Saturday, May 30, 2020

Space Wolf "Destroyer" Squad for 30k

Destroyer Squad from the VI Legion Astrates, the "Space Wolves".
Something very strange has recently happened to our climate here in the Canadian prairies. A blazing orange globe has appeared in the sky, causing the sh*tpiles of snow to finally melt, and we are now confronted with all manner of strange growth appearing in lawns, gardens and forests. Warm temperatures make it possible to be outside of the house without multiple layers of coats and clothing. One can even sit outside for an extended period without freezing. Experts claim this phenomena is known as "spring"...hey, it's weeks and weeks late, but better late than never!

Pistols and grenades all around...but the one fellow is carrying a rocket launcher that can use some pretty terrifying ammunition.
So, my painting rate has slowed with the arrival of nice weather, but I never totally stop painting - I'm kind of obsessed with it :)

My paintbrushes are still locked very much on Horus Heresy subjects at the moment. In this spirit, here is a small addition to my loyalist forces for GW's Horus Heresy setting. This is a "Destroyer Squad", five Space Marines in Mark IV powered armour, equipped with jet-powered jump packs and a variety of nasty weapons. They are painted in the colours of the VI Legion Astrates, the "Space Wolves". The figures are from Forge World, and the decals are from Forge World and GW.

A view of the "jump packs", they let the Marines jump in, get the job done, and get clear.
What is a "Destroyer" squad you might ask? After all, "destroy" a basic function of all Space Marines. What could possibly set this unit apart from the others? It's true - much about The Emperor's Space Marines are scary - they are terrifying, genetically-engineered instruments of total war.  They show up in orbit, and the fate of your world is sealed...the brutality a matter of degree. They either destroy your government (Raven Guard, Imperial Fists, Blood Angels), issue a press release while doing so (Ultramarines), or destroy your capital city, (Sons of Horus, Emperor's Children, Iron Hands, Dark Angels), or destroy every city on your world (Death Guard, Word Bearers, Iron Warriors, White Scars), and maybe kill everyone while doing any of the above (World Eaters, Night Lords), and possibly steal all of the pension funds too (Alpha Legion). Seriously - what war function could possibly cause this bunch any sort of unease?

Yet even among the ranks of the Space Marines, "Destroyers" are something of a breed apart, because they are equipped with terrifying radiation and gas weapons that your average Space Marine Commander - even a very cold, uncaring and jaded one - is reluctant to release into battle - any battle. These fellows carry "rad grenades" and "phosphex" grenades and missiles, in addition to bolt pistols and their nasty demeanour. Assignment to the Destroyer units is not considered much of an honour, and the officers and marines put into those units seem to be ones that the Primarch and the other senior commanders in the legion don't much care for.

A view of the shoulder can also see the extra layer of amour plated on to the shin guards.
In the 30k setting, "phosphex" is a kind of WMD - can burn right through any armour, even the power armour of the Space Marines, and will also burn the marine alive as well. If it can do this to power armoured troops, think of what it would do to everyone and everything else on the battlefield? Not a practical weapon to unleash, unless you are really desperate or really mad at your enemy...

This is the officer leading the fancy comb for his helmet (would just get burnt off by the chemicals), but I threw a decal on his chest plate to give him a bit of distinction from the other members of the unit.
Anger and desperation - that is why I painted up such a unit with the loyalist side of the setting. The Space Wolves are The Emperor's executioners, and when they were sent to Prospero to tune up the Thousand Sons, they used every terrifying weapon they had - Horus even "helped" to make sure they could. So the VI Legion put their Destroyer units into the battle.

Later, Once Horus' rebellion started, Legions like the VI were caught on the back foot, ambushed and betrayed...the loyalist commanders were both desperate and really, really, really mad. I can see them shouting down the vox at their underlings - "The prohibited stuff. Get it from the magazines, and get it ready. NOW." In the race to stop the Warmaster and his plans, everything was on the table.

I painted the grenades really bright yellows and reds, trying to emphasize the extra-scariness of these scary fellows.
Of course, it is a perfect 30k twist that the Space Marines would deploy these terrifying weapons in in a relatively up-close-and-personal fashion, arriving on jump packs, releasing their grenades, making sure the job is finished before clearing out, hopefully before any substances they released destroy their own armour. The pride of the Vylka Fenryka is such that they would be reluctant to unleash these weapons, but once provoked by betrayal and driven by revenge, I'm sure the The Rout would not hesitate...

Thanks for reading, and stay safe everyone!

Thursday, May 28, 2020

What a Tanker! - Girls und Panzer


Well, some folks were idly discussing Girls und Panzer ("Girls and Tanks", that Japanese anime franchise) and What a Tanker! I searched online for a good deal, and found a Girls und Panzer Panzer IVD, complete with its high school student crew.

It's basically a "super-deformed" 1/48 scale tank.



The hull and tracks are shorter and slightly wider than those of the New Millennium 1/48 scale Mk.IV's I have.


The tank commander from a 1/48 Bandai Mk. II does not look too out of place in the Girls und Panzer Mk. IVD's uP turret.



I sure we can cobble up some What a Tanker! modifications to simulate competition between girls' high schools practicing tank warfare as a sport. There's no need to use only the official Girls und Panzer models.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Aurora 1/48 US Army M109 SP Howitzer

One of the historical periods I really love to game is the '80s - much as it pains me to consider that a decade in which I was a teenager is now "historical" :-)

In 15mm scale we game the period mainly using Battlefront's excellent "Team Yankee" rules, while in 28mm we've used several sets as bases for our gaming, including but not limited to "Bolt Action", our own set ("Red Storm!"), and even a variation the venerable "Lord of the Rings" skirmish set...

Large-scale gaming is also fun because of the painting involved, and for modern periods like the 1980s, part of the fun is the challenge of sourcing the models. While there are a small number of companies making vehicles for the period, lots of these are skewed towards more modern stuff from the '90s and forward. Finding '80s stuff can be tough.

It was on one of these searches that I discovered the Aurora 1/48 model kit of the M109 SP Howitzer. The basic kit actually dates back to 1965 (!) but the copyright date on my instructions is 1977. I think this date tracks to an updated kit that also included the long-barrel 155mm gun update from the M109A1 variant. These kits do appear on eBay from time to time but oftentimes sellers ask the Earth for them - like $60+! I refused to pay this and bided my time... eventually I found one on sprues, sealed in factory plastic, with instructions and a boxtop-style insert. I think I won it for $10 plus shipping, which certainly suited me :-) 

The kit was apparently a "Young Model Builders Club Selection" and it shows a bit... the rear of the vehicle shows little detail - even the rear spades were left off altogether! Unfortunately, unlike some, I wasn't so fussed with this and I didn't bother with any scratchbuilding to address it.

I did add a bit of stowage to the vehicle just to give it a bit of a lived-in look. I left the front hatch unsecured so it can be opened up - one of the converted crew from my M113s fits nicely there just to give some MOPP-suit flavour.

I rigged up some magnets on the barrels and gun mount to allow the short 155mm to be swapped for its longer-barreled successor. Scale is demonstrated by some Eureka US Army soldiers in MOPP suits.

The newer M185/39 gun is really unfeasibly large. It looks like something out of 40K doesn't it!

Here's a pic with the hatch buttoned down.

Front view of the vehicle. I did lightly weather it with paint and some light earth powder, but I think the powder may have been diluted somewhat by the subsequent Dullcote. Another word of warning: I primed the vehicle with the tracks attached - I should have known better. Never spray prime vinyl tracks!!! The primer reacted with the vinyl to turn the tracks sticky, and although subsequent brush painting improved things it didn't eliminate the stickiness altogether. Can't believe I did that.

Some reference material... there are a couple pics of M109s in the Reforger book as well as some detail of the other markings. Similar to the M1 Abrams and M113s I've painted, I didn't put national insignia on the M109, but instead limited markings to an "exercise" marking as used in the Reforger exercises.

I'm pretty happy with how the build turned out and I think it'll be fun to have on the table in a game. Of course the 155mm main gun is not really suitable for tabletop action in 28mm but we'll figure something out!

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Land Speeder for 30k Space Wolves

Javelin attack speeder for the VI Space Marine Legion, the Vylka Fenryka.
The sci-fi diversions continue! This is a "Javelin Attack Speeder", an anti-grav/skimmer vehicle from the arsenals of GW's Warhammer 30k/Horus Heresy setting. The model is a resin kit from Forge World, GW's sub-unit/division/whatever that is home to 95% of their Horus Heresy products. The vehicle is carrying the colours and markings of the VI Space Marine Legion, the "Space Wolves."

Closer look at the crew - they are wearing Mark IV power armour.
With Space Marine combat kit "light" is a relative term, but this would count as a "light" vehicle for them, skimming ahead for recon duties and flanking actions. For all that "light" sounding role, it still can mount some heavy weapons, and this vehicle has some - a heavy bolter manned by one of the crew, and the option of laser cannons or rocket launchers on the side sponsons of the vehicle. So these speeders can still damage the legion's enemies.

Sensor probe mounted to the front...I am worried about how soon that will get snapped off on the table.
View of the engine mounting on the rear of the craft.
Thanks to magnets, I am able to swap out the missile pods for the laser cannons, depending on the role the vehicle will be expected to play in a given game. This is thanks to the hobby engineering brains of Steve B, who assembled this model for me - for my part, I tend to make a hash of efforts with magnets.

In this photo you can see the rocket pods are mounted on the sponsons.
I quite like the design of this vehicle. Its look is rather different from the other Space Marine combat vehicles - not so brutal, and much sleeker, almost sporty, ready to cruise the town (and then waste said town with laser cannons). The look makes sense given its intended role, but the aesthetic looks as much "Star Wars" as it does grim and dark. It is an interesting mix, and it helps to retain the different/apart look for the miniatures set in the Horus Heresy setting vs. the models set in the "current" Imperium of the 40k setting.

Maybe only one quibble with the design...the long sensor probe mounted on the bow of the craft. It looks cool, but is exactly the sort of thing that will be snapped off, and almost impossible to remount, on the gaming table. Oh well...

Another view of the crew, and the housing for the mysterious sci-fi drives.
Adding a vehicle, even a "light" one, always makes a force a little more "serious", and I'm enjoying this diversion into 30k painting subjects. We'll see what comes next from the painting table. Thanks for reading! Hope you are safe and healthy, wherever you are.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Star Wars: Legion - "Boba Fett? Boba Fett?! WHERE??"



First look at Boba Fett, another (nominally) 1/47 scale figure for Star Wars: Legion.

After priming with trusty Chaos Black, with an airbrush I laid in zenithal highlights and spotlighting, then used thin layers of acrylics and followed up with oils for blending and details like the battle damage on Fett's armour and backpack. Sealed with Tamiya TS-79 semi-gloss clear coat, for protection while handling during a game.

Following up a conversation with ThomasH, I went with a The Empire Strikes Back paint scheme. The figure casting itself has some Return of the Jedi elements, like the waist pouches and the blaster’s barrel sleeve. I think the ESB scheme has a slightly more military look.





My rendering of the tally marks on the helmet bugs me a little, but all the on-set photos and costume references I viewed show them to be really roughly painted on.

I have some preliminary army lists and plans for the fourth game in the narrative campaign I am solo play-testing. This fourth game will involve Boba Fett as an Operative for the Imperial side, hunting for Han and Chewie on a Scarif-like beach table.


Below is a teaser for the third solo game I will write a battle report about. The downed Imperial walker and crashed star fighters are painted 3D prints from Legion Terrain. I cannot say enough about the quality of their products. The AT-AT, especially, is quite striking. The red and blue mouse-pad-like sidebars (table runners), to help keep track of the plethora of cards, are from The Fifth Trooper. The 3D printed token holder is from The Methodical Geek.



Monday, May 18, 2020

Star Wars Terrain!

A bit of a hodge podge update for today with some newly-acquired terrain for our Star Wars gaming.

First off there's an Action Fleet landspeeder. Available cheaply on eBay, this is a great little model, well-detailed and nicely weathered right out of the box. It's a great piece to give some lived-in flavour to any Star Wars Tatooine-themed table. In fact I'd get another to repaint in a different colourway. The Luke Skywalker figure is from the Wizards of the Coast "Star Wars Miniature Battles" range, from which most of my collection is drawn. The models are prepainted to varying degrees of quality... in fact when I got this one out for the photoshoot I was disappointed by how bad it looked, so I decided to repaint it quickly... a half-hour's work and he's looking much more presentable.
Next up is a moisture vaporator from a set of terrain produced by ebay seller endertoys under their "Galactic Legion" brand. They're 3D prints which do show some layer lines, but nothing too obtrusive... and the price is certainly right. For $15USD you get four vaporators, four wall pieces, and four communications consoles, with free shipping in the USA. Definitely worth a punt at the price.

Here's one of the endertoys wall pieces. You get four - two of each design. They scale well to 28mm models. The 3D prints come unpainted.

The consoles aren't super-Tatooiney but I'm informed by Conscript Dave V. that they serve a particular role in Star Wars Legion, so fans of that game will be pleased to see them in the set.
Here's the complete endertoys set all painted up. As I say, pretty good for $15 shipped.

Here's a Desert Tower model from Urbanmatz out of the Czech Republic. It's a solid resin piece and comes prepainted. I can't say enough about these buildings, they look just super and will really spiff up any Tatooine table. You get two in the set for less than 25 euros ex-VAT.

Again, I have to thank Conscript Dave V. for the referral to Urbanmatz. They have a good selection of SF and fantasy terrain including pieces themed for medieval, Gothic, industrial, and desert tables. All pre-painted and really good stuff. As you might surmise from the name of the firm, they also sell terrain mats - I picked up one of those as well that I couldn't resist.

The only drawback with ordering from the company is the shipping cost... they use FedEx for overseas shipping and it costs a packet! It doesn't seem to get any cheaper with quantity either, hovering around 40-45% of the cost of goods. At least the order came quickly - ordered on Tuesday and I think it arrived on Friday.

That's it for today - I hope we can get these pieces out on a tabletop soon. Until then, stay healthy everybody!

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Another Squad for the Vylka Fenryka - 30k Space Wolves

Squad of VI Legion Space Marines in Mark III power armour - multi-part plastic models from GW.
I appear have tumbled down a 30k rabbit hole! Suddenly it seems so hard to get any more Prussians from 1870 painted, when instead I can paint yet more Space Marines for GW's Horus Heresy setting! This is a 10-man squad of Marines from the VI Legion, the "Space Wolves", clad in Mark III powered armour. These are multi-part plastic miniatures from GW.

The famous "shark-fin" style missile launcher - a shout-out to the early days of the plastic Space Marines from the Rogue Trader era.
The "Space Wolves" have been thoroughly ruined over the years, becoming insufferable. These days they are, I suspect, a form of self-parody or something. But here I am, painting some more for 30k - and I really enjoy it.

The sergeant has a comb on his helmet - and is carrying a scary plasma pistol and what I like to call a "tickle glove"...
These plastic Mark III marine kits are just great - really tremendous, I love building them, I love painting them. A great way to relax amid a stressful time.

With the exception of the sergeant and heavy weapon gunner, these veteran marine all carry their own chainsword because, as one does...
I find I really love the slab-grey look, contrasted with the dark bronze/gold metallics. The VI Legion marines look menacing, ready to make their stand in the name of the "Wolf King" and the "Allfather".

The fellow in the middle of the front rank in the photo is carrying a flamethrower...good for cooking dinner, AND the enemies of The Emperor.
I started painting Space Wolves when I opted to start with the contents of GWs "The Burning of Prospero" board game, and have been adding a few models to my small contingent of "The Rout" here and there in the years since. This squad is another modest set of reinforcements. This is a veteran tactical squad, with a couple of special weapons for support.

Decals on the shoulder pauldron come from the box game "The Burning of Prospero".
The power armour variants of the Horus Heresy are a great aspect of the hobby - I really like all of them, but I must say I find the Mark III version, with the mix of segments, rivets and plating, to be the coolest and grimmest-looking of the available options.

The plastic parts can fit any other plastic GW Space Marine kit out there, allowing for a number of easy possibilities to customize the figures. In the case of this submission the model with the "shark fin" style rocket launcher is using arms and a back pack from the Mark IV power armour set. Of course there is a large range of Legion-specific bits that work well with the models as well, available from Forge World.

Pattern of markings on the shoulder pauldron denote a "Great Company"...the higher level formation this squad is attached to.
Overall my collection of VI Legion marines for 30k is still pretty small - somehow the overwhelming majority of stuff I painted fights with the Warmaster :) This post sees my Vylka Fenryka collection grow to just 30 marines led by a single character and backed by a solitary Contemptor Dreadnought armour - enough for a very small game, but if I add a few vehicles and some characters, it will become more than enough for a larger game. Stay tuned for more on this soon!