise attack, and are ready to respond. The 8th Canadian Hussars roll out from CFB Shilo to stop the isolated Soviets south of Brandon and check the Red advance.  Success here could allow the Canadian Forces to buy time and rally to at least keep the Red Army from moving further south and west."

View from the north (Soviet) table edge, looking south down Highway 10 towards Boissevain. The attacking force had 10 turns to break the Canadians - basically by destroying half or more of their units and hoping for a failed morale test. The Soviets attacked with two companies of T-72s and an armoured infantry battalion, plus artillery and air assets. The Canadians deployed two understrength Leopard companies and some infantry in M113s, some artillery tubes and A-10 Warthog ground-attack aircraft.

Greg explains the situation to Conscripts Kevin, Dave V. and Jim. Greg had designed the game using the tried and true "Spearhead" rules, but with each 3mm individually based tank representing one actual vehicle.

Off we go! The Soviet column (T-72 company) moves down the road followed up by armoured infabtry. The other tank company stages in the field to the right. Artillery park is in the wooded depression.

Canadian artillery.
Leopards move up to take position behind the rail cut.

The situation develops. T-72 company takes a hard left at the T-intersection and begins deploying down the road, turning towards the enemy and preparing to drive up across the field. The infantry commander behind them on the road was slightly annoyed that they were taking so long to do it ;-)

As the T-72s moved up, Canadian gunnery took its toll - obviously the gunners had studied their training materials carefully!

Leopards on the Canadian left flank were quickly overwhelmed by Mike F's T-72 company - you can see them beginning to take up positions to roll up the flank.

Meanwhile back on the left my T-72 company was getting obliterated by some hot die rolling!

"Hey, this is awesome. We wiped out the Leopards."

"Ummm... are those A-10s?!?!?"

Destruction of the T-72 platoon is complete.

Triple-A fire from the ZSU-23-4s attached to Mike's tank company saves them from aerial pasting with some hot rolling...

...while the Soviet Frogfoot ground-attack aircraft do some damage of their own.

Carnage!! While the Canadians caused enormous casualties to the attacking Soviets, the latter's resolved held just long enough for the defenders to be brought down to half of their original strength, forcing a morale roll. The dice came up "2" which was not enough to keep the Canucks in the fight - Soviet victory!! Onwards to Denver!!!

What a great game - if you've never tried 3mm you have to do it - it just looks so cool. Almost like a map exercise with exquisite little miniatures! Spearhead is a great system to use, also, as it rattles right along. In fact I think Greg had forgotten to bvring his rulebook but he knows the rules so well it didn't even matter.

Thanks Greg for bringing out the game and running it for us! "WOLVER-- err, 'BOBCATS!'"

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

"Xeno Boners" T-Shirt Added to Shop!

After a mighty struggle with Cafepress' intellectual property department, we've succeeded in adding the massively cool "Xeno Boners" t-shirt design to our online schwag shop.

The design came about during one of our Thursday-night bull sessions about some new 40K codex or other... when Conscript Mike A. (I believe) offered the sage opinion that "Xenos got boned, again." We riffed a bit on that theme and Conscript Kevin immortalized the phrase in brilliantly satirical fashion.

Buy one (or more!) today and be the talk of your next GW-sanctioned tournament event!

You can get it (along with much other cool Fawcett gear) at our cafepress store: http://www.cafepress.ca/fawcettavenueconscripts

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Some More 15mm Soviet Vehicles

More Soviet armour for the subjugation of the running-dog Yankee capitalists...
The build up continues for the 15mm Cold-War- Gone-Hot project. Here are a few more vehicles - a pair of MBTs and another IFV. These were painted while traveling on vacation in Northern Ontario.
There are two T-80BVs and another BMP-2D troop carrier in this painting batch.  The models are all from QRF.
QRF T-80BV tanks - ERA bricks mounted on the hull and turret
My prior experiences with the QRF T-80BVs were not great, but Geoff at QRF told me had re-done the molds - and he has.  These tanks were much, much nicer to work with than the previous ones.  And as mentioned previously, QRF is the ONLY one out there making this Soviet beastie in 15mm.

This MBT mounted a 125mm main gun
A view of the rear deck of the tank with the snorkeling equipment stowed behind the turret
Lots of stowage is modeled on these QRF vehicles
Ready to face off against NATO troops
The QRF BMP-2D is a very nice model - very clean.  To make this one stand out a little bit I put an antenna into the turret and mounted an un-ditching beam on the back of the vehicle.  These beams are usually seen on the back of the Soviet tanks, but I saw several photos online of BMP-2s carrying them so I thought it would be a little different to add one.

A view showing the un-ditching beam attached to the rear of the BMP-2D hull
As with my other Soviet vehicles, these are painted in a three-tone "Fulda" cammo pattern.

30mm cannon and AT-5 missile launcher on the turret
The liberation of the proletariat is imminent...
This brings the vehicle contingent for my Soviet Motor Rifles to a healthy level - six T-80BVs (two platoons' worth) and five BMP-2s.  I will continue to add odds and ends to the column, but the main fighting power is in place.  Can't wait to get them on to the table!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Asian Experiment

This is another of those projects that I just picked up for fun and to try something different.

The figure is Misaka, one of the Ten Thunder Clan from Malifaux, but I don't play the game.  I just saw some of the poses and decided I wanted to give something different a shot.

This figure reminds me of the fight scene in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in the courtyard at night.  One of the combatants gets thrown back against a wall and I swear she stops herself in this exact pose (body wise, she had a sword as a weapon instead).

Anyway, I chose to try and do some cherry blossom type pattern on the clothing, but not the whole thing so again drew some insperation from the movie and picked some panels before the ankles and wrists for patterns.

Lastly, while I love the pose, I wasn't sold on the anime style woosh coming from her foot to show movement.  I know it works in cartoons, but here I didn't quite know how to handle it, so painted it in pale blues, greys, and white.  I then based her on an asian garden base and tried some of the leaf foliage from Secret Weapon.  I put some on the base, and then attached it up the swoosh in an attempt to show that the wind from the movement pulled the leaves up in the air with it.

Still not sold on the overall final effect or if I managed to pull off the look I wanted... but it was an experiment and a piece just for fun. Overall, it was definately something fun and different, so that is a plus, and it was a learning experience with tiny free hand, basing, and leaves, so all that was great.

Thoughts on the overall effect?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

More Pico Armor Fun

Soviet T-72 tank, BMP-2 APC and infantry section - and a Canadian penny
Over the past few years I have periodically dabbled in the Oddzial Osmy's 3mm tanks and troops (example here).  We have even played a game of Cold War Commander using them (back in 2008, I think, but I'm guessing - I couldn't find it on the blog, so it must have been a while).

Motor rifle company in BMP-2s
I am very impressed with the sculpting and casting quality of this range - these are really, really neat.  And the scale offers a chance to "air out" the game a little bit on the table, with engagement ranges that "look" more realistic on the table, and crowds of armour that don't crowd up.  But would this catch up with other gamers?

BMP command unit (round base), BRM recon track, and a platoon of BRDM AT launchers
When I had first purchased these figures I based them in groups, so each stand would literally represent a platoon. But the look still didn't quite work for me - I have always loved tons of tanks on the gaming table, but disliked the "hub to hub" effect this produced in terms of the look.  This happens even with the smaller size figures like 15mm (for examples, see nearly any Flames of War game).  

ZSU-23-4s - an essential for any Warsaw Pact commander
The hub-to-hub effect happens for a lot of reasons on the gaming table which I'm not going to drone on about here.  I thought 3mm might solve it, but the group bases still looked crowded...even allowing for the smaller scale, the tank platoon, for example, still looked crammed into the square base. 

Before on the right, after on the left

T-72 command base (20mm round)
There are certainly times when armoured vehicles mass on the battlefield, but generally they are quite spread out. How to get this on a reasonable sized table, while still playing with a ton of tanks?  I started to experiment with individual basing for the 3mm stuff last summer - example here.  Recently I finished another round of the figures, and re-based some of my previous stuff on individual bases, enough to get tonight's game going.

T-72 company
I think Oddzial Osmy has a devoted fan base - the range is very, very comprehensive and new stuff keeps coming out. Check out the Pico Armor online store to see for yourself. On forums like TMP, however, I have often seen the small scale panned on the grounds that the figures are impossibly small, and "might as well be paper counters".

Leopard C1 squadron
TMP door-knobs aside, 3mm will not be for everyone. For me, it is a lot of fun to work on these little tanks and troops.  It is a challenge to find the right colour shades to make the figures more visible, to shape the groundwork a little bit, etc. You can get a pile of them for a small sum, the range is unbelievably complete, and I even love that they mildly evoke counters - after all, I was a huge fan Avalon Hill games like "France 1940".  I'm also a big Cold War tank geek, so I can "see" the shape of the vehicles right away.  I'm not sure that will hold for the more casual participant.  These will probably need some labels to help with identification. 

Another view of the Leopard C1s
Will this work for gaming? We'll see tonight - we will be playing an imaginary WW3 game, using the overall Soviet invasion plot of the 1984 movie "Red Dawn", in which three Soviet army groups crossed the Bering Straight and tried to link up with a southern Communist pincer coming up from Mexico.  The Soviets are trying to pass through Brandon on their way to the states - and the Canadian Forces have a little something to say about it!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

4CMBG Infantry

Here are some Canadian infantry for my 4CMBG force. Models are QRF West Germans with head swap from Peter Pig. The head swap was essential and I'm glad I took Greg's advice on the matter. The QRF infantry are definitely bottom rung, but the head swap makes them passable. Note the Carl Gustav models in each group. The one thing I'm intrigued by about the Canadians is just how poor some of their equipment was in the 80's. The Carl G being one example. There were better weapons than the Carl G at the time (milan for example), but the Carl G is what they got. With an effective AT range of 150m (from what I've read) it would have taken some sand to sit there while a T-72 was rolling towards you.
The rest of the infantry will have to wait until I get another batch of heads from Peter Pig. I was also going to post more pics of the Leopard's, but I realized I didn't paint the stowage tools. I'll see if I can get that done tonight and post some more pics.

Friday, July 12, 2013

4CMBG Leopard 1

Shamed by Greg's rapid progress in a challenge I proposed, I buckled down and started painting. First completed are my troop of Leopard 1's. Used in the 80's until just recently, they were our best (and most economical) answer to vast swarms of Soviet armor. Note the large box on the front of the turret. This is a camera system used in the early 80's. I believe it was moved internally in later upgrades. These models are QRF. All in all not bad models. A few casting issues, but nothing I couldn't fix.

Next up are some infantry followed by the M113's. The majority of the infantry will have to wait until I get a replacement order from Peter Pig.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

15mm Soviet Cold War Paras

15mm Soviet VDV platoon
The forces of the Warsaw Pact continue to prepare for their fully-justified preventive-offensive actions in 15mm with the addition of some Soviet Paratroopers.  These are all Peter Pig 15mm castings from their AK47 modern range - the "regulars".

First squad

Another view of the first squad - only one fellow remembered his helmet...
I have no idea how viable large airborne operations would be in a modern battlefield like the imaginary Cold-War-Gone-Hot in western Europe.  The big transport planes seem awfully vulnerable to NATO SAMs, guns and interceptors.  But smaller drops - battalion strength - here and there, or appearing as infiltrators at various vulnerable points ("We thought it was a Greenpeace delegation!"), the VDV troops could help pave the way for a rapid advance of Warsaw Pact armoured formations.

Second squad

Another view of the second squad
Meant to represent the regular troops of African dictators, these Peter Pig figures are fairly reasonable proxies for Soviet paras in 15mm (or at least I think they are).  I expect the real VDV troops would wear helmets for action, but I went with mostly beret-wearing troops, feeling the blue beret, together with a relatively bright, if simple, camouflage pattern would help them "seem" like good VDV proxies.

The third squad in the platoon
There are some holes in the look - many of the troops have their sleeves rolled up, which makes sense in Africa but doesn't quite look VDV.  The other weakness is the fact that many of the soldiers carry bandoleers of ammunition, Rambo-style, wrapped around their chests.  Again, it seems appropriate for certain armies, but doesn't ring with the look of the paras.  But it doesn't disqualify them either! After all, it can get hot in Europe, and what soldier doesn't wish they had more MG ammo handy?

Support elements - a 105m recoilless rifle team, an SA-7 and a couple of command troops
This is a pretty light force - three eight-man squads, each with an RPD and RPG - supported by a trooper with an SA-7 "Strela" man-portable SAM and a 105mm recoilless rifle team.  I have no idea if the VDV used those, but I had a spare one left over from my Yom Kippur War project and thought the VDV fellows needed some kind of heavy shooting power.

Another view of the support elements
This small platoon will be reinforced with some mortars, HMGs, AA guns and air-dropped vehicles at some point this summer. I'm hoping to add at least one infantry AT-missile team.  Finally, I'm also looking into the big AT guns the Soviets often still deployed late into the "modern" period. I'm not sure if the VDV had them, but I love the old-school look of the heavy guns on the modern battlefield.

These troops will be good in "bridge too far" type scenarios, recreating the battles in Iceland from "Red Storm Rising", or perhaps even the battle for Calumet, CO from "Red Dawn" (the 1984 original)! I look forward to getting them on to the table, where newly-painted figures are guaranteed victory - right?